On Darwin and Iranian Naturalists

He is God!

O one who is firm in the Covenant! Your letter has arrived. Its contents are very strange, for these doubts are not newly widespread. Successive eras and centuries have passed since this murmur crescendoed in Europe. Likewise, it spread in the early centuries in Asia. But in every age, the penetrating power of the Word of God destroys the foundation of these doubts and clear light shines like the sun. For the evidences and proofs of these foolish people are weaker than a spider’s web and of the utmost flimsiness and obvious weakness.

Although the ignorant of Iran want to follow the foreign materialists and hope to blindly imitate the naturalists of Europe, they do not understand their principles and fundamentals. They do not comprehend their evidences and proofs, their subject and predicate. The Europeans of the naturalist school conducted research in accordance with their own ideas and opinions, but the naturalists of Iran imitate. Thus, debate and discourse with the foreigners is easy for they converse according to principle and evidence, and one responds to the principle. But its is difficult to converse with these Iranian imitators, for what they say is a mere claim, not evidence or proof.

For example, on the issue of the elements, it is not as the Iranians say. The naturalist scientists treat this question as follows, and on this basis establish all the issues of nature, for this is the root of their school and all of the other questions are the branches. In the world of existence, each of the simple elements is a single, united particle that cannot be divided or differentiated. All beings are a combination of these individual elements, meaning composed of various components. The simple elements resemble letters, and letters are indivisible. For example, a single alif also cannot be divided. As for other beings, they are like words that are composed of various letters. The word has components and can be divided.

In short, they say that when you look at all existent things, it is clear and evident that these simple elements are eternally decomposing and combining. Each existent combination is one of the existent beings. When this combination decomposes, it is relative annihilation, for pure annihilation is impossible.

For example, they say parts combine and from this combination a human comes into being. When this combination dissolves, this human being disappears, but these fundamental components and individual elements remain and endure. Therefore, beings come into existence through combination and cease to exist from the decomposition of this compound. Decomposition is successive and continuous according to the need of the Living, the Omnipotent.

This is a summary of their proof and their evidence according to their clear and evident claim. Through research, they established this matter, and since it is based on principles and fundamentals, it is easy and straightforward to demonstrate its falsity.   This issue repeatedly came up with the philosophers of Europe and America, and they [the Iranians] acquiesced and submitted with few words of answer.

In answer, it can be said that this combination, which is the ultimate basis of existence and the cause of the life of beings, has three categories. Each is a combination, for a combination is accidental, essentially necessary, or willed, meaning subject to the divine Will. If they say the combination of beings is accidental, an effect must have a cause and this is impossible, for every effect must have a cause. The falsity of this assertion is clear. If this arrangement is essentially necessary, decomposition is impossible for eternality is one of the essential necessities. This also cannot be. So what remains is the willed combination, meaning by the Will of the Living, the Ancient. This is the truth and there is nothing after the truth except clear falsehood. On this subject, a detailed discussion of this issue has been given in the “Question and Answer” [Some Answered Questions] of Miss Barney.

The naturalists are of two types. One type says this is better and superior, and the differences between humans are in the origin of creation—in their terminology, one of the requirements of the world of nature. They say that differentiation in a species is obvious, which is natural. For example, differentiation and distinction in the species of trees is natural, and animals are also naturally differentiated. Even in minerals there is natural differentiation. One mineral is stone, and another may be filled with water and color. One is sea shell, and another is clay.

The other type of naturalists is the ancient philosophers who say that differences between humans and differences of intelligence and accomplishment are from education. For the crooked branch is straightened by training, and the barren desert tree is tended, grafted, and bears fruit. Perhaps it is bitter; it becomes sweet. Its fruit is small; it grows large, delightful, and delicious. Their greatest proof is that the black tribes of Africa are wild and ignorant, and the civilized Americans are learned and intelligent. It is obvious that the difference between the two groups is based on experience and training. Such is the belief of the philosophers and the wise.

But the prophets say that differentiation in original nature [asl-I fitrat] is evident and manifest. “And We preferred some of you over others” {cf. Qur’an 2:253, 17:21]. This decree is irrevocable and well known. Human souls obviously differ in the original nature. If several children from the same mother and father are in the same school, receive the same education, and are fed the same food, some will have the utmost knowledge, some will be in the middle, and some will learn nothing. Thus, it is known that differences between humans arise from differences of degrees and creation.

Likewise, it is well established that education and training have a great effect. For example, if a child is deprived of primary school, he will obviously be ignorant and his learning will be limited to his own discoveries. As for the literate man who obtains knowledge and learning, he will know the discoveries of thousands of human souls. Therefore, education provides guidance to the people of error, gives sight to the blind, grants knowledge to the ignorant, bestows charity on the deprived, gives speech to the mute, illumines the dark dawn of lying with the morning of sincerity, turns the small seed into the towering palm, and transforms the runaway slave into a mighty king. Therefore, training obviously has an effect.

By virtue of this wisdom, the Manifestations of the divine unseen world and the Dawning Places of mercy in the world of humanity are sent so that the human species may be trained by the breezes of holiness, and the suckling child may become a mature man. Thus, those who are deprived in the world of creation become confidants in the world of divinity, and the portionless receive their share. [A similar passage appears in Tablets of Divine Plan.]

O one who is firm in the covenant! Seek in Tehran the treatise written by Barney that was published in Europe. It discusses in detail this issue and the doubts of Darwin, the English philosopher who follows the naturalists of Europe.

As for the phrase you have mentioned, they [the Iranian naturalists] know the sensible elements are the creator and the progenitor of all existent things. Elements that create and progenate are thus each from a deity, since creation is an attribute of God. In this way, the naturalists of Iran believe not in one god but in various eternal gods. Notice how the discourse is confused. But the original naturalists of Europe do not say such things. They say that the simple, eternal elements are arranged and each formation is a being, and when it is disaggregated, that being is relatively annihilated.

As for the other issues that you have researched and related from the naturalists regarding the most perfect individual in the human species who has infinite perfections and who, through utmost intelligence and perceptiveness, discovers the secrets of beings, and discloses them a thousand years later: This assertion is like a seed sown to hunt innocent birds. Through these means, they aim to initially converse with and befriend those who are faithful to God until little by little they stray from the straight path.

O divine loved ones! Each one should have such a grasp of these issues that you may decisively refute the ignorant and the unbelievers with the power of the proof of the prophets and messengers. For the divine prophets are holy human souls. As for others, they are captives of nature and the satanic self. The manifestations of mercy assuredly triumph over animalistic likenesses.

The warnings of the Blessed Beauty, which were addressed to the kings of the earth straightforwardly without need of interpretation, are sufficient, irrefutable proof for establishing the holy power beyond nature. Study the Suras of the Kings, closely examine the severe sermons, look at the dire warnings, and carefully consider the apostrophe, “O spot that art situate on the shore of two seas!” [Aqdas] Likewise, glance at the apostrophe to Tehran and the apostrophe to the banks of the Rhine River. [Aqdas] Compare them with the events that transpired, in which all of the warnings came to pass in a short time. Is it possible to discover these momentous events in a short period of time through natural intelligence? Could the realization of these events in a few days be imagined? No, by God, unless realized through the power of the Omnipotent King and the operation of His potent Word!

Previously, it was stated there was no opportunity for more detail but now this has been written. Upon you be the glory of the Most Glorious!

A.A.

Abdu’l-Baha, Makatib 1:374-382, Min Makatib 1:265-269

 

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One Response to On Darwin and Iranian Naturalists

  1. Paul Mantle says:

    It looks like a word, probably “are,” is missing in this sentence in the 12th paragraph:

    “Thus, those who deprived in the world of creation become confidants in the world of divinity, and the portionless receive their share.”

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