Role of Religion in the Progress of Civilization

By Ramin Vasli

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #111
Centre for Bahá'í Studies: Acuto, Italy
June 30 – July 3, 2012
(see list of papers from #111)

    Today, the majority of intellectuals and scholars believe that religion no longer has any validity. It is generally regarded as superstition or a phenomenon of the past which has no longer efficiency for the modern world. However, fair-minded intellectuals and scholars, although do not believe in the validity of religion, they cannot fully deny or ignore the functions of the religion in the history of civilization as a social institution, i.e., they cannot, in fairness, deny the social impact and power of religion in the history of civilization.

    Jacob Bourkhart says: "three factors have essential and vital role in advancing and establishing a civilization: Religion, government and culture". Hegel, on the other hand, claims, "The attitude of each nation towards God and religion forms and institutes other social and political institutions". According to Hegel, the role of religion, in this process, is more important than other social factors, because religion plays an essential role in the formation of other factors.

    According to the Bahá'í Faith, "The greatest bestowal of God in the world of humanity is religion; for assuredly the divine teachings of religion are above all other sources of instruction and development for man. Religion confers upon man eternal life and guides his footsteps in the world of morality. It opens the doors of unending happiness and bestows everlasting honor upon the human kingdom. It has been the basis of all civilization and progress in the history of mankind" (Baha'i World Faith, `Abdu'l-Bahá's section, pp. 270-280).

    My intention in this article is to prove the fact that how true religion has promoted the civilization and has been the basis of all civilizations and progress in the history of mankind.

    This article is divided into two sections. The first section deals with the difference between true religion and reason-based faith and blind and imitation-based faith. According to Bahá'í Faith, only true religion or reasoned faith has been and will be the cause of the progress of civilization.

    In the second section, I shall consider the influence of true religion on the philosophical thinking in the ancient time, in particular in Greece, and in the modern time by focusing on `Abdu'l-Bahá's Writings.

this paper is not yet online