Harmony - Science and Religion

Another cause of dissension and disagreement is the fact that religion has been pronounced at variance with science. Between scientists and the followers of religion there has always been controversy and strife for the reason that the latter have proclaimed religion superior in authority to science and considered scientific announcement opposed to the teachings of religion. Bahá’u’lláh declared that religion is in complete harmony with science and reason.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 231

Bahá’u’lláh has removed this form of dissension and discord from among mankind and reconciled science with religion by revealing the pure teachings of the divine reality. This accomplishment is specialized to Him in this Day.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 231

But the religion which does not walk hand in hand with science is itself in the darkness of superstition and ignorance.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 144

Consider what it is that singles man out from among created beings, and makes of him a creature apart. Is it not his reasoning power, his intelligence? Shall he not make use of these in his study of religion?

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 144

Down to the present day it has been customary for man to accept a religious teaching even though it were not in accord with human reason and judgment.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 247

Furthermore He proclaims that religion must be in harmony with science and reason. If it does not conform to science and reconcile with reason it is superstition.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 247

God made religion and science to be the measure, as it were, of our understanding. Take heed that you neglect not such a wonderful power. Weigh all things in this balance.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 145

He sets forth a new principle for this day in the announcement that religion must be the cause of unity, harmony and agreement among mankind. If it be the cause of discord and hostility, if it leads to separation and creates conflict, the absence of religion would be preferable in the world.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 247

I say unto you: weigh carefully in the balance of reason and science everything that is presented to you as religion. If it passes this test, then accept it, for it is truth! If, however, it does not so conform, then reject it, for it is ignorance!

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 144

If any religion rejected Science and knowledge, that religion was false. Science and Religion should go forward together; indeed, they should be like two fingers of one hand.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London, p. 71

If religion does not agree with science, it is superstition and ignorance; for God has endowed man with reason in order that he may perceive reality.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 127

If statements and teachings of religion are found to be unreasonable and contrary to science, they are outcomes of superstition and imagination.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 175

It is impossible for religion to be contrary to science, even though some intellects are too weak or too immature to understand truth.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 145

Much of the discord and disunion of the world is created by these man-made oppositions and contradictions. If religion were in harmony with science and they walked together, much of the hatred and bitterness now bringing misery to the human race would be at an end.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 144

Put all your beliefs into harmony with science; there can be no opposition, for truth is one. When religion, shorn of its superstitions, traditions, and unintelligent dogmas, shows its conformity with science, then will there be a great unifying, cleansing force in the world which will sweep before it all wars, disagreements, discords and struggles -- and then will mankind be united in the power of the Love of God.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 145

Religion and Science are inter-twined with each other and cannot be separated. These are the two wings with which humanity must fly. One wing is not enough. Every religion which does not concern itself with Science is mere tradition, and that is not the essential. Therefore science, education and civilization are most important necessities for the full religious life.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London, p. 28

Religion must stand the analysis of reason. It must agree with scientific fact and proof so that science will sanction religion and religion fortify science. Both are indissolubly welded and joined in reality.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 175

The foundations of religion are reasonable. God has created us with intelligence to perceive them. If they are opposed to science and reason, how could they be believed and followed?

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 127

The fundamental principles of the Prophets are scientific, but the forms and imitations which have appeared are opposed to science.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 127

The harmony of religious belief with reason is a new vista which Bahá’u’lláh has opened for the soul of man.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 247

The sciences of today are bridges to reality; if then they lead not to reality, naught remains but fruitless illusion.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 109

To him who has the power of comprehension religion is like an open book, but how can it be possible for a man devoid of reason and intellectuality to understand the Divine Realities of God?

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 146

We may think of science as one wing and religion as the other; a bird needs two wings for flight, one alone would be useless. Any religion that contradicts science or that is opposed to it, is only ignorance -- for ignorance is the opposite of knowledge.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 130

It is hoped that all the Bahá’í students will ... be led to investigate and analyse the principles of the Faith and to correlate them with the modern aspects of philosophy and science. Every intelligent and thoughtful young Bahá’í should always approach the Cause in this way, for therein lies the very essence of the principle of independent investigation of truth.

Shoghi Effendi quoted in The Universal House of Justice, 1997 Aug 13, Science and Religion, p. 2

If religious leadership is to rise to the challenge that this latter perception represents, such response must begin by acknowledging that religion and science are the two indispensable knowledge systems through which the potentialities of consciousness develop. Far from being in conflict with one another, these fundamental modes of the mind's exploration of reality are mutually dependent and have been most productive in those rare but happy periods of history when their complementary nature has been recognized and they have been able to work together.

The Universal House of Justice, 2002 April, To the World's Religious Leaders, p. 5

In scientific investigation when searching after the facts of any matter a Bahá’í must, of course, be entirely open-minded, but in his interpretation of the facts and his evaluation of evidence we do not see by what logic he can ignore the truth of the Bahá’í Revelation which he has already accepted; to do so would, we feel, be both hypocritical and unscholarly.

The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 389-390

It has become customary in the West to think of science and religion as occupying two distinct -- and even opposed -- areas of human thought and activity. This dichotomy can be characterized in the pairs of antitheses: faith and reason; value and fact. It is a dichotomy which is foreign to Bahá’í thought and should, we feel, be regarded with suspicion by Bahá’í scholars in every field. The principle of the harmony of science and religion means not only that religious teachings should be studied with the light of reason and evidence as well as of faith and inspiration, but also that everything in this creation, all aspects of human life and knowledge, should be studied in the light of revelation as well as in that of purely rational investigation. In other words, a Bahá’í scholar, when studying a subject, should not lock out of his mind any aspect of truth that is known to him.

The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 388-389

Religion is religion, as science is science. The one discerns and articulates the values unfolding progressively through Divine revelation; the other is the instrumentality through which the human mind explores and is able to exert its influence ever more precisely over the phenomenal world. The one defines goals that serve the evolutionary process; the other assists in their attainment. Together, they constitute the dual knowledge system impelling the advance of civilization.

Universal House of Justice, One Common Faith, paragraph 45

The insights and skills generated by scientific advance will have always to look to the guidance of spiritual and moral commitment to ensure their appropriate application; religious convictions, no matter how cherished they may be, must submit, willingly and gratefully, to impartial testing by scientific methods.

The Universal House of Justice, 2002 April, To the World's Religious Leaders, p. 5

The Research Department has considered the request for references to science and religion which was contained in the electronic mail message of 25 June 1997 from Mr. John Dale to the Universal House of Justice. Mr. Dale explains that a number of members of the Association for Bahá’í Studies who have access to email have "decided to try to study the Bahá’í quotations on science and the relation of science and religion". He, therefore, enquires about the availability of a compilation on the subject and seeks information concerning other Bahá’ís who might be studying this same topic. We provide the following response. The Research Department regrets that no comprehensive compilation on science and religion is currently available at the Bahá’í World Centre. There are, however, many references to this subject scattered throughout the published literature of the Faith, which are easily accessed through such programmes as Refer and Immerse.

The Universal House of Justice, 1997 Aug 13, Science and Religion, p. 1

The scientific and technological advances occurring in this unusually blessed century portend a great surge forward in the social evolution of the planet, and indicate the means by which the practical problems of humanity may be solved. They provide, indeed, the very means for the administration of the complex life of a united world. Yet barriers persist. Doubts, misconceptions, prejudices, suspicions and narrow self-interest beset nations and peoples in their relations one to another.

The Universal House of Justice, 1997 Aug 13, Science and Religion, p. 4

To any of your friends who are confused on this issue, you can explain that the principle of harmony between religion and science, while it enables us, with the help of reason, to see through the falsity of superstitions, does not imply that truth is limited to what can be explained by current scientific concepts. Not only do all religions have their miracles and mysteries, but religion itself, and certain fundamental religious concepts, such as the nature of the Manifestations of God, are far from being explicable by present-day scientific theories.

Universal House of Justice, 1996 Feb 16, Misc. Questions - Talisman, Bahá’í Encyclopedia, Virgin Birth

With regard to the harmony of science and religion, the Writings of the Central Figures and the commentaries of the Guardian make abundantly clear that the task of humanity, including the Bahá’í community that serves as the "leaven" within it, is to create a global civilization which embodies both the spiritual and material dimensions of existence. The nature and scope of such a civilization are still beyond anything the present generation can conceive. The prosecution of this vast enterprise will depend on a progressive interaction between the truths and principles of religion and the discoveries and insights of scientific inquiry. This entails living with ambiguities as a natural and inescapable feature of the process of exploring reality. It also requires us not to limit science to any particular school of thought or methodological approach postulated in the course of its development. The challenge facing Bahá’í thinkers is to provide responsible leadership in this endeavour, since it is they who have both the priceless insights of the Revelation and the advantages conferred by scientific investigation.

The Universal House of Justice, 1992 Dec 10, Issues Related to Study Compilation

All the signs of the times indicate that we are at the dawn of a new era in the history of mankind. Hitherto the young eagle of humanity has clung to the old aerie in the solid rock of selfishness and materialism. Its attempts to use its wings have been timid and tentative. It has had restless longings for something still unattained. More and more it has been chafing in the confinement of the old dogmas and orthodoxies. But now the era of confinement is at an end, and it can launch on the wings of faith and reason into the higher realms of spiritual love and truth. It will no longer be earthbound as it was before its wings had grown, but will soar at will to the regions of wide outlook and glorious freedom. One thing is necessary, however, if its flight is to be sure and steady. Its wings must not only be strong, but they must act in perfect harmony and coordination. As ‘Abdu’l-Bahá says: -- "It cannot fly with one wing alone. If it tries to fly with the wing of religion alone it will land in the slough of superstition, and if it tries to fly with the wing of science alone it will end in the dreary bog of materialism."

Dr. J.E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, p. 209-210

Here again the harmony between true religion and science is evident. With every advance in science the oneness of the universe and the interdependence

of its parts has become more clearly evident. The

astronomer's domain is inseparably bound up with physicist's, and the physicist's with the chemist's, the chemist's with the biologist's, the biologist's with the psychologist's, and so on. Every new discovery in one field of research throws new light on other fields. Just as physical science has shown that every particle of matter in the universe attracts and influences every other particle, no matter how minute or how distant, so psychical science is finding that every soul in the universe affects and influences every other soul.

Dr. J.E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, p. 209

One of the fundamental teachings of Bahá’u’lláh is that true science and true religion must always be in harmony. Truth is one, and whenever conflict appears it is due, not to truth, but to error. Between so-called science and so-called religion there have been fierce conflicts all down the ages, but looking back on these conflicts in the light of fuller truth we can trace them

every time to ignorance, prejudice, vanity, greed, narrow-mindedness, intolerance, obstinacy or something of the kind -- something foreign to the true spirit of both science and religion, for the spirit of both is one.

Dr. J.E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, p. 197

Perfect harmony between religion and science is the sine qua non of the higher life for humanity. When that is achieved, and every child is trained not only in the study of the sciences, and arts, but equally in love to all mankind and in radiant acquiescence to the Will of God as revealed in the progress of evolution and the teachings of the Prophets, then and not till then, shall the Kingdom of God come and His Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven; then and not till then shall the Most Great Peace shed its blessings on the world.

Dr. J.E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, p. 209