The Continuity of Consciousness and Phenomena
First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #9
Bahá'í National Center: Wilmette, Illinois, USA
March 29 – April 1, 1996
(see list of papers from #9)
Any worthwhile and comprehensive study of natural phenomena inherently involves or leads to a study of the observer himself and of a fundamental, relativistic, and all-encompassing reality. An aspect of our natural desire to explore and discover, science is a response to the human need to understand ourselves, our origin, our purpose and place in the universe. Arising from the same impulse as humanity's love for God and the recognition of spiritual principles, humanity's intellectual passion for unraveling the intricate mysteries of the phenomenal universe is an immutable expression of our desire for ever more clearly apprehending our own identity and our relationship to the world and its Creator.
As a result, however, of the unprecedented achievements of contemporary research, humanity has outgrown the ancient religious cosmological models of the universe, and science and religion have become alienated. Since the ancient spiritual cosmologies were expressed in a metaphorical language based on world views now thousands of years out of date, their parables are now regarded as antiquated and unscientific, and their symbolic meaning is usually lost. The advent of scientific cosmology has thus had a profound effect on the vitality and influence of traditional and religious cosmologies and the cohesive function and sense of purpose they have always imparted.
For centuries, the natural continuity of spiritual and scientific inquiry has remained irreparably fragmented in the absence of a cosmological model by which they may be rationally justified, mutually fostered, and ideologically reunited. Such an indispensable cosmological model, periodically renewed and updated throughout the history of civilization by successive divine religions, has been the primary means by which humanity has understood its own identity, its relationship to the universe, and the essential purpose for its appearance in the world.
Though as yet undiscovered by the scientific community, the practical cosmological foundation for relating the science of phenomena to the study of humanity and divinity has once again been revealed through the revelation of Bahá'u'lláh. Prominent in the Bahá'í teachings are profound insights into the nature and essential continuity of human consciousness, the spiritual dynamics of scientific research, and the nature of physical phenomena.
The Bahá'í scriptures tell us that the transformation world civilization is destined to undergo for the new world order to be established is indeed cosmological in scope and more fundamental than we can now adequately appreciate. It requires a totally new way of perceiving and understanding the universe and humanity. Without fostering progressive insights into this fundamentally new heaven and new earth, progress toward the new order cannot be expected.
An excellent place to start is by gaining a clearer apprehension of the cosmological elements of the Bahá'í scriptures that can help put into perspective the emerging Bahá'í cosmology so vitally important to the progress, wise application, and understanding of science and technology, and an integrated conception of the universe in which humanity has been created and through which we may discover those mysteries of divinity placed in nature by Providence for our enlightenment.
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