The Ultimate Baha’i Delusion?

I posted the following on reddit last week:

https://www.reddit.com/r/exbahai/comments/8ejifq/the_ultimate_bahai_delusion/

Question: What do you think is the ultimate delusion of the Baha’i Faith? There need be no “right” or “wrong” answer here, but I need some opinions on how best to deal with Baha’i apologists like a certain one that keeps invading this subreddit.

You should see the discussion that resulted!

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If your Spiritual Orientation is BUDDHIST…

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Buddhism is a religion that originated in India and is considered a direct offshoot of Hinduism, much like Christianity is descended from ancient Judaism. Unlike Hinduism, however, Buddhism is non-theistic, with no reference to gods at all in its teachings. Instead it is a totally human centered faith, much like Humanism, and thus may be considered more a philosophy than an actual religion. But it includes the Hindu concepts of karma and reincarnation, which Humanists reject. Once stripped of its Indian centered cultural references, Buddhism spread throughout most of southern and eastern Asia.

Keep in mind that while the Dalai Lama is an international celebrity, it would be inappropriate to consider him the eastern version of the Roman Catholic Pope. It would be more accurate to think of him being more like the current President of the Southern Baptist Convention, Steve Gaines. Not quite mainstream compared to larger Christian groups, but still representative of Christian teachings. The main reason the Dalai Lama is so celebrated is because of him representing the struggle of his homeland Tibet against Chinese oppression.

Like Hindus, there are relatively few Buddhist temples outside Asia, so Buddhists may also find a spiritual home for themselves among Unitarian Universalists. Indeed, Buddhism is so popular among UUs that they even have a community for themselves: http://uubf.org/wp/

I know personally a Unitarian Universalist minister who is also a Buddhist: Rev. Alex Holt, who was interim minister at Westside Unitarian Universalist Church (Fort Worth) and later moved to Seattle, where he became interim minister of……Westside Unitarian Universalist Church (Seattle). He wrote an essay for a book about UUs who are also Buddhists:  Buddhist Voices in Unitarian Universalism.

It is interesting to note that in India where Buddhism originated, the Hindu priests won back the loyalty of the people there not by denying the Buddha, but by proclaiming him to be an avatar of Vishnu, one of the Hindu gods, even though the Buddha never claimed that for himself and Buddhists themselves don’t believe that either. Likewise, Baha’is claim that the Buddha is a “Manifestation of God” which is also a concept foreign to Buddhists. It should be noted, however, that there is nothing in Buddhism that requires rejection of theism; that idea is simply irrelevant to Buddhist practices.

 

If your Spiritual Orientation is HINDU…

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Hinduism is considered to be the oldest of the current popular religions in the world, and is to the east what Judaism is to the west. Like Judaism, it is a tribal religion made for one specific people, that of India, which is why most Hindu sects do not proselytize. However, there are a few examples of people outside India who have converted to some form of Hinduism, most notably George Harrison of the Beatles.

Oddly enough, Hinduism does not seem to have a specific set of exclusive beliefs. It seems to be more like Unitarian Universalism than any dogmatic western faith we have looked at so far.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinduism#Concept_of_God

Hinduism is a diverse system of thought with beliefs spanning monotheism, polytheism, panentheism, pantheism, pandeism, monism, and atheism among others;[159][160][web 3] and its concept of God is complex and depends upon each individual and the tradition and philosophy followed. It is sometimes referred to as henotheistic (i.e., involving devotion to a single god while accepting the existence of others), but any such term is an overgeneralization.

The simple fact that a single religious system can incorporate so many different ideas speak volumes about the possibility of someday uniting Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Baha’is together into one similar system since they all have in common the worship of one God and the belief that he sends Messengers to educate people on what God wants from them. They only disagree on when God stopped sending such Messengers. Get rid of that dispute, and we can have religious peace in the west.

If there are no Hindu temples where you live, see if you can instead join a Unitarian Universalist (UU) church where you can find fellowship with its members while practicing your personal form of Hinduism in the privacy of your home. See if you can form a group of fellow UUs to practice Yoga, a form of exercise and meditation that originated in Hinduism but has found common acceptance by various peoples of different religions.

 

If your Spiritual Orientation is MUSLIM…

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I actually did a blog entry long ago that addressed perfectly my problems with people who feel more drawn to Islam than any other religion so I am content to refer my Muslim readers to that:

Muslims, get a life!

Do you REALLY believe in Allah, who is described throughout the Quran as “the Merciful” as well as “Forgiving”? It seems that many of your comrades in faith do not and merely use His name to destroy people’s lives and freedom!

I have not forgotten how some of you threatened the life of Salman Rushdie in 1989 for writing his novel The Satanic Verses.  Did it ever occur to you that if Allah really found what he did to be that offensive, he would have struck down Rushdie Himself? The fact that He never did is evidence to me that either Allah could not do it (why worship such a weak god?) , or that he didn’t see fit to (why do yourselves what He would not?). In short, Allah willed the act of “blasphemy”. So why not condemn Him too? Why is your faith in Allah so weak, that you deem yourselves to be more of a judge of what is worthy of death than Allah Himself? Note that the one who passed the death sentence on Rushdie with a fatwa, Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini, died soon afterwards, while Rushdie still lives today! It seems clear that it  was Khomeini who was the blasphemer, not Rushdie!

Do not be so foolish as to make anyone or anything, including the religion of Islam and the deeds and words of the Prophet Muhammad, above criticism! Remember that Muhammad himself strongly criticised the Jewish and Christian religions, even while stating that their followers were “People of the Book”. Likewise, allowing criticism of Islam in public is in keeping with the verse in the Quran that declares: “There is no compulsion in religion.” (Sura 2:256). How can there be no compulsion in religion if you threaten critics of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad with death, you hypocrites!?

Islam is not superior to any other religion. If you think otherwise, then why would Allah will the existence of other faiths? Why is Christianity still the most popular religion at nearly two billion followers? Is it not possible that Muhammad intended Islam for Arabs only rather than for all the peoples of the world? Why insist on one truth for the whole world when science cannot even find the existence of Allah anywhere, let alone the dogmas of Islam?

The Quran is but a book, revealed by Muhammad. To say that it is equal to Allah himself is blasphemy, yet I always get the impression that you seem to think every word of the Quran should be believed in and obeyed absolutely. NO! Don’t you know that the Quran was not even completely assembled until several years after the death of Muhammad? How can we be sure all of it is accurately transcribed  and really from the Prophet?

I am disgusted by the practice of older Muslim men marrying girls as young as 12 and making them fall pregnant. What a violation of the girls’ dignity! Yes, I know Muhammad married a nine-year old girl. I also know that he and Aisha never had children, so it is possible that the marriage was never consummated. I’d rather beleive that than assume that he was a pedophile, as some have alleged! In any case, are you forgetting that the Prophet was a man and not to be seen as equal with Allah himself? Why assume that if Muhammad did something 1400 years ago, it must be right to do even today? Have you no minds of your own? If you are given brains by Allah and do not use them to determine truth from falsehood and morality from what is immoral, those brains are wasted and thus Allah is dishonored. If your only sources of truth and morality is Islam and the actions of Prophet Muhammad, what will you do if it is revealed to you on the Day of Judgement that Muhammad was not a Prophet at all? Honorable Skeptics like myself don’t worry about that, because we have morals that do not depend on any faith.

It is said among Muslims, “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is his Prophet.” But an atheist would say, “There is no god and Muhammad was no prophet.” If a Muslim denies Hinduism, the Baha’i Faith and atheism, why can’t the atheist and the Hindu deny Islam (the Baha’i would not; all Baha’is see Muhammad as a Prophet)?

How dare you claim Islam is Allah’s final religion! Why put any limits on the Word of Allah? Why tell him to be silent and speak no more? Isn’t that also blasphemy? I think so!

Remember what the Quran also says, in Sura 109: “Say: O disbelievers! I worship not that which ye worship; Nor worship ye that which I worship. And I shall not worship that which ye worship. Nor will ye worship that which I worship. Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion.” Follow THAT, and you will follow the example of Allah, who is Merciful.

 

If your Spiritual Orientation is JEWISH…

Jewish Star

Judaism, unlike the Christian religion that later branched off from it, is a tribal religion made for one specific people, which is why to this day most Jews make no effort to proselytize and the Jewish religion and Jewish ethnicity (sometimes called Hebrew) are often considered one and the same. This blog entry is for those who have either embraced Judaism from a non-Jewish background or are considering doing so, as well as people raised as Jews seeking to live in a modern world with others.

  1. Consider that most of the Jewish Scriptures (which Christians have named the “Old Testament”), have a highly biased point of view, depicting other nations around Israel as evil and even ancient Hebrews who did not follow the dogmatic teachings of ancient Judaism as corrupt. These scriptures often claimed that the many tragedies that Israel suffered from was the result of disobedience to God. The truth is more complex; even when Israel was independent, it often warred against other nations and committed many atrocities against them. This was considered normal and it was only later that Jewish religious philosophers who wrote the Jewish Scriptures sought to reconcile their lofty ethical teachings with the war crimes their own ancestors had committed before.
  2. Being a religious Jew means you must follow certain rules and practice certain holidays. Most of those holidays refer to specific events in ancient Jewish history. And most of those rules, including Judaism’s dietary laws, were based on superstition, not science. Islam later borrowed some of those dietary laws, such as the ban on eating pork. Be sure to practice those rules in moderation, not blindly for their own sake.
  3. Christianity should not be considered an enemy religion. Indeed, the spread of Christianity around the world has brought knowledge of the Jewish people with it, making Jews. both ancient and modern, far more famous and respected than they would be otherwise. The antagonism between Jews and Christians that occurred resulted from a perversion of Christian teachings, not anything Jesus himself ever would have taught or allowed. He was himself Jewish!
  4. The modern republic of Israel has only a vague relation to the ancient nation that shared its name. It was created by Jews from Europe who wanted to establish a state of their own in Palestine, and in the process they displaced many thousands of Arabs that had previously been living in peace with Jews for many centuries. You can be a perfectly good Jew and not be a supporter of a nation that can only maintain itself through exclusion and persecution of non-Jews. Do not equate opposition to Israel’s policies with anti-Semitism and certainly not with the Holocaust that occurred in Europe during World War II; that is simply a lie. One of the things I was taught as a child was that if you do to others what was done to you before, then you are no better than your enemies. The past persecutions of Jews in Europe in no way justifies how Israel conducts itself now against Palestinians. Israel may have been fighting for its right to exist in 1948, but that has not been an issue since the 1980s. Instead, the Zionists of Israel are currently seeking TOTAL DOMINATION OVER ALL OF PALESTINE. So now Israel is its own worst enemy and it is making anti-Semitism around the world look respectable.
  5. Do not be fooled by American support for Israel; many Americans are brainwashed into believing that the establishment of modern Israel is a fulfillment of prophecies recorded in both the Jewish and the Christian Scriptures. They think that eventually Jesus will then come and overthrow the nations of the world and become the absolute ruler of the world instead. This is absurd; if that was going to happen, it would have occurred over 1900 years ago when the generation that knew Jesus still lived.
  6. If you want to join with a Jewish group that embraces freethinking rather than dogmatic bigotry, go here: http://uuja.org/    or here: http://www.shj.org/

 

If your Spiritual Orientation is CHRISTIAN….

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Christianity is the most popular religion in the world today, with an estimated two billion followers around the world, and is the predominant religion in the two American continents, Europe, Australia and sub-Saharan Africa. Thus if a person’s spiritual orientation is actually NEUTRAL, then he is most likely to be Christian because there are simply more Christian families in the world than those of any other religion. However, there are people who, even if they are raised in a non-Christian religion, may be unhappy with their family’s faith and may decide that Christianity is a better one for them. This blog entry is for them as well as for others that may be looking for a “true” version of the Christian faith, whatever their original background.

  1. Remember that Jesus, said to be the founder of Christianity, was a JEW, as were his early disciples. Therefore anyone who is a genuine Christian would also love and respect the Jewish religion and people. Anti-Semitism should have absolutely NO place among Christians.
  2. Jesus himself wrote nothing that survives to this day; what you read about him in the Christian Scriptures (commonly called the New Testament) are second-hand accounts of what some people thought he said. Do not take those quotations at face value. Do not believe that the Bible or any part of it is the infallible Word of God. That is actually an insult to any real God that may exist. Remember that one form of idolatry is attributing God’s glory to anything man-made, including books that have references to God himself in them.
  3. The many references in the Christian Scriptures to the coming of the kingdom of God were interpreted by many Christian leaders as referring to the literal coming of Jesus to conquer the world and directly rule it afterwards. This is absurd; if that was the case, it should have happened while the generation that lived in the time of Jesus still was around. They have all been dead for over 1900 years. Those prophecies must already have been fulfilled with the rise of Christianity to take over the formerly Pagan dominated Roman Empire. Writers like Hal Lindsey who claimed otherwise were lying to us.
  4. Remember that the Apostle Paul, who wrote about half of the Christian Scriptures that were later accepted by the early Christian community as valid, was not even an original disciple of Jesus. He led some of the early Christians, including many from non-Jewish backgrounds, in a very different direction from the groups that consisted mostly of Jews. The Jewish groups eventually faded away, leaving the non-Jewish ones. The result was a badly distorted faith. After all these centuries, we simply have no way of knowing if Paul was a legitimate Christian leader or not.
  5. In most cases, you must be a CHRISTIAN and nothing else. Do NOT claim as your primary religious identity any subdivision within Christianity, such as Roman Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Mormon, or anything else. You would be a Christian who might go to a Baptist or Catholic church, but that’s it. Reject as necessary or justified any division within the Christian community that claims to be the one true religion. It is only CHRISTIANITY itself that ever should have made that claim. Not Mormonism, not the Jehovah’s Witnesses, nor any other such radical “reformist” or “restorationist” group within Christianity. These are simply additional divisions that do more damage to the credibility of Christianity itself.
  6. There is one exception to this: if you are also a member of a religious group that is actually multifaith, like the Unitarian Universalist Association. Then you should distinguish yourself from non-Christian UUs, but also celebrate the UUism you have in common with them. Check out this website:  http://uuchristian.org/

If Your Spiritual Orientation is HUMANIST…

happyhuman

Here is some advice to a person who has decided for whatever reason that he cannot believe in a god of any kind. This actually includes myself, so I may be biased here. Such a person may be called an atheist, an agnostic, or a secular humanist. For the sake of simplicity, I will lump all of them together under the Humanist label.

  • Do not assume that because you have rejected theism that most people who accept a theistic religion are stupid. They may indeed have a different spiritual orientation than you. Respect them anyway, just as you would want them to respect you.
  • One of the worst things you can do to damage your credibility is to only care about the rights and dignity of your fellow non-theists and ignore everyone else.  Stand up and defend the rights and dignity of ALL religious people too, including Jews, Muslims, Christians, and others.
  • Just because you are non-theist does not mean that all other non-theists should be embraced. If a famous non-theist is known to be a racist, have committed acts of sexual abuse, or has committed theft or murder, reject him.
  • It is  true that people of various religions have committed atrocities against outsiders. But so have non-theists who followed an extremist ideology, like Communism. It is DOGMA that kills people, not religion.
  • You can find fellowship in the following organizations:  the American Humanist Association (https://americanhumanist.org/), or the UU Humanist Association (http://huumanists.org/).

In short, don’t be like Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the founder of American Atheists. Or Ayn Rand, the founder of Objectivism. Those two arrogant, bigoted extremists brought disgrace to atheism in America that is still a problem to this day. I wish neither of them had ever existed.