The Eternal Quest for God: Chapter 9
Chapter 8   Chapter 10
return to Table of Contents


Since man is the outcome of the evolution of the world of creation, he himself is subject -- as any other created thing -- to that `law of progression'[1] whereby any creature appears as a seed, then develops through successive degrees, until it attains maturity and yields its fruit.

Human evolution may be studied in two different perspectives: individual and collective evolution,[2] and should be considered in the light of the three aspects of human nature: material, intellectual, and spiritual.[3]

Individual evolution

The characteristics of this process have been previously examined. We will now summarize them, dwelling only upon certain aspects, so that a more comprehensive view may be obtained.

Material evolution

Material evolution has its beginning in the fertilization of the ovum and its conclusion in the death of the body. It is the object of study of biological sciences: embryology, anatomy, physiology, auxology, gerontology.

Since the material evolution of individual beings is an expression of that `law of progression' to which all created things are subject, it is no wonder that the stages a human embryo goes through while it develops in its mother's womb are very similar to such stages as humanity has collectively traversed during its development on the earth. `Abdu'l-Bahá says: `... the development and growth of man on this earth, until he reached his present perfection, resembles the growth and development of the embryo in the womb of the mother...'.[4]

Intellectual evolution

Intellectual evolution is a gradual process characterized by `... periods, or stages, each of which is marked by certain conditions peculiar to itself'; `... in the human kingdom', says `Abdu'l-Bahá, `man reaches maturity when the lights of intelligence have their greatest power and development.'[5]

The age of intellectual maturity is of the greatest importance in the life of a man. It is that age when he begins to make use of his -- by that time ready -- intellect, so that its assigned functions may be carried out: knowing outer and inner reality and assisting in the process of spiritual fulfillment.

Bahá'u'lláh writes: `... man should know his own self and recognize that which leadeth unto loftiness or lowliness, glory or abasement, wealth or poverty.' Therefore He recommends the power of understanding to be used firstly as an instrument through which, on the one hand, the Divine Law and, on the other, individual capacity of responding to that same Law may become known. And He adds immediately after: `Having attained the stage of fulfillment and reached his maturity, man standeth in need of wealth, and such wealth as he acquireth through crafts and professions is commendable and praiseworthy in the estimation of men of wisdom...'.[6]

Therefore He also recommends the power of understanding to be used not only for purely inner, but also for outer -- personal and social -- purposes.

Bahá'u'lláh writes moreover: `... keenness of understanding is due to keenness of vision',[7] while `Abdu'l-Bahá says: `... a sound mind cannot be but in a sound body',[8] pointing out how closely interrelated are intellectual, spiritual and material developments.

Spiritual evolution

Spiritual evolution is a deliberate and conscious process whereby spiritual qualities bestowed upon human souls in the form of `individuality'8 develop and become manifest as spiritual knowledge, words, feelings and actions, characterized by their being conducive to unity in the world. It is that process the Holy Gospels refer to as `second birth'[9] and the Bahá'í texts as `spiritual progress',[10] or `spirituality'.[11]

Spiritual progress is the highest evolution man undergoes; it is the purpose of his creation; the reason why he is called `fruit'[12] of existence. In fact material evolution is fulfilled in him and a new order and condition appear, through which the evolutionary process goes further, i.e. the spiritual order and condition.

In the spiritual plane, evolution moves forward indefinitely, because in that plane evolution is the acquiring of the ideal and divine virtues of the world of the Kingdom. Now, since a man will never be able to attain perfection as regards those divine qualities, then it follows that this evolutionary process is infinite and eternal. `Abdu'l-Bahá says: `... the virtues of humanity and the possibilities of human advancement are boundless. There is no end for them, and whatever be the degree to which humanity may attain, there are always degrees beyond... There is a consummation for everything except virtues...'.[13]

Virtues are gifts bestowed by God; if we say that they are limited, we say that God is limited. Moreover, to say that a man could attain perfection, in ever one of these virtues is tantamount to saying that he could attain God's perfection. This argument is among the rational proofs of the immortality of the soul, as has been previously expounded.

* * *

Though individual human evolution proceeds on three different levels, yet it is a single process. Moreover these three aspects of human evolution are very similar in character. For example, if we carefully investigate material and intellectual development, we will see that it is characterized by successive detachments or separations from previous situations, which became obsolete as a consequence of growth. When a newborn baby comes out of its mother's womb, it must detach itself from the placenta, which during the time before its birth has been for it an indispensable means of life. Afterwards it must detach itself from its mother's breast, which after its birth and for a certain time has been its primary source of food. Once the child has become detached from its mother's breast it must, as it grows, detach itself from mother herself, who for a time has been its great protector, so that it may proceed in its mastery of its world. Afterwards, it must detach itself from many other situations, both physical and mental, which are useful at a certain stage of its growth, but which become useless and even dangerous as it attains higher levels of maturity. Bahá'u'lláh writes: `If ye be seekers after this life and the vanities thereof, ye should have sought them while ye were still enclosed in your mothers' wombs, for at that time ye were continually approaching them, should ye but perceive it. Ye have, on the other hand, ever since ye were born and attained maturity, been all the while receeding from the world and drawing closer to dust.'[14]

As material life is the embryo's goal and the embryo prepares for it during those thirty-eight weeks it passes in its mother's womb, so life in the world of the Kingdom is man's goal while he lives on the earth and he must prepare for it. Those successive detachments typical of the evolutionary processes he undergoes during his earthly life may therefore be viewed as a prelude to the final detachment, the entrance into the Kingdom beyond death; and as metaphors of the spiritual virtue of detachment, i.e the choice of the attraction towards the world of the Kingdom at the expense of the attraction towards the world of creation.

Human education

The concept of men as `intelligent beings created in the realm of evolutionary growth'[15] or creatures possessed of the capacity of material, intellectual and spiritual growth, is the foundation of Bahá'í pedagogy.

It would be useless to search in the Bahá'í texts for `a definite and detailed educational system': we could not find it. In fact `... the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá... simply offer certain basic principles and set forth a number of teaching ideals that should guide future Bahá'í educationalists in their efforts to formulate an adequate teaching curriculum, which would be in full harmony with the spirit of the Bahá'í Teachings, and would thus meet the requirements and needs of the modern age.'[16]

`Abdu'l-Bahá writes: `... education cannot alter the inner essence of a man, but it doth exert tremendous influence, and with this power it can bring forth from the individual whatever perfections and capacities are deposited within him.'[17]

Education is, therefore, intended as that process through which potential individual qualities are gradually brought forth. From this point of view, the entire evolutionary process is an educational process. Bahá'u'lláh writes: `Consider, for instance, the revelation of the light of the Name of God, the Educator. Behold, how in all things the evidences of such revelation are manifest, how the betterment of all beings dependeth upon it. This education is of two kinds. The one is universal. Its influence pervadeth all things and sustaineth them. It is for this reason that God hath assumed the title, "Lord of all the worlds". The other is confined to them that have come under the shadow of this Name, and sought the shelter of this most mighty Revelation.'[18]

This evolutionary-educational process, stretching from the atom to Perfect Man, is ultimately the best pedagogical pattern. As that universal process of evolution of the world of existence proceeds along three lines -- material, intellectual and spiritual -- and consists in the gradual appearance of the qualities of the world of the Kingdom, so human education must proceed simultaneously along the same lines and must aim at assisting individuals to manifest their peculiar potential qualities. Thus `Abdu'l-Bahá concisely explains, in one of His Tablets, the criteria of such education: `All humankind are as children in a school, and the Dawning-Points of Light, the Sources of divine revelation, are the teachers, wondrous and without peer. In the school of realities they educate these sons and daughters, according to teachings from God, and foster them in the bosom of grace, so that they may develop along every line, show forth the excellent gifts and blessings of the Lord, and combine human perfections; that they may advance in all aspects of human endeavour, whether outward or inward, hidden or visible, material or spiritual, until they make of this mortal world a wide-spread mirror, to reflect that other world that dieth not.'[19]

It is the Manifestation of God who bestows upon men whatever they need for their education. Human educators should aim at drawing from His teachings a pedagogical system whereby individuals may be assisted in manifesting in act their God-given material, intellectual and spiritual potentialities.[20]

In the light of these concepts, every human being is viewed as a `mine rich in gems of inestimable value',[21] inimitable, unique, and as such to be considered with the greatest respect from the very beginning of his existence, as soon as the ovum is fertilized. Bahá'u'lláh writes: `Man is even as steel, the essence of which is hidden: through admonition and explanation, good counsel and education, that essence will be brought to light. If, however, he be allowed to remain in his original condition, the corrosion of lusts and appetites will effectively destroy him.'[22]

And elsewhere: `Education can, alone, cause it [the mine of human hearts] to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom.'[23]

No wonder therefore that the principle of universal compulsory education is one the Bahá'í principles.

Bahá'u'lláh writes: `Unto every father hath been enjoined the instruction of his sons and daughters in the art of reading and writing and in all that hath been laid down in the Holy Tablet. He that putteth away that which is commanded unto him, the Trustees are then to take from him that which is required for their instruction, if he be wealthy, and if not the matter devolveth upon the House of Justice.'[24]

Such is the importance attached in the Bahá'í texts to the education of children that in the Bahá'í view most of the problems afflicting modern society will not be solved until this vital prerequisite is properly met.[25]

Material education. As to material education, Bahá'í texts give a few fundamental principles about hygiene and health which modern medical scholars and students would do well to peruse and develop. In fact the Bahá'í texts pay the greatest attention to the problem of prevention, which is today an object of general interest,[26] and propose many ideas on this topic.

  1. The idea that the body, as the temple of the soul, should be kept away from anything may cause `repugnance'27 is the foundation of hygiene, to which Bahá'u'lláh attaches the greatest importance.[28]

    `Abdu'l-Bahá explains aspects of cleanliness and purity in one of His most well-known Tablets, where He writes: `First in a human being way of life must be purity, then freshness, cleanliness, and independence of spirit.' Then He adds: `And although bodily cleanliness is a physical thing, it hath, nevertheless, a powerful influence on the life of the spirit.'[29]

    And He explains this concept through a comparison between bodily cleanliness and music which, though it is mere sound, may yet stir deep feelings within human hearts.[30]

  2. The recommendation of moderation in daily living is another fundamental factor in preserving good health. `... the temperance and moderation of a natural way of life' enable man to preserve that `state of equilibrium' whereby `whatever is relished will be beneficial to health'.[31]

  3. The injunction to abstain from every habit-forming substance (not only drugs, but also alcohol[32]) as well as the exhortation to abstain from smoking[33] are other important factors of material education.

  4. The recommendation of the pursuit of spiritual growth is another factor of physical health. Spiritual growth enables man to guide his emotions -- and among these also sexual emotions -- instead of repressing them or yielding to them, and is thus conducive to a feeling of spiritual joy, which is an important factor of physical health.[34]

  5. The injunction of bearing fruits in life through an useful work contributes to that feeling of personal fulfillment which is indispensable for a healthy life. Bahá'u'lláh writes: `... when occupied with work one is less likely to dwell on the unpleasant aspects of life.'[35]

    In the Bahá'í texts, human work is released from the divine curse mentioned in the Book of Genesis: `cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;... in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread'.[36]

    Bahá'u'lláh writes: `We have graciously exalted your engagement in such work to the rank of worship unto God, the True One... When anyone occupieth himself in a craft or trade, such occupation itself is regarded in the estimation of God as an act of worship; and this is naught but a token of His infinite and all-pervasive bounty.'[37]

  6. Collective commitment to the task of creating and preserving a healthy and balanced civilization in the world will contribute to such a social environment as will favour the healthy development of human beings.[38]

    Moreover, love of God and the vision of the world as a garden to cultivate and beautify, imply an effort to protect and improve the natural environment, which will undoubtedly be to the advantage of the physical health of mankind.[39]

  7. The recommendation that girls should study `whatever will nurture the health of the body and its physical soundness, and how to guard their children from disease'40 contributes to the promotion of the awareness of the necessity of preventive medicine and to the acquisition of the ability of practise it.

Intellectual education. The Bahá'í texts intellectual education is viewed as a fundamental and inescapable aspect of human life. Parents -- or in their absence or incapacity, society itself -- have the sacred duty of assuring that each human being not only knows how to read and write, but also how to carry out a useful work.[41]

Thus every individual will be independent and his special potentialities will not be lost to society. Moreover, individuals are enabled through intellectual education to avail themselves of all those bounties, whether natural products or fruits of human ingeniousness, which God has bestowed upon the world of creation for the benefit of mankind.

According to the Bahá'í texts, intellectual education should inculcate certain fundamental concepts of vital importance for the creation of a true international culture:

  1. free and unfettered search after truth;
  2. freedom from every kind of prejudice, be it racial, religious, national, social, cultural or of any other kind;
  3. the oneness of mankind;
  4. the oneness of religion;
  5. harmony between science and religion, reason and faith, so that superstition and materialism, both conducive to prejudice and conflict, may disappear from the world;
  6. an auxiliary international language, so that communication may be greatly improved, even among people of very distant countries.

Spiritual education. By spiritual education is meant that kind of education which, on the one hand, enables man to understand his own spiritual nature and to learn the dynamics of its development so that once maturity has been attained, he may autonomously foster his own spiritual growth, and, on the other, which trains him from his early childhood so that he may manifest in his life the qualities of the world of the Kingdom and not the traits of the world of creation.

Spiritual education should begin early if this twofold purpose is to be achieved. It is recommended that spiritual laws be taught in early childhood,[42] that at the same time feelings conducive to the desire to observe these laws be inspired in the hearts of children,[43] and that the habit of such attitudes be inculcated in them. Two inner attitudes seem of vital importance in the attainment of these goals: `love of reality'[44] and love of God. Through the former, man is spurred towards that knowledge of reality that enables him to escape from the self-deception of blind imitation. Through the latter, not only does he accept the sacrifice required in the path of spiritual progress, but as well he attains to a joy born of the inner experience of the qualities of the world of the Kingdom, a joy by which he is motivated in his actions. Thus man makes progress in all the three fundamental aspects of his reality: knowledge, love and will. The secret of his equilibrium and serenity lies in such a harmonious growth.

When a child is given a material, intellectual and spiritual education in the light of the teachings of the Manifestation of God, he will be assisted to fulfil the purpose of his creation, within the limits of his personal endowments and particular circumstances. This is one of the most important aspects of such a unitary, balanced and harmonious concept of human life as emerges from the Bahá'í texts. This education is also the most important means through which the long cherished ideal of the oneness of mankind will be realized. In other words, this education both purposes the goal of unity, and also assists every individual in acquiring the instruments (qualities and capacities), required to attain it and the eagerness to do so. Finally, it improves individual behaviour and thus creates an optimal social environment within which any individual potentiality may become manifest.[45]

The evolution of mankind

`Abdu'l-Bahá says: `the body politic may be likened to the human organism.' And moreover: `the world of humanity may be likened to the individual man himself.'[46]

This analogy between the individual and the collectivity extends to the development of humanity. As individual human beings grow to maturity from zygotes or fertilized human ova, traversing successive stages of development in the three aspects -- physical, intellectual and spiritual -- of their reality, so mankind itself evolves through successive stages of development in its physical, intellectual and spiritual nature.[47]

Material evolution

If we study the evolution of life on the earth, we will recognize a thread through which we could go back in time and discover the ancestors of mankind, material entities quite different in their material attributes from present human beings. However, each of these ancestors was a potential human being, because present human beings derive (albeit after a very long time) from them, and not from other creatures, however similar they may be. Therefore `Abdu'l-Bahá says: `When we were in the mineral kingdom, although we were endowed with certain gifts and powers, they were not to be compared with the blessings of the human kingdom.' Those ancient stages are stages of immaturity and preparation. He says: `In the world of existence man has traversed successive degrees until he has attained the human kingdom. In each degree of his progression he has developed capacity for advancement to the next station and condition. While in the kingdom of the mineral, he was attaining the capacity for promotion into the degree of the vegetable. In the kingdom of the vegetable he underwent preparation for the world of the animal, and from thence he has come onward to the human degree, or kingdom. Throughout this journey of progression he has ever and always been potentially man.'[48]

Thus `Abdu'l-Bahá explains that man has always been in existence, as regards his spiritual reality. His evolution was and is a continuous, although not uniform, process, through which his potentialities have been gradually becoming manifest and continue to do so. And yet he was not always in existence, as regards his physical reality, in the shape we see today: in this respect he has undergone successive transformations. However, since his physical reality is temporary, whereas his spiritual reality is lasting, the latter is undoubtedly of much greater importance than the former. Therefore we could say that man, as regards his more important spiritual reality, has always been in existence, independently of all those changes his physical body has undergone throughout the ages on the earth. This is a confutation of the theory whereby a man is a descendant of the animals and belongs to the animal kingdom. Though `Abdu'l-Bahá pursues this confutation through persuasive arguments, yet He does not deny that in past ages the human body was quite different from what it is today. The most important arguments of `Abdu'l-Bahá's refutation are summarized here:[49]
    1. The universe is and ever has been free from imperfection;
    2. man is the apex of the world of creation;
    3. if man was not always in existence in the world, then there was a time when the world of creation was imperfect;
    4. therefore man has always been in existence.[50]

    The same argument is set forth also in other words: if the purpose of the universe is that the divine perfections may appear in the world, and if these divine perfections have their highest expression in the universe through man, then it is impossible for man not to have always been in existence, for in that case creation would have been imperfect, and God Himself would be imperfect. Man is here intended -- says `Abdu'l-Bahá -- as the Perfect Man, the Manifestation of God.[51]

  1. Every creature owes its own perfections to five factors regarding its component elements: their quality, their proportionate quantities, their mutual balance, the mode and method of their combination, their mutual influence. To all this the influence and action of the different beings should be added. Whenever the same conditions are realized, the ensuing creature is the same. Therefore, man was always a man. `... [W]hen these existing elements', says `Abdu'l-Bahá, `are gathered together according to the natural order, and with perfect strength, they become a magnet for the spirit; and the spirit will become manifest in them with all its perfections.' Thus, according to the different characteristics of these five factors, from the combination of the elements a mineral, a vegetable, an animal or a human being will respectively come into existence.[52]

  2. `Abdu'l-Bahá says that undoubtedly: `... man at a time was an inmate of the sea, at another period an invertebrate, then a vertebrate and finally a human being standing erect'. There-fore, when we see vestiges of disappeared organs in him, this means only that his previous shape was different from his present one and that his outward appearance has changed. But just as a human embryo is a human being from the very beginning, though it is quite different in its aspect from an adult human being, so also primitive man was a man from the beginning.[53]

  3. Human discoveries and inventions cannot be the outcome of faculties shared by men and animals. In fact, animals are very often possessed of superior physical capacities in comparison with man. Therefore, `... if there were not in man a power different from any of those of the animals, the latter would be superior to man in inventions and the comprehension of realities.' From this argument it becomes clear that man is endowed with something which makes him totally different from animals.[54]

  4. Animals appeared on the earth before man, because their constitution is simpler. Therefore a shorter lapse of time was required for them to be framed in the laboratory of nature. It is only a temporal priority. Men and animals are like the fruits of the same tree; they attain maturity at different times, but more recent men do not come from more ancient animals.[55]

  5. Certain traces of organs in human body are considered as a proof of its animal descent. However those vestiges. could be organs whose function is as yet unknown, just as with many other things in the universe.[56]

    Moreover we know with certainty that human organs have undergone great changes in the course of evolution.[57]

In conclusion: modern scientists consider man in his physical nature, and uphold that in ancient ages he was an animal. There is a semblance of truth in their assumption, provided man be viewed only in his physical aspects. But if we say that men are `intelligent beings created in the realm of evolutionary growth'[58] and if we remember that `in the beginning of his [man's] formation the mind and spirit also existed, but they were hidden; later they were manifested',[59] a conclusion may be arrived at agreeing both with scientific theories and the explanations given by `Abdu'l-Bahá. Man has undergone material, intellectual and spiritual evolution; in the course of his evolution his shape and behaviour have changed; but potentially he was always a man, even when his typical human quality -- the power of understanding -- was as yet undeveloped. As in the zygote the adult man is potentially existent, so `... in the protoplasm, man is man', says `Abdu'l-Bahá; even in the `mineral' man already exists.[60]

Intellectual evolution

According to recent paleontological discoveries, the first expressions of human intellect are the primitive lithic industries (choppers and chopping tools) dating back three million years ago. Australopithecus may have been responsible for that important step. They appeared about five million years ago and disappeared after four million years, and are considered as hominids, and not human beings.

Man used his mind first -- as may be easily understood -- for exploring and knowing material reality; food, shelter, protection against natural phenomena, ways of living in common with his fellow-beings, were his earliest cares.

The earliest signs from which we may infer that man had begun to investigate spiritual reality are much more recent: they could be the earliest remnants of the cult of the dead, which started sporadically about 75,000 years ago, and became a usual practice 35,000 years later. But when and how the concept of a spiritual and transcendent reality was first conceived by a human being is likely to remain a hidden secret.

In the light of what has been said about man in previous chapters, man could be described as a creature which knows how to produce tools (because he knows, and knows how to modify, material reality) and leaves behind traces of cult (because he is, albeit dimly, aware of spiritual reality and modifies his own behaviour in consequence). After all, it is a question of definition: are human zygotes men or not? And what are embryos and foetuses? And newborn babies, children, adolescents? Is a man only an adult human being at the age of his full psycho-physical maturity? Then what shall we say of a spiritually immature man? Is that a man? Undoubtedly, the Manifestation of God alone is a Perfect Man, since He manifests the whole perfection of the Self of God, i.e. the image of God he has in Himself. Yet whoever has been potentially endowed with this image is also man, no matter how much of that potentiality has become actuality within him. As the zygote is man from the very beginning, because a man and not, for instance, a chimpanzee will issue forth from it, so also man are `the protoplasm' and the `mineral' from which a man, as we see him today, will be born in the course of long ages.

`Abdu'l-Bahá says: `The important factor in human improvement is the mind... otherwise, no result will be attained from betterment of the mere physical structure.'[61]

This idea is shared by most modern paleontologists when they say that culture, an outcome of human intellect, is the reason for man's supremacy over other living creatures. F. Facchini says: `Evolutionary history teaches that man's success on the earth is mostly due to his culture...'.[62]

Up to now intellectual development has not been homogeneous in the different parts of the world. There was a time when different species of hominids and men coexisted on the earth: Australopithecus and Homo habilis, Homo habilis and Homo erectus, Homo erectus and Homo sapiens. Even today we see in the world men of many different levels of intellectual development: men of cybernetics and informatics live in the same planet as so called primitive people: Australian Arandas, African Pygmies, Guyanan Wai-wais, Burnei Keniahs, whose intellectual development is of a quite different level.

One of the most typical and promising traits of our present age is the concrete and real possibility that such differences may disappear. Technological tools are available, the cultural drive is present everywhere in the world. Many knowledgeable, assenting and enlightened human beings are striving towards such a goal. Though it is mostly viewed as difficult and remote, yet groups of people all over the world -- among them the Bahá'ís -- already see how this long cherished hope may be realized, and propose and promote action so that it may come about.[63]

That the human mind has been used only from recent times is undoubtedly an encouraging fact. Human history and pre- history, during which we know that mind has been used, is in fact very short -- a few thousand years -- in comparison to the millions of years of human evolution. Therefore it is hoped that intellectual evolution will produce great results in human individual and social behaviour. At present, modern society is founded upon the struggle for existence with the sometimes metaphorical but all-too-often, alas, literal survival of the fittest. Human society thus still resembles an animal society, and is quite remote from a true human society, which should be founded upon such cooperation as intellect demonstrates and humanity requires.

The intellectual development of humanity is conducive to the flourishing of that aspect of civilization `Abdu'l-Bahá calls material. In fact, as man develops in his intellect, he investigates material reality. Material science is produced, and that is conducive to `material progress' and `material civilization'.[64]

This aspect of civilization `ensures the happiness of the human world', says `Abdu'l-Bahá; however `alone [it] will not satisfy', because `its benefits are limited to the world of matter', whereas man is not a mere material being, but primarily a spiritual being. `Abdu'l-Bahá says moreover: `... although material advancement furthers good purposes in life, at the same time it serves evil ends' and `in material civilization good and evil advance together and maintain the same pace'. Material civilization can both build `schools and colleges, hospitals, philanthropic institutions, scientific academies and temples of philosophy' and also produce `means and weapons for human destruction'.

The divine or spiritual civilization deriving from spiritual progress is the indispensable prerequisite of a happy human life. `Abdu'l-Bahá says: `For man two wings are necessary. One wing is physical power and material civilization; the other is spiritual power and divine civilization. With one wing only, flight is impossible. Two wings are essential.' He says moreover: `material civilization is like unto the lamp, while spiritual civilization is the light in that lamp... material civilization is like unto a beautiful body, and spiritual civilization is like unto the spirit of life.'[65]

According to the Bahá'í texts, mankind is today well advanced in the field of material civilization, and the flourishing of a divine civilization which will enlighten the whole world is at hand.

Spiritual evolution

Spiritual evolution becomes manifest in human history as an increasing capacity of man to manifest his divine qualities through his knowledge, actions, feelings and words. `Abdu'l-Bahá says: `... that the splendour of the Sun of Reality may be revealed fully in human hearts as in a mirror... This is the true evolution and progress of humanity.'[66]

`The chain of successive Revelations'67 has been guiding (and continues to guide) man towards an ever deeper understanding of spiritual reality and a more and more perfect moral capacity. From the concept of the existence of God and the awareness of good and evil taught by Adam, to the concept of the `unity of God'[68] taught by Abraham, who -- in `Abdu'l-Bahá's words -- was `the Founder of Monotheism';[69] from the concept of the due observance of the `law of God' which Moses `founded' to `the attainment of supreme human virtues through love'[70] suggested by Christ, to the union of a people and the founding of a nation upon the divine law[71] taught by Muhammad, man, guided by these `agents of one civilizing process'[72] has passed through various phases in his knowledge of spiritual reality and in his manifesting of it through his actions and undertakings. We are just now emerging from a vision of spiritual reality which could be described as mythological -- `we see through a glass, darkly'[73] said St Paul -- and after a quite defective expression of spiritual truth, we now stand on the threshold of an era when -- as Christ said to His disciples -- the Holy Spirit is leading mankind `into all truth'.[74]

This Gospel statement is certainly difficult to understand. However, it would appear that a man who has attained his physical maturity and who has learnt how to avail himself of his mind, will face the issue of spirituality in a totally new way when compared with the past. Therefore, `Abdu'l-Bahá joyously announces: `Development and progression imply gradual stages or degrees... Now is the beginning of the manifestation of spiritual power'; `now [the world of humanity] is approaching maturity';[75] and moreover: `... the Manifestation of the Most Great Name [Bahá'u'lláh] `... was an expression of the coming of age, the maturing of man's inmost reality in the world of being.'[76]

Human mind has been prepared and trained throughout the ages; today at last it is ready to attain a deeper knowledge of the mysteries of transcendency and the spiritual laws of the universe. Therefore, man is at long last ready to take into his hands the reins of his own spiritual development, by conforming himself to those means and methods which have been previously mentioned. `It is like the birth from the animal kingdom into the kingdom of man', says `Abdu'l-Bahá. These words remind us of the stupendous revolutions through which man gradually emerged from an animal way of living, and became the creature he is today: upright position, speech, the discovery of fire, the production of the earliest tools, agriculture, the earliest societies, etc. No wonder that the Bahá'í texts foresee, beyond the immediate dark horizons, a luminous future for mankind on the earth. `This time of the world', says `Abdu'l-Bahá, `may be likened to the equinoctial in the annual cycle... this is the spring season of God.' Therefore, the incoming age will be such as mankind `will realize an immeasurable progress upward', and `spiritual effulgences will overcome the physical, so that divine susceptibilities will overpower material intelligence...'.[77]

The spiritual development of mankind is conducive to the development of divine civilization, whose real founders are the Prophets. `Abdu'l-Bahá says: `Their mission is the education and advancement of the world of humanity. They are the real Teachers and Educators, the universal Instructors of mankind.' `Mankind receives the bounties of material civilization as well as divine civilization from the heavenly Prophets. The capacity for achieving extraordinary and praiseworthy progress is bestowed by Them through the breaths of the Holy Spirit, and heavenly civilization is not possible of attainment or accomplishment otherwise.'[78]

This capacity of educating mankind is the foremost proof through which the Manifestations of God may be distinguished from the great heroes of history. Historians will therefore have to re-read the annals of the peoples of the world in the light of this important concept. It will thus become manifest that there is no civilization which is not founded upon a Divine Revelation. Up to now the Manifestations of God exerted their influence upon a single people or small groups of peoples. That is why so many civilizations and cultures exist in the world. Today thanks to the preliminary work done by the ancient `preliminary Manifestations',[79]

mankind has attained its maturity, so that a global teaching may be understood, and a world civilization may be established. This will certainly not signal the end of the spiritual evolution of mankind. This evolution will continue throughout the ages, propelled by the teachings of many other future Manifestations.[80]

In the course of history, material and spiritual civilization advanced at the same rate and not one after the other, or the one in opposition to the other. Each civilization manifested in different degree one or the other aspect, depending upon the circumstances and the intellectual and spiritual maturity attained within its sphere of influence. Today, our civilization is characterized by a great material and intellectual development and a quite poor spiritual development. A dangerous disharmony has resulted and the whole world is affected by its consequences. This disharmony will be corrected only when mankind makes sufficient progress in its spiritual nature also.

The future civilization -- whose model, methods and ways are clearly set forth in the Bahá'í texts -- will be the civilization of a mature mankind. Its progress will therefore be infinite. `Abdu'l-Bahá says: `There is no limitation to the spirit of man, for spirit in itself is progressive, and if the divine civilization be established, the spirit of man will advance. Every developed susceptibility will increase the effectiveness of man. Discoveries of the real will become more and more possible, and the influence of divine guidance will be increasingly recognized. All this is conducive to the divine form of civilization.'[81]

Contemporaneousness of material, intellectual and spiritual evolutionary processes

Though the evolutionary processes of mankind develop along three different lines, material, intellectual and spiritual, yet they are a single process, whose stages coincide to a certain extent. Simpler capacities appear earlier; more complex capacities appear at a more advanced stage of development. Therefore material evolution begins earlier. A special bodily structure is formed. This structure is conducive to certain material behaviours, and these in their turn are conducive to the expression of certain intellectual and spiritual qualities. Going back to the origin of man -- seven to eight million years ago, according to paleontologists -- the upright position released forelimbs from locomotion, and left them at man's disposal so that he could use them for the manipulation of objects. These activities in their turn were the cause of the quantitative and qualitative development of encephalic structures, which thus became fit for an early expression of the mental faculties of the soul. It was about three million years ago that man began to produce handmade products. Through that activity, mental faculties developed. Mind was then trained: first, it knew material reality; then -- undoubtedly directed by ancient Manifestations of God whose traces have been lost due to `their extreme remoteness, as well as to the vast changes which the earth hath undergone since their time'82 -- it became aware of and began to study spiritual reality too. As mind continues to develop man is acquiring a wider and deeper inner perception of reality and thus he is raising his aims toward transcendent goals of love and unity, order and peace.

Discontinuity of evolutionary process

Since the revelations of the Manifestations of God are the mainspring of human development, human progress has not been uniform, but discontinuous. On a diagram, we should represent it not as an ascending and continuous line, but as an ascending and broken one. In fact, in the course of human history periods characterized by great upheavals and innovations have been followed by periods of fruition, and afterwards by periods of stagnation and even regression. `Abdu'l-Bahá likens this evolutionary process to the succession of seasons in the course of the solar year: springtime is characterized by an outburst of life; in summer and autumn trees and plants grow and yield their fruits; in winter there is an apparent decay and stagnation of every form of life (trees shed their leaves, certain animals go into hibernation, once-flourishing vegetation withers and apparently dies). Modern scientists agree with this important concept, as regards both biological and historical evolutionary process. As to biological evolution, F. Facchini writes: `The concept of evolution implies that transformations are somehow gradual. However today phases of acceleration and of slackening are generally accepted.'[83]

As to historical evolution, E. Laszlo describes a `succession of relatively prolonged periods of stagnation and epochs of revolutionary change.'[84]

Social evolution

The material, intellectual and spiritual development of mankind has always had important expressions within society. As man advances in his progress, he achieves a better understanding of the importance of socialization. `Abdu'l-Bahá says: `Some of the creatures of existence can live solitary and alone, A tree, for instance, may live without the assistance and cooperation of other trees. Some animals are isolated and lead a separate existence away from their kind. But this is impossible for man. In his life and being, cooperation and association are essential. Through association and meeting we find happiness and development, individual and collective.'[85]

Social development is a gradual process, as is any other kind of development. `Abdu'l-Bahá says: `... there are periods and stages in the life of the aggregate world of humanity.' Since `The body politic may be likened to the human organism', various stages may be distinguished in social evolution. `Abdu'l-Bahá says: `The world of humanity has, heretofore, been in the stage of infancy; now it is approaching maturity.' The characteristics of the various ages mankind has gone through during its social evolution reflect the grade of maturity of mankind. This maturity expresses itself in `the collective expressions of unity' man-kind is capable of attaining. In fact, as `cooperation and association are essential'[86] for man, so his capacity of forming widening groups including increasing numbers of increasingly different human beings is the sign of his progressive social growth.[87]

This concept is shared by some contemporary scholars. F. Facchini says: `Evolutionary history shows that man's success is mainly due to his culture, through an increasing tension of communication and by virtue of widening unities whose importance should be stressed. Undoubtedly the onward march of mankind has been beset with competitions and struggles, that may have been conducive to important turning-points.'[88]

`Abdu'l-Bahá writes: `Every imperfect soul is self-centred and thinketh only of his own good. But as his thoughts expand a little he will begin to think of the welfare and comfort of his family. If his ideas still more widen, his concern will be the felicity of his fellow citizens; and if still they widen, he will be thinking of the glory of his land and of his race. But when ideas and views reach the utmost degree of expansion and attain the stage of perfection, then will he be interested in the exaltation of humankind. He will then be the well-wisher of all men and the seeker of the weal and prosperity of all lands. This is indicative of perfection.'[89]

Shoghi Effendi explains that human evolution `... has had its earliest beginnings in the birth of family life, its subsequent development in the achievement of tribal solidarity, leading in turn to the constitution of the city-state, and expanding later into the institution of independent and sovereign nations.'[90]

But as `now is the beginning of the manifestation of spiritual power', and mankind `is approaching maturity',[91] so the highest possible level of cooperation and unity in the world -- the unity of mankind -- can be at last attained. This concept is not new: some consider it to be merely utopian, but its advent is predicted and its realization is promoted by the most enlightened minds. And it may well be foreseen that just as `the spirit of a rising nationalism among the peoples liberated from the Napoleonic yoke', strongly opposed to as it was by `the members of the Holy Alliance',[92] succeeded in conquering the whole world, so likewise today, `the process of nation building'[93] being completed, the concept of the unity of the nations, although strongly opposed by unrestrained nationalistic forces in the recent past decades and despite the fact that it is still today considered utopian, may become in a not distant future an operating reality for the good of all mankind. `Brotherhood' is -- in the words of `Abdu'l-Bahá -- `potential... natal... intended in humanity'.[94]

Therefore mankind, far from being `incorrigibly selfish and aggressive',[95] as many think today, is possessed of the capacity of co-operation with his fellowmen, and such co operation is the purpose of his creation.[96]

Until mankind expresses such potential capacity, any real global progress will be unattainable.

This is why the Bahá'í texts exalt the greatness of this day which they call `Day of God', the day of the spiritual maturity of mankind. Bahá'u'lláh refers to it thus: `The potentialities inherent in the station of man, the full measure of his destiny on earth, the innate excellence of his reality, must all be manifested in this promised Day of God.'[97]

An early social and organizational expression of this stage of maturity -- which will be realized by degrees as any other process of growth in the world of being -- might be the establishment of `a social system at once progressive and peaceful, dynamic and harmonious, a system giving free play to individual creativity and initiative but based on co- operation and reciprocity'.[98]

Such a society will undoubtedly ensure peace and justice and may therefore be viewed as an early stage of that advent of the Kingdom of God which was the promise of the ancient religions.[99]

Up to now, paleontology and history describe the evolution of mankind from Australopithecus to Homo habilis, to Homo erectus, to Homo sapiens: mankind has traversed in its collective growth the stages of physical, psycho-physical and intellectual maturity. This is the day of its spiritual maturity, and mankind is on the verge of its attainment. Spiritual maturity implies that man learn how to escape the yoke of nature in his social behaviours as well as in his individual life. Once, the crowd was viewed as a blind element, an easy prey of the lowest passions and of animal instincts. This view is true of an animal-like society founded upon the law of competition. It is to such a society that Konrad Lorenz refers when he writes: `The Ten Commandments begin to lose their fundamental effectiveness when the anonymity of human society increases... The imagination of human heart is not evil from youth onwards, humans are good enough for eleven-man societies, but not good enough to commit themselves for an anonymous, personally unknown member of a mass society...'[100]

In the Bahá'í view, man must be taught from his childhood the concept of the unity of mankind. A society will consequently appear in whose contexts the instincts -- which in the Bahá'í texts are mostly referred to as natural emotions of the natal self -- will be under the guidance of a spiritually enlightened intellect. Such a society will be founded upon cooperation and, in due time, upon love, and will therefore begin to mirror forth into the world the unity of the divine world of the Kingdom.

A crucial stage of human development has begun. In this stage the virtues of the spiritual world revealed by Christ so that they might become manifest in the life of individuals and in personal relations, can and must become the rule even in social life. This is the stage of the spiritualization of society. Thus man fulfils the purpose of his creation: `the attainment of the supreme virtues of humanity, through descent of the heavenly bestowals', `so the body of the world will receive its vivification through the animating virtue of the sanctified spirit of man'.[101]

Evolution-creation drew forth from the chaos of original matter the ordered universe we know today, with its most exquisite fruit: man. Thanks to his characteristic and extraordinary power of understanding and through the indispensable assistance and guidance of the Holy Spirit, man can mirror forth in the physical plane of existence the excellence of the world of the Kingdom. From the original chaos of an animal-like society, with its prevailing law `homo homini lupus' theorized by Hobbes,[102] man through his efforts of voluntary and conscious submission to the enlightened divine guidance vouchsafed by the Manifestation of God creates a society where the natural emotions of the natal self are guided and harmonized by the qualities of the spirit, and thus equilibrium, beauty, love and creativity become manifest. It is impossible to imagine a higher stage in the material plane of existence. This stage is the apex of social evolution and a mighty sign of God, made manifest in this world of creation through human efforts guided by the Holy Spirit.

End notes:

[1] Promulgation, p.302.

[2] `Abdu'l-Bahá says: `Just as he [man] advances by progressive stages from the mere physical world of being into the intellectual realm, so must he develop upward in moral attributes and spiritual graces. In the process of this attainment he is ever in need of the bestowals of the Holy Spirit.' (Promulgation, p.288.)

[3] E. Laszlo says: `Scientific evidence of the patterns traced by evolution in the physical universe, in the living world, and even in the world of history is growing rapidly. It is coalescing into the image of basic regularities that repeat and recur. It is now possible to search out these regularities and obtain a glimpse of the fundamental nature of evolution -- of the evolution of the cosmos as a whole, including the living world and the world of human social history... We can now begin to make sense of he confusing tangle of facts and events that make up the history of human societies and understand the most basic laws of change and transformation.' (Evolution, pp.5-6.)

[4] Some Answered Questions, p.183. This concept is reminiscent of the famous statement by E.H. Haeckel: `Ontogenesis summarizes phylogenesis.' (Generelle Morphologie der Organismen.)

[5] Promulgation, p.438.

[6] Tablets, p.35.

[7] `Tablet to Dr. A. Forel' in Bahá'í World, XV, p.38.

[8] Divine Philosophy, p.127.

[9] John 3:1-8.

[10] Promulgation, p.142.

[11] Paris Talks, p.112.

[12] Divine Philosophy, p.105.

[13] Promulgation, p.377.

[14] Gleanings, p.128.

[15] Promulgation, p.129.

[16] Letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, quoted in Bahá'í Education (comp.), p.70.

[17] Selections, p.132.

[18] Gleanings, pp.189-90.

[19] Quoted in Bahá'í Education (comp.), p.30.

[20] This pedagogical concept implies that man is potentially capable of learning and that his educators should merely assist him in making a good use of his own qualities, so that he may find his own solutions and answers to his manifold problems, in the awareness that absolute Truth is far beyond the reach of man. See above, pp.8-9. As such, this pedagogical concept is reminiscent of the ancient Socratic maieutic method.

[21] Gleanings, p.260.

[22] Quoted in Bahá'í Education (comp.), p.3.

[23] Gleanings, p.260.

[24] Kitáb-i-Aqdas, in Synopsis, p.15. `Abdu'l-Bahá says: `... universal education is a universal law.' (Promulgation, p.300.) He writes moreover: `If the parents are able to provide the expenses of this education, it is well, otherwise the community must provide the means for the teaching of that child.' (Selections, p.304.)

[25] This concept is explained in its manifold aspects by the Universal House of Justice (see above, p.20, n.92) in its weighty The Promise of the World Peace, addressed `To People of the World' in 1985.

[26] The idea that medical science should prevent, rather than cure disease, is not new in the history of medicine. Yet general interest began to focus upon it only after the International Conference on Primary Health Care held at Alma-Ata on 6-12 September 1978. During that Conference, a new definition of health was worded, as `a condition of complete physical, mental and social well-being', and not merely as `absence of sickness and disease'; it was stated moreover that `the promotion and protection of human health is a conditio sine qua non for a sustained economical and social progress.'

27 The Báb writes: `God loveth those who are pure. Naught in the Bayán and in the sight of God is more loved than purity and immaculate cleanliness...' (Selections, p.80.) And moreover: `As this physical frame is the throne of the inner temple, whatever occurs to the former is felt by the latter. In reality that which taketh delight in joy or is saddened by pain is the inner temple of the body not the body itself. Since the physical body is the throne wherein the inner temple is established, God hath ordained that the body be preserved to the extent possible, so that nothing that causeth repugnance may be experienced.' ( ibid. p.95.)

[28] Bahá'u'lláh sets forth in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, His great Book of Laws, certain specific commandments concerning hygiene and health. He prescribes to His followers `to be the essence of cleanliness'.(Synopsis, p.51.) Moreover He sets forth laws concerning personal and environmental hygiene and the treatment of sickness and disease. Other counsels on this topic are given in many other of His Writings.

[29] This Tablet by `Abdu'l-Bahá is known among the Bahá'ís as the Tablet of Purity. See Selections, pp.146-50.

[30] `Abdu'l-Bahá writes: `It is even as a voice wondrously sweet, or a melody played: although sounds are but vibrations in the air which affect the ear's auditory nerve, and these vibrations are but chance phenomena carried along through the air, even so, see how they move the heart. A wondrous melody is wings for the spirit, and maketh the soul to tremble for joy. The purport is that physical cleanliness doth also exert its effect upon the human soul.' (Selections, p.147.)

[31] Selections, pp.153, 155.

[32] The Bahá'í laws strictly forbid the consumption of habit making drugs and inebriating drinks: `As to opium, it is foul and accursed... For opium fasteneth on the soul, so that the user's conscience dieth, his mind is blotted away, his perceptions are eroded. It turneth the living into the dead. It quencheth the natural heat. No greater harm can be conceived than that which opium inflicteth.' (Selections, pp.144-5.) He writes moreover: `... this wicked hashish extinguisheth the mind, freezeth the spirit, petrifieth the soul, wasteth the body and leaveth man frustrated and lost.' (`Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in a letter addressed by the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States, 6 October 1967.) As to alcohol, Bahá'u'lláh writes in His Kitáb-i-Aqdas: `It is forbidden for an intelligent person to drink that which depriveth him of his intelligence; it behoveth him to engage in that which is worthy of man, not in the act of every heedless doubter'.

[33] The Bahá'í texts do not explicitly forbid smoking, but they discourage it. In this regard, `Abdu'l-Bahá writes: `[smoking] is dirty, smelly, offensive -- an evil habit, and one the harmfulness of which gradually becometh apparent to all. Every qualified physician hath ruled -- and this hath also been proven by tests -- that one of the components of tobacco is a deadly poison, and that the smoker is vulnerable to many and various diseases. This is why smoking hath been plainly set forth as repugnant from the standpoint of hygiene... smoking is deprecated, abhorrent, filthy in the extreme; and, albeit by degrees, highly injurious to health. It is also a waste of money and time, and maketh the user a prey to a noxious addiction... this habit is therefore censured by both reason and experience, and renouncing it will bring relief and peace of mind to all men. Furthermore, this will make it possible to have a fresh mouth and unstained fingers, and hair that is free of a foul and repellent smell. On receipt of this missive, the friends will surely, by whatever means and even over a period of time, forsake this pernicious habit. Such is my hope.' (Selections, pp.147-8.)

[34] `Abdu'l-Bahá says: `Joy gives us wings! In times of joy our strength is more vital, our intellect keener, and our understanding less clouded. We seem better able to cope with the world and to find our sphere of usefulness. But when sadness visits us we become weak, our strength leaves us, our comprehension is dim, and our intelligence veiled. The actualities of life seem to elude our grasp, the eyes of our spirits fail to discover the sacred mysteries, and we become even as dead beings.' (Paris Talks, pp.109-10.)

[35] Tablets, p.175.

[36] Genesis 3:17-9.

[37] Tablets, p.26.

[38] The Universal House of Justice in its Promise of World Peace points out the main practical goals to achieve so that `... a social system at once progressive and peaceful, dynamic and harmonious, a system giving free play to individual creativity and initiative but based on cooperation and reciprocity' (p.3) may be created, a system that is, however, considered as utopian by most contemporary thinkers, in their rather pessimistic view of mankind.

[39] For a discussion of the Bahá'í concepts about nature and environment, see The Bahá'í Statement on Nature and Environment issued by the Office of Public Information of the Bahá'í International Community in October 1987 when the Bahá'ís joined the Network on Conservation and Religion of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). See also A.L. Dahl, Perspective on Nature and the Environment.

40 Selections, p.124. For a discussion of the Bahá'í teachings about health and healing see Health and Healing: Some Aspects. A Compilation; H.B. Danesh, `Health and Healing', in World Order, XIII, no.3, p.15; E. Zohoori (comp.), The Throne of the Inner Temple.

[41] `Abdu'l-Bahá writes: `In this new and wondrous Cause, the advancement of all branches of knowledge is a fixed and vital principle, and the friends, one and all, are obliged to make every effort toward this end, so that... every child, according to his need, will receive his share of the sciences and arts -- until not even a single peasant's child will be found who is completely devoid of schooling.' (quoted in Bahá'í Education (comp.), p.39.) He says moreover: `In addition to this widespread education each child must be taught a profession, art or trade, so that every member of the community will be enabled to earn his own livelihood.' (Divine Philosophy, p.79.)

[42] As to the necessity of giving to children an early spiritual education, `Abdu'l-Bahá writes: `A child is as a young plant: it will grow in whatever way you train it. If you rear it to be truthful, and kind, and righteous, it will grow stright, it will be fresh and tender, and will flourish. But if not, then from the faulty training it will grow bent, and stay awry, and there will be no hope of changing it.' (quoted in Bahá'í Education (comp.), p.47.) He writes moreover: `It is extremely difficult to teach the individual and refine his character once puberty is passed. By then, as experience has shown, even if every effort be exerted to modify some tendency of his, it all availeth nothing... Therefore it is in early childhood that a firm foundation must be laid. While the branch is green and tender, it can easily be made straight.' (ibid. p.24.)

[43] `Abdu'l-Bahá writes: `The individual must be educated to such a high degree that he would rather have his throat cut than tell a lie, and would think it easier to be slashed with a sword or pierced with a spear than to utter calumny or be carried away by wrath.' (quoted in Bahá'í Education, p.24.)

[44] Promulgation, p.49.

[45] For a concise discussion of this topic see J. Savi, The Child and Spiritual Life in the Family: A Bahá'í Perspective.

[46] Promulgation, pp.98, 202.

[47] In this regard `Abdu'l-Bahá writes: `The suckling babe passes through various physical stages, growing and developing at every stage, until his body reacheth the age of maturity. Having arrived at this stage it acquireth the capacity to manifest spiritual and intellectual perfections. The lights of comprehension, intelligence and knowledge become perceptible in it and the powers of its soul unfold. Similarly, in the contingent world, the human species hath undergone progressive physical changes and, by a slow process, hath scaled the ladder of civilization, realizing in itself the wonders, excellencies and gifts of humanity in their most glorious form, until it gained the capacity to express the splendours of spiritual perfections and divine ideals and became capable of hearkening to the call of God. Then at last the call of the Kingdom was raised, the spiritual virtues and perfections were revealed, the Sun of Reality dawned, and the teachings of the Most Great Peace, of the oneness of the world of humanity and of the universality of men were promoted.' (Selections. pp.285-6.) In these words most of the concepts which will be explained in the following pages are beautifully summarized.

[48] Promulgation, pp.90, 225.

[49] See Promulgation, pp.225-6, 355-61; Some Answered Questions, pp.176-199. Thus Shoghi Effendi wrote through his secretary on this important topic: `We cannot prove man was always man for this is a fundamental doctrine, but it is based on the assertion that nothing can exceed its own potentialities, that everything, a stone, a tree, an animal and a human being existed in plan, potentially, from the very "beginning" of creation. We don't believe man has always had the form of man, but rather that from the outset he was going to evolve into the human form and species and not be a haphazard branch of the ape family.

`You see our whole approach to each matter is based on the belief that God sends us divinely inspired Educators; what they tell us is fundamentally true, what science tell us today is true; tomorrow may be entirely changed to better explain a new set of facts.' (quoted in Arohanui, p.85.)

[50] See Some Answered Questions, pp.177-8.

[51] See ibid. pp.195-7.

[52] ibid. p.201, See ibid. pp.178-9.

[53] Promulgation, p.359. See ibid. pp.358-9; Some Answered Questions, pp.182-4.

[54] ibid. p.187. See Promulgation, pp.359-60; Some Answered Questions, pp.187-8.

[55] See Some Answered Questions, p.192.

[56] See ibid. p.184.

[57] See ibid.

[58] Promulgation, p.129.

[59] Some Answered Questions, p.184.

[60] Promulgation, pp.359, 225. See ibid. p.225.

[61] ibid. p.278.

[62] F. Facchini, Il Cammino dell'Evoluzione Umana, p.229.

[63] The Universal House of Justice states in its Promise of World Peace that the existence of the Bahá'í community is `another evidence that humanity can live as one global society, equal to whatever challenges its coming of age may entail', and present it as a `model for study' to all those who are interested in the solutions the Bahá'í community is advancing and practicing. (p.24.)

[64] Promulgation, pp.142, 101. `Abdu'l-Bahá says: `Progress is of two kinds: material and spiritual. The former is attained through observation of the surrounding existence and constitutes the foundation of civilization. Spiritual progress is through the breaths of the Holy Spirit and is the awakening of the conscious soul of man to perceive the reality of Divinity. Spiritual progress ensures the happiness and eternal continuance of the soul. The Prophets of God have founded the laws of divine civilization.' ( ibid. p.142.)

[65] Promulgation, pp.142, 101, 109, 12, 11.

[66] Ibid. p.59.

67 Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, p.74.

[68] `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p.13.

[69] Slections, p.55.

[70] Promulgation, pp.406, 5.

[71] See Some Answered Questions, pp.18-24; Promulgation, pp.117, 128, 346-7, 367-8, 401.

[72] The Universal House of Justice, Promise, p.7.

[73] I Cor. 13:12. For an explanation of this verse by St Paul, see Promulgation, pp.11-3.

[74] John 16:13.

[75] Promulgation, pp.131, 38.

[76] Selections, p.56.

[77] Promulgation, pp.305, 38, 131.

[78] Promulgation, pp.364, 375.

[79] . Shoghi Effendi, World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p.166. For a preliminary study of this topic, see G. Townshend, Christ and Bahá'u'lláh.

[80] In this regard Shoghi Effendi wrote: `It should also be borne in mind that, great as is the power manifested by this Revelation and however vast the range of the Dispensation its Author has inaugurated, it emphatically repudiates the claim to be regarded as the final revelation of God's will and purpose for mankind. To hold such a conception of its character and functions would be tantamount to a betrayal of its cause and denial of its truth. It must necessarily conflict with the fundamental principle which constitutes the bedrock of Bahá'í belief, the principle that religious truth is not absolute, but relative, that Divine Revelation is orderly, continuos and progressive and not spasmodic or final.' (The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p.115.)

[81] Promulgation, p.101.

82 Gleanings, p.172. Explaining the statement by Bahá'u'lláh that `the universe hath neither beginning nor ending', `Abdu'l-Bahá says: `Briefly, there were many universal cycles preceding this one in which we are living. They were consummated, completed and their traces obliterated. The divine and creative purpose in them was the evolution of spiritual man, just as it is in this cycle. The circle of existence is the same circle; it returns. The tree of life has ever borne the same heavenly fruit.' (Promulgation, p.220.)

[83] F. Facchini, Il Cammino dell'Evoluzione Umana, p.16.

[84] E. Laszlo, Evolution, p.101.

[85] Promulgation, p.35.

[86] ibid. pp.86, 438, 98, 37-8, 190, 35.

[87] This is the expression of the gradual growth of the power of love, typical of man. For a deeper discussion of this concept, see H.B. Danesh, `The Violence Free Society: A Gift for Our Children', in Bahá'í Studies, VI, pp.20-1, 33-7.

[88] F. Facchini, Il Cammino dell'Evoluzione Umana, p.229.

[89] Selections, p.69.

[90] World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p.43.

[91] Promulgation, pp.131, 37-8.

[92] See World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pp.44-5.

[93] The Universal House of Justice, Promise, p.3.

[94] Promulgation, p.129.

[95] The Universal House of Justice, Promise, p.3.

[96] F. Facchini writes: `...the process of human adaptation implies an increasing co-operation, in view of new social and economical requirements, and of impending dangers threatening the future of mankind and involving not merely single peoples, but the whole of mankind. `This co-operation should not be intended only on an international level. It is a great movement that must come about among individuals, families, social strata, peoples. In this sense co-operation becomes an indispensable and indivisible value, and not a mere way of life.

`Unity for the future of mankind must traverse and develop through the manifold expressions and co-operative actions among human beings.' (F. Facchini, Il Cammino dell'Evoluzione Umana, p.229.)

[97] Gleanings, p.340.

[98] The Universal House of Justice, Promise, p.3.

[99] . Shoghi Effendi writes in this regard: `His [Bahá'u'lláh's] mission is to proclaim that the ages of the infancy and of the childhood of the human race are past, that the convulsions associated with the present stage of its adolescence are slowly and painfully preparing it to attain the stage of manhood, and are heralding the approach of that Age of Ages when swords will be beaten into ploughshares, when the Kingdom promised by Jesus Christ will have been established, and the peace of the planet definitely and permanently ensured.' (The Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, p.3.)

[100] Lorenz, The Waning of Humaneness, pp.126-7.

[101] Promulgation, pp.4, 331.

[102] Hobbes, Leviathan, p.13. This famous statement, taken from Asinaria, a comedy by Plautus (3rd-2nd century BC, the greatest of Roman playwrights) was revived by Bacon (1561-1626) and Hobbes (1588-1679).

Chapter 8   Chapter 10
return to Table of Contents

Home ][ Sacred Writings ][ Bulletin board
Primary sources ][ Secondary sources ][ Resources
Links ][ Personal pages ][ Other sites

Google distinguishes accents, e.g. "Babi" and "Bábí"
return different results. See more search tips.