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Why Does Faith Weaken?

When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8).

Religious faith weakens in our time, for it seems to some people, that scientific discoveries contradict it. Meanwhile, scientific discoveries themselves cannot contradict religious faith. Just on the contrary: with the correct understanding, they prove the things about which faith says, correct.

Really, let us start recalling that recent discovery about the huge, but still limited size of the universe. Does not such an idea coincide with the Christian idea about the infinite grandeur of God more, than the ancient concept about the earth as the center of the universe, its major part, when any conqueror, that had subdued this or that piece of the land, important for the whole universe, might compare himself to God in his own understanding and in that of the surrounding him people? Till the latest times, the majority of scientists supposed that the universe is infinite. Now, it is stated that its diameter is approximately 15 milliards of light years. And what is there, behind its boundaries? No one knows that. In Christian understanding, only God is infinite and limited with nothing.

This belief is expressed by poet Derzhavin in the following inspired poem:

The millions of lit celestial bodies

Are running in infinity

They fulfill Your laws

Produce the life-giving rays.

But these fiery lanterns

Or immense crystals

Or the multitude of golden boiling waves

Or the burning ether

Or the knot of the giving light lyres

Against You are like night, compared with the day.

Let us look at the latest discovery of atomic division. When in science was ruling the theory about the conservation of matter, non-ecclesiastic mind could assign to matter the Divine quality of eternity and lack of origin. On that the materialism was based. But the bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki together with the deadly horror, brought with them into the world, broke that theory into pieces, and now we know for sure, that matter is not everlasting, not lacking origin, it has its source and will have the end, and we know that matter, dethroned in its lack of origin and infinity, powerfully tells about that to everyone, who wants to hear. Thus, the latest theory much more obviously than the old one, testifies to God as the Creator of the heaven and earth.

And what about the theory of the expanding universe, according to which the whole gigantic multitude of star worlds was concentrated in one point of the universe billions of years ago! Is it not more correct than the theory about the static, motionless universe, from our Christian point of view?

And the matter is surely not in the fact, that it is easier for us to imagine the creative Divine word that was heard in one point of the universe. It could have been heard the same way at the distance of millions of light years. But on the theory of the expanding universe, the physical material world, having not even smallest pretensions to the Divine quality of spatial eternity, acquires the quality of resemblance to God. Small at the beginning, it becomes greater. We feel that similarity with the man, gifted by the quality of resembling God, on the word of St. Basil the Great: "I am — a creature but I was given a task to become God," — i.e. become more and more similar to God — the process, calculated for eternity, that would never cease. The man is called to become similar to God spiritually: mentally and morally, in his similar to God spirit, and the material universe — to imitate God in the terms of space.

And the theory of the evolution of the living organisms? Logically it necessarily demands the presence of the Divine masterful guiding hand, because this entire theory is based on the analogy of the natural selection and the artificial one, and consequently, if the artificial selection is fulfilled when the presence of the host and his masterful hand is available, then the sound mind has its right to demand the same, in the natural selection.

No matter which field of science we would take, everywhere we shall meet not the refutation of our faith, but its support and useful illustrations.

And what about the new historical discoveries? Not long before, when the most ancient manuscripts of the Holy Scripture were those of the forth and fifth centuries, it was possible to propound theories (for example, of Bauer or Morosov) about the appearance of the Christianity almost in the III-d century and that the Holy Gospel was supposedly written by the fathers of the forth century. Now we have the manuscripts of the New Testament scriptures of the second and third centuries, and the extracts from the Gospel of St. John, that earlier was mostly subjected to criticism and doubt in the circles of people with weak faith, which exist even in the manuscripts of the very beginning of the second century, i.e. written in those times, when Apostle John himself lived.

Here we talk about the extracts from the Gospel of John, which are kept in the library of I. Reeland in Manchester. In order to understand, why the manuscripts of the Christian Holy Scripture, dated with the forth century, are so rare, one must recollect some circumstances of the ancient Christian life. The Christians of the first centuries were very poor, with some rare exceptions. Consequently, they could have their books only rewritten on some cheap material, like papyrus. But papyrus can be preserved for a long time, if only it stays in an absolutely dry place. It is enough for some water to get onto it, and it will rot in one or two centuries. So, the books, made of papyrus, had a chance to be preserved for ages only in dry places, having no water, i.e. in deserts. But in deserts, before the monasticism appeared in the forth century, there were no Christian settlements. The only part of the ancient world, which was absolutely dry, with the rarest fall of precipitation, and at the same time, different from a desert, was Egypt. That is why exactly in Egypt all the ancient-Christian manuscripts of papyrus were found.

The most durable, resisting through ages, material for books, was parchment — a chart. Certainly, Christians wrote their books on it since the ancient times. We remember, that St. Apostle Paul writes to St. Apostle Timothy: "Bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments" (2 Tim. 4:13), i.e. exactly parchments (parchment was made out of skin, mostly out of donkey’s or calf’s skin). But they, as a consequence of the Christians’ poverty, were very rare, and besides, at the time of persecuting the Christians, especially during the most severe, last persecution, at the time of Emperors Diocletian and Maximilian at the beginning of the fourth century the Christian books were thoroughfully and systematically destroyed. We have many historical narrations about how the Christians gave their life not only for their faith, but for their holy books, resisting to the emperors’ orders, who prescribed to destroy their books. Surely, parchment books were most conspicuous, and because of more volume, were harder to hide.

And the latest confirmations of exquisite precision about the geographical indications of the Holy Bible, refuting conjectures about Its mythical character! The government of contemporary Israel with invariable success fulfills geological researches in Palestine, guided by the corresponding indications of the Bible.

In comparison with the anteceding generations, we are enriched not only with the examples, mentioned above, which support the belief of the ill-informed from all sides. We got enriched with the terrible experience, which earlier was available only to the holy prophets, and now is obvious to everybody, we learnt about the system and methods of work of demons.

Throughout the centuries, beginning with the Gospel pages, it was said to us, that the basic method of the satanic forces’ activity is a lie. "When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it."

The very name "devil" means "a slanderer" and the favorite type of a lie, his main weapon, is slander. He slanders unceasingly, i.e. viciously, interprets every phenomenon in the world with a wicked sense, and mostly, the spiritual phenomena: the Divine actions, and those of angels and people.

Another favorite for the demonic force type of lies is deluding and tempting the people by attractive promises of unbelievable delights, happiness, which cannot be achieved, and when the deluded believe in that and yield to those ideas, — their enslavement with violence and tortures.

Together with that the holy fathers constantly define, that the demonic force is weak and infinitesimal in its essence: it is strong only due to our weakness. The devil is cunning but not smart. He knows how to destroy, but not how to create. It is enough to resist him decisively, to reveal moral courage and firmness, and all his vain attempts will be destroyed.

All that we learnt during the centuries of the Christianity, on the testimony of the holy spirit-bearing fathers and ascetics, and now we saw it all in the realm of the battling atheism, which our poor Russia was.

The weapon of the Communists always was a lie; and among its various types the favorite were the unceasing slander, directed to everything good in mankind, and the propagandistic promises of happiness and well-being, interchanged with enslaving, torturing and poverty, as soon as the enslaved yield to the temptation. They are very skillful in destroying, but unable to create.

Thus, our époque was extremely enriched with the spiritual religious experience, unknown to the preceding generations, and much became evident to us. The Lord longs to support our weakening faith by these phenomena in the various spheres of knowledge.

But why does our faith, in the contemporary generations, weaken, in spite of so much support?

It weakens because of the same thing as always. In this respect our époque brings nothing new into the world, for the human soul always stays the same in its main features. Faith was always fading in certain individuals and in the whole society because of human pride and self-assertion, of the thirst for sinful pleasures, the strife for getting rid of all moral limitations.

Being proud with their achievements and getting established in them, the ancient Romans stopped believing in their Gods and at the same time rejected the Christianity, as the religion of the illiterate and slaves, in spite of the fact that since the very first years of the Christian history the Christian faith was professed by such deeply educated people as Apostle Paul and the majority of the so called apologists. And then the greatest minds of the ancient world, possessing the whole amount of knowledge of that time, but not feeling proud because of that, and on the contrary, establishing themselves in faith, showed in what bright and complete manner one can combine culture and the Christian holiness.

In the following centuries as well, including the present days, it is not the elite of the scientific knowledge that hurries to rise against faith. On the contrary, we know many great scientists to be believers. But just a small amount of knowledge is sufficient to start feeling proud about it, get established in it, and having established oneself in it, to begin the rebellion against faith, especially if love for sin, strife to get freed from the moral commandments of faith, puts one up to that. The Red Army soldier, the character of a funny story, who approached the deeply believing physiologist Pavlov that had come out of the church, and said to the scientist with haughty condescension: "So, old man, you still pray, eh, ignorance, ignorance!," is very typical in this respect.

Physiologists Ivan Petrovich Pavlov is the bright example of the fact how the Soviet regime used the works of the inclined towards creative activity believing people. In order to provide this scientist with the possibility of doing scientific work, the Soviet regime not only freed him from the oppressing yoke and not prevented him of making sometimes sharp remarks about it, but even saved untouched that parish church, to which Pavlov went to, during the period of the most sever anti-church campaign. Pavlov, who preserved the faith of the fathers (he was a priest’s son), having the great knowledge and never growing proud or self-establishing himself, combined faith and science, and the miserable Red Army soldier, who just learnt how to read and having heard of the fact that God did not exist, as of a scientific discovery, which made him glad because of his love for sin (typical for the Red Army soldiers of that time) and the perspective thanks to all that to cast off the moral bans, was proud with that recently acquired "scientific tinge" and despised the praying elder (the famous scientist).

There exist many such examples in the history. Proud and depraved Middle Age Emperor Fredrick II (do not take him for Frederic of Prussia) was in no way distinguished for scientific knowledge within the contemporary to him Middle Age society, when he sharply rebelled against the Christianity, calling our Lord Jesus Christ, together with Moses and Mohamed, "a deceiver."

Leo Tolstoy, though endowed with the gift of a writer, was not an outstanding person, neither scientifically, nor culturally. As it is known, he could not graduate from the Kazan University and left it because of lagging behind. Nevertheless, his endless pride and self-assertion made him impudently rebel against the Christian faith and the Church.

Neither Marx, nor Lenin, the people of average culture, possessed any profound scientific knowledge, when they began their terrible attack of the heavens. But they all possessed extreme pride, which makes the man similar to the father of the evil —the devil. The second cause of the man’s estrangement from God — the thirst for pleasures and strife to get freed from the moral limitations — in the same measure responds for the contemporary downfall in faith.

The Russian revolutionary rebellion against God was nourished by that strife to throw off all the restraining laws and establish the principle: "Everything is allowed" — as our great believing thinker and writer F.M. Dostoevsky wrote, foreseeing that, half a century before the revolution.

To subdue and limit oneself is not easy. But only in this is the hope for the mankind salvation. The example of the ancient cultural world, which had an ability to subdue and at the same time to rise to the high cultural picks and which through that had found the way to the greatest Christian spirituality and cultural progress — is a precious and encouraging example for all the centuries and generations.

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