Since its beginning, the Baha’i Faith has recognized that science is essential to the spiritual and material development of individuals, groups, and nations:
Scientific knowledge is the highest attainment upon the human plane, for science is the discoverer of realities. It is of two kinds: material and spiritual. Material science is the investigation of natural phenomena; divine science is the discovery and realization of spiritual verities. The world of humanity must acquire both. A bird has two wings; it cannot fly with one. Material and spiritual science are the two wings of human uplift and attainment. Both are necessary – one the natural, the other supernatural; one material, the other divine. By the divine we mean the discovery of the mysteries of God, the comprehension of spiritual realities, the wisdom of God, inner significances of the heavenly religions and foundation of the law. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 138.
In fact, the Bahai teachings assure everyone that our study of science will improve our ability to serve our divine purpose for humanity:
Therefore, you should put forward your most earnest efforts toward the acquisition of science and arts. The greater your attainment, the higher your standard in the divine purpose. The man of science is perceiving and endowed with vision, whereas he who is ignorant and neglectful of this development is blind. The investigating mind is attentive, alive; the callous and indifferent mind is deaf and dead. A scientific man is a true index and representative of humanity, for through processes of inductive reasoning and research he is informed of all that appertains to humanity, its status, conditions and happenings. He studies the human body politic, understands social problems and weaves the web and texture of civilization. – Ibid., p. 50.
The United Nations also recognizes the importance of science in both the progress of civilization and world peace. In Resolution 43/61 – Science and Peace – adopted in December of 1988, the UN General Assembly recognized:
… that progress in science and technology profoundly affects international peace and security, economic and social development, respect for human rights and many other aspects of civilization and culture …
In this resolution the General Assembly established the “International Week of Science and Peace” (IWOSP) which takes place during the week that includes November 11th – originally Armistice Day, which celebrates the end of World War I.
The UN IWOSP declaration urges all people and institutions involved in any facet of science to hold activities and events “… conducive to the study and dissemination of information on the links between progress in science and technology and the maintenance of peace and security.”
The importance of science was further recognized in 2001 by UNESCO, when they declared Nov. 10 as World Science Day for Peace and Development in 2001.
The celebration of this day highlights the important role science plays in society, and seeks to involve the wider public in discussions on current science issues.
This year the theme for the IWOSP is “Open Science, Leaving no one Behind” and in many places it will be celebrated during the week of November 6-12. UNESCO defines Open Science, a critical issue in science today as “…the growing global movement to make scientific research and data accessible to all.”
This series of articles, published during IWOSP, serves as a celebration of the goals of Open Science and its importance globally. Recognizing the harmony of science and religion as a cornerstone to world peace and development, this series of articles explores the benefits of science as a birthright for all people. In these essays, we’ll look at efforts to integrate science and religion, and the importance of how we define the benefits of science. We will also consider how individuals and small groups can work to incorporate science and science education into their everyday lives.