What the religions call God, we call the idea – Rudolf Steiner
“When we speak of the essential being of a thing or of the world altogether, we cannot therefore mean anything else at all than the grasping of reality as thought, as idea. In the idea we recognize that from which we must derive everything else: the principle of things. What philosophers call the absolute, the eternal being, the ground of the world, what the religions call God, this we call, on the basis of our epistemological studies: the idea.” (Rudolf Steiner, 1883 Goethean Science IX Goethe's Epistemology)
Science is to awaken religious feeling - Albert Einstein
“It is very difficult to elucidate this [cosmic religious] feeling to anyone who is entirely without it... The religious geniuses of all ages have been distinguished by this kind of religious feeling, which knows no dogma and no God conceived in man's image; so that there can be no church whose central teachings are based on it... In my view, it is the most important function of art and science to awaken this feeling and keep it alive in those who are receptive to it.” (Albert Einstein, The Expanded Quotable Einstein)
In 1944 a document written by Rudolf Steiner in his early years was found. He had titled it “Credo” which in this context means, “What I believe”. It was written in 1888 when he was 27 years old. This was after he wrote Goethean Science (1883) and Science of Knowing (1886) and a few years before he wrote Truth and Science (1892) and The Philosophy Of Freedom (1894).
The Creed expresses Steiner's humanist worldview in a devotion to science and in the divinity of the universal “idea” realized in thinking. Universal ideas exist as “divine ideals” in that they cannot be perfectly represented in the world. For example, there is only one inclusive idea of triangle that contains all possible triangles. This “ideal triangle” that my mind grasps is the same as that which my neighbor’s mind grasps. But only particular triangles can be represented in the world of varying 3 sided shapes.
Albert Einstein's cosmic religion
Based on what humanist Albert Einstein has written, I'm sure he could relate to the religious experience of science described in Steiner's Creed. Einstein referred to his belief system as a "cosmic religion" that recognized a "miraculous order which manifests itself in all of nature as well as in the world of ideas."
The thoughts in the Creed are very profound for a one time reading. They are a fountainhead for inspiring insights with further deep reflection.
1. The world of ideas is the primary source
The world of ideas is the primary source and sustaining principle of all existence. Within it is never-ending harmony and joyous tranquility. Existence not enlightened by it, would be dead and lifeless, and would have no part in the wholeness of the world. Only that which stems from the idea has meaning as part of the universal tree of creation.
2. The idea is the spirit
The idea is the spirit, which is clear and lucid in itself and independently sufficient in itself. The individual must have the spirit within, otherwise he will drop from the tree like a withered leaf, and would have existed for no good reason, and without purpose.
3. Longing for the idea
The human being feels and recognizes himself as an individual when he becomes fully conscious. In the individualization process there is implanted within him a longing for the idea. This longing drives him to overcome his separateness and to let the spirit come to life within him, and to be in accord with it.
4. The divine voice of the idea
Everything that is selfish, that makes him a separated being, this he must shed and cast away, for it is this that darkens the light of the spirit. The egotistic self desires only to follow his sensual lust, instinctive drives, greed, and passions. He must root out this selfish will, and instead, as an individual, seek what the idea wants, the spirit within. Let the individuality move there, and follow the voice of the idea within, because only the idea is divine.
5. Eternal deeds
What one wills as a separate-being, is an insignificant point in the circumference of the universe as a whole. It is without value, and therefore worthless, fast disappearing within the flow of time. Whatever one wills in the spirit is in the center, because the central light of the universe lights up within us. Such a deed is independent of time.
6. Living in world harmony
When we act selfishly in isolation, we lock ourselves out from the closed chain of creation, and separate ourselves off. When a human being acts in the spirit, he lives ever more into the universal working of the world. The banning from oneself of all self-centeredness is the foundation for the higher life.
7. Immortality in this life
Whoever deadens the egotistical within himself, lives in eternal existence. To the extent to which we can let the selfishness within us die, to that extent we are immortal. That which is mortal in us is selfishness. This is the true meaning of the saying: “he who does not die before he dies finds extinction when he dies.” This means, whoever does not end egotism during his lifetime, plays no part in the universal life, which is immortal. A person who has never existed within this greater life, has never experienced true existence.
8. The search for knowledge is devotion to the universal in thought
There are four fields of human activity in which the human being devotes himself to the spirit, while giving up selfish activity: science, art, religion and the loving devotion, spiritually, to a personality. Whoever does not live within one of these four activities, does not live at all. The search for knowledge is devotion to the universal in thought, art is devotion to the universe in beholding, religion in the depths and breadths of the soul, and dedicated love is devotion with all ones’ spiritual forces directed to something, someone that appears to us as a treasured member of the universal whole.
9. Spiritual love; love of knowledge, ennobles our being
Knowledge is the most spiritual form of selfless devotion, love is the most beautiful form. For love is truly a heavenly radiance shining into ordinary daily life. Sacred, truly spiritual love ennobles our being to its inmost core; it uplifts all that lives within us. This pure and holy love transforms our whole being into something that is in touch with the world spirit.
10. Spiritual love carries the breath of divine life to the most repulsive regions
To love, in this most exalted sense means to carry the breath of divine life into regions where only the most repulsive egotism and the most disrespectful passions are found. One has to know something of the holiness of love before one can speak of spirituality.
11. Freedom is to enter the divine life of the ideal
If a human being has made his way out of the separated condition, through one of these four fields, and entered into the divine life of the ideal, then he has reached that for which the seed of longing was placed in his heart; the union with the spirit. This is the true destination of the human being. Whoever lives in the spirit lives freely, for they have removed themselves from subordination. Nothing can compel him or her to act, other than what he wishes to be freely compelled by because he recognizes it as the highest calling.
12. Let truth be lived
Let truth be lived: lose yourself to find yourself once again in the spirit of the world!