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Dante's Journey and the Cosmology of a Christian

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Dr. Dimitri Bayuk, Russian Academy of Science

  • Colloquium
When Tue, Mar 27, 2001
from 03:10 PM to 04:00 PM
Where RH 200
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Abstract: Pavel Alexandrovich Florensky (1882-1937) was an orthodox priest and one of the most influential religious philosophers of early 20th century Russia. His theological views were greatly influenced by his professional knowledge of contemporary mathematics and physics. In his 1922 book Imaginary Values in Geometry, he developed a geometrical interpretation of spaces with complex coordinates and applied Einstein's theory of general relativity to interpret the universe described by Dante in the Divine Comedy. His analysis led him to the conclusion that the principle of relativity is compatible with Aristotelian physics and a geocentric model of the universe, which he considered preferable to the heliocentric Copernican universe. He used his cosmology as an illustration of his Platonic Christian views. This theory, and particularly his defense of geocentrism, were attacked in the Soviet press in the 1930s as religious hostility towards science and a form of class struggle against the socialist regime. In 1933 he was arrested and, after four years in labor camps, was executed. This twentieth-century recapitulation of the conflict between Galilean science and Christian world view sheds new light of the complex relationship between science, ideology, and religion.

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