A decade ago, I was a member of a religion known as the Baha’i Faith. This religion teaches that God is called by various names but is still the same all over the world, that all religions teach the same basic message, and that humanity is one and is destined to unite under the banner of the Baha’i Faith in a new age of peace and unity.
What a wonderful vision! But human nature will NEVER allow for it! The reason is that the leadership of the Baha’i Faith, from its founder, Baha’u’llah, to the Universal House of Justice today, claims to be infallible because it is guided by God. Yet we know that Baha’u’llah, his son Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha’s grandson Shoghi Effendi (the Guardian of the Faith), and the members of the Universal House of Justice were/are all HUMAN BEINGS. What evidence do we have that ANY of them are infallible? NONE! And if you cannot question the will of a leadership, what do you in fact have? Tyranny! And what does tyranny always lead to, according to history? Corruption and injustice! And that, in turn results in the system breaking down over time. It was my coming to understand this that finally led me to leave the Faith in 2004. Indeed, the very idea that any human being, human run institution, or human product is infallible is sheer nonsense. It is the most dangerous idea in the world!
I have every reason to beleive that, unless the Baha’i Faith goes down to extinction in the next few centuries, it will become as corrupt and dangerous as any other religion has ever been. It is not dangerous now only because there are so few of them. But the fact is that this Faith is directly descended from the Shiite branch of Islam, which is known to be extremely violent and intolerant by nature. The Baha’i Faith, which was founded in the 19th Century, looks exactly like what one would expect if one took the most liberal Western political and social concepts of that Century and grafted them onto Shiite Islam. By implication, that also involves accepting everything about Islam and its Prophet Muhammad as true and good as well. If you do not, you cannot be Baha’i. That is the Baha’i Faith’s greatest weakness!
I am a non-theist now, worshipping no God and following no faith. And I do not foresee myself being anything else. The Baha’i Faith was the last chance I was willing to give for a God centered religion to rule my life….and now I know that none ever will.
I respect your opinions about the Baha’i’ Faith. I see your point about how utterly ridiculous it is for one to claim infallibility. Were I not raised in the Baha’i’ Faith, I would probably have trouble accepting that as well.
The underlying tone that I can read into your publication is that you had great hope and your hopes were dashed. I am deeply sorry for that. I wish I had been with your during your days within the Baha’i’ Faith. I would have availed myself to you for questions and advice on which books to read and which classes to take. But, alas, I was not.
At this point, I can offer you this one advice. With the utmost sincerity, ask God to guide you to His Word. See what happens. I’m not saying that you’ll end up back with the Baha’i’s. You might not. But, if you are sincere, what will happen is that God will put you on the path of His choice. And like they said in the Old Days; “All roads lead to Rome.”
If you want to correspond via email about these matters, I am happy to do that with you. I also have a Yahoo chat ID.
Thank you, Neshia.
Well, at least you didn’t claim that I misrepresented your Faith in some way. Everything I said in that blog I know to be true, and I encourage others to investigate the Baha’i Faith for themselves so they will know I told the truth. My word alone is not sufficient.
What really irked me about the Baha’i Faith, even as a dedicated member, was how poorly the Baha’is themselves lived up to its high moral standards. The teachings of Baha’i sexual morals are exactly the same as those of traditional Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (sex only within marriage, rejection of homosexuality). Even I failed to follow that strict standard, and eventually concluded that it was irrational to even try because it went against human nature. And anything that goes against human nature is a threat to human welfare.
try “God Alone”
Uh, that is a forum run by Muslims, Stefan.
Sorry, but if I don’t accept Islam at all, as my blog above makes clear, your offer is pointless.
I’d rather go to these places:
“I encourage others to investigate the Baha’i Faith for themselves so they will know I told the truth. My word alone is not sufficient.”
believe me “God Alone” is not Islam you already know, investigate and see for yourself
Let me congratulate you for being atheist .. actually that’s not my speech, but you can watch this video to know why Muslims congratulate you 🙂
you can skip the first part of the video and continue with the atheism issue .. wishing you a good luck in your life.
I suppose that I view the declaration of infallibility as a more pragmatic provision than a metaphysical statement which is declared for largely the same reason that the supreme court is given the power it has (otherwise there is a system of infinite appeals). Perhaps to some as yourself such a statement has too much metaphysical component to be viewed as truth, but to me, it is not so. Ultimately though, I think what you are saying will happen cannot happen because supposing that the Baha’i institution becomes corrupt, it is still an elected institution which eventually gets reelected, thereby (hopefully, although this requires effort on part of the individual Baha’is) eliminating the corruption; and even if the institution becomes so corrupt as to be irreparable, provisions in the Baha’i faith itself allow people to leave unconditionally of their own volition and in no wise to be belittled, put down, or viewed as “condemned” as is common in other religious followings. If, even then, the institution became so corrupt that it pursues former believers and attempts to force its doctrines on the unwilling (a thing expressly forbidden by the faith and one of the things I view as setting it apart from other religious institutions) then even such devout believers as myself would leave the faith and pursue their religious lives in another manner.
Keep in mind as well that people outside the faith are under no jurisdiction of the faith. Which is why Wikipedia currently has an image of Baha’u’llah on it’s article on the Baha’i faith: as a non-Baha’i institution, the Baha’i institution has no control over what it does.
Just some thoughts. Wishing you happy skepticism.
Also, I find it strange that you say Baha’is fail to live up to their own moral standards. From my own experience, while they aren’t prefect, they are generally stringent about the laws. I find it rare to find a lifelong Baha’i who has had premarital sex or drunk alcohol. Keep in mind this is just from my experience in my own community and the community you were a part of may be entirely different than my own. Of course, my community is small, and as (if) it grows, just by statistics, the amount of people who behave contrary to the laws will grow, but this is true of any institution, so I view it as a moot point.
Again: happy skepticism. Good blog, by the way. I especially like the pieces about silly Intelligent Designers. Oh Intelligent Design, you so crazy.
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I suppose the problem lies in seeking God through any human authority that claims to have a special access to God that the rest of us lack. My answer to the question ‘what would Jesus do’ is ‘go drinking with hookers and bust up a church’. Neither the Buddha nor Jesus sat in pews and obeyed the priests dictates, and they did not exhort us to do so either. They told us to wake up and tried to teach us how to be like them. I have been alive for 38 years in this world and as a child believed in Jesus and the whole bit with an unusual fervor. This actually led me to questioning and removal from Sunday School quite early on. Even without the church I still struggled with God and Jesus and sin and all the rest throughout my teens and early twenties. Eventually I found myself reading the sayings of the Buddha and not only did they resonate with me but I was struck by how much he sounded like Jesus 500 years before Christ walked the Earth. I read ‘Zen Mind, Beginners Mind’ and decided that I would take the Short Path. I’m still on it fourteen years later and now understand it will take the rest of my life to walk it completely.
The Pope claims infallibility on the basis of being the heir to Peter. Why then did Christ then choose as His ‘rock’ the man he knew would deny even knowing Him three times? Because Christ knew that all of us are quite fallible. I haven’t read your post yet about how ‘fundamentalism is blasphemy’ but I do agree with the title. I have read all of the major holy books of humanity and a good deal of the lesser works as well. I actually collect religious writings of all kinds as I find them endlessly fascinating. I believe that one of the reasons some religious leaders so strongly discourage the reading of outside material is that their followers might find out how similar they all are. Especially the more cultic ones.
A fundamental spiritual truth is that we are all flawed and imperfect. Anyone who insists their own wisdom is perfect does not grasp this simple truth and all their teachings are but pretty words designed to make you love them, or at least obey them. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t great wisdom or teaching to be found in holy books or religious traditions. I have a very close friend who is a Methodist minister that I respect immensely. He is one of my spiritual touchstones that keep me grounded. I told him that I thought most religions were like the Ark of the Covenant:great gilded containers that held at their core a sacred truth. The job of Christians from the Gospel writers on (as well as the job of Buddhists from the original Bodhisattvas on) was to transmit the teachings of the Master Teachers. It never was to claim their authority or wisdom for themselves. Dressing in a costume and chanting words does not make anyone holy or infallibly wise.
That religions are fallible human creations does not mean that this world is all there is or that the human condition can only be understood through rational science. Our enlightenment is our own and cannot be transmitted through the fiat or proclamation of another. There is no single test that determines our spiritual condition other than how we live our lives unfolding in each moment.
Thank you for your excellent post. I really enjoyed reading this.
Hi Winston, that is the best explanation of it all that I have read. Thank you. I am a Baha’i, and extremely fallible. But, I agree, it is the humility and the understanding that we are all fallible that is the point, or we would not need a God, or guidance from any religion, or to try to strive to be ‘better’ – whatever that may be. Also, I very much agree that the various religions are vessels to hold down these core principals. The fact that they have this in common is also the other key. Lastly, about enlightenment being our own… we are all, constantly searching, and alive because of this journey. Whatever tools (read:religions, and principals) we find to guide us out there is just that. Like newly hatched baby sea turtles, we all head for something intuitively but not knowing what it is until we hit it. Once they reach the water, they just know. I believe we have all ‘hatched’ and are headed to the same place… it is our destiny, our purpose… whether we consciously understand it or not.
To Husband, the original poster, thank you for your open thoughts. The fact that you even care enough about this topic and are writing about it, shows me you are feeling the ocean and are heading there also. All the best with your journey, and thank you for the shout out.
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Would you also think it “totally against ‘human nature'” to have world peace (_meaning_ at least no big wars between countries, and/or _some_ sort of unified global government) or anything way way way less than the way things are right now with any manner, even if you have tossed out the Baha’i system and so it’d have to be with a different one? Do you think that this “human nature” would prevent ANY significant reduction of violence, bigotry, and similar problems? If not, would, as a secular Atheist with science at the front, what’d be your opinion on “technologic” solutions like trying to develop genetic engineering technologies to someday be able to alter human nature and remove genes for violence would be a good thing to do? Note that I’m only asking about these if you believe it is true that there is NOT possible to have a world with much less violence, war, bigotry, etc. than we have now.
I’d be curious to discuss these issues.
Would you also think it “totally against ‘human nature’” to have world peace (_meaning_ at least no big wars between countries, and/or _some_ sort of unified global government) or anything way way way less than the way things are right now with any manner, even if you have tossed out the Baha’i system and so it’d have to be with a different one? Do you think that this “human nature” would prevent ANY significant reduction of violence, bigotry, and similar problems?
No, of course not. People naturally long for peace and stability, but not at the price of tyranny, unless they are duped by dogmatic claims with no basis in reality, which seems to be the case with most God-centered religions, including the Baha’i Faith. Indeed, oppression leads to rebellion, which is the opposite of peace and stability.
If not, would, as a secular Atheist with science at the front, what’d be your opinion on “technologic” solutions like trying to develop genetic engineering technologies to someday be able to alter human nature and remove genes for violence would be a good thing to do?
I don’t think we know enough about genetic origins of behavior to even speculate on such things.
Note that I’m only asking about these if you believe it is true that there is NOT possible to have a world with much less violence, war, bigotry, etc. than we have now.
Yes, it is possible to limit violence, war and bigotry. Look at the United States. We have not had states fighting each other since the Civil War. We got rid of slavery and people of all racial minorities are treated better than they were a century ago. We granted women the right to vote and are making progress on gay rights. By appealing to people’s higher, more compassionate nature, we can make changes. We cannot expect perfection, but we must always strive for improvement. You don’t need religion for that; it’s only a crutch.
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Dear Dale. When I look around me at nature or the stars and its order and complexity even down to the atom I cannot deny the existence of a God. Even when I see a very beautiful woman I know that it’s impossible for us to ever have created such beauty not to mention the workings of the human mind. So I easily accept we were fashioned and designed and powered by God and that with our random diversity we often make decisions against our best interests which cause us suffering and unhappiness. But as God has decided for us to be free agents He Himself has only chosen to be an advisor but left the hard choices up to us and given us the freedom to follow His Ways or ignore them. To offer us a way to live happily and abundantly He sends Messengers from time to time with Infallible Guidance. We do not have to follow it. That is our choice as you have found. But for me and my life I personally would trust God on this as He created life and knows what He’s doing and I acknowledge His Wisdom is far greater than mine and I have much more to gain by following His advice than mine. But in the end its a matter of knowing that we don’t know everything and are in need of perfect knowledge that makes me bow down and worship the God Who created the universe and man and the human mind instead of assuming I know it all when I don’t. Have I ever created even a speck of dust from emptiness or nothing? The person who can do these things has got my ears and heart and I take seriously what He says because He is All Powerful and All Knowing. So if He says that Baha’u’llah’s mind and advice was perfect and infallible as well as the Universal House of Justice I trust Him Who created life itself and the universe on this one. Everything in my home, every single item had a maker, a designer. So the universe and this world and man’s complex mind and thought patterns just came out of an explosion and somehow randomly organised itself into complex intelligence?? No way!! This issue is all about acknowledging and trusting in a God Who can create life and instill intelligence into it and trusting that He Knows what’s best for us. Our ways where have they led us? Wars, bloodshed, unhappiness and misery. Widespread poverty and moral bankruptness. Whether we choose to follow them or not I find God’s Ways far better than mans. He’s urging us to love and unity while man is urging us to ignore these things and just go chasing after money and pleasures. In the end its OUR choice. If we choose to have a corrupt promiscuous world then God doesn’t interfere He only offers us a better way. But if we don’t want it we can choose to live in a world filled with corruption, greed, poverty, wars and hatred. If that’s what we want God, as you see is not stopping us from having this hell. And we can have this hell for however long we want it. God is not interfering only offering a way out if we so choose.
What makes you think God directed the Bahaullah??? Because bahaullah said so? Seriously? The bahai faith has simply tapped into a growing ‘awakening’ that has been going on for many years now. People are now seeing thatmaterialism and $ are not important, and reaching a higher spiritual understanding or enlightenment is. And we achieve this through love and understanding. This is ringing true for so many ‘old souls’ so that those that are exposed to the bahai faith it touches on what they already know and feel. Wasn’t babs a business man, well he knew his market and created the perfect product using the beliefs of other religions. But God warned us to beware of ALL religions (so that includes the bahai faith). Truth is every single one of us can and should talk to God. And if you are open and ready you WILL hear him speak to you. Dale, you are right, stay clear of religion, but do not ‘throw out the baby with the bath water’. God and our spirituality is important. Open a dialogue with God and when the time is right you will feel or hear him.
Thanks, Trevor. You should read these:
So in a way, God seems to have spoken to me already, if only for a time and a specific purpose.
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