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  • The Orthodox Doctrine of Creation in the Age of Science

This article addresses the Orthodox Christian representation of reality, or doctrine of creation, and the possible need to rephrase and communicate its meaning within the parameters of contemporary scientific culture. To redraft the traditional Orthodox worldview today is both necessary and largely unproblematic. Rephrasing the doctrine of creation is demanded by the pastoral and missionary exigency to reaching out to audiences conditioned by contemporary cosmology. Given the earlier successive reformulations of the Orthodox doctrine of creation throughout history and within various cultural frameworks, this task, I suggest, does not pose any insurmountable difficulty.


Before anything, a summary of how Orthodox Christians relate to contemporary cosmology in particular, and the scientific culture of our age more generally, is in order. Two relevant approaches are distinguishable. One trend acknowledges that the traditional doctrine of creation is articulated at the crossroads of faith and culture, being therefore an open construct. Out of missionary and pastoral concerns, this position favors rephrasing the Orthodox worldview with reference to the shifting cultural paradigms in history, including contemporary scientific culture. To convey the traditional doctrine of creation to contemporary scientific culture, the adherents to the first trend adopt the established view of an expanding universe whose history began billions of years ago; a universe characterized by homogeneity, movement, change, and complexity. The present study aligns with this trend. A second approach consists in adherence to supernaturalist outlooks such as creationism, which takes the early Christian worldview for a complete scientific theory that excludes further nuance. This trend opposes contemporary scientific culture as a matter of principle and as a threat to the Orthodox ethos. Its [End Page 43] adherents hold the view that the universe is but a few thousand years old, static, concentrically structured, ontologically discontinuous, supernaturally moved, and so deprived of natural energy—just as it was described more than a millennium and a half ago by the outmoded sciences of late antiquity. These two approaches perfectly match the categories of tradition and traditionalism, which Jaroslav Pelikan famously described as “the living faith of the dead” and “the dead faith of the living.”1 Specifically, the take of the Christian worldview as work in progress led according to set criteria corresponds to Pelikan’s sense of tradition, whereas the opinion that it was once and for all defined in the first Christian centuries corresponds to traditionalism. The latter category, as Pelikan added, is what “gives tradition such a bad name.”2 The traditionalist figure cannot identify with the Christian doctrine of creation. Whereas the doctrine of creation was repeatedly reworked in history given shifts in culture, the traditionalist opposition to contemporary science draws on the belief that ancient science is sacred and definitive. In the ninth century, the Orthodox Church indirectly condemned this view as an anachronism under the guise of the three supposedly sacred, indeed ancient, languages, thus validating contextual translations of the faith.3 Last but not least, the traditionalist position promotes a supernaturalist worldview, creationism, which was discarded, again indirectly, by the Orthodox Church in the seventh century as monoenergism.4 The notion of a supernaturally moved cosmos fits the bill of monoenergism to a tee.

The traditionalist preference for creationism, albeit draped in patristic attire and claiming normative status, has no traditional justification. Modern creationism has originated in milieus foreign to the Orthodox worldview.5 This is not an isolated case of adopting from elsewhere ready-made religious opinions, regardless of the consequences. In the past, the Orthodox have embraced heterodox ideas such as the medieval Catholic notion of a limited number of sacraments. What was initially an academic exercise has become in time, through habit, dogma, and one with dramatic ramifications for the ecclesial mindset at that. In like manner, contemporary creationism creeps into the Orthodox fold, demanding ecclesial recognition. But, by rejecting contemporary science and worshipping ancient science, the creationist position of the traditionalists is, overall, a strange new phenomenon for Orthodox Christianity and its complexly articulated worldview. There is no record of a wholesale rejection of culture in the patristic tradition, even though attempts have been made to present the critical approach of writers such as Tertullian and Tatian as symptomatic of an early [End Page 44] Christian war of the words.6 The great theologians of the first Christian millennium and a half, revered as holy fathers, were educated men, who engaged their contemporary culture in both selective and creative ways. Bridging theology and culture, they redrafted the Christian representation of reality, in chronological order, with reference to Middle-Platonism, Stoicism, Neoplatonism, Proclian Neoplatonism, Aristotelianism, and again Neoplatonism (to refer only to the Greek patristic tradition). Closer to our time, upon their belated escape from the medieval mists, the Orthodox have not perceived modern science as a threat—not even when, through Russian philosophy, they engaged the modern West in a critical manner.7 Until the arrival of contemporary creationism, indeed, except for the continuing use of the Julian calendar in traditionalist places, no major collision has been recorded between the Orthodox and the scientific culture of any age. What contributed to the peaceful accommodation of the Orthodox to the shifting cultural paradigms throughout their bimillenary history is a range of factors. To these I must now turn.

First, as already mentioned, from the outset of its historical emergence, Orthodox theology has traditionally interacted with the available sciences and the cultural frameworks of the past. In the footsteps of Christ’s disciples, whose preaching engaged Hellenistic culture to effectively reach out to their audiences, from Paul’s sermon on the Areopagus to John’s theory of the Logos, the early Christian and medieval theologians continued to contextualize and recontextualize their discourse. John Behr has felicitously characterized this effort as “faithfulness and creativity,” faithfulness to the core of tradition, creativity in its diachronic delivery.8 The literature on the encounter between patristic theology and the cultures of the past is very rich, extending well beyond the sources mentioned here.9 What matters is that [End Page 45] ongoing contextualization, particularly in relation to scientific culture, remained the norm for most of the Byzantine era, a time of prodigious research, cultural cross pollination, and innovation.10 Second, against this traditional backdrop, the Byzantine émigrés to Italy in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries displayed openness towards learning and the advancement of knowledge, fostering a propitious climate for the birth of modern science. Albeit fading with the time, the memory of the Byzantine scholars who acted as catalysts for the arrival of modernity marked the Orthodox psyche of later centuries.11 Third, and as a reverse phenomenon, being concerned with shaping their identity in concert with the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European nationalism, among other things the Orthodox have appropriated Western university culture, which fostered intellectual emulation and creative approaches to modernity.12 Perhaps the best expression of this last factor was the implementation by most Orthodox branches of the reform of the calendar in the early twentieth century. The activity in Western Europe of exiled Russian Orthodox intellectuals in the first half of the twentieth century largely overlapped with this trend.13 Fourth, the philokalic movement of the late eighteenth century focused on spiritual identity, paying less attention to the new historical and cultural circumstances.14 The spiritual revival occasioned by the philokalic movement amounted to prioritizing inner life, having no discernible impact upon the Orthodox view of modernity. The philokalic revival proved once again that traditional spirituality could merrily coexist with any new context, as it did throughout the middle ages.15 Fifth, and related, the representatives [End Page 46] of the twentieth-century neopatristic movement proposed a heuristic return to tradition that sought to identify the know-how of the ancients and apply it to contemporary circumstances. Dumitru Stăniloae has clearly defined this approach in the preface of his monumental synthesis of theology, whose first edition was published in 1978. In the author’s words, “We have endeavoured to understand the teaching of the Church in the spirit of the fathers, but also to understand it the way we believe that they would have understood it today. For they would have not ignored our time, the way they did not ignore their own.”16 All these factors, identifiable within mainstream Orthodox theology, have paved the way for a critical and creative engagement of modernity and contemporary culture, largely faithful to tradition. In this light, the recent recrudescence of traditionalist voices calling for the rejection of all things Western, modern, postmodern, and particularly scientific,17 a trend whose herald is Orthodox creationism, indeed constitutes a novelty.

In what follows I call attention to elements within the Orthodox tradition, past and present, which bring to the fore its potential for a sustained and fertile interaction with contemporary scientific culture. More specifically, building on the trail-blazing contributions of several Orthodox scholars of more recent times,18 I address a range of topics pertaining to the traditional doctrine of creation which, from my viewpoint, remain unaffected by the scientific cosmology of the last hundred years or so, endeavoring to point out how these topics could be proposed to the scientifically educated audiences of today.

But before I turn to the elements of interest, I must briefly refer to what I take for the scientific worldview of our age. The ensuing overview of contemporary cosmology is required by the task at hand, namely, to identify possible ways of bridging the traditional Orthodox doctrine of creation and the scientific representation of reality. Brevity denotes my desire to avoid reference to the minutiae of contemporary cosmology, which I am not qualified to discuss, together with my endeavor to replicate the patristic way of addressing scientific matters by referring to the highlights of the current paradigm. With just a few exceptions, the early Christian and Byzantine theologians have approached aspects of the available sciences from a theological vantage point, particularly matters that had an impact on the ecclesial experience and/or facilitated the dissemination of the faith, but they have not abandoned their task [End Page 47] for the sake of doing science. The approach of Basil of Caesarea is probably the best illustration of this principle.19 The same approach guides me here and therefore my study does not mean a critical engagement of science; instead, it proposes a redrafting of several aspects of the Orthodox doctrine of creation with reference to the current view of the universe. As far as I understand it, contemporary cosmology speaks of a universe that began billions of years ago and that expands according to known and unknown natural laws; much of our universe consists of dark matter and dark energy, factors that completely elude our grasp; the simplest representation of reality includes the subatomic realm, explored by quantum physics, and the macrocosm, modelled by relativist physics, but these strands of reality converge in phenomena such as the gravitational waves, thus requiring the new physics of quantum cosmology; from the fundamental superstrings to quantum fluctuations to the material accretions familiar to our experience, all things are in constant vibration, motion, and change; the chaos of randomness behaves according to patterns, such as fractals, that draw on the infrastructural rationality of the universe and that facilitate complexity; the same natural laws apply throughout the universe, including the evolution of life on earth, thus all things moving and changing on earth as they do in heaven; all things are connected with all things, including human existence and the parameters of the universe; death and transformation are inherent to the processes of nature. This take on contemporary cosmology is deliberately schematic, I repeat, given my aim to replicate the traditional methodology today. By giving only the highlights of the available sciences in promoting the ecclesial worldview, the early Christian and medieval theologians pointed out two matters. First, that Christian theology and experience do not require a profound scientific awareness in order to maintain specificity and to culturally contribute in ways that pertain to that specificity. Second, that the Christian doctrine of creation should preserve its capacity to be redrafted when the cultural environment changes. This is precisely what I undertake to achieve here, namely, to show that a change of clothes is in order for the Orthodox doctrine of creation—from those of ancient science, worn in the first Christian millennium, into those of contemporary cosmology—and that this operation will have to be repeated in a different setting. It has happened many times in the past and the process has to continue, for missionary and pastoral reasons. This is the lesson of the past, not its traditionalist idealization.

Herein I argue that the Orthodox doctrine of creation is largely compatible with the contemporary scientific representation of reality briefly outlined in the foregoing. It depicts a universe that naturally moves between beginning and the eschaton, a movement conditioned by the rational infrastructure of reality whose source is the Logos of God and which unfolds in the parameters of a synergetic principle that evokes the Christological model. My ultimate goal is to show that the Orthodox worldview is not opposed to everything scientific and that, on the contrary, it can successfully coexist and interact with the scientific culture of our time, particularly in matters cosmological. [End Page 48]


Orthodox Christianity possesses a strong sense of the cosmos, developing “a theology of the world,”20 but it has never issued a dogma of creation that establishes in normative terms its relevant convictions. Dogmatic, here, means a formulation sanctioned by ecumenical councils and to which the Orthodox commonwealth unanimously adhere. The only authoritative references to the doctrine of creation feature in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, which reads: “I believe in one God, Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, . . . through whom all things were made . . . And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life.” These statements refer to the Father as provident creator, who made all things through his Son, Jesus Christ, and who vivifies the universe through the agency of the Holy Spirit. In other words, the Orthodox Church points to a divine origin of the cosmos and professes a Trinitarian doctrine of creation.21 Alongside these theological statements, the Creed refers to the universe as complex, seen and unseen, and as different from the Son in terms of its origin, since it is created, not eternal.22 Given the schematic nature of the Orthodox doctrine of creation, in order to articulate a comprehensive worldview the early Christian and medieval theologians had to turn to a variety of sources. Among their references were the Scriptures, particularly the first two chapters of Genesis, various psalms, and the last two chapters of Revelation,23 as well as documents foreign to the Christian canon, such as relevant treatises by ancient cosmologists. Equivalent sources have been recently utilized by Orthodox theologians, who, alongside the Scriptures and the writings of the early Christian and medieval scholars, addressed, more or less openly, elements of the current scientific paradigm.24 It is against this complex backdrop that I undertake to discuss certain aspects of the Orthodox doctrine of creation, which, it seems to me, are compatible with elements of contemporary scientific culture and so facilitate a rephrasing of the traditional worldview for contemporary [End Page 49] audiences—much the way similar aspects permitted the early Christian and medieval theologians to translate into Hellenistic idiom the Semitic language of the scriptural narrative of creation.25

Creation and Organization

I begin by addressing a misunderstanding of the Orthodox doctrine of creation in traditionalist Orthodox milieus,26 namely, the view that affirming the creation excludes the natural development of the universe. This is, of course, a creationist, theistic, and supernaturalist stance that opposes evolutionism’s atheistic naturalism. In what follows I contest the relevance of this view for the Orthodox representation of reality by bringing to the fore its independence from supernaturalist reductionism and its traditional articulation of creation and cosmic development as holding together. During this discussion it shall become obvious, I hope, that the Orthodox worldview remains unaffected by evolutionism’s naturalism, too.

Naturalism and supernaturalism are the main ideological factors that throughout history have undermined the rapport between theology and science in that, reductively, they produced, and still do, antagonistic representations of reality. In modern times, typically, these ideologies, which confiscate the normal discourse of theology and science, refer to either a world created in one literal week and supernaturally managed afterwards or a completely independent and naturally evolving universe. As long as no line is drawn between genuine theology, genuine science, and the ideologies that hijack their endeavors, the culture of either/or fostered by creationism’s supernaturalism and evolutionism’s naturalism will continue to make difficult any attempt at bridging the respective worldviews. It is true that ontological reductionism has primarily affected Western culture, accustomed, since at least the fifth-century Pelagian crisis,27 to separate the natural from the supernatural and to affirm that the supernatural supersedes the order of nature. But the fascination currently exercised by creationism’s supernaturalism shows that not all the layers of the Orthodox commonwealth are immune to this way of thinking. In turn, by not dissociating the natural and the supernatural, the Orthodox theology of creation proposes a comprehensive model free of reductionism28 and, dare I say, largely compatible with contemporary physics and cosmology. It does so by drawing on established sources, such as Scripture, patristic tradition, the liturgy, and the [End Page 50] experience of holiness,29 whence it infers a worldview that does not fit the supernaturalist bill. It does so furthermore by being possessed of a certain inclusive instinct, namely, the transdisciplinary logic of the included middle that bridges seemingly incommensurable and contradictory aspects of reality.30 As Louth termed it, this is the “chalcedonian logic” of unions and distinctions.31 Given these parameters, the Orthodox doctrine of creation does not exclude natural movement, change, and the development of the universe and of everything within it.

Specifically, drawing on Genesis 1:1 and 1:2–2:3, the Orthodox theology of creation does not speak of a universe instantaneously created as a garden of delights, perfect and immortal from the outset. According to Gregory of Nyssa, the first verse of Genesis captures the divine bird’s-eye-view of the creation as one event, whereas the rest of the narrative describes the universe from a chronological viewpoint, pertaining to a human observer, as many natural events.32 In his words, whereas the first line of Genesis “referred to the fact that [God] made the totality of the beings, the discourse resolved to distinctly show the becoming of each being by a natural order of sorts.”33 That said, as a rule the Church fathers have gathered from Genesis that, as creator and maker,34 God brought the universe into being out of nothing and ordered it in time. This distinction is of great interest for the Orthodox worldview. Specifically, it entails that, being suddenly brought into existence, the universe is created, and that, being temporally structured, it is made. And notwithstanding the fact that both concepts are heavily theological, pointing to God as main agent, the very terminological distinction suggests a difference in the modes of divine activity in the universe.

The distinction between creation and organization, which I would alternatively render as beginning and process, was captured by Irenaeus of Lyons. According to him, God the Father created and fashioned all things, establishing them through the Logos and ordering them through the Spirit.35 It is unlikely that he used the verbs to create, to fashion, to establish, and to order as synonyms. The fact that Irenaeus related these activities to distinct Trinitarian persons denotes succession and difference, not simultaneity and identity. Another early Christian source depicted God as “the master and demiurge of all, who has created everything and decided on their order.”36 The excerpt mentions two divine names with reference to God’s [End Page 51] relationship with the universe and their respective cosmological applications. Note the point that God decided on the order of things, not that God ordered them without their own input. These and other sources suggest a gradual development of the universe after its creation, referred to as fashioning, establishing, and ordering—true, by way of strong affirmations of the divine input. The entire process was initiated by God and presupposed God’s permanent and active involvement,37 or, according to certain theologians, God’s running through all things till the end of time.38 The emphatic reference to divine activity was the way the early Christian authors counteracted atheistic cosmologies.39 Nevertheless, their approach did not amount to supernaturalism. Different from contemporary creationism, the early Christian authors have never disregarded the universe’s natural movement. In fact, various Church fathers as well as contemporary theologians approved of the natural appraisal of phenomena by the available sciences and included natural assessments into their discourse.

The natural realism of the Orthodox worldview, which allows for a development of the universe, transpires, for instance, in the conviction that, whereas creation is characterized by instantaneity, organization takes time. In tune with Gregory of Nyssa’s view, John Damascene and Symeon the New Theologian read the Genesis “days of creation” as ages that spanned from the beginning of the universe to its final consummation.40 The universe is not created in a supernaturalistic fashion, by way of a limited sequence of abrupt divine interventions and regardless of its natural potential and movement. The universe has to move and develop at its own pace,41 isotropically, given its ontological unity as creation.42 And whereas the natural development of the creation is indeed a divine gift, it remains, according to John Meyendorff, a natural phenomenon.43 His appraisal of the situation has traditional roots. Basil, for instance, mentioned the nature’s ongoing birth-giving of further beings.44 John Damascene, in turn, stated that within the universe there are things that God created out of nothing, such as the fundamental elements, and things later made out of these elements.45 Things made out of other things, observed Maximus the Confessor, are beings endowed with natural capabilities. By virtue of their constitutive principles or reasons to be, created things are possessed of distinct wills or inclinations and [End Page 52] energies or activities, without which no nature is real.46 It is true that the natural movement of the universe and its components concretely embodies the divine blueprint of creation. But inclination and energy pertain to the very nature of beings, a point formally sanctioned in relation to the divine and human wills and energies of Christ at the sixth ecumenical council (Constantinople, 681).47 As the divine energy supports Christ’s human nature whilst the latter operates according to the natural processes that pertain to its reason to be, so the divine ground of being facilitates the existence of the universe,48 but does not supersede its natural operations. Taking his cue from Gregory of Nyssa, Nemesius pointed out that in leading the creation to further complexity, God does not leap from one stage to another without regard for the natural order.49

That acknowledgment of the universe’s natural energy and movement are inherent to the Orthodox doctrine of creation is illustrated by Stăniloae’s take on this topic. He referred to “the [natural] laws [endowed with the capacity to] preserve and develop the creation in a dynamic way.”50 He pointed out likewise that “the present form” of the cosmos and humankind may change in the future “into that to which they could evolve by themselves,” albeit their final form cannot be attained without divine support.51 Of interest in this excerpt is the author’s conspicuous adherence to the notion of natural development, which directly draws on the evolutionary model of the natural sciences. For him, consequently, it was not a matter of establishing whether there is a natural movement; it was a matter of building a corresponding theology.52 Below we shall discover that since God does not make anything useless53 the natural movement of the universe envisages a purpose, aiming at further organization and the eschatological consummation.

To summarize, although it upholds creation out of nothing as a sudden event, Orthodox theology does not teach a recent creation where the beings materialize out of thin air through infrequent supernatural interventions. As in Psalm 103/104:29–30, its concern is what would happen should God decide to withdraw from the creation, where God is permanently active, not what happens if God intervenes. Supernatural creative acts would be consistent with an ontologically discontinuous cosmos, not a [End Page 53] single act of creation. And for the Orthodox, traditionally, the prodigiously diversified universe is one creation.54 In the light of the above, a very different story emerges. The cosmos is progressively created, made, fashioned, established, and ordered. God is continuously active in the universe—as lyrically illustrated by the matinal antiphons of the Byzantine rite with reference to the work of the Holy Spirit—but the universe’s ongoing organization is a natural phenomenon that spans a long time. It takes, literally, ages. In terms of the morphology of this phenomenon, the Orthodox worldview does not significantly differ from contemporary cosmology, which speaks of a sudden quantum creation, the origin of everything that is, followed by a long-term process of movement, expansion, and attainment of complexity. No wonder therefore that contemporary Orthodox theologians such as Meyendorff, Stăniloae, and Christos Yannaras have adopted the cosmological timescale of billions of years of cosmic evolution.55 The difference occurs in the fine print of the two narratives. Contemporary science does not acknowledge utter nothingness, speaking instead of quantum fluctuations, whilst theology does. Furthermore, and overall, science exclusively refers to natural factors, whereas theology, proposing a more complex notion of nature, means more than one type of agency. Likewise, science, epitomized by Darwinian evolution, does not mention the purposefulness of natural movement, whereas theology, like the Lamarckian view of evolution, considers teleology crucial. Apart from these differences, the Orthodox doctrine of creation is perfectly compatible with the scientific paradigm of movement, evolution, and expansion. In the next two sections I turn to the reasons for which theology affirms a purposeful universe. This overview will make obvious further correspondences between the Orthodox doctrine of creation and contemporary cosmology.

Rationality, Potentiality, and Movement

The Orthodox doctrine of creation construes the purposefulness of the natural movement from the vantage point of universe’s inner rationality. Created out of nothing and internally conditioned by principles that translate the divine blueprint, chaotic matter, the universe’s reservoir of potentiality,56 tends towards actualization, structure, cosmicity as it were. The rational foundation of the universe determines therefore its purposeful movement towards complexity and the final consummation, the process being fuelled by the actualization of its natural potential. The inner mechanics of the cosmic processes is far from simple. And given that from a certain viewpoint matter is aggregated divine rationality (Proverbs 3:19–20 refers to the universe as established upon wisdom and understanding), God, [End Page 54] Maximus noted,57 works discretely, as a “hidden presence,” within and through the natural potential of the cosmos, leading it towards the preordained goal encrypted in the divine principles. In less sophisticated a way, Basil suggested the same earlier. In his words, “that [divine] voice, or that first commandment, has become for nature a law of sorts which remained in the earth, giving it the power to give birth and produce fruit from then on.”58 Earlier still, Clement the Alexandrian represented this situation through the metaphor of the song of the Logos whose ecosystemic reverberations permeate—like gravitational waves—the entire fabric of created reality.59 What facilitates this phenomenon is the fact that the “measure and number” of nature originate in God.60 These patristic intuitions have not escaped contemporary theologians. Stăniloae affirmed that the universe is grounded in “God’s thinking, power, and will.”61 But there is another side to this situation. Matter’s potentialities are not only the way the divine principles become reality. They flesh out the abstract qualities of created nature.62 As such, by embodying divine principles and natural qualities, matter is, as Stăniloae had it, plasticized rationality,63 materialized thought, logos incarnate. This traditional intuition of the Orthodox theology of creation is astonishingly modern. Natural phenomena are another form in which, we hear from contemporary scientists, a rationality that transcends the material universe becomes manifest on a quantum level to then reverberate throughout the cosmos.

So understood, the materialized or plasticized rationality of the universe encloses a tension. The cosmos brought about out of nothing, of some kind of death,64 and therefore ontologically deficient, is conditioned to exist, develop, and thrive. It hangs between nothing and something, and wishes to be. Created matter has this instinct, to call it so, to mobilize its potential as energy, to be ever dynamic, to move forward towards increasing stability and complexity. In current parlance, the universe is an emergent phenomenon. Gregory the Theologian referred to this phenomenon in terms of divinely set parameters that inaugurate the ongoing activity of created beings.65 In turn, Basil and John Chrysostom referred to it as “a living energy of sorts” present in the creation, enabling it to move and endowing it with “a certain living power”66 or fertility. John Damascene called it fire, the first created light, understanding it [End Page 55] as a natural power present in everything and never idle.67 It follows that the universe, albeit divinely conditioned and supported, is equipped with natural energy. Aptly, Yannaras observed that “the matter of the world is energy and . . . the universe is an event dynamically effected” which envisages a finality.68 True, corresponding to the Hebrew bara of Genesis, the New Testament uses the term energy to designate only God’s activity.69 But its employment in the Septuagint and the cultural history of the term70 point to a traditional understanding of created nature as possessing its own energy. What matters is that the perception of energy as movement towards further complexity, stability, and perfection, which entails change,71 is indispensable to the concept of the universe as creation. Indeed, this concept is totally opposite to the creationist notion of a world perfect from the outset. All is ontologically imperfect about something brought into being out of nothing.72 Convinced of the universe’s ontological limitations, Church fathers such as Basil, John Chrysostom, and Maximus73 have nevertheless elaborated on the creation’s natural energy as a movement towards perfection. Their perception is shared, closer to us, by such Orthodox scholars as Vladimir Lossky, Stăniloae, Meyendorff, and Yannaras.74

Although several others had a brush with this area, two Orthodox thinkers have persistently contemplated created reality as an emergent phenomenon. These are Maximus and Stăniloae. Maximus believed that the universe was conceived as a thought in the mind of God, and that, upon bringing it into being out of nothing, God endowed it with its own energy in order to reach a state of concrete, organized existence. Organization is conditioned by the divine thoughts as principles of things created, which work similar to the fractal patterns of contemporary science, guiding the process of actualization of the universe’s natural potential. Actualization occurs through consecutive diastolic or inflationary and systolic or deflationary stages, which entail change, and aim at the final completion of the universe.75 Throughout the process of actualization, God makes use of creation’s natural energy, Maximus [End Page 56] noted further,76 in tune with the early Christian perception that God does not operate without and against nature.77 In Maximus’s footsteps, Stăniloae articulated the same topic against the backdrop of contemporary science. While advocating the theological axiom concerning God’s permanent activity within the creation,78 he openly referred to aspects of contemporary science such as quantum potentialities, the expansion of the universe, and the evolution of life, which, he acknowledged, are governed by the natural laws. The laws or the constants of nature perform the task of securing the existence of the universe, facilitating its continuous emergence and development—the natural energy of things, which, divinely conditioned, aims at a future perfection.79 One notices that Maximus and Stăniloae proposed an eschato-logically oriented reality that entailed the input of two factors, divine or uncreated and natural or created. This leads me to the next item, the principle of synergy, to which I turn in the next section.

In the light of the above and concerning the matters at hand, traditionally, the Orthodox doctrine of creation builds on three fundamental principles: the creation is rationally structured; the cosmos moves naturally; God works throughout the universe’s natural movement from beginning to end. These principles apply to the creation in its entirety, from the cosmos to lifeforms on earth.80 So understood, the Orthodox worldview anticipates by centuries principles of the current scientific model. In evolutionary biology, for instance, three elements are at play: the genetic code, life and its processes, and the impact of the environment. Cosmology observes a similar pattern when it affirms the natural laws, cosmic expansion, and global causality. Given their narrow understanding of nature as deprived of the supernatural, neither cosmology nor biology refer to divine agency, but the theological model includes among its first two principles all the factors cosmology and biology consider. This difference between the three models notwithstanding, their correspondence remains obvious. Contemporary sciences call biological and cosmic evolution the process of general becoming, which the Orthodox doctrine of creation had contemplated long before modernity. Without defending the current sciences as immutable truths,81 in other words being free to rephrase itself within any other scientific context, the Orthodox representation of reality shows a profound affinity with the evolutionary paradigm of a universe that moves and changes in whole and parts. My conclusion is consistent with the views of Christopher Knight, Lossky, Stăniloae, and Elizabeth Theokritoff.82 [End Page 57] The evidence of this correspondence of models challenges the current bias of certain Orthodox milieus against the evolutionary perspective in cosmology and biology—as well as the prejudice of certain scientific milieus that suspect Orthodox theology of upholding supernaturalist and/or creationist agendas.

In summary, the Orthodox doctrine of creation represents reality as an ongoing actualization of matter’s natural potentialities, a process that constitutes the inner side of the universe’s spatiotemporal expansion. This process is conditioned by divine parameters which, given their embodiment in the flesh of things, permanently operate from within the creation, not by suspending the order of nature. The infrastructural process of actualization, resulting in movement and expansion on a macrocosmic level, is truly a natural phenomenon that unfolds as a continuous energetic event. This theological depiction of reality, which stems from the Logos-theory of patristic tradition, corresponds to the contemporary notion of quantum cosmology, which presents the universe and life as emergent phenomena. The reference of contemporary cosmologists to a rationality irreducible to the material universe may not satisfy the Orthodox take on the Logos, but, lending substance to what tradition theorizes as the rational principles of things, it inaugurates a line of communication between theology and science regarding the mechanics of movement on a cosmic scale.

The Principle of Synergy

Following from the above, I begin by mentioning Stăniloae’s conviction that the rapport between God and the cosmos presupposed that both factors, created and uncreated, were permanently active.83 Without the term synergy being used here, his perception drew on the core Christian doctrine, Christology, specifically its functional rendition as the principle of synergy. Florovsky, Lossky, Meyendorff, Aristotle Papanikolaou, Theokritoff, and John Zizioulas pointed to this Christological principle in different contexts, including cosmological.84 It seems that Stăniloae’s cosmological application of the principle of synergy borrowed from his primary patristic source, Maximus.85 Of course, Maximus himself was aware of the Christological articulation of cosmology in John 1:1–3, a passage which, together with Colossians 1:13–20,86 conditioned the influential interpretation of Genesis 1:1 by one of his own sources, [End Page 58] Origen.87 Herein I consider echoes of the Christological doctrine of synergy within the theology of creation.

It is noteworthy that the Orthodox representation of reality discerns a relation between the cosmic processes addressed in the foregoing and the exchange of qualities or energies between the two natures—divine and human, uncreated and created—of the Logos, God’s Son incarnate, Jesus Christ. At the incarnation, human nature was united to the Logos, and through it, given its microcosmic or recapitulative dimension,88 so did the entire cosmos.89 As a consequence, whatever human nature experienced after being united to God’s Son was matched by the cosmos, as Paul asserted long before all Christian theologians (Romans 8:18–23; Colossians 1:15–20). But this new rapport between the Logos and the creation, established through the incarnation, is not all there is to it. The incarnation as a new cosmological occurrence, so rendered, metaphorically, by Ignatius of Antioch,90 revealed the original mystery at the heart of reality. Specifically, from the outset the natural processes within the universe entailed a mutual adjustment of the kenotic, humble, and patient God and the cosmos, manifested in the fundamental interaction between the divine and cosmic energies. The divine adjustment to the parameters of the creation is suggested by the image of the Lamb slaughtered at the foundation of the universe (Revelation 13:8), and the Lord’s historical kenosis (Philippians 2:5–8). The historical event of the incarnation made manifest the inner, fundamental mechanics of a divinely imbued universe that, so to speak, naturally functioned supernaturally. The perspective of God’s humility, patience, and adjustment to the circumstances of the creation is remote from the understanding of God’s might as an interventionist power that suspends the order of a passive world.

In mentioning the equally active factors, created and uncreated, Stăniloae captured an aspect of this fundamental interaction that Basil and John Chrysostom articulated outside the Christological model but definitely as a synergetic phenomenon.91 In turn, Stăniloae’s source, Maximus, proposed that in creating the universe God contemplated as a model the face of Christ, in whom all is synergetic.92 The cosmos corresponded to the mystery of Christ represented as “hypostatic union” and therefore had to be considered through the lens of that mystery.93 As one can infer from a later passage within To Thalassius, 60, this meant that the divine blueprint of the universe drew on and mirrored the Christological model of union between divine and human, created and uncreated, time and eternity, limit and limitlessness. [End Page 59] Whatever happened within the cosmos, namely, the interaction between all things and between them and the Logos,94 was based on and deciphered by the Christological paradigm. It is perhaps on this ground that Maximus understood the movement of the creation as participation in the divine.95 In short, as Christ operates synergistically, since the universe is structured after the Christological model everything in the universe is synergetic. The Christological model explains the rich concept of nature in the Orthodox theology of creation, irreducible to either naturalism or supernaturalism.

But Maximus’s Christological contemplation of creation bears further implications, concerning the universe’s future. Somewhere else he pointed out that the experience of the incarnate, crucified, resurrected, and glorified Logos encrypted the destiny of the entire creation.96 This means that, itself an “incarnate” divine blueprint, or “logos,” created universe and all of its parts must pass through the dire straits of crucifixion and death in order to be resurrected and reach eschatological glorification. To this future glory I turn in the next section.

In summary, the Orthodox theology of creation construes the cosmos, through the Christological lens, as an emergent and convergent phenomenon. This approach is warranted by the understanding of nature as imbued by the supernatural. On the one hand, nature is divinely configured from within by the rational principles of the Logos and continually permeated by the divine energies. On the other hand, nature means potentiality endowed with its own energy, on way to full actualization and further complexity. This is so given that the cosmic processes replicate the mystery of Christ, characterized by interactivity. The Christological vantage point allows the Orthodox worldview to affirm the fundamental convergence of all things within the universe—to paraphrase John Donne’s seventeenth meditation, no thing is an island, remaining a part of the main—as well as their interaction with the divine factor. Taken at face value, the Christological model is the least palatable aspect of the Orthodox doctrine of creation for contemporary science. However, the application of this model in the form of the principle of synergy—or general interconnectivity—corresponds to the current representation of nature as one continuous infrastructurally and superstructurally connected and complex phenomenon.97


In what follows I look more closely at the creation’s movement towards its eschatological destination, a topic inherent to all that I have addressed above, from the dynamism of creation to rationality and potentiality to synergy. This discussion is mainly [End Page 60] hermeneutical, focusing on a perception of Genesis within the tradition at odds with its creationist iteration. Although the Genesis narrative of creation is overall considered a report on the beginnings, traditionally it is taken as a prophecy concerning the world’s final shape and, more so, as one that draws on a contemplation of the cosmic movement from the vantage point of its finality revealed in Christ.

That Genesis speaks about the future is obvious in Basil’s note that “the statement by anticipation of the dogmas concerning the world’s consummation and transformation is now handed on briefly by way of the fundamentals pertaining to the divinely inspired teaching: ‘In the beginning God made.’”98 The point is unequivocal. Basil understood the first verse of Genesis as an announcement concerning the final change and fulfilment of the creation. Similarly, in pondering Genesis 1:24, he exhorted: “Think of the word of God running through creation, still active now as it has been from the beginning, and efficient until the end in order to bring the cosmos to fulfilment.”99 The passage alludes to the principle of synergy, the divine activity conjugating with the natural potential of the creation. But, hermeneutically considered, it shows, in solidarity with the previous excerpt, that Genesis does not speak of past events only. Instead, in mentioning the past, scripture discloses God’s ongoing operation within the world, till the end. Basil’s understanding was not new. Long before him, Justin Martyr and Irenaeus noted that scripture often used the prophetic perfect, namely, the rendition of future events in the past tense.100 Along these lines, Symeon read Genesis 1–2 from the vantage point of Revelation 21–22 and the experience of the saints. Without stating it explicitly, he understood the last chapters of Revelation as the antitypes of the prefigurations present within the first chapters of Genesis. For him, although being depicted as a potential paradise at the beginning, the universe becomes truly paradisal only at the end.101 It ensues that Genesis describes a state of the universe without equivalent in the past, not the retrieval of a lost past. On this note, I turn to how the Orthodox doctrine of creation represents the future.

The movement of the universe is not circular. It does not answer to the ancient myth of the eternal return, as creationism believes. Maximus adhered to what contemporary cosmologists call the arrow of time, pointing to the future. For him, the universe possessed no perfection in its chaotic beginnings alluded to in Genesis 1:2. The universe began in the utter imperfection pertaining to the fact of being created, to then advance through natural movement to the perfection to which it is divinely called. Maximus rendered this trajectory by way of triadic patterns such as creation—movement—rest and beginning—middle—finality.102 So understood, the universe moves and progresses towards further complexity, superorganization, and transformation, until it reaches a point when the natural laws work in strange [End Page 61] ways,103 which, to draw on contemporary analogies, evoke quantum physics more than relativity. Paul hinted at that reality as God becoming all in all (1 Corinthians 15:28), against the backdrop of his conviction that “the present form of this world passes away” (1 Corinthians 7:31). The Book of Revelation called it a new heaven and a new earth (21:1; see also 2 Peter 3:13) and described it through the metaphor of a translucent city (21:10–11). In that ultimate condition of the universe, the death that characterizes the first things and so the nature of the creation will be no more (Revelation 21:4). Maximus referred to this final state as a resurrectional condition of the universe.104 The Orthodox tradition knows nothing of a corresponding state of perfection and immortality in creation’s distant past, in the beginning of the world.

In short, the Orthodox doctrine of creation preaches the teleological conditioning of the universe. Like in Fermat’s principle, just as the light seeks the best path to its target, due to its rationality the universe moves in the best possible way towards its preordained goal. All that occurs within the universe points to its eschatological state, understood as significantly different from the current shape of things. The universe’s unfolding towards that point is conditioned by the rationality of the creation, expression of the pretemporal divine blueprint, being made possible by the ongoing interaction of divine and cosmic energies. Contemporary science allows for theorizations about the future of the universe, but scientists feel uneasy at the prospect that whatever the future might bring has to do with a blueprint of the creation and that the natural processes within the cosmos point to that preordained end. The same as with the principle of synergy, this would be another divergence between theological and scientific cosmologies. That said, although in the past it has been supposed that information, much like energy, cannot traverse a singularity such as the one out of which the universe has emerged, recent observations confirm that the transfer of information and energy through singularities is a physical fact. Perhaps this finding will encourage the cosmologists of today and tomorrow to allow for the pretemporal divine blueprint that the Orthodox theology of creation advocates and, together with it, the perspective of a teleologically conditioned universe. Last but not least, regardless of the difference in how valid teleological assessments are for theology and science, they both reject the supernaturalist narrative of the lost perfection to be retrieved in the distant future.


In contrast with contemporary creationism, which construes a recently made world, molded exclusively by God out of an inert matter deprived of natural energy and capacity for movement, the Orthodox theology of creation traditionally [End Page 62] advocates a distinction between the divine acts of creation and organization. God has brought the universe into existence out of nothing, but in order to bring the cosmos from the initial chaos to the present state of consistency and complexity God has worked, and still does, within and through creation’s natural movement. This secures the unity and connection of all things within the cosmos. What makes possible the permanent convergence of divine and cosmic factors is that matter—or created nature—is supernaturally configured from within. The divine configuration of matter refers to the rational principles in things, by which the pretemporal blueprint of the universe is translated into the concreteness of created existence, and to the divine energies that permeate the cosmos. As a result, the universe is an open field for the exercise of divine activity, an activity which, due to God’s humble adjustment to the circumstances of the creation, operates in conjunction with the natural factors at play in the universe. What causes this situation is the identity between the universe’s divine blueprint and the mystery of Christ, Logos incarnate, whose mark, the principle of synergy, characterizes everything that occurs within the cosmos. This identity furthermore conditions the entire movement of the universe towards a future form that corresponds to Christ’s glorified human nature—a state of immortality and participation in the divine. To reach that goal, the universe traverses vast expanses of time, undertaking constant inflations and deflations or diastolic and systolic transformations.

The above analysis, which illustrates the argument I put forward regarding the distinctiveness of the Orthodox theology of creation, is primarily based on traditional sources, particularly scriptural and patristic. Due to space limitations, I could not refer to innumerable other examples from the ascetic writings, hymnography, hagiography, and iconography. In addition, I have reviewed opinions of contemporary Orthodox theologians, of whom some engaged, more or less courageously, the current scientific representation of reality. The overall openness of these old and recent authors to the scientific view of the universe is noteworthy. What I hope has become obvious is that the best of contemporary Orthodox theology is in perfect accord with the best of the early Christian and medieval tradition in referring to the available science in the depiction of reality. For both, science, far from representing a danger, offers a framework within which the traditional worldview can be efficiently rephrased and communicated to wide audiences. I also hope that my rendition of the patristic approach to science made plain that such references do not require a detailed survey of the scientific ideas. What the Orthodox theology of creation takes from scientific cosmology are its broad lines, which enable it to reiterate the traditional message in ways that are intelligible today. It is for this reason that I did not provide direct references to scientific works—an approach common to both old and new Orthodox theologians. Finally, I hope that the above made clear that the Orthodox theology of creation, in tune with the factors discussed in the beginning, cannot be associated with creationist supernaturalism and that most of its views on the natural course of the universe are compatible with the current scientific paradigm. That said, as already [End Page 63] iterated, this marvelous correspondence, which can be fructified both pastorally and in missionary contexts, does not entail that the Orthodox worldview will not retain its capacity to engage with a different scientific culture, should that emerge in the future. [End Page 64]

Doru Costache
St. Cyril’s Coptic Orthodox Theological College
Sydney College of Divinity

This publication has been implemented within the framework of the project “Science & Orthodoxy around the World” of the Institute of Historical Research of the National Hellenic Research Foundation, which was made possible through the support of a grant from the Templeton World Charity Foundation, Inc. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Project and the Templeton World Charity Foundation, Inc. The first draft was written at Josephine Butler College during author’s Durham International Senior Research Fellowship with the Institute of Advanced Study, Durham University, UK (Epiphany Term, 2018). The author wishes to extend his gratitude to Christopher Knight, Efthymios Nicolaidis, and Nikos Livanos, for their encouragement and advice, and to JOCS’s editors and reviewers for their useful suggestions.


1. Jaroslav Pelikan, The Vindication of Tradition: The 1983 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1984), 65.

2. Pelikan, Vindication, 65.

3. John Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes (New York: Fordham University Press, 1979), 217–218.

4. Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology, 36–39.

5. John Hedley Brooke, “Modern Christianity,” in Science and Religion around the World, ed. John Hedley Brooke and Ronald L. Numbers (Oxford University Press, 2011), 92–119. Ronald L. Numbers, The Creationists: From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design, expanded ed. (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 2006).

6. David C. Lindberg, “Early Christian Attitudes toward Nature” and “Medieval Science and Religion,” in Science and Religion: A Historical Introduction, ed. Gary B. Ferngren (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002), 47–56, 57–72, esp. 49–50, 60.

7. Brooke, “Modern Christianity,” 92. Georges Florovsky, Aspects of Church History, Collected Works 4 (Belmont, MA: Nordland Publishing Company, 1974), 183–209. Alexey V. Nesteruk, “The Problem of Faith and Scientific Knowledge in Russian Religious Thought in the Nineteenth-Twentieth Centuries,” in Nature and Scripture in the Abrahamic Religions: 1700–Present, vol. 2, ed. Jitse M. van der Meer Scott Mandelbrote, Brill’s Series in Church History 37 (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2008), 371–404, esp. 378–388. Elizabeth Theokritoff, “Creator and creation,” in The Cambridge Companion to Orthodox Christian Theology, ed. Mary B. Cunningham and Elizabeth Theokritoff (Cambridge University Press, 2008), 63–77, esp. 67–68.

8. John Behr, “Faithfulness and Creativity,” in Abba: The Tradition of Orthodoxy in the West, ed. John Behr, Andrew Louth, and Dimitri Conomos (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2003), 159–177. See also Pelikan, Vindication, 79–80.

9. Herein I include only works used in the present study. Doru Costache, “Christian Worldview: Understandings from St. Basil the Great,” in Cappadocian Legacy: A Critical Appraisal, ed. Doru Costache and Philip Kariatlis (Sydney, NSW: St. Andrew’s Orthodox Press, 2013), 349–371. Doru Costache, “Meaningful Cosmos: Logos and Nature in Clement the Alexandrian’s Exhortation to the Gentiles,” Phronema 28:2 (2013): 107–130. Doru Costache, “Making Sense of the World: Theology and Science in St Gregory of Nyssa’s An Apology for the Hexaemeron,” Phronema 28:1 (2013): 1–29. Florovsky, Aspects of Church History, 41. Lindberg, “Early Christian Attitudes,” 47–56; “Medieval Science and Religion,” 57–72. Vladimir Lossky, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2002), 183–184. Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology, 133–134. Alexei V. Nesteruk, Light from the East: Theology, Science, and the Eastern Orthodox Tradition (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003), 13–40. Efthymios Nicolaidis, Science and Eastern Orthodoxy: From the Greek Fathers to the Age of Globalization, trans. S. Emanuel (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011), 1–39.

10. Efthymios Nicolaidis et al., “Science and Orthodox Christianity: An Overview,” Isis 107:3 (2016): 542–566, esp. 544–549. Nicolaidis, Science and Eastern Orthodoxy, 55–105. Apostolos Spanos, “Was Innovation Unwanted in Byzantium?,” in Byzantium Wanted: The Desire for a Lost Empire, ed. Ingela Nilsson and Paul Stephenson, Studia Byzantina Upsaliensia 15 (Uppsala Universitet, 2014), 43–56. Apostolos Spanos, “‘To Every Innovation Anathema’(?) Some preliminary thoughts on the study of Byzantine Innovation,” in Mysterion, strategike og kainotomia, ed. H. Knudsen et al. (Oslo: Novus Forlag, 2010), 51–59. Basil N. Tatakis, Christian Philosophy in the Patristic and Byzantine Tradition, trans. G. D. Dragas (Rollinsford: Orthodox Research Institute, 2007), 74–75, 216–297.

11. Deno John Geanakoplos, Constantinople and the West: Essays on the Late Byzantine (Palaeologan) and Italian Renaissances and the Byzantine and Roman Churches (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1989). Nicolaidis et al., “Science and Orthodox Christianity,” 549–554. Nicolaidis, Science and Eastern Orthodoxy, 119–129, 130–139. Tatakis, Christian Philosophy, 156–157, 286–294, 269.

12. Georges Florovsky, Christianity and Culture, Collected Works 2 (Belmont, MA: Nordland Publishing Company, 1974), 180–182. Florovsky, Aspects of Church History, 157–182. Aidan Nichols, Light from the East: Authors and Themes in Orthodox Theology (London: Shed & Ward, 1995), 11–13, 47, 131, 151. Nicolaidis, Science and Eastern Orthodoxy, 151–168.

13. Andrew Louth, Modern Orthodox Thinkers: From the Philokalia to the Present (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2015), xiii–xiv, xv–xvi. Nichols, Light from the East, 24–25. Stoyan Tanev, Energy in Orthodox Theology and Physics: From Controversy to Encounter (Pickwick Publications, 2017), 24–71.

14. Louth, Modern Orthodox Thinkers, 1–12.

15. Doru Costache, “The Transdisciplinary Carats of Patristic Byzantine Tradition,” Transdisciplinary Journal of Engineering & Science 4 (2013): 94–104, esp. 99–102.

16. Dumitru Stăniloae, Teologia dogmatică ortodoxă, three vols, third edition (București, 2003), 1: 6.

17. George E. Demacopoulos and Aristotle Papanikolaou (eds), Orthodox Constructions of the West, Orthodox Christianity and Contemporary Thought (New York: Fordham University Press, 2013). Vasilios N. Makrides, “Orthodox Anti-Westernism Today: A Hindrance to European Integration?,” International Journal for the Study of the Christian Church 9:3 (2009): 209–224.

18. Georges Florovsky, Creation and Redemption, Collected Works 3 (Belmont, MA: Nordland Publishing Company, 1974), 43–78; Aspects of Church History, 39–62. Lossky, Mystical Theology, 91–113. Stăniloae, Teologia dogmatică ortodoxă, 1: 337–90. Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology, 129–37. Theokritoff, “Creator and creation,” 63–77. Elizabeth Theokritoff, “Embodied Word and New Creation: Some Modern Orthodox Insights concerning the Material World,” in Abba: The Tradition of Orthodoxy in the West, 221–40. Christos Yannaras, Elements of Faith: An Introduction to Orthodox Theology, trans. Keith Schram (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1991), 38–52. John D. Zizioulas, The Eucharistic Communion and the World, ed. Luke Ben Tallon (New York and London: T&T Clark, 2011).

19. Address to Youth, 2–4; Hexaemeron, 1.1; 1.2; 3.3.

20. Dumitru Stăniloae, Theology and the Church, trans. Robert Barringer (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1980), 216, 224–26. Yannaras, Elements of Faith, 38.

21. John Damascene, Orthodox Faith, 2.1–2. Florovsky, Creation and Redemption, 60, 70–71; Aspects of Church History, 53. Aristotle Papanikolaou, “Creation as Communion in Contemporary Orthodox Theology,” in Toward an Ecology of Transfiguration: Orthodox Christian Perspectives on Environment, Nature, and Creation, ed. John Chryssavgis and Bruce V. Foltz (New York: Fordham University Press, 2013), 106–120, esp. 117–119.

22. Paul M. Blowers, Drama of the Divine Economy: Creator and Creation in Early Christian Theology and Piety, Oxford Early Christian Studies (Oxford University Press, 2012), 138–187. Theokritoff, “Embodied Word,” 221–226.

23. Blowers, Drama of the Divine Economy, 101–138, 188–244.

24. Lossky, Mystical Theology, 241. Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology, 132–134. Alexei V. Nesteruk, The Sense of the Universe: Philosophical Explication of Theological Commitment in Modern Cosmology (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2015), 417–23. Nesteruk, Light from the East, 68–74. Stăniloae, Teologia dogmatică ortodoxă, 1: 344, 346–47, 350, 389. Yannaras, Elements of Faith, 37–52.

25. Costache, “Christian Worldview,” 98–99, 106.

26. Seraphim Rose, Genesis, Creation and Early Man: The Orthodox Christian Vision (Platina, CA: Saint Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 2000).

27. Dominic Keech, The Anti-Pelagian Christology of Augustine of Hippo, 396–430, Oxford Theological Monographs (Oxford University Press, 2012).

28. Lossky, Mystical Theology, 98–99, 101–102. Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology, 132, 169–170. Stăniloae, Teologia dogmatică ortodoxă, 346–347. Theokritoff, “Embodied Word,” 221–222.

29. Doru Costache, “Mapping Reality within the Experience of Holiness,” in The Oxford Handbook of Maximus the Confessor, ed. Pauline Allen and Bronwen Neil (Oxford University Press, 2015), 378–396, esp. 384.

30. Costache, “Transdisciplinary Carats,” 94–96, 99–102.

31. Andrew Louth, Maximus the Confessor (London and New York: Routledge, 1996), 22.

32. Gregory, On the Hexaemeron, 8, 9, 16, 64, 68. See Costache, “Making Sense of the World,” 9, 22–26.

33. Gregory of Nyssa, On the Hexaemeron, 64.

34. Athanasius, Against the Arians, 1.17, 20, 21; 2.61.

35. Irenaeus, Apostolic Preaching, 4–5.

36. To Diognetus, 8.7.

37. Maximus the Confessor, To Thalassius, 2.

38. Basil, Hexaemeron, 9.2. John Damascene, Orthodox Faith, 1.9.

39. Theophilus of Antioch, To Autolycus, 3.3. Athanasius, On the Incarnation, 2. Basil, Hexaemeron, 1.2. See Zizioulas, The Eucharistic Communion, 154–158.

40. John, Orthodox Faith, 2.1. Symeon, The First Ethical Discourse, 1.

41. Basil, Hexaemeron, 2.3. Gregory of Nyssa, On the Making of the Human Being, 1. Nemesius, Of the Nature of the Human Being, 3.

42. Colin E. Gunton, The Triune Creator: A Historical and Systematic Study (Edinburgh University Press, 1998), 71–73. Theokritoff, “Creator and creation,” 65.

43. Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology, 133. For a recent endorsement of the same, see Denis Edwards, How God Acts: Creation, Redemption, and Special Divine Action (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2010), 7–8.

44. Basil, Hexaemeron, 2.3; 8.1.

45. John Damascene, Orthodox Faith, 2.5.

46. Maximus, On Knowledge, 1.3; Difficulties, 5, 65. See Ps-Dionysius the Areopagite, On the Divine Names, 8.5.

47. See Acts of the sixth ecumenical council, session 18: Definition of the Faith.

48. Kallistos Ware, “God Immanent yet Transcendent: The Divine Energies according to Saint Gregory Palamas,” in In Whom We Live and Move and Have Our Being: Panentheistic Reflections on God’s Presence in a Scientific World, ed. Philip Clayton and Arthur Robert Peacocke (Grand Rapids, MI and Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2004), 157–68.

49. Gregory, On the Making of the Human Being, 8; On the Hexaemeron, 25. Nemesius, Of the Nature of the Human Being, 1.

50. Dumitru Stăniloae, “Introducere” to Sfântul Atanasie cel Mare: Scrieri, first part, Părinţi şi Scriitori Bisericeşti 15 (București, 1987), 5–26, esp. 24.

51. Teologia dogmatică ortodoxă, 1: 342.

52. Stăniloae, “Introducere,” 24.

53. Basil, Hexaemeron, 1.7; 5.2. John Chrysostom, On Genesis, 8.4; 10.12–13.

54. Irenaeus, Against the Heresies, 2.25.2. Gregory of Nyssa, On the Hexaemeron, 65; 71; 73.

55. Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology, 134. Stăniloae, Teologia dogmatică ortodoxă, 1: 346. Yannaras, Elements of Faith, 42.

56. Basil, Hexaemeron, 2.3. Gregory of Nyssa, On the Hexaemeron, 7.

57. Maximus, The Mystagogy, 1, 7; To Thalassius, 60.

58. Basil, Hexaemeron, 5.1.

59. Clement, Exhortation to the Gentiles, 1.5.

60. Clement, Exhortation to the Gentiles, 6.69.

61. Stăniloae, “Introducere,” 20; cf. 21–22. See also Teologia dogmatică ortodoxă, 1: 347.

62. Gregory of Nyssa, On the Hexaemeron, 7, 10, 26. Maximus, On Love, 4.4. John Damascene, Orthodox Faith, 1.9.

63. Stăniloae, Teologia dogmatică ortodoxă, 1: 376; 2: 7.

64. Athanasius, Against the Gentiles, 41. Basil, Hexaemeron 1.3. Basil, Homily on Psalm 114.5. John Damascene, Orthodox Faith, 2.6. Florovsky, Creation and Redemption, 49–50; Aspects of Church History, 49–50, 56–57. Zizioulas, The Eucharistic Communion, 158–162.

65. Gregory the Theologian, Theological Orations, 4.11.

66. Basil, Hexaemeron 2.6. John Chrysostom, On Genesis, 3.1.

67. John Damascene, Orthodox Faith, 2.7.

68. Yannaras, Elements of Faith, 47.

69. David Bradshaw, “The Concept of Divine Energies,” in Divine Essence and Divine Energies: Ecumenical Reflections on the Presence of God in Eastern Orthodoxy, ed. Constantinos Athanasopoulos and Christoph Schneider (Cambridge: James Clarke & Co, 2013), 27–49, esp. 33–38. David Bradshaw, Aristotle East and West: Metaphysics and the Division of Christendom (Cambridge University Press, 2004), 120–123.

70. Bradshaw, Aristotle, 120, 122, 227–228; “The Concept of Divine Energies,” 29–33. Florovsky, Creation and Redemption, 64–69.

71. Maximus, To Thalassius, 60. Florovsky, Creation and Redemption, 43, 49–50. Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology, 132–135. Stăniloae, Teologia dogmatică ortodoxă, 1: 349.

72. Florovsky, Creation and Redemption, 47–48; Aspects of Church History, 54–55. Lossky, Mystical Theology, 93.

73. Basil, Hexaemeron, 8.1; 9.2. John Chrysostom, On Genesis, 3.1. Maximus, Difficulties, 7; To Talassius, 60; On Knowledge, 1.3.

74. Lossky, Mystical Theology, 104–106. Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology, 133–134. Stăniloae, Teologia dogmatică ortodoxă, 1: 374–391; 2: 7. Yannaras, Elements of Faith, 39.

75. Maximus, Difficulties, 7, 41; 10.12; On Love, 3.25.

76. Maximus, Difficulties, 2; To Thalassius, 2.

77. Bradshaw, Aristotle, 123.

78. Stăniloae, “Introducere,” 20, 21–22. Cf. Teologia dogmatică ortodoxă, 1: 346–347.

79. Stăniloae, “Introducere,” 22, 24; Teologia dogmatică ortodoxă, 1: 154, 349; 2: 7.

80. Edwards, How God Acts, 2–5.

81. Lossky, Mystical Theology, 183–184.

82. Christopher C. Knight, “Natural Theology and the Eastern Orthodox Tradition,” in The Oxford Handbook to Natural Theology, ed. Russell Re Manning (Oxford University Press, 2013), 213–226, esp. 222–223. Lossky, Mystical Theology, 104–106. Stăniloae, Teologia dogmatică ortodoxă, 1: 339, 342, 347. Theokritoff, “Creator and creation,” 68–69.

83. Stăniloae, “Introducere,” 22; Teologia dogmatică ortodoxă, 1: 154, 339, 346.

84. Florovsky, Creation and Redemption, 47. Lossky, Mystical Theology, 101–102. Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology, 130, 133. Papanikolaou, “Creation as Communion,” 110–112. Theokritoff, “Embodied Word,” 221–222, 226–227. Zizioulas, The Eucharistic Communion, 32–33.

85. For Maximus’ views, see Torstein Theodor Tollefsen, The Christocentric Cosmology of St Maximus the Confessor, Oxford Early Christian Studies (Oxford University Press, 2008). For Stăniloae’s reliance on Maximus, see Andrew Louth, “The Cosmic Vision of Saint Maximos the Confessor,” in In Whom We Live and Move and Have Our Being, ed. Clayton and Peacocke, 184–198.

86. Maximus, Difficulties, 3; 7.15,37.

87. Origen, First Homily on Genesis, 1.

88. Athanasius, On the Incarnation, 41. Gregory the Theologian, Oration 38.11. Maximus, The Mystagogy, 7.

89. Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology, 152–153. Stăniloae, Teologia dogmatică ortodoxă, 2: 161–162, 193.

90. Ignatius, To the Ephesians, 19.2.

91. Basil, Hexaemeron, 2.3; 5.1; 9.2. John Chrysostom, On Genesis, 3.1.

92. Maximus, Difficulties, 2–5. See Ps-Dionysius, Letters, 4.

93. Maximus, To Thalassius, 60.

94. Maximus, The Mystagogy, 1, 7; Difficulties, 7, 41.

95. Maximus, Difficulties, 7.16.

96. Maximus, On Knowledge, 1.67.

97. See Evolution, Games, and God: The Principle of Cooperation, ed. Martin A. Nowak and Sarah Coakley (Cambridge, MA and London, England: Harvard University Press, 2013).

98. Basil, Hexaemeron, 1.3.

99. Basil, Hexaemeron, 9.2.

100. Justin, First Apology, 42. Irenaeus, Apostolic Preaching, 67; Against the Heresies, 5.28.3.

101. Symeon, First Ethical Discourse, 1, 2, 4–5.

102. Maximus, Difficulties, 7; On Knowledge, 1:2.

103. Florovsky, Creation and Redemption, 44. Louth, “The Cosmic Vision,” 192–193. Stăniloae, Teologia dogmatică ortodoxă, 3: 409–420. Theokritoff, “Creator and creation,” 70.

104. Maximus, The Mystagogy, 7.

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