Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Why do we ask for, or need, 'proof' of the existence of God? Past, Present and Future... Rudolf Steiner

Before the fifteenth century, men did not speak in indefinite terms as was current later, and this very indefiniteness was untruthful. When speaking of intuitions, of moral intuitions he spoke of that which rose up in his inner being, of which he had a picture as real as the world of Nature when he opened his eyes in the morning. 

Outside he saw Nature around him, the plants and the clouds; when he looked into his inner being, there arose the Spiritual, the Moral as it was given to him. 

The further we go back in evolution the more we find that the rising tip of an inner realm into human experience was a matter of course...

 In the days when speech, from being an inner reality was lapsing into untruthfulness, proof for the existence of God came into evidence. Had anyone during the first centuries of Christianity spoken about proofs for the existence of God, as Anselm of Canterbury, people would not have known what was meant. In earlier times they would have known still less!

For in the second or third century before Christ, to speak of proofs for the existence of God would have been as if someone sitting there in the first row were to stand up and I were to say: “Mr. X stands there,” and someone in the room were to assert “No, that must first be proved!” 

What man experienced as the divine was a Being of full reality standing before his soul. He was endowed with the faculty of perception for what he called divine; this God appears primitive and incomplete in the eyes of modern man... 

The men of that age had no desire to hear about proofs, for that would have seemed absurd. Man began to “prove” the existence of the divine when he had lost it, when it was no longer perceived by inner, spiritual perception. 

http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA217/English/AP1967/19221007p01.html

So - Man began with a direct, obvious, common sense experience of the divine in life. Then, by stages went into a state of mind (in which we still dwell, in the modern West) where we not only fail to perceive the divine, but deny its reality and even deny its possibility.

This process of becoming cut-off from the divine bears a significant resemblence to the phase of adolescence, when the individual Man becomes cut-off from his family and the mythic world of childhood, and finds himself utterly, existentially, alone - unable to believe in the reality of anything outside of his own mind.

This is, however, supposed to be a phase - a necessary phase in the development of full self-consciousness and autonmy - but a phase and not a lasting state. 

The phase of adolescence is, like the phase of being cut-off from direct apprehension of the divine, needs to be and is meant to be no more than a 'moment', a minima or 'dead-centre' between the main possibilities of child like absorption-in the divine world, and an adult state of a loving relationship-with the diivine world.

Modern Man is stuck in the phase of being cut-off from the divine, and has been stuck for so long that he has begun to doubt not just the reality of the world outside the mind but the mind itself, so all reality begins to dissolve into nihilism.

Therefore the great need, the first step - here and now - is not for 'proof' of God but for experience of the divine - acknowledged as divine.

From that first step may come understanding of the nature of the divine - but first we need to know the divine is real; know this by personal experience.