Abdu'i-Baha on Darwinism
individual freedom are eliminated, while the details of human behavior are regulated and controlled by a repressive and totalitarian form of state. According to ‘Abdu’l -Baha, the true identity of human beings is their spiritual and divine truth. Human beings, by forgetting their authentic spiritual identity and reducing themselves to the level of the jungle and material nature, have alienated themselves from their own truth and have lived in accordance with the principle of injustice and the struggle for existence. Up to this point, human history has been primarily a history of slavery, racism, patriarchy, religious intolerance, despotic state, war, colonialism, genocide, and extremes of class inequality. However, all these forms of oppression are ultimately products of the reduction of human beings to the level of objects, nature, and animals. The caste system in India is a product of the reduction of the identity, rights, and value of individuals to their body and the family of their birth. Patriarchy reflects the idea that the biological features of human beings and their masculinity or femininity is the determinant of their truth, value, and rights. Racism is constructed through the reduction of human identity to the skin color of individuals. Colonialism is determined by the reduction of the identity and truth of human beings to their birth in this or that part of the world. Slavery is nothing but a spiritual disease in which humans are degraded to the level of an object and animal. ‘Abdu’ l-Baha, on the contrary, invites humanity to remember their spiritual truth, and to reconstruct their social institutions based on the fact that all human beings are the image of God. Such a culture is a culture of overcoming the self-alienation of humanity. For example, in one of his talks in the United States, ‘Abdu’l -Baha argues that the statement in the Torah that God created humans in his own image, means that the truth of humanity is defined by their spiritual attributes and perfections and not by their accidental and biological characteristics. God is neither male nor female, neither black nor white, and born neither in this country nor in another. Consequently, the color of the skin and similar biological and physical characteristics of human beings has nothing to do with the truth of humanity, for the human being is the image of God. From his interpretation of the statement in the Bible, ‘Abdu’l -Baha deduces the illegitimacy of racism and other forms of oppression and ignorance. 23 This critique of self- alienation in ‘Abdu’l - Baha’s writings is the essence of his new concept of freedom. According to him, true freedom is emancipation from the bondage of nature, namely, the emergence of humans as human beings. This liberation from the bondage of nature has two aspects. The first aspect is an external one. It means that by virtue of his science and technology, human beings rule over nature and are emancipated from the control of its laws. In this way, humans are freed from the control of their immediate environment and can live in accordance with their own desire and will. Referring to this aspect of h uman liberation, ‘Abdu’l -Baha states: All created things except man are captives of nature. The stars and suns swinging through infinite space, all earthly forms of life and existence — whether mineral, vegetable or animal — come under the dominion and control of natural law. Man through scientific knowledge and power rules nature and utilizes her laws to do his bidding. According to natural limitations he is a creature of earth, restricted to life upon its surface, but through scientific utilization of material laws he soars in the sky, sails upon the ocean a nd dives beneath it… Man, as it were,
23 ‘Abdu’l -Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace , p. 70.
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