Do Baha’is believe in evolution?

Baha’is do believe that the universe changes with time. They see the clear and unmistakable evidence of the ancient bones of the past and how plants and animals have altered their appearance to best suit the times they are in. In a way, this is an extension of what Baha’is believe about religion itself. Baha’is believe that religions change from age to age to best suit the needs of mankind at a particular stage of its development. As Abdu’l-Baha wrote, “Know that nothing which exists remains in a state of repose, that is to say, all things are in motion.” (BWF, p. 330).

Baha’is also believe that humanity is growing and developing from childhood to adulthood as a collective species. They believe that currently we are in the stage of adolescence. Adolescence is when people generally find they have enough power over their lives to do great good or great evil. Indeed, humanity in today’s adolescent stage even has the power to destroy all life on this planet with nuclear weapons. Therefore, Baha’is believe that a loving and providing Lord sends ‘teachers’ from age to age to help guide humanity into the next stage of development.

One teaching of the Baha’i Faith that may be slightly at odds with current evolutionary thought, is the idea that there is a ‘missing link’ between humans and animals, and once it is found by anthropologists we will see that all life came from the same blob. Baha’is believe there is no missing link in evolution, and that humans did not come from apes, but rather from a separate species that has changed and evolved over time. While this may not fly with current evolutionary theory that supposes that we all came from the same ancestor, it does coincide with the fact that no ‘missing link’ has been found between humans and animals. Therefore, it is not scientifically inaccurate; it is just not theoretically popular in today’s scientific community. Of course, there was a time when Muhammad’s references to the planets rotating around the sun may not have been popular by Western scientists, but that nonetheless turned out to be true.  The Baha’i teachings on evolution do coincide with DNA evidence that shows how variations over time are ‘pre-programmed’ into our species, and that these variations surface as conditions change. As Abdu’l-Bahá wrote, “To recapitulate: as man in the womb of the mother passes from form to form, from shape to shape, changes and develops, and is still the human species from the beginning of the embryonic period — in the same way man, from the beginning of his existence in the matrix of the world, is also a distinct species — that is, man — and has gradually evolved from one form to another.” (SAQ, p. 193).

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