Dissing Belief

Reading Born a Crime by Trevor Noah,** we can appreciate how the hope and strength of religious practice inspired and comforted his family members and their friends during the outrageous circumstances of Apartheid in South Africa. But many of us simply can no longer trust established religions.

Many religions around the world have adopted dogmatic and fundamentalist rules that are intolerant of others to varying degrees—some even propose that people who do not believe as they do are enemies who must be either converted or destroyed. It is disturbing to hear our neighbors, whether Christian or otherwise, speak about the evil of others; how they will “go to hell” for their behaviors and beliefs.

Some of us understand that it is wrong to lay religious and social intolerance at the feet of God or Christ or Mohammed or Buddha or Krishna or whoever, whether we believe in them or not. Some believe that it was not the gods but simply mortal human beings who added all the rules and interpretations that condemn others. Be that as it may, we must recognize that those who believe nothing lies beyond what we can discover through empirical natural science can also be dogmatic, can also feel completely justified in condemning those who don’t believe the truth as they themselves see it.

One question underlying all this is, with what do we replace the hope and strength which Trevor Noah’s family and others like them found to sustain their lives? What is that something larger than ourselves? If we rely only on the world we know through our physical senses to give us hope and strength, we have to ask ourselves, how is that working for us?

Professionals in every realm of psychology, philosophy, healthcare, and so forth report that many of us are not flourishing in the larger sense of the word. We have, in a way, lost hope. And, because we do not wish to be uncool, we freely accept the various methods of escape from this despair: we not only court addiction and vice, greed and triviality, we exult in them. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we had the capacity within ourselves to find the purpose of life—in general, for our complicated, conflicted world, and in particular for our complicated, conflicted selves?

Let’s see what Rudolf Steiner* has to say:

Now it is quite possible for man to deceive himself. He can give himself up to the belief that there is no hidden side to things; that that which meets his outer senses and his intellect is all-inclusive. This delusion, however, is only possible on the surface of consciousness, not in the depths. Our feeling-life, our aspirations and desires, do not partake in this illusory belief. In one way or another they will always crave for the hidden side; when it is taken from them, they drive the human being into doubt and bewilderment, even into despair, as we have seen. A way of knowledge which brings the hidden to revelation is apt to overcome all hopelessness, perplexity and despair—in short, all that weakens human life on Earth and incapacitates it from contributing its service to the cosmic whole.

One of the fairest fruits of the pursuit of Spiritual Science is that it lends strength and firmness to life, instead of merely satisfying a man’s craving for knowledge. Inexhaustible is the fountainhead from which it draws, giving man strength for work and confidence in life. No man who has once truly found his way to this source will ever go away unstrengthened, however often he may have recourse to it.

Excerpt from: Esoteric Science: An Outline, Preface to the 1925 edition 10/01/25 by Rudolf Steiner.

Maybe it feels reasonable and easy to say, “No way” to spiritual science, but is it sensible, is it practical? In short, does it work? We may well have difficulty accepting the tenets of organized religion because many of its followers embrace intolerances, hypocrisies, and spiritual superficialities that are impossible to ignore; however, can we really deny a whole world, a whole realm of consciousness, without knowing anything about it?

Have all the past civilizations on earth been just stupid or delusional about their relationship to something beyond themselves? Perhaps if we read Steiner with an open mind, we may find a path that leads way beyond anything offered by today’s organized religions, a path to real knowledge of ourselves and the world that enlivens and empowers us to see our life anew.

**Trevor Noah is a South African comedian, writer, producer, political commentator, actor, and television host. He is best known since September 2015 as host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central.


Francis S. Collins, Former Director, National Human Genome Research Institute

“Stephen Colbert Opens Up About His Devout Christian Faith, Islam, Pope Francis, and More”


“How Stephen Colbert Is Bringing Religion to Late Night”

“Oprah’s new ‘Belief’ series shows how dramatically the nature of faith is shifting”

“The Question of God . Other Voices . Francis Collins | PBS”

Infinite Possibilities

It is thought that Plato learned geometry from the Pythagoreans, members of a secret society in Greece. The Pythagoreans traced their origin back to Pythagoras, a mystic, who is said to have learned geometry in Egypt.


During this time in Egypt, science, religion, and magic were not separate subjects at all; they were one subject, and those who taught this subject believed that an invisible order indwelled and formed the visible world. Pythagoras’ school, therefore, taught geometry and mysticism.

Pythagoras is respected still today, thousands of years later, for the Pythagorean theorem. But do we respect him as a mystic? Why did the study of geometry drop its mystical significance? Are we just smarter now … are all of us smarter than Pythagoras because we don’t believe in the mystical stuff?

Let’s see what Rudolf Steiner* has to say:

If we study human evolution impartially, we cannot fail to be impressed by the exceptional progress made in recent times by the sciences concerned with the outer world… [T]housands of years ago the sun rose in the morning and passed across the heavens just as it does today… The course of the sun was the same then, for external observation, as it was in the days of Galileo, Newton, Kepler, Copernicus, and so on. Can we suppose that the modern knowledge of which we are so justly proud has been gained by merely contemplating the external world?
If the external world could itself, just as it is, give us this knowledge, there would be no need to look further: all the knowledge we have about the sense-perceptible world would have been acquired centuries ago. How is it that we know so much more and have a different view of the position of the sun and so on?
It is because human understanding, human cognition concerning the external world, has developed and changed in the course of hundreds or thousands of years. Yes, these faculties were by no means the same in ancient Greece as they have come to be with us since the 16th century.
… [Human beings] have learned to see the outer world differently because something was added to those faculties which apply to the external sense-world … a study of human evolution will show that something evolves within man; the faculties for gaining exact knowledge of nature were at first asleep within him, and have awakened by stages in the course of time. Now they are fully awake, and it is these faculties which have made possible the great progress of physical science.
Is it then inevitable that these inner faculties should remain as they are now, equipped only to reflect the outer world?

Excerpt from Metamorphosis of the Soul, Paths of Experience, Lecture 1, 14/10/1909 by Rudolf Steiner.

Steiner shows that over the course of time, humanity lost its connection to the spiritual world even as it gained its capacity to contemplate the world of the senses. It is now possible once again to find a living relationship with the spiritual world, but we must seek it ourselves; it is no longer provided to us as a gift. But to whom do we turn to seek it? Well, we can turn to those who, like Pythagoras in his time, are the scientists and philosophers of our day.

Right now, in 2018, we can major at Yale University in a field called  Mathematics and Philosophy; we can take a course at Oxford by the same name, and many other universities offer a course called Philosophy in Mathematics.

We can find many books on the subject of science and philosophy such as the 2017 book by H. Chris Ransford, God and the Mathematics of Infinity: What Irreducible Mathematics Says About Godhood or the 2006 book by George Greenstein and Arthur Zajonc, The Quantum Challenge: Modern Research on the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics (Physics and Astronomy).

So, apparently, science actively connects with philosophy. Let’s take a quick look at the prologue of the Greenstein/Zajonc book: “… the challenges to our understanding posed by quantum theory extend all the way to our conceptions of the nature of physical reality and of the proper function of science itself. The research we describe has made abundantly clear that the conventional view is entirely inadequate … modern research on the foundations of quantum mechanics has generated an extensive philosophical literature…”

What do they mean by the nature of physical reality? The proper function of science? Is our understanding of science itself evolving? Does Steiner’s revelation of a world beyond our physical reality need to be taken seriously? If you’re interested in knowing more, you can read Steiner.


“Intuitionism in the Philosophy of Mathematics”

“Holism and Reductionism in the Entwined History of Light and Mind”

Plato and Pythagoreanism