Thursday, March 19, 2015

Nature is Not God


By Th. I. Riginiotis 
(trans. A. N.)

In our day and age there is a noticeable increase in people who have been unearthing from oblivion and reliving the worship of ‘gods’ belonging to ancient pagan religions. This appears to be a worldwide phenomenon, which is intensifying as contemporary peoples seek their cultural roots, and while western peoples are seeing that they can now shake off the oppressive and imperialist versions of Christianity which took shape in the West during the past thousand years: Catholicism and Protestantism.

These contemporary worshippers often admit that they don’t really believe in the existence of ancient ‘gods’, but are attracted by “what is represented” by those gods and the myths that speak of them – that is, “the powers of nature and the universe”, inner peace and harmony of all creatures.

Thus we observe even rituals for worshipping the Sun, the Moon, Nature, Life etc., as well as invocations to the universe and its supposed “powers”. This perception – which is now a strong current – also possesses a whole lot of artistic creations in every form of the arts.

Modern man believes that this is the way of returning to his roots and that such acts have something beautiful, romantic and philosophical.

However, we must bear in mind that the ancient Greek philosophers did not maintain that Nature, Earth or the Universe are gods; on the contrary, they rejected these religious ideas – at times by imposing severe critique on the ancient religion (as for example Xenophanes of Kolophon had done), or even on the major Hellene poets (as Plato had done).

The viewpoint of the philosophers on divinity seemed to be closer to the Christian viewpoint: that there is only one God, who is transcendental, who had created everything and does not in the least resemble humankind or any other creatures.

Ancient peoples sincerely believed that Nature, the Earth, the Universe – and everything contained therein – were in fact divinities. They actually worshipped them. Not symbolically or “philosophically”. In fact, very often (in a frightening frequency) they also sacrificed living victims in order to worship those so-called “gods”: be they animal or human sacrificial victims [1].

Along with the aforementioned, they also believed in Fate as an omnipotent divinity, in astrology, in sorcery, in divination and the occult arts.

During the Hellenic-Roman era, Christianity was the voice of reason, which had spoken up against the deification of Nature, thus opening the way to scientific progress [2]; it had also spoken up against people’s fear of Fate and Sorcery, as well as against the bloodthirsty cults of the pagan “gods”.

When Christians had stated that only the One, True God is deserving of worship and that the Earth, the heavenly bodies, etc. should not be deified, they weren't speaking theoretically, nor were they replacing the worship of nonexistent “gods” with the worship of another, equally nonexistent divinity.

Christian saints have seen – and still see – the divine Light with their own eyes; they merge with it and they too become Light, because Christianity (the ancient, authentic form: the Orthodox Church [3]) is the path to the moral and spiritual perfection of man, which leads to his union with the true God (the Triune God, the God of Love) and with all other beings. This is not a symbolic worship comprised of personified, abstract meanings; it is an actual union of man and God – something that makes man a universal being. Thousands of Orthodox Christians of every era had attained – and continue to attain – that state, and not merely in the afterlife, but even while they were still living here.

We would therefore ask, from the heart, our fellow-men who are under the impression that by returning to the worship of symbolic gods, they are taking a step towards wisdom or self-awareness or harmony with the world’s creatures, to come and meet the true path that leads to all those things: the Orthodox Christian path.

Amid the Orthodox peoples – as elsewhere – there are people of every moral stage; however, the ones who can show the way are our holy teachers (and teachers of mankind). They are the ones who embrace everything in Creation and become one with them.

Notes:

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_sacrifice. See also: The god Called “Earth”: 

[2] In the area of scientific knowledge, Christians were a continuation of the ancient Greeks, which is why we have very many saints who are doctors, mathematicians, philosophers etc. - having authored works of immense scientific value for their time, and equally valuable for the history of science in our time (see here for example: http://www.oodegr.co/english/istorika/istorika.htm#4._Rome). However, we must not confuse the holy teachers of the ancient Church and of Orthodoxy with the cruel stance of the Roman Catholics of the Mediaeval Age (the "Catholic Church"), who had amassed immense power and had often impeded scientific progress. This stance, and the teaching from which it had originated, constitutes a heresy according to Orthodox criteria.

[3] On identifying the Orthodox Church with the ancient, authentic Church that Jesus Christ had founded, browse (among many other articles) here: A Journey to the Ancient Church: Evangelicals Discovering Orthodox Christianity and here: The Orthodox New Martyr of Mexico: Paul de Ballester-Convallier.

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