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My Friend Mycroft, Part Three: Mycroft on Religion

My Friend Mycroft, Part Three: Mycroft on Religion

Having discussed the role of science in the life of humanity, my atheist forum friend Mycroft turned to the subject of religion. The points of view were thus: Mycroft=science is a savior; Me=science is a tool for the exploration of reality Mycroft wrote: “The major organized belief systems are incoherent. Half of mosaic, christian, and muslim theology over the last millennia is devoted to the task of belatedly producing some kind of consistency—often by declaring something impossible a “mystery”, or adding afterthoughts.”…

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My Friend Mycroft, Part One: Spiritual Exploration

My Friend Mycroft, Part One: Spiritual Exploration

Once upon a time, I had a forum friend who called himself Mycroft (a reference to Sherlock’s allegedly smarter older brother). He was an atheist (still is as far as I know) and we spent pleasurable hours discussing belief, certitude, faith, reason and other subjects of interest to both of us. Well, at least I found the discourse pleasurable. I’m pretty sure Mycroft found it frustrating at times because I refused to “color inside the lines” of religion that he…

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Thoughts of War and Peace—an Anniversary Observed

Thoughts of War and Peace—an Anniversary Observed

Tides of change are sweeping the earth, and we all feel helpless to withstand its powerful force. Every day there is fresh and depressing news of terrorism, famine, war, deep economic disorders and the like. Shoghi Effendi, the head of the Baha’i faith from 1921-1957 has stated:  “A tempest, unprecedented in its violence, unpredictable in its course, catastrophic in its immediate effects, unimaginably glorious in its ultimate consequences, is at present sweeping the face of the earth. Its driving power…

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Faith and Freedom

Faith and Freedom

Unlike our animal cousins, human beings’ behavior is less affected by instinct than it is by observation, nurture, experience and guided learning. We live in complex relationships that form an even more complex society. Existing in that society requires that we learn the skills necessary to that existence. As children, we require the guidance of parents, teachers and a body of knowledge about ourselves and our world. That guidance must originate somewhere—especially in areas where the effects of blindly following…

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Part 7 of Religion – The Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

Part 7 of Religion – The Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

Bad Religion: When The End Justifies Any Means   For most of us, authentic religion focuses on the transcendent.  True religion links loving, kind and compassionate relationships with others on this plane of existence to the growth of the soul and an eternal life in the next. But some people — especially those who focus fanatically on a single component of their belief system – discard loving, kind and compassionate relationships in favor of an expectation; some hoped-for “sacred” outcome…

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Going to the Cows

Going to the Cows

I looked to one of my favorite talks by Abdu’l-Bahá for my subject this time and realized, when I’d begun to look at it in terms of pull quotes, that I had very little to add. Here, in a talk given at the Open Forum in San Francisco, California on October 10, 1912, Abdu’l-Bahá takes up the nature of the human intellect—which is to say, he takes up the question of what it is that makes us human. The notes…

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Crossing the Streams: Whither Humans?

Crossing the Streams: Whither Humans?

I was raised a Christian and embraced the Bahá’í Faith at the age of nineteen. As I deepened my understanding of the Faith, I began to realize a profound change in my worldview. The teachings of the Faith fundamentally changed my understanding of myself as a human being and my understanding of humanity as a species. The original catalyst for this change was the Faith, itself, with its insistence that I must understand how the world really works in a…

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Investigating Reality (Part 2): Faith and Reason

Investigating Reality (Part 2): Faith and Reason

In the churches I attended as a child, there was a broad belief that the Bible was inerrant and infallible. I have never been able to determine from my repeated readings of the Biblical text, where this idea came from. There is not even one book in the Bible whose authors make a claim of either inerrancy or infallibility. A related idea is that adding to the Bible (i.e. claiming a newer revelation as Muhammad and Bahá’u’lláh have done) was…

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Investigating Reality (Part 1): What Does It Mean?

Investigating Reality (Part 1): What Does It Mean?

Speaking at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur J. Parsons of Washington, D.C., on 25 April 1912, Abdu’l-Bahá (son of the Founder of the Bahá’í Faith and the appointed interpreter of His teachings) stated the primary teaching of Bahá’u’lláh in this way: The first teaching of Bahá’u’lláh is the duty incumbent upon all to investigate reality. What does it mean to investigate reality? It means that man must forget all hearsay and examine truth himself, for he does not…

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Knowledge, Volition and Action: Unraveling Secrets

Knowledge, Volition and Action: Unraveling Secrets

O God, O Thou Who hast cast Thy splendour over the luminous realities of men, shedding upon them the resplendent lights of knowledge and guidance, and hast chosen them out of all created things for this supernal grace, and hast caused them to encompass all things, to understand their inmost essence, and to disclose their mysteries, bringing them forth out of darkness into the visible world! “He verily showeth His special mercy to whomsoever He will.”  O Lord, help Thou…

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