Written by Lisa M. Ortuno and Carey Murphy, Sinai and Synapses
Wednesday, 08 January 2014
Very few Americans know much about the Baha’i faith. Yet one of its core principles is a commitment to scientific inquiry, which means that Baha’is have a unique perspective on how science and religion can interact.
Thus as part of Sinai and Synapses‘ series “More Light, Less Heat,” Lisa M. Ortuno, Ph.D. and Dr. Carey Murphy share how their Baha’i faith has enhanced their love of science, and how science has strengthened their commitment to their faith.
Lisa M. Ortuno has a Ph.D. in biology and currently works for the Promega Corporation, a biotechnology company. She is a member of the Sinai and Synapses working group, and she discovered that using the scientific method and her training in biology were invaluable in her journey towards becoming a Baha’i:
If we want people to understand the relationship between virtues and emotions, we will probably need to start young. Toward that aim, I’m working on a new project – a Virtues Alphabet Refrigerator Magnet set. I’ve decided that along with the 60 magnets – each of which contains a letter and a virtue that starts with that letter – I should offer my own parent-friendly definition of each virtue. I welcome your comments.
You already know what these virtues mean, but here are some helpful hints as to how to apply them to your children:
Call them active when they initiate activities other than watching TV or playing video games.
Call them adorable when they do something that melts your heart.
Call them attentive when they listen to what you are saying, even if there are lots of distractions.
Call them brave when they try something new or challenging.
Does Baha’i scripture limit marriage to a union between only one man and one woman?
Not as far as I know. I have found nothing in the Baha’i writings that specifically prohibits same-sex marriage. It’s my personal opinion that the question of how Bahaí communities are to respond to the new phenomenon of same-sex marriage is in the hands of the Universal House of Justice, the democratically-elected body that administers the global Baha’i community. The Universal House of Justice has yet to make a policy that deals specifically with the question of individuals in legally and socially recognized same-sex marriages. I think it is very likely to be a policy which gives National Spiritual Assemblies a major role because conditions vary so much in terms of social acceptance and the law.
There’s no text that stipulates marriage is only between one man and one woman and Baha’u’llah provided ways for the Baha’i Faith to adapt and change over time.
The Kitab-i-Aqdas, Baha’u’llah’s book of laws, refers to marriage between men and women. That’s why most Baha’is assume that marriage means only a heterosexual union. But in the same book, it is also assumed that men take journeys while women stay at home. In fact all of the laws are presented in the context of the customs of the 19th century middle east which when this was written.
Mikal: I've brought up the subject partly because of something you said the night he was elected: "It looks like things are gonna change now." Do you feel that the change you anticipated has been borne out?
Bob: You want to repeat that again? I have no idea what I said.
Mikal: It was Election Night 2008. Onstage at the University of Minnesota, introducing your band's members, you indicated your bassist and said, "Tony Gamier, wearing the Obama button. Tony likes to think it's a brand-new time right now. An age of light. Me, I was born in 1941 – that's the year they bombed Pearl Harbor. Well, I been living in a world of darkness ever since. But it looks like things are gonna change now."
Bob: I don't know what I said or didn't say. As far as Tony goes, yeah, maybe he was wearing an Obama button and maybe I said some stuff because right there in the moment it all made sense. Maybe I said things looked like they could change. And maybe they did change. I don't think I could have predicted how they would change, but whatever was said, it was said for people in that hall for that night. You know what I'm saying? It wasn't said to be played on a record forever. Or did I go down to the middle of town and give a speech?