Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Evolution of...

There is an interesting theory, or perhaps I should call it a phenomenon, by which we feel that if we understand how something works in nature then we should no longer be able to ascribe it to God. I wonder why that is. After all, even though I understand the principle behind a screwdriver I would never think to tell a carpenter that they can no longer use it. That would be silly, right?

Another example, perhaps closer to home, is that of love. I love my son. Most people I know love their children. And yet we understand that there is a biological imperative built into our very genes that predisposes us to want to pass on those very genes to the next generation. And further to that, we also want to give those genetic imprints the best opportunity for survival that we can. We do this primarily through nurture and education, as well as protection. Many species do this. Well, it is likely that our sense of love arose from this. And that's ok. It doesn't negate the importance of that emotion. It merely tells us where it may have come from. Seen from a certain perspective, it can make that love even more special, for not only is it a spiritual property of our soul, it is even hard-wired into our very physical makeup. Surely that is a reason for awe and wonder.

Now, what does all this have to do with the Baha'i Faith? Good question. I'm glad you asked, dear Reader.

It seems to me that there is still this huge debate in society about whether we should look to science or religion for answers to many of the problems facing us. As a Baha'i, of course, I love to talk about the harmony of science and religion, but what does that really mean?

It is far more than just a few words that sound good together.

To start, 'Abdu'l-Baha says, "Religion and Science are inter-twined with each other and cannot be separated. These are the two wings with which humanity must fly. One wing is not enough. Every religion which does not concern itself with Science is mere tradition, and that is not the essential. Therefore science, education and civilization are most important necessities for the full religious life." He is reported to have said, in London, "If any religion rejected Science and knowledge, that religion was false. Science and Religion should go forward together; indeed, they should be like two fingers of one hand."

Baha'u'llah, in the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, praises science when He says, "Such arts and sciences, however, as are productive of good results, and bring forth their fruit, and are conducive to the well-being and tranquility of men have been, and will remain, acceptable before God."

I could easily go on with many more quotes in this vein, but suffice it to say that science is very highly esteemed in the Baha'i Writings.

So we know that science is important, but we cannot deny the discoveries of science that have gotten many people to question the validity of religion.

I think that we are facing a spiritual crisis, much the same as the Catholic Church faced when Galileo and all the other scientists of his day were making breakthrough discoveries, such as the fact that the earth is not the centre of everything. Now, to be fair, it was very comfortable hearing that we were the centre of it all, great for the ego, but hey, sometimes we have to hear difficult truths. And you know, when we find out that the universe is much bigger than we thought, much more complex than we imagined, we can either quiver in fear and try to suppress that, or cherish the greatness of creation. Personally, I choose the latter.

So we have this crisis.

In the past, various institutions, such as the Church, did all they could to deny what was evident. They strove with all of their incredible might to suppress this truth. Other institutions, however, strove to vindicate it. The one was weakened, the other strengthened. The lesson, to me, is that we should never try to fight science, and the discoveries of it.

But neither should we abandon religion or God.

We could, if we want, try to deny the existence of God, and claim all sorts of high and mighty positions for ourselves since we have discovered some of the tools that God uses, but why? It would almost be like saying, to go back to that screwdriver analogy, that since we understand the physics behind a screwdriver we no longer need that carpenter. Nor do we need the toolmaker.

It would be like saying that since we understand some of the biological aspects of love, and perhaps how it arose historically, we no longer need to love our children.

You see, going back to The Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, Baha'u'llah says, "The Divine Messengers have been sent down, and their Books were revealed, for the purpose of promoting the knowledge of God, and of furthering unity and fellowship amongst men." Science is one of aspect of knowing God. And even if we want to put that aside, we still don't have sufficient unity and fellowship amongst us. Religion, and I mean true religion and not the dogma that passes for it, is for promoting unity. Anything that divides us is not from God.

So we can be all depressed about not being in the centre of everything, or we can look up and see just how much more magnificent this creation really is.

No comments:

Post a Comment