‘The Donkey is the Greatest Scientist and the Cow an Accomplished Naturalist’

‘Abdu’l-Bahá was famed for his sense of humour and I find his observation on the folly of materialism both amusing and insightful.

…all their thoughts are directed to material things; day and night they are devoted to the attractions of this world, without aspiration beyond the life that is vanishing and mortal. In schools and temples of learning knowledge of the sciences acquired is based upon material observations only; there is no realization of Divinity in their methods and conclusions—all have reference to the world of matter. They are not interested in attaining knowledge of the mysteries of God or understanding the secrets of the heavenly Kingdom; what they acquire is based altogether upon visible and tangible evidences. Beyond these evidences they are without susceptibilities; they have no idea of the world of inner significances and are utterly out of touch with God, considering this an indication of reasonable attitude and philosophical judgement whereof they are self-sufficient and proud. As a matter of fact, this supposed excellence is possessed in its superlative degree by the animals. The animals are without knowledge of God; so to speak, they are deniers of Divinity and understand nothing of the Kingdom and its heavenly mysteries. As deniers of the Kingdom, they are utterly ignorant of spiritual things and uninformed of the supernatural world. Therefore, if it be a perfection and virtue to be without knowledge of God and His Kingdom, the animals have attained the highest degree of excellence and proficiency. Then the donkey is the greatest scientist and the cow an accomplished naturalist, for they have obtained what they know without schooling and years of laborious study in colleges, trusting implicitly to the evidence of the senses and relying solely upon intuitive virtues. The cow, for instance, is a lover of the visible and a believer in the tangible, contented and happy when pasture is plenty, perfectly serene, a blissful exponent of the transcendental school of philosophy. Such is the status of the material philosophers, who glory in sharing the condition of the cow, imagining themselves in a lofty station.

Source: The Promulgation of Universal Peace


2 thoughts on “‘The Donkey is the Greatest Scientist and the Cow an Accomplished Naturalist’

  1. A very apt quote for me at present. I have just recently finished reading ‘The God Delusion’ by Richard Dawkins and am busy with another of his publications called ‘The Blind Watch Maker’. Both are undeniably brilliant observations on the material world but contain little about the mysteries that lie behind it all.

    • Thank you for your comment David. I think one of the subtle points ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is making here is that the activity of philosophy (whether materialist or otherwise) distinguishes human beings from animals and is in itself proof of a higher(divine) order of being…

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