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An Eastern Orthodox Understanding of the Dangers of Modernity and Technology

An Eastern Orthodox Understanding of the Dangers of Modernity and Technology

Abstract

This paper attempts to identify certain dangers of modernity by arguing that the ideologies motivating the modern technological movement are anti-Christian and lead to demoralized practices, social domination, and dehumanization. I first describe how we arrived at these problems by outlining the various Enlightenment ideas commonly associated with modernity. Next, I argue that “secular humanism,” created from the Enlightenment, is the dominating ideology of the modern technological age and was created within the theological framework of Western Christianity. In this way, I hope to demonstrate that the dangers of the Enlightenment experiment and the rise of secular humanism occur because of the West’s departure from the Orthodox Faith. Consequently, modernity’s atheistic moral-project leads man to a second fall, destroying the correct moral and ontological framework necessary for a proper anthropology. Modern man in rebellion against God and the Holy Orthodox Church has resorted to power and production rather than truth and uses technology not to serve the highest concerns of man. Technology is now being used with the intention to increase production and profit,[i] as well as maximizing control over people, the results of which have been overall destructive to humanity.

I. Technology

Since this is a small part of a larger project requiring much greater attention to give these complicated philosophical and theological issues sufficient justification, I will only provide a general sketch of the issues at hand. This paper, therefore, is an attempt to provide an overview of the philosophical developments that gave rise to our modern technological age to illustrate how the motivating ideologies of Modernity pose one of the greatest dangers to humanity.

We live in the technological age distinguished from all other times in history. We can compare this to other epochal characterizations (i.e., the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, the Age of Reason, the Industrial Age, etc.). Each of these bygone eras is punctuated by technological innovations. However, the Age of Technology is distinct. Humanity now stands in a different relation with technology. What, then, is ‘technology,’ and how does it relate to humanity in our present age? The meaning of technology derives from the Greek word Technikon, which belongs to technē. Technē means art or craft and refers to the activities and skills of the craftsman, or more precisely, the methods or principles employed in making or obtaining desired objectives.[ii] For our present consideration, however, I will focus on the motivating ideologies that serve as the driving force for the modern technological age, their goals and unfortunate consequences. It is important to know that for Adam in Paradise, there was no need for technology. For as St. Gregory the Theologian states, he was “naked in simplicity and artless in life.’[iii] He was, as Elder Aimilianos puts it, “unclad and without ‘art’,”[iv] and therefore, there was no need for technology in paradise, since his “essential occupation was contemplation, gazing upon God…Technology, therefore, makes its appearance after the Fall.”[v] Nevertheless, I want to focus specifically on the ideologies arising out of Modernity, the improper use of technology,[vi] and the disastrous effects they have on humanity in general.

II. Modernity and the Enlightenment Project

What then is the driving force behind the technological age? What ideologies dominate the technological movement and what are the intended goals? The dominate ideology of our culture – known as secular humanism – is the driving force born out of modernity and the Enlightenment, the result of which is not only a culture deaf and blind to God and the Church, but as Tristram Engelhardt explains, “in eschewing a God’s eye perspective, morality, bioethics, the state, and the meaning of life are all approached as if everything came from nowhere, and were going nowhere, and for no enduring and ultimate purpose.”[vii]  Not only is secularism not a neutral position, it is a culture both hostile to God and incompatible with Orthodox Christianity. Thus, in aspiring to create a universal ethics in terms of a Kantian paradigm that would binding upon all humanity “in a rational universal religion of morality, a secular religio catholica,” the Enlightenment’s project – which we are the inheritors – sought, as Nietzsche predicted, to replace God with an idealized vision of man and mankind. Although this “universal religion,” naively hoped to eliminate wars, conflicts, and bloodshed[viii] by substituting “secular rationality and morals” for God, it nevertheless brought about precisely the opposite.[ix] Consequently, the Enlightenment project has been conceded to be a terrible failure.[x] The Enlightenment, therefore, has been replaced with a culture of despair, a postmodern world that has inherited all the sins of modernity but without the original optimism, leaving the secular world without any coherent idea of community or proper human ends (teloi). Consequently, it has destroyed the moral and ontological framework for a correct anthropology.[xi] In short, the dominant culture of the West and its rejection of God and Holy Orthodoxy has brought about the abolition of man, echoing the famous dictum Optima corrupta pessima: the best things corrupted become the worst.[xii]

III. The Origins of Atheistic Secular Humanism lie in Western Christianity

What are the historical origins of atheistic secularism and the various ideological errors giving rise to our current problems with technology? As Engelhardt and other Orthodox scholars have correctly pointed out, the seeds of atheism and secular humanism were sown within the theological soil of the West, in particular Roman Catholicism.[xiii] Due to the departure from the true faith of Holy Orthodoxy, these errors grew to not only to create the Protestant reformation, but also Modernity, the Enlightenment, secular humanism, and the complete demoralization of morality and replacement of truth and canonical morality with power, giving rise to the radical cultural changes of our contemporary nihilistic post-modern era.[xiv] This cultural transformation and collapse of Christendom initiated by the Enlightenment provided “the modern secular state with a secular moral authority secured by reason through philosophical arguments that could be recognized by all persons as conclusive.”[xv] Initiating such changes provided the secular state with the canonical moral authority to rule its citizenry and justification for a canonical account of secular constitutionalism. Hence, the “faith in moral philosophy at the roots of Roman Catholicism also lies at the roots of contemporary secularism.”[xvi] Nevertheless, how exactly is atheistic secularism’s roots found in Roman Catholicism? The creation of Western Christianity and the corresponding moral and theological errors arguably originate with Augustine. Here we begin to see Christianity cast in a new light, taking on an identity of its own foreign to the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith.[xvii]

Early innovations in the West included: enforcing clerical celibacy, accepting early-term abortions,[xviii] developing the doctrine of original sin,[xix] embracing pagan Greek philosophy, rejecting the Orthodox doctrine of essence/energies in favor of absolute divine simplicity,[xx] believing in created grace, creating the filioque heresy, carrying out the Donations of Pepin[xxi] where “the pope was established not only as priest, but also king and ruler of the secular state,”[xxii] crowning Charles the Great as Emperor,[xxiii] developing papal claims to universal jurisdiction, changing the fast, abandoning of the use of leavened bread for the Eucharist, inventing papism and a non-conciliar form of ecclesiastical governance, creating the doctrine of purgatory and indulgences, rejecting pedal-communion, as well as many other heresies.[xxiv] The cumulative effect of such errors is, as Engelhardt and other Orthodox scholars have argued, precisely what has led to the Enlightenment project, atheistic secularism, and the deflation of morality and bioethics in our contemporary age. The primary cause of such errors and departure from the Apostolic faith of the first millennium was Rome’s persistent reliance on philosophy and the pagan Greek moral-philosophical project[xxv]  that arose from the 5th century before Christ.[xxvi]

By embracing Hellenistic philosophy, Rome began to conceive God more as a philosophical concept,[xxvii] God as substance (ousia) rather than person (hypostasis),[xxviii] which is the reason why – as John Zizioulas remarks – many writers have represented “ancient Greek thought as essentially ‘non-personal.’”[xxix] Moreover, Zizioulas goes on to argue that these fundamental theological errors are the same errors of Hellenism that the Fathers[xxx] so ardently fought against, namely, ancient Greek ontology that considers the unity and ontology of God to consists in the substance of God. Zizioulas remarks that this brings Rome “back to the ancient Greek ontology: God is first God (His substance or nature, His being), and then exists as Trinity, that is, as persons.”[xxxi] Furthermore, having rejected the Orthodox doctrine of essence/energies, Rome had no theological means of mediating God and man, save man’s philosophical ideas of God. Ultimately this adherence to ideas over personhood is what deprived the Latins, at least theologically, of the experiential communion with the persons (hypostases) of God that is uniquely mediated through His divine energies. This amounted to the West worshiping their idea of God rather than the persons of God Himself who exists first and foremost as hypostases of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is no coincidence that man-made speculative philosophy and theology would eventually lead to atheism once the radical critique of reason within the Enlightenment occurred.

Eastern Orthodoxy, however, rejected Greek philosophy[xxxii] and the subsequent Latin project, and with it the scholastic proposal that philosophy is the handmaiden of theology.[xxxiii] Although our God-fearing Orthodox Fathers studied and used philosophy to defend the faith,[xxxiv] the Latin idea of Fides Quarens Intellectum[xxxv] is importantly absent from Orthodox praxis and theology. The West, however, had “an unfounded faith that reason could supply what faith had previously warranted,”[xxxvi] which amounts to the erroneous belief that our catholic deposit of faith is somehow incomplete and would need to seek understanding from pagan philosophy. In fact it is Western Christianity’s idolization of reason, their rejection of the Orthodox Faith and practices that ultimately produced the ecclesiological renovations of Vatican II which have left Rome looking nothing like what traditional Roman Catholics were accustomed to, let alone resembling anything akin to the first half-millennium of the Church. 

IV. Technology as a Means to Control Man and Nature

The atheistic and Western moral-philosophic project of our contemporary secular culture, born out of the innovations of Rome, rejected God and the Holy Orthodox Church. In his arrogance, Western man has attempted to remove God from every aspect of human life, erecting himself (the secular image of man without the imago Dei) in place of God in order that he may prove the Protagorian dictum, “Of all things the measure is Man, of the things that are, that they are, and of the things that are not, that they are not.”[xxxvii] Emboldened by such power and perceived freedom from the tyranny of God and religion, Modernity rejected tradition, and mechanized nature by abolishing any real objective essences in the world, creating the world in man’s image – according to man’s ideas. This resulted in a set of ideologies and demoralized practices that viewed all of nature, including man himself, without any real objective meaning, and therefore, understands nature to be something entirely malleable according to one’s own personal choices. Without, “an ultimate point of moral orientation, meaning, and enforcement of morality…”, and without the guidance of the Orthodox Church, the contemporary modern world took the anthropological and moral considerations and rendered them “into micro life style choices,” and with it, “the loss of the authority of the moral point of view.”[xxxviii] Hence, we now live in a morally barren landscape ripe for growing tyranny. As history as shown over and again, when a culture abandons objective truth and morality, it removes its primary defenses against tyranny, and truth is replaced with power. Moreover, it is due to the failed Western European project of secular moral philosophy as an attempt to establish “a canonical moral lingua franca, a moral discourse accessible to all…” that has replaced truth with state power.[xxxix]

It was Francis Bacon who famously declared that “Human knowledge and human power is the same thing, for where the cause is not known the effect cannot be produced.”[xl] In his New Atlantis, Bacon “conceived of a new social order dedicated to the expansion of modern science and progress in human achievement through dominion over nature…”[xli] However, recently the political power of the secular state, which attempts to maintain a canonical morality over a relativistic and nihilistic culture that embraces a plurality of moralities,[xlii] has been exchanged for a “New Atlantis.” Political institutions, as John Gunnell points out, have begun to be “replaced by a ‘parliament’ of technical experts.”[xliii] This elite class of technical experts have come to be called technocrats.[xliv] The technocratic image[xlv] now replaces the politician and provides mankind with a “vision of an industrial society wherein an elite class of engineers, scientists, industrialists, and planners systematically apply technical knowledge to the solution of social problems and the creation of a rational social order.”[xlvi] New forms of communication have been exchanged for natural ones. Common culture, identity, and personhood have all been eradicated in the name of progress. Technology is now being used as the sole means to perfect the human experience without a grounding in the living God as the unconditioned grounds of being.[xlvii] However, technocrats do not share an Orthodox belief in a Christian ethos or Christological anthropology, and therefore, perfection of the human experience lies within artificial intelligence and the transhumanism project. Hence, the technocratic vision of technology not only leads to social domination but to dehumanization.[xlviii]  

V. The Effects of Secularism and the Creation of the Modern Technological Age

In conclusion, the West’s marriage of pagan Greek philosophy to theology, the errors and heresies of the Latins that led to Modernity’s rejection of Christianity and the Enlightenment’s banishment of God in general[xlix] that produced the morally desolate landscape of our post-modern age has allowed truth to be exchanged for power, paving the way for technology to proceed without any guidance from Christian bioethics or grounding in the living God. Beyond the obvious concerns of a dystopic technocratic future of culture control and manipulation for anti-Christian ends, what are the most notable negative effects of the modern technological movement in our contemporary age? Recent studies have demonstrated a substantial rise in disease and mental illness related directly to modern technology.[l] There are remarkable increases in world-wide infectious diseases, record number reports of cancer, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes (the leading causes of death in the United States), an unprecedent number of incidents of suicide and depression (especially among the youth and teens), higher reports of addiction and addictive behavior (e.g., pornography, drug and alcohol abuse, and in particular opioid addiction and opioid related deaths), an ever increasing number of violent crimes (rise in urban violence, murder, domestic violence, rape, sexual assault and sexual abuse), the emergence of the abortion holocaust, a rapid decrease in overall birth rates[li] and decline of children born within traditional marriages,[lii] a rising number of unnatural, abnormal, perverse, deviant sexual behaviors, as well as a rise in related sexual diseases.[liii] God has been replaced with humanism, and humanism has now been replaced with transhumanism. The solution for us Orthodox Christians is obvious. Mankind must turn back to God and embrace Holy Orthodoxy.[liv]

 

 

[i]Archimandrite Aimilianos comments, “technology developed, not to serve the highest concerns of Man, but with the aim of greater production and profit.” (Elder Aimilianos, taken from, “The Authentic Seal: Spiritual Instruction and Discourses,” Anthropology and Technology)

[ii] As Martin Heidegger points out, technē also “belongs to bringing forth, to poiēsis…” (Heidegger,  The Question Concerning Technology, 255)

[iii] Gregory the Theologian, PG 36, 632C.

[iv] Archimandrite Aimilianos, taken from, “The Authentic Seal: Spiritual Instruction and Discourses,” Anthropology and Technology.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] As Archimandrite Aimilianos explains, technology is not inherently bad: “Technology per se is not, of course, harmful, being the fruit of the reasoning and intellect of Man, who was formed in the image of God. But when, unrestrained and unbridled, it rushes headlong towards its destination, then it becomes Luciferous, though not bearing light but rather pitch darkness. The danger for us is the absence of accountability in the way in which technology is administered and exploited, a way which has as its aim the stifling domination of human life and the solution of problems by technical means, regardless of moral and metaphysical principles.” (“The Authentic Seal: Spiritual Instruction and Discourses,” Anthropology and Technology)

[vii] Tristram Engelhardt, After God: Morality and Bioethics in the Secular Age, 11.

[viii] Walker Percy states: “What theorists of the old modern age had to confront were the altogether unexpected disasters of the twentieth century: that after three hundred years of the scientific revolution and in the emergence of rational ethics in European Christendom, Western man in the twentieth century elected instead of an era of peace and freedom an orgy of wars, tortures, genocide, suicide, murder, and rapine unparalleled in history. The old modern age ended in 1914.” (Walker Percy, The Message in the Bottle, 27)

[ix] “[S]ecular reason led not to perpetual peace, but to the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror, and eventually to the slaughter of tens of millions by the secular, rationalist regimes of Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Pol Pot, all in pursuit of a supposedly philosophically justified moral vision that had its own secular bioethics.” (Engelhardt, After God, 14)

[x] Judd Owen explains, “Today, belief in the comprehensive philosophic teaching of the Enlightenment appears to lie in ruins, and few hope that any other comprehensive philosophy could successfully replace it. This despair is, to a considerable extent, due to a radical critique of reason as such.” (Owen 2001, 1)

[xi] “Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market-place, and cried incessantly: ‘I am looking for God! I am looking for God!’ As many of those who did not believe in God were standing together there, he excited considerable laughter. Have you lost him, then? said one. Did he lose his way like a child? said another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? or emigrated? Thus they shouted and laughed. The madman sprang into their midst and pierced them with his glances. ‘Where has God gone?’ he cried. ‘I shall tell you. We have killed him – you and I. We are his murderers. But how have we done this? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What did we do when we unchained the earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving now? Away from all suns? Are we not perpetually falling? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there any up or down left? Are we not straying as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is it not more and more night coming on all the time? Must not lanterns be lit in the morning? Do we not hear anything yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we not smell anything yet of God’s decomposition? Gods too decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we, murderers of all murderers, console ourselves? That which was the holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet possessed has bled to death under our knives. Who will wipe this blood off us? With what water could we purify ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we need to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we not ourselves become gods simply to be worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whosoever shall be born after us – for the sake of this deed he shall be part of a higher history than all history hitherto.’ Here the madman fell silent and again regarded his listeners; and they too were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern to the ground, and it broke and went out. “I have come too early,” he said then; “my time has not come yet. The tremendous event is still on its way, still travelling – it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time, the light of the stars requires time, deeds require time even after they are done, before they can be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than the distant stars – and yet they have done it themselves.” (Frederick Nietzsche, The Gay Science, 125)

[xii] Eusebius—Demon. Evang. I. IV. Ch. XII. St. Gregory—Moralia on Job.

[xiii] If, according to Aquinas, God has no direct relation with creatures, then how is the Incarnation possible? God does not act within time on Thomas’ account, since this would mean that God has direct relation with creatures according to His essence. In other words, as St. Gregory Palamas said, atheism is the result. As St. Gregory wrote in response to the Barlaamite [Western] arguments on simplicity: “They [Westerns] claim that God is active essence but that he has no other activity besides His essence lest He be a composite being. [XXXI. O[rthodox]. Take caution that they do not bestow upon God “active” as an empty sound of a word, while they contrive precisely by that fact to lead astray those who are in dialogue with them. For the divine Maximus says: ‘Just as it is impossible to be without being, so is it not possible to be active without activity.’ [To Marinus200C] Hence, by taking away the divine activity and by fusing it with essence by saying that the activity does not differ from that essence, they have made God an essence without activity. And not only that, but they have also completely annihilated God’s being itself and they have become atheists in the universe [a world without god]; for the same Maximus says: ‘When the divine and human activity is taken away, there is no God, nor man.’ [To Marinus 96B; cf. 201AB] For it is absolutely necessary that the person who says that the activity in God is not different from his essence falls into the trap of atheism. For we know that God is only from His proper activities. Hence, for him who destroys God’s activities and does not admit that they differ from His essence, the necessary consequence is that he does not know that God is. Furthermore, because the great Basil has revealed everywhere in his writings that ‘no activity can exist independently,’ [Against Eunomius 4] those who contend that the essence of God does not differ from His activity, have surpassed even Sabellius in impiety. For he made only the Son and the Spirit without existences (hypostasis), but those people make the essence of God, which has three hypostases without existence (hypostasis). (St. Gregory Palamas, Dialogue between an Orthodox and a Barlaamite which Invalidates in Detail the Barlaamite Error, XXX-XXXI)

[xiv] Because of Western Christian medieval theology’s defining engagement with moral philosophy… Morality, at least for modernity and the Enlightenment, became what it had been for most Greek philosophers… It made it seem plausible that one can know the nature of the moral life apart from God, leading to the view that moral philosophy can be approached as a fully secular undertaking. This in turn led to the view that a secular culture could be a rightly directed moral culture. Indeed, it is not hyperbole to say that contemporary secularity, along with contemporary bioethics, was made possible by Western Christianity’s faith in moral philosophy [italics mine], which served as a necessary bridge from the world of the Middle Ages to modernity, and from the Enlightenment – through the failure of the Western moral-project – to contemporary post-modern secularity. This faith in discursive reason promised to make moral philosophy the master of morality.” (Engelhardt, After God, 230 – 231)

[xv] Engelhardt, After God, 44.

[xvi] Ibid.

[xvii] “Augustine was widely influential in the West because he was the only of the four Latin Fathers (with St. Jerome, St. Ambrose, and St. Gregory the Dialogist) who wrote extensive philosophical theological works. Most importantly, he had a discursive philosophical sensibility, thus often writing as a philosopher… Augustine spoke to a whole range of theological issues that shaped Western Christian views regarding (1) priestly celibacy, (2) the moral status of early abortion, (3) the nature of the Trinity, (4) the morality of lying, and (5) the meaning of free choice. As a result, under Augustine’s influence a new Christianity began to take shape.” (Engelhardt, After God, 220-221)

[xviii] “Given the influence of Aristotelian philosophy on Roman Catholicism, especially given Aristotle’s argument that the rational soul enters the body only after conception (40 days for males and 80-90 days for females [De Gernatione Animalium 2.3736a-b and Historia Animalium 7.3583b]), beginning in the 13th century Western theologians such as Thomas Aquinas held that early abortion was not the equivalent of the taking of a human life. The consequence was that in Western canon an early abortion was not treated as murder from 1234 to the revision of canon law in 1917 that went into effect on 19 May 1918 (Denzinger 1965, p. 704), save for the period between 1588-1591 (Sixtus 1588.” (Engelhardt, After God, 225)

[xix] “Augustine also laid the basis for the Western doctrine of original sin, which eventually led to the Calvinist dogma of predestination..” (Engelhardt, After God, 227)

[xx] If God has no activities/operations distinct from His simple essence (e.g., the Thomistic doctrine) – since the “attributes” predicated of God are merely human descriptions of God’s effects that we experience in time (i.e., no experience of God directly) – then God cannot be known. For Aquinas only the effects are known of an absolutely simple essence, and even these cannot be known, since they are all the same. Consequently, one cannot know whether he is experiencing God’s wrath, love, justice, etc., since all are merely causal effects in history, being absolutely one in God. In fact St. Basil offered a rebuttal of this same position in responding to Eunomius (who identified essence and attribute in God), and therefore, applies word-for-word to Aquinas: “Do you worship what you know or what you do not know? If I answer, I worship what I know, they immediately reply, What is the essence of the object of worship? Then, if I confess that I am ignorant of the essence, they turn on me again and say, So you worship you know not what. I answer that the word to know has many meanings. We say that we know the greatness of God, His power, His wisdom, His goodness, His providence over us, and the justness of His judgment; but not His very essence. The question is, therefore, only put for the sake of dispute. For he who denies that he knows the essence does not confess himself to be ignorant of God, because our idea of God is gathered from all the attributes which I have enumerated. But God, he says, is simple, and whatever attribute of Him you have reckoned as knowable is of His essence. But the absurdities involved in this sophism are innumerable. When all these high attributes have been enumerated, are they all names of one essence? And is there the same mutual force in His awfulness and His loving-kindness, His justice and His creative power, His providence and His foreknowledge, and His bestowal of rewards and punishments, His majesty and His providence? In mentioning any one of these do we declare His essence? If they say, yes, let them not ask if we know the essence of God, but let them enquire of us whether we know God to be awful, or just, or merciful. These we confess that we know. If they say that essence is something distinct, let them not put us in the wrong on the score of simplicity. For they confess themselves that there is a distinction between the essence and each one of the attributes enumerated. The operations are various, and the essence simple, but we say that we know our God from His operations, but do not undertake to approach near to His essence. His operations come down to us, but His essence remains beyond our reach.  2. But, it is replied, if you are ignorant of the essence, you are ignorant of Himself. Retort, If you say that you know His essence, you are ignorant of Himself. A man who has been bitten by a mad dog, and sees a dog in a dish, does not really see any more than is seen by people in good health; he is to be pitied because he thinks he sees what he does not see. Do not then admire him for his announcement, but pity him for his insanity. Recognize that the voice is the voice of mockers, when they say, if you are ignorant of the essence of God, you worship what you do not know. I do know that He exists; what His essence is, I look at as beyond intelligence. How then am I saved? Through faith. It is faith sufficient to know that God exists, without knowing what He is; and He is a rewarder of them that seek Him. Hebrews 11:6 So knowledge of the divine essence involves perception of His incomprehensibility, and the object of our worship is not that of which we comprehend the essence, but of which we comprehend that the essence exists.  3. And the following counter question may also be put to them. No man has seen God at any time, the Only-begotten which is in the bosom has declared him. John 1:18 What of the Father did the Only-begotten Son declare? His essence or His power? If His power, we know so much as He declared to us. If His essence, tell me where He said that His essence was the being unbegotten? When did Abraham worship? Was it not when he believed? And when did he believe? Was it not when he was called? Where in this place is there any testimony in Scripture to Abraham’s comprehending? When did the disciples worship Him? Was it not when they saw creation subject to Him? It was from the obedience of sea and winds to Him that they recognized His Godhead. Therefore the knowledge came from the operations, and the worship from the knowledge. Believest thou that I am able to do this? I believe, Lord; and he worshipped Him. So worship follows faith, and faith is confirmed by power. But if you say that the believer also knows, he knows from what he believes; and vice versa he believes from what he knows. We know God from His power. We, therefore, believe in Him who is known, and we worship Him who is believed in.” (St. Basil, Letter 234)

[xxi] 745, 756 A.D.

[xxii] Engelhardt, After God, 227.

[xxiii] “This act of coronation effectively divided what had been one Christian empire, one Christendom…. The crowning did crowning did create an effective, though not complete, separation of the West from the original vision of a united Christendom.” (Engelhardt, After God, 227)

[xxiv] “The fact that Papism is a heresy is revealed by the appalling false doctrines which you confess. These are: I) the political existence and structure of the Vatican with ministries, bureaucracies and banks; II) the Filioque (the alleged procession of the Holy Spirit also from the Son); III) created Grace; IV) the primacy of power; V) the possession of worldly and spiritual power by the Pope; VI) Papal infallibility; VII) the theories that the Pope is the ultimate judge and Archpriest, the supreme authority and monarch of the Church; VIII) Baptism by sprinkling and the separation of it from the mystery of Chrismation; IX) the use of unleavened bread (Host); X) the transforming of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ with the words of institution rather than at the invocation of the Holy Spirit as well as the doctrine of transubstantiation; XI) the depriving of the Blood of Christ to the laity; XII) the depriving of Holy Communion to children; XIII) Mary worship; XIV) the dogma of the “immaculate conception” and the “bodily assumption” of the Mother of God; XV) purgatory; XVI) indulgences; XVII) the so-called “superabundant merits” of Christ; XVIII) the “superabundant merits” of the Saints; XIX) the merits of the works of man; XX) statuary and the secularization of religious art instead of Orthodox iconography; XXI) the mandatory celibacy of the clergy; XXII) the recognition of murderers (Stepinac) as “saints”; XXIII) the doctrine of the satisfaction of divine justice (the result of confusion regarding original sin and the legalism which is prevalent in Papism); XXIV) the rejection of Holy Tradition and the taking advantage of it as a tool for Papal claims (the Pope is Tradition); XXV) the belief that the “infallible Pope” is the only guardian, judge and interpreter of Divine Revelation; XXVI) the socalled “Church Suffering,” which is allegedly made up of the faithful who are presently in purgatory; XXVII)  the rejection of the equality of bishops; XXVIII) the Vatican’s centralized and despotic administrative system where the “Pope” is absolute monarch, which introduced Caesaropapism; XXIX) the social/humanitarian character of the monastic orders; XXX) the impersonal and juridical character of the mystery of confession; XXXI) and, finally, the accursed Uniate, the Trojan horse of Papism.” (A Letter to Pope Francis Concerning His Past, the Abysmal State of Papism, and a Plea to Return to Holy Orthodoxy, sent to Pope Francis on April 10, 2014 by His Eminence, the Metropolitan of Piraeus, Seraphim, and His Eminence, the Metropolitan of Dryinoupolis, Andrew, both of the Church of Greece)

[xxv] “Western Christian, in particular Roman Catholic thought embraced the assumption that moral philosophical reasoning without a reliance on God could ground morality.” (Engelhardt,  After God, 77)

[xxvi] “Roman Catholicism had created a new and distant theological and liturgical project as it emerged from Orthodox Christianity and became a separate denomination in stages between the 9th and the 23th centuries. In the process it had wedded itself to the Greek moral-philosophical project – from the 5th century before Christ – of rationally grounding morality and eventually bioethics. Indeed, it became evident to me that Roman Catholicism was not the Church of the Apostles and the Fathers, but instead a Western religion shaped by the cultural concerns that come to dominate Western Europe toward the end of the first millennium and the beginning of the second millennium. It also became clear that the West had recast what is involved in the traditional Christian pursuit of theology.” (Engelhardt,  After God, 34-35)

[xxvii] “Within Western Christian theology, God was regarded ever more as a philosophical idea, rather than the Person of the Father, Who begets the Son, and from Whom alone the Holy Spirit proceeds. God as the most personal of all was obscured through a theology with a robust philosophical overlay that rendered the theological approach to God primarily one of scholarship, not of prayerful ascetical struggle.” (Engelhardt,  After God,, 35)

[xxviii] “When God was conversing with Moses, He did not say, “I am the essence”, but “I am the One Who is.” Thus it is not the One Who is who derives from the essence, but essence which derives from Him, for it is He who contains all being in Himself.” (St. Gregory Palamas, Triads in Defense of the Holy Hesychasts, III.ii.12)

[xxix] John Zizioulas, Being as Communion, 27.

[xxx] The Church Father, Tertullian, in considering what does Athens have to do with Jerusalem, comments on Paul’s writing, stating: “He had been at Athens, and had his interviews (with its philosophers) become acquainted with that human wisdom which pretends to know the truth, whilst it only corrupts it, and is itself divided into its own manifold heresies, by the variety of its mutually repugnant sects. What indeed has Athens to do with Jerusalem? What concord is there between the Academy and the Church? What between heretics and Christians? Our instruction comes from “the porch of Solomon” [Acts 3:5] who had himself taught that “the Lord should be sought in simplicity of heart” [Wis. 1:1]. Away with all attempts to produce a mottled Christianity of Stoic, Platonic, and dialectic composition! We want no curious disputation after enjoying the gospel! With our faith, we desire no further belief. For this is our palmary faith, that there is nothing which we ought to believe besides.” (Tertullian 1994, “On Prescription Against Heretics” VII, p. 246)           

[xxxi] John Zizioulas, Being as Communion, 40.

[xxxii] Even St. Paul warns of the dangers of pagan philosophy,[xxxii] writing to the Colossians: “See to it that no one beguile you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, and contrary to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.”  (Colossians 2:8)

[xxxiii] “Christianity did not begin in the arms of philosophy. Christ did not walk through Palestine preaching natural law. The early Church was not a philosophical seminar. The Apostles did not embrace the bond of fides et ratio, faith and reason. The Christianity of the first half-millennium marginalized pagan Greek philosophical faith in reason. This Christianity turned to Jerusalem, not to Athens. Although the Church took terms and distinctions from pagan Greek philosophers, it did not ground its theology in their philosophy.” (Engelhardt, After God, 216)

[xxxiv] “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:3-5)

[xxxv] Faith seeking understanding.

[xxxvi] Engelhardt, After God, 215.

[xxxvii] Protagoras, DK 80 B1.

[xxxviii] Tristram Engelhardt, After God: Morality and Bioethics in the Secular Age, 27.

[xxxix] “Among other things, this peculiarly Western European project of moral philosophy promised a rationally warranted account of morality that would provide a canonical moral lingua franca, a moral discourse accessible to all This has failed. As a consequence, state power… has been invoked to substitute for the power of reason and/or canonical morality.” (Engelhardt, After God, 215)

[xl] Francis Bacon, Novum Organum, 3.

[xli] John G. Gunnell, “The Technocratic Image,” 394.

[xlii] “After metaphysics and after God, the secular fundamentalist state becomes a surrogate for God because, once reality, morality, and bioethics are severed from an unconditioned ground in being, and once moral reason is recognized as plural in content, one is not just left with a plurality of moralities and bioethics, but also the closest thing to a common morality and a common bioethics becomes that morality and bioethics are established as law and in public policy…” (Engelhardt, After God, 92-93)

[xliii] John G. Gunnell, “The Technocratic Image,” 394.

[xliv] “The term ‘technocracy,’ though originated in the United States in 1919 by an engineer named William Smith, first became common when it was adopted by a movement that developed in the early 1930s as a response to the Great Depression. That movement, which for a time gained considerable notoriety and a substantial following, began with a group of technicians and engineers dedicated to social reform whose concepts were modeled on the technological republic in Edward Bellamy’s late-19th-century utopian novel Looking Backward. They were also influenced by the economic theories of Thorstein Veblen and the principles of scientific management growing out of the work of Frederick W. Taylor, both of which suggested, much like the later work of James Burnham in The Managerial Society, that politicians and industrial entrepreneurs should, and would, give way to technical elites.” (John G. Gunnell, “The Technocratic Image,” 393.)

[xlv] “Many of the characteristic features of the technocratic image may be found in the work of Henri de Saint-Simon (1760-1825) and his vision of an industrial society wherein an elite class of engineers, scientists, industrialists, and planners systematically apply technical knowledge to the solution of social problems and the creation of a rational social order.” (John G. Gunnell, “The Technocratic Image,” 394)

[xlvi] John G. Gunnell, “The Technocratic Image and the Theory of Technocracy,” Technology and Culture, 396.

[xlvii] Engelhardt sees morality grounded “not in philosophy but in an experience of the living God who commands.” (Engelhardt, After God, 217)  

[xlviii] John G. Gunnell, “The Technocratic Image,” 396.

[xlix] Secular Humanism.

[l] The number of sexual assault cases related to social media sites has increased by 300%, 15% of teens say they were the target of online cruelty, 22% of teens lost their friendship with someone due to actions on social media sites, 13% had experienced a problem with their parents because of using a social media site, 8% were involved in a physical fight with someone else because of something posted on a social networking site, 25% of teens had experienced a face-to-face argument or confrontation as a result of posts on Facebook, 6% have gotten in trouble at school because of postings on a social networking site, 29% of Internet sex crime relationships were initiated on a social networking site, in 26% of online sex crimes against minors, offenders disseminated information and/or pictures of the victim through the victim’s personal social networking site, 33% of all Internet-initiated sex crimes involved social networking sites, half of all sex crimes against a minor involving a social networking site, the social networking site was used to initiate the relationship, cases of Internet sex crimes against children involving social networking sites were more likely to result in a face-to-face meeting. This was true of 81% of Internet-initiated crimes involving a social networking site, 29% have been stalked or contacted by a stranger or someone they don’t know. (Statistics taken from various resources, including: Social Media and Young Adults, Pew Internet & American Life Project, Global Insights Into Family Life Online, Norton/Symantec & StrategyOne, Teen/Mom Internet Safety Survey, McAfee & Harris Interactive, Pew Research Center, FOSI, Cable in the Classroom 2011, Journal of Adolescent Health, National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA)-McAfee Online Safety Study, Social Media and Young Adults, Pew Internet, American Life Project and Grunwald Associates).

[li] “A culture emerged in which the erotic has become omnipresent, while at the same time being stripped of moral significance. In addition, the moral significance of the bond between marriage and reproduction has been abolished. There is not only more open causal sex  and more open cohabitation, but there are fewer children born per woman with a greater percentage of those children entering the world from outside of a traditional marriage.” (Engelhardt, After God, 155)

[lii] Children born outside of a traditional marriage has increased from over one out of twenty to roughly over four out of ten. (Hamilton, Martin, & Ventura 2012)

[liii] See http://www.nationmaster.com.

[liv] “Even though Christendom has fallen and lies in ruins, Christianity still has its partisans living its rubble, struggling to maintain the integrity of Christian subcultures. They are loyal to norms embedded in the will of God. In the ruins of Christendom, traditional Christians will continue to wage cultural guerilla wars of resistance against the dominant secular culture and the secular fundamentalist states that this supports (Engelhardt 2010a, 210b).” (Engelhardt, After God, 45)

About the author

Fr. Deacon Ananias Sorem, PhD is CEO, Founder, and President of Patristic Faith. Father is an Orthodox apologist and Professor of Philosophy at Fullerton College and Carroll College. He has a BA in Liberal Arts from Thomas Aquinas College, together with an MA (Honors) and PhD in Philosophy (Epistemology; Philosophy of Science; Philosophy of Mind) from University College Dublin. His current academic work focuses on philosophical theology, epistemology, and the philosophy of science. Father is the author of several articles and peer-reviewed papers, including: “Searle, Materialism, and the Mind-Body Problem,” “Gnostic Scientism and Technocratic Totalitarianism,” “An Orthodox Approach to the Dangers of Modernity and Technology,” and “An Orthodox Theory of Knowledge: The Epistemological and Apologetic Methods of the Church Fathers.” He is also known for his YouTube channel, the Norwegian Nous, where he provides content on theology, apologetics, logic, and philosophy.

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