Bahá’í Faith and science

Baha’i believe that science are religion should be one. They believe that religion without science leads to superstitions and science without religion leads to materialism. Any conflict that raises between the two is believed to be in human error and that science is always right.

They seem to have embraced some of the more “controversial” scientific theories, like that of Evolution and seem sort of against Creationism. 

Bahá’u’lláh taught that the universe has “neither beginning nor ending”, and that the component elements of the material world have always existed and will continue to exist.Bahá’ís believe that the story of creation in Genesis is a rudimentary account that conveys the broad essential spiritual truths of existence without a level of detail and accuracy that was unnecessary and incomprehensible at the time. Likewise, `Abdu’l-Bahá said that literal story of Adam and Eve cannot be accepted, affirmed, or imagined, and that it “must be thought of simply as a symbol”.And rather than accepting the idea of a Young Earth Bahá’í theology accepts that the Earth is ancient.

The concept of the origin of man has created tension between science and religion. Cultural traditions that are strongly influenced by monotheistic religions state that man was created and designed by God. Darwin’s theory of evolution, in the eyes of many religious adherents, contradicts the view of creation.

In regards to evolution and the origin of man, `Abdu’l-Bahá gave extensive comments on the subject when he addressed western audiences in the beginning of the 20th century. Transcripts of these talks can be found in Some Answered Questions, Paris Talks and the Promulgation of Universal Peace. `Abdu’l-Bahá describes the human species as coming into being through a developmental process – that Mehanian and Friberg argue is consistent with scientific evolution – and that the developmental process is working out of a divine creative impulse.

Superficially, `Abdu’l-Bahá’s comments seem to differ from the standard evolutionary picture of human development, where Homo sapiens as one species, along with the great apes, evolved from a common ancestor living in Africa millions of years ago. `Abdu’l-Bahá, however, used the word “species” with the implication of “kind” or “category” and not in the modern biological sense; thus Mehanian and Friberg state that `Abdu’l-Bahá’s departures from the conventional interpretation of evolution are likely due “to disagreements with the metaphysical, philosophical, and ideological aspects of those interpretations, not with scientific findings.”And to this end `Abdu’l-Bahá suggested that a missing link between human and apes would not be found.The idea of a missing link per se was abandoned by science in favor of the idea of evolutionary transitions.

A fundamental part of `Abdul-Bahá’s teachings on evolution is the belief that all life came from the same origin: “the origin of all material life is one…” He states that from this sole origin, the complete diversity of life was generated: “Consider the world of created beings, how varied and diverse they are in species, yet with one sole origin”He explains that a slow, gradual process led to the development of complex entities:

“[T]he growth and development of all beings is gradual; this is the universal divine organization and the natural system. The seed does not at once become a tree; the embryo does not at once become a man; the mineral does not suddenly become a stone. No, they grow and develop gradually and attain the limit of perfection”

`Abdu’l-Bahá also stresses the importance of interdependence and diversity on evolution; he states that all things are connected like a chain and it is through interaction that development and growth is achieved.`Abdu’l-Bahá states that humankind has progressed through stages; he states that humans did not appear all at once but instead developed gradually. He once again compares human evolution to the growth of an embryo into an adult:

“[I]t is evident and confirmed that the development and growth of man on this earth, until he reached his present perfection, resembled the growth and development of the embryo in the womb of the mother: by degrees it passed from condition to condition, from form to form, from one shape to another.”

While `Abdu’l-Bahá states that man progressed through many stages before reaching this present form, `Abdu’l-Bahá states that humans are a distinct species, and not an animal. `Abdu’l-Bahá states that in every stage of evolution through which humans progressed – either mineral, vegetable, and animal – they were potentially humans. Mehanian and Friberg argue that potentiality is a key concept in `Abdu’l-Bahá’s discussion of evolution. `Abdul-Bahá states that even if humans passed through an animal stage, it does not mean that humans are animals.

“But at all times, even when the embryo resembled a worm, it was human in potentiality and character, not animal. The forms assumed by the human embryo in its successive changes do not prove that it is animal in its essential character. Throughout this progression there has been transference of type, a conservation of species or kind. Realizing this we may acknowledge the fact that at one time man was an inmate of the sea, at another period an invertebrate, then a vertebrate and finally a human being standing erect. Though we admit these changes, we cannot say man is an animal. In each one of these stages are signs and evidences of his human existence and destination.”

`Abdu’l-Bahá rejected the interpretation that the common ancestry of humans with other animals necessarily states that humans are animals — and, by extension, the implications of Social Darwinism. He does not, however, deny that humans have much in common with the animal world, but denies instead that animal characteristics comprise humankind’s entire nature. `Abdu’l-Bahá states that humans are on a different plane because of their spiritual and intellectual powers:

“Though man has powers and outer senses in common with the animal, yet an extraordinary power exists in him of which the animal is bereft. The sciences, arts, inventions, trades and discoveries of realities are the results of this spiritual power”

While `Abdu’l-Bahá states that the humans species in its current form came out of evolution, he states that evolution is governed by universal law, and states that composition of elements responsible for the appearance of life and humans is not a random process:

“This composition and arrangement, through the wisdom of God and His preexistent might, were produced from one natural organization, which was composed and combined with the greatest strength, conformable to wisdom, and according to a universal law. From this it is evident that it is the creation of God, and is not a fortuitous composition and arrangement.”

There are, however, some differences between `Abdu’l-Bahá’s statements and current scientific thought. The Bahá’í perspective that religion must be in accordance with science seems to suggest that religion must accept current scientific knowledge as authoritative; but this is not necessarily always the case as the present scientific point of view is not always correct, nor truth only limited to what science can explain.

These are taken directly from this Wikipedia article  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bah%C3%A1%27%C3%AD_Faith_and_science .

Baha’i is defiantly a controversal religion with most of its theries, but I am left to wonder if they aren’t just trying to please everyone………….

Blessings
Lucy

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