Religion and Science in Harmony:
A New Reality
First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #15
Bahá'í National Center: Wilmette, Illinois, USA
August 9–10, 1997
(see list of papers from #15)
Humanity has witnessed two accelerated trends in its affairs in the twentieth century. One is the rapid growth in scientific and technological achievements which has opened new possibilities, never dreamt of before. The other is the decline of religious and moral values, which has manifested itself in various forms: increased crime, a general sense of insecurity in society, illegal drugs, gang related activities in schools and in society at large, weakening of the family structure, immoralities portrayed in some TV programs and movies, and corruption in public and private sectors, just to name a few.
The Bahá'í writings tell us that the many problems we experience in our societies are the direct results of weakening of the foundation of religion.
Many people feel that religion and science are inherently incompatible. It is said that one is based on scientific method, and the other is rooted in superstition and blind faith.
This presentation is aimed at demonstration of the essential harmony of science and religion. It defines science and religion, evaluates the scientific method and compares it to the role played by religion in the search for truth.
The sources contributing to the misunderstanding of "true" religion are addressed. Both science and religion are evaluated as yardsticks or standards for revealing truth. Does either one of them constitute a perfect measure or balance to judge truth?
Further, historical evidence from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is provided in support of the essential harmony of religion and science. The impacts of these religions on the civilizations of their time are also discussed.
Finally, the dangers of living in a society bereft of the benefits of religion or science are enumerated, and passages from the Bahá'í writings on this topic are shared.
Muin Afnani is a Ph.D. Candidate in Near Eastern Studies, University of California at Berkeley with emphasis on Islam, classical Arabic, and Mysticism. He received a Bachelor of Science in Electronics Engineering (1981) and a Master of Science in Sociology (1983) from Utah State University and a Master of Science in Information & Systems Management from the University of Southern California (1987). His research interests include the history and original writings of the Bahá'í Faith, mysticism, and the role of Bahá'í institutions in socioeconomic developments.
Mr. Afnani works as an engineering manager at a semiconductor electronics company in Milpitas, California; serves as chairman of the Spiritual Assembly of Bahá'í of Fremont, California; is an assistant to an Auxiliary Board member for Protection; and is the father of two daughters.
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