Am I Baha’i?

Please identify which of the following themes you find religiously compelling and/or generally good practice: 1. The abandonment of all … Continued

Please identify which of the following themes you find religiously compelling and/or generally good practice:

1. The abandonment of all forms of prejudice
2. Assurance to women of full equality of opportunity with men
3. Recognition of the unity and relativity of religious truth
4. The elimination of extremes of poverty and wealth
5. The realization of universal education
6. The responsibility of each person to independently search for truth
7. The establishment of a global commonwealth of nations
8. Recognition that true religion is in harmony with reason and the pursuit of scientific knowledge.

Those are the fundamental tenets of the Baha’i faith. Surprised how many you’re in accord with? So was I.

Walking around the Shrine of the Bab in Haifa, Israel — Bahaism’s second holiest shrine — I was amazed at the broad reach of the religion. Where else on Earth could you find a family from the Bible Belt, a pair of South Africans currently working in Japan, and a crew of Peruvians all heading to say their prayers at the same spot?

Further still, how many churches/mosques/synagogues have you been to where you keep hearing some version of this refrain: Why aren’t more people Baha’i?

To my mind, a very good question. It’s a religion that stands for lots of things that atheists have issues with about God – issues like fairness, the problem of evil, exclusivity, all have responses from Bahaism that range from the average (the problem of evil) to the great (pluralism). Whereas with most religions one could tease out these conclusions from their religious texts, the followers of Baha’ullah have them explicitly stated as their mission. Directness has to count for something, right?

I wouldn’t say that I seriously considered the idea of seeking further guidance in becoming a Baha’i, but the entire experience of seeing a good deal of your moral philosophy explicitly writ large in another religious setting is enough, I think, to set anyone’s brain in motion.

After a few days of cogitating, I think this is what I think: What matters for “joining the fold,” so to speak, of a religious tradition is the question of origin.

Where the teaching comes from is entirely more important than what the teaching actually says in terms of being able to associate yourself with a religious community. The origin need not be the initial impetus for the entire faith – one’s parents, for example, could be an excellent origin.

Unless you’re willing to say religious divinity is only holy in as much as it correlates with your own creed, I think this holds true. Even after you agree with all the principles, to seal the deal you have to make the promise: Buddha/Muhammad/Baha’ullah were who the tradition says they are.

Perhaps it is moving beyond a fundamental attachment to origins that signifies religious pluralism and tolerance. A recent Pew survey says that 70 percent of religious Americans say that other faiths than their own can lead to salvation.

This could mean at least two things. The first, that Americans are turning to a more Baha’i-esque worldview of widespread divine presence (I doubt it). The second, that perhaps when we come into greater contact with the actual content (the “what”) of the world’s religions we realize that we see something good, some divine spark, in each.

About

  • Paganplace

    Nice folks, those Baha’i. :)

  • sohcahtoa

    I’m not sure I understand what David’s trying to get at here. Is this an advertisement for Baha’i? I can’t say that I know too much about Baha’i, but from what I hear about it, it sounds like a very nice religion. However, David mentions here that Baha’i addresses some of the issues that atheists have with God. While this appears to be true, he misses one fundamental belief of all atheists: existence. Worshipping a non-existent diety is absurd. Without evidence of a creator or an omnipotent supernatural being, religion and worship become extraneous and have no merit. Baha’i certainly seems like a nice religion as religions go, but I don’t think it will draw in too many atheists.

  • RCG

    PAGANPLACE: Nice folks…The one person I’ve met that has specifically said, “I am Baha’i” was indeed a great person to talk to.Maybe it’s just me, but as Mr. Grant describes Baha’i, especially when it comes to “religious pluralism” sounds like a simple renaming of contemporary Western Paganism.Perhaps I’m just misreading his article, however positive the light it sheds on Baha’i is.

  • ISMoverdose

    My curiosity stems from the use of the term “Bahaism” in this article. A search through the official website of the religion never uses this term. Rather, it refers to itself as “The Baha’i Faith.” As to the Baha’i Faith, my basic readings (so far) lead to a very positive impression … especially the lack of clergy combined with the focus on an “independent investigation of truth” for each member and seeker.

  • Paganplace

    Oh, Baha’i aren’t Pagans, they have a prophet and Scripture, if I understand correctly, and they’re monotheist, though they see a lot of different teachers as representing this conception of God, (I don’t really know too much about these guys, to be honest,) They do respect other ways, though, and make a point of getting along with everyone. :)Never actually asked one what they think of Pagan religion in particular, though, it just never came up. :)

  • Worldcitizen

    Dear Friends,More information about The Bahai Faith can be found at http://www.bahai.org. The Bahai Faith is the world’s 2nd most wide spread religion and it follows the teachings of Baha’u'llah . Just about everything David Grant says in his article is true but as it also says please investigate the truth for yourselves. So take a look at the website and truly judge for yourselves.

  • Richard Conn Henry

    Sohcahtoa, I was an atheist until my study of physics made me give it up and become a theist. Repeated testing of the predictions of quantum mechanics continues to support the conclusion that the world is mental not material. This is mainstream physics, just not widely realized. You are then left with, “whose mind?” If it is just yours, well, you’ve got quite a responsibility! But I have not joined any religious group; not one appeals to me.

  • NadirJ

    ISMOVERDOSE”Interesting to note that until we became so dependent on the oil coming from Muslim countries that Islam was referred to as “Muhammadanism” in this country.”Umm, that doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. It’s got nothing to do with oil! Muslims have never referred to their religion as “Muhammadenism”. It’s always been Islam. So there was no reason for other people to call it by any other name.

  • pivotoftheuniverse

    As an agnostic, I don’t want to cast aspirsions, I think Baha’is are as good or bad as the next group. But I find it curious that a few of the salient features of Bahai’ism are not noted by many of its adherents…- Baha’ism originated in Iran from a radical reformist branch of Shi’a Islam (Babism) that appeared in the mid-19th century, and is very much rooted in the revolutionary and reformist currents of Iran in that period (not that this is a problem, but it’s curious that Baha’is never speak of the origin of their religion).- Baha’ism as an organized religion maintains a very rigid hierarchy with a fairly secretive upper elite that claims a higher “occult” understanding of the faith (again, no different from some other religions, but something rarely noted by adherents). Deviation from the interpretations of this leadership has led to some former members being ousted and ostracized.- Baha’ism seems quite progressive on many points, and indeed it is on issues such as ethnic particularism or gender equality. But it also maintains fairly non-progressive aspects as well, notably its condemnation of homosexuality.Again, I don’t mean to paint Baha’ism as worse than any other faith, and some may reasonably argue that it’s more open and progressive than some. But I find it interesting that “progressive” advocates of Baha’ism do tend to overlook aspects of the religion which are not as egalitarian as they would like the world to think.

  • Jaye Lewis

    My only discomfort with the Baha’i faith, and many others that are often referred to as cults, is this: Does the religion answer these questions, “What is truth?”Living on this planet is merely a brief moment. The fact is, we will be dead a lot longer than we are alive. Then there is that whole issue of a relationship with God. I don’t want to debate the issue. I don’t want to accept everything. If a religion does not offer a commitment and a relationship, and tell me how to experience that, then I see no reality there. No offense intended.

  • Bob Koehl

    “Pivot of the Universe” refers to the Bahai’s having a rigid hierarchy with a secretive elite claiming

  • Anonymous

    Some clarifications:–Baha’is regard the Bab and Baha’u'llah as the Twin Founders of their Faith. The role of the Bab was in some sense like that of John the Baptist–they both prepared the way for the great spiritual Teachers after them–Christ and Baha’u'llah. –Baha’is organize their affairs around freely elected councils at the local, national and international affairs. There is no clerical hierarchy. For public statements of its international council on peace and religious tolerance see bahai.org–An unfettered search for truth and freedom of conscience in matters of belief are hallmarks of the Baha’i teachings. –the authoritative Baha’i texts place unequivocal emphasis on safeguarding the basic human rights of all people. Baha’is do not seek to impose their beliefs or moral standards on others.

  • Hermitian Conjugate

    > sohcahtoaHeh. Nice name. (sine = opposite over hypotenuse, cosine = adjacent over hypotenuse, tangent = opposite over adjacent)Anyway, I do agree that the “existence” or, as it’s sometimes known, the “reality” problem is a serious one for all religions that are god-based. You’d think Big G would pay a bit more attention to providing evidence that he/she/it is really there. Faces on tortillas and the occasional unexplained cancer remission really aren’t enough.

  • RCG

    Hermitian Conjugate:> sohcahtoaHeh. Nice name. (sine = opposite over hypotenuse, cosine = adjacent over hypotenuse, tangent = opposite over adjacent)THIS is the most enlightening thing I’ve ever read here. I’m facing a daunting math course in the fall, and for once, that actually made sense. Truly an act of the gods.You have to be careful about demanding proof of existence to justify Faith, for Faith operates without proof; God proves he exists and disappears in a puff of logic, or so I’ve read.For all it’s egalitarianism (Yes, another -ism), why isn’t there more mention of it in media events where religion and rights groups come together (in conflict or otherwise)?

  • Paganplace

    “You’d think Big G would pay a bit more attention to providing evidence that he/she/it is really there.”Or that Big Religion would pay a bit more attention to not making demands it can’t back up. :)

  • ISMoverdose

    Nadirj, I never said that Muslims referred to their religion as anything other than Islam. However, take a look at American texts from the early 20th century, even some texts ranging into the 70′s, and you’ll see that Islam was called “Muhammadanism” in both the US and Europe. But that wasn’t my point … you actually raised it quite well by saying “It’s always been Islam. So there was no reason for other people to call it by any other name.” It’s always been the “Baha’i Faith” not Bahaism, so why address this and other faiths with a demeaning suffix such as “ism.”

  • sumerian2001

    To pivotoftheuniverse: Where do you get your information from? There are dozens of book on the origins of the Bahai Faith, mostly by Baha’i authors but also by non-Bahai scholars. There are hundreds if not thousands of such articles on the Internet.Secretive upper elite? Why don’t you read about this religion before posting something like this? It’s only a click away and you’ll be all the more informed for it.

  • Chuckles

    There is a basic problem with this article: it is naive. One cannot judge a religion/person/organization/whatever by stated tenets. One has to judge by actual practice.The basic marketing ploy of the Baha’i faith is that it includes the best of all faiths, but if you scratch a Baha’i you find he thinks his own faith is superior and unique, just as all believers do. They have a gloss of rational-appearing principles, but you still have to believe all the wacky stuff they tell you to believe.Other things from previous posts: “Mahomedanism” was coined by Christians who think all religions worship an actual human being, just as they worship Christ and their religion is named after Christ. But in fact Muslims don’t consider Mohammed to be divine and so they find the term ‘Mahomedan’ to be offensive.Regarding “What is truth?” “Where am I going when I die?” “If I’m wrong, then would I want to know.”, well, if you ask these questions, be prepared to be told lies. Religions will answer all questions like that, but only about things that are completely unverifiable. Then they’ll want money, but you can’t promise to send them money from the other side, you have to give them the money now.

  • ISMoverdose

    Chuckles, be wary of calling others “naive,” for to them, your seeming inability to make a “leap of faith” is equally naive. Ultimately, things are left to our own perspectives … it’s the ability to recognize that we all have a right to our own views and perspectives that can possibly make us less “naive.”As for “lies” about life after death, how do you know they are lies? Have you been there?

  • Chuckles

    >As for “lies” about life after death, how do you You can’t ask anyone to to prove a negative. If a claim cannot possibly be demonstrated as true, then claiming it is lying. This is a basic rule of logic, they taught my kid that stuff in fifth grade.

  • Nicolobo

    I used to have a good opinion of Bahais and their religion, but I just read their opinions on homosexuality. As a gay man myself, how can I be asked to accept this narrow-minded attitude that is clearly in conflict with what we understand through science and scientifically valid research? Clearly, Bahaiism responded admirably to the challenges of the 19th century. Courageously, even. If Bahaism is true to its values, it must honestly change its attitude towards gays. Show the courage again, or be relegated to the ranks of another doctrine with a short shelf-life. Denying the devine spark within me–from my Creator–is denigrating to the Creator (whatever we call Him/Her/Them). Refering to my nature as a “handicap” simply shows a disapproval of creation. Arrogance. Very disappointing.

  • Steven Rivkin

    To Chuckles:

  • RCG

    ISMOVERDOSE:why address this and other faiths with a demeaning suffix such as “ism.”What would you suggest I call my Paganism, so it isn’t demeaning? Or Creationism? Sometimes a name is just a name – demeaning or pejorative only if you mean it to be so.I had never heard “Mohammedan” until I started working on the play Curious Savage, (as-written, set in 1949 or so) and it shows up in a short monologue. It’s fascinating to suddenly see it show up again so soon after starting rehearsal.

  • Richard Conn Henry

    “You can’t ask anyone to to prove a negative. If a claim cannot possibly be demonstrated as true, then claiming it is lying.” Well, Chuckles, both statements are wrong. Further to my earlier post, Anton Zeilinger and his colleagues prove that the world does not exist (Nature, 446, 871, April 2007). That’s a negative proved. And Einstein’s General Relativity (theory of gravity) has passed many tests, but cannot possibly be demonstrated as true (as is the case with any law of physics) but claiming it is not lying. Chuckles, which is harder to believe: that you exist, or that you will continue to exist after death?

  • TODDUNT

    Re: Homosexuality.It’s peculiar how those who sympathize with homosexuals will make demands that groups who don’t sympathize with them (e.g., the Baha’is) should “change or die.”Nobody is forcing anyone to become a Baha’i and those who do become a Baha’i may leave at anytime. If you have a problem with the Baha’i Faith, then don’t join, but demanding that the Baha’is change their doctrines to suit your stance is a poor practice since Baha’is cause no physical harm to homosexuals or anyone, nor do they actively seek to marginalize any group of people by calling for stronger laws and such to oppress them.Instead, focus your actions towards the elimination of human rights abuses (e.g., murder, forced starvation, impoverishment). Human rights abuses affect more people and to a greater degree of harm than the Baha’is preclusion of homosexual behavior.Now is not the time to attack the Baha’is for the one rule you disagree with; it is time we put our differences aside and work together towards making the world safe and prosperous.ToddUNT

  • Paganplace

    “t’s peculiar how those who sympathize with homosexuals will make demands that groups who don’t sympathize with them (e.g., the Baha’is) should “change or die.”"That’s not what the poster said, he said he *wouldn’t join* because, as a gay man, he knows that doctrine is inappropriate. And he did suggest that it would be more courageous to dispense with that old prejudice, or in fact be ‘relegated to obsolescence,’ to paraphrase. He didn’t say ‘change or die.’

  • kob

    Paganplace,Those are just semantics. I believe that what Todd meant is that a person has the choice to either accept or not accept the bahá’í faith. But it is not acceptable for bahá’ís to even think about altering their religious texts as that in itself would be the first step towards actual “obsolescence.”

  • TJ

    Richard Conn Henry writes: “Repeated testing of the predictions of quantum mechanics continues to support the conclusion that the world is mental not material. This is mainstream physics, just not widely realized. You are then left with, “whose mind?” If it is just yours, well, you’ve got quite a responsibility!”You’re the expert professor, but that smacks of god of the gaps to me.

  • TJ

    1. The abandonment of all forms of prejudiceYet prejudice against homosexuals is not abandoned.8. Recognition that true religion is in harmony with reason and the pursuit of scientific knowledge.Yet, science and reason dictate, at least thus far, that homosexuality is not an unnatural condition or disease to be overcome.Baha’i doesn’t meet its own definition of true religion.

  • Paganplace

    ” kob:Paganplace,Those are just semantics.”Hardly, if the post I was responding to was trying to portray him as representing some kind of threatening ‘gay agenda’ walking up to Bahai and demanding they change or die.’

  • J Omar Walmsley

    I’m surprised to read comments which in my mind do not reflect a mature understanding of or a vital and spiritually rewarding grasp of the Baha’i Faith. The Baha’i Faith is not one more religious association in which a person can test “faith”, it’s spiritual resonances. It is really a departure from denominationally oriented systoms of belief, theologically elaborated sets of faith-directed ideas. Just as all things we observe in life mature with time so the Baha’i faith represents a fundamental maturation within the context of all previous faith systems leading up to it. The profound truth Baha’is discover is embodied in the word as well as its reality, Unity. This spiritual emblem of humanity’s pattern of growth, like children passing through tumultuous adolsescence ultimately into maturity, well expressed in St. Paul’s words on Love in the 13th chapter of 1st Corinthians, does not depend on verbal rules but on an inborn and inevitable potential for spiritual maturation. The Baha’i Faith is about the long awaited coming to maturity of more and more humans and within the context of a special, Loving, Unity, social integration. It provides a physical vehicle in which more and more of us can “spiritually grow up”. There are no hard and fast rules to this growth–it’s in the very nature of our being human. The passage to maturity is the desperately dangerous vale through which humanity is now passing. For now too many of us in our immaturity only “know in part”; but all of us also have an inborn gift to “know fully” as our God-given potential to exerience our emerging human nature, born in us. We understand growth in so many aspects of our earthly experience. The Baha’i Faith is about deepening towards our ultimate Loving human nature and potential. And it’s also about our ultimate survival.

  • Definitions

    interpreter native:I’m not sure what the source of your definitions is, but the name “Baha’i” is a derivative of the Arabic word “Baha”, which does not mean “worth” but rather means “glory.” Thus the title “Baha’u'llah” translates to “the Glory of God.”

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  • Greengecko

    I think the statements of those who talk about the “shortcomings” of the Baha’i Faith have little value, because they have not even read a single page, let alone one book, of the Baha’i Writings. Just read one, and then come back with some more comments.

  • Greengecko

    I think the statements of those who talk about the “shortcomings” of the Baha’i Faith have little value, because the writers have not even read a single page, let alone one book, of the Baha’i Writings. I challenge you to read just read one little book, just one, and then come back with some more comments.

  • Anonymous

    Bahai “faith” is a heresy-a coktail brrowed Islam,christianity and judaism.The good values listed belong in these three faiths.

  • Tim

    The Pew report language seems to support the concept that someone is tolerant if they believe there are many ways to salvation. If a person, like me, believes that Christ is the only way to salvation, then I suppose some would incorrectly label this as being intolerant.However, tolerance has nothing to do with my personal agreement with your idea of salvation. I don’t have to agree with you to be tolerant. Tolerance is my belief in your freedom to believe what you want. Tolerance is firm belief in the freedom of religion and your right not to be persecuted for what you believe. Tolerance is not about me actually agreeing with you about anything and especially salvation. I can be tolerant without believing you will secure salvation through your religion. We can have a civil disagreement without anyone being intolerant.Jesus Christ is the only way and no one comes to the Father except through Christ. Baha’i folks are nice folks and they do not persecute others for their beliefs. This, in fact, makes them one of the most tolerant religions out there. Yet the nice Baha’i folk are no more tolerant than any Christian. They just have a different theology and nice as they are they are misleading many onto the path to hell. The misuse of the word tolerance to mean “agree” on this blog and by the Pew group and in the general use of the word today is bad for us all. For none of us can learn unless someone disagrees and tries to teach.Worse, in the case of salvation this this misuse of the word tolerance turns many away from taking a stand for the truth. This because no one wants to be intolerant, especially a kind hearted Christian. Misuse of the word tolerance, in fact, is a sneaky way to confuse the weak minded. For us Christians strongly grounded in the truth about Christ, we tolerate you but we do not agree with you. And because we do not agree with you that does not make us intolerant. You are wrong when you think that there are many ways to salvation.

  • TJ

    Are you scared of ‘hell’ Tim?

  • Paganplace

    Surely you can’t dispute, Tim, that, ‘My way is the only way to save your soul from… err, stuff that comes from my way,’ isn’t the excuse behind some of the most virulent intolerance throughout our history. It certainly serves as a convenient catch-all rationale for any harm someone might do to another in the name of a ‘One True Way.’ Hey, they’re ‘saving your soul,’ and any thing else they might do pales by comparison, right?To say ‘Only people of my religion have value to their *souls* by the standards of all the divinity in the universe,’ is, at its very heart, as intolerant as it can get. Said nicely or not.

  • WPC

    Some posters raised issues here regarding homosexuality. People committed to gay identity politics or to homophobia consistently misconstrue the Baha’i teachings. Both end up rejecting out of hand.The Baha’i teachings rest on the notion that God reveals His specific will through a series of Manifestations – among Whom are Moses, Krishna, Zoroaster, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, and Baha’u'llah. For Baha’is, their scriptures are the first that have been clearly written by the hand of the Manifestation. The Baha’i Faith also has a clear succession of authorized interpreters. Within those scriptures and interpretations, it is clear that the intended use of the sexual impulse is in marriage between a man and a woman. The Baha’i writings note that God has ordained that sexual acts between members of the same sex are not permissible. People who are attracted to the same sex are not condemned, (there are all kinds of attractions and desires that people feel, but as they mature they learn to control them and find appropriate channels for self expression).Baha’is are neither intolerant nor excessively liberal in their approach. Baha’is are told in no uncertain terms that “To regard homosexuals with prejudice and disdain would be entirely against the spirit of Baha’i Teachings. The doors are open for all of humanity to enter the Cause of God, irrespective of their present circumstances; this invitation applies to homosexuals as well as to any others who are engaged in practices contrary to the Baha’i Teachings. Associated with this invitation is the expectation that all believers will make a sincere and persistent effort to eradicate those aspects of their conduct which are not in conformity with Divine Law. It is through such adherence to the Baha’i Teachings that a true and enduring unity of the diverse elements of the Baha’i community is achieved and safeguarded.” (Universal House of Justice)Divine Revelation has never been for the purpose of confirming human beings in their prejudices or in getting exactly what they want. Thus, for a believer, whether in the Baha’i Faith or any other religion, the concern is whether a teaching is God’s will, not whether it can be conveniently labeled as “liberal” or “conservative.” A believer will try to understand God’s will and then live by it.It is best to read fully all the Baha’i texts on homosexuality and not to read only those that confirm you in your own opinion. With regard to the argument that the Baha’i approach is against science, the scientific community has a large number of conflicting studies about whether same-sex attraction is biological/interent, learned, or from some other interactive set of causes. Regarding the other poster’s question about whether the Baha’i Faith teaches:”What is truth?”The answer is yes to all three. But the answers are not short sound bites.Still, I will try to be succinct:Truth is that which God reveals through His Manifestations. Truth with specific relevance to a given age is delivered through God’s most recent Manifestation (currently Baha’u'llah).When you die, you and all human beings will progress through additional “worlds of God.” Your state of being (i.e. whether you are in “heaven” or “hell”) occurs here and in the afterlife depending on your orientation and attitude, your faith and the works that are the fruit of that faith. I should hope that any human being would want to know if he is wrong. Baha’is are always willing to listen and endeavor to understand. At the same time, Baha’is are Baha’is because they have become convinced that God has spoken anew through Baha’u'llah, the Glory of God. They will therefore wish to share that gift with you. Whether you determine to give your life to Baha’u'llah and open your life to a relationship with Him is up to you. For those who are Christians, this may be hard unless you come to realize that Baha’u'llah is Christ returned in the glory of the Father. No one has ever given up Christ to become a Baha’i. I still commune with the Lord Jesus each day, just as I walk hand in hand with Baha’u'llah.

  • WPC

    Some posters raised issues here regarding homosexuality. People committed to gay identity politics or to homophobia consistently misconstrue the Baha’i teachings. Both end up rejecting out of hand.

  • WPC

    Thank you, David, for this thoughtful piece. I would suggest that the world is not yet becoming more Baha’i-like in any conscious way. It is not likely to adopt the principle of the oneness of religion except by embracing Baha’u'llah Himself. It is more likely to be tolerant – which is a way we can accept others without necessarily seeing their fundamental relevance to our own lives.

  • Tim

    It is God that you really think is intolerant because he chose to provide salvation only through His son Jesus Christ. You don’t like this and you disguise your attack on God by calling me intolerant. Or do you think that I made up this idea on my own that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation? If I did make up these things, then call me intolerant if you want. However, you know that I am only the messenger giving you the Word of God.You promote yourself to God or at least equal to God when you define things to fit your own personal idea of how things should be in the universe. And if someone brings you the word of God you call them intolerant because who your really disagree with is God himself. Why don’t you go ahead and attack God as intolerant? Because then you are exposed for who you are.Christ very clearly said that He was and is the only way to the Father. For me to say otherwise is for me to say that God is wrong. To take this kind of position is to believe you are at the very least equal to God. Do you believe you are equal to God?

  • autonomous

    Tim, get a grip. You don’t know the first thing about God or Christ – you’ve never met God and have no idea where or what God is. You believe plenty, but don’t actually know diddly…..Do you have any idea how robotic you sound with this verbatim re-iteration of what you’ve been taught for a lifetime? You’re a believer – but you’re not a knower. Do you see the difference?

  • Tim

    AUTONOMOUS – is not controlled by others or by outside forces. Autonomous is independent and autonomous is a knower. Perhaps all knowing? Autonomous does not have to believe because autonomous perceives things directly. He /she can grasp in his / her mind with clarity and certainty as this is a characteristic of a knower. The question was “Do you believe you are equal to God” and autonomous couples himself / herself with the word knower providing a great deal of insight into the answer to this question by at least one person. Thanks for your answer, autonomous. I wonder did you intend to indirectly answer my question or was it just a kind of a robotic reaction?

  • A bit Upset

    Hi everyone, I am twenty-one years old, a Baha’i (though me being twenty-one holds no merit, I just wanted to write that in anyway). So I have been reading what everyone wrote on here and I must admit it made me happy, interested, and yet a bit upset about some of the things that people have been commenting on in regards to the Baha’i Faith. Furthermore, I have a lot to mention BUT surely I will stick to one post that made me “a bit upset,” which is perhaps the confusion and definitely false information of this particular person thinking that “Baha’is never speak of the origin of their religion”; well that is incorrect, we very much do so. Why would you want to mention this in the first place? As a matter of fact, if anyone cared to know, Baha’is in Iran at this moment are either persecuted or held in prison for their belief. So I am pretty sure we talk about Iran and how it is so of value to this faith, (historically, negatively, positively) constantly, and as we still battle to end injustice there. Secondly, every person working in the House of Justice is not in some sort of a Hierarchy or a cult. Because as you might want to define what a cult is, what Baha’is do in the House of Justice is completely the opposite. There, they set goals to be reached by the rest of Baha’is which are actually all positive. They are mostly goals like, the youth shall host book readings from the faith, and as you probably did not know-Baha’is DO NOT preach about the faith as we have what we call “individual investigation of truth.” So you think about that, because that is in no way what defines the word cult.

  • autonomous

    Tim – you made it very clear in your post that you believe that the historical person that was Jesus (although not proven to have ever lived) is the same person as God – and is of the same nature as God (also a divine entity that has never been proven to exist). Consequently, a Christian must believe what the bible has to say, because it is ‘the Word of God’. You are only a messenger, and Jesus is the only way to God. Did you say this? How can anyone believe anything at all about God unless they actually believe God exists? You are clearly speaking under the assumption that everything you say is an absolute given….and is in fact the absolute truth. How do you know this? Now then – do you see where your post might be full of ambivilance when an atheist with no belief in God reads it? Your implied conviction that ‘nothing can be greater than God’ is also taken on faith, and not on established fact.Non-believers generally don’t have problems with religious beliefs as long as they are presented as metaphysical possibilities – the metaphysics of religion, Christianity included, will not stand up to empirical scrutiny, but that doesn’t mean that associated beliefs don’t effect the lives of believers on a subjective level. Of course they do….whether the beliefs are based on actual fact, or not. And my point – religious believers are trained (subliminally?) through many repetitions and much reinforcement to speak of their beliefs as real and established truth and which, logically speaking, must be based on concrete facts for all to see. This is not the case. This is bothersome to some non- believers…..because a universal truth should be available for any human to witness directly – such is not the case with ‘religious’ truths. Ergo, we don’t know whether we’re greater or lesser, or the same as God – until we establish the existence of God as a universal and absolute truth based on unequivical fact. That’s really all I said.

  • Garyd

    Except for the stealing from those who work thing and giving it to those who don’t which not only isn’t nice it is counter productive and ridiculously short sighted.To say nothing of the fact that the notion that there are many revelations but only one God essentially guarantees that God is a schizophrenic.

  • TJ

    GaryD writes: “To say nothing of the fact that the notion that there are many revelations but only one God essentially guarantees that God is a schizophrenic.”The ‘God’ character, as depicted in the Christian bible alone, is clearly schizophrenic. Just that one supposed revelation provides more than enough evidence to reach that conclusion. Multiple revelations aren’t necessary.

  • garyd

    Nonsense TJ. The God of the Bible is remarkably consistent especially Given the time span over which it was written.

  • Maureen Flynn-Burhoe

    At times I am frustrated by the absence of categories that exclude entire populations and conversations. Recently I came across a site hosted by the Washington Post. In their About page they describe how they use the limitless space of the online world to host a blog entitled “On Faith” which invites “intelligent, informed, eclectic, respectful,fruitful, intriguing and constructive conversation-among specialists and generalists about the things that matter most, religion, the most ancient of forces, the most pervasive yet “least understood topic in global life.”I read comments and the post from David Grant, a junior at Virginia Tech who commenting on his visit to the Baha’i gardens in Haifa,Israel-Palestine (which has recently been named as an International Heritage Site) remarking on the broad reach of the Baha’i religion. “Where else on Earth could you find a family from the Bible Belt, a pair of South Africans currently working in Japan, and a crew of Peruvians all heading to say their prayers at the same spot?”I wanted to search “On Faith” for more strings on the Baha’i but realized that Baha’i World Faith was not offered in their pop-up menu of “List Posts by Topics” which did include: Anglican, Atheist/Agnostic, Buddhist, Catholic, Christian, Earth-based Spirituality, Eastern Orthodox, Episcopal, Evangelical, Greek Orthodox, Hindu, Jewish, Mainline Protestant, Mormon, Muslim, Native American religion, Protestant, Quaker, Sikh, Taoist, Wiccan.As of February 2008 there were 5,000,000 Baha’is in the world and 159,692 Baha’is in the United States. I couldn’t find a figure for either Taoist or Wiccans but one site at least claimed that in 2001 there were c. 34,000 Wiccans in the US.Baha’is promote tolerance and moderation and are anxiously concerned with the social issues of the time in which they live. Baha’is around the globe contribute to civil society at locally, regionally, nationally levels on issues and programs related to World Religion Day, interfaith relations, religious freedom, Race Unity Day, race unity, elimination of prejudice, advancement of women (CEDAW), human rights, among others. Baha’is have offices at United Nations as NGO are are prominent in international forums as invited participants acknowledged for civil moderate behaviour in the most volatile situations. Recently the U.S. Bahá’í U.N. representative Jeffery Huffines received a Friendship Award for his work “promoting cultural understanding throughout the world and at the UN Headquarters” and for serving as a “positive, guiding force” to all. It is surprising that Baha’is seem to be largely absent from this forum.The categories offered under “List Posts by Topics” are confusing since some are parent categories for the others. The Greek Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants and Evangelical are all followers of Christ and are all therefore Christians. Which discussions take place solely under the name of Anglican, Mainline Protestants and Episcopal? In terms of the semantic web it would be far more useful to provide a theme-based “List of Topics” that is inclusive of all the groups and religions mentioned. Tags could be used to facilitate searches for a Quaker, Sikh or Baha’i or Catholic perspective, for example. I would recommend that the blog architects revisit and update their taxonomy using principles of folksonomy: what users do with words.

  • Anonymous

    Man invented god for commercial reasons. Why do all religions acquire so much property, build to leave their mark on humanity? Egoism. They need people to maintain and support these properties, buildings, offices, projects, and….? Procreate in my name is pure egoism – who cares that these people have to slog and slave for their religion? The Bahai’is are not any different.We are born to suffer is pure egoism. If you know that someone is going to suffer, wjy bring them into this world? It makes no sense to justify such nonsense on religious grounds – egoism, egoism, egoism.The top administrative body is infallible is again pure egoism. Take the example of Baha’i persecution. Instead of purchasing so much property, building temples, offices, and…. the money could have been used to bring out all the Irani Baha’is. Again egoism prevails, it helps to draw attention for certain interests.Everythign is invented by mere men. Unfortunately, neither the UN nor the different governments can stop all these religions from becoming big businesses. Human beings are victims of greedy, egoists men.

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