Abdu'i-Baha on Darwinism

problem in collaboration with the Russian form of colonialism, and his Pan-Islamism implies the legitimacy of the political dominance of the despotic Ottoman Sultan ‘Abdu’l -Hamid over Iran. He not only has no objection against the Jihadi invasion and conquering of non-Islamic societies by the Islamic army, but he also considers this form of aggression as the supreme virtue. In reality, all people whose hearts are filled with religious and political prejudice have no real problem with colonialism in principle. These individuals praise the colonial conquest of religions and countries when it is by their religion or country, while opposing their own colonization when it is by other religions and countries. The key to real opposition to imperialism and colonialism is the rejection of all kinds of prejudice. However, some of the Western thinkers made a similar but opposite mistake. Like religious traditionalists, these thinkers reduced the realm of religion and philosophy to the realm of empirical science, and therefore, by an arbitrary philosophical interpretation of scientific propositions, they opposed religion and spiritual ideas in the name of empirical science. For example, from the empirical existence of biological laws in the realm of the human body, the French philosopher of the 18 th century, La Mettrie, deduced a dogmatic philosophical belief in materialism and atheism. 8 Likewise, in the 19 th century, Marx emphasized the empirical significance of economics in human history and assumed that the materialist and atheist philosophy was the logical conclusion of that empirical theory. 9 The truth is that, even if we assume that Marxian economic theory –– namely, the foundational character of economic relations in human history –– is true, it remains a fact that this empirical proposition has nothing to do with the philosophical question of the existence or non-existence of God. The first is an empirical question, whereas the second is a philosophical and non-empirical issue. In order to understand ‘Abdu’l - Baha’s unique approach to Darwinism, we should first distinguish between the realm of empirical science and the realm of philosophical and religious ideas. One of the most important teach ings of the Baha’i Faith is the agreement and harmony of religion and science. ‘Abdu’l -Baha unveils the truth of this agreement by offering an amazing example. According to him, religion and empirical science are like two wings of a bird. Both wings must be strong and harmonious to make the flight of the bird possible: We may think of science as one wing and religion as the other; a bird needs two wings for flight, one alone would be useless. Any religion that contradicts science or that is opposed to it, is only ignorance — for ignorance is the opposite of knowledge. 10 Scientific knowledge is the highest attainment upon the human plane, for science is the discoverer of realities. It is of two kinds: material and spiritual. Material science is the investigation of natural phenomena; divine science is the discovery and realization of spiritual verities. The world of humanity must acquire both. A bird has two wings; it cannot fly with one. Material and spiritual science are the two wings of human uplift and attainment. Both are necessary — one the natural, the other supernatural; one material, the other divine. 11 ‘Abdu’l -Baha and Darwinism as a scientific theory

8 La Mettrie, Julian O , Man a Machine . La Salle: Open Court, 1943. 9 Marx, Karl and Engels, Friedrich, German Ideology . New York: International Publishers, 1970. 10 ‘Abdu’l -Baha , Paris Talks . London: Baha’i publis hing Trust, 1995, p. 133. 11 ‘Abdu’l -Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace . Wilmette: Baha’i publishing Trust, 1982, p. 138.

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