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Compiled by Marlene Macke, St Marys, ON, Canada

 

 Definitions:

Religion:   Particular system of faith and worship; human recognition of superhuman controlling power and esp. of a personal God or gods entitled to obedience and worship.  Concise Oxford Dictionary

Science:   knowledge; systematic and formulated knowledge; physical or natural sciences collectively; branch of knowledge esp. one that can be conducted on scientific principles such as observation, experiment and deduction

What is Science?

[Science] is the very foundation of all individual and national development.  Without this basis of investigation, development is impossible.  Therefore seek with diligent endeavour the knowledge and attainment of all that lies within the power of this wonderful bestowal.  –  Abdu’l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 61

A New Principle

Bahá’u’lláh teaches that religion must be in conformity with science and reason. If belief and teaching are opposed to the analysis of reason and principles of science, they are not worthy of acceptance. This principle has not been revealed in any of the former Books of divine teaching.  –  `Abdu’l‑Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 434

The Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh are many. The precepts and teachings they contain are universal, covering every subject. He has revealed scientific explanations ranging throughout all the realms of human inquiry and investigation‑‑astronomy, biology, medical science, etc  –  `Abdu’l‑Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 155

The Most Noble Of All Virtues

God has conferred upon and added to man a distinctive power, the faculty of intellectual investigation into the secrets of creation, the acquisition of higher knowledge, the greatest virtue of which is scientific enlightenment.  This endowment is the most praiseworthy power of man, for through its employment and exercise, the betterment of the human race is accomplished, the development of the virtues of mankind is made possible and the spirit and mysteries of God become manifest.  –  Abdu’l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 49

This scientific power investigates and apprehends created objects and the laws surrounding them. It is the discoverer of the hidden and mysterious secrets of the material universe and is peculiar to man alone. The most noble and praiseworthy accomplishment of man, therefore, is scientific knowledge and attainment.  –  `Abdu’l‑Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 29

The highest praise is due to men who devote their energies to science, and the noblest center is a center wherein the sciences and arts are taught and studied. Science ever tends to the illumination of the world of humanity. It is the cause of eternal honor to man, and its sovereignty is far greater than the sovereignty of kings. The dominion of kings has an ending; the king himself may be dethroned; but the sovereignty of science is everlasting and without end.  –  `Abdu’l‑Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 348

Religion And Science Are In Conformity

And among the teachings of Baha’u’llah is that religion must be in conformity with science and reason, so that it may influence the hearts of men.  –  Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 299

Whatever the intelligence of man cannot understand, religion ought not to accept.  Religion and science walk hand in hand, and any religion contrary to science is not the truth.   –  Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 131

There is no contradiction between true religion and science.  When a religion is opposed to science it becomes mere superstition: that which is contrary to knowledge is ignorance. … The true principles of all religions are in conformity with the teachings of science.  The Unity of God is logical, and this idea is not antagonistic to the conclusions arrived at by scientific study.  All religions teach that we must do good, that we must be generous, sincere, truthful, law-abiding, and faithful; all this is reasonable, and logically the only way in which humanity can progress.  All religious laws conform to reason, and are suited to the people for whom they are framed, and for the age in which they are to be obeyed.  –  Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, pp. 141-42

The outcome of all this dissension [that forms and rituals in the various churches differ among the various churches and even contradict one another] is the belief of many cultured men that religion and science are contradictory terms, that religion needs no powers of reflection, and should in no wise be regulated by science, but must of necessity be opposed, the one to the other.  The unfortunate effect of this is that science has drifted apart from religion, and religion has become a mere blind and more of less apathetic following of the precepts of certain religious teachers, who insist on their own favourite dogmas being accepted even when they are contrary to science.  This is foolishness, for it is quite evident that science is the light, and being so, religion truly so-called does not oppose knowledge.  We are familiar with the phrases ‘Light and Darkness’, ‘Religion and Science’.  But the religion which does not walk hand in hand with science is itself in the darkness of superstition and ignorance.  –  Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, pp. 143-44

Science Is Reason And Knowledge

The third Tajalli is concerning arts, crafts and sciences.  Knowledge is as wings to man’s life, and a ladder for his ascent.  Its acquisition is incumbent upon everyone.  The knowledge of such sciences, however, should be acquired as can profit the peoples of the earth, and not those which begin with words and end with words.  Great indeed is the claim of scientists and craftsmen on the peoples of the world…. In truth, knowledge is a veritable treasure for man, and a source of glory, of bounty, of joy, of exaltation, of cheer and gladness unto him.  –  Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, pp. 51-52

Religion and science are the two wings upon which man’s intelligence can soar into the heights, with which the human soul can progress.  It is not possible to fly with one wing alone!  Should a man try to fly with the wing of religion alone he would quickly fall into the quagmire of superstition, whilst on the other hand, with the wing of science alone he would also make no progress, but fall into the despairing slough of materialism.  –  Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 143

Any religious belief which is not comfortable with scientific proof and investigation is superstition, for true science is reason and reality, and religion is essentially reality and pure reason; therefore the two must correspond.  Religious teaching which is at variance with science and reason is human invention and imagination unworthy of acceptance, for the antithesis and opposite of knowledge is superstition born of the ignorance of man.  If we say religion is opposed to science we either lack knowledge of true science or true religion, for both are founded upon the premises and conclusions of reason and both must bear its test. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 103

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. If religious belief and doctrine is at variance with reason, it proceeds from the limited mind of man and not from God; therefore, it is unworthy of belief and not deserving of attention; the heart finds no rest in it, and real faith is impossible. How can man believe that which he knows to be opposed to reason? Is this possible? Can the heart accept that which reason denies? Reason is the first faculty of man, and the religion of God is in harmony with it. 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

Science must be accepted.  No one truth can contradict another truth.  Light is good in whatsoever lamp it is burning!  A rose is beautiful in whatsoever garden it may bloom!  A star has the same radiance if it shines from the East or from the West.  –  Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 137

Future Unity Of Mankind Depends On Harmony Of Religion And Science

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-Baha, 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-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 146

Recommended Reading:

Paris Talks, Abdu’l-Baha

The Promulgation of Universal Peace, Abdu’l-Baha

Foundations of World Unity, Abdu’l-Baha

The Secret of Divine Civilization, Abdu’l-Baha

Baha’u’llah and the New Era, J.E. Esslemont

Science and Technology for Human Advancement, BIC Document #79‑0820, Bahá’í International Community United Nations Office