A well known German Zoologist, Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919), who was a good follower of Darwin, wrote these words some 65 years ago, in his book, “The Riddle of the Universe” that was very successful and as it seemed, had proved that faith is absurd. So says Haeckel that every enlightened man must choose between science and religion and should follow either one or the other. He considered it necessary that such men should deny religion because a logical man cannot deny science.
Truly, is this necessary? No, not at all, for we know that many and great scientists were at the same time great believers. For example, such was the Polish astronomer Copernicus who laid the foundation of all contemporary astronomy. Copernicus was not only a believer but was also a cleric. Another great scientist, Newton, whenever he mentioned the word God, he removed his hat. He was a great believer. A great bacteriologist of our time and almost a contemporary, Pasteur, who laid the basis of contemporary bacteriology, he would start every scientific work with a prayer to God. Some ten years ago a great scientist passed away, who was our countryman, physiologist Pavlov, who was the creator of the new physiology of the brain. He too was a great believer. Would Haeckel therefore dare say that these men did not have enlightened minds because they believed in God?
So what happens now? Why even today there are some scientists, professors at Universities whom I personally know and are great believers. Why don’t all the scientists deny religion but only those who think the same as Haeckel? Because these people believe only in the material and deny the spiritual world, they do not believe in life after death, they do not accept the immortality of the soul and of course they do not accept the resurrection of the dead. They say that science is capable of everything, that there is no secret in nature that science cannot discover. What can we answer to these?
We shall respond to them this way. You are totally right. We cannot limit the human mind that searches nature. We know that today, science knows only a part of the things we have of nature. We also understand that the possibilities of science are great. In this they are right and we don’t doubt it. What then do we doubt? Why don’t we deny religion like them and consider it contrary to scientific knowledge?
Because we believe wholeheartedly that there is a spiritual world. We are certain that apart from the material world there is an infinite and incomparably superior spiritual world. We believe in the existence of spiritual beings that have higher intellects than us humans. We believe wholeheartedly that above this spiritual and material world there is the Great and Almighty God.
What we doubt is the right of science to research with its methods the spiritual world. Because the spiritual world cannot be researched with the methods used to research the material world. Such methods are totally inappropriate to research the spiritual world.
How do we know that there is a spiritual world? Who told us that it exists? If we are asked by people who do not believe in Divine Revelation, we shall answer them thus: “Our heart tells us." For there are two ways for one to know something, the first being that which is spoken by Haeckel, which is used by science to learn of the material world. There is however another way that is unknown to science, and does not wish to know it. It is the knowledge through the heart. Our heart is not only the central organ of the circulation system, it is an organ with which we know the other world and receive the highest knowledge. It is the organ that gives us the capability to communicate with God and the world above. Only in this we disagree with science.
Praising the great successes and achievements of science, we do not doubt at all its great importance and we do not confine scientific knowledge. We only tell the scientists: “You do not have the capability with your methods to research the spiritual world, we however can with our heart."
There are many unexplainable phenomena which concern the spiritual world that are real (as are some type of material phenomena). There are therefore phenomena that science will never be able to explain because it does not use the appropriate methods.
Let science explain how the prophecies appeared on the coming of the Messiah, which were all fulfilled. Could science tell us how the great prophet Isaiah, some 700 years before the birth of Christ, foretold the most important events in His life and for which he was named the evangelist of the Old Testament? Could it explain the prophetic grace possessed by the saints and tell us with which physical methods the saints inherited this grace and how they could understand the heart and read the thoughts of a person they had just met for the first time? They would see a person for the first time and they will call him by his name. Without waiting for the visitor to ask, they would answer in regards to what troubled him.
If they can, let them explain it to us. Let them explain with what method the saints foretold the great historical events which were accurately fulfilled as they were prophesied. Let them explain the visitation from the other world and the appearance of the dead to the living.
They shall never explain it to us because they are too far from the basis of religion - from faith. If you read the books of the scientists who try to reconstruct religion, you will see how superficially they look at things. They do not understand the essence of religion, yet they criticize it. Their criticism does not touch the essence of faith, since they are unable to understand the types and the expressions of religious feeling. The essence of religion they do not understand. Why not? Because the Lord Jesus Christ says: "No one can come to me unless My Father who sent Me draws him to Me" (John 6:44).
So it is necessary that we be drawn by the Heavenly Father, and it is necessary that the grace of the Holy Spirit enlighten our heart and our mind. To dwell in our heart and mind through this enlightenment, the Holy Spirit and the ones who were found worthy to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, those in whose heart lives Christ and His Father, know the essence of faith. The others, those outside the faith, cannot understand anything.
Let us hear the criticism against Haeckel from a French philosopher Emile Boutroux (1845-1921). So says Boutroux: “The criticisms of Haeckel concern much more the ways, than the essence, which he observes with such a materialistic and narrow view, that they cannot be accepted by religious people. Thus the criticism of religion by Haeckel is not referred to, not even in one of the principles that constitutes religion."
This is therefore our opinion regarding Haeckel’s book “The Riddle of the Universe” which up to day is considered the “Bible” for all those who criticize religion, which they deny and find it contrary to science. Do you see how poor and tasteless arguments they use? Don’t become scandalized when you hear what they say about religion, since they themselves cannot understand its essence. You people, who may not have much of a relationship with science and do not know much about philosophy, remember always the most basic beginning, which was well known by the early Christians. They considered poor the person who knew all the sciences yet he knew not God. On the other hand, they considered blessed the person who knew God, even if he knew absolutely nothing about worldly things.
Guard this truth like the best treasure of the heart, walk straight without looking right or left. Let us not bother with what we hear against religion, losing our bearings. Let us hold on to our faith which is the eternal indisputable truth. Amen.
St. Luke the Surgeon, Archbishop of Simferopol (1877-1961)