Freedom, Authority and the “Faithful Thinker”

by Don Cruse


But when a faithful thinker, resolute to detach every object from personal relations, shall at the same time, kindle science with the fire of the holiest affections, then will God go forth anew into the creation.

From ‘Essay on Nature’ by Ralph Waldo Emerson


Christianity like other religions has long had its various orthodoxies, schisms and theological disputes, but something else is beginning to develop connected with the growing influence of science in our lives, and with the overall evolution of human consciousness; something that will increasingly call into question the continued relevance of those religious ideas and practices that enter our lives from authoritarian sources. In this age of science we are less willing to believe in authority, and much more likely to want to question it than we were in the past. However, there is always the possibility that freedom and individualism can be overdone, and that the social and moral norms that religious authority has traditionally provided us with will become lost as a result. So how do these norms arise in the first place, and where are they to come from in the future if some religious authority does not give them to us? Can scientific knowledge itself provide them, and if not why not? Can human morality itself evolve beyond the need for authority? These are questions that can only grow in importance during the third millennium.

Catholic Christianity, traditionally among the most authoritarian in its outlook, is especially feeling the brunt of this change today. Jimmy Breslin, for example, New York’s veteran newspaper columnist and a lifelong Catholic of Irish descent, has recently severely criticized the church in his writings, saying that its authority has been greatly weakened by the on-going sexual abuse scandal. In France and also in other European countries, according to BBC television news reports, hundreds of Catholic churches are now nearly empty, cared for by a fast diminishing priesthood whose average age is now sixty-eight. It is, I suspect, not Catholic religious beliefs that underlie this decline—although they are coming under increased scrutiny of late—it is more the church’s authoritarian structure, which, along with priestly celibacy and male exclusivity, belongs very much to a past age. This decline of Catholicism in Europe is offset, we are told, by its growth in Africa, where the church has adapted itself to the innate spirituality of African culture, and where science plays a significantly smaller role in daily life. Science, in theory at least, is totally non-authoritarian, although in practice a strong authoritarian element is present, though concealed. I will return to this later.

Many hold the view that religion and science really need not to be at odds, and that it is important for the modern mind to try to heal this fundamental rift in human understanding. I agree, but the fact remains that they are very much at odds, and the role that authority still plays in religious belief is a large part of what creates this rift. Alfred North Whitehead put the underlying problem in this way:

"Religion will not regain its old power until it can face change in the same spirit as does science.”

This is an extremely difficult standard for religion to meet, because it is precisely the role of an authoritarian structure to prevent change. Moreover ‘faith’, often thought of as the sine qua non of religion, is the willingness to believe in what a given authority declares to be true—without challenging it. So how can religion, either now or in the future,  meet the test that Whitehead proposes?

The Logical Dilemma

Faith is only a part of the problem, the other being the kind of knowledge that religion embraces when compared directly to that which science now pursues. Science is defined as ‘causal enquiry’ but for the most part this enquiry is based upon what is physically observable in nature, and it assumes that the all of the causal forces in nature work upwards out of mindless (and therefore amoral) matter. No one has ever proven this materialistic assumption to be true, it is not based upon scientific evidence of any sort. It is, however, a belief that is held in place by the authority of a very powerful tabu (Owen Barfield, whose work I will touch upon later, called it the “great tabu”). Religion takes the exact opposite view. It looks toward causal forces that are believed to be spiritual in origin which are seen to work downwards from spirit (God) into matter—accompanied by an authoritarian morality. This gives rise (1) to a problem in perception—because few can claim to actually observe these creative forces in action, or question the appropriateness of that morality, and (2) to a problem in logic—because if one tries to combine the two opposing causal directions (monisms), in science and in religion, they logically cancel each other out.

Despite and perhaps because of this weakness, much of contemporary religious thought is unwilling to offend science by questioning the truth of its materialistic causal assumptions. Instead, it leaves then unchallenged and attempts, as noted above, to combine the two opposing causal monisms into a contradictory dualism, with one half dependent on scientific empiricism and ‘natural law,’ and the other resting on revealed authority, or on claims of miraculous interventions used by God to overcome natural law, i.e. to briefly suspend its workings so that they not conflict. This dualistic compromise is usually achieved with the aid of some form of speculative metaphysical theory, but because such theories have only a limited basis in experience, and are founded on a logical inconsistency in the first place, they tend to be rather complicated and scientifically dubious. Whenever modern thinkers try to avoid contradictory religious dualisms, however, then they are left with a choice between two mutually exclusive monisms; either (A-spiritual) where primary causation is believed always to be spiritual in origin, or (B-physical) where all natural causes are held to be physical in origin (reductionism or naturalism) and the spiritual is held to be non-existent. This choice exists because ‘monism’ argues that causality in nature works in one direction only—which is what the word means.

Scientific materialists (naturalists) have long been content with (B-physical), epistemologically, unproven though it is, so there is no good reason why spiritual thinkers should not do likewise and be equally content with (A-spiritual)—except that this would require that they challenge the causal assumptions of science head on, which most are unwilling to do. Before the age of science began, however, (A-spiritual) was almost everywhere accepted—but in an authoritarian and largely non-critical form.

The Faithful Thinker

Rudolf Steiner

If God is ever to “go forth anew into the creation,” it will be, as Emerson tells us, because a “faithful thinker” has helped us to “kindle science with the fire of the holiest affections”. This thinker then, will have been faced with three causal options, (1) a mindless monism of matter (B-physical), which seems an unlikely choice; (2) a contradictory dualism, arising from misguided attempts to combine (B-physical) with religious authority; or (3) depart entirely from the current status-quo and offer us a non-authoritarian account of (A-spiritual), presented—one may in retrospect observe—in the context of a critical “monism of thought,” which was the epistemological phrase used by the Austrian seer/scientist Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), who many believe to have been the faithful thinker that Emerson sought. ‘Critical’ because this is what makes ‘change’ possible, and because what we are seeking is the means whereby a future reunification of science and religion might be accomplished. The result would then be a higher form of science, one in which spiritual knowledge combines with a non-authoritarian morality, and can, therefore, justifiably call itself a critical ‘science of the spirit’. This science would include physical causes, but now viewed as a secondary phenomenon—because spirit (Mind) creates matter and not the other way around.

What effect, if any, would such a primary causal reversal have on modern scientific thought—could science survive such a change? I believe it would easily survive it, because we are talking about primary causes here, and this would not affect most of science. Only in the realm of ‘origins’ would science be deeply affected and this change has already begun in physics, which is what the ‘quantum revolution’ is really all about. This has been traumatic enough for the physicists who try to grapple with it, but worse is to come; in biology it will be far more traumatic because the fundamental illogic of the Darwinian theory (see my reply to the cover article in the November 2004 National Geographic) will need at last to be confronted. This theory will then need to be abandoned, although its place in history is assured as being the stepping-stone that led us away from an ingrained reliance on authoritarian religion.

Revelation vs. Scientific Knowledge

Unquestionably where knowledge is concerned science today claims the upper hand because that which is physically observable is fairly obvious to everyone; whereas the spiritual appears not to be a very obvious facet of our experience—if it were, there would be no intelligent atheists. In the new science of particle physics the physical world is indeed becoming more remote, some would even say non-existent. However, this is still far removed from a science based upon spiritual causes, because our belief in the existence of spiritual causes is still largely based upon our trust in the poorly defined religious concept of ‘revelation,’ which for many leads over to the non-scientific idea of the miraculous. Something clearly non-miraculous must enter the explanatory equation if science is to progress beyond its present commitment to (B-physical).

As matters now stand, spiritual authority is based upon a ‘revelation’ that someone somewhere has had, or claims to have had, who has either spoken about or written down, but just how that revelation occurred is never explained. When Whitehead talks of religion “regaining its old power,” however, there is at least the suggestion that there was once a time when the spiritual was a more common facet of human experience—a time perhaps when we all experienced something akin to revelation. A closer look at the way in which human cognition works may help us to understand this, especially when united with the idea of a gradually evolving consciousness.


In science we use thinking to explain the physical world, but we have been singularly unsuccessful in using the physical world to explain thinking. This now widely recognized epistemological failure (see John Horgan’s "Undiscovered Mind") is quite easy to explain; it is because: Thinking can never be explained by anything other than itself, because it is always thinking that does the explaining.

A scientific study (B-physical) of the neurological basis for consciousness, like the studies of brain functioning now being conducted, can tell us much about what thinking does, but nothing at all about what thinking is. Only ‘thinking about thought’— that which Owen Barfield called “beta thinking”—can accomplish this act of re-cognition.

For Barfield ‘alpha thinking’ is thinking about the world, whereas ‘beta thinking’ is thinking about thought itself. What science does today is entirely based on alpha thinking, while beta thinking is all but ignored. But what if a careful analysis of beta thinking, of the immediate experience of thought itself, should make it clear to us that ‘thinking’ is not a physical activity at all, but a spiritual one? (See Rudolf Steiner’s 1892 doctorial thesis "Truth and Science".) Would it not change everything for us to know that the ‘inside’ of the physical world is really ‘Mind stuff’ as the New Physics is now telling us, and that our thoughts, private though they may appear, are to a large degree derived from that very same Mind stuff? This would mean that thinking itself contains an objective spiritual element, which would go a long way toward answering Albert Einstein’s famous question: Why does thinking map so well onto the world’s reality? The answer would be that thought is the spiritual ‘inside’ of that reality, and that, in Steiner’s words: “Intuition is to thinking what observation is to seeing”. This insight would turn the mind/brain’s primary function into being an organ of perception, and only secondarily a computer-like thought generator—which is the unproven assumption (B-physical) that lies behind contemporary neuro-science. We constantly overlook that it is critical thought that turns sense observation into science, so that without thought science could not even exist—and if one defines thought either as a physical activity, or as a metaphysical activity—as dualists often do—then science must remain limited in its scope to the physical realm.

But if thought is neither physical nor metaphysical, but a ‘spiritual activity, and can be directly experienced as such, then this would mean that all of science, even that which calls itself materialistic, has from the outset owed its existence to a spiritual process—only we have not realized it. If thinking were the means whereby we gain access to the spiritual inside of nature, then a soundly argued epistemological “monism of thought” would provide (A-spiritual) with a direct experiential foundation. We would then be able to say, as Rudolf Steiner did, that “In thinking we have hold of a corner of the world’s reality” and, moreover, that "Thinking comes before ‘subject’ and ‘object’ and creates these concepts just as it does all others”. This would accomplish two things (1) it would provide science with a more certain epistemological foundation (something that it has always lacked) and (2) it would help us to understand what ‘revelation’ really is, a development which would make it possible, theoretically at least, for each and every person to question spiritual authority in a responsible manner, i.e. on a basis of direct experience, and with a clear understanding of the cognitive processes involved. Then religion could indeed begin to meet Alfred North Whithead’s anti-authoritarian requirement. But there is a hitch.

Here it is that we meet up with what Owen Barfield—who prior to his death in 1998 was called the “first and last of the Inklings”—termed “the great tabu”: He told us that whether we are institutionally involved in science or in religion, or both, we are simply not permitted today, at risk of professional ostracism, to argue that thinking “is not the product of a stimulated organism,” (a premise directly derived from (B-physical). So that even if (A-spiritual) is true and divine Ideas are actually present in nature and are the direct source of our own ideas, we still cannot claim that and keep our jobs, because it is forbidden by an irrational authoritarian tabu that has been erected to protect (B-physical):

The old tabus are dead or dying... whereas the one I shall be infringing is very much alive; and a wise man thinks twice before laying sacrilegious hands on the Lord's anointed.

               (Owen Barfield, Speaker's Meaning)

For one thing, this truth would bring an immediate end to Darwin’s account of how evolution occurred, to the (B-physical) idea of ‘natural selection’ in which so much intellectual capital has been invested. It would need to be replaced with direct insights into the manner in which divine Ideas operate throughout nature (see Rudolf Steiner’s anthroposophy), a prospect that neither science nor religion can view with anything like equanimity. Darwin’s theory is built upon a clearly demonstrable logical fallacy (again, see my reply to the November 2004 National Geographic cover article), however, as with religious dualism, this fact is viewed today as a matter of *mere* logic, so that its ramifications are easy to ignore. Despite the fact that rationality is held to be the sine qua non of science, we have still managed to dismiss it as if it were of no account, and to replace it with ‘faith’ in a deeply flawed theory. This tells us how very powerful Owen Barfield’s ‘great tabu’ really is.

Additional Thoughts

The eighty-one year old Dr. Anthony Flew has recently recanted his lifelong belief in atheism, which was first established in public some fifty years ago in a famous Oxford Socratic Club debate with C.S. Lewis. His reasons for becoming a Deist at this late stage in his life are ironically based on the progress made by science. He no longer finds it possible to believe that nature’s enormous complexity, particularly in the realm of DNA, can have been accidental. However, he now subscribes only to a ‘minimal god’ existing at the very beginning and not now involved in human affairs. He specifically rejects the deities of Christianity and of Islam, dismissing them as “oriental despots”, and “cosmic Saddam Husseins.” Strong language perhaps, but here he identifies a real theological dilemma. If God really is ‘omnipotent’ and ‘omniscient’ as authoritarian Islamic and Christian theologies insist, and moreover has the power to work miracles, then why does He visit so many unspeakable horrors upon our world—including some in His own name? This confronts us with the age-old questions: who created evil? And why do bad things happen to good people? To simply claim that ‘God works in mysterious ways’ is not to answer these questions. For real answers we must go much deeper.

Flew remains dedicated to science, and does not want to embrace the God of miracles that arises out of religious dualism, or the biblical ‘jealous God’ whose authoritarian presence so many are rejecting today. He wants, first and foremost, a rational (monist) God, but for him this can only mean (B-physical), because it is probably fair to say that like most people today he has no idea that a critical form of (A-spiritual), based upon thought as a ‘spiritual activity,’ even exists. Because in terms of western critical thought this idea was first explored just over a century ago, as Owen Barfield well understood, in the epistemological works of Rudolf Steiner. However, the “great tabu” has inhibited the spread of this area of research in both science and religion. So Flew, open minded though he seems to be, would not immediately understand either Emerson’s ‘faithful thinker’ prognosis, or Barfield’s insistence on the importance of Steiner’s work, which is reflected in Barfield’s own assertion that: “There will be a revival of Christianity when it becomes impossible to write a popular manual of science without referring to the incarnation of the Word” —because an understanding of these matters will only become possible after the non-authoritarian monist option (A-spiritual) is widely understood to be true. It was essentially C.S. Lewis’s failure to understand this that underlay his long argument with Barfield, which they humorously referred to as their “great war” (see Lionel Adey’s, C.S. Lewis’s “Great War” with Owen Barfield—also Raymond P. Tripp Jr’s In Search of Salt).

The Inklings

In a talk recently given at a Toronto church, and broadcast on the TVO network, Dr. Ralph Wood, Baylor University Professor of Theology and Literature, discussed the life and thought of the two best known members of the Oxford Inklings, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. It was an insightful assessment of these personalities and their religious and psychological differences. He said very little about the other two founding members of the Inklings, Charles Williams and Owen Barfield, except to make the rather odd claim that “Owen Barfield was not a Christian, he was an anthroposophist,” i.e. a student of the work of Rudolf Steiner. 

Well, he was half right! Barfield was indeed an anthroposophist, but also very much a Christian, although chiefly in the non-authoritarian sense that I have sought to draw attention to here. One cannot deny that it is possible to describe many of the fundamentals of Steiner’s anthroposophy without mentioning Christianity, but anyone who has made a study of these “vast works” will be fully aware that anthroposophy is a profoundly Christian worldview, albeit one that is grounded not upon faith but upon each individual’s striving for higher knowledge. It was because of Steiner’s profound Trinitarian Christology, combined with his immense depth of understanding, that the great Christian scholar and humanitarian Albert Schweitzer, wrote these words in honor of the one-hundredth anniversary of his birth:

Since my meeting with Rudolf Steiner I have remained aware of his significance, and I have rejoiced at the achievements which his great personality and his profound humanity have brought about in the world.

Letter from Lambarene, November 1960

Steiner was indeed a Christian, as was Owen Barfield, but it was a form of Christianity that rejected past authoritarianism in favor of a new Christian Gnosis, a deeply responsible spiritual individualism, practiced in freedom.

The New Christian Gnosis

Steiner’s Anthroposophy in fact represents the reappearance of Christian Gnosis, but in a form suited to this age of science and critical thought. As most will be aware, the Gnostic dimension of early Christian thought was declared a heresy by the Roman church in AD 553 (see the ‘Anathemas Against Origen’), because at that time the church wanted, and indeed needed, a fully authoritarian structure, i.e. not one that could be challenged by individual knowledge claims. Until the appearance of Martin Luther it essentially had its way, but then things began to go wrong. Luther himself, showing great courage, only managed to replace priestly with biblical authority, but this was nevertheless a major step, and the beginning of an important change that highlights humanity’s gradually evolving maturity. Today, and for the same reason, movements like the Jesus Seminar are questioning biblical authority also. Observing this fact does not mean that I endorse the approach taken by the Seminar, I think it still lacks an essential insight. Still less do I mean that we should neglect the Holy Bible, only that we begin to interpret biblical and other religious texts more critically and out of a growing spiritual awareness. We need to put our understanding of these matters to a deeper test (see Rudolf Steiner’s many lecture cycles on the four gospels). The same questioning of authority is surfacing in Islam also (see Irshad Manji, The Trouble with Islam); however, in my opinion Islam is unlikely to evolve far from authoritarianism until Christianity has first led the way.

The Gnostic movement did not disappear, it went underground, and it has re-surfaced from time to time in Christian history, as with the twelfth-century Cathars of Languedoc, who were so cruelly suppressed by the Roman church. But now it comes again, and this time in real earnest, because it offers a non-authoritarian approach to Christian truth, and at a time when priestly and even literal biblical authority is everywhere becoming suspect. The discovery in 1943 of the long-buried Gnostic gospels at Nag Hammadi in Egypt—which some scholars believe to be more important than the dead sea scrolls—are a part of this essential renewal, but the foundation for it was laid before that in the vast works of Rudolf Steiner (see Andrew Welburn, Gnosis, the Mysteries and Christianity). He demonstrated to humanity that a ‘science of the spirit’ was possible, albeit necessarily tied together with an ‘evolution of human consciousness’, and that long-established authoritarian belief systems, now the cause of so much unnecessary grief, will and must, as this third millennium progresses, increasingly give way to a truly critical understanding of the spiritual world. An understanding based not upon belief, but upon knowledge arising from a critical monism of Mind or thought (see Rudolf Steiner’s Philosophy of Freedom). Steiner was neither an authoritarian nor a mystic, but a scientist in the deepest sense of the word. When this is understood the rational approach to the spirit that intelligent thinkers like Anthony Flew are seeking, and the individual freedom and responsibility from which such thoughts must arise, will become the growing reality behind a renewed Gnostic Christianity. Then we will all begin to understand what Barfield meant when he stated that: “There will be a revival of Christianity when it becomes impossible to write a popular manual of science without referring to the incarnation of the Word” (note: these words of Barfield’s have a very similar meaning to the Emerson quote).

The Evolution of Human Consciousness

Both Steiner and Barfield insist that human consciousness is evolving. Both argue that there are divine Ideas everywhere present in nature, and that we all ‘participate’ in these Ideas to some degree. Indeed that participation is where human consciousness had its beginning. Barfield talks of “original participation,” a time when nature lived intensely in human awareness, just as it still does in the animal kingdom (Why were no animals killed when the Asian tsunami hit Sri Lanka? Why did the elephants in Thailand break their chains and stampede to higher ground long before the big waves came?). But that on the road towards individualism, human beings needed first to lose that closeness to nature in order that we might deliberately (consciously) re-develop that same connection by means of science— and not just possess it instinctively. This higher level of participation (Barfield calls it “final participation”) will have been reached only when we have turned science itself into a spiritual discipline. This is what Steiner’s anthroposophy seeks to accomplish, a task that is intimately tied together with a growth in our own self-knowledge, and a deeper understanding of our place in the universe. For this to happen faith must slowly give way to knowledge. But then do not Steiner and Barfield also become authorities, the former especially because of the magnitude of his insight? The answer must be yes, but only temporarily, because the principal focus of all of Steiner’s work is the development in each of us of the critical faculty for higher knowledge. He asks us not to believe what he says, but simply to give it space in our minds until such time as our own experience confirms or rejects it. Barfield was once asked why he placed so much trust in Steiner; he answered, “when one is wandering in a parched desert, does one complain that water only flows from one spring?” Yes, that is exactly how important Steiner’s work is for the future of human understanding!

Authoritarian morality is based upon rules, strictures and precepts, whereas moral freedom is based upon the threefold development of “moral intuition” “moral imagination” and “moral technique,” activities that mark the beginnings in us of what Barfield called ‘final participation.’ This form of morality requires that we learn to once again participate in nature’s spiritual inner being, but this time in full conscious awareness. If we on moral issues surrender our own powers of judgement in favour of a religious authority, then we surrender also the opportunity for self-development.

The Evolving Spiritual World

That the spiritual world is not fixed and ‘everlasting’ but continuously evolving, is where Steiner departs most strongly from traditional Christian thought and practice. What he says on this subject helps to respond to Flew’s assertion that the Christian God is “an oriental despot,” and also helps us to solve many other vexing theological problems. The picture that many have of God is that of a human-like figure, all powerful and all knowing, sitting on a throne in heaven decreeing events upon earth in the manner of an old-fashioned Monarch, only more so. This image fits well with the needs of an authoritarian church, but it is far removed from the realities of the spiritual world as Steiner describes them to us. It is like a picture drawn from a child’s experience of the human family, where growing children are dependent upon their parents and usually are required to obey the rules that their parents set out for them, which, under ideal conditions, is as it should be. In the human family, however, there comes a time when this dependency must cease, because the child must eventually become an adult. Something similar, Steiner tells us, is true of our relationship to the divine world, because being ‘made in the image of God’ entails an evolving and maturing relationship, and for this to happen the Father principle must gradually decline, just as it must in the human family. The Godhead exists today, he tells us, as the Beings of the spiritual hierarchies who work creatively throughout the entire universe and are totally committed to human freedom. Only to a limited degree, he tells us—in the angelic realm—can this commitment be translated into the idea of a personal God. Because the Father God, the archetypal ‘great being,’ has essentially sacrificed itself, has poured itself out into the act of creation—and so, just as Flew suggests, can no longer be present as a Final Judge or even a Conscious Agent in the affairs of men. It is pointless, therefore, to blame God for the bad things that happen upon earth, like the Nazi holocaust, or the Asian tsunami. What now exists is a spiritual environment that is every bit as complex as the physical world that it creates, inhabited by a multiplicity of beings, not all of them good, who combine to create the spiritual environment within which we may develop as free individuals. “Machinery just meant to give thy soul its bent. Try thee and turn thee forth, sufficiently impressed”  (Robert Browning, Rabbi Ben Ezra).

Developmental Evil

It is through our individual struggles against the “forces of opposition,” spiritual forces originally placed there by God for our benefit, so that we might gradually learn to develop God-like creative abilities of our own. Which helps to answer the question: if God is good, why is there evil in the world? The answer is that there is evil because we need to experience it; because without it mankind could make no spiritual progress, and we could never achieve the goal of becoming Christ-like. We are indeed all children of God, but He has left us now, just as our human fathers must leave us, so that we may develop on our own. We are left potentially free to make what we will of our own lives, but this freedom needs first to be created in what is essentially an un-free universe, which fact lies at the very core of our human striving. In Steiner’s view freedom is not something that is granted us, but that we must earn for ourselves at every step along life’s pathway, because deeds resulting from the influences of evil are not free. This matter he deals with, in a non-theological context, in his Philosophy of Freedom. (Die Philosophie der Freiheit), which was first published in English as The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity.

Only when the full cognitive significance of Rudolf Steiner’s work becomes widely understood, will it be possible for spiritual and religious thought to begin to meet the high standard set by Alfred North Witehead:

"Religion will not regain its old power until it can face change in the same spirit as does science.”

Its “old power” was born of Gnosis, a knowledge derived from the ancient mysteries, tied to heredity and to the bloodline, and based largely on a higher form of ‘original participation’. Its new power will be born of knowledge also, but based now upon individualism and ‘final participation’. The first level of participation needed to be extinguished before the second could begin to develop, and authoritarian religion was the means whereby it was extinguished. And then science (B-physical) becomes the means whereby authoritarian religion in its turn is extinguished. Science, however, was initially built upon a false foundation (see the article ‘Barfield, Darwin & Galileo’ on and will only begin to achieve its full potential when it becomes a ‘science of the spirit’, based upon a truly critical and non-authoritarian form of (A-spiritual).

J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter stories, and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, are modern spiritually inspired works that have greatly influenced the world for the good. Yet (and despite Tolkien’s own Catholicism) there is no mention of God in them, and no entreaty for divine intervention. Instead the spiritual powers of opposition are clearly identified, and they are to be defeated not by God, but by human friendship, love, courage and wisdom. This is very much in keeping with the spirit of the new Gnostic Christianity that in course of time will replace the Christian authoritarianism of the past. This transition will take a while and will be extremely traumatic. The loss of religious authority has led, and will lead, to a period that some will describe as ‘moral turpitude’, the consequences of which will be worked out, not in some authoritarian Final Judgement, but in a succession of future lives on earth. Lessons will then be learned the hard way, and the ‘moral imagination’ will gradually develop where religious authority once prevailed. Humanity, now in its early adulthood, is growing up, painful though this process may be, and one of its chief requirements is that we learn to ‘put away childish things’.

© 2005 Don Cruse

Don Cruse was born in 1933 in London, England, grew up there during the war years and now lives in retirement on a farm in central Alberta, Canada. He is married with four adult children and two grandchildren, with one more on the way. He has been a student of anthroposophy now for nearly fifty years, and considers 'The Philosophy of Freedom' to be Rudolf Steiner's most important single work.

By Don Cruse: 'Evolution and the New Gnosis, Anti-establishment Essays on Knowledge Science, Religion and Causal Logic' (ISBN 0-595-22445-8)

Why Darwinism is the result of a serious error in verbal logic. (essays 3,4,8,19, 11 & 21).

Why 'goodness' not 'truth' should be the principal concern of religion. (essay 16)

Democracy is often defined as the 'rule of law', but if the law itself is unjust it is tyranny that rules. How may we ensure that only just laws can exist? What constitutes a sufficient 'theory of legal obligation?' (essay 18).

Many of these essays have been published by Southern Cross Review and may be found in our archives (back issues).