A Bahá’í, through this faith in, this “conscious knowledge” of, the reality of divine Revelation, can distinguish, for instance, between Christianity, which is the divine message given by Jesus of Nazareth, and the development of Christendom, which is the history of what men did with that message in subsequent centuries, a distinction which has become blurred if not entirely obscured in current Christian theology. A Bahá’í scholar conscious of this distinction will not make the mistake of regarding the sayings and beliefs of certain Bahá’ís at any one time as being the Bahá’í Faith. The Bahá’í Faith is the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh: His Own Words as interpreted by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the Guardian. It is a revelation of such staggering magnitude that no Bahá’í at this early stage in Bahá’í history can rightly claim to have more than a partial and imperfect understanding of it. Thus, Bahá’í historians would see the overcoming of early misconceptions held by the Bahá’í community, or by parts of the Bahá’í community, not as “developments of the Bahá’í Faith”—as a non-Bahá’í historian might well regard them—but as growth of that community’s understanding of the Bahá’í Revelation.
(The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 389)
A small child cannot comprehend the laws that govern nature, but this is on account of the immature intellect of that child; when he is grown older and has been educated he too will understand the everlasting truths. A child does not grasp the fact that the earth revolves round the sun, but, when his intelligence is awakened, the fact is clear and plain to him.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 144)
As more and more Bahá’ís enter the world of higher learning they will have opportunities of exerting great influence in bringing about in human consciousness and outlook that harmony of religion and science which is so great a principle of their Faith. The distinction desired by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for all Bahá’ís is certainly for attainment by Bahá’í scholars, who by following the exhortations of Bahá’u’lláh to moderation, kindliness, tact and wisdom, may restore scholarship to that high station of dignity and admiration which it formerly held and which is confirmed by the utterances of Bahá’u’lláh.
(Universal House of Justice, The Bahá’í World, Vol. 17, p. 196)
In schools and temples of learning knowledge of the sciences acquired is based upon material observations only; there is no realization of Divinity in their methods and conclusions—all have reference to the world of matter. They are not interested in attaining knowledge of the mysteries of God or understanding the secrets of the heavenly Kingdom; what they acquire is based altogether upon visible and tangible evidences. Beyond these evidences they are without susceptibilities; they have no idea of the world of inner significances and are utterly out of touch with God, considering this an indication of reasonable attitude and philosophical judgment whereof they are self-sufficient and proud. As a matter of fact, this supposed excellence is possessed in its superlative degree by the animals. The animals are without knowledge of God; so to speak, they are deniers of Divinity and understand nothing of the Kingdom and its heavenly mysteries. As deniers of the Kingdom, they are utterly ignorant of spiritual things and uninformed of the supernatural world. Therefore, if it be a perfection and virtue to be without knowledge of God and His Kingdom, the animals have attained the highest degree of excellence and proficiency. Then the donkey is the greatest scientist and the cow an accomplished naturalist, for they have obtained what they know without schooling and years of laborious study in colleges, trusting implicitly to the evidence of the senses and relying solely upon intuitive virtues. The cow, for instance, is a lover of the visible and a believer in the tangible, contented and happy when pasture is plenty, perfectly serene, a blissful exponent of the transcendental school of philosophy. Such is the status of the material philosophers, who glory in sharing the condition of the cow, imagining themselves in a lofty station.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 261-262)
Refer to the compilation prepared by the Research Department on “Scholarship” (Mona Vale: Bahá’í Publications Australia, 1995). This collection of texts contains many useful references to science, the scientific method, and the role of scientists.
(The Universal House of Justice, 1997 Aug 13, Science and Religion, p. 1)
The Bahá’í principle of the harmony between science and religion requires, as you say, that a Bahá’í scholar must use his intelligence to arrive at a solution of a specific problem if there is an apparent conflict between a Sacred Text and other evidence; and also he must accept the fact that some problems may defy his comprehension.
(Universal House of Justice, Scholarship, p. 24)
The scientists and philosophers of the future will not be, in the words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “deniers of the Prophets, ignorant of spiritual susceptibilities, deprived of the heavenly bounties and without belief in the supernatural.”
(Universal House of Justice, 26 December 1975 to an individual believer)
The sundering of science and religion is but one example of the tendency of the human mind (which is necessarily limited in its capacity) to concentrate on one virtue, one aspect of truth, one goal, to the exclusion of others. This leads, in extreme cases, to fanaticism and the utter distortion of truth, and in all cases to some degree of imbalance and inaccuracy.
(The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 390)