Articles

Learner Explores the Harmony of Science and Religion

Nov 30, 2021

Course: Science, Religion, and the Bahá’í Faith (2021)
Faculty Mentor:
Stephen Friberg

When I enrolled in the course Science, Religion, and the Bahá’í Faith, I wanted to be able to initiate the conversation about the harmony of science and religion whenever I’m confronted with someone who discounts either science or religion. I’m not there yet; I need a lot more practice, and I plan to start participating in the Discussion Center as a means of participating in the discourse in a protected space, so I can then participate in it “out there” in the big, scary world. 

On a very deep level, I wanted to be able to discuss this and other Bahá’í topics with a close friend who is not a Bahá’í. As I continue to study and build my confidence in what I know, and as I learn how to explain it in different ways, I’m willing to try sometime in the not-too-distant future. It’s hard talking to him about Bahá’í topics because I don’t feel able to express myself in a way that he can understand. I think we’re both habituated to the old world ways of thinking and talking, and I have a hard time getting out of that space in a way that allows me to converse with him productively. 

These are some of the understandings and insights I have gained:  

The Bahá’í conception of humans having a spiritual rather than material nature and its usefulness in explaining why we don’t believe our idealism is “pie in the sky.”

The meaning and importance of intellectual humility as a virtue. This concept is a precursor to a humble posture of learning, accompaniment, consultation, and walking together on a path of service. Without intellectual humility, we will be much less successful in the rest.  

The Bahá’í framework and its importance as an evolving tool for guiding our individual and collective actions.

Understanding why Shoghí Effendi said the Bahá’í Faith is scientific in its method (because our method of learning—action, reflection, study, and consultation—is essentially the scientific method).

As a result of the course, I’ve started relearning how to read and study academic-level articles. Now that the class is over, I’m going to go back and fully read all the full-length articles that were excerpted for the purposes of the class. After that, I plan to do research and find my own articles and sources. 

I’m even more excited about this topic now than I was before taking the course. I want to stay involved in this community after the class is over. I want to be around people who like to talk about these topics and engage in collaborative projects with them. I want to do something; I don’t know what yet, but I can’t wait to find out what it might be! 

To use what I have learned in the course, I’m planning to give a fireside talk on some topic related to science and religion in December. I also want to become more comfortable engaging in discourse on elevated topics. I will continue to study and learn, and I will practice having discussions with friends and colleagues on these and related topics. Beyond that, I want to start actively participating in this community of Bahá’í scholarship, in whatever way Bahá’u’lláh sees fit for me to do so. 

Contributors

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Leanne Eleff

Leanne Eleff lives in Phoenix, Arizona. She says "Being raised a Bahá'í, I strive daily to put my Faith into practice through my roles as a wife, mother, friend and engineer."

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