Guest Article


How science correlates to Christianity,
atheistic scientism, and New Age mysticism

Prof. Vladislav S. Olkhovsky

Scientific Centre "Institute for Nuclear Research"
Kiev-252028, Ukraine

1. That the human mind can understand at least something of nature is almost obvious to everyone. Let us recall A.Einstein who said: " The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible". But what makes our mind capable of learning about the Universe? At least, three different answers can be found to answer this question.

(1) The Biblical point of view: God, who created the Universe, created man (human mind) in His image and likeness.  That is the reason we are able to learn about the Universe and rule over it according to His will.  In other words, the Universe is learned, because of the correlation between rationality in nature and rationality in men established by God.

(2) Atheistic Scientism: Scientism (according to which all in nature and in human being can be learned and explained by scientific rational method) turns out to be contradicting within itself from the very beginning by presupposing that behind creation of the cosmos and man it is a blind (i.e.pure irrational) chance.  How can the human mind learn about the Universe if the Universe in its core does not have any rationality? How can an irrational Universe be understood with rational thinking?  For some time though, some visible order of the Universe was understood in human rationality as the product of pure chance.  But after Freud it became impossible to believe that even human beings are absolutely rational.  In principle, scientism appears to be an inwardly self-destructive philosophy!  For this reason, some scientists (ex. Einstein) have been led by the process of learning about the Universe back to a belief in rational creation by a Superior Intelligence.  Others, (ex. F. Capra) are led to the third possible answer to the question of why Universe can be understood.

(3) New Age mysticism: New Age worldview postulates that human personality in its essence is God's personality which itself creates the Universe. This is our ignorance that makes us attribute independent and absolute reality to the world.  And if I am not a helpless individual but am the heart of my Universe, then most of all I need to open not the secrets of the physical universe but the secrets of myself.  Hence, real spirituality consists in the fulfillment of its own potential.  The general, rational consciousness which we use in our everyday activity appears to be a little part of the whole.  New Age idea says that by means of definite mystic manipulations it is possible to leave the limited experience of rational consciousness and enter into an extended, cosmic consciousness which embraces all.

2. Before we start comparing all three positions, let us go through the basic postulates and distinctive features of science.  The majority of scientists working in the field of fundamental, natural science (either Christians or atheists), accept that at the root of science and structure of scientific knowledge are several unproved premises or postulates. First, there is a belief that the material world exists objectively and human rational mind is able to understand its nature.  Secondly is a belief that nature is a united whole.  This second premise in particular means that there is an order of (general laws) existing in nature and a reproduction of natural events in different places of the Universe at different times.  The following fact is an interesting correlation to that premise:  systems of principles, postulates and theorems, theories and equations, developed in abstract mathematics, turn out to be sufficient enough to describe real events in certain areas of the physical world with a striking precision.  It happens quite often.  The third and most familiar postulate is the cause and effect (causality) postulate.  This postulate is universal and applicable to all scientific disciplines.       

Let us note that the first two postulates do not even contradict the Christian doctrine, but go with its roots to the doctrine itself.  The third postulate, giving us a choice between two unprovable alternatives (the endless chain of subordinate reasons or existence of the initial cause), at least does not contradict Christian theology.  Precise analysis, based on the second law of thermodynamics or made by Morris on the theological ground, clearly leads us to conclusion of preference of the second alternative.  This is existence of the First Cause of all the Universe which is completely consistent with the Christianity.

To make this clear, speaking about authentic science (namely, natural science), let us consider that we are using a definition made by R.Bube: This is a special way of knowing, based on those descriptions of nature which have been gained with the help of human interpretation in the form of natural concepts and categories from publicly observed and reproductive data obtained in its turn under the influence of nature (natural world) to our sense organs.  This definition assumes that creative thinking in the process of interpretation by no means can be excluded but must be controlled through quite definite ways, including reproduction, logic, mathematics, etc.  Of course, having such a definition, other methods of knowing are not excluded. This can be, for example, revelation from God in the Bible, words of other people (people we trust), communication between individuals, intuition and other possibilities. Let us recall that a worldview based on the belief that science is the only way of knowing is called scientism. It is impossible to prove scientifically that science is the way of truth.  As in any other worldview scientism can be chosen by an act of faith.

Moreover, we can often find addition of new postulates of faith in the scientism analysis.  For example, it happened when the famous theory of evolution about the origin of the species, man and life itself was presented as "science."  There was also added an unproved principle of naturalism to the above- mentioned starting principles of science and the also unproved assumption of the creation was removed.

But does science give any proofs?  To prove something precisely (i.e. mathematically or formally-logically) means to derive it from original postulates.  Original postulates and moreover choices of observed data are always taken apriori (i.e. by faith). There are also principal limitations unto conflictiveness of those derivations brought by the theorem of Hedel.  Therefore, it is impossible to "prove" precisely our hypotheses even inside of science.  We do not prove anything absolutely in science, but prove only in a certain limited, or relative meaning, or more gather and interpret the data of our examinations/observations.

Note that psychology, ethics and philosophy stand aside from such a determination of science.  Psychology, which often is called science about psychological life of a person, obviously is not limited only by knowledge; which can be obtained with the methods of scientific experiment (i.e. by observations, made in standard conditions, which can be isolated, varied, and repeated) and can be explained (interpreted) within the frame of more general scientific results and principles.  Psychology quite often uses method of introspective observation (individual personal experience), but in its attempts to go beyond the descriptive stage and came into explanatory stage, psychology inevitably transfers in the realm of philosophy.  In psychology different areas were shaped out, depended on what was put into understanding of soul, consciousness and psychology: ErLebnis-psychology, Behaviorism, reflectoric psychology, psychoanalysis (the latest having already different variations).  Early K. Ushinsky observed two dualities of the human psychics: 1) the greatest antinomy of the generality of the faith in the free will and the generality of the faith in the causality, and 2) the contradiction of the dualism and monism in the psychic life of the man (the irresistible feeling of the dualism, which speaks about the spiritual and material worlds inside the man, and the constant tendency of the human reason to the unity (monism). He was the first who had paid attention also to that that the interaction between psychics and brain ('interaction of a soul with the relevant nervous mechanism') --is one of the greatest mysteries of creation.

Although ethics is sometimes called the science of morals, it also goes beyond the definition of the word science.  It is impossible to determine evil and good scientifically.  It is also impossible to be proved scientifically what we must do (even in science!).  In terms of ethics science is silent.

Philosophy ("human wisdom") is sometimes simplified to be called the science of science.  Although sometimes philosophy is determined as an attempt to create rational and critical systems of men's views, opinions and beliefs in the relation to reality and to the ideals of ethics, art and religion.  Philosophy quite often is divided into several areas, among which the following finds more emphasis: epistemology, ontology, philosophy of nature, ethics, aesthetics, philosophy of religion.  The last area (i.e. philosophy of religion) is allowed to be considered as the valid part of philosophy only in atheistic worldviews.  Philosophy, in light of the Bible, according to Christian theology can be considered as an area of theology and not vice versa.

3. Scientific research of nature in the last decade has led to the accumulation of huge amounts of data.  These data synonymously show that conditions of the universe amazingly and exactly set up to provide the possibility of the existence of intelligent life.  For example, the changing of constants of nuclear and electro-magnetic interactions only to 1-2 percent to one way or the other would lead to such drastic changes in the process of nucleosynthesis and in the conditions of water, that the reality of the existence of human being would disappear.  In view of such evidences several scientists came to different versions in the formulation of the so-called "anthropic principle."  In accordance with the weak anthropic principle, observed values of all physical and cosmological parameters are conditioned by the requirement of having possible areas where organic life would begin to develop.  In addition to that the universe should have rather old age, so that it (and mankind) can exist.  Thus, the opportunity occurs to choose among several alternatives: (1) We can believe that it is possible in the present, past and future to have an infinite number of universes and we are existing and sure of the existence of our universe, just because the unique combination of its parameters and properties was able to allow the appearance and existence of men.  This point of view, based on the belief in absolutely irrational accident, is common for science. (2) Or we believe that there is only one universe, created by God, and that mankind is also created by God to rule over it on His behalf.

In accordance with the strong anthropic principle the universe must have such parameters which allow development of life at a certain stage of its history.  This form of anthropic principle does not only establish that the parameters of the universe are limited by a narrow set of values, compatible with the development of human thought, but also maintains that this limitation is the necessary state of matters.  And if such a setting of the parameters of the universe is interpreted as a proof of God's activity which is described in God's revelation, the formulation then comes right from God's intention.  However, there are supporters of the strong anthropic principle who consider that the universe observed by us is created by us as observers and does not exist independently without us.  They support this point of view (typical for the New Age) using speculations from quantum mechanics.  For example, they say that "collapse of wave function" being examined appears to be a result of "observer's participation".

4. Pseudo-science has been existing together with real science. Pseudo-science looks like science, uses terminology of science and claims to be called science but on the fundamental level breaks the self-coordinated unity of scientific activity (in particular, the principles of accordance in acquiring of the new fundamental results). Usually, the following fields of activity appear to be sources of pseudo-science: (a) Sometimes pseudo-science: It is simply bad science, when certain person ignores known scientific precautions in formulating his/her conclusions; (b) Sometimes a professional person is working on things with which science doesn't even need to deal (for example, developing a system of ethics based on the general theory of evolution); (c) Sometimes pseudo-science appears as a result of the attempt to get scientific results and conclusions under the pressure of philosophical, metaphysic, religious or political ideology.  The danger of pseudo-science exists in every instance where ideology is trying to rule over science.      

Subjective arbitrariness in pseudo-science stands against objectivity in authentic science.  The figures of pseudo-science can be characterised by the following factors: (a) They are sure that they found truth; (b) Mankind does not know this truth but it is urgently important; (c) Their approach is based on separate parts of data without taking into consideration a full set of data; (d) They are mad at society, because society does not listen to them and they predict worse motives to such misunderstanding from the outsiders; (e) They usually are not able and do not want to answer sincere criticism of their work; (f) they don't consider themselves to be members of scientific society, and others do not consider them to be those as well.

In recent years considerable interest has arisen toward fields standing on the boundary between pseudo-science and authentic science, such as parapsychology, paramedicine, extrasensory perception, clairvoyance and others connected to these phenomena.  Although all these fields from the very beginning could have been learned by natural scientific methods (that is how it should be done!), they usually were bound to the ways of thinking connected to pseudo-science and pseudo-theology (to be more exact, to their combinations). Pseudo-science as well as pseudo-theology, appeared and are able to appear in other contexts.  Astrology, known in ancient times and retrieved again now, can serve as one of the examples of pseudo-science which takes a form of pseudo-theology at the same time.  Such ways of thinking are distinctive for New Age.

5. The door into the mysticism of New Age can be opened not only by pseudo-science (with combination of pseudo-theology) but also by real difficulties in interpreting new results in the developing science together with its failures (problems that have not been solved for a long time).  The complicated history of the development of science contributes to that as well. (Let us recall a conflict between science and non-biblical dogmas in the Middle Age church, interest in "scientism" extensions, on the one hand and Oriental philosophy and religion on the other hand).  

Founders of the physics of the 20th century M. Planck, A. Einstein and other physicists, having no doubts about the existence of real nature outside of the mind of the scientist, recognised that there are at lest three types of reality: (1) the universe is what we naturally feel with our sense organs (solid bodies, sunrise and sunset, etc.), (2) the universe which exists within itself, but is not opened to direct sensual experience (movement inside of atoms and nuclei), (3) the "universe of a scientist" (described through laws, equations, diagrams and constantly changing theories).  Such physicists as A. Eddington went further, having declared that world of physical science is only a world of symbols, in which only those aspects are taken out from the world of sensual experiment which are measurable and such symbols as electron, quantum, potential (which are not observed, but assumed), are introduced for the interpretation of chosen obviously limited data. In such an approach the abstract and symbolic world of physics is only a construction of the human mind and the final reality is either bipolar (i.e. intelligence and matter are two sides of the same reality) or it is Universal Intelligence.  This same direction was strengthened and developed through a unique interpretation of unity of mass and energy, indivisibility of human observer and observed matter and others.        

And, at last, the final chain of transition in the direction of New Age thinking from Universal (God's) Intelligence to the mind of man was made up of a new view of K. L. Morgan on biological evolution. This new view was soaked with the philosophy of T. de Chardin, after which followed ideology of O. Huxley and the psychology of K. Young, A. Maslow and others, on the general background of social and cultural development of the West and influential growth of Oriental culture in manipulating psychology.  T. de Chardin, sharing Morgan's ideas, looked upon biological evolution as a process having not resultant but emergent character, to counterbalance the materialistic point of view.

Evolution does have a certain direction--from less to more organised forms of lives and cognition.  If evolution had been directed by blind chance only, then life would not have been able to develop in one direction of highly organised growth.  There must be something more than "blind" chance.  Consciousness would not have been able to appear if it had already been presented in previous "animate" and "inanimate" forms of reality.  Thus, it is reasonable to presume, according to T. de Chardin, that consciousness directs the whole process of evolution from the very beginning.  Afterwards, T. de Chardin also extrapolated the process of evolution for the future. T. de Chardin presupposed that all the evolutionary processes will meet in an omega-point--superpersonal unity of everything in God.  This makes God to be a final (the first and the last) reason of evolution, but not simply to be an active reason or alpha-point. Thus, according to T. de Chardin, Homo Sapiens resembles a caterpillar on the eve of its turning into a butterfly--into a being of a totally different nature or "consciousness" (cosmic consciousness).

However, we should keep in mind that New Age would not turn the priority of intelligence down basing its grounds only on philosophical, logical, psychological and ideological reasoning. Medicine discovered that brain of a human consists of two cerebral hemispheres.  The left hemisphere is usually responsible for controlling rational, analytical or conceptual thinking activity; the right hemisphere is responsible for intuitive, emotional and aesthetic activity. Moreover, the right hemisphere often tries to grasp intuitively and immediately the truth before the point when the left hemisphere is ready to discover the same truth by rational methods.  That is why overestimation of rationality, logic and activity of the left hemisphere in general is unwise in comparison of intuition, feelings and activity of the right hemisphere in general.  Nevertheless, in the West, "left- hemispherical" intellect was quite obviously recognised as the foundation of all knowledge and social behavior.

Based on all the above mentioned information and speculations, New Age supporters made three following steps in the direction of mysticism: (1) They accepted that normal human consciousness is much more than "pure" intelligence or logic (and it is functioning not only with the help of the left hemisphere, but of both hemispheres); (2) going out the limits of this normal (awakening) consciousness in the area of different (so-called transcendental or mystical) consciousness.  This changing begun even before New Age had become familiar with penetration of the oriental ideology to the West.  N. Blavatskaya, N. Rerich and H. Rerich as well as yoga practice also played a certain role in it.  However, various kinds of the oriental mystics are based on the view that the material world is an illusion and also some modern New Age mysticists recognise that real mystical experience gives not only experience of our unity with cosmos, but also emptiness, isolation and does not answer human questions.  That is why it does not live up to all the aspirations of those followers of New Age looking for a better world instead of isolation from it.  They needed to do one more step, though; (3) this step consisted of making a decision to go out of the limits of the human being itself and get in contact with spirits, bodiless beings, who supposedly know more than we know because they dwell in a "spiritual dimension".  These spirits can get in contact with us with the help of rational language, using human mediums and so-called "channels."  Though it is quite difficult to correlate the supposition that real spiritual beings exist outside of my own consciousness with the already accepted supposition of the New Age that "I create my own universe," some New Age apologists (S.McClaine and others) consider such spiritual leaders to be our own "super"-self.  Thus, we can create our own spiritual conductor and plan it unto "objective existence in universe" for the practical goal of leading us into a "spiritual" dimension.  At first sight McClaine's idea that the "universe and myself are one" may look like absurd.  M. Fergusson and other New Age apologists protect it, using the analogy of a hologram.  Each fragment of a hologram gives the same three-dimensional picture as the whole hologram.  In the same way the whole universe can be presented in each individual.

6. Thus, scientism was not able to provide a sufficient philosophy of science, but the New Age mysticism destroys the whole possibility of science. However, we also have an open possibility in science to come back to the original position of the founders of modern science which says that the universe can be understood because it was created by a Rational Being who created us according to His image and likeness to role over it.  The founders of modern science did not consider the universe to be a creation of their consciousness.  They could trust their sensational experience and logic only because they believed in the existence of the real objective and organised world, in the likeness of human intelligence to Superior Intelligence and in the fact that final knowledge comes to us by means of God's revelation.

The Creator and His creation are fundamentally different according to the Bible.  A unique joining of physical matter and spirit while keeping the difference of their essence, occurred even though God breathed "His breath" into Adam.  Their essential difference lies in the fact that matter can be determined by physical laws, therefore its behavior can be predicted and controlled.  Man, though, has some sort of personal freedom, that is why his mental actions can not be completely predicted or controlled. Non-physical determination of a man is controlled by personal/moral laws.  If there were not such personal/moral laws and matter and human beings were all of the same quality, then matter should behave in a free, unpredictable and magic way.

In light of the Bible the discovery of unity in the sub-atomic world should not be surprising because everything was created by the Word (Logos) (John 1:3).  This united reality which is laid in the foundation of the Universe is not open for perception by sensation (Heb. 11:3).  The real scientific problem does not consist in explanation of the cosmos, but rather an explanation of its diversity (different atoms, molecules, organisms, languages (though people have general consciousness but can not understand each other). Quotations from the Bible says, that laws which regulate united energy are commands of the Creator.  None of the explanations of diversity and balance of forms exceeds the explanation found in the Bible in Genesis (Genesis 1:1-7), which speaks of the dividing of the whole into a multitude by God's command. God created separate laws on each level (including moral and human laws on the level of human) by His commands.

Creation is not eternal and infinite. It is real and good (Genesis, 1:31). This high estimate of the physical universe is a necessary premise of science. People also can find their true essence without leaving the physical world due to mystical experience but rather by being in creative interconnection with the world as its ruler.

According to the Bible God continues taking care of His creation. He sustains it and acts in it at times; although these actions are not normal (natural) but appear to be special events (miracles).  Usually all processes in the cosmos go according to rational laws, which are the words of God. Everything else which is unusual and not rational is either having not understood yet or deception; either the devil's or God's act.  So it becomes clear that when people perform magic tricks, they are not able to make matter behave by irrational laws through any kind of "psychological" power.

1. G. Morris. Biblical foundations of the modern science.- St.Petersburg, Bible for everyone, 1995.

2. R.H. Bube. Putting it all together.-N.Y.:Univ.Press of Am.,Inc.,1995.

3. V. Mangalwadi. When the NEW AGE GETS OLD.-Illinois:InterVarsity Press, 1992.

4. Man and Christian worldview. (International Christian Symposium, almanac, book 2) Simpheropol,


5. T. de Chardin. Phenomenon of a man.- Moscow, 1987.

6. K.D. Ushinsky. Works, vol.10.-M.-L.,1951

with the kind permission of the author, June 10, 1998. Email contact: % Roberto Mignani <>

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