anthroposophical atheism

another example of an anthroposophical kind of atheism found in an old edition of Info3 magazine. God is a projection of man’s inner needs, and so forth. I find this interesting, although not entirely surprising. Of course, to some anthroposophists, denying god seems to be an abomination (they prefer to ignore that Steiner, too, in his youth denied god, saying god is nothing supernatural but the creation of man; later Steiner turned to theosophy and spirituality and a belief in the supersensible and he started to dabble in notions of Christ… and, by the way, there’s an interesting discussion on waldorf critics on how Steiner clairvoyantly saw this Christ stuff). I’m not at all sure how commn belief in a personal god is among anthroposophists. Clearly there’s everything from godliness to godlessness. The inclination towards mythology may be in common, but, then again, I guess mythology, in some form, is inevitable (sorry, just babbling — am surprisingly tired, thought I ought to post something and resurrected this unposted post for this very purpose). Here’s the quote anyway.

Denn „Ich bin Gott“ soll nicht nur auf so etwas wie einen göttlichen Funken im Ich weisen oder metaphorisch meinen geistigen Wesenskern beschreiben. Es soll wörtlich aufgefasst werden als die Erkenntnis, dass ich jene Funktion innerhalb der Welt innehabe, die im religiösen Glauben Gott zugeschrieben wird. Und es ist insofern eine mystische Variante des normalen Atheismus, der an die Stelle Gottes die Naturgesetze, den wissenschaftlich erforschbaren Aufbau der Welt, die rein kausale und gleichwohl faszinierende und begeisternde Funktion des Kosmos setzt. Denn der Myste sieht die Gründung der Welt nicht draußen in irgendwelchen abstrakten Gesetzen, sondern er sieht sie in sich selbst, insofern er sich nicht als irgendein Ich-Homunkulus in einem Körper versteht, sondern insofern er sich als den eigentlichen Schauplatz dessen begreift, was man im allgemeinsten Sinne als Welt bezeichnen kann. „Ich bin Gott“ ist das Bekenntnis eines Bewusstseins, das sich nicht nur in einer geschaffenen Welt zu einem Göttlichen entwickeln will, sondern das sich als Schöpfer der Welt versteht, weil die Welt nur als Bewusstsein von dieser Welt zur Realität kommen kann. Was wir als Welt bezeichnen ist, weil wir es erleben und nicht anders darüber verfügen denn als Erleben, das Ergebnis einer Bewusstseinsleistung eines Bewusstseins, das als Teil derselben Welt ebenso in dieser Leistung besteht und mit ihr erst anhebt zu sein. Dass der Inhalt dieses Erlebens eine Existenz habe, die außer uns liegt, ist letztlich unsere Vorstellung und schon Teil der kreativen Bewusstseinsleistung. Mithin ist aber die Vorstellung einer von uns unabhängigen Objektwelt, wie sie die Naturwissenschaft konstatiert, nichts anderes als jene Form von Projektion und Objektivierung eines Bewusstseinsaktes, aus dem auf anderer Ebene auch der Gott des Theisten entsteht.

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4 thoughts on “anthroposophical atheism

  1. Anthroposophy or being an anthroposophist (ridiculous appelation) is not a matter of holding onto particular beliefs. To be a member of the Anthro Society one has to simply agree that it is a good thing that there is a school of spiritual science at the Goetheanum in Dornach. It is only when one applies to join the School of Spiritual Science (often called the ‘First Class’ – because it was the first in a projected series) that one commits to more than this. One then commits to ‘standing for anthroposophy in the world’, and not to share the meditations with anyone who isn’t a member.
    Now how one interprets ‘standing for anthroposophy in the world’, is open to debate. It isn’t predicated on subscribing to any particular set of beliefs.
    So it doesn’t surprise me that there are anthros who are atheists.

    As a matter of fact one would find that anthros do share many beliefs but this is not a necessary condition of them calling themselves anthroposophists.

  2. I’ll come back to this later: but yes, right. I don’t think it should be surprising there are atheist anthros. But I’ve come across anthros who find this unthinkable. However, they seem to think atheist is a horrible person who denies the existence of everything that is not measurable… Like beauty or whatever. As though belief in god were a prerequisite of lots of other things that are deemed good. If they detached the concept of atheism from these emotions (and prejudices) they have about people who are atheists, perhaps it would be different. But, as far as I can tell, some people have misunderstood atheism and don’t understand that all it means is: the conviction there is no God. Or Gods. Other than as man-made constructs.

  3. ‘To be a member of the Anthro Society one has to simply agree that it is a good thing that there is a school of spiritual science at the Goetheanum in Dornach.’

    You don’t even have to think it’s ‘good’, only that it’s ‘justified’, i e the existence of Goethanum. Not exactly difficult to agree with.

    ‘One then commits to ‘standing for anthroposophy in the world’, and not to share the meditations with anyone who isn’t a member.’

    The second requirement has become obsolete now, since the lessons are (more or less) openly available. Not that this should be any cause of concern anyway. I’ve been able to share them for years, but not one soul is interested ;-)

    But, as you point out, ‘standing for anthroposophy in the world’, is not precisely a clear-cut formulation. It could be interpreted in many ways; lots of things could be incorporated in ‘standing for’. If generously interpreted, one could say that that’s what I do, too. Said half-jokingly, but still. I’m not prepared to rule that interpretation out just because some anthroposophists presume I’m on a ‘hate crusade’ (hey, Sune!).

  4. I read this as a very clear expression of atheism.

    But anthroposophists who are not atheists (ie, I think, most) and who think that Steiner’s life path was just a progression towards higher insights, a development of what he’d worked on before the turn to theosophy, and that he was always clairvoyant would have a difficult time squaring this picture of Steiner with their picture of Steiner. Especially if they also think atheist is a horrible person who lacks all insights; and that atheism is somehow incompatible with some kind of spirituality (oh, no, that word again — of course, it can mean anything or nothing at all). Anyway, I’ve posted this text on several occasions (for example on the critics list when anthroposophists have doubted that Steiner would ever have expressed an atheist viewpoint), and I’m not sure I ever got a recognition from any one of these anthros that, indeed, the young Steiner was really very atheistic. I don’t think there’s been a response at all ;-) I’ve seen arguments, though, that Steiner remained an atheist all his life. It’s an interesting question, I think, if he ever believed that gods existed outside the minds of humans. (Maybe there’s a real simple answer to this, an answer I ought to know, or be able to quickly deduce from the stuff I do know, but I’ve got to run.)

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