Combining Learning Principles from Science and Religion

I am starting a series on combining principles from science and religion that will be taken from my book, Truth, Love and Justice: A New Paradigm for Education and Its Reform, which can be obtained for free on my website at under “Books and Papers.”


Throughout history, the principles and theories of learning and developing human potential have largely derived from religion. More recently science has come to play a predominate role in furthering our understanding of learning and human development.

Psychologist, philosophers, neuroscientist, and computer scientist are beginning to carefully and precisely identify some of the underlying mechanisms that give us this distinctively human capacity for change—the aspects of our nature that allow nurture and culture to take place. (Gopnik, 2009, pp. 8-9)

The last 20 years have witnessed tremendous advances in theory and research in developmental and cognitive psychology, and on the emotional, motivational, personality, and social processes of individual learners that contribute to the dynamics of the learning process. (Spielberger, 1998, p. ix)

I will focus on learning principles approved by the American Psychological Association (1997) and reviewed by leaders and scholars in education, psychology and other scientific disciplines. They offer a synthesis, foundation and framework of the best thinking on learning and are consistent with more than a century of research on teaching and learning. They integrate research and practice in various areas of psychology; reflect conventional and scientific wisdom; and provide a framework for and lead to effective schooling, positive mental health and a realization of greater potential (McCombs & Whisler, 1997).

I will attempt to combine these learning principles from science with learning principles from religion, focusing on the Bahá’í writings and using the principles of truth, love and justice developed thus far. As such, I will limit my referencing by stating upfront that the key ideas have been drawn primarily from the American Psychological Association’s 14 learner-centered psychological principles (1997) and from multiple Bahá’í sources. See and for some supporting material.

This treatment is necessarily very preliminary and superficial as the topic is immensely broad and complex, far beyond my capacity to adequately address. However, it is hoped that this discussion can provide a framework for ongoing exploration and development and provide further evidence on how the guiding principles of truth, love and justice can serve as a new paradigm for education and its reform.


About rodclarken

Dr. Rodney H Clarken is professor emeritus, School of Education, Northern Michigan University.
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