Russian professor receives award for contributions to discourse on science and spirituality
MOSCOW — Despite what might be expected from a scientist, for Dr. Gudrat Seyfi, faith plays a key role in his understanding of science.
"For me faith implies wisdom that gives answers to the question to which science has not found answers yet," he explains. "The principle of the interaction of science and religion allows a scientist to advance a more complete cognition and understanding of the world as a whole."
Dr. Seyfi's creative and innovative approach in understanding the sciences from a spiritual perspective and his contribution to the discourse of science and religion were formally recognized at a special session of the Scientific Council of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences this March.
The author of several books and numerous articles on faith and science, spirituality and comparative religion, Dr. Seyfi, the vice-director of the Scientific Centre, "Eurasia," of the Russian Academy of the Natural Sciences, was awarded a diploma with the highly merited status of "Academician" by the Academy.
He recognizes, however, that his perspective, once considered radical, is becoming more widespread.
"Scientists have different approaches," he explained. "Extreme ones are convinced that faith impedes scientific knowledge because faith is blind. Others think that science and religion have to emerge separately, that belief is a very intimate matter. But nowadays, the tendency is gradually changing. Scientists are beginning to think more and more that this issue is a subtle one and there is no unambiguous answer."
A member of the Baha'i Community of Moscow, Dr. Seyfi describes his own approach to science as being deeply connected to his understanding of the spiritual evolution of humanity.
"Outside of the organic interrelation of science and religion it is hardly possible for a human being to understand the fundamental questions: the place of a human being in the world, his attitude to nature, and his fellow beings and so on," said Dr. Seyfi.
"It is reflected in the statement of Baha'u'llah that science and religion are the wings of one bird and that without their interaction the flight of thought and cognition of the world is not possible."
He describes science and religion as being both complementary and interdependent in nature, and emphasizes the need to create a culture of dialogue between the different religions, recognizing them as being all from the same Source and progressive in nature.
In acknowledgment of his achievement, the elected governing body of the Baha'is in Russia, the National Spiritual Assembly, sent a message of congratulations, stating that:
This event is a high evaluation of your contribution to the development of science in general and especially in the field of transcultural and interfaith dialogue between people of different nationalities and creeds. Your innovative approach to the problems of development of humanity from the point of view of spirituality allows to open new horizons of the purpose of human life and helps the understanding of the oneness of humanity.
"It was quite unexpected but pleasant for me," Dr. Seyfi said, referring to the award. "I have never had such a goal. Of course, it is gratifying but I do not have any kind of euphoria, because the highest value of a human being is his spirituality."
"Despite the difficult and complex processes in the world," he said, speaking of his vision of the future, "I believe that humanity will overcome its spiritual crisis and come to a mutual understanding between world religions, religious figures and governments for the betterment of mankind on our small planet."
"The fundamental concept of Baha'u'llah, that we are fruits of one tree, directly knock at the heart and soul of every human being. In my life, I am trying to bring this idea to the consciousness of people."