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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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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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First of All, Do No Harm

First of All, Do No Harm

I frequently find myself involved in discussions about the role of religion and/or revelation in the world. It is assumed, on occasion, that when religious people talk about what their faith means to them or has done for them, they are saying that without religion, they would never have pondered those subjects at all, or would not consider the consequences of their actions. To be honest, every day experience leads me to believe that not many people actually DO consider…

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Part 6 of Religion – The Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

Part 6 of Religion – The Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

The Ideal Time for Religious Triumph The idea of triumphalism – that any particular religion will one day prevail, dispatch the “heretics” and conquer the world – has plagued humanity for centuries.  In his book When Religion Becomes Evil, Dr. Charles Kimball explores the concept of triumphalism, in which some faith groups see the ideal time for their certain triumph as inevitable and desirable: Some religious communities place a great deal of emphasis on a this-worldly hope…. When the hoped-for…

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Part 3 of Religion – The Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

Part 3 of Religion – The Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

When Religion Itself Becomes Evil The well-known religious scholar and chair of the department of religion at Wake Forest University, Charles Kimball, published a landmark book a few years ago, called When Religion Becomes Evil.  Dr. Kimball doesn’t dislike faith, and he is no atheist – in fact, he’s an ordained Baptist minister – but the book describes what he sees, after a lifetime of research, as the five warning signs of corruption in religion: Claims to absolute truth Requirements…

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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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The Scientific Spirit #5: Bertrand Russell on Good and Evil

The Scientific Spirit #5: Bertrand Russell on Good and Evil

 “Mysticism maintains that all evil is illusory, and sometimes maintains the same view as regards good, but more often holds that all Reality is good. Both views are to be found in Heraclitus: “Good and ill are one,” he says, but again, “To God all things are fair and good and right, but men hold some things wrong and some right.” — Bertrand Russell from Mysticism and Logic and Other Essays, Good and Evil Thus begins Bertrand Russell’s essay on Good…

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The Scientific Spirit #3: Russell on Unity and Plurality

The Scientific Spirit #3: Russell on Unity and Plurality

One of the most convincing aspects of the mystic illumination is the apparent revelation of the oneness of all things, giving rise to pantheism in religion and to monism in philosophy. — Bertrand Russell, Mysticism and Logic and Other Essays, “Unity and Plurality” Thus Bertrand Russell begins a chapter on Unity and Plurality in which he explores the metaphysical or mystical concept of “oneness”. The words “unity” and “oneness” are much-used in both religion (or mysticism) and philosophy, but are also prominent…

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