Cosmos and the Baha’i Faith

During my youth in communist Bulgaria I watched on the state-controlled television a fascinating program by the remarkable American scientist Carl Sagan, “Cosmos”, which reaffirmed my fascination with science and the tireless search for truth. The notion of God barely registered in my daily life as the state ideology of historic materialism at the time had obliterated for most people of my generation any reference to an intelligent Creator. Yet, there was always a search for something more than the eyes could see. I fell in love with science fiction as a creative tool to enable the wings of my imagination and envision a world in which we all peacefully coexist and explore the universe. Having finished university, I met a group of Baha’is who told me that according to Bahá’u’lláh, science and religion should be in harmony. My disbelief was transformed into an embrace of the evolution of religion through its progressive revelation. I became a Baha’i.

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey into the universe

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey into the universe

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

Yesterday, I saw the first episode of the inspiring — and updated — “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” series, this time lead by today’s star of science,  Neil deGrasse Tyson, who is truly the successor of Carl Sagan.

So fascinated and inspired I was with the first episode that today I watched it again with my daughters who very much enjoyed it. My younger one, Juliet, remarked how little she felt once witnessing the remarkable visualization of the vastness of the universe. And who would not feel small when realizing that Creation is boundless, which to me, despite or perhaps because of having grown up as an atheist, is very much a proof of the existence of an infinite Creator.

Nightfall and a New Dawn

Atheist as I was in my youth, I never stopped marveling at the powerful role religion played in both inspiring knowledge — along with its revelation — and attempting to silence it during its decline. “Nightfall”, a brilliant novel by two of my most favorite sci-fi writers, Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg,  had illustrated for me just as I had been introduced to the Baha’i Faith, that indeed, true science and true religion need not be self-exclusive. While I am sure “Cosmos” and its attitude towards religion and God can and will be interpreted in countless ways, for me personally, it reaffirms the belief that behind the amazing Creation there is an intelligent Creator, and religion — just like science — will continue to be updated through what the Baha’i Faith calls progressive revelation, in order to enlighten us and guide us to a fuller realization of the glorious destiny of humanity.

Tonight, after the Prayer Station, I decided to search for references in the Baha’i Holy Writings on some of the overwhelmingly diverse yet interconnected topics of “Cosmos”. Not surprisingly, I discovered multitude of awe-inspiring quotes which the visual mastery of “Cosmos” seems to beautifully illustrate. Here, for brevity’s sake, I am including but a few:

“Magnified be Thy name, O Lord my God! Thou art He Whom all things worship and Who worshipeth no one, Who is the Lord of all things and is the vassal of none, Who knoweth all things and is known of none. Thou didst wish to make Thyself known unto men; therefore, Thou didst, through a word of Thy mouth, bring creation into being and fashion the universe. There is none other God except Thee, the Fashioner, the Creator, the Almighty, the Most Powerful.”
~ Prayers and Meditations by Bahá’u’lláh, p. 6

“A drop of the billowing ocean of His endless mercy hath adorned all creation with the ornament of existence, and a breath wafted from His peerless Paradise hath invested all beings with the robe of His sanctity and glory. A sprinkling from the unfathomed deep of His sovereign and all-pervasive Will hath, out of utter nothingness, called into being a creation which is infinite in its range and deathless in its duration. The wonders of His bounty can never cease, and the stream of His merciful grace can never be arrested. The process of His creation hath had no beginning, and can have no end.”

“In every age and cycle He hath, through the splendorous light shed by the Manifestations of His wondrous Essence, recreated all things, so that whatsoever reflecteth in the heavens and on the earth the signs of His glory may not be deprived of the outpourings of His mercy, nor despair of the showers of His favors. How all-encompassing are the wonders of His boundless grace! Behold how they have pervaded the whole of creation. Such is their virtue that not a single atom in the entire universe can be found which doth not declare the evidences of His might, which doth not glorify His holy Name, or is not expressive of the effulgent light of His unity. So perfect and comprehensive is His creation that no mind nor heart, however keen or pure, can ever grasp the nature of the most insignificant of His creatures; much less fathom the mystery of Him Who is the Day Star of Truth, Who is the invisible and unknowable Essence.”

“How bewildering to me, insignificant as I am, is the attempt to fathom the sacred depths of Thy knowledge! How futile my efforts to visualize the magnitude of the power inherent in Thine handiwork—the revelation of Thy creative power! How can mine eye, which hath no faculty to perceive itself, claim to have discerned Thine Essence, and how can mine heart, already powerless to apprehend the significance of its own potentialities, pretend to have comprehended Thy nature? How can I claim to have known Thee, when the entire creation is bewildered by Thy mystery, and how can I confess not to have known Thee, when, lo, the whole universe proclaimeth Thy Presence and testifieth to Thy truth?”
~ Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 63

Have you watched “Cosmos”? What thoughts did it inspire for you? What questions did it raise? What answers did it provide?

4 Responses to “Cosmos and the Baha’i Faith

  • I also watched the TV series in the 1980s here in Portugal. It was also a very popular series here. The feeling of wonder facing the discoveries of the universe is enormous. We must have in mind that science – as we know it – is the product of the systematic use of reason. And reason is the greatest gift of God to the human being.
    This adventure of science is still in its childhood. It is only 500 years old. We have many centuries ahead of us to explore the universe.

    Here are two of my favorite quotes on the issue Science/Religion:

    Carl Sagan said once:
    By far the best way I know to engage the religious sensibility, the sense of awe, is to look up on a clear night. I believe that it is very difficult to know who we are until we understand where and when we are. I think everyone in every culture has felt a sense of awe and wonder looking at the sky.

    And Baha’u’llah said:
    Thou hast, moreover, asked Me concerning the nature of the celestial spheres. To comprehend their nature, it would be necessary to inquire into the meaning of the allusions that have been made in the Books of old to the celestial spheres and the heavens, and to discover the character of their relationship to this physical world, and the influence which they exert upon it. Every heart is filled with wonder at so bewildering a theme, and every mind is perplexed by its mystery. God, alone, can fathom its import. The learned men, that have fixed at several thousand years the life of this earth, have failed, throughout the long period of their observation, to consider either the number or the age of the other planets. Consider, moreover, the manifold divergencies that have resulted from the theories propounded by these men. Know thou that every fixed star hath its own planets, and every planet its own creatures, whose number no man can compute. (GWB, p. 162)

    • Mitko Gerensky
      3 years ago

      Thank you, Marco, for your thoughtful response! Indeed, the power of Baha’u’llah’s words is made ever more apparent with the advances of the science. We live in fascinating times!

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