17 October 1907, Berlin
In the preliminary talk, I already drew your attention to the both basic conditions of spiritual science or theosophy. I said that spiritual science rests on two pillars: first, on the fact that the human being realises that behind our sensuous world which you can see with eyes and touch with hands a spiritual, supersensible world of the facts, events and beings exists; secondly, that the human being can become able to intervene in this spiritual world recognising and on a higher stage even acting. Briefly, spiritual science expresses its conviction that there is a spiritual world and that it is accessible to the human being.
From the most different sides, spiritual science should be illumined in the course of these winter talks. Today, we look at its relation to natural sciences. Indeed, some among you may see in this talk a kind of aberration from the regular course. They come to these talks especially in order to get to know the results of spiritual science and the experiences in the higher worlds. In the main, real theosophists take the view that they have found their relation to the scientific results. Therefore, they regard the explanation of such matters as the relation of spiritual science to results of the natural sciences as somewhat boring sometimes. However, we come to so specifically spiritual-scientific subjects in the next talks that the today's intermezzo may probably be bearable, in particular with regard to the fact that the sharpest attacks and the strongest misunderstandings concerning spiritual science come just from those who pretend to stand firmly on the ground of natural sciences. Above all, be clear in your mind that in the today's talk I do not speak opposing natural sciences. With the big impact that the scientific prepositions exert on our contemporaries it would be really an awkward undertaking to get into opposition to the natural sciences. For you can hear repeatedly: the natural sciences stand on the ground of facts, of experience, and everything that does not comply with these facts and experiences must be expelled to the field of speculative fiction. You get this information from many sides concerning such things, as I want to explain just in these winter talks on spiritual science.
It is most adequate — in view of the general educational conditions in our time — if the today's talk explains the relation of the natural sciences to spiritual science as objectively as possible without pros and cons. However, from the start I want to note that spiritual science does not dispute with the natural sciences especially where it concerns only scientific facts. This could not be at all its task. Who would attack the building of strict facts anyhow? Who would argue anything against that which is certain by experiment and experience in the scientific field? Spiritual science is completely based on experiences. Admittedly, on experiences, as they have been characterised last time, on experiences in the higher, in the spiritual worlds. However, with regard to the methodical principles it completely complies with scientific demands. It agrees with the natural sciences that experience forms the basis of any knowledge at last. Thus, I do not give my view on certain scientific results of the present in the introduction of a series of spiritual-scientific talks because this is not necessary. Rather I want to show how one must look at the scientist in his scientific thinking. This is important: pursuing the scientific thought process, as it is offered to us.
It may be very good if we look back at the German cultural life for a short time. It offers a picture of the whole spiritual life of the last decades. Above all, the following comes into consideration: the natural sciences have become for many people something that they never were once. Slowly and gradually, for four centuries it has prepared itself. However, in the 19th century, it has come only to the climax of that what prepared there slowly. The natural sciences have become something that one could call a kind of religion, a kind of creed, or better said, single persons have believed to be able to form a kind of creed, a kind of religion from the scientific results of our time. It is much more important for spiritual science than discussions about scientific facts to a look at the way in which a kind of new religion, a kind of new creed has come about based on putative scientific facts. Someone who looks impartially at our cultural life cannot misjudge that people oppose the assumption of the spiritual world, oppose the religious feeling, while they refer to the fact that new scientific results would disprove any reference to a spiritual world. In certain circles, one almost believes to have removed every reference to a spiritual world with the results of the natural sciences. Hundred years ago, nobody was inclined to draw such a conclusion from the scientific facts. Indeed, there have also been earlier quite materialistic confessions of the most radical kind; but they have never put up the assertion, one could explain the world only materialistically according to the “true science.” The term “true science” exerts an ineffable magic power on our contemporaries!
One speaks much of former dark times of the religious fury, religious disputes, and religious persecutions. I do not varnish or defend these things. However, if you compare these processes of former centuries which humiliated the feeling and thinking of humanity, nevertheless, you realise something peculiar with an impartial look at the development of the human soul. Someone who thinks impartially finds that confirmed everywhere that I only assert now. Indeed, many times were dark and intolerant, but intolerance with an immense arrogance of infallibility has remained to our time! This inner intolerance commits no riots and persecutions, although one can already experience that one calls the police and the prosecutor against anybody who reports about the spiritual world. However, these are exceptions; our time is tolerant outwardly. Only in relation to thinking, One considers everybody a fool, a daydreamer, or at least an ignorant man who cannot share the creed of those who say there: from the scientific facts follows that one cannot state anything about the spiritual side of the world.
This attitude has prepared itself slowly. In the 19th century, one came with it on the climax. It is well reasoned that this has come that way. If we look for the reason, we must say, the reason is connected with the big progress of humanity. We realise that in the newer time the human beings have investigated the external physical world with all imaginable instruments and skilfully developed methods, which are more than amazing. We see how it has begun with astronomy and with the view of the astronomical world edifice how then the physical world has been conquered gradually by that what can be investigated with the armed eye and understood with the intellect. In the 19th century, it has appeared that this kind of research not only is able to see into in the lifeless nature, but it has also deeply illumined the living nature.
He who is able to pursue the spiritual life objectively knows that it signified an immense progress when during the thirties of the 19th century Schleiden (Matthias Jacob Sch., 1804–1881, German botanist) discovered the smallest part of plants and animals, the cell (together with Theodor Schwann, 1810–1882). It became obvious that many former conjectures had to disappear because of the facts, which one now discovered by means of the microscope and the new research method. One has thought a lot about what this organism is actually inside which composes our living beings. One had now discovered what corresponded to the thinking and feeling of the 19th century so much: one saw obviously how the organism builds itself up from countless and extremely small living beings. One saw now how they co-operated and yielded the human organism. Now that was accessible to the actual research, which one had assumed and bothered so much.
One had done a look at the world of life that way. Then it was a big progress when Kirchhoff (Gustav Robert K., 1824–1887, German physicist) and Bunsen (Robert Wilhelm B., 1811–1899, German chemist) announced the spectral analysis. The spectroscope, this miraculous instrument, proved that the same materials, which compose our earthly world, also exist in the universe. One recognised this by the facts, which the spectroscope delivered. Then Darwin came with the overabundant wealth of facts that show how the living beings change under the influence of external conditions, dependent on the place where they live. He succeeded in investigating the rests of primeval living beings that are in the layers of our earth. When the paleontological research came along forming a bridge between history and natural sciences, then the significant basics were given for the feeling and thinking of the 19th century. They got their solid, sure support.
In particular in Germany, one felt the blessing of such solid, sure support. Just in Germany, one had a great, idealistic-philosophical spiritual worldview that was connected with names like Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. One had a range of daring, superior mental attempts behind himself. Now one was of the opinion that these attempts would have something subjective-arbitrary, something that everybody can experience or not. What Hegel, what Fichte has thought, they have thought it for themselves; another may find different things. With it, we come — one meant — in a tangle of worldviews. However, this happens only if we leave the firm ground of facts if we omit, for example, to realise how the smallest organism is composed of smallest living beings. For we would ascertain that the thousands who look into the microscope see and describe the same things. Everybody who knows the layers of the earth must describe them in the same way. This is the sure, firm ground of facts.
One has not remained to it saying, he who stands on this ground of facts is on the safe side, and we leave all remaining untouched. If one had stopped on the ground of facts, never would have originated creeds, religious problems from it. The true natural sciences that are based on observation with exclusion of the supersensible world will always be on the safe side, even if they confine themselves to the sensory phenomena. They will come to sure facts. However, these facts have worked suggestively, were mesmerising! On these scientific facts, one founded a kind of scientific atheistic or materialistic religion, a kind of creed. Now one could say, with every creed it is possible that the human being is steady and strong in life, the right thing will be found in the course of human evolution, and it does not depend on how the human being stands to the questions of the supersensible world. However, just this idea will appear in the course of these talks that it is not right to think that it is irrelevant how the human being feels and thinks. We shall just prove that feeling and imagining are a real world, and that not only the future of the earth, but of the entire human race depends on the human thinking.
We shall see in the course of the winter talks how deep and true this sentence is. Spiritual science does not deal with theoretical bickering but has to work for the human being usefully and in suitable way. Whether the single material body consists of atoms or not, whether the single material organism is composed of single cells or not, whether in the remaining heavenly bodies the same materials are as on earth or not, all that are wholly factual questions. But by the decision of these factual questions one never states something about the destiny of the human soul or mind. If one keeps to establish and describe the facts, and does not cross this border to the soul area, then there can be no conflict between natural sciences and spiritual science. However, one has not just remained to this. One built up theories; one constructed mental pictures with which generally no soul being, no spiritual existence can be combined.
We only need to have a look back at some decades of development. Today it is already almost forgotten when in the 19th century the so-called theory of energy and matter appeared. However, it would be good just for someone who stands beyond spiritual science to consider the real reason of the theory of energy and matter.
Imagine the picture of the dry theory of energy and matter as it was at that time. It went philosophically out from that which the scientific facts had brought. One had found that the human being consisted of single cells. One had discovered chemical and physical processes and had said, all our bodies would consist of molecules and atoms, and the phenomena would originate from the play and the movement of the atoms round us. Those who are now forty, fifty years old and have the academic education behind themselves remember the time lively when the so-called theory of heat controlled everything. The big discoveries in the field of thermodynamics had assumed such a shape that one imagined any gas consisting of millions smallest parts, molecules and atoms which are in an endless complex movement, knock at each other and rebound and thereby produce the phenomena of heat. What was there heat? Nothing but a result of that which exists outdoors in space as a manifold play of moving and colliding atoms. One said it soberly at that time: what you feel as warmth is nothing but a movement that the smallest parts of the bodies accomplish, and the degree of heat depends on the power of the impacts, on the vehemence of the movements. Thus, nothing was in the outside world for the theory of heat available as the whirling atoms, and what one meant with the word “warmth” was a subjective sensation, an effect on the human organism or on the brain which one also imagined materially. Not only the warmth or heat, everything was imagined as such a movement of the atoms! One must retain this. For: if you come once to the materialistic mental picture, it is like a juggernaut: it devours the spiritual, as well as the molecules and atoms have devoured it.
If you take books of that time about the phenomena of light, you can find soberly said: what you call red or blue is only an effect on your nerves, is only in you. Outdoors in the world is no light and no colour, there is only the ether penetrating the whole world, and the peculiar movement of this ether works on you and causes the sensation of colour. Thus, the light is objectively outdoors in the world as a movement of the cosmic ether, and what you feel is nothing, actually. — Briefly, the empty space became the true reality, filled with moving atoms. One assumed that all phenomena arose from this. Somebody who would have expressed himself radically could have said the following: imagine all human brains as not existing, what remains then? Nothing but the empty space, filled with atoms, if you like, with moving atoms of the ether and of the matter having weight.
However, any perception, any sensation in you like the sensations of smell, taste, warmth etc. do no longer exist; this is subjective and not objective. People like Büchner (Ludwig B., 1824–1899) and Vogt (Carl V,, 1817–1895) only drew the consequence from this premise in the middle of the 19th century. You find the merits of these men emphasised in my writing World Views and Approaches to Life in the 19th Century because they have had the iron consequence to draw the conclusions of such a view. If nothing else existed outdoors for the phenomena of colour and sound than the moving atoms and molecules, it was quite natural that the thinker said, then nothing else exists in the human being than matter, consisting of moving atoms and molecules. — Vogt had only to draw the unequivocal consequence: thoughts are produced by the movements of the cerebral molecules like other things by liver and kidneys et cetera. — This opinion bred much bad blood and was only a consequence of premises, which others had who only did not go so far. With it, it was connected inevitably that one divided this world of atoms and molecules that one regarded as the absolute in materials, which one could discover. One was of the opinion that the whole matter is only movement and can be divided in atoms and molecules. One considered life also only as a complex movement of atoms in the living bodies. One recognised that single bodies could be taken to pieces, water, for example, to hydrogen and oxygen, sulfuric acid to hydrogen, sulfur and oxygen. — However, there comes a border, where the chemical research cannot accomplish any further decomposition. Where from does this come? This is why simple elements form the basis of our materials. There are about seventy elements; all our materials are composed of them.
How does water originate? By the fact that its elements oxygen and hydrogen that, otherwise, are apart side by side, penetrate themselves. The materialists of the 19th century primarily relied on this fact that one assumed a particular number of elements. In every chemical book, you can find them: hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, sulfur, phosphorus, fluorine, chlorine, bromine, iodine and so on. Everything living and lifeless originates from a more or less complex composition of molecules, and one considered the complex of the human soul — all the human feelings, sensations, mental pictures, ideals et cetera in himself — also as nothing else than the result of the cooperation of his compound molecules and atoms. Indeed, single persons like Haeckel said that it is absurd to explain the soul as a mere result of the cooperation of lifeless small atoms. Hence, Haeckel formed the view that the atom already has a soul for itself. He is of the opinion that all these atoms that build up such an organism have a small soul and that many small souls yield the human soul.
It is probably the most daring, the most adventurous superstition to speak of such an atomic soul! Here begins a chapter of scientific superstition that flows then into such concepts as cell soul, soul cell and the like. It would lead us too far to pursue this further. We are concerned to characterise the sense and the spirit of natural sciences as they have presented themselves. Nevertheless, we look back at the time when a kind of materialistic creed joined to the physical-scientific suggestion. This has immense spiritual results. He who does not take the matters seriously can easily pass over them. However, it is true that this scientific creed excludes any independence of soul and mind from that, it excludes to speak of mind and soul. For this view, that what the human soul experiences begins with the first activity of the organism and disappears with the decay of it. The human being is nothing else than a built up machine which, during the sixty to eighty years of its existence, produces phenomena like thoughts, sensations and feelings, and if it disintegrates, it is over, because all these phenomena are nothing but the assemblage of molecules. Thus, Vogt and all those thought who have drawn the daring, radical conclusion from the scientific premises.
Then another party came in natural sciences. One of it is the famous Du Bois-Reymond (Emil Heinrich D., 1818–1896, German physiologist). He held an important talk in a Leipzig meeting of scientists and physicians in which he brought up something that forms the object of many discussions still today. He said: we are in the natural sciences so far that in us the scientific ideal has developed that, for example, all light phenomena, all colour phenomena and sound phenomena can be led back to the work of atoms and molecules. The rest is appearance; however, these are the realities. Everything that originates comes into being and persists because these atoms combine, collide, and oscillate. If it were possible — Du Bois-Reymond meant — to give the suitable movement and position of the atoms for every phenomenon, then the world would be explained scientifically. However, with this scientific explanation something would not and could not be explained. Du Bois-Reymond also pointed to the teachings of the great German philosopher Leibniz (Gottfried Wilhelm L., 1646–1716) in those days. — Imagine once — Du Bois-Reymond said approximately: you could analyse and describe a human brain in all its movements clearly, and now imagine it enlarged, so that you can go for a walk in it like in the machinery of a factory. Look at the whole: you see enormously complex movements in it, you find complexities in it with which one can compare nothing in the world; but you see movements only. Natural sciences will never be able to explain the transition, which causes that one can say: I smell rose scent. Here is an uncrossable limit of knowledge. One cannot explain how the human nature becomes conscious. Hence, he speaks his “ignorabimus:” we shall never know. — He says, one is never able to cross these limits; the human being will never know how consciousness originates from motion.
Du Bois-Reymond did not only put this riddle before the world, but six other. In The Seven World Riddles (1880), you find that he admits not to understand how life originated and how the first distribution of matter came about. He admits that matter must have been distributed from the outset. On the question, where from motion comes, he says: one can never know this! — Du Bois-Reymond counts all that to the seven world riddles, and in Haeckel's book The World Riddles (1895–1899) you can read that this has been written as a kind of reply to DuBois-Reymond's Seven World Riddles. Then he says also, it is true that there are seventy elements that consist of materials, which are quite different in relation to the single elements; but everything originates from the combination of atoms and molecules. — One assumed one thing just as fixed: the immutability of the atoms. What is an atom remains an atom. Büchner emphasised the sentence repeatedly: the motion of the atoms changes, but what is an atom sulfur, an atom oxygen etc. remains an atom sulfur, an atom oxygen. This was announced now as the immutability of the materials in the elements, the eternity of the atoms. In his World Riddles (The Riddles of the Universe), Haeckel emphasises nothing stronger than the eternity of the matter. This was one thing that one fixed. The other what Du Bois-Reymond fixed was that limits are put to the natural sciences: one can never know how consciousness comes into being.
Based on these premises, different groups formed. One said: howsoever the things may be, we remain at our old religious creed. We let the researchers think what they want to believe, we do believe; but in relation to science we keep to the determined facts. — The other, more courageous ones said: Indeed, if the real is the atoms in motion, the seventy elements and in between the ether atoms, everything else is appearance, which exists only as long as a motion exists. — This is no longer science, this is a creed! This is something that spreads to everything that concerns the spiritual world, which is for such a creed nothing else than a manifestation of the wholly material facts.
It was already a courageous venture when on the Lübeck meeting of scientists and physicians, in the end of the eighties, the chemist Wilhelm Ostwald (1853–1932) held a talk The Overcoming of the Scientific Materialism. Ostwald showed that for the logical thinking the concept of matter generally disintegrates into nothing. One can unfold this logical thinking very easily: what do you see in the world? You see bodies! What are these bodies? They are something that is a certain colour, a certain shine, a certain temperature, something that you can smell and taste. Attempt to retain everything that you perceive in such bodies. If you take away what you perceive as smell, as taste, as touch, what remains to you? Nothing at all! A body is before the logical thinking nothing but a conglomerate, the sum of its qualities.
What has one taken as a basis of light, of colour? Nothing but movements of the ether! One fulfilled the entire space with ether. He who is known with theoretical physics knows how one calculates ether waves etc. and that everything that one finds there is a result of calculations. The ether can never be an object of immediate observation. If it produces the discernible things, how can one perceive it itself? The ether was the most fantastic idea that one could assume. Thus, the natural sciences are based on something fictional. One had nothing but results of calculations. The absolute and most certain that should be there for the scientific thinking was nothing but something calculated. In my The Philosophy of Freedom, you can read up how this thought cancels out, so that one can compare it to Münchhausen who draws himself out of a swamp with his own shock of hair. This is made clear there. However, on the human beings, and if they believe to be ever so logical, never reasons, never real facts, but suggestions work. There work all possible concepts, which move through thousands and thousands canals into the souls. Thus, the elements and atoms became a natural premise also with those who had no possibility to survey the matters and did not know at all, why one assumes such matters. It was a general suggestion.
At this time, one of the biggest progress of the human investigation of nature occurred, namely the investigation of the living as Darwin made it so popular. The infinite wealth of facts that have become known to the world was in such a way that one had to say: if it had occurred at a spiritual time when one knew that spirit forms the basis of all material phenomena, then one would have found countless reasons just in these facts for the work and being of the spirit. One would have found the spirit working on the change and transformation of the organisms. Darwinism never generated materialism. Materialism, which comes from those mental pictures, as I have just characterised them, made Darwinism materialistic. It made such a high-minded thinker and researcher as Ernst Haeckel also materialistic. While Haeckel could have performed great things for spiritual science with his researches, he was tied up with materialism by the suggestive influence of his time.
If the matter were in such a way even today, one would not be inclined to talk of spiritual science, and it is still temporarily impossible to convince those who are on the ground of the scientific explanations. One has to let them go their own ways, and the spiritual researcher must also go his ways. If it were in such a way even today as it was at that time, one would have to say: the spiritual science can be content in itself. — However, things have changed. Just those who have participated in everything that is regarded as natural sciences have also witnessed — even if only slowly — the biggest reversal taking place just in the field of scientific thinking. Times will come when one will not be able to understand that one could ever think such a thing as it is popular still today. Probably it may seem as if the natural sciences advance in our present triumphantly with this materialistic worldview, as if one succeeded by well-prepared investigations in generating living from the proteins in the laboratory. Then they would say, we could generate living material of which whole living beings consist, and there are for the naturalist virtually delightful facts, which show that one can treat lifeless substance with certain toxic substances by which effects arise like symptoms of an intoxication. The substances resulting from it look like living crystals: by their forms, they create the impression to be alive, although they are not yet. Thus, one can assume that one comes to the point where from molecules and atoms life and, on the other side, spirit comes into being.
On one side, this seems to be the case. On the other side, what is there? Something that works stronger than everything that Ostwald said from the point of view of a scientific logic against materialism. There we see another scientific attitude slowly preparing and becoming necessary. In the middle of the nineties, Becquerel (Henri Antoine B., 1852–1908), the great physicist, discovered certain radiations in certain substances containing uranium. These have particular effects that express themselves making the air electrically conducting or causing a certain change of the photographic plate, as for example the X-rays. You know that one also got around in the last time to finding such rays in connection with the element radium. But as interesting it is that there is something that one has not known once, the entire kind and effect of these rays was so strange, so different from the ideas that one had up to now that many people already became uncertain in their view that the atoms are something everlasting and only combine and separate. We have substances there, which behave quite oddly in the world coherence just like radium and uranium.
They emit, in particular radium, but their radiations are almost inexhaustible. All that would harmonise with the old view; but the most important is that one can let emit such a material like radium that one can separate certain parts and can keep back a part. There are, for example, such radiations which make the air electric, and which one can separate then in such a way that one has their effect on the photographic plate. It is in such a way that one can separate the different qualities, so that one has substances that do no longer have the first qualities. A quality is taken away from one substance and the other gets it. In every bookstore, you can buy treatises about that today. However, this is not yet the significant. It is significant that permanently rays separate and go out into the space. Indeed, certain reasons compel us to suppose that these rays run out once. Today, one can already prove that certain substances are diminished in short time, in a time hardly to be expressed, however, that the substances that can go adrift transform themselves strangely enough into quite different substances, so that for a big number of researchers the fact is that radiations of radium transform themselves into helium.
We see that radium sends its radiations into the space. According to the old theory what would have to happen there? Nevertheless, at most the atoms go adrift, separate if they are something invariable. However, there we see that they send out radiations perpetually, and now we can assume nothing else than that the atoms disintegrate and split to the smallest particles. Others show clearly that for a big number of substances this atomic decay is possible. Thus, we realise that that which one regarded as the most lasting once, as the absolute — whereas everything else counted only as a result of it — today also disintegrates. This scatters today. Reasonable hope exists that that applies to all atoms. What is the atom in future? It is something that originates and forms. Every atom forms, has a certain lifetime, and dissolves after a certain time again. There you have transformed what is the steadiest for materialism into a being that originates and passes. If one sees that radium goes over into the helium element, one sees that there material changes into material. There one gets the idea that the dream of the old alchemists that materials can be transformed into other materials has reality.
In some books, we already find indications that the modern scientific research suggests what the alchemists have dreamt. There are already scientists who have done interesting considerations about certain processes. Once one said, there are copper salts that are joined, for example, of copper and chlorine. If one separates them, one has copper and chlorine again. One sees in it that the atoms lie together, and if one separates them again, it is chlorine and copper. Indeed, something essential occurred to some persons who have started thinking and what the spiritual scientist stresses repeatedly: if you combine the materials that you have separated as copper and chlorine again, then heat must originate. If these two substances combine, heat is spread. The fact that heat appears there is something real and it is as real as copper and chlorine are combined. If one wants to separate both again, one must add heat again. We perceive the warmth. Nobody has ever perceived atoms and molecules. However, do we not recognise what is in the phenomenon? If you bring together copper and chlorine, this is, as if you squeezed out the heat, as it were, like flour from the flour bags. If one wants to have the flour bags full again, one must just put flour again into them. Thus, the heat would be the filling. — With it, we have attributed reality to the heat and have made clear that one has to count not only on molecular effects, but that these materials themselves are possible only because of this heat.
If now we consider that the atoms disintegrate under our hands, we must ask ourselves, do these natural sciences lead on their crossroads — where the atoms scatter, the most certain up to now — to the recognition of that which they once regarded as external expression, as an appearance? The natural sciences lead to this view today!
Today, the entire atomic theory falters that has been the base of the natural sciences long time. Today, the facts are in such a way that the theories that are not based on facts must fall. Atoms and molecules are nothing factual, but something fictional. If this falls because it itself is an effect, we must ask, of what is it an effect? At first, people will attempt to come again to something else that forms the basis. Today, they are just speaking of liquid electricity. Very nice is what Balfour (Arthur James B., 1848–1930, British Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary) said: if we imagine atoms, we can only say, something like a fluid flows through the world, and the atoms are in it like ice lumps in the water. — This is a nice picture. However, whereto does it lead? Try once to continue it. It leads to that point where the natural sciences get around to recognising as the actually real what they have denied once what was only an appearance for them. This was a weird belief that colours exists only in my head that outdoors only small particles exist that knock and press each other and thereby produce the sensations of light, colour and sound. These mental pictures will soon have to disappear due to the power of the facts. It will become obvious that what we see and hear is real, and that it was a great speculative fiction to think a material world behind this world. This material world will scatter and disintegrate. On will appreciate what is behind it. Then that will have to move up which one experiences and can experience. Then one will recognise that the atom can be nothing else than frozen electricity, frozen heat, frozen light. Then one has still to advance so that one has to realise that everything consists of compressed spirit. There is no matter! What is matter relates to the spirit as ice relates to the water. If you dissolve the ice, there is water. If you dissolve matter, it disappears as matter and becomes spirit. Everything that is matter is spirit, matter is the external manifestation of the spirit.
It will still last long, until one has to draw the last consequence that not the eye has formed the light, but the light the eye, and the tones that we hear the ear. Then one will realise that any matter is born out of the spirit, and one will lead the true scientific facts, without logical interruption, back to spiritual science. The scientific facts will be the best basis of spiritual science. He who stands on the spiritual-scientific point of view looks admiring at the natural sciences on the crossroads. The suggestions have them tempted to believe that matter is the only one. They have not been content to examine the material world, but they have added a second world. This was the tragedy, the impossible. The spiritual researcher recognises the existent natural world completely. The spiritual scientist can never adopt a fictional and dreamt up world of invariable atoms and oscillations of the fictional ether, this fantastic world of materialism. He rejects them as superstition. Superstition was the belief in material atoms behind our perception. One said, every atom could be perceived if one has the instruments. — Nothing is behind that what we perceive but only the spirit and the spiritual world into which we penetrate! We search this behind the phenomena. We search no world of atoms surging up and down, but the world of the spirit in the world of the sensuous phenomena. On the wrong track is somebody who believes to find another material world behind the external phenomena. Those who build even today on it like on facts have to be corrected. The time will come when this fantastic superstition is recognised as such and when a lot of that which one regards from this side as superstition turns out to be right. The right basic principle of natural sciences, stopping on the ground of the facts, leads them even to the crossroads where it becomes obvious whether the facts agree with the theories. The facts do not agree with them, the theories scatter like nothing! The element and the atoms disintegrate that one had regarded as the steadiest basis from which one wanted to explain the spirit and the consciousness. What we want is certainty, and we can get it only by the fact that we perceive the spirit in ourselves.
Thus, the natural sciences will discharge into the spiritual science. Today, they stand in the crossroads. Some people do not yet recognise it, others can realise it. The time will come when a wonderful harmony exists between the knowledge of scientific facts and the assertions of spiritual science. It will never assert something that contradicts the scientific facts. Spiritual science also admires the works of the spirit in materialism; but it establishes no cloud-cuckoo-land. Spiritual science wants to understand the world to work in it. About hundred years ago, one had natural sciences in Germany, which sailed under full canvas into the materialism of the 19th century, natural sciences that started recognising nothing else than what one can see with eyes and touch with hands. The result was that also that which was thought out became something material, something concrete. The great philosophies that moved in expressions and concepts, which were not everybody's taste, were pushed aside. However, the people who condemn Hegel and Schelling understand as a rule nothing at all of these spirits who looked so deeply into the world, as none of those suggest who believe to be way beyond them. However, they moved in strongly sublimated concepts.
Goethe stood between these two parties right in the middle of them. Hence, he could anticipate how the natural sciences would sail into materialism and, on the other side, he found opportunity to penetrate to the problems and to build the connecting bridge between religion and natural sciences. Therefore, he could say so nicely that once the time would come when philosophy and natural sciences unite. However, he added, for a while they must still go separate ways. — They have gone separate ways, without understanding each other. Today, we also have two currents, materialism that has outlived itself that sees its steadiest, most absolute basis disintegrating by its own methods, that destroys itself, and a philosophy that discharges into theosophy or spiritual science. It is not the abstract-spiritual, but the concrete-spiritual that tries to bring forward facts of the higher world to humanity that will no longer be there as abstract, but as concrete spiritual science.
We shall experience in not too distant time that a nice alliance between the scientific view and the spiritual-scientific one. We shall realise how the scientific facts are useful for the spiritual view and the spiritual view is useful to the natural sciences. Therefore, the bridge is built. The human mind can prosper only if its ways of activity harmonise with each other. The mind would have to become crippled if the natural sciences remained without spiritual science and spiritual science would have to be content with the thought: nevertheless, you cannot take over the natural sciences to the spiritual. — However, the course of the world development will bring peace. It will build the bridge between faith and knowledge. It will bring an infinite progress and harmony between faith and knowledge.
How many people long for external peace, for outer harmony and outer happiness of the human beings! Nevertheless, everything outer is appearance of the inside and the outer human life can be only a result of the inner one. A happy outer human life originates if there are hopeful souls. They will know how to found the right social peace, and from the inner peace, the outer peace will come. Therefore, it seems to be not without meaning to look at these natural sciences in the crossroads and to show how the one reaches a dead end, the other, however, leads quite clearly to the areas, which are also those of spiritual science. Thus, they will co-operate from now on and the world edifice will be enriched from two sides. It will be a great, perfect harmony, and this will be in the human being the inner harmony of the soul that is the last purpose of spiritual science.