Atheism, Hellenic Orthodoxy and Science

Atheism, Hellenic Orthodoxy and Science (1936-1974)

Project At.H.O.S (2022-2024) aims to bring to the fore the untold story of how Greek Orthodoxy, atheism and Greek scientific practice interacted,while being embedded in a turbulent political, social and cultural national environment. Greece, in the period from 1936 to 1974, exhibits a confluence of factors that are rarely discussed together in Science and Religion historical scholarship. These include a dominant Orthodox Church, influential theological brotherhoods and para-ecclesiastical organizations and a state operating under Western aegis. It also includes forceful, even at times dictatorial, governments, a traumatic Civil War at the heels of a disastrous NAZI occupation, and an intellectual battle waged by conservative scholars and scientists against a powerful milieu of leftist intellectuals and scientists which were loosely affiliated with a strong Communist Party. During that period, Greece, changed polity twice, experienced eight military coups, two of which were successful, and experienced US hegemony in its political and ideological orientation. At.H.O.S will thus focus on a space and in a period which has not been discussed, through archives that have not been researched or even catalogued. The project’s objectives are the following
• To find and catalogue all available relevant primary sources dealing with the interactions between Orthodox Christianity, atheism and the Natural Sciences in Greece, from 1936 to 1974.
• To bring to the fore how these interactions were shaped by, and helped shape, the political, cultural, intellectual and ideological discourses that were being created in Greece at the same period.
• To enrich the wider historical Science and Religion field, by focusing on a space and a time period that most of the conceptual apparatus and of the axes of analysis of the field do not easily apply.
• To diffuse the results of the research to the wider historical community and to the general public.

Methodologically, At.H.O.S harnesses recent scholarship on historical and situational complexity of the interactions between Science and Religion, while also taking into consideration the spatial, temporal and ideological considerations that shaped discourse in Greece. Moreover, At.H.O.S problematizes and historicizes atheism in relation to the Science and Religion debate, by treating it as something more than the ‘evil twin’ of religion. Historiographically, project At.H.O.S combines archival research in disparate collections of primary sources that have not been compiled or researched before, and which have not been assembled as distinct corpora before. The project meets these challenges by undertaking an extensive cataloguing and archiving initiative, whose results will be freely available. Finally, many of the historical actors of the interactions of atheism, Natural Science and Orthodox Christianity are themselves historically unknown, and the powerful organizations through which they acted, such as the Theological Brotherhoods Ζωή (Life) and Σωτηρ (Savior) have received scant, if any, historical attention. This is a result of the fact that the history of modern science and the history of religion in modern Greece is itself mostly unknown. Once more, At.H.O.S has as a goal to overcome this challenge, and thus broaden its innovative scope.
Research from project At.H.O.S has been presented in the 10th and 11th Conferences of the European Society for the History of Science (Brussels 2022 and Barcelona 2024), in the 3rd , 4th and 5th Annual Conferences of the International Research Network for Science and Belief In Society (Birmingham 2022, Exeter 2023, Frankfurth 2024) and in the Modern Greek Studies Association 28th biennial Symposium (Princeton, 2024). Relevant papers were also presented in the “Science Communication and the Dissemination of Knowledge in Cold War Greece” (Erlangen, Athens 2023) Hybrid Workshop and in the “Τεχνο-επιστημονικές όψεις του ελληνικού κράτους, από τον 20ο και τον 21ο αιώνα: Προσεγγίσεις από το πεδίο Επιστήμη, τεχνολογία, Κοινωνία” (Athens, 2023). Project At.H.O.S‘ researchers were also co-organizers of the “Κομμουνισμός, αντικομμουνισμός και επιστήμες στην Ελλάδα του 20ου αιώνα» (Athens, 2023) and of the International Workshop “Sciences, Ideologies and Religions in 20th century Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe” (Athens, 2024).
The main research output of the project appears in the Special Section of the Historical Review/La Revue Historique journal (Volume 21, 2024).

The team
Kostas Tampakis, Principal Investigator
Sandy Sakorrafou, Post-doctoral Researcher
Lina Chordaki, PhD candidate, Researcher
Efthymios Nicolaidis, Advisor