Dr. Sergey Zagraevsky
NEW CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHY
original was published in Russian: ALEV-V Publishing House,
For the beginning, let us describe once more the circle of our views on the role of God in our world.
Let me remind: the moral considerations dictate the necessity of the accepting of God as the source of world harmony, expedience and, finally, of that what we called the moral imperative. The acceptance of the objectivity of the existence of God is as necessary as the acceptance of the objectivity of the existence of the material world.
Thus, together with the faith of the material world we have the faith of God – the creator of the Universe, the organizer of harmony and expediency in the world, the source of the moral imperative.
All kinds of teachings, which say that matter itself is the source of all this, are unacceptable for us. And by no ideological considerations, but because “not created, eternal and endless” matter in actual fact plays the role of God, and all evil in the world turns out to originate of characteristics of matter itself. In other words, of God. And this contradicts to our wish for the solving of the problem of the Theodicy.
Pantheism (every element of the world contains God) is unacceptable for us by the same reasons. And, in general, Pantheism is a concealed part of Materialism: God and matter turn out to be quite identical.
Deism (God created the world and left it to the mercy of fate) is absolutely incompatible with Christianity. Again, by no ideological or dogmatic considerations.
Firstly, “Deistic” God is impersonal and infinitely far.
Secondly, Deism means the absence of God in our world, and that brings all our conclusions about “the life of the world to come” to naught. Really, may the moral imperative extend to God himself, if God is actually absent in the world? Of course, it is possible to say that when God created the world, he “programmed” that in some billions years, people will “think out” the moral imperative and consequently obtain “the life of the world to come”, but that is only a guess, which contradicts to our well-founded initial positions.
Thirdly, the consideration, that God in some time after the creation of the world gave people the moral imperative, is for us the confirmation of the fact that God, having created the world, did not leave it to the mercy of fate.
By these three reasons, Deism is also unacceptable for us.
Theism remains. It affirms that God is constantly present in our world and has an influence on everything that takes place.
But how can we tie up the presence of God in the world with evil, which takes place everywhere on the Earth?
The freedom of will of people answers this question – the question of the Theodicy – only partially, in the sphere, which is limited by social relations. But a number of situations, which we named “natural” evil, remain.
Firstly, those are insuperable forces of nature (earthquakes, tornadoes, floods etc.).
Secondly, socially unconditioned internal diseases (cancer, genetic mutations, congenital heart diseases etc.).
Thirdly, many harmful or even deathful accidents (to get frozen, to get burned, to stumble and fall, to get lost etc.).
In short, we are speaking about those disasters, which are traditionally considered as coming from God. And people, who face them, almost inevitably ask the question: for what do I (my wife, my husband, my mother, my father, me friend) have all this?
The theologians of the major Churches answer briefly: for sins.
For justice let us remember that the major Churches acknowledge free will of people. But, unfortunately, only declaratively and, so to say, of necessity – really, without this acknowledgement it would have been impossible to solve the problem of the Theodicy even in the sphere of “social” evil, even for appearance.
Moreover, our freedom is considered by these theologians as the “falling away” from God, and a human is ranked with the devil, “the fallen angel”, by that. It is violently and incorrectly, but the appearance of the solution of the contradiction between the “Divine Providence” and the freedom of will is made by that. And this leads to the appearance of the solution of the problem of the Theodicy also in the sphere of “social” evil.
The theologians of the major Churches say that God provided that world as harmonious, and a human as righteous. But firstly, one of angels – the devil – “fell away” from God, and then Adam and Eve, having listened to the serpent-devil, committed the “original sin”, which “infected” the mankind. Consequently, a human has a chance to return to God, and while it has not happened, all disasters are sent to him for his sins. For his own and his ancestor’s ones.
May be, it is possible even to try to “modernize” this point of view and to think in the following direction: the teaching about “the fallen angel” correlates with our understanding of “social” evil, i.e. not only the devil but society as a whole “fell away” from God. And since “social” evil is capable to self-reproduce in next generations (relations in a family, education, influence of surrounding people etc.), it may seem that our approach does not differ seriously from the approach of the major Churches.
But in actual fact, the latter approach causes a number of contradictions, which are soluble neither within the limits of the dogmatics, nor out of that limits.
The first. If the world is provided by God as harmonious, then why did God let the “falling” of the devil and of Adam? Speaking in our terms: why did the nature of society make it the source of evil?
The second. God, sending the punishments for sins in the form of tornadoes and cancerous growths, turns out to be not good, but evil. The principle of the Old Testament “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” is fulfilled in this case. And we showed that Christianity does not follow this principle.
The third. God “maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust” (Matt. 5:45). And not only the rain. Unfortunately, also the tornado.
Let us say directly and frankly: in the limits of classical Theism (God is not only present in the world all the time but has a constant influence on all events in it), the problem of the Theodicy concerning “natural” evil is insoluble both in theory and in practice.
That is why we shall try neither to “tune” nor to “modernize” this part of theology of the major Churches, it will be the loss of time. Any attempt to consider earthquakes and cancerous growths as proceeding directly from God makes him the enemy of the humanity and the culprit of the death of thousands of people. And far not each of them deserves such fate.
And any casuistry like “God hurried to call righteous people” is powerless here. Sometimes it happens that because of the crash of a submarine tens of boys of twenty, who are culprits of nothing, choke for many days on the bottom in waterproof compartments, and God does not “hurry to call” them, in spite of the absence of any hope for rescue.
And the torturous death of cancer does not need comments at all.
I sharpen the problem of “social” evil knowingly. The point is that each of us lost his relatives and friends not once, each of us every day learns from the papers and TV about many terrible catastrophes, and each of us, at least once in his life, thought: why does God, at the minimum, allow all this and, at the maximum, send all this? May be, he brings people no good, but evil? But why then do we need righteousness, good and everything else that we are taught by Christianity? The Church says that each of us will meet his deserts in the heaven or in the hell?
But it is impossible to frighten a contemporary human by hell, and he comes to the negation of moral values with great likelihood. With all following consequences.
Speaking in our habitual terms: if great number of sufferings of guiltless people proceed from God together with the moral imperative, it turns out that God causes not only good, but also evil. In this case, the idea of the moral imperative is to be disavowed, because “every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand” (Matt. 12:25).
The situation is extremely complicated and, as we have said, insoluble in the limits of classical Theism.
So we have to turn to “the sources of sources” – to the origin of the world and of the civilization – and try to understand, why God created the world in just this way and what role he plays in it.
And by the way, we shall try to answer the question, who we are and where we are from. We have already understood, where we are going – we all are awaited by the eternal “life of the world to come”. But that is not enough, because if God is evil, then “the life of the world to come” may turn out to be much worse, more terrible and tragic than this life, and the basis for the necessity of the eternal life (“God is no murderer” turns out to be more than doubtful.
So, we can not do without a deep analysis of the causes of “natural” evil.
And we shall have to start from the creation of the world.
We shall not deepen into the centuries-old dispute if God created the world within six days or one day of God is equal to a billion years. Many books were written on that, and this question is not important for us.
It is important that we have postulated God in Chapter 1 as the source of harmony in alive and lifeless nature. We shall come to a human in next turn, and now we shall have to look for harmony in chemical elements, amoebas, insects, reptiles, birds and mammals, which do not belong to the species, which is named Homo Sapiens.
The lifeless world appeared first – the book of Genesis and the facts of geology agree upon this. And it is not necessary to go far for harmony in lifeless world – it is described by the laws of Archimedes, Newton, Einstein and others.
The writer Arthur Clarke even saw the proof of the existence of God in physical-mathematic formulas. Particularly, in the formula of Euler, which connects the base of natural logarithms – “e” (2,71828...), and the ratio of the length of a circle to its diameter – “π” (3, 14159...), – the digits, which are important in mathematics, but completely independent upon each other.
It is difficult to disagree with this. But before we pass on from lifeless nature to alive nature (from the fourth “Day of the Creation” to the fifth), it is necessary to exarticulate lifeless nature’s law, which is the most important for us: the absorption of one element by another with the formation of the third.
There is no death in nature, there is absorption and transformation, and this is as natural and habitual, as those oxidation-reduction reactions, which we studied at the lessons of chemistry. Two atoms of hydrogen, joining with an atom of oxygen, cease to be the hydrogen and the oxygen, but create a new substance with absolutely other characteristics – the water.
The inverse process is possible under some conditions – the disintegration of the water to the hydrogen and the oxygen, and a few people call it “the death of the water” – such metaphors are appropriate only in poetry.
The appearance of life in lifeless nature, no matter how it took place (let us not debate about Oparin’s hypothesis and many other ones), brought nothing new into this process of absorption of one substance by another. Bacteriums absorb – eat – each other, and that is normal and natural. Insects do the same with each other, and that is also natural.
Moving up along the “stairs of evolution”, we also see nothing fundamentally new. As we have already said, the hunting of wolves for deers is absolutely natural, frank and honest.
Of course, from the “humanizing” point of view we feel sorry for a deer. But if a wolf does not kill a deer, he will die of hunger. Let us imagine an emaciated, dying wolf, and we shall understand that it is no less heart-rending sight that a bleeding deer.
It is possible to “offer” a wolf turn to smaller game, but there is nobody to do this in natural conditions. Moreover, the death shout and the crunch of bones of a caught partridge are also unpleasant for a contemporary human.
That is why, unfortunately, any concept of humanism or the moral imperative is not applicable to wild nature. The animals, including the highest mammals, absorb each other in natural conditions, as the water absorbs the sugar. And the words of Prophet Isaiah: “The wolf and the lamb shall feed together” (Is. 65:25) are a fine symbol of good and love, but by no means a practical recommendation for a wolf, who is then awaited by the death of hunger.
The forms of social life were also elaborated during evolution. Nature came from colonies of bacteriums and ant hills to wolf packs and troops of antelopes. Hierarchic systems changed constantly, but everything was subjected to the same “basic instincts”: to a species’ preservation and continuation. It is better to hunt by a pack, it is better to defend by a herd, hierarchy is needed for the most optimal organization of hunting or defense, and everything is natural, frank and honest again.
It is impossible to do also without earthquakes and convulsions of nature – that are normal natural phenomenons, which are connected with geological processes. And hurricanes are caused by changing of weather, and that, for its turn, is connected with the Earth’s revolution round the Sun.
And after a hurricane, shrubs grow on the place of fallen trees, then a new wood appears, the place of a lost fauna is taken by a new one, which often stands higher on the “stairs of evolution”, and life goes on.
In view of all foresaid, it is useless to speak about good and evil during the first five “Days of the Creation”, since there is no “indicator” – a human, who has the moral imperative. Of course, it would have been possible to “brand” whole nature as total evil, but it is an absurdity. In that case, it would have been necessary to acknowledge processes of digestion and oxidation-reduction reactions as evil.
But we have not yet reached the sixth “Day”.
Darwin’s theory of the origin of species was in the 19th–20th century so violently and speculatively opposed to the biblical creation of Adam, that in the consciousness of the majority of people that are absolutely incompatible and mutually exclusive things.
Moreover, the Bible at first sight “loses” to Darwin on a scientific “platform”. On the side of the latter, there are biology, genetics, embryology, paleontology, archeology and many other sciences, which it is really stupidly to contest. And on the side of the Bible, there are “only” some pages of the book of Genesis, which are frankly legendary and have many contradictions.
But there is one thing, to which “Darwin’s” science has not yet given a satisfactory answer. Some hundreds millions years passed since dinosaurs to apes, and since apes (or an Australopithecus) to Albert Einstein – not more than a million.
And if we take the “civilized” period of the development of the humanity – since Ancient Egypt to our days – a negligibly small time space turns out to be, only six–seven thousand years. Opportunely, quite coinciding with the ancient calendar “since the creation of the world”, which begins since 5508.
But the question if we are separated from the creation of Adam by six or seven millenniums, is not the subject of this book. And it would have been unreasonably to deny Darwin’s evolution – anatomy, physiology and embryology say earnestly that we are descended from apes. Let not directly from chimpanzees and orangutans, but from some common ancestors – it is not important.
It is important that on a negligibly small time space, an unprecedented growth of spiritual and intellectual abilities at an ape-looking biological species took place, and this growth is inexplicable by Darwinism.
And Engels, who asserted in his book “The origin of the family, private property and the state” that labour changed an ape into a human, did not manage to ground his theory earnestly. All animals labour to some extent for living, and why did exactly apes become people, extremely quickly at that?
Actually, if we take five–six billions years of the existence of our planet for first five “Days of the Creation”, then the sixth “Day”, when God said, – “Let us make man in our image” (Gen. 1:26), lasted only some seconds – the first anthropoid apes, which we can call ancestors of a human with higher or lower probability, appeared about a million years ago.
But these mathematic researches are not important. Symbolical sense of the first pages of the book of Genesis are much more important than geochronology, which, of course, could not be known for ancient Jewish authors.
Let us pay attention to the fact that a human, who was created by God “in his image” (Gen. 1:26), had not yet been Adam, who was created already after the sixth “Day”, when God “rested from all his work” (Gen. 2:3).
But the citing of a firm parallel, that the Biblical “Pre-Adamite”, who was created in the sixth “Day”, was some of anthropoid apes, is also inappropriate. For example, it is scarcely possible to see “God’s image” in an Australopithecus only since he turned out to be inclined to orthogradity and his voice organs was more developed than those organs of orangutans.
This situation is not so simple, and we must examine the sixth “Day” in more details, having armed ourselves with contemporary achievements of anthropology.
We shall not deepen into details of scientific disputes, how many “units” there were in the “chain of evolution” between Australopithecus (about one million years ago) and Cro-Magnon people, the first representatives of biological species Homo Sapiens (about 30 thousand years BCE). We shall limit ourselves by the ascertainment that within this time the considerable evolution of the skull, musculosceletal locomotor system, brain, implements, life conditions and social relations took place.
Let us not deepen also into the late Paleolithics (30-10 thousand years BCE). It is doubtless that the development of all foresaid was going on. If we do not see any significant changes of the skull and musculosceletar system, that is only because that changes could not go so far to become noticeable on the background of a colossal variety of races, nationalities and tribes of the species Homo Sapiens. For example, an Australian Aborigine by all biological parameters differs from a European much more than a Cro-Magnon man – from a Neanderthal man.
And nevertheless, let us note that the speed of the evolutionary process in comparison with other species of animals grew considerably within the last million years. Huts, implements, rock paintings and primitive sanctuaries appeared as evolution continued.
The Mesolithics and Neolithics, which began approximately 10 thousand years ago, in principle, differ from the Paleolithics not so much. But the agriculture, cattle-breeding, ceramics, weaving, and rock paintings got more “abstract” and generalized forms.
Let us note that the people of the late Paleolithics, of the Mesolithics and Neolithics may possibly be already considered as the “Pre-Adamites”, about whom it is said in Gen. 1:26.
And something astonishing took place in the 4th millennium BCE. Social relations, arts and religion of Egypt and Mesopotamia rose to the unprecedented height. It is most probable that approximately the same occurred at that time in China and India.
Let us not be carried away by the enumeration of the differences of Egyptian Dynasties from the tribal society of primeval people, and of Cheops’ Pyramid – from Neolithic sanctuaries. And let us not cite characteristics, which differ the Neolythics from a civilization (it is usually considered that literature is the main characteristic, and it is difficult to disagree with this).
And nevertheless, approximately six thousand years ago, the humanity became the same as it is, in principle, today. The tribal structure, which did not differ seriously from animal packs, turned out to be replaced by a state with the complicated hierarchic structure, labour became specialized, arms became varied, the contemporary kinds of art – painting and sculpture – replaced rock drawings, and primitive religious beliefs became developed mythological systems.
Archeologists, basing on local features, are usually inclined to prolong the Neolithics for 1–2 thousand years after the forming of the Ancient Egyptian kingdom (even famous “Stonehenge”, which is dated by the second millennium BCE, is often attributed to the Neolithics). But then it turns out that many tribes of Central Africa, Solomon Islands or New Guinea lived in the Neolithics even some decades ago, thus, this approach is scarcely correct.
It is natural that the development of the civilization passed differently in different countries, but it is the most correct to consider the 4th millennium BCE as the end of the Neolithics and the beginning of the contemporary period of the development of the humanity.
According to the Biblical calendar, approximately at the same time “the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” (Gen. 2:7-8).
And some time later Adam, having known good and evil, was sent from the garden of Eden (Gen. 3:23).
A hypothesis was cited many times that on the boundary of the 5th and 4th millenniums the tribe of “Adamites” came to Egypt, and later to Mesopotamia, from a quite real region called “Eden”. This tribe was more developed than local tribes of “Pre-Adamites”, about which it is told in Gen. 2:7, so it subdued them and created the monarchic slave-owning system.
But that is only a hypothesis, which is not from the philosophic-theologian sphere, but from the historic-anthropological one at that.
Another thing is important for us: just at that time, the humanity ripened for such a serious step as the knowing of good and evil. Even Philo of Alexandria considered that God inspired a human from Gen. 2:7, as against a human from Gen. 1:26, with a soul, and the “colony of divine nature” was created.
And the knowing of good and evil, as we have seen in Chapter 4, supposes the orientation to the moral imperative.
Thus, no matter how we appreciate the description of the “sin” of Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis, the following fundamental conclusion arises: approximately in the 5th–4th millenniums BCE, the humanity obtained the moral imperative from God, and that marked the end of the process of changing of an ape into a human.
In theory, of course, the moral imperative could have been elaborated by the mankind itself in the process of evolution. But we have postulated in Chapter 1 that the moral considerations dictate us the necessity of the acceptance of God as of the source of the world harmony, expediency and, finally, the moral imperative.
We have accepted that as the initial axioms, but now, at the new level of understanding, we can say: the moral imperative could not appear by itself in society, which was actually based on evil. Evil is incapable to give birth to good, because their moral nature is different.
Now we can cite also two scientific arguments in favor of the fact that God is the source of the moral imperative: an unprecedented advance in the development of the mankind in the 5th–4th millenniums BCE and the actually complete coincidence of the Biblical calendar with the facts of contemporary anthropology.
Our initial positions, which were based on moral considerations, got an additional historical-philosophic basis.
But did something change in the physical nature of a human since he got the moral imperative from God?
Of course, no. As a human suffered of cold, hunger and wounds, so he was going on suffering, the structure of his body and his physical abilities did not change, and the death of enemies’ stones and arrows did not become less painful.
Natural conditions also did not change. Tornadoes and earthquakes did not become less destructive, wolves and lions went on assaulting, a human was to struggle against all disasters as before.
Let us say more: the relations of a human with other people changed far not at once. The “basic instincts” (a species’ preservation and continuation) were going on determining social relations, and people in the 4th millennium BCE scarcely had any considerable spiritual alternatives to “social” evil.
The “direction” of ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian art to the glorification of tsars and the victories above a great number of enemies is well known. Nothing showed mercy and forgiveness.
Let us also remember the Old Testament. Even on the boundary of the 2nd and 3rd millenniums BCE, God was perceived just as the helper of Israel in the struggle against numerous enemies, and the postulate “God is no murderer” is inapplicable to him. For instance, let us remember “Egyptian executions” (Ex., chapters 7-11).
And in the understanding of the Old Testament’s prophets, who immediately preceded to Christianity, the praising of “social” evil – the bloody punishment of enemies – evidently prevails over the moral imperative. Even Isaiah said about God: “I will tread them (people – S.Z.) in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment” (Is. 63:3).
The crucifixion of Christ is also a part of the misunderstanding and aversion of the moral imperative by society. And Christian teaching also was not perceived in the Middle Ages as bringing good, only good and nothing except good to the humanity. We spoke much about that, analyzing the “main paradox of Christianity”.
And “grounded ideologically” Hitler’s Auschwitz and Stalin’s Kolyma are the examples of quite recent past.
But, nevertheless, the humanity, step by step, slowly and painfully moves to the understanding of good and evil. Just to the understanding, as against the symbolical “knowing” of legendary Adam and Eve. And the understanding of a problem is the first and necessary step to its solution.
That is why we can say with assurance: before the humanity got the moral imperative from God, sufferings and deaths were as natural as alimentary processes and oxidation-reduction reactions. After the obtaining of the moral imperative all sufferings and deaths became evil.
And now let us return to the question if God is the culprit of “natural” evil.
We can try to “accuse” God in the following way: if he had not given us the moral imperative, we would not have considered “normal” relations in nature as evil. And since God gave us the moral imperative, he immediately became the culprit of evil.
But an absurdity turns out, because the moral imperative is good, and we must thank God for it.
The “wish” that God had stopped tornadoes and earthquakes simultaneously with the end of the process of changing of an ape into a human, is no less absurdity. That would have meant the end of geological processes and of the Earth’s revolution round the Sun, and that is equal to the death of our planet together with all bearers of the moral imperative.
The “wish” that God had induced the humanity to change from the Neolitics to Communism or some other hypothetic system, which realizes social justice, immediately after the obtaining of the moral imperative, is also unrealizable. The ideal social system is still unknown for the humanity, and in the 4th millennium BCE that was out of the question.
As regards our diseases and sicknesses, we did not change our bodies in the moment of the obtaining of the moral imperative, and our body remained actually apish.
Of course, it would have been possible to “blame” God that in connection with the giving us the moral imperative he did not change our bodies into iron or stone, but in the Universe, which consists of the elements of the periodic table, it is incompatible with life.
And it would have been unjust to change natural processes completely for the sake of needs of the humanity on the Earth, with respect to extraterrestrial civilizations, the existence of which is doubted now by a few people.
And, above all, let us not forget the words of Leibniz that God created our world as the best of possible worlds.
This statement absolutely conforms to the moral imperative, and it is not difficult to prove it by the rule of contraries. There are two variants here.
The first one. Let us suppose that there is some other world, which is better than our one. Then it turns out that God primordially presumed the inequality of worlds, and this contradicts to the Theodicy, because this is evil in respect of our world.
The second variant. Let us suppose that a world, which is better than our one, is possible in theory. But then God committed evil in respect of our world since he did not want to create a better one, and that again contradicts to the Theodicy. And since God was incapable to create a better world, he is not almighty and not perfect.
Consequently, our world is the best of all possible worlds, and the changing from harmony of nature without a human to harmony of nature with human could not be less painful both in theory and in practice.
Thus, God is not guilty of “natural” evil, so as of “social” evil.
One problem remains – painful, or even fatal accidents (to get frozen, to get burned, to stumble and fall, to get lost etc).
Generally speaking, these accidents are directly connected with the decrees of nature and thus relate to “natural” evil, i.e. God is not guilty of them.
But a question arises: let God be not guilty of them, but why can’t he prevent then in each specific case? For example, to stop a human before a deep pit and not to let him fall there? This rescue would not have infringed upon anybody’s interests and would have been doubtless good.
Yes, but it is impossible to draw a distinction between “admissible” and “inadmissible” interferences of God.
For example, a human concludes a commercial deal and does not know that some months later by some accidental reasons it will lead him to bankruptcy, which will become a tragedy – for example, the sale of property, poverty, the dissolution of the family, alcoholism, the suicide...
Must God interfere and warn that human about the danger of the deal? Yes? And if the bankruptcy was not complete, and there had place only a considerable loss of money? Must God keep also from it? And if the loss was not considerable?
We have come to an absurdity again, because it turns out that if we even manage to define the “border between interference and non-interference”, it will be expressed in some sum of money. So to speak, what is the price of God’s help?
And in the case of the pit: if it was not deep, and a human, having fallen there, only bruised himself? Must God still interfere? No?
But a fallen man may consider his bruise as a sufficient reason for God’s interference and may begin to blame God that he was not kept. So it is possible to hate God even for a spoiled suit.
We have engaged into an ungrateful deal: to try to model “inscrutable ways of God”. But in any case, we have not found any consistent reason for the interference of God into earthly things!
So he does not interfere in tragic situations, which are connected with “social” evil. Let us remember:
“Can you understand why a little creature, who can’t even understand what’s done to her, should beat her little aching heart with her tiny fist in the dark and the cold, and weep her meek unresentful tears to dear, kind God to protect her?”
God did not protect this child, and just that was the reason for Ivan Karamazov to “return the ticket for the entrance into the Kingdom of God”. We have already spoken about this in Chapter 4, when we were analyzing “social” evil, and we have understood that it is useless to wait for the interference of God (for example, for a lightning from the sky on the heads of the torturers of the child), and weak and wretched people must be protected by us, Christians.
The same we can say about accidents: every human has the intuition, life experience and the right for the help of surrounding people, and all this is the protection in many situations. And our common task is to make the quantity of such situations less.
For example, we all are taught in childhood to cross a street at the green light, not to walk on railways and not to come close to the brink of a steep, and we have no obstacle for the following to these elementary rules and for the avoidance of the vain risk.
One more “life” example. The ice in a street may become the cause of a tragedy, but from whom should we wait the strewing of it with the sand – from God or from community services?
Unfortunately, if a human is waiting for the help from God, but falls on the ice and gets an injury at that (through the fault of community services), than there is a high probability of the doubt of God with all following consequences.
Doubting Ivan Karamazov “returned the ticket” and doubting Smerdyakov decided that “everything is permitted” in connection with that.
This situation has one more aspect. Who, knowing that God will help at a critical moment, will be able to resist the temptation to drive the situation to that critical moment? Let us remember one of the temptations of Christ:
“Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple. And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up... Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God (Matt. 4:5-7).
Let us summarize all the foresaid: any interference of God into “current earthly affairs”, even with the best aim, enters into the contradiction either with the Theodicy or with freedom of will or with decrees of nature.
So, we have examined a quite vast material and have understood a number of fundamental things.
Firstly, God created the Earth some billions years ago (strictly speaking, before that he created the Universe, and the Earth appeared as a consequence of cosmogonic processes).
Secondly, God assisted in the changing of an ape into a human and then gave people the moral imperative. That process began some tens of millenniums ago and finished in the 4th millennium BCE.
Thirdly, for the present day, the admission of any other interferences of God into “current earthly affairs” leads, at the minimum, to the situation that in the opinion of billions of people, God becomes a culprit of their troubles. And at the maximum, that admission contradicts to decrees of nature.
And it follows from these three conclusions that, for the present day, God “interfered into earthly affairs” twice: at the creation of the world and at the creation of “Homo moralis” (conventionally of Adam).
God acts and acted on the Earth in no other form.
Let us try to analyze this quite unexpected conclusion. The word “interference” has a certain negative shade, that is why let us call these acts of God as “impulses”.
Firstly, let us note the colossal scale of these “impulses”, which conforms to any, even the most orthodox ideas about the might of God. God is not only the creator, he is almighty, but he rules the world not by the direct interference and the regulation of all trifles, but by means of the decrees of nature and of the moral imperative.
That is why we can acknowledge also the omniscience of God and also the fact that he rules the world in accordance with some great aim, which is known only for him. But only with a fundamental reservation: God is no dictator, but a wise legislator.
Let us also note that the contradictions between the directions of the first and the second “impulses” conform to all the classical laws of Dialectics. To “unity and struggle of contradictions”, to “changing of quantity into quality and quality into quantity” and to “negation of negation”. N.Lossky spoke about the “imperfection at the level of the structure of the Universe”, but the imperfection and dialectical contradictions are not the same.
In connection with this, we can say that in the scale of the Universe the contradictions between good and evil are dialectic.
But this does not abolish the said by us that evil has fundamentally other moral nature than good. We have determined good as the conformity of our thoughts and acts to the moral imperative, and evil – as the discrepancy. Thus, independently upon the perception of the moral imperative by the mankind (according to “Super-Ecumenism”, even Christianity is not the “last truth”), the moral nature of good and evil will never become the same.
And didn’t it turn out that God is impersonal and far from acts and concerns of the humanity?
No, it did not. The moment, which was chosen for the second impulse, is an evidence that God “has an eye” on the life on the Earth – he gave people the moral imperative only when they were ready for it. As we have seen, some hundred thousands of years (if we count since Australopithecus) or billions of years (if we count since the forming of our planet) were needed for that.
Thus, God is a reasonable power.
Let us go on. God gave the humanity the moral imperative, thus, God is a moral power.
Reason and morality are necessary attributes of a person. Thus, God is a person.
And since God is a person and “has an eye” on the world, then it is analogous to the statement that God is present in the world, though his actual presence comes to a number of “impulses”.
Consequently, we have remained in the limits of Theism. That is why I propose to call our approach as “Impulse Theism”, as against “classical” Theism.
Let us check all foresaid by the theological method of orientation to the Holy Scripture.
We have already analyzed the “main paradox of Christianity”, that is why we know what all quotes, where God supposedly renders for good by good and for evil by evil (Matt. 5:19; 6:1; 7:11; 18:19; 19:29; Luke 3:8; 14:26; John 8:51; 12:28 etc.), actually mean.
Of course, God in the interpretation of the Old Testament (personally leading the Jewish people and violently striking its enemies) conforms to no understanding of “Impulse Theism”. But the problem of the Theodicy is also solved in the Old Testament by no means – God, who is capable to make the Flood to the whole mankind (Gen. 7:7) and make the wife of Lot a pillar of salt only since she looked back (Gen. 19:26), may not be called “good”.
And God in the interpretation of the New Testament, who acts on the Earth not directly, but through people, firstly through Jesus Christ (John 1:18; 5:19; 5:36; 8:42; 12:50; 17:2) conforms to all, the most strict, stereotypes of Christian faith.
The following words of Jesus are the most showy on this context: “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father” (John 14:12).
That is why we may establish:
“Impulse Theism” contradicts neither to the Holy Scripture, nor to the scientific facts.
“Impulse Theism” does not limit free will of people and does not cast doubt on the action of the decrees of nature.
“Impulse Theism” is the only consistent way of the solution of the problem of the Theodicy, which conforms to the conditions of the rationality, goodness and omnipotence of God.
“Impulse Theism” ranks the moral imperative with the harmony of the Universe, and this allows to solve a number of practical problems, which arise at the collisions of humanistic (Christian) ideals with realities of society.
And, may be, other “impulses” took place?
For example, the origin of the life on the Earth offers itself as the second “impulse” (accordingly, the giving of the moral imperative to the humanity will then be the third “impulse”).
May be, the life originated in space and was brought to the Earth together with the cosmic dust, meteorites or with the help of aliens, and then we could have considered as the second “impulse” the appearance of life in lifeless nature not on the Earth, but in some other place. In each case, the necessity of Oparin’s hypothesis and all other ones may disappear.
Yes, it would have been “convenient” to replace a number of scientific hypotheses by one word of God, but let us look: what fundamentally new in the moral aspect could have brought such “impulse”? The living beings absorb each other like lifeless substance absorb, and that was as normal and natural, as it had been before.
I suppose that the appearance of unicellular organisms is not so important in moral aspect as two actually necessary “impulses”, which we have called the creation of the world and the creation of Adam. The being appeared as the result of the first “impulse”. Human consciousness, which was “topped” with the moral imperative, appeared as the result of the second “impulse”.
Neither bacteriums nor dinosaurs have consciousness or the moral imperative, that is why it is the most probable that there were no acts of God in the Universe between these “impulses”.
That is why I am personally against the introduction of the appearance of life in lifeless nature as one of the “impulses”. But, of course, this is a disputable question.
Then one more question arises: may be, we can consider the teaching of Christ and the Holy Spirit, which was given to us, as the third “impulse”?
This question is also quite disputable, and I can thrust my opinion on the readers in no circumstances.
It is fundamental for us that Jesus Christ is the same human as we are, since that influences seriously our position concerning “the life of the world to come” and the “missionary” orientation of our views.
But did we get the Holy Spirit directly from God, or did God give it to us through Jesus Christ, or must we consider the teaching elaborated by Christ as the Holy Spirit? These questions are as insoluble by the contemporary means of perception as the centuries-old dispute of the Orthodoxy and Catholicism about “Filioque”.
Let me remind: the word “Filioque” is translated from Latin as “and from the Son”. In 589 at the Council of Toledo, the addition to the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed was made, and that addition was that the Holy Spirit proceeds not only from God, but also from “God the Son”.
The Councils of Toledo were only the national assemblies of the “barbarian” kingdom of Visigoths (a part of contemporary Spain). Visigoths were Arians, and in each case, the Councils in the limits of one state could not have an influence on Christian theology in general.
Nevertheless, the addition about “Filioque” became a “trump-card” in the political game between East and West. The Pope accepted that addition in the beginning of the 9th century, wishing to “gratify” Charlemagne, who was in the confrontation with Byzantine Empire. The Patriarch declared the “imperishability” of the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed of 381 CE and refused of any additions. The sides did not manage to come to any compromise, the legates of Pope left Constantinople in 1054, and that meant the Schism.
Unfortunately, any attempt to understand, who is right in the dispute on “Filioque”, is condemned to the failure. Actually, if the Holy Spirit proceeds from God, then Christ only brought it to us. If it proceeds also from “God the Son”, then Christ created it, at least partially.
It was also extremely difficult to prove something theologically (as we have seen in Chapter 6, the concept of the Holy Spirit in the Holy Scripture has very many meanings), and that is why this complicated question turned out to be very convenient when everyone was interested in the Schism.
That is why, when we were doing a historical review of the forming of the dogmas of the “Trinity” and “two natures”, we did not comment completely scholastic disputes on “Filioque”.
And since the problem, if to consider the appearance of the Christian teaching as the third “impulse” or not to consider, is directly connected with the definition of the origin of the Holy Spirit, we are actually awaited by the same dispute. I propose not to enter it.
I am even ready to “surrender in advance” and to say: in principle, I am not against the consideration that Jesus Christ brought us the word of God and, consequently, to consider his teaching as the third “impulse”. But the identity of Christ and God’s word, which leads to the declaring of Christ as the second god – that is really ungrounded and harmful for faith. We have spoken much about that, and let us not repeat ourselves.
I would like to express my own opinion though: Jesus of Nazareth understood the true meaning of the moral imperative, and he devoted his life to the convincing people of that, having been torturously executed as a result.
But the moral imperative had already been given to people, and society understood it completely neither before Christ, nor after. Thus, there could be no third “impulse”, since any acts of God were not necessary.
But in each case, the life of Christ induced the humanity to a colossal step on the way of the acceptance of the moral imperative.
And may there be other “impulses” in future?
Undoubtedly, yes! But not today, not tomorrow and not during the life of the nearest generations. Particularly, that is why I have “abstained from voting” about the declaring of Christ as the third “impulse”: there was Buddha, there was Muhammad and there are many disagreements even within Christianity...
So, the humanity must ripen for the next “impulse”. Other “impulses” possibly were somewhere on other planets, but we know nothing about it now.
Let us not prophesy about next “impulses” – they lie beyond the human contemporary understanding. If it had been possible to foretell them, basing on the level of our today’s development, they would have been unnecessary. God does not interfere to the processes, which are in the power of people.
But we can affirm that the quantity of “impulses” must be marginally necessary. We can even paraphrase “Ockham’s razor”: “Impulses are not to be multiplied beyond necessity”.
Really, each new “impulse” brings something fundamentally new, but it enters into dialectic contradictions with the previous one and because of that it is far not painless.
Possibly, the third “impulse” will let us, at least in consistent theory, imagine society without money and states – the sources of evil, which is tightly connected with the first “impulse”.
Possibly, the third “impulse” will come after the creation of the “Noosphere” (according to Vladimir Vernadsky, that is the biosphere, which is rebuilt in the interests of a human) or will mean the establishing of “the Kingdom of God”.
Possibly, the resurrected people go in “the life of the world to come” to the next “impulses” by other ways. Possibly, some of new “impulses” will liquidate the wall of uncertainty, which separates us from them. May be, they have already known, what the next “impulse” is...
That is why even the words of the prayer “Our Father” – “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10) – do not contradict to “Impulse Theism” and express our will to hasten the coming of the next “impulse”.
We have just shown that there were only two “impulses”. If we even consider as “impulses” the appearance of life in lifeless nature and the life of Jesus Christ, then there are maximum four.
But one more question arises: what about the resurrection and “the life of the world to come”? Don’t they mean the “impulses” of God, which are given not to the humanity as a whole, but to each of us?
There turn out to be many billions of “impulses” (resurrections), and though it does not cast doubt on our system of “Impulse Theism”, but changes significantly the scale of “impulses”.
But there are a number of arguments against that.
For example, if we consider that our changing to “the life of the world to come” is caused in each case by a “microimpulse” from God, then the conclusion, that God somehow rules our following existence and in “the life of the world to come” puts is into some initial conditions knowingly, is very tempting.
And from here it is not far to the conclusion that our souls transmigrate, at the minimum, into new-born children, and at the maximum, into trees, dogs and other animated and lifeless beings. Something like the “working karma off” turns out, and we have already shown its illegality.
There is a serious argument also against Origen’s teaching about “the preexistence of souls”, which is actually the “christianized” variant of “the transmigration of souls”. We remember about no “preexistence” (many literary fictions about that are not counted) and it turns out that if there was the previous life, we died in it. But God is and was no murderer.
And the question if a soul existed as a “created impersonal substance” (by L.Karsavin), is interesting, but it oversteps the limits of our research. Karsavin’s “substance” is impersonal, but we are speaking about a human as about a person.
It follows with high probability from the assertion of the interference of God in the process of our changing to “the life of the world to come” that he also rules our “physical” death. And this contradicts to our solution of the problem of the Theodicy.
There is a much more logic and grounded assertion: “the life of the world to come” is not God’s interference in our life.
Consequently, “the life of the world to come” is as natural as any decrees of nature, and since the moment of the giving of the moral imperative to the humanity this life is as “programmed” for each of us, as, for example, the vital functions of the organism.
And then everything sorts itself out. There was no “preexistence of souls” or “previous life”. We were born for the first time, in accordance with the same decrees of nature, as apes, wolves, birds and other animals are born.
But since the moment of the conception, we are no apes, but people. So, we all are awaited by “the life of the world to come”.
In connection with this, we can touch upon the centuries-old dispute of Rationalists and Empiricists, if the perception of the world takes place in accordance with the set of “innate ideas” (Plato, Descartes) or we get it exclusively from life practice (Bacon).
Possibly, as it is usually in these cases, the truth is somewhere in the middle. But I personally doubt that all the “ideas” (including the highest one – the moral imperative) are “laid” into each of us.
Actually, such “laying of ideas” would have been the same “microimpulse” of God as the resurrection and “the life of the world to come”. Consequently, all arguments, which we have cited against the consideration that the latter are the “microimpulses” of God, are applicable also to the birth.
And the main thing is that the set of “ideas”, which proceeds directly from God, is an unjustified interference of God in the human existence, and it casts the Theodicy into doubt. Let me remind our rephrasing of “Ockham’s razor”: “Impulses are not to be multiplied beyond necessity”.
One more consideration: the question, when God “lays the ideas” into a human, was cited not once in history of philosophy, and the most biologically grounded answer is that it happens at the moment of the conception – of the confluence of a spermatozoon and an ovule. But let us imagine God, who watches the process of the conception and interferes at the necessary moment, and we shall understand that in this case naturalism comes to an absurdity.
Rationalism has a more contemporary interpretation: the whole “set of ideas” is “laid” into a human on the genetic level.
But this is also doubtful, since some “set of innate ideas” in the form of instincts we see also in animals. Moving “down” along the “stairs of evolution”, reaching unicellular amoebas and finding some set of instincts in them, we already can not stop and have to go on moving “down”. As a result, we are awaited by actual Pantheism in the form of the existence of “ideas” in ultimate particles.
The “laying of the set of ideas” at the level of the genotype leads also to an absurdity in the form of the existence of the moral imperative, for example, in the liver, since the genotype is the same in all cells of our organism.
That is why I am not inclined to consider that the moral imperative is “laid” in our organism. It is much more probable that we obtain it, when we are perceiving the world: so to say, we are “studying morality”. And the choice between good and evil we begin to do at no embryonic level of development, but in early childhood, when we may already be called as “reasonable beings”.
So, the moral imperative is not a property of somebody, and even not a property of each. It is the property of God and the humanity as a whole.
Society aims at the bringing up of new members, who are similar to previous ones. But the similarity does not mean the identity. “The basic instincts” in society work in one direction, and the moral imperative – in another.
And our connection with God is expressed in the fact that both he and we have the moral imperative and must submit to it. But the imperfect humanity permits itself to commit evil (voluntarily or involuntarily), and perfect God can not permit evil to himself and may not be a murderer.
Thus, simultaneously with the giving of the moral imperative to the humanity, almighty and omniscient God was to foresee natural mechanisms of “the life of the world to come”.
The latter, as against “ideas”, may be “programmed” even at the genetic level and contain in the set of genes, which differ the species Homo Sapiens from apes and determine our character, temperament, capabilities and other innate personal features.
We can make one more conclusion from the fact that “the life of the world to come” is “programmed”: this life is as conceivable by science as all natural phenomenons. By the most common science disciplines – physics, astronomy, anthropology, chemistry, biology etc.
So, all other natural occurrences, which are customary considered as “mystic”, are also conceivable. Since nothing on the Earth, except global “impulses”, proceeds directly from God, then so called “mysticism” (let us not mix it up with mystifications) is no set of miracles, but the set of normal expressions of those decrees of nature, which are not yet known for contemporary science.
We still do not know very much. But the humanity perceives the world constantly, and it is impossible to stop this process.
Only five hundred years ago, the Church burned people, who affirmed that the Earth rotates round the Sun. And now the first steps in the exploring of space are done.
The technique, which is created by a human, also comes to the help. Even one hundred years ago, the humanity could not build flying apparatuses, and now it is possible to surprise nobody by that. Consequently, is already possible to surprise nobody by fast and sure moving along the Earth.
And let us, at least somehow, imagine the scale of the things, which the humanity is to perceive!
For example, the light moves with the speed of three hundred thousand kilometers per second to the star Deneb for five hundred years, i.e. it is about 5.000.000.000.000.000 (five million billion) kilometers. It is impossible even to imagine this distance, moreover, to fly it at the speed of contemporary space vehicles, which does not exceed one hundred kilometers per second. But it does not mean that Deneb is closed for research and that there is no chance of the bringing of astronauts from the Earth to Deneb by means of science and technique.
Deneb is not the most distant star, and it is within the borders of our galaxy. And science already knows thousands (if not millions) of galaxies, and the nearest of them – the famous “Nebula of Andromeda” – is at the distance of approximately two million light-years, i.e. 4000 times further than Deneb.
Does the scale of things, which are to be perceived by the population of one of satellites of a small star in the outskirt of one of countless galaxies, impress?
And the life on the Earth? We have not yet learnt to defeat diseases and to struggle effectively against natural disasters, have not yet managed to get rid of “social” evil...
Marxist ideologist interpreted religion as means of mystic explication of facts, which were not researched by science. Really, the Orthodox and Catholic Churches use the word “sacrament” not only when the matter concerns so called “seven sacraments” – symbolical ceremonies of the Baptism, Confirmation, marriage, Eucharist, ordination, repentance and Anointing. This word also sounds when the existence of God, the resurrection, the relations of the “hypostases of the Trinity”, “the life of the world to come”, the “consecration by the grace of the Holy Spirit” etc. are the case in point.
But we can say: the only true “sacrament” is the faith in God.
In spite of that it has no scientific, but the moral character, it is not so simple to come to it. Only the following to the moral imperative may help there, and any religion – Ecumenical or “Super-Ecumenical” – must be concentrated exactly at this task. Let us remember the words of the father of the child with a dumb spirit: “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24).
And all other things are completely conceivable by earthly science. Including all tings that are called by the major Churches as “sacraments”, and including so called “mysticism”. May be, some time strict scientific proofs of the existence of God will be found?
But in each case, religion solves, solved and will solve no less important task – the moral one.
And in the conditions of scientific-technical progress, when millions of people may perish because of one successful “nuclear maniac”, the actuality of morality increases considerably.
At this level of understanding, let us return to the conclusions, which we have made, having been occupied with Christian theology.
Jesus of Nazareth is one in being with us, people. Consequently, if Christ is a god, then we all are gods. If he is created, then we all are created.
So, there are two variants of the answer to the question, who we are. But is it necessary to choose one of them?
Origen considered that the “preexistence of souls” and following general salvation makes us gods.
I think that our immortality is enough for us to be called as gods by the most strict measures.
Just to call – symbolically. Since there is one God, and we all are created by him. Let not directly, but in concordance with the decrees of nature – isn’t it the same?
Let us remember Jesus’ words once more: “Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?” (John 10:33-36).
And the fact, that God “interferes” into earthly affairs very seldom, is not a trouble, since we are united with him by the moral imperative. And the words of John the Evangelist relate to the people, who remember the moral imperative and follow it: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).
That is why we have right to be called as gods. So as holy, as sons (daughters) of God and as people. All these definitions are applicable to everyone.
So let us commit good and struggle against evil, waiting for no rewards from God, but just justifying our human predestination.
And what waits for us in “the life of the world to come” – that only God knows in the meantime, but the day will come, when science also knows that. If we are not predestinated to live to see this day – there is nothing terrible. Each of us will know “the life of the world to come” after the physical death.
But in actual fact, there is no death. Even the victory over the death of a physical body is possible, and the achievements of contemporary science lead to it. And immortality can be defeated neither in theory nor in practice.
“So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Cor. 15:54-55).
Sergey Zagraevsky © 2004