Science, Religion and the Future II: Thoughts on a New Wilmette Institute Class

Science, Religion and the Future II: Thoughts on a New Wilmette Institute Class

logo2000In such a world society, science and religion, the two most potent forces in human life, will be reconciled, will cooperate, and will harmoniously develop.

Shoghi Effendi

We start our Wilmette Institute Course – Science, Religion, and the Future – on Monday, November 10th. We have been thinking about – and preparing for – what looks to be a fun and exciting set of dialogues and discussions about the topic that is the focus of Common Ground blogs.

The course starts on Nov. 10th, runs through Dec. 31st, and is for all backgrounds. For more details, see below.

image002The Topic

The discussion of science and religion is an old one. It has been around since the beginnings of the European Enlightenment 400 years ago when science started to be seen as something different than philosophy or technical art. In a larger sense, it has been around since the axial age when exploration of the relationship between reason and faith first started. For that reason, it has acquired the patina of age associated with gravitas, expertise, seriousness, and evocations of the mysteries of the universe.

But it has also acquired the reputation of being a battleground – a battleground online, a battleground in state legislatures and local school districts across the United States, and increasingly a battleground around the world as creationists, intelligent design proponents, new atheists, secular humanists, and others fight for the control of how science and evolution is presented in schools and how it seen as the determiner of larger pictures of reality. At issue are such things as the purpose of our life, where we come from, and who or what created us.

But this – I think it is becoming increasingly clear – is a very limited and restricted discussion. It is not a discussion of how we can do things better by using both science and religion or how we can take advantage of the strengths of each. In the main, it is a continuing discussion left over from the past about theological and ideological issues.

past and futureIn the future, it seems likely, the discussion is destined to become something different – something much bigger and much better. It will become an active part of how we think, plan, develop, and work together as individuals, as members of groups, and as a global society.  It will be about how we can use what we have learned from science to systematically think about, reason through, plan about, implement, and learn from the results of activities driven by the high and lofty aims taught by religion.  It will be about how to distinguish superstition from truth, about how to best channel our powerful mental capacities towards positive and fruitful goals, about how to use the powerful new technologies we have created for the betterment of humanity, and, among other things, about how to end the endemic polarization, hostility, warfare, distrust, and hatred that characterize so many of our present day activities.

I think it is going to become an important component of humanity’s coming of age – the long-awaited maturity of humanity that we now see slowly dawning.  Do I exaggerate?

Next Week

Many of the ways we think about science and religion and the relationship between the two is about the past – about ideas from the Enlightenment, about ideas inspired by the scientific revolution, about ideas from 19th century debates over evolution and progress, about ideas concerning democracy, socialism, communism, nationalism, capitalism and the world’s endless struggle with social and economic injustice, about whether the advent of modernity and secularism has made religion an artifact of the past, or about whether science have been fashioned into a worldview having the colorations and functions of religion with destructive or corrosive consequences. Even when it is about the future – it is usually a discussion carried out using the categories, philosophical values, and understandings of the past. And, usually, it is just a dialogue, not the application of moral, ethical, or scientific and systematic ways of doing things in social action.

But ultimately, the dialogue of science and religion is all about reason, faith, morals, ethics, purpose, truth, and meaning – the most meaningful aspects of our lives. And, it is about the peoples of the world working together to create new and stronger social arrangements on scales as small as families and as large as the government.  It is about the progress of the whole world.  And it to these that we turn our attention in next week’s blog.


Course Invitation: Science, Religion, and the Future: Creating a New Discourse

We invite you to join us for the upcoming Wilmette Institute Online Course on Science, Religion, and Creating the Future. It carries forward the spirit of the Common Ground website.

The course explores the ancient/new paradigm of the oneness of science and religion proclaimed by the Bahá’í Faith and like-minded people around the world. It reviews the ongoing discussions about science and religion in our broader society, discusses how to “plug in” to those discussions in new and productive ways, explores the teachings of the Baha’i Faith and the world’s religions about science, delves into the important roles that consultation, community building, and the culture of learning play in creating a just and prosperous world society, and shares the excitement that the Baha’i teachings bring to an engagement with science and religion – “the two most potent forces in human life”.

How to Register

For course details and how to register, see the advertisement below (and click on the hyperlinks!).

image002An exciting new course about science and religion!
Science, Religion, and the Future: Creating a New Discourse
November 10 – December 31, 2013 (7 weeks)
Faculty: Stephen Friberg, Lisa Ortuno

Wilm2* Prepare to discuss the crucial relationship between science and religion with your friends!
* What is science? What is religion? What is their relationship?
* How do the Bahá’í Faith and other religions approach science and religion, and how do they relate them to civilization building?
* Discuss evolution and new atheism from Christian and non-Christian perspectives
* Discover places and ways to discuss the relationship between science and religion
* Develop ways to write about science and religion

Click here to Learn More About This Course, Fees, Study Schedule, Registering, and Financial Aid.

Fees: $80 for seniors, pioneers, and students; $100 for all other individuals; $240 for groups of up to six. 10% discount for registering by October 15. Plenty of scholarships are available; email us at

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