Religion Must Be in Conformity with Science and Reason

Introduction

“The fourth principle of his highness Bahā’u’llāh 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.”

Reference: `Abdu’l-Bahā, Khaṭābāt (Tehran), vol. 2, p. 147.

One of the twelve principles that Baha’i’s put great effort in propagating and consider the intellectual masterpiece of their faith is the accordance of religion with science and reason.

Baha’i’s claim that their beliefs are firmly based on the foundation of science and reason and that there is no contradiction between Baha’ism and scientific knowledge.
This principle is one of the most attractive principles for Baha’i 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 Baha’i scripture, particularly the works of the leaders of this faith.
2. Nothing that contradicts science can be found in Baha’ism.
3. If something is found in Baha’i works that is against science or reason, Baha’i’s should put aside their religion, for according to their own beliefs, their religion is no longer a valid religion.

`Abdu’l-Bahā claims that this principle is new:

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 was not in accord with human reason and judgment. The harmony of religious belief with reason is a new vista which Bahā’u’llāh has opened for the soul of man.

Reference: `Abdu’l-Bahā, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 455.

They claim that if a principle or wisdom in Baha’ism is not in accordance to today’s science and reason, the shortcoming is from man’s errors and reasoning.

“Truth is one, and whenever conflict appears it is due, not to truth, but to error,”

Reference: J. E. Esslemont, Bahā’u’llāh and the New Era, p.197.

This is how `Abdu’l-Bahā explains the above:

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.

Reference: `Abd al-Ḥamīd Ishrāq Khāwarī, Payām-i malakūt, p.93.

“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 Bahā’u’llāh which are famous in the horizons and are the breath of the Holy Spirit,”

Reference: `Abd al-Bahā, Makātīb, vol. 3, p. 332.

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