ePhilo One: Adam
By John Taylor; 2007 Dec 31, 01 Sharaf, 164 BE
I am in a bit of a quandary. For the past couple of weeks I have been engaged in a heavy email dialog with a friend I met through Esperanto, who is an atheist. So long are our exchanges that it is getting hard for me to maintain the essay-a-day pace that I have set myself, unless I include you, dear Badi' Blog, in the conversation. Today, nothing to do with atheism, just a digression on Adam.
First of all, my friend, hereafter known as ePhilo, for Esperanto and Philo -- the unbelieving character in Hume's "Dialogs Concerning Natural Religion," -- at one point ePhilo asked what Baha'is believe about Adam. Here is our exchange. Since my response did not satisfy, maybe some Badi' Blog readers can supply ePhilo with a better answer.
ePhilo: On another, mostly unrelated topic, I'm curious if you could find/provide a summary of the teachings of Baha'u'llah on Adam... the first person to know about right and wrong. I find that to be a very interesting prospect.
JET: Adam in eastern languages is used as a synonym for "mankind," like "tout le monde" in French, for "everybody here." Baha'is believe, along with Muslims, that Adam was the first of a long line of prophets of God, that He was first in that he started a sort of "dynasty" of messengers. There were many before Him, as there will be many after Baha'u'llah, who ended the Adamic "prophetic" cycle and started this "cycle of Unity." As for Adam being the first to know right from wrong, that sounds like a lame interpretation of the myth of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and certainly is not a Baha'i teaching.
"Contemplate with thine inward eye the chain of successive Revelations that hath linked the Manifestation of Adam with that of the Bab. I testify before God that each one of these Manifestations hath been sent down through the operation of the Divine Will and Purpose, that each hath been the bearer of a specific Message, that each hath been entrusted with a divinely-revealed Book and been commissioned to unravel the mysteries of a mighty Tablet. The measure of the Revelation with which every one of them hath been identified had been definitely fore-ordained." (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 74)
For more on this "from the horse's mouth," do download that program "Ocean," from Bahaieducation.com, which I heartily recommend.
ePhilo: "I'm surprised by your response about Adam. This "lame interpretation" is part of C---'s "Baha'i 101" presentation which he gives on a regular basis and has done for at least a few years. After reading your reply, I did a Google search and I don't think what Carl is saying is that far off from what other Baha'is are saying. Maybe I'm not explaining it well. I've seen Baha'is claim that Adam was a the first man with a soul. I've seen the words "first God-conscious man." Oh well. This isn't a pressing subject. I'd rather talk about Dawkins...
JET (right now): I want to stress that for Baha'is the authoritative Writings have final say, so if this fellow can back up what he says with something in the Text, he has won the argument. The reason I called this idea lame is that it stands to reason: right and wrong are inherent to religious teaching, so if there were Manifestations of God before Adam they must have taught a difference between right and wrong. You need to do that to even call yourself a teacher, much less a divinely inspired Delegate. Similarly, it would be extraordinary if all the people, much less the Manifestations of God before Adam were not "God conscious!"