Rudolf Steiner claimed to approach phenomena scientifically.
He claimed that his use of "exact clairvoyance" enabled him to study the spirit realm scientifically.
He claimed that his teachings — Anthroposophy — constitute "spiritual science,"
and at least occasionally he claimed that there are no contradictions between
natural science and spiritual science.
Today, some of his followers devote themselves to scouring scientific publications,
searching for any tidbits that might possibly be consistent with Anthroposophical beliefs.
The truth is, however, that Anthroposophy is fundamentally antiscientific,
and indeed Steiner often revealed (perhaps unintentionally) his aversion to science.
Here are a few examples
of the many marvelous statements
Rudolf Steiner made about science.
“If a time came when physicists were to take the truth seriously, they would give up speculating about atoms and molecules and would say, ‘The outer world consists of the past, and what is inside this does not consist of molecules and atoms but the future.” — Rudolf Steiner, COLOUR (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), p. 101. An earlier edition is blunter: "If physicists were for once to talk sense, they would not produce speculations about atoms and molecules, but they would say: The visible world consists of the past, and carries in it not molecules and atoms, but the future.” — Rudolf Steiner, COLOUR (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Company, 1935), part 2, lecture 1, GA 291.
“One could easily show that science, for all the isolated facts it keeps accumulating, has not enriched the life of mankind by a single concept ... [I]ncreasingly numerous will be the scientists who keep lining up their data, and who will be frightened out of their wits when someone begins to think. Nowadays it is a sore trial for a professor to discover a bit of thinking in a doctor's dissertation submitted to him by some candidate.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE GOSPEL OF ST. JOHN (Anthroposophic Press, 1948), p. 198.
“[M]aterialistic physicists would be immensely astonished if they went up into space expecting to find the sun as they describe it in their science. Their descriptions are nonsense. If by some convenient transport the physicists could reach the sun, they would be amazed to find no gas whatsoever. They would find hollow space, a real vacuum. This vacuum radiates light.” — Rudolf Steiner, FROM SUNSPOTS TO STRAWBERRIES (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2002), pp. 135-136.
[Rudolf Steiner Press, 2002.]
“Now, just as the upper part of the chest system in man has the tendency to become head, so the lower part has the tendency to become limbs. And just as all that proceeds from the larynx in the form of speech is a refined head, a head formed out of air, so all that proceeds downwards from the chest nature of man to take on something of the limb organisation, is a coarsened limb nature. The outer world pushes into man, so to speak, a densified, coarsened limb nature. And once natural scientists discover the secret that a coarsened form of hands and feet, arms and legs is present in man — more of the limbs being pressed inside than remains visible outside — then indeed they will have fathomed the riddle of sex nature. And then only will man find the right tone for speaking of these things. It is no wonder therefore that the talk prevalent to-day about sex instruction is mostly meaningless. For one cannot explain well what one does not understand oneself. And contemporary science has not the least understanding for the thing I have just barely touched on in characterising the connection between the limb man and the trunk man. Just as one finds in the first years of school life that what penetrated the teeth before the age of seven is now pressing into the soul, so in the later years of schooling one finds pressing into the child's soul all that arises from the limb nature and comes to its rightful expression after puberty. This must be known.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE STUDY OF MAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), p. 186.
“No matter how far or how deeply our sophisticated sciences of physics and chemistry investigate the material world around us, the fact remains that what is investigated will all disappear along with earth existence itself. In the last resort, chemistry and physics have no value whatever beyond the earth. When the evolution of the earth comes to an end, all mineral substances will turn to dust and dissolve in the cosmos. Only what pertains to the plant, animal and human world will pass over to the Jupiter existence. Therefore, all the magnificent achievements of these sciences are related only to what is transitory. It is essential that knowledge is attained of that which endures beyond the earth.” — Rudolf Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995) pp. 169-170.
“We must now broach a matter that is not so easily acceptable, although it can be grasped if one gives thought to it. Man's knowledge on the physical plane is extraordinarily misleading. It is really most deceptive because on the physical plane he knows no more than the facts and connections that he observes. Whereas for the ordinary scientists of the materialistically minded this is the be-all and end-all of what he terms reality, it constitutes the merest trifle of soul life.” — Rudolf Steiner, LIFE BETWEEN DEATH AND REBIRTH (SteinerBooks, 1985) pp. 113-114.
“The ego slips into [i.e., incarnates in] the physical body ... Through the ego’s gliding into it, the physical body loses its weight ... For there is no such thing, dear friends, as what the physicists call matter.” — Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION FOR SPECIAL NEEDS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), pp. 54-55.
“Around the middle of the nineteenth century some of the most daring spirits saw in scientific materialism the only creed possible to one familiar with the then recent results of research. The blunt saying of that time has become famous: ‘Thoughts stand in about the same relationship to the brain as gall to the liver’ ... One may well say that excellent, independently thinking minds came to such convictions because of the powerful impression made by the successes of science in those times. A short time before, the microscope had shown the synthesis of living beings out of their smallest parts, the cells. Geology, the science of the formation of the earth, had come to the point of explaining the development of the planets in terms of the same laws which still operate today. Darwinism promised to explain the origin of man in a completely natural way ... [S]tragglers who adhere to these opinions can still be found in men like Ladenburg at the Congress of Scientists in 1903, who proclaim the materialistic gospel.” — Rudolf Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (SteinerBooks, 1987) pp. 25-26.
“Till we take steps to understand it, it will however be quite impossible ever to gain valid ideas of what is meant or should be meant by the word ‘Ether’ in Physics. As I said yesterday, present-day Physics (though now a little less sure in this respect) still mostly goes on speaking for example of the phenomena of light and colour rather as follows: — We ourselves are affected, say, by an impression of light or colour — we, that is, as beings of sense and nerve, or even beings of soul. This effect however is subjective. The objective process, going on outside in space and time, is a movement in the ether. Yet if you look it up in the text-books or go among the physicists to ascertain what ideas they have about this ‘ether’ which is supposed to bring about the phenomena of light, you will find contradictory and confused ideas. Indeed, with the resources of Physics as it is today it is not really possible to gain true or clear ideas of what deserves the name of ‘ether’....” — Rudolf Steiner, FIRST SCIENTIFIC LECTURE-COURSE (Goethean Science Foundation, 1977), lecture 2, GA 320.
“Present-day science has no inkling of the fact that scientists ought to treat blood, even physical blood, in an entirely different manner from any other organ of man's physical body, because these other organs are the expression of entirely different things. If the glands are the expression, the physical counterpart, of the etheric body, then even physically we have to look for something quite different in the composition of a gland, be it liver or spleen, than we have to look for in the blood that is the expression of a much higher member of man's being, namely the ego. And scientific methods must be guided by this if they are to show us how to work with these things. Now I want to say something which will really only be understood by advanced anthroposophists, yet it is important that it is said.
“A materialistically-minded scholar of today takes it as a matter of course that when he makes a prick in the body blood will flow out that can be examined in all the known ways. And blood is described according to the method of investigating its chemical composition in exactly the same way as is done with any other substance, such as an acid. One thing, however, is left out of account, although, needless to say, it is not only bound to be unknown to materialistic science, but it is sure to be considered sheer folly and madness, and yet it is true: the blood flowing in the arteries, and sustaining the living body, is not what flows out when I make the prick and take out a drop. For the moment blood comes out of the body it changes to such an extent that we have to admit it is something quite different; and what flows out as coagulating blood, however fresh it is, is no proof of the living essence within the organism. Blood is the expression of the ego, a member of the human being that is at a high level. Even as physical substance blood is something that you cannot examine physically in its totality at all, because when you are able to see it, it is no longer the blood it was when it flowed in the body. It cannot be looked at physically, for the moment it is exposed to view and can be examined by some method similar to X-ray, you are no longer examining blood but something that is the external image of blood on the physical plane. These things will only gradually be understood. There have always been scientists in the world working out of occultism who have said this, but they have been called things like madmen or philosophers.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE BEING OF MAN AND HIS FUTURE EVOLUTION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1981), pp. 25-27.
“One sees, for example, how Protestant theology has arrived at its views concerning the man, Jesus, and the nature of Christ, because at every turn it had in mind certain scientific conceptions that it wanted to satisfy, against which it did not want to sin. At the same time, the old, instinctive ties within the social order began to slacken: they gradually ceased to hold human life together. In the course of the nineteenth century it became increasingly necessary to replace the instincts according to which one class subordinated itself to another, the instincts out of which the new parliamentary institutions, with all their consequences, have come with more-or-less conscious concepts. Not only in Marxism but in many other movements as well there has come about what one might call a transformation of the old social instincts into conscious concepts.
“But what was this new element that had entered into social science, into this favorite son of modern thought? It was the conceptions, the new mode of thinking that had been developed in the pursuit of natural science. And today we are faced with the important question: how far shall we be able to progress within a web of social forces woven from such concepts? If we listen to the world's rumbling, if we consider all the hopeless prospects that result from the attempts that are made on the basis of these conceptions, we are confronted with a dismal picture indeed. One is then faced with the portentous question: how does it stand with those very concepts that we have acquired from natural science and now wish to apply to our lives, concepts that — this has become clearly evident in many areas already — are actually rejected by life itself? This vital question, this burning question with which our age confronts us, was the occasion of my choosing the theme, 'The Boundaries of Natural Science.' Just this question requires that I treat the theme in such a way that we receive an overview of what natural science can and cannot contribute to an appropriate social order and an idea of the kind of scientific research, the kind of world view to which one would have to turn in order to confront seriously the demands made upon us by our time.” — Rudolf Steiner, BOUNDARIES OF NATURAL SCIENCE (SteinerBooks, 1996), pp. 2-3.
“It is because the Moon Beings remain so firmly entrenched in their fortress that modern scientists know nothing essential about heredity. From a deeper insight, and in terms of cosmic language, it could be said that when at the present time heredity is discussed in one or another domain of science, the latter is ‘Moon-forsaken’ and ‘Mars-bewitched’. For science speaks under the influence of the demonic Mars-forces and has not even begun to approach the real mysteries of heredity.” — Rudolf Steiner, “The Spiritual Individualities of the Planets” (THE GOLDEN BLADE 1988), GA 228.
- Compilation by Roger Rawlings
For an incisive analysis of the shortcomings
of Waldorf science instruction,
by a former Waldorf student who became a Waldorf teacher,
see the section
"Science Courses and Arts
Without the Slightest Trace of Thought"
Here is a message I prepared in August, 2011,
for the waldorf-critics discussion page.
(A few parts duplicate what you have already read. Sorry.)
Dear newcomers and lurkers: Let’s get real. The proof is in the pudding. Steiner said that he based his spiritual (i.e., occult or esoteric) “science” on natural science, and he said that eventually natural science would confirm the findings of his spiritual/occult/esoteric “science.” Let’s take a look. Does Steiner's epistemology work? What sort of discoveries does his “science” produce? The following quotations reveal both Steiner’s extraordinary ignorance about science and, indeed, his hostility to science.
Let’s start with something simple. Science has clearly demonstrated that the heart is a pump — it sends our blood circulating through our bodies. Everyone knows this. Everyone except Steiner.
◊ “The heart is not a pump ... Basically the heart is a sense organ within the circulatory system, yet exactly the opposite is taught nowadays.” — Rudolf Steiner, POLARITIES IN THE EVOLUTION OF MANKIND (Steiner Books, 1987), p. 56. Why is the opposite taught? Because of the findings of science. Thus, Steiner explicitly sets himself up in opposition to science. Science says one thing, Steiner says; I say something different.
Just as the heart is not a pump, the brain is not the seat of real thought, according to Steiner.
◊ “[T]he brain and nerve system have nothing to do with actual cognition.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 60. True cognition, according to Steiner, is clairvoyance. Unfortunately, science tells us that clairvoyance does not exist. [See https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/clairvoyance.]
In discussing astronomy, Steiner sometimes taught that Earth does not orbit the Sun. To explain the real motion of the planets to the teachers at the first Waldorf school, Steiner drew a helical line. He positioned the Sun at about the midpoint of the line. He strung out Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn on the left half of the line, and he put Mercury, Venus, and Earth on the right half. Then he said:
◊ “Now you simply need to imagine how that [i.e., the line] continues in a helix. Everything else is only apparent movement. The helical line continues into cosmic space. Therefore, it is not that the planets move around the Sun, but these three, Mercury, Venus, and the Earth, follow the Sun, and these three, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, precede it.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), pp. 30-31. So, the planets travel in a serpentine line with the Sun, they do not orbit the Sun. Bear this in mind, below.
Speaking of planets, Steiner said that the outermost planet is Saturn.
◊ “To the modern materialistic view of the cosmos, Saturn is observed merely as a body moving about in cosmic space; and the same with the other planets. This is not the case; for if we take [i.e., think about] Saturn, the outermost planet of our Universe, we must represent him as the leader of our planetary system in cosmic space. He directs our system in space.” — Rudolf Steiner, MAN - HIEROGLYPH OF THE UNIVERSE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), lecture 10, GA 201. Give Steiner the benefit of the doubt, here, and assume that by “universe” he meant “solar system.” If he really meant “universe,” his statement would be all the more absurd, since science has discovered many, many planets beyond our solar system.
Uranus and Neptune are not really parts of our solar system, Steiner said.
◊ "Then come Uranus and Neptune ... [T]hey circle much farther out and their orbits exhibit such irregularities that in reality they cannot be counted among the planets even today.” — Rudolf Steiner, FROM COMETS TO COCAINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001), p. 290. But wait. Orbits? Steiner said that the planets don’t... Oh, let it go. Steiner rarely kept his stories straight.* As for the status of Uranus and Neptune, they certainly are parts of our solar system; they certainly must be "counted among the planets."
Steiner’s understanding of the nature of the Earth’s land masses was somewhat adrift.
◊ “[A]n island like Great Britain swims in the sea and is held fast by the forces of the stars. In actuality, such islands do not sit directly upon a foundation; they swim and are held fast from outside.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 607.
◊ “[T]he continents swim. The question is, of course, why they don’t bump into one another, why they don’t move back and forth, and why they are always the same distance from one another, since the Earth is under all kinds of influences. Why don’t they bump into one another? For instance, why is a channel always the same width? We can find no explanation for that from within the Earth. That is something that comes from outside. All fixed land swims and the stars hold it in position. Otherwise, everything would break apart.” — Ibid., 616-617.**
Steiner had no knowledge of the actual nature of gravity, which science says exists everywhere.
◊ “Gravity is...perceived only by those beings that live on a solid planet ... Beings who could live on a fluid planet would know nothing of gravity ... And beings who live on a gaseous planet would regard as normal something that would be the opposite of gravity ... [B]eings dwelling on a gaseous planet instead of seeing bodies falling towards the planet would see them always flying off ... Gravity begins when we find ourselves on a solid planet.” — Rudolf Steiner, SCIENCE (Rudolf Steiner Press 2003), pp. 136-137.
Despite the findings of science, Steiner said that magic is real. He described both white and black magic.
◊ “The white magician would impart to other souls the spiritual life he bears within him. The black magician has the urge to kill....” — Rudolf Steiner, AN ESOTERIC COSMOLOGY (Wilder Publications, 2008), p. 41. This quote doesn’t absolutely say that white and black magic really exist. But in other quotations, Steiner did say that magic is for real. Really. For instance, black magicians use unearthly (but real) powers. Really:
◊ “The black magician, therefore, employs Moon forces that still exist on Earth.” — Rudolf Steiner, TRUE AND FALSE PATHS IN SPIRITUAL INITIATION (Kessinger, 2003), p. 149.***
Steiner had no understanding of atoms or atomic power.
◊ “[A]toms are really tiny little caricatures of demons, and our learned scholars would not speak about them as they do unless people had grown accustomed, in education, to putting everything together out of its parts.” — Rudolf Steiner, RHYTHMS OF LEARNING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 161. ”Our learned scholars” are the scientists Steiner so roundly criticized.
◊ "[T]he atom is nothing but coagulated electricity. " — Rudolf Steiner, "The Work of Secret Societies in the World" (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), GA 93. This is nonsense; it makes no sense.
◊ “[T]hrough the electrification of the atoms we transform them into carriers of evil ... [W]hen we imagine matter in the form of atoms, we transform these atoms into carriers of death; but when we electrify matter, Nature is conceived as something evil. For electric atoms are little demons of Evil." — Rudolf Steiner, "Concerning Electricity" (ANTHROPOSOPHIC NEWS SHEET, No. 23/24, 1940), GA 220. Oh, my. Occult science indeed.
Science has debunked seances. But Steiner believed in them.
◊ “[A] medium becomes talkative and allows his own organs of speech to articulate spiritual things....” — Rudolf Steiner, RUDOLF STEINER SPEAKS TO THE BRITISH (Rudolf Steiner Press 1998), p. 80.
Seances represent one alternative to rationally figuring things out. You see, mediums are for real (although modern ones aren't up to the old standards):
◊ “You know, of course, that the activities of mediums have not been entirely curtailed, that they still exist, even today. But the art of training mediums to a level where their revelations could become significant has, so to speak, been withdrawn ... But the door to the spiritual world had been opened [by the old mediums]....” — Rudolf Steiner, SPIRITUALISM, MADAME BLAVATSKY, AND THEOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 2001), p. 217.
Science has debunked astrology and horoscopes. But Steiner believed in them.
◊ “[T]he old, real, and genuine Astrology expresses itself in the destinies of men.” — Rudolf Steiner, ROSICRUCIANISM AND MODERN INITIATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1965), lecture 3, GA 233a.
◊ “Now let us turn to the horoscope of the younger child. Again, here are Venus and Uranus and Mars near together ... [W]hen we examine more nearly [i.e., more closely] the position of Mars, we find it is not, as before, in complete opposition to the moon. It is however very nearly so. Although the younger child does not come in for a complete opposition, there is an approximation of opposition.” — Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION FOR SPECIAL NEEDS: The Curative Education Course (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 196. Pity the children receiving this “care” from Steiner.
Steiner did not know the shape of the Earth.
◊ “[T]he earth stands in the universe, curiously, as a rounded tetrahedron, as a kind of pyramid. That, gentlemen, is actually still the form of the earth!” — Rudolf Steiner, FROM SUNSPOTS TO STRAWBERRIES (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2002), p. 185.
Science has debunked the myth of Atlantis. But Steiner said that Atlantis really existed. Here is Steiner telling about a resident of Atlantis, a typical “Atlantean”:
◊ “The ancient Atlantean did not possess a developed intellect and mind, but he was equipped with fine somnambulistic-clairvoyant forces. Logical power...did not exist in ancient Atlantis, for man's faculties of thought and feeling were quite different. At that time, he could not have combined thoughts, nor could he have reckoned, counted, or read; as men do now; yet certain somnambulistic-clairvoyant spiritual forces lived in him. He could understand the language of Nature and could hear God speak to him in the murmuring waves; he could understand the rolling thunder, the rustling forest, the delicate aromas of the flowers; he could understand this language of Nature ... [T]he Atlantean just went out and listened to the sounds of the trees and of the wind and these told him what he had to do.” — Rudolf Steiner, "The Adept-School of the Past" (ANTHROPOSOPHIC NEWS SHEET, No. 31/32, 1941), GA 97.
Steiner was profoundly ignorant about biology, as in his discussions of animals.
◊ “To attribute memory to animals is an error ... [T]he animal's behaviour implies the absence of all memory.” — Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1979), pp. 46-47. Wrong. Many animals have better memories than humans. Birds who learn extremely long migratory routes have astonishing memories, as do animals who memorize the locations food stores they create for the winter. A squirrel may bury 1,000 nuts in widely scattered hiding places and remember 950 of them. (And I can’t remember where I left my keys.)
Steiner’s grasp of geography was awfully weak.
◊ “[A]round the South pole in particular there are many volcanic mountains.” — Rudolf Steiner, FROM SUNSPOTS TO STRAWBERRIES (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2002), p. 184. Nope.
◊ “The Fire Earth [a subterranean layer]...is sensitive to pain and would cry out if stepped upon.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE INTERIOR OF THE EARTH: An Esoteric Study of the Subterranean Spheres (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007) p. 31. Wah!
Steiner believed in all manner of nonexistent beings, including fauns and satyrs.
◊ "If the whole reality is revealed to us as we look over towards the East of Europe to-day, we see not human beings alone but an astral [i.e., supernatural] sphere which since the Middle Ages has become the Paradise of beings once known as the Fauns and Satyrs.” — Rudolf Steiner, “Gnostic Doctrines and Supersensible Influences in Europe” (ANTHROPOSOPHY, No. 3, Vol. 6), GA 225.
Giants and dwarfs:
◊ “Everything that refers to ‘giants’ in legends is absolutely based on knowledge of the truth. If, therefore, a real memory of these times is preserved in the Germanic myths, we feel it to be absolutely correct, from the spiritual scientific point of view, that the giants are stupid and the dwarfs very clever.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE BEING OF MAN AND HIS FUTURE EVOLUTION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1981), p. 117.
◊ “Myths and sagas are not just 'folk-tales'; they are the memories of the visions people perceived in olden times ... At night they were really surrounded by the world of the Nordic gods of which the legends tell. Odin, Freya, and all the other figures [i.e., Norse gods] in Nordic mythology were not inventions; they were experienced in the spiritual world with as much reality as we experience our fellow human beings around us today.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 198.
Goblins, gnomes, and so forth:
◊ “There are beings that can be seen in the depths of the earth...goblins, gnomes, and so forth.” — Rudolf Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS. Lectures from 1908-1924 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), pp. 62-3.
And so forth.
To fend off tedium, let's alter the format while continuing our survey of Steiner’s teachings about various sciences.
ASTRONOMY and EARTH SCIENCE
According to Steiner, occult, astral influences reach down to the Earth from all the planets and spheres above, including the Moon and its residents. But getting too bogged down in Earthly things tends to blind us to this reality. "When human beings cling too strongly to earthly things it may be difficult for them to find their bearings in the sphere of the Moon Beings ... The moon-influences do not penetrate very deeply into the earth." — Rudolf Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS, Vol. 2 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1974), p 150.
Possibly you do not realize that the Earth is a huge, dead human head. “[W]hen we look inside the head, we find dying matter ... Once we have penetrated this hard, lifeless skin and reached the brain, we find in it fossilization everywhere, just as we do upon the surface of the earth ... [T]he earth is a huge human head, indeed, a huge, dead human head." — Rudolf Steiner, FROM CRYSTALS TO CROCODILES (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2002, pp. 148-149.
ASTRONOMY and PHYSICS
Copernicus had the wacky idea that the planets orbit the Sun. Steiner had the wacky idea that people believe Copernicus because of nasty influences reaching the Earth from Mars: “Mars used to radiate different forces. The Mars culture...went through a great crisis in the earth’s fifteenth and sixteenth centuries ... When these conditions came into force on Mars, the natural consequence would have been for Mars to continue sending down to earth human beings who brought Copernican ideas [like that the planets go around the Sun] with them, which are really only maya [i.e., illusion]. What we are seeing, then, is the decline of the Mars culture. Previously Mars had sent forth good forces. But now Mars sent forth more and more forces that would have led us deeper and deeper into maya. The achievements inspired by Mars at that time [i.e., Copernican ideas] were ingenious and clever, but they were maya all the same.” — Rudolf Steiner, ESOTERIC CHRISTIANITY AND THE MISSION OF CHRISTIAN ROSENKREUTZ (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), p. 289.
Copernicus was wrong. Galileo, too. Newton, too. Einstein, too. “Einstein, if he were to think in terms of reality...." But Einstein didn't, of course. — Rudolf Steiner, FROM ELEPHANTS TO EINSTEIN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 178.
Ranking high among Einstein’s errors was his failure to recognize the universal ether: “The cosmic ether, which is common to all, carries within it the thoughts; there they are within it, those living thoughts of which I have repeatedly spoken in our anthroposophical lectures, telling you how the human being participates in them in pre-earthly life before he comes down to Earth." — Rudolf Steiner, CURATIVE EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), lecture 2, GA 317.
The universal ether was a 19th century concept that Einstein disproved. Steiner denied that he subscribed to the old notion of a universal ether. But he did. "As the residue of the Moon-evolution we have our present moon which circles around the Earth. Similarly there will be a residue of the Earth which will circle around Jupiter. Then these residues will gradually dissolve into the universal ether." — Rudolf Steiner, THE ETHERISATION OF THE BLOOD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1971), a lecture, GA 130.
Astronomers once thought they saw canals on Mars — long straight lines that they thought might be the work of Martian engineers. Steiner pooh-poohed this. The long, straight lines on Mars aren’t canals, he said — they are wind patterns. These winds blow above a very wet planet, he solemnly assured us. “Mars consists primarily of a more or less fluid mass ... [As for the canals:] There is nothing to be seen except straight lines...something rather similar to our trade winds.” — Rudolf Steiner, FROM SUNSPOTS TO STRAWBERRIES (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2002), pp. 147-148. Truth be told, however, there are no long, straight lines on or above Mars, and the planet is extremely dry, not wet.
Science tells us that rainbows are prism effects created by sunlight shining into humid air. Steiner, of course, said something very different. Rainbows are the abodes of certain elemental beings, also known as nature spirits — creatures like gnomes and fairies. "People merely gape at the rainbow nowadays. If you only look at it with some imagination [i.e., basic clairvoyance], you will see elemental beings very active in it, and these elemental beings show us some remarkable phenomena. Here [red and yellow] you see elemental beings coming out of the rainbow all the time ... The moment they arrive at the lower end of the green, they are drawn in. You see then disappearing here [green and blue]. On the other side they come out again." — Rudolf Steiner, ART (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003), pp. 233-234.
PHYSICS, ANTHROPOLOGY, MEDICINE
A prism splits white light into a spectrum of colored light, ranging from red to violet. The spectrum is usually depicted as a bar of colors. Steiner — following the lead of Goethe — bent the bar to form a circle, and he added a second concentric circle showing the esoteric complements of the colors. He claimed this provided far more information, especially about the spiritual powers of colors and their meaning in higher worlds. “...If you take the usual diagram found in physics then all you have is...red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet ... [N]ow if I do not show it as it appears on the physical plane but as it is in the next highest world, I would have to bend the warm and cold sides of the spectrum so that it is drawn like this ... I would have my peach-blossom colour up here at the top ... In this way I obtain a complex arrangement of colours which, however, reveals more of the nature of colour than you will find in physics....” — Rudolf Steiner quoted by John Fletcher in ART INSPIRED BY RUDOLF STEINER (Mercury Arts Publications, 1987), p. 132. “Peach-blossom” is the color of white European skin, according to Steiner. No other human skin color is as good. “The color which comes closest to a healthy human flesh color is that of fresh peach blossoms in spring.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE ARTS AND THEIR MISSION (Anthroposophic Press, 1964), p. 93. So, the prism, when bent into a circle, shows the color of healthy white skin at the top. Didn’t they teach you this in your high school?
"Theories of Relativity no longer hold water, when the inner motion proves that man moves. And it is impossible also to prove the movements in the interior of the Earth, except by means of the inner changes that go on in Man. The movements of metabolism, for example, are the true reflection of that which the Earth executes as motion in space. And again, that which we have termed the organ-building forces, active in the course of the year, are the equivalent of the annual motion of Earth and Sun together. We shall have occasion to speak more specifically of these things later; at the moment I should like to draw your attention once more to our model, where I have pointed out that the Earth moves behind the Sun in a screw-like line, the Earth moving along always with the Sun. And then if we view the line from above, we get a projection of the line and the projection shows a lemniscate." — Rudolf Steiner, MAN: HIEROGLYPH OF THE UNIVERSE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), lecture 6, GA 201. Einstein’s theories of relativity have been confirmed by experiment and observation over and over and over. Steiner’s teachings have received no such confirmation.
BIOLOGY, ANIMAL SCIENCES
“If a human being compares himself to a dog, he can exclaim, 'Isn't that something; it can wags its tail, and I cannot.' The whole force that is contained in this wagging tail, however, has become dammed back in man, and it has pushed the brain forwards." — Rudolf Steiner, FROM COMETS TO COCAINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), pp. 91-92. I’ll bet you didn’t know this, did you? Maybe your brain hasn’t been pushed forward far enough yet.
Concerning that big yellow ball we see in the sky: Did you know it is hollow or, as it were, nothing at all, a glowing vacuum? “[M]aterialistic physicists would be immensely astonished if they went up into space expecting to find the sun as they describe it in their science. Their descriptions are nonsense. If by some convenient transport the physicists could reach the sun, they would be amazed to find no gas whatsoever. They would find hollow space, a real vacuum. This vacuum radiates light.” — Rudolf Steiner, FROM SUNSPOTS TO STRAWBERRIES (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2002), pp. 135-136. Every scientific measurement of the Sun, including views through telescopes and the telemetry received from space probes, gives a completely different account of the Sun. Steiner was simply wrong.
CHEMISTRY, PHYSICS, ALCHEMY
Chemistry and physics, Steiner said, have little value. “In the last resort, chemistry and physics have no value whatever beyond the earth.” — Rudolf Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995) pp. 169-170.)
But alchemy, now — there’s a science for you! Steiner's followers have swallowed this lesson hook, line, and sinker. "Alchemy has always been known in its higher manifestations as a way to contact the deeper levels of reality, described as the superhuman ‘spirits; or guiding archangels of the universe ... [A]lchemy is finally seen in Rudolf Steiner’s presentation as a step towards the cosmic understanding we will need for our future role [in cosmic evolution].” — Andrew J. Welburn, introduction to Rudolf Steiner's ALCHEMY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001), pp. 9-10.
PHYSICS (and CHEMISTRY)
“What is light? Light decays and the decaying light is electricity [sic] ... And the chemical force that undergoes a transformation in the process of earth evolution is magnetism [sic].” — Rudolf Steiner, ESOTERIC CHRISTIANITY AND THE MISSION OF CHRISTIAN ROSENKREUTZ (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), p. 84. Light and magnetism are actually variants of the same force, electromagnetism. Light does not decay to become electricity, and magnetism is not a chemical process.
"Electricity is light in the sub-material state. Light is there compressed to the utmost degree. An inward quality too must be ascribed to light; light is itself at every point in space. Warmth will expand in the three dimensions of space. In light there is a fourth; it is of fourfold extension — it has the quality of inwardness as a fourth dimension." — Rudolf Steiner, THE ETHERISATION OF THE BLOOD. Even if we discount the double-talk, this is nonsense.
"The greatest contrast to electricity is LIGHT. If we look upon light as electricity we confuse good and evil. We lose sight of the true conception of evil in the order of Nature, if we do not realize that through the electrification of the atoms we transform them into carriers of evil ... For electric atoms are little demons of Evil ... The modern explanation of Nature set out along a path that really unites it with Evil ... [W]hen we listen to a modern physicist blandly explaining that Nature consists of electrons, we merely listen to him explaining that Nature really consists of little demons of Evil! And if we acknowledge Nature in this form, we raise Evil to the rank of the ruling world-divinity." — Rudolf Steiner, "Concerning Electricity" (ANTHROPOSOPHIC NEWS SHEET, No. 23/24, 1940), GA 220.
We could go on ad infinitum (and ad nauseum), but there’s little point. You see, in general, Steiner — the self-described scientist — derided scientists and their disciplines. He opposed “scientific simpletons” with their “scientific trash” and their “logical, pedantic, narrow-minded proof of things.” He deplored “primitive concepts like those...of contemporary science.”
What is wrong with science? "[S]cience speaks under the influence of the demonic Mars-forces." Hence, "[W]hen we listen to a modern physicist blandly explaining that Nature consists of electrons...we raise Evil to the rank of the ruling world-divinity.”
How can we save ourselves? "Zeus is no longer possible, but in his place we have the steam engine. Another race will succeed us, which will find the way back again."
[• Scientific simpletons: Rudolf Steiner, THE KARMA OF UNTRUTHFULNESS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), p. 276. • Scientific trash: Rudolf Steiner, THE RENEWAL OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 2001), p. 94. • Pedantic proof of things: Rudolf Steiner, ART AS SPIRITUAL ACTIVITY (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 240. • Primitive concepts: Rudolf Steiner, HOW CAN MANKIND FIND THE CHRIST AGAIN (Anthroposophic Press, 1984), p. 54. • Demonic Mars forces: Rudolf Steiner, “The Spiritual Individualities of the Planets” (THE GOLDEN BLADE 1966). • World-ruling divinity: Rudolf Steiner, "Concerning Electricity", ANTHROPOSOPHIC NEWS SHEET, No. 23/24, June 9, 1940. • Finding our way back to Zeus: Rudolf Steiner, INVESTIGATIONS INTO OCCULTISM SHOWING ITS PRACTICAL VALUE IN DAILY LIFE (H. Collison, 1920), p. 166.]
You see, "If physicists were for once to talk sense, they would not produce speculations about atoms and molecules, but they would say: The visible world consists of the past, and carries in it not molecules and atoms, but the future." [Rudolf Steiner, COLOUR, lecture I, “Thought and Will as Light and Darkness” (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Company, 1935).]
But, you see, according to Steiner, physicists have not yet spoken sense even “for once.” Not once. Never.
Steiner was no scientist. Indeed, he stood in opposition to science. Now, either Steiner was right or science is right; they cannot both be right. So which is it? Well, we have 37 quadbillion proofs of various scientific findings. We can test our scientific findings and confirm them, and we have done so over and over and over. But for Steiner’s “findings,” there is no proof at all (unless you resort to clairvoyance, which doesn’t exist). Indeed, everything we really know about the real world tells us that Steiner was wrong over and over and over and over and over and...
Over and out,
P.S. For a more complete catalog of Steiner’s errors, see https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/blunders and https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/steiner-static. To examine some of Steiner’s predictions for the end of the 20th century, see https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/millennium.
* Anthroposophists are sometimes compelled to admit that they cannot reconcile Steiner’s various self-contradictions. “The following list includes most of the lectures and question-and-answer sessions (Q&A) in which Steiner discusses the problem of the Sun and Earth’s motion, especially the third Copernican movement (Copernicus 3), Bessel’s corrections (Bessel), and./or the problem of spiral or lemniscate (∞) movement ... Various attempts have been made to unite Rudolf Steiner’s scattered indications into a consistent interpretation but to date, no view has successfully encompassed them all.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOURTH DIMENSION (Anthroposophic Press, 2001), statement by the editors, pp. 206-207.
** Should Waldorf teachers convey Steiner’s superb scientific knowledge to their students? On the question of floating continents, for example, Steiner gave Waldorf faculty this somewhat confusing guidance: “...[A]n island like Great Britain swims in the sea and is held fast by the forces of the stars ... However, we need to avoid such things. We cannot tell them to the students ... [W]e would acquire a terrible name. Nevertheless, that is actually what we should achieve in geography.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), pp. 607-608. So, don’t tell this to the kids. But “accomplish” this nonetheless. Got it?
*** “[T]he moon today is like a fortress in the universe, in which there lives a population that fulfilled its human destiny over 15,000 years ago, after which it withdrew to the moon ... This is only one of the ‘cities’ in the universe, one colony, one settlement among many.” — Rudolf Steiner, RUDOLF STEINER SPEAKS TO THE BRITISH (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 93.
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