Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson – Episode 37: Physics and Mysticism with Steven Phelps [VIDEO]

Hello and welcome to the Baha’i Blogcast with me your host, Rainn Wilson.

In this series of podcasts I interview members of the Baha’i Faith and friends from all over the world about their hearts, and minds, and souls, their spiritual journeys, what they’re interested in, and what makes them tick.

This is a special episode we filmed on July 7, 2019 in front of a live audience at Foundation Hall at the Baha’i House of Worship in Chicago. We called the event “Physics and Mysticism”, and it was a conversation I had with physicist, data scientist, philosopher and translator, Dr. Steven Phelps, who’s also been on the podcast before. We covered a wide range of topics and there were also some great questions from the audience at the end, which I’ve also included. I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did!

You can find audio versions of this episode here: Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson – Episode 37: Physics and Mysticism with Steven Phelps

And check out my previous episode with Dr. Steven Phelps here: Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson – Episode 7: Steven Phelps

If you enjoyed this conversation, join me for more thought-provoking Baha’i-inspired conversations on my podcast series here: Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson

To find out more about Dr. Steven Phelps and some of the things we covered in this episode, check out the following links:

  • You can listen to a talk by Steven Phelps called “Science, Religion & the Coming Spiritual Revolution” here.
  • Rainn talks about being a security guard at the Baha’i House of Worship. You can read about what these unique buildings are all about here: Baha’i Temples: An Introduction
  • Rainn talks about the Baha’i World Centre in Israel. If you’d like to know why the Baha’i World Centre is in Israel, you might find this Baha’i Blog article helpful: Why is the Baha’i World Centre in Israel?
  • Steven mentions Yuval Noah Harari’s book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
  • Rainn mentions writer Reza Aslan. You can find out more about him here: rezaaslan.com
  • Steven refers to Baha’u’llah’s early mystical Writings about the stages of the spiritual journeys. You can read The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys in full here: The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys
  • Rainn mentions Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott.
  • Steven mentions this prayer whose translation has yet to be verified: “O God! Make me a hollow reed from which the pith of self hath been blown, that I may become a clear channel through which Thy love may flow to others.”
  • Steven quotes from the Writings of the Bab about the soul being the “mode of the Divine self-remembrance”. He also quotes the Bab saying there are three keys to happiness: the Golden Rule, always telling the Truth, and never being satisfied until everything in your orbit of influence has reached perfection. You can find out more about the Bab here, and read selections from the Writings of the Bab here.
  • Steven also quotes and refers to several statements from Baha’u’llah such as: “O SON OF BEING! With the hands of power I made thee and with the fingers of strength I created thee; and within thee have I placed the essence of My light. Be thou content with it and seek naught else, for My work is perfect and My command is binding. Question it not, nor have a doubt thereof.”

    “Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom.”

  • Steven mentions that Baha’u’llah has “recast the whole conception of religion as the principal force impelling the development of consciousness.” This statement is from a document written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice called One Common Faith.
  • Rainn and Steven both mention the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha and the magnetic power of love. Here is the quotation they refer to:

    “Know thou of a certainty that Love is the secret of God’s holy Dispensation, the manifestation of the All-Merciful, the fountain of spiritual outpourings. Love is heaven’s kindly light, the Holy Spirit’s eternal breath that vivifieth the human soul. Love is the cause of God’s revelation unto man, the vital bond inherent, in accordance with the divine creation, in the realities of things. Love is the one means that ensureth true felicity both in this world and the next. Love is the light that guideth in darkness, the living link that uniteth God with man, that assureth the progress of every illumined soul. Love is the most great law that ruleth this mighty and heavenly cycle, the unique power that bindeth together the divers elements of this material world, the supreme magnetic force that directeth the movements of the spheres in the celestial realms. Love revealeth with unfailing and limitless power the mysteries latent in the universe. Love is the spirit of life unto the adorned body of mankind, the establisher of true civilization in this mortal world, and the shedder of imperishable glory upon every high-aiming race and nation.”

  • The author Stephen Pinker and his ideas are mentioned: stevenpinker.com
  • Steven talks about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which you can read about here.
  • Frank Wilczek’s book A Beautiful Question is mentioned. 
  • Steven and Rainn talk about the concept of Progressive Revelation, which you can learn more about from this article: The Baha’i Principle of Progressive Revelation

You can find all of our episodes here on the Baha’i Blogcast page, and be sure to ‘subscribe’ to the Baha’i Blogcast for more upcoming episodes on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify and Soundcloud.

Thanks for listening!

-Rainn Wilson

About the Author

Naysan is the editor of Baha'i Blog and he has worked in various avenues of media for two decades. He’s passionate about using the arts and media to support and explore the teachings of the Baha’i Faith and he has produced and collaborated on popular music projects like the "DawnBreaker Collective" and the successful Ruhi-inspired sequence of "MANA" albums. His experience as a producer for CNN was invaluable while working on a number of special projects for the Baha’i World Centre, including the "Building Momentum" and "Pilgrimage: A Sacred Experience" videos. If there’s a media-related Baha’i project out there, chances are that Naysan was involved with it somehow!

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