Abdu'i-Baha on Darwinism
What is most striking in these two statements is the fact that these two wings are different from each other and none can replace the other. These two different wings must be in harmony with each other so that soaring in the heaven of civilization can take place. In other words, the Baha’ i Faith distinguishes between the realm of empirical knowledge, on the one hand, and philosophy and religion, on the other. Each has its own function and method, and neither can ever replace the other. The agreement of religion with science means that if we find statements which seem to belong to the realm of the natural sciences, but which contradict empirical science, we should conclude that those statements are in fact similes and metaphors for expressing spiritual realities. However, the social laws of religion must correspond with the requirements of the time and space, namely, the requirements of the historical development of humanity. Many religious traditionalists, on issues related to the natural sciences, insist on a literal interpretation of their scriptures, and on issues related to the social laws of their religion, deny any historical and dynamic orientation of their religion. Contrary to this, ‘Abdu’l -Baha removes religion from the realm of the empirical sciences, and by emphasizing the necessary agreement of the social laws of religion with the sociohistorical sciences, he affirms the historical and dynamic nature of religion. ‘Abdu’l - Baha’s criticism of Darwinism is indeed a critique of the philosophical and social interpretations of Darwinism, and not an objection against Darwinism as an empirical and biological theory. He completely agrees with the existence of progress and evolution at the biological level. What he rejects are those philosophical and social interpretations of Darwinism that contradict the principle of evolution and historicity in the realm of history, religion, and culture. He affirms the principle of evolution and change in all aspects of existence. Some of ‘Abdu’l - Baha’s discussions of Darwinism can be fo und in his work, Some Answered Questions. 12 Throughout the book, ‘Abdu’l -Baha negates the atheistic worldview and affirms the spiritual nature of human reality, the progressive nature of religion, and the spiritual truth of all beings as the mirrors and reflections of divine names and attributes. However, this criticism of the philosophical Darwinism is in fact his criticism of social Darwinism. He refutes the idea that society and culture must be governed by the law of the struggle for existence. On the contrary, he affirms that the foundation of society and social progress is cooperation, unity, peace, and solidarity among human beings. Furthermore, his historical consciousness emphasizes that the time has come to realize the spiritual truth of humanity by arriving at a new stage of human historical development by rejecting all kinds of prejudice and overcoming the beastly culture of the struggle for existence, moving towards the oneness of humankind, universal peace, and friendship and fellowship with all humanity. Throughout Some Answered Questions, ‘Abdu’l -Baha demonstrates that intelligible and spiritual truths are usually expressed through sensible metaphors and examples. Although various scriptures apparently speak of issues like Adam and Eve, levels of heaven, creation of the universe in six days, and various strange miracles, yet all these statements are in fact beautiful metaphors for conveying different forms of spiritual and moral truth to humanity. The function of religion is to unveil spiritual and moral truths of humanity, and not to replace natural sciences and the scientific method by offering a religious chemistry, religious astronomy, religious archaeology, or religious biology. This point is so central in
12 ‘Abdu’l -Baha, Some Answered Questions . Haifa: Baha’i World Center, 2014.
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