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From Knowledge to Knowledge of God.


"Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And ye I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these" (Matt. 6:28-29)

"Because that which may be known of God is manifest…For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead" (Rom. 1:19-20)

We usually use nature’s gifts to satisfy our daily needs. At the same time, we must sometimes defend ourselves against the forces of nature, and even fight them sometimes. Science applies its full force to the study of nature. This analysis is almost entirely dedicated to the application of nature’s powers and resources in a practical, utilitarian manner. The aesthetic rearing of plants is also motivated by a selfish desire to decorate our surroundings. The study of animal life looks non-profit in most cases, with its scientific observations and tests, but it usually stems from a materialistic worldview and approach. This utilitarian and earthly character of assessing nature in its sum total is regarded today as complete, intelligent, and rational.

But, of course, many people do not agree with this one-sided, narrow, and egoistic view, nor with its unhealthy influence on the human soul. If humanity as a whole declares: "Everything is ours," then individual morality makes its own conclusion: "Everything in front of me is for me," — and this is a reason already for a violation of social laws and crimes. This is a simple and natural conclusion.

We, on the contrary, live by Christian notions that are independent of this practical rhetoric. Nature in its greatness and fullness stands before our intellect. It is full of unsolved mysteries. It is full of reason, which is most likely inaccessible totally for the human mind. To the present day, unknown forces are revealed in nature’s most common events. The entire universe, as well as its parts, has its own direction, coordination, and purpose. It is full of reason.

It only remains for us to admit that the universe does not need humans to care for it. Even more so, our activity is often a violation of its rights. On the vast expanses of the earth dead plots or lifeless construction has replaced the places of living vegetation.

But the greatness of God’s creative hand, seen in nature, is not diminished by this. "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth His handiwork" (Ps. 18:1) For this reason the mentors, fathers and teachers of the Church, from ancient times to the more recent, often direct our attention to nature — a preacher of God’s power, goodness, and greatness. Thus St. Basil the Great in his work "Six Days" described the birth of the universe in all its diversity, according to the description in Genesis. His brother, St. Gregory, the Bishop of Nyssa, followed up on the same subject, somewhat supplementing and clarifying Basil’s words, and partly paying special attention to the origin of humanity. The Venerable John Damascene in his dogmatic work "The Exposition of Orthodox Faith" even included a chapter about the movements of the heavenly bodies and their general formation, in accordance to the scientific ideas of that time. And the righteous St. John of Kronstadt not only called to see God in nature in his diary "My Life in Christ," but also said a long series of sermons to his parishioners about life in nature, according to the description of the six days of creation in the Bible.

We will now cite, by way of example, several passages about the life of plants and the human organism from the work of St. Gregory of Nyssa "About the Human System."

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