We have permitted you to read such sciences as are profitable unto you, not such as end in idle disputation ¶77
The Bahá’í Writings enjoin the acquisition of knowledge and the study of the arts and sciences. Bahá’ís are admonished to respect people of learning and accomplishment, and are warned against the pursuit of studies that are productive only of futile wrangling.
In His Tablets Bahá’u’lláh counsels the believers to study such sciences and arts as are “useful” and would further “the progress and advancement”1 of society, and He cautions against sciences which begin with words and end with words, the pursuit of which leads to “idle disputation.” Shoghi Effendi, in a letter written on his behalf, likened sciences that “begin with words and end with words” to “fruitless excursions into metaphysical hair-splittings,”2 and, in another letter, he explained that what Bahá’u’lláh primarily intended by such “sciences” are “those theological treatises and commentaries that encumber the human mind rather than help it to attain the truth.”3
1 Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh : Bishárát, p. 26 (eleventh Glad-Tidings)
2 15 February 1947 : Compilation: Scholarship, p. 19
3 November 30, 1932 : Lights of Guidance, p. 480, no. 1584; The Compilation of Compilations, vol II, page 479, no. 2224