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…the light of divine knowledge and heavenly grace hath illumined and inspired the essence of all created things, in such wise that in each and every thing a door of knowledge hath been opened, and within every atom traces of the sun hath been made manifest. – Baha’u’llah, The Book of Certitude, pp. 29-30.
Five months before his death Albert Einstein remained troubled.
“I made one great mistake in my life,” he said. “When I signed the letter to President Roosevelt recommending that atom bombs be made; but there was some justification – the danger that the Germans would make them.”
Contrary to popular belief Albert Einstein–arguably one of the most intelligent scientists of the 20th century–did not develop the bomb. He did not believe it was possible to split the atom, until Leo Szilard explained the critical concept of neutron chain reactions using fissile isotopes.
Neither of these brilliant scientists knew that Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i Faith, had already predicted both the destructive force, as well as the appropriate antidote, to the awesome potential of the Atomic Era:
There has appeared an infernal instrument, and such atrocity is displayed in the destruction of life, the like of which was not seen by the eye of the world, nor heard by the ears of nations. It is impossible to reform these violent, overwhelming evils, except the peoples of the world become united in affairs, or in one religion. Hearken ye unto the voice of this oppressed One, and adhere to the Most Great Peace!
A strange and wonderful instrument exists in the earth; but it is concealed from minds and souls. It is an instrument which has the power to change the atmosphere of the whole earth, and its infection causes destruction. – Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith, p. 183.
Twenty-eight years prior to Einstein’s fateful letter, Baha’u’llah’s son Abdu’l-Baha explained to Viscount Arakawa, Japan’s Ambassador to Spain:
Scientific discoveries have greatly increased material civilization. There is in existence a stupendous force, as yet, happily, undiscovered by man. Let us supplicate God, the Beloved, that this force be not discovered by science until Spiritual Civilization, i.e. the Kingdom, shall dominate the human mind. In the hands of men of lower material nature, this power would be able to destroy the whole earth. – Japan Will Turn Ablaze, p. 51.
Baha’u’llah cautioned humanity about nuclear power in the 19th Century. In their meeting in 1912, Abdu’l-Baha effectively warned the ambassador of the only country to date to suffer the consequences of this dreadful new weapon. The lesson unheeded, humanity had to learn the terrible truth of his admonition the hard way.
After the United States dropped the first two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japanese Emperor Hirohito’s capitulation announcement called the atom bomb, “a new and terrible weapon with the power to destroy many innocent lives and do incalculable damage. Should we continue to fight, not only would it result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization.”
Given the prescience and accuracy of Baha’u’llah’s cautions and Abdu’l-Baha’s warning, perhaps we should consider the Baha’i solution to the threat of nuclear apocalypse–a spiritual civilization based on unity in diversity.
The peaceful capabilities of the atomic age represent the pinnacle of human achievement and coincide with the consummation of human evolution. Is it reasonable to expect that God would give us the awesome capabilities of human maturity, and not show us how to wield these capabilities for our collective prosperity? No–on the contrary, we would expect God to guide and support us.
The Baha’i teachings do give us that guidance, showing humanity that the cardinal principle and goal of this enlightened era is the oneness of humanity:
The well-being of mankind its peace and security are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established. So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth. The one true God, He Who knoweth all things, Himself testifieth to the truth of these words… This goal excelleth every other goal, and this aspiration is the monarch of all aspirations. – Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 203.
Even prior to the discovery of nuclear fission and the development of the atom bomb, Baha’is believe that God had already set in motion the forces that will inexorably remake human consciousness, advancing our capacity to fulfill the awesome responsibilities of our collective maturity.