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For centuries the two most potent forces in human life — religion and science — have waged war.
Some leaders of religion have persecuted and even executed scientists, calling them apostates and heretics. And some of the proponents of science have attacked and reviled religions, calling them baseless and false.
Baha’is believe that this war must stop — because science and religion agree. The harmony of scientific truth and spiritual truth functions as one of the central tenets of the Baha’i Faith. For Baha’is, both science and religion together constitute one great truth. In clear and uncompromising terms, the Baha’i writings exalt the position of scientific endeavor and discovery:
God has endowed man with intelligence and reason whereby he is required to determine the verity of questions and propositions. If religious beliefs and opinions are found contrary to the standards of science they are mere superstitions and imaginations; for the antithesis of knowledge is ignorance, and the child of ignorance is superstition. Unquestionably there must be agreement between true religion and science. If a question be found contrary to reason, faith and belief in it are impossible… – Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith, p. 239.
For Baha’is, science and religion both contribute to a profound synergism. They have a common reality that all seekers of truth can recognize. Both reveal themselves progressively. The great Faiths build upon and reinforce each other over time, just as the scientific method continues to advance knowledge with each new discovery.
The prophets and founders of the world’s Faiths all complement and build on former revelations; and the great scientists and their discoveries all proceed from the previous work of others. Both science and religion, these primary aspects of the one body of truth, complement and support one another:
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…. Therefore science, education and civilization are most important necessities for the full religious life. – Abdu’l-Baha in London, p. 28-29.
Until now it has been said that all religions were composed of tenets that had to be accepted, even if they seem contrary to science. Thanks be to God, that in this new cycle the admonition of Baha’u’llah is that in the search for truth man must weigh religious questions in the balance of science and reason. God has given us rational minds for this purpose, to penetrate all things, to find truth. If one renounce reason, what remains? The sacred texts? How can we understand God’s commands and to what use can we put them without the balance of reason?
The priests are attached to ancient superstitions and when these are not in keeping with science, the priests denounce science. When religion is upheld by science and reason we can believe with assurance and act with conviction, for this rational faculty is the greatest power in the world. Through it industries are established, the past and present are laid bare and the underlying realities are brought to light. Let us make nature our captive, break through all laws of limitation and with deep penetration bring to light that which is hidden. The power to do this is the greatest of divine benefits. Why treat with indifference such a divine spark? Why ignore a faculty so beneficial, a sun so powerful? – Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p.96; p.101-2.
The Baha’i Faith encourages everyone to use their God-given gifts of logic, reason, rationality, scientific inquiry and the power of the human mind to ascertain truth. And the Baha’i teachings, because of their focus on human intelligence and science, view the world as a progressive, ever-changing reality that will always require guidance from the moral and spiritual lessons Faith can impart.