"Pekka Ervast was the leading theosophical researcher and author in Finland during the first decade of the 20th century. His thinking as an affinity to Rudolf Steiner, whom he invited to lecture in Finland. It was Erast's exceptional ability to write and speak in a popular and inspiring way that earned him the respect and admiration of the common people." Reijo Wilenius, Professor of Philosophy, Helsinki, Finland
Table of Contents
In Front of the Gate
1. Religion as Science
2. How to Read the New Testament
In Through the Gate
3. Parables of Jesus
In the Outer Court of the Temple
4. The Angel and the Demon
5. The Five Commandments of Jesus, Part 1
6. The Five Commandments of Jesus, Part 2
7. Our Father, Part 1
8. Our Father, Part 2
9. Our Father, Part 3
10. "One Is Your Master"
In the Temple
11. The Christ Initiations
Church As a Symbol of Temple
12. Holy Communion
Before we can examine the relationship between religion and science, we must clearly define these concepts and determine the conditions which religion must fulfill in order to constitute a science. This text will provide a basic explanation of religion based on rational grounds.
The concept of religion may be determined in several ways, and often it is equated with piety and mysticism. However, when we conceptualize religion and science using cold reasoning, both become clear.
The human mind explores three important disciplines: science, philosophy, and religion. Science is founded on observations of facts and the concepts of natural laws derived through logical classification. It is based on empirical observation which allows us an understanding of our surrounding physical world. We no longer rely on seafarers' exaggerated tales of unknown lands, inhabitants, and cultures. Instead, science reveals the nature of life, including the human condition as well as the world of plants and animals.
Science also invites us to explore the mysteries of the universe. When studying books on astronomy, we understand without relying only on sensory impressions that the starry sky around us, with its shining heavenly bodies, actually consists of stars similar to our sun and planets orbiting like our earth.
Through science we understand our own bodies as well, thereby eliminating simplistic conjectures regarding the complexities of the cardiovascular and nervous systems.
Yet no matter how many scientific observations have been made about this world, there is a tremendous number of unanswerable questions. For example, consider only death, which is inevitable. Physical death has been scientifically examined, but its essence is not holistically understood.
Another question unanswered by science yet a haunting concern for everyone at some time is: what is God? What is the primary cause of this existence? What is this miraculous, unknown wisdom and power which has created life? Science provides no answers, though it seeks the primary origin back even to the farthest conceivable atom. Behind that atom, however, there must be some consciousness, some life, which is the eternal cause for all existence.
The mysteries concerning God and death are profoundly close to everyone. It is natural that we cannot ignore these questions and accept only what has been scientifically proved. In past ages when knowledge was comparatively less than today, these issues pressed even more urgently on the individual. Today's student understands more concerning existence than the priests and bishops did during the Middle Ages. Yet as the mind develops toward a broader field of comprehension, the eternal dilemmas of life and death continue to challenge and create in us a desire to discover great truths.
Two disciplines help us explore those questions unanswered by science: philosophy and religion. Using philosophy, we have historically posed the question and then attempted to provide the answer. The reply depends on the origin of the question. If we rely on intuitive feelings that worlds exist other than the visible phenomenal world, and that behind all existence lies a divine power, then we use a posteriori or inductive reasoning. When we begin with scientifically proved facts from which we attempt to clarify concepts unanswerable even by science, we are using deductive reasoning.
Not all people think for themselves. They may wrestle with life's serious questions only when faced with catastrophic or tragic events affecting their individual lives, or they avoid issues and merely accept answers from traditional sources. And when individuals avoid independent thinking and instead accept others' ideologies, such as the Church's, they adhere then to a particular dogma without questioning or reasoning. Of course, many are content in their beliefs. People in the Middle Ages were not disturbed by their belief that the earth was flat with a crystalline sphere surrounding it, that the suns and stars were heavenly lanterns lighting the darkness, revolving beautifully in spheres above the earth's horizontal surface, sometimes rising again for another cycle. On the contrary, this belief explained what they experienced, and it was not difficult to accept that beyond the heavenly cupola, God the Father lived with His army of angels. An individual who followed Godâs wishes, practiced the Church's teachings, and punctually paid church dues would after death join the blessed ones.
Of course, those who avoid deep thought and introspection may be satisfied with any view of the world not offensive to what is supposedly common sense. Even today, the majority do not contemplate life's great enigmas, but are satisfied with the Church's explanations. All systematic religions explain the universe and define the unknown. Each religion offers a metaphysical view of the universe, and those who do not engage in philosophic inquiry are satisfied with a ready-made vision. Furthermore, since religions have always appeared to possess great power and since their officials have continually declared that they alone are right, it follows that the majority will accept without objection.
However, let us return to the original subject concerning the requirements necessary for religion to be considered a science. We can clearly establish these requirements by drawing a parallel with a specific scientific study, for example astronomy, which has methodically arrived at certain conclusions regarding the universe. These principles recorded in scientific literature are sometimes presented in technical jargon and occasionally in readily understandable language for the lay person not familiar with astronomy. When the lay person begins studying astronomy, he or she first struggles with the principles, but then by sound reasoning begins comprehending the logical arguments presented. The novice student then accepts that the seasons vary with the earth's orbit around the sun, that after night day will follow, that the world spins on its axis, one side to the sun while the other rotates in the darkness of space, that our sun is one of countless stars, many quite larger than! our own, that comets follow determined trajectories, etc.; and the student understands that educated people accept these principles contained in scientific journals.
Readers are convinced of the authenticity of this information, the result of patient investigation and mathematical calculations. Furthermore they are satisfied that astronomers have carefully studied and explicated astronomical phenomena. For this to be actual proof, however, the reader would need to experience the same investigations. But if the text sounds reasonable, the reader trusts the experts. He or she relies on their integrity, inspiration, and scientific purpose. Yet in order to better understand the truths expounded in these writings, there is a set procedure to follow. One must first learn mathematics and pursue university study under a learned professor, utilizing an observatory where first hand investigations test these teachings. The student is then reassured, knowing that scientists experiment, make observations, provide proofs supplementing existing theories, and even add to them.
Considering the above procedure, we can better understand what is required in order for religion to be a science. Religion must prove that it is a universal truth, not idle gossip, blind speculation, imaginative hallucinations, nor frightening superstitions. If religion is science, it must be founded on factual knowledge. Within religious context, if various states of consciousness following physical death and the concept of a Supreme Being could be logically founded, there would be no denial. This by no means implies that religious philosophy would be immediately understood by everyone. On the contrary - for in our discussion of astronomy we learned if human beings desire the truth within any theory, they must be immersed in the learning process. Similarly we understand that if any religious theory of the universe is founded on knowledge, an individual must methodically investigate its authenticity. Then religious theories based on honest inquiry can be trusted on grounds comparable to astronomers' scientific observations and theories.
This seems so basic that we must question ourselves: Has all religion always been mere superstition? Has religion always been less esteemed than philosophy and science? Has the understanding of God and the great unknown and life beyond death always been kept secret? Is it true that the individual's deepest concerns have remained a mystery impossible to solve except by superstition or with one's limited intellect? Is this really the condition of Mankind?
These are essential questions since there are many possible responses. We are reminded that religion can be viewed as a science only if someone has absolute knowledge of the great secret power we call God and of the unknown state beyond death. Such a profound view of the universe would then have scientific value even though others may not establish proof for themselves.
Blue Dolphin Publishing, 1999
Also by Pekka Ervast: The Key to the Kalevala
Order Information / Blue Dolphin Publishing Home