Monday 23 May 2016

"Atheism is an actual physical defect, a physical sickness, a physical flaw in the body" - Rudolf Steiner speaking in 1918

There is in man an inclination, a proclivity, to know what may be called in a general sense, the Divine. The second inclination in him — that is, in the man of today — is to know the Christ. The third inclination in man is to know what is usually called the Spirit or also the Holy Spirit.

As we have said, there are men who deny all these inclinations. There has been abundant evidence of this, particularly in the course of the nineteenth century, when in European culture at any rate, things reached such a climax that men have denied the existence of anything Divine in the world. In Spiritual Science — where the existence of the Divine in the realm of the super-sensible cannot be a matter of doubt — the question may be asked : What is it that makes a man deny the existence of the Divine — the Father God in the Trinity?

Spiritual Science shows us that in every case where a man denies the Father God — that is to say, a Divine Principle in the world such as is acknowledged, for example, in the Hebrew religion — in every such case there is an actual physical defect, a physical sickness, a physical flaw in the body.

To be an atheist means to the spiritual scientist to be sick in some respect. It is not, of course, a sickness which doctors cure — indeed they themselves very often suffer from it — neither is it recognised by modern medicine ... but Spiritual Science finds that there is an actual sickness in a man who denies what he should be able to feel, in this case, not through his soul-nature but through his actual bodily constitution. If he denies that which gives him a healthy bodily feeling, namely that the world is pervaded by Divinity, then, according to Spiritual Science, he is a sick man, sick in body.

There are also many who deny the Christ. Spiritual Science regards the denial of the Christ as something that is essentially a matter of destiny and concerns man's soul-life. To deny God is a sickness; to deny the Christ is a calamity.

This must inevitably be the view of Spiritual Science. To be able to find Christ is a matter of destiny, a factor that must inevitably play into the karma of a man. To have no relationship with Christ is a calamity.

To deny the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, signifies dullness, obtuseness, of a man's own spirit.

The human being consists of body, soul and spirit; in all three there may be a defect. Atheism — denial of the Divine — denotes an actual pathological defect. Failure to find in life that link with the world which enables us to recognise the Christ, is a calamity for the soul. To be unable to find the Spirit in one's own inmost being denotes obtuseness, a kind of spiritual mental deficiency, though in a subtle and unacknowledged form.


Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

Any comments on this, Bruce? A physical defect seems like a strange diagnosis, especially given how many people transition between theism and atheism without any apparent physical changes.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Wma. I regard it as an inspired utterance! When I read it it jumped at me with the power of a deep truth. I regard all illness as physical, including psychiatric, in that pathology is general. Certainly finding God was like recovering from a chronic sickness, and doubts feel like the prodrome of a developing illness. Plus that many sick people do not want to be well, and others dread that any hope of recovery will be dashed and so choose despair in advance, as a way of asserting power over the situation. That is where Christ comes in.

David Balfour said...

If atheism is a physical illness it seems to me to manifest in cyclical episodes analagous to malaria.When the dormant parasite of potential sin episodically becomes active and causes the host to be symptomatic and then actively delerious to the extent of denying his illness. It sometimes feels to me like the capacity for sin (or perhaps even the *love* of sin) may remain dormant within us with treatment (Quinine = Christ's atonement, administered by regular doses of repentance) but when we feel that we have somehow recovered and can let our guard down and stop taking any spiritual medication..then that is when the dorminant taint of inner nature will reassert itself and push for a dominance which is almost complete when the host no longer believes they are ill!