|"The fourth principle of his highness Baha’u’llah is that religion must be in conformation to science. For God has given humans reason to investigate about the truth of things. If religious matters are against science and reason, they are illusions. For that which is against science is ignorance. And if we say religion is against reason, then the meaning is that religion is ignorance. Presumably religion must be in conformation to reason in order to bring assurance to a person. If something is against reason, it is not possible for it to bring about assurance in a person."|
Abdul Baha says: 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.
Abdul Baha, Paris Talks, p. 146
One of the twelve principles that Bahai's put great effort in propagating and consider the intellectual masterpiece of their faith is the accordance of religion with science and reason.
Bahai's claim that their beliefs are firmly based on the foundation of science and reason and that there is no contradiction between Bahaism and scientific knowledge.
This principle is one of the most attractive principles for Bahai youth because they claim with utmost pride that they have chosen a religion that in contrast to other faiths, is both in harmony with science and human progress and with whatever reason and intellect arrive at.
If someone accepts this principle, then, they too must accept the following results:
1. Nothing that is against reason exists within the Bahai scripture, particularly the works of the leaders of this faith.
2. Nothing that contradicts science can be found in Bahaism.
3. If something is found in Bahai works that is against science or reason, Bahai's should put aside their religion, for according to their own beliefs, their religion is no longer a valid religion.
When Bahai's use this principle to preach their faith, they start by criticizing other faiths for being incompatible with modern sciences and claim that it is only Bahaism that can answer the needs of the modern world. However whenever these same criticisms are made of Bahaism, the answer given is that the problem is not our religion, but rather your understanding.
For example: "Islam which has to date taken itself forward with power and pride, is now afflicted by the strike of new scientific knowledge. The same scientific knowledge that rang the death-bells of all the world’s great religions. Intellectual and educated Muslims are rapidly furthering themselves from their religion . . . Those that still abide by and believe in their religion are trying to change it to make it in conformity with modern sciences," Stanwood Cobb, Aramish baray-i jahan-i pur ashub, 5th ed. trans. Jamshid Fanayian (New Delhi: Mu’assisiyi Chap Wa Intisharat Mir`at, 1994), pp. 76-77. The aforementioned book was originally written in English with the title Security For a Failing World. Unfortunately, we failed to obtain the original English manuscript and have retranslated the official Farsi translation back to English. The Farsi translation can be found at http://reference.bahai.org/fa/t/o/AJPS/ajps-1.html (retrieved 13/1/2014).
"All things are renewed thus the essence of divine religion must be renewed too. Imitations must be completely put aside and the light of reality must shine. Teachings that are the soul of this era must be propagated and those are the teachings of Baha’u’llah which are famous in the horizons and are the breath of the Holy Spirit," Abdul Baha, Makatib, vol. 3, p. 332
"Everything must be measured using the yardstick of knowledge and reason, for religion and reason are the same thing and will never be separated. Sometimes, a weak intellect cannot perceive [a concept]. In such a case, intellect has a shortcoming by being imperfect, not religion," `Abd al-Hamid Ishraq Khawari, Payam-i malakut, p. 93 (citing `Abd al-Baha); "One of the fundamental teachings of Baha’u’llah is that true science and true religion must always be in harmony. Truth is one, and whenever conflict appears it is due, not to truth, but to error. Between so-called science and so-called religion there have been fierce conflicts all down the ages, but looking back on these conflicts in the light of the fuller truth we can trace them every time to ignorance, prejudice, vanity, greed, narrow-mindedness, intolerance, obstinacy or something of the kind," J. E. Esslemont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era, p. 197.
In essence, Bahai's try to attract the attention of the youth to their faith with the slogan of the necessity of the conformity of science and reason with Bahaism. They claim:
Since the Bahai movement is in accordance to reason and defends science, and is completely free from the [superstitions] inherited from the past . . . the Bahai movement has had an extraordinary influence on university students around the world.
Stanwood Cobb, Aramish baray-i jahan-i pur ashub, p. 160
Strangely when it is asked from them that, given that mankind’s knowledge is always changing and altering and that scientific theories are constantly being revised, which scientific theories is Bahaism supposed to be in accordance with, they reply: What we mean by science is ‘true science’ not human knowledge. What we mean by reason is the perfect Divine Reason, not human reason. They claim that if a principle or wisdom in Bahaism is not in accordance to today’s science and reason, the shortcoming is from man’s errors and reasoning.
"What is meant by knowledge, is Divine Knowledge, and what is meant by reason is the perfect Divine Reason that religion must be in accord to," `Abd al-Hamid Ishraq Khawari, Payam-i malakut, p. 91 (citing `Abd al-Baha).
"Truth is one, and whenever conflict appears it is due, not to truth, but to error," J. E. Esslemont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era, p.197.
This is how Abdul Baha explains it:
Everything must be measured using the yardstick of knowledge and reason, for religion and reason are the same thing and will never be separated. Sometimes, a weak intellect cannot perceive [a concept]. In such a case, intellect has a shortcoming by being imperfect, not religion.
Abd al-Hamid Ishraq Khawari, Payam-i malakut, p.93
Apparently, Abdul Baha had completely forgotten that in their proselytization efforts, Bahais had defined science as modern science and technology and that they had considered other religions old and outdated because, they were not in harmony with modern science and knowledge. One wonders, given the above mentioned explanation regarding weak intellects, what is the Bahai creed’s superiority over other religions? What religion would openly claim that its commands and contents are against reason and unscientific?
Some instances have been mentioned in Third Perspective
"Islam which has to date taken itself forward with power and pride, is now afflicted by the strike of new scientific knowledge. The same scientific knowledge that rang the death-bells of all the world’s great religions. Intellectual and educated Muslims are rapidly furthering themselves from their religion . . . Those that still abide by and believe in their religion are trying to change it to make it in conformity with modern sciences," Stanwood Cobb, Aramish baray-i jahan-i pur ashub, pp. 76-77
In Third Perspective we will cover this issue with more detail. But for now, based on the normal procedure, we will start off by analyzing whether this principle is new or not.
The articles have been based on the book "Avaze Dohol" - the Beating of the Drum by Masoud Basiti, Zahra Moradi.