33. The Harmony of Science and Religion
Updated: May 15
We are star dust. So opens the famous Woodstock song by Joni Mitchell. In defiance of an increasingly materialist age, it maintains that our purpose in this earthly life is that "we've got to get ourselves back to the garden". Meaning the Garden of Eden; symbol of the perfection of creation, freed of human corruption. Just as described in the Bible and the Koran and other Holy Books.
And science proves the truth of her words; All of us - whether black, white, Christian or Muslim, are made of the same elements. That includes stars, everything in a garden, a museum or a grocery store... and yourself.
The creation of Life itself is, and always will, remain a great mystery. The more we know about it, the more we find that remains to be known.
However, when we look at the evidence provided by DNA, we can recognise that we are all, every plant and animal and person, evolved from L.U.C.A., the Last Universal Common Ancestor, a single celled organism that existed 4 billion years ago.
Every human outside of Africa contains DNA from DNA 'Adam' and Mitochondrial 'Eve' and L.U.C.A. So it is no mere romantic pipe dream to say 'We are One'. And we have always had a deep appreciation of spirituality. The oldest building discovered on earth, Gobekli Tepe is a temple, built 10,000 years ago in the Neolithic age. National Geographic described it as 'Civilization begins with Religion'.
This is revolutionary to the previous theory, that religion developed AFTER civilization, when hunter gatherers had settled in cities and social tensions developed. Now we live in a time when materialism dominates, seeming to validate the fundamentalist theories that have enabled Dawkins et al to portray religion as backward, irrational and dangerous. But it wasn't always so.
These recent philosophies exist in denial of the enduring legacy of the illumined Al Gibra, Muslim originator of alchemy (Al Chemy) and Al Khorisme (founder of the algorithm).
Even The Big Bang Theory itself was, like so many advances in science, developed by a theist (believer), Georges Lemaître, a Catholic Priest and Professor of Physics. Pascal, Newton, Maxwell, are all examples of the dominance of believers in historic scientific development.
It was Baha'u'llah, Founder of the Baha'i Faith, who first taught the Principle of the Harmony of Science and Religion. Both, He stated, should be studied in the light of reason and evidence.
It has become customary in the West to think of science and religion as occupying two distinct—and even opposed—areas of human thought and activity. This dichotomy can be characterized in the pairs of antitheses: faith and reason; value and fact. It is a dichotomy which is foreign to Bahá’í thought and should, we feel, be regarded with suspicion by Bahá’í scholars in every field. The principle of the harmony of science and religion means not only that religious teachings should be studied with the light of reason and evidence as well as of faith and inspiration, but also that everything in this creation, all aspects of human life and knowledge, should be studied in the light of revelation as well as in that of purely rational investigation. In other words, a Bahá’í scholar, when studying a subject, should not lock out of his mind any aspect of truth that is known to him. ---U.H.J. 3 January 1979, To the Participants in the Bahá’í Studies Seminar held in Cambridge