by Andrea Elizabeth
Here’s the part about the sun standing still,
To the people who fought against the emerging truth of physical philosophy it seemed that, if they were to recognize that truth, faith in God, in the creation of the firmament, in the miracle of Joshua, son of Nun, would be destroyed. To the defenders of the laws of Copernicus and Newton – Voltaire, for instance – it seemed that the laws of astronomy destroyed religion, and he used the law of gravity as a weapon against religion.
In the same way now it seems that we need only recognize the law of necessity and the notions of the soul, of good and evil, and all state and church institutions based on those notions will be destroyed.
In the same way now as with Voltaire in his time, the uninvited defenders of the law of necessity use that law as a weapon against religion; whereas – exactly like Copernicus’s law in astronomy – the law of necessity in history not only does not destroy, but even consolidates the ground on which state and church institutions are built. (p. 1214)
I guess he’s trying to have his cake and eat it too. The Church is necessary – so how could it exist by our free will? I believe the Orthodox would say it exists by disproportionate synergy between God and man. Throughout history there have consistently been people who willed that the Church exist. The fact that there have been no gaps would point to predestination, but this does not have to mean that man’s will was necessarily overcome to make it so. Was so willing by man a natural consequence of his past? When a person looks back at why they are a Christian, they can point to Sunday School teachers, parents, and other witnesses of the faith, and feelings about either needing (as a result of deprivation) help, love, or a better explanation than science provides for the universe. In a Christian society, they will get a Christian answer, in other societies they will get a Buddhist or other answer. There are probably atheists in all societies who do not believe in a higher power or cause, I don’t know about every case. But Tolstoy’s saying that if you had enough perspective, you would see why even the atheist was lead in that direction. But this takes away the individual, free soul of a person. Tolstoy is saying to ignore this disruption in our perception of how things are. I think we can see tendencies that fit what he’s saying, but that is because freedom is voluntary, and oftentimes a heavy responsibility that Dostoyevsky’s Grand Inquisitor exposes, along with people’s aversion to it.
Nevertheless we honor the people who have influenced us and lead us along the true path, but in so honoring we have to recognize their freedom in leading us and encouraging us to choose thusly.