What if we thought about a healthy, vibrant and balanced humanity as the wings of a bird ― able to soar and fly at its full capacity? This analogy speaks to the heart of another basic principle of the Baha’i faith ― the essential harmony of science and religion.
In order for its flight to be steady, not only do the wings of the bird need to be strong, but they must move in perfect harmony and coordination. Baha’is believe that religion without science risks becoming superstition, and science without religion is purely materialism.
Is it possible we have erected artificial barriers between faith and reason, science and religion?
The Baha’i community embraces both the spiritual and material dimensions of life, understanding there is a dynamic and progressive interplay between the truths and principles of religion with the discoveries and insights of scientific inquiry. Reconciling science with religion is a particular principle revealed for this time in religious history.
‘Abdu’l-Baha, the son of the Baha’i prophet, offered in one of his talks, that “Baha’u’llah sets forth a new principle for this day in the announcement that religion must be the cause of unity, harmony and agreement among mankind. If it be the cause of discord and hostility, if it leads to separation and creates conflict, the absence of religion would be preferable in the world. Furthermore He proclaims that religion must be in harmony with science and reason. If it does not conform to science and reconcile with reason, it is superstition. Down to the present day it has been customary for man to accept a religious teaching even though it were not in accord with human reason and judgment. The harmony of religious belief with reason is a new vista which Bahá’u’lláh has opened for the soul of man”
‘Abdu’l-Baha further states: “Praise be to God. The medieval ages of darkness have passed away and this century of radiance has dawned — this century wherein the reality of things is becoming evident — wherein science is penetrating the mysteries of the universe, the oneness of the world of humanity is being established and service to mankind is the paramount motive of all existence.”
He then challenges us, asking: “Shall we remain steeped in our fanaticisms and cling to our prejudices? Is it fitting that we should still be bound and restricted by ancient fables and superstitions of the past; be handicapped by superannuated beliefs and the ignorances of dark ages, waging religious wars, fighting and shedding blood, shunning and anathematizing each other? Is this becoming? Is it not better for us to be loving and considerate toward each other? Is it not preferable to enjoy fellowship and unity; join in anthems of praise to the most high God and extol all His prophets in the spirit of acceptance and true vision? Then indeed this world will become a paradise and the promised Day of God will dawn.”
Always mindful of balancing spiritual and material ‘Abdul-Baha, speaking at a university, said: “As material and physical sciences are taught here and are constantly unfolding in wider vistas of attainment, I am hopeful that spiritual development may also follow and keep pace with these outer advantages. As material knowledge is illuminating those within the walls of this great temple of learning, so also may the light of the spirit, the inner and divine light of the real philosophy glorify this institution. The most important principle of divine philosophy is the oneness of the world of humanity, the unity of mankind, the bond conjoining east and west, the tie of love which blends human hearts.”