SCIENCE AND RELIGION
"It (humanity) cannot fly with one wing alone. If it tries to fly
with the wing of religion alone it will land in the quagmire of
superstition, and if it tries to fly with the wing of science alone it
will end in the despairing slough of materialism."
The Oneness Of Science and Religion
It is one of the basic principles of the Bahá'í Faith that religion
and science should work together for the improvement of the world:
"Great indeed is the claim of scientists and craftsmen on the
peoples of the world...in truth, knowledge is a veritable treasure for
man, and a source of glory..."
Truth Relative Not Absolute
For several centuries, there has been a degree of conflict between
advocates of science and those of religion. In the Bahá'í view, this
has been largely due to incomplete understanding. Bahá'ís believe that
truth is relative rather than absolute. In other words, any statement
which is made is only true to a certain point, and can be challenged
when knowledge has increased.
If science is discovered truth, then religion is revealed truth.
Each Founder of religion is the vehicle for bringing to humanity that
which is needed to advance society at that particular time:
"The All-Knowing Physician hath His finger on the pulse of
mankind. He perceiveth the disease, and prescribeth, in His unerring
wisdom, the remedy. Every age hath its own problem....The remedy the
world needeth in its present-day afflictions can never be the same as
that which a subsequent age may require."
The underlying theme is that:
"All mankind have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization".
"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."
The Origin Of The Universe
Bahá'ís believe that the universe has always existed in some form,
but that it evolves from state to another. Any reference to "creation"
in the Bahá'í Writings does not imply an instant appearance in a static
form. Scientific theory has likewise concluded that the universe has no
beginning, because the current "Big Bang" theory can only trace the
history of the universe to a fraction of a second after the "Bang", and
is not yet able to discover what form the universe took before the
"Bang" or why the "Bang" occurred.
The current theory is therefore a theory of evolution of the
universe, and not a theory of its creation. Time is one of the
dimensions used for comparison and measurement within the universe, as
are the three traditional dimensions. The implication is that the
questions, "Where did the universe come from?" and, "How did it begin?"
are simply the wrong questions to ask. Science is currently unable to
answer these questions, just as it cannot make any statement on the
existence of God as the Creative Force. For this reason, we have to
turn to religion for guidance:
"Know that it is one of the most abstruse spiritual truths that
the world of existence, that is to say this endless universe, has no
beginning....Know that....a creator without a creature is impossible, a
provider without those provided for cannot be conceived; for all the
divine names and attributes demand the existence of beings. If we could
imagine a time when no beings existed, this imagination would be the
denial of the Divinity of God. Moreover, absolute non-existence cannot
become existence. If the beings were absolutely non-existent, existence
would not have come into being."
The Bahá'í Writings affirm the existence of creatures on other planets:
"Know thou that every fixed star has its own planets, and every planet its own creatures, whose number no man can compute."
The Evolution Of Humanity
The Bahá'í Writings use the development of the human embryo as proof
of the development of man as a species. From a tiny cell, it passes
through various stages, in some of which it really does not resemble a
human being at all. At one stage the embryo even has a tail. However,
at every stage it is destined to reach human form:
"....it is clear that this terrestrial globe in its present form
did not come into existence all at once; but....gradually passed
through different phases until it became adorned with its present
perfection....Man, in the beginning of his existence and in the womb of
the earth, like the embryo in the womb of the mother, gradually grew
and developed, and passed from one form to another....It is certain
that in the beginning he had not this loveliness and grace and
elegance, and that he only by degrees attained this shape, this form,
this beauty, and this grace....man's existence on this earth, from the
beginning until it reaches this state, form, and condition, necessarily
lasts a long time....But from the beginning of man's existence he is a
The story of Adam and Eve has been taken literally by many people.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, the son of Bahá'u'lláh (the Founder of the Bahá'í Faith),
comments on this story:
"If we take this story in its apparent meaning....it is indeed
extraordinary. The intelligence cannot accept it, affirm it, or imagine
it; for such arrangements, such details, such speeches and reproaches
are far from being those of an intelligent man, how much less of the
Divinity - that Divinity who has organised this infinite universe in
the most perfect form, and its innumerable inhabitants with absolute
system, strength, and perfection.... Therefore this story of Adam and
Eve....must be thought of simply as a symbol."
Harmony of Religion and Science
As mankind moves into a new era, the advantages bestowed by both
religion and science need to be woven together in order for
civilisation to progress. There are a number of implications in this
Religion should be able to give moral and ethical guidance in areas
where scientific advance could lead to new areas of uncertainty, as in
genetic experiments, transgenic experimentation, fertilisation of eggs
from foetuses, etc.
Religion should guide science ethically, and put to good uses rather
than bad. It should be able to create new bases for human happiness.
Bahá'ís look to the creation, in the very near future, of a world peace
treaty. The excesses of unbridled military invention will be curbed,
and technological advance be encouraged as the servant of world peace.
Science should be able to provide more answers to those global
problems which as yet have not been seriously addressed, such as
initiating a genuine worldwide administrative communications system,
solving world food production and distribution problems, and
meaningfully tackling worldwide pollution.
While the exact course of the future is clearly speculation, the
general principle remains that religion and science, as complementary
aspects of human life, need to be seen as two wings which must work
A Glorious Future
Scientific investigation has shown that all human beings are of the
same species, and therefore one in principle. It is the Bahá'í view
that religion must unite humanity to become one human family in
practice, and that this is one of the major purposes of the Bahá'í
revelation. The scientific recognition of humanity as one kind must
replace the prejudice of race, class, colour and creed so prevalent in
the world today. 'Abdu'l-Baha states:
"When religion, shorn of its superstitions, traditions and
unintelligent dogmas, shows its conformity with science, then there
will 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."
Published by the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Warwick.
Approved by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United Kingdom,
27, Rutland Gate, London, SW7 1PD.
Pages created, with permission, by Warwick Leaflets Contents
"There is no contradiction between true religion and science. When a
religion is opposed to science it becomes mere superstition: that which
is contrary to knowledge is ignorance."
" 'Ali, the son-in-law of Muhammad, said: 'That which is in
conformity with science is also in conformity with religion.' Whatever
the intelligence of man cannot understand, religion ought not to
accept. Religion and science walk hand in hand, and any religion
contrary to science is not the truth."
Published by, and copyright of, the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Warwick.
Approved by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United Kingdom,
27 Rutland Gate, London, SW7 1PD.
All quotations are from the Bahá'í writings.