Interpreting God’s Revelation: Scientists & Poets

Perhaps my favorite service in the Orthodox Church is the Akathist, Glory to God for All Things.  The Akathist was written by a Russian Orthodox bishop, Metropolitan Tryphon who died in 1934, but it has often mistakenly been credited to Father Gregory Petrov, who died in a Soviet prison camp. 

There are so many verses in the Akathist that I find so profound and moving, but I wanted to quote one section here that deals with the much debated relationship between science and religion.  The hymn was written by a Christian bishop living in what at that time was a militantly atheistic nation.  Amazingly he did not see science as the enemy of Christianity, but rather saw scientists as well as poets and artists as being modern prophets and interpreters of God’s revealed truth.  His hymn parallels the thinking of Romans 1:18-22:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Even living in a nation which has a hostile militant attitude toward God, Metropolitan Tryphon understood that all who seek truth no matter from what perspective – philosophical, artistic, political, religious, scientific –  have a common hope and goal and foundation, namely God.  And he certainly understood that there is an ontological connection between beauty and truth.  From the Akathist, Ikos 7:

The breath of Your Holy Spirit inspires artists, poets, scientists. The power of Your supreme knowledge makes them prophets and interpreters of Your laws, who reveal the depths of Your creative wisdom. Their works speak unwittingly of You. How great are You in Your creation! How great are You in man!

Glory to You, showing Your unsurpassable power in the laws of the universe.
Glory to You, for all nature is filled with Your laws.
Glory to You for what You have revealed to us in Your mercy.
Glory to You for what you have hidden from us in Your wisdom.
Glory to You for the inventiveness of the human mind.
Glory to You for the dignity of man’s labor.
Glory to You for the tongues of fire that bring inspiration.
Glory to You, O God, from age to age.

One thought on “Interpreting God’s Revelation: Scientists & Poets

  1. Pingback: Basil the Great: Reading Scripture and Creation – Fraternized

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