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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? 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! […]
It is impossible for religion to be contrary to science, even though some intellects are too weak or too immature to understand truth… 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.
I find this passage profound; visionary; even prophetic. Did you catch the prediction?: “When religion … shows its conformity with science, then will there be a great unifying, cleansing force in the world which will sweep before it all wars.”
So what’s the connection? How would (or could) science partner with religion in order to eradicate war, once and for all?
For what it’s worth, here’s my humble understanding of the Baha’i vision of our future on this issue: true religion will eventually abolish all extremism. Radical, fundamentalist religion, driven by fanaticism and executed by violence and oppression, will vanish. Society can, and will, condemn acts of religious extremism as essentially irreligious, even when committed in the name of religion.
When motivated by spiritual and human values, science will internationally converge on promoting human prosperity and well-being. The military-industrial complex, as President Eisenhower famously phrased it, will gradually be phased out, or at least be reduced to a purely peacekeeping role.
Budgets that formerly funded wars, whether declared or not, will be slashed, or will die the natural death of entropy.
Governments will more closely regulate and oversee expenditures of vast sums of taxpayer funds in the manufacture and development of ever more sophisticated engines of war. Certain military-industrial projects will simply be phased out altogether, now useless and unnecessary.
The harmony of science and religion implies the emergence of a new breed of leaders: religious, ethical scientists, who choose their research projects based on their intrinsic value in promoting the health, welfare and prosperity of humankind.
Is “religious science” an oxymoron? Absolutely not. Consider Abdu’l-Baha’s advice to “weigh carefully in the balance of reason and science everything that is presented to you as religion.” The result of doing so is this: “If it passes this test, then accept it, for it is truth!”
And so it shall be, according to this Baha’i text:
The unity of the human race, as envisaged by Baha’u’llah, implies the establishment of a world commonwealth in which all nations, races, creeds and classes are closely and permanently united, and in which the autonomy of its state members and the personal freedom and initiative of the individuals that compose them are definitely and completely safeguarded. …
In such a world society, science and religion, the two most potent forces in human life, will be reconciled, will cooperate, and will harmoniously develop. … The economic resources of the world will be organized, its sources of raw materials will be tapped and fully utilized, its markets will be coordinated and developed, and the distribution of its products will be equitably regulated. …
The enormous energy dissipated and wasted on war, whether economic or political, will be consecrated to such ends as will extend the range of human inventions and technical development, to the increase of the productivity of mankind, to the extermination of disease, to the extension of scientific research, to the raising of the standard of physical health, to the sharpening and refinement of the human brain, to the exploitation of the unused and unsuspected resources of the planet, to the prolongation of human life, and to the furtherance of any other agency that can stimulate the intellectual, the moral, and spiritual life of the entire human race. – Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, pp. 203–204.
Science and religion—such a powerful combination. Tapping into the two most potent forces in human society, we can convert fission into fusion. The real feat is not so much in getting it done as it is getting it started.
So let’s all, scientists and religionists alike, do our part to transform science and religion from their former role as dueling partners to dual partners.