Friday, June 16, 2023

Homily Concerning Those Who Consider Science Incompatible With Religion (St. Luke of Simferopol)

Homily on Science and Religion

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on May 30, 1948)
"Considering modern science, as it was developed by Lamarck and Darwin, we find a direct opposite, an absolute inconsistency between the statements of science and the statements of religion in the field of basic questions of being and cognition. Therefore, an enlightened and consistent mind cannot recognize both at the same time. He needs to make a choice."

So wrote 65 years ago the famous German zoologist Haeckel, an ardent admirer of Darwin, in his then sensational book "The Riddle of the Universe", which, as it seemed, completely refuted religion. He says that all enlightened minds must choose between science and religion, reject one or the other. He considers it necessary to reject religion, for the enlightened minds of science will not be rejected.

Was it necessary? No, not at all, for we know that the greatest geniuses of science combined faith in God and great scientific activity. Such was the great Copernicus, the Polish astronomer who created the foundations of all modern astronomy. The great Copernicus was not only a believer, but had a holy order. Another great scientist, Newton, when he spoke the word "God", always took off his hat: he was a deep believer. The great bacteriologist of our time, or almost our time, Pasteur, who laid the foundation for modern bacteriology, began all his scientific works with an ardent prayer to God. Ten years ago, a brilliant physiologist, our Russian scientist Pavlov, who created a new physiology of the brain, died. He was a deeply religious person. Will Haeckel dare to say that these are not enlightened minds if they do not reject religion?

What's the issue? Why are some of our academicians and professors, who are personally known to me to this day, deeply religious, pious people? Why do not all scientists reject religion, but only a portion of them, who are closer in mind to Haeckel?

Because this portion believes only in the material, completely rejecting everything spiritual, does not recognize any other life, does not recognize the immortality of the soul, and, of course, does not recognize the resurrection of the dead. They say that science achieves everything, that there are no mysteries of nature that science cannot reveal. What do we say about this?

We say: yes, you are absolutely right; we dare not set limits to the explorations of the deep human mind that tests nature. We know that although science now knows only a small part of what it should know about nature, the possibilities of science are enormous, limitless. They are right, we do not dispute this. What do we dispute? Why, like them, do we not reject religion as inconsistent and incompatible with the conclusions of scientific knowledge? Only because we believe in the existence of the spiritual world, we believe with all our hearts, we are deeply convinced that in addition to the material world, there is an infinite, immeasurably higher spiritual world. We believe in the existence of spiritual beings, much more gifted with reason than we humans. We believe with all our heart that over this entire spiritual world, as well as over the physical world, stands the Great and Almighty God.

If we dispute anything with science, it is only its right to reject the spiritual, it is the accessibility for the study of the spiritual world, because the spiritual world cannot be investigated by scientific methods, by which we investigate material nature. These methods are completely unsuitable for the study of the spiritual world.

How do we know about the spiritual world? Who told us about it? If those who consider Divine Revelation as nothing ask us thus, let us say to them: "The heart has told us this." For there are two ways of knowing: the one that Haeckel used in science is a way of knowing material nature; but there is another way, which science does not want to know, which is immeasurably higher than the knowledge of the mind; there is another kind of knowledge — the knowledge by the heart. Our heart is not only the central organ of blood circulation, it is an organ of higher knowledge, that knowledge that opens up the spiritual world to us, that knowledge that gives us the ability to enter into communion with God, with the higher world. This is where we disagree with science.

Paying tribute to the great achievements of science, not at all trying to challenge them, not trying to set boundaries for scientific knowledge, we only say: “You cannot explore the spiritual world, but we can, we will know it, we will explore it with our hearts.”

There are many inexplicable, mysterious, but at the same time absolutely reliable facts (as reliable as any of the physical and chemical facts), which belong to the spiritual world. There are phenomena which, of course, science will never explain, for which its methods are not suitable.

Let science explain how the great prophecies about the Messiah arose and were completely fulfilled. Let them explain how the great prophet Isaiah for 700 years with complete clarity predicted all the most important things about the Lord Jesus Christ and deserved the title of the Old Testament evangelist. Let them explain to us the undoubted facts of the illumination of the saints. Let them explain to us what physical forces, what natural methods could achieve this property of insight, the penetration into the hearts of people, into the thoughts of people whom the saints saw for the first time, whom they did not know. And seeing them for the first time, they called them by name; without waiting for a question, they gave an answer to everything with which people came to them. Let this be explained. Let them explain how the saints predicted great historical events that came true according to their prophecy.

They will never explain, because they are extremely far from the basis of religion - from faith. If you read the books of scholars who pretend to refute religion, you will be struck by the extreme superficiality of their judgments; you will see that they do not understand the most important thing in religion, they judge what they do not understand at all. They criticize not what is most precious and greatest in religion, not the very essence of religion, but only the forms, rituals, manifestations of religious feeling. They do not understand the essence of religion at all. Why do they not understand its essence? Because the Lord Jesus said: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44).

We need to be attracted by the Heavenly Father, we need the grace of the Holy Spirit to illuminate our hearts, our minds. It is necessary that through this illumination the Spirit of God dwells in our hearts, in our minds, it is necessary that the one who is worthy of this gift acquires the love of Christ, fulfilling His commandments. Only those who have acquired the Spirit of Christ, into whose hearts He Himself and the Father dwell and make their home (John 14:23), only these blessed ones understand the essence of religion. And those outside don't understand at all.

Let us listen with what words the French philosopher Boutroux ends his criticism of Haeckel: “Haeckel attacks formulas rather than essence, and he takes these formulas in such a narrow and material sense in which they are also unacceptable to very many religious people. Thus, Haeckel's refutation of religion did not really take into itself a single religious principle."

Here is the trial of Haeckel's book "The Riddle of the Universe", which to this day remains the "gospel" of all those who criticize religion and deny it; all who find that religion is incompatible with science. See how pitiful these reasons are, do not be dismayed if these reasonings reach your ears; do not be ashamed, knowing that those who do not understand the very essence of religion are criticizing it. And all of you, ordinary people, not versed in scientific research, not versed in philosophy, remember the principle that was firm, clear and simple as the sun, which guided the ancient Christians: they considered cursed the one who knew all the secrets of science, but did not know God, and they considered blessed the one who knows God, even if he did not know anything else. Keep this great truth, keep it as the greatest treasure of your heart, and do not look elsewhere. Don't be shamed by the attacks you hear. Keep your faith, keep it as an eternal and undoubted truth. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.