The harmony of science and religion is a fundamental principle of the Baha’i Faith. Abdu’l-Baha declares, “if religious beliefs and opinions are found contrary to the standards of science they are mere superstitions and imaginations; for the antithesis of knowledge is ignorance, and the child of ignorance is superstition.”
While conflict between religious doctrine and scientific theory is a recurring theme throughout the history of humanity, a contemporary example of this tension is found in discussions regarding evolution and the origin of our species. Given the centrality of the theory of evolution to the scientific enterprise and the importance of reconciling the teachings of the Faith and the established precepts of science, we thought it beneficial to briefly review some of the Baha’i principles on the subject. Shoghi Effendi cautions us, when studying Abdu’l-Baha’s teachings on the subject, that “these various statements must be taken in conjunction with all the Baha’i teachings; we cannot get a correct picture by concentrating on just one phrase.”
There are points of unequivocal agreement between Abdu’l-Baha and the science of evolution, such as the principle that humans, like all other species, have evolved over time: Continue reading
Outwardly, the Baha’i notion of the oneness of religion is the furthest thing from the present babel of creeds competing to win the hearts and minds of mankind. It would be folly to deny that the belief systems and religious observances today represent a discordant cornucopia of theologies and rites.
Outward observance and formal theology is one thing. The actual living faith of billions from different religious backgrounds is an entirely different thing. The latter is usually far less defined and often has a lot in common across cultures and faith traditions. In my travels I’ve become completely sold to the notion that ordinary believers the world over, irrespective of faith tradition, have much more in common than theologians and so-called scholars. Intuitively these sincere ordinary folks possess a pure idea of the Divine. Continue reading
In celebration of the centenary of the Tablets of the Divine Plan the Universal House of Justice released two joyous and love laden messages: one to the Baha’is of the World, and one to the Baha’is of the United States and Canada, the original recipients of Abdu’l-Baha’s Tablets of the Divine Plan.
These sweet letters are very fortifying and invigorating; they bolster my resolve to add my own personal herculean effort to teach the Cause in the coming Five Year Plan. One way in which these messages inspire me is by linking our current endeavours with the Tablets of the Divine Plan. This centenary is not a typical acknowledgement of something that occurred 100 years ago — it is a celebration of how much we have accomplished with them as a guide and inspiration, and an act of thanksgiving and praise for how much they will continue to impact and inform our work. In its letter to the Baha’is of the world, “acting under the mandate of Abdu’l-Baha”, the House of Justice opens with these words: Continue reading
The question, “Is God real?” was posed to me by my four-year-old daughter. A simple “yes” would not suffice and she further asked; “But I can’t see Him, so how do I know He’s real?”
I admittedly struggled with her question. How do you explain the unseen force of God to anyone, let alone a four-year-old?
I was on a quest to answer my pre-schoolers seemingly simple question, but my journey took me into the world of metaphysics and beyond. Continue reading
Religion has produced some of the greatest achievements of humanity but this fact is often obscured today as people and the media focus on the horrors resulting from its power.
By now we should all know that if people want to use religion as a method to get their own way, they have an ominous weapon.
Religion taps the very source of motivation because it has to do with the absolute and the eternal, so if somebody or a group successfully manipulates it for negative ends they can achieve their aims with the help of followers whose morale is sky high.
Down the centuries there have been many wars and atrocities because of this manipulation of religious feeling and allegiance. When that happens, religion becomes a counterfeit version of the real thing. Continue reading
Photo: Baha'i World Centre
In the Baha’i Faith, the concept of “service” plays an important role, and we believe that service to others gives meaning and purpose to life.
Service to humanity is service to God.
In the Baha’i Writings, there are many aspects to service, and there are just as many ways to serve as there are ‘servants of God’, so let’s break it down and reflect on the idea of service as it relates to the Faith: Continue reading
Miracles are important events in the Christian Bible, but do Baha’is believe in miracles?
Of course we do! God’s power is beyond any limitation – He is the sole Author of all the laws operating in the universe, is above them and can, therefore, if He deems it necessary, alter them at His Own Will:
The operation of miracles is not necessarily irrational or illogical. It does by no means constitute a limitation of the Omnipotence of God. The belief in the possibilities of miracles, on the contrary, implies that God’s power is beyond any limitation whatsoever. For it is only logical to believe that the Creator, Who is the sole Author of all the laws operating in the universe, is above them and can, therefore, if He deems it necessary, alter them at His Own Will. We, as humans, cannot possibly attempt to read His Mind, and to fully grasp His Wisdom.
The belief in the possibility of miracles has never been rejected in the Baha’i teachings. Their importance, however, has been minimized: Continue reading
Religions are often perceived as a means to answer questions about what happens after we die. Will it be absolute non-existence after our body’s last breath? Is there life after death at all? And if there is, will we remember our life on this earth? Do we really go to heaven or hell?
Shoghi Effendi states:
Evolution in the life of the individual starts with the formation of the human embryo and passes through various stages, and even continues after death in another form.
In order to understand better the concept of life after death and what could be meant by “another form”, it can be helpful to start by looking at the reality of the human soul. Continue reading
Abdu’l-Baha said that the material and the spiritual are closely linked. Have you ever seen something reflected in water so still that it seemed a perfect, upside-down duplicate but beyond the reflection were unfathomable depths? That is how I imagine the connection to be between this material world and spiritual existence.
Recently I’ve been thinking about this relationship, particularly as it relates to the Baha’i fund, where money is no longer just money. Continue reading
Many cultures around the world place special emphasis on dreams as a means of explaining the unknown, as a tool to guide decisions and life choices, or as a connection with another world. What do Baha’is believe about dreams? What do they signify?
Abdu’l-Baha once suggested to pilgrims that there are three kinds of dreams: true vision dreams which requires no interpretation because they are reality; dreams that requires interpretation in order to separate false thoughts from spiritual discoveries; and confused dreams, in which the same circumstances exist in the dream as occurred during waking life: Continue reading