Humanity’s recognition of the oneness of God, the oneness of religion, and the oneness of humanity are essential to the establishment of world peace.

So, too, the Baha’i teachings say, are the recognition of the equality of women and men and the harmony of science and religion.

Universal peace, then, does not simply involve a cessation of hostilities—it involves justice, equality and the recognition of our essential unity.

Baha’is believe that there are a number of other important principles related to the establishment of a lasting global peace. Like those we have already covered in this series of essays, their purpose is to foster a condition wherein the dignity of each human being is upheld and honored. They prescribe the role of the individual in society and the obligations of society to the individual. They also provide for the best relationships between the nations and peoples of the world. All recognize the essentially spiritual nature of human beings and define true prosperity as a balance of material and spiritual aims.

The Independent Investigation of Truth

Among the fundamental principles of the Baha’i Faith is the independent investigation of truth. As we have seen, Baha’u’llah places great responsibility on the individual to investigate truth in all matters. This is one of the fundamental characteristics of justice. While there is validity in some traditions, and while Baha’u’llah counsels us to seek out the opinions of wise and trustworthy people in all important matters, he also warns us not to rely solely on these things. We must think, search, and eventually reach conclusions for ourselves. In no area is this more vital than in matters of faith. In The Book of Certitude Baha’u’llah points out that the human tendency to cling to false traditions has always been one of the main reasons for the rejection and persecution every messenger of God has suffered. In other texts, Baha’u’llah called the kings and rulers of his day to account for relying on the opinions of corrupt ministers rather than working to ensure justice themselves:

Beware, O King, that thou gather not around thee such ministers as follow the desires of a corrupt inclination, as have cast behind their backs that which hath been committed into their hands and manifestly betrayed their trust. Be bounteous to others as God hath been bounteous to thee, and abandon not the interests of thy people to the mercy of such ministers as these. Lay not aside the fear of God, and be thou of them that act uprightly. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 232.

Baha’u’llah decreed that humanity no longer needs an ecclesiastical class to be responsible for the spiritual guidance of others. The only true intermediary is the messenger of God. Hence there is no clergy in the Baha’i Faith. In this age, every human being is capable of recognizing the truth for himself or herself; thus we are all responsible before God for our own actions.

The Baha’i teachings say that religious beliefs should be counted as superstition when they run counter to established scientific fact—but what happens when science appears to contradict the most essential aspects of religion, such as the existence of God and the immortal soul?

Abdu’l-Baha faced a great deal of religious skepticism during the course of his travels in the West. In his day there were many who had renounced belief in God, and some had even pronounced religion and religious sentiments as positively harmful. Sigmund Freud had called religion a kind of neurosis and was but one of many scientists who confidently predicted that it would disappear once humanity had become sufficiently “civilized.” That and similar opinions were quickly gaining ground just as Abdu’l-Baha promoted the vital importance of religion, giving numerous talks in which he established the rational basis for belief in God and in the human soul. He also showed that the ideas of the materialists were erroneous because they relied on a limited body of information to reach their conclusions. He maintained that any issue must stand a variety of tests before the truth can be known.

In a reversal of what Freud and others believed a century ago, it is now common for scientists to acknowledge that science has neither proved nor disproved the existence of God and the soul. Many believe that recent discoveries about the nature of the cosmos point to the existence of a Creator. Many now acknowledge the limitations of science when it comes to investigating spiritual phenomena.

By definition some matters may lie forever outside of our power of physical observation, but that in and of itself is not proof against their existence.

The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BahaiTeachings.org or any institution of the Baha’i Faith.

3 Comments

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  • Nellynette Torres Ramirez
    Jul 25, 2017
    Science is pagan fables error and imagination! How can we find truth when the well is poison, our knowledge is based on lies. What justice can be in humans? Why people expect justice from another being? When you allow religious indifference I just think that there is not hell, so I better do as I like now. What reason to care about your neighbors! God is one, one his Church and just punishment is what is happening. You see that is some truth but who will valiantly recognized it. Let them believe their science and die as everyone having accomplish ...nothing.
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  • Jul 18, 2017
    We cannot understand our essential unity without the work of the Holy Spirit: "His [Baha'u'llah's] teachings, which embody the divine spirit of the age and are applicable to this period of maturity in the life of the human world, are:
    The oneness of the world of humanity
    The protection and guidance of the Holy Spirit
    The foundation of all religion is one..."
    (Abdu'l-Baha, PUP, p. 438)
    "Sixth, the world of humanity is in need of the confirmations of the Holy Spirit. True distinction among mankind is through divine bestowals and receiving the intuitions of the Holy Spirit. If man does ...not become the recipient of the heavenly bestowals and spiritual bounties, he remains in the plane and kingdom of the animal."
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  • Aires Mario da Cruz
    Jul 15, 2017
    Was an absolute delight to read this short essay!!!