RE: FW: [steiner] Science and Religion
- ******* Well, any abstract ideas only remain so till we bring them into the
concrete. Perhaps others have some things to say about the ideas you've
expressed? Relating them to their own lives or experience?
>Durward raises an important theme to which there are a number of approaches
>- so let's hope the list responds! This is a vital question for a modern
>science of the spirit: how is it possible to reconnect (religio) human
>beings individually & through communities to an experience of divine? As a
>Waldorf ex-teacher/school adviser, I feel & think about education (& try to
>practice & support practice of it) in terms of helping children to find
>their way to a living synthesis of art, science & religion, which means
>trying to live that synthesis myself. The commonality of today seems a
>into a general assumption of non-(or vaguely)theistic humanism interspersed
>with islands of superstition, or extreme or aggressive traditionalism (so
>called "fundamentalism"). You could see Anthroposophy as having been
>into being to establish a new integrity of the three big cultural
>enterprises, science, art, religion. I certainly would not be content with
>spiritual science conceived as religion; for me Anthroposophy is completely
>secular, but integrates religion into a path of knowledge that is radically
>"humanistic", a humanism that includes the spirit. That also seems to me
>trend of the radical Goethean path, Sue indicates, a path that accords with
>but builds a base in knowledge for what the founders of the Society of
>Friends (Quakers) aimed at in proposing a religious life that needed no
>sacrament because the sacramental was in every encounter.
>If you picture the three realms of religion, art & science as the three
>leaves of something like a clover (wild hepatica, perhaps), then, in
>traditional cultures, the three lobes overlap,, being drawn together from
>the centre so that they grow as one, as a unity. But the arrangement
>involves an absence of freedom, with each realm being potentially
>by one or both of the others. When the realm of outer knowledge is impinged
>upon by religion, priests determine what people think & heretics go to the
>stake. When outer, biological forces impinge upon culture, inequalities of
>strength & fitness result in inequalities of power & esteem ("weak" women
>not vote & those who cannot marshal signifiers of success will be
>disadvantaged in all sorts of ways). Steiner's respect for ancient wisdom
>should not blind us to the necessities of evolution beyond the limitations
>of its social conditions (& the need to find new ways of knowing)..Much is
>made of the beauty of Celtic Christianity, but my namesake, St Kevin, known
>to Waldorf pupils for having supported a nest of birds until the fledglings
>were able to fly, was also said to chase away woman who disturbed the
>of his devotions as they walked some distance from his cell by beating them
>with cords of plaited nettles! The past is an enticing country, but modern
>people would scarcely bear to live there.
>So modernity means that the three realms have become separate. But the
>separation (church & State, aesthetics from function, biology from rights)
>has been accompanied by a one-sided emphasis on outer science. Steiner
>at the point at which this one-sided emphasis had begun to push the other
>realms into a sort of cultural subjugation. It's fascinating to consider
>what his experiences as a child & young man would have been, poised between
>conventional rural community & urban Vienna. Enlightenment rationality is
>often blamed for one-sided thought development, but the manipulative power
>of industrialism gave it real force, know-how exceeding know-why at an
>increasing rate. When the likes of Richard Dawkins uses the term, the
>"selfish gene", to explain human development, the domination of "IT"
>over the perspectives of "I" or "We" is almost complete. So, "mind", or
>"spirit" becomes "brain", or "electro-chemical impulses", "identity"
>"selfplex", "motive" is reduced to "behaviour". Along the way, humanity has
>often enough attempted to force the gears of that development into reverse
>the Romantic movement (much as I love many of its splendours) was, to a
>large extent, a great squeal of protest, as was early twentieth century
>brutalism. Fundamentalism is, of course, another form of reaction, but, in
>some of its contemporary forms, shows us the rift that has opened up
>outwardly & inwardly for humanity, individually & globally.
>I think that is why Steiner emphasized the crucial importance of the path
>set out in The Philosophy of Freedom, I also think it underlines the
>of an Anthroposophy of content insufficiently supported by a path of
>development. It seems to me the new synthesis of science, art & religion
>belongs to conscious engagement beyond the self. We cannot draw the three
>back together from within each, but reintegrate them from without. That
>relies on practice & study of what humanity has achieved in its past, but
>cannot be accomplished if we merely try to sit within the profundities &
>beauties of ancient heritage. Perhaps the new religion is science (Steiner
>did suggest that the scientist of the future would stand before his
>laboratory bench as the priest stands at an alter), or better, scientific,,
>while science (to turn Steiner's suggestion back to itself) will
>increasingly need to see itself as search informed by religious qualities.
>Art would then draw from both,, overcoming self-indulgence, Epicureanism or
>aesthetic nihilism, not art as self-expression (opening the door to ME) but
>opening the door to objective Spirit. I haven't been on this list long
>enough to be sure, but I think that's what Matthew Morrell is attempting -
>he may not always succeed, but then, which of us succeeds in living a fully
>I hope this isn't too abstract?
>With best wishes,
>From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of
>Sent: 28 May 2006 19:04
>Subject: [steiner] Science and Religion
> As I am a minister, I thought perhaps I would start doing a "sermon"
>sorts every Sunday, a message that might serve to stimulate discussion on
>this quiet list. A good starting-point might be Science and Religion.
> Religion, whatever its original meaning, has come to be for most people
>blind, irrational belief in things that a person does not really know
>Here in Virginia Beach, we have Pat Robertson, a man whose motivations may
>be quite "Christian" but who is a sterling example of irrationality and an
>embarrassment to reflective believers of any religion. The recent success
>the book and film The Da Vinci Code, even though based on a hoax and filled
>with historical falsehoods, shows how many people view the religion they
>were raised in with suspicion and are ready to believe the worst of its
>leaders, how organized religion has become despised by many and does
> Yet when we turn to dry science for a basis for life, we find there's
>"there" there. The most important questions of life--- Who am I? Why am I
>here? Where did I come from, and where am I going? --- are officially
>declared outside the scope of "scientific" inquiry, while unofficially
>you'll be told, "on the side" as it were, "Well, those questions are
>meaningless BECAUSE your self-awareness is just an illusion, you have no
>'Self', you're just a slightly more clever animal, a form of life that
>on some spinning rocks by accident and will be obliterated at death. It's
>all chaos and chance."
> The very first book about Steiner that I ever read, A Scientist of the
>Invisible by Canon A. P. Shepherd, written in England in 1954, was very
>eloquent about these two systems, science and religion; and a more recent
>Harvard project of comparing Freud and C.S. Lewis, examines the same
>pressing issues that must come up again and again when a man ponders his
>nature and origin.
> But that comparison, recently made into a book and a PBS television
>special, accepts this dichotomy without question: we either must be
>pessimistic atheists like Freud or else go back to the religion of our
>ancestors as C.S. Lewis did. But neither choice is healthy for modern-day
>man--- and I think we on this list are here because neither satisfies us.
> I doubt there are many people here who are members of what one wit once
>called "check-your-brains-at-the-door" churches; or if you go to one, you
>don't do so whole-heartedly. But neither does the rigid dogma of science
>with its Darwinian, aggressive atheism satisfy us.
> What we seek is a scientific attitude that refuses to become dogmatic
>like the churches it criticizes, but rather approaches all the mysteries of
>life without prior limitations on thinking, seeking ever to expand our
>understanding of Self and World. This is Spirit Science, as Rudolf Steiner
> The "scientific" dogma that Man has limits on his thinking, we regard
>a mere statement about Man as he is before he seeks to develop undeveloped
>powers within him.
> The limits placed on us by religions, that we can only believe but not
>know, are likewise merely statements referring to the exoteric side of
>religion only, surpassed once we begin to walk the spiritual path which was
>and is the esoteric heart of all religions.
> Meditation is the center of the Path we have been shown, the root of
>anthroposophy. The knowledge derived from reading the Akashic Records, the
>perception of the higher principles of Man, the application of this higher
>knowledge in medicine, education, nutrition, agriculture and the arts ---
>all these are its fruits.
> This movement is the most important one on earth, and all our contact
>with it in whatever realm should renew our lives and spirits, proving its
>worth again and again as the bridge between unbelieving knowledge and
>unknowing faith that Man must find in our times.