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Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era

  • Author:
  • J. E. Esslemont

  • Source:
  • US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1980 edition
  • Pages:
  • 286
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Pages 197-198

Chapter 12: Religion and Science

‘Alí, the son-in-law of Muḥammad, 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.—‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ, Wisdom of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

Conflict Due to Error

One of the fundamental teachings of Bahá’u’lláh 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 fuller truth we can trace them every time to ignorance, prejudice, vanity, greed, narrow-mindedness, intolerance, obstinacy or something of the kind—something foreign to the true spirit of both science and religion, for the spirit of both is one. As Huxley tells us, “The great deeds of philosophers have been less the fruit of their intellect than the direction of that intellect by an eminently religious tone of mind. Truth has yielded herself rather to their patience, their love, their single-heartedness and self-denial than to their logical acumen.” Boole, the mathematician, assures us that “geometric induction is essentially a process of prayer—an appeal from the finite mind to the Infinite for light on finite concerns.” The great prophets of religion and science have never denounced each other. It is the unworthy followers of these great world teachers—worshipers of the letter but not of the spirit of their teaching—who have always been the persecutors of the later prophets and the bitterest opponents of progress. They have studied the light of the particular revelation 198 which they hold sacred, and have defined its properties and peculiarities as seen by their limited vision, with the utmost care and precision. That is for them the one true light. If God in His infinite bounty sends fuller light from another quarter, and the torch of inspiration burns brighter than before from a new torchholder, instead of welcoming the new lights they are angry and alarmed. This new light does not correspond with their definitions. It has not the orthodox color, and does not shine from the orthodox place, therefore it must at all costs be extinguished lest it lead men astray into the paths of heresy! Many enemies of the Prophets are of this type—blind leaders of the blind, who oppose new and fuller truth in the supposed interests of what they believe to be the truth. Others are of baser sort and are moved by selfish interests to fight against truth, or else block the path of progress by reason of spiritual deadness and inertia.