Science, Religion, and Bahá’í Faith: A Panel Discussion

Aug 14, 2022

The topics to be discussed are:

Stephen Friberg: “The scientific method, social values, diversity, and Baha’i consultation.”

Whitney Khazemipour: “Harmonizing Baha’i consultation with social scientific insights to foster effective decision-making and social justice.”

Roger Neyman: “Evolutionary insights from the Bahá’í teachings and their relevance to issues facing humanity.”

Robert Sarracino: “Physics, cosmology and the need for spiritual development.”

The panel discussion will be facilitated and hosted by Charlotte Wenninger and Andres Elvira, who currently serve as Teaching Assistants for the Wilmette Institute course Science, Religion, and the Bahá’í Faith.



Charlotte Wenninger

Charlotte Wenninger has been a Bahá’í for over 30 years. She has served in many capacities in her local Bahá’í community and participated in interfaith dialogue in her home town of Prince George, BC. She is married, raised four daughters and currently has nine grandchildren. Charlotte works in health services as an administrator and has an Instructors Diploma.


Andres Elvira

Andres Elvira is a second-generation Bahá’í from California. He received his undergraduate degree in philosophy—with a minor in anthropology—after transferring from physics at Cal Poly Pomona, and his Masters in bioethics from Loyola Marymount University. His interests include reading, writing, lifelong learning, and science fiction in all forms.


Stephen Friberg, PhD

Physicist, WI Adjunct Lecturer

I’ve been fascinated by science and religion since becoming a Bahá’í in my youth in spiritually charged New Mexico. I discovered that—even though I was the product of a thoroughly secular academic upbringing as the son of a mathematics professor—I now believed in God. Could I do this rationally and consistent with my scientific and rational training? After graduating with a PhD in physics 1985 (quantum entanglement) and doing a post-doc at Bell Labs, I started the Association for Bahá’í Studies (ABS) Science and Religion Special Interest Group with Bill Hatcher and others. While in Japan for 10 years at NTT Basic Research Labs, I started a Japanese ABS. Returning to the states and landing in Silicon Valley, I’ve continued pursuing the topic of the harmony of science and religion in a number of diverse ways, becoming more and more educated about how much I don’t know about this most important of issues. Listen to Stephen’s interview on ‘A Bahá’í Perspective’ podcastSee Faculty Bio


Whitney White Kazemipour, PhD

Independent Scholar, Academic Writing Coach

Since even before becoming a Bahá’í during college, I have been interested in how cultures might evolve towards higher spiritual goals. In pursuit of that interest, I have studied how immigrant mothers have used the knowledge gained in their passage from one country to another to create new forms of spiritual education for their children (for my PhD at UCLA in psychocultural anthropology); how Baha’i communities of Panamanian-indigenous Ngäbe people, inspired by Baha’u’llah’s revelation, challenge and transform gender and racial roles; and how intellectual and cultural trends pulse through revolutions (AB at Princeton University). I am currently exploring whether the insights generated through psychocultural anthropology can help us better understand the revelation of Bahá’u’lláh.See Faculty Bio


Roger Neyman, BS

Independent Scholar and Adjunct Lecturer at WI

I have had a lifelong conviction that science and spirituality were both valid and compelling avenues to finding the truth about the world at large and about the human condition. Further, I was puzzled that some thinkers seemed to see them as being at odds with each other, working to prove them as irreconcilable. In particular, I developed a deep interest in the history of the discourses between the Creationist movement and atheistic neo-Darwinism. Given that their interaction leads to endless conflict and not to resolution of the conflict and unity, it was clear to me that they were missing something essential. As a result, I set out to identify just where each of them went ‘off track’. Bahá’u’lláh’s principles of the necessity of independent investigation of the truth and the harmony of science and religion served as the starting point and bedrock foundation of my searches. Indeed they were one of the deepest sources of attraction that drew me to the Faith at the age of 43, in 1993. Early on in my efforts as a Bahá’í scholar I sensed a deep connection between these principles and the spiritual and intellectual difficulties of our age. This intuition has only been confirmed and reinforced over the intervening years, and I continue to develop this thesis very actively now. Since my retirement from a career in Software Engineering in 2012 I have devoted myself  nearly full-time to scholarship in this field, promotion of harmony between science and religion, and, increasingly, to anti-racism discourses within and on behalf of the Bahá’í community. This work is very much the center of my participation in the Wilmette Institute Science and Religion Courses and Discussion Center.See Faculty Bio


Robert Sarracino, PhD

Physicist, WI Adjunct Lecturer

Robert Sarracino has a doctorate in physics from the University of Victoria, BC, in the field of General Relativity. He is currently retired, living in St. John’s, Newfoundland. He and his wife, Lesley, lived in South Africa for many years, where he worked for a commercial explosives company and at the universities of the Witwatersrand and Cape Town, conducting research on detonation and rock fracture.  He spent five years in Los Alamos, running a small mathematics consulting company. From 2010 to 2013 he taught in the Department of Mathematics and Natural Science at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS). From 2013 until his retirement in 2016 he was Principal Investigator in Numerical Modelling at the Centre for Arctic Resource Development (CARD), in St. John’s, Newfoundland, where he conducted research on the numerical modelling of sea ice and ice-structure interaction. He has had a life-long interest in the harmony of science and religion and has given many informal talks, summer school presentations and more formal presentations, in academic settings, on this topic.  He has been a faculty member for the Wilmette Institute course on Science and Religion for several years.See Faculty Bio

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