Monday, December 31, 2007


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.

Baha'u'llah wrote:

"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, 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!"

Sunday, December 30, 2007

dream proof

The Baha'i Idea of Spirit

By John Taylor; 2007 Dec 30, 19 Masa'il, 164 BE

"What avails it ... to know a God with Whom we have nothing to do?" (John Calvin)

Without spirit the most that a reasonable person could believe in would be a deist god, a remote, standoffish being, void of relevance. God would have no power to change anything, His hands, in the words of the Qur'an, would be chained up.

 Baha'is are in a sense trinitarians, we believe in God, the Spirit, and creation. Without spirit we would be agnostics, and since as Calvin pointed out, a God who has nothing to do with us personally is useless, in that case we might as well be atheists. Spirit is what makes belief in God relevant and powerful.

 In recognition of that, I cite today two disquisitions of the Master on Spirit, the first given in Paris and the second in Boston. The second ends with a proof of deity that could be called the "dream proof."

 Spirit is Motion

"The test of existence is motion. An object which has in itself the power of motion lives. If motion is withheld growth ceases. That is mortality.

"There are different degrees of motion. There is a motion of transit, that is from place to place. For example, the revolution of the earth around the sun; a bird flies from branch to branch. Another kind is the motion of inherent growth, like that of man from the condition of childhood to the estate of manhood, or the development of a tree from the seedling to its full fruition. The third is the motion of condition - the sick man passes from the stage of sickness to the state of health. The fourth motion is that of the spirit. For instance, the child while in the mother's womb has all the potential qualities of the spirit, but those qualities begin to unfold little by little  125  as the child is born and grows and develops, finally manifesting all the attributes and qualities of the spirit. The fifth is the motion of the intellect whereby the ignorant become wise; the indifferent, alert; the dark, illuminated and the carnally-minded, spiritual.

  "In this century a great impelling stream is manifest in the world of intellect. Minds have been stirred by this impulse and have made marvelous progress. The sixth motion is that of the eternal essence. That is to say, all phenomena either step forth from the arena of non-existence into non-existence. Just as being in motion is the test of life, so being stationary is the test of death and when a moving object stops it retrogrades. To stop means to fall. When a tree stops giving fruit it decays.

  "In other words, man must throughout all the degrees of life evolve and progress day unto day, for life is continuous. The manifestors of divine law have appeared so that they may confer upon man an ideal power which will enable him to advance along all the degrees of human attainment. The power of the world of existence is limited, while the power of God is unlimited. If the reality of man should not be confirmed by a divine power human progress would terminate.

  "On the other hand, the divine reality is unlimited and immeasurable and can never stop or deteriorate, therefore the holy souls who are confirmed with this divine power are likewise  endowed with eternal motion. Their progress becomes unlimited. Day unto day their lives are strengthened, the circle of their comprehension becomes wider, the sphere of their intellects becomes more effectual and their capacities are increased. I desire for you that ideal power, so that you may come into the stream of uninterrupted motion and never cease progressing."

(Abdu'l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, 123-26)


The Dream Proof

24 July 1912; Talk to Theosophical Society (Promulgation, 239-243)

In the world of existence there is nothing so important as spirit, nothing so essential as the spirit of man. The spirit of man is the most noble of phenomena. The spirit of man is the meeting between man and God. The spirit of man is the animus of human life and the collective center of all human virtues. The spirit of man is the cause of the illumination of this world. The world may be likened to the body; man is the spirit of the body, because the light of the world is the human spirit. Man is the life of the world, and the life of man is the spirit. The happiness of the world depends upon man, and the happiness of man is dependent upon the spirit. The world may be likened to the lamp chimney, whereas man is the light. Man himself may be likened to the lamp; his spirit is the light within the lamp. Therefore, we will speak of this spirit.

  The philosophers of the world are divided into two classes: materialists, who deny the spirit and its immortality, and the divine philosophers, the wise men of God, the true illuminati who believe in the spirit and its continuance hereafter. The ancient philosophers taught that man consists simply of the material elements which compose his cellular structure and that when this composition is disintegrated the life of man becomes extinct. They reasoned that man is body only, and from this elemental composition the organs and their functions, the senses, powers and attributes which characterize man have proceeded, and that these disappear completely with the physical body. This is practically the statement of all the materialists.

The divine philosophers proclaim that the spirit of man is ever-living and eternal, and because of the objections of the materialists, these wise men of God have advanced rational proofs to support the validity of their statement. Inasmuch as the materialistic philosophers deny the Books of God, scriptural demonstration is not evidence to them, and materialistic proofs are necessary. Answering them, the men of divine knowledge have said that all existing phenomena may be resolved into grades or kingdoms, classified progressively as mineral, vegetable, animal and human, each of which possesses its degree of function and intelligence. When we consider the mineral, we find that it exists and is possessed of the power of affinity or combination. The vegetable possesses the qualities of the mineral plus the augmentative virtue or power of growth. It is, therefore, evident that the vegetable kingdom is superior to the mineral. The animal kingdom in turn possesses the qualities of the mineral and vegetable plus the five senses of perception whereof the kingdoms below it are lacking. Likewise, the power of memory inherent in the animal does not exist in the lower kingdoms.

Just as the animal is more noble than the vegetable and mineral, so man is superior to the animal. The animal is bereft of ideality--that is to say, it is a captive of the world of nature and not in touch with that which lies within and beyond nature; it is without spiritual susceptibilities, deprived of the attractions of consciousness, unconscious of the world of God and incapable of deviating from the law of nature. It is different with man. Man is possessed of the emanations of consciousness; he has perception, ideality and is capable of discovering the mysteries of the universe. All the industries, inventions and facilities surrounding our daily life were at one time hidden secrets of nature, but the reality of man penetrated them and made them subject to his purposes. According to nature's laws they should have remained latent and hidden; but man, having transcended those laws, discovered these mysteries and brought them out of the plane of the invisible into the realm of the known and visible. How wonderful is the spirit of man! One of the mysteries of natural phenomena is electricity. Man has discovered this illimitable power and made it captive to his uses. How many of nature's secrets have been penetrated and revealed! Columbus, while in Spain, discovered America. Man has accurately determined that the sun is stationary while the earth revolves about it. The animal cannot do this. Man perceives the mirage to be an illusion. This is beyond the power of the animal. The animal can only know through sense impressions and cannot grasp intellectual realities. The animal cannot conceive of the power of thought. This is an abstract intellectual matter and not limited to the senses. The animal is incapable of knowing that the earth is round. In brief, abstract intellectual phenomena are human powers. All creation below the kingdom of man is the captive of nature; it cannot deviate in the slightest degree from nature's laws. But man wrests the sword of dominion from nature's hand and uses it upon nature's head. For example, it is a natural exigency that man should be a dweller upon the earth, but the power of the human spirit transcends this limitation, and he soars aloft in airplanes. This is contrary to the law and requirement of nature. He sails at high speed upon the ocean and dives beneath its surface in submarines. He imprisons the human voice in a phonograph and communicates in the twinkling of an eye from East to West. These are things we know to be contrary to the limitations of natural law. Man transcends nature, while the mineral, vegetable and animal are helplessly subject to it. This can be done only through the power of the spirit, because the spirit is the reality.

  In the physical powers and senses, however, man and the animal are partners. In fact, the animal is often superior to man in sense perception. For instance, the vision of some animals is exceedingly keen and the hearing of others most acute. Consider the instinct of a dog: how much greater than that of man. But, although the animal shares with man all the physical virtues and senses, a spiritual power has been bestowed upon man of which the animal is devoid. This is a proof that there is something in man above and beyond the endowment of the animal--a faculty and virtue peculiar to the human kingdom which is lacking in the lower kingdoms of existence. This is the spirit of man. All these wonderful human accomplishments are due to the efficacy and penetrating power of the spirit of man. If man were bereft of this spirit, none of these accomplishments would have been possible. This is as evident as the sun at midday.

  All the organisms of material creation are limited to an image or form. That is to say, each created material being is possessed of a form; it cannot possess two forms at the same time. For example, a body may be spherical, triangular or square; but it is impossible for it to be two of these shapes simultaneously. It may be triangular, but if it is to become square, it must first rid itself of the triangular shape. It is absolutely impossible for it to be both at the same time. Therefore, it is evident in the reality of material organisms that different forms cannot be simultaneously possessed. In the spiritual reality of man, however, all geometrical figures can be simultaneously conceived, while in physical realities one image must be forsaken in order that another may be possible. This is the law of change and transformation, and change and transformation are precursors of mortality. Were it not for this change in form, phenomena would be immortal; but because the phenomenal existence is subject to transformation, it is mortal. The reality of man, however, is possessed of all virtues; it is not necessary for him to give up one image for another as mere physical bodies do. Therefore, in that reality there is no change or transformation; it is immortal and everlasting. The body of man may be in America while his spirit is laboring and working in the Far East, discovering, organizing and planning. While occupied in governing, making laws and erecting a building in Russia, his body is still here in America. What is this power which, notwithstanding that it is embodied in America, is operating at the same time in the Orient, organizing, destroying, upbuilding? It is the spirit of man. This is irrefutable.

When you wish to reflect upon or consider a matter, you consult something within you. You say, shall I do it, or shall I not do it? Is it better to make this journey or abandon it? Whom do you consult? Who is within you deciding this question? Surely there is a distinct power, an intelligent ego. Were it not distinct from your ego, you would not be consulting it. It is greater than the faculty of thought. It is your spirit which teaches you, which advises and decides upon matters. Who is it that interrogates? Who is it that answers? There is no doubt that it is the spirit and that there is no change or transformation in it, for it is not a composition of elements, and anything that is not composed of elements is eternal. Change and transformation are peculiarities of composition. There is no change and transformation in the spirit. In proof of this, the body may become weakened in its members. It may be dismembered, or one of its members may be incapacitated. The whole body may be paralyzed; and yet the mind, the spirit, remains ever the same. The mind decides; the thought is perfect; and yet the hand is withered, the feet have become useless, the spinal column is paralyzed, and there is no muscular movement at all, but the spirit is in the same status. Dismember a healthy man; the spirit is not dismembered. Amputate his feet; his spirit is there. He may become lame; the spirit is not affected. The spirit is ever the same; no change or transformation can you perceive, and because there is no change or transformation, it is everlasting and permanent.

  Consider man while in the state of sleep; it is evident that all his parts and members are at a standstill, are functionless. His eye does not see, his ear does not hear, his feet and hands are motionless; but, nevertheless, he does see in the world of dreams, he does hear, he speaks, he walks, he may even fly in an airplane. Therefore, it becomes evident that though the body be dead, yet the spirit is alive and permanent. Nay, the perceptions may be keener when man's body is asleep, the flight may be higher, the hearing may be more acute; all the functions are there, and yet the body is at a standstill. Hence, it is proof that there is a spirit in the man, and in this spirit there is no distinction as to whether the body be asleep or absolutely dead and dependent. The spirit is not incapacitated by these conditions; it is not bereft of its existence; it is not bereft of its perfections. The proofs are many, innumerable.

  These are all rational proofs. Nobody can refute them. As we have shown that there is a spirit and that this spirit is permanent and everlasting, we must strive to learn of it. May you become informed of its power, hasten to render it divine, to have it become sanctified and holy and make it the very light of the world illumining the East and the West.

Saturday, December 29, 2007


Fade to Back

By John Taylor; 2007 Dec 29, 18 Masa'il, 164 BE

Our kids are avid fans of Futurama, so there was no question but that I would be forced, under threat of grievous bodily harm -- Silvie invented her own form of "karate," a windmill-like flailing of arms and legs accompanied by the shout "Hiya!" specially and exclusively designed to persuade a reluctant father to do what he does not want to do -- to purchase the just released "Bender's Big Score" as soon as it was available. Our little feet patterers replay their favorite material so often that I usually leave off watching, knowing that eventually just wandering through on the way to the kitchen or bathroom I will glimpse enough fragments to add up to the whole story. One fragment I did pick up from "Big Score" is in the extra features section of the DVD. It seems that the cartoonists and storytellers of Futurama are guided by a real mathematics professor, Sarah Greenwald, who sees to it that streets are given names like Pi and e. She has her own math teaching website called

She explains one scene from the series that she initiated, where the gang are entertaining a guest and they decide to show him the edge of the universe (Zoidberg: "You know, you live right by these places but it takes a stranger to force you go out and see them.") What transpires is that the Futurama crew go and stand at the rail of the panoramic outlook podium looking over at the edge of our universe. Then, lo and behold, all they see before them is the back of their own heads. So, it seems that the idea of a recursive universe has sunk out of the warm and fuzzy clouds of poetry and philosophy and gained entry into the hard and pointy world of mathematics, physics and astronomy.

 Baha'u'llah did the same thing, only He raised it from poetry and philosophy up and away, into the giddy heights of Holy Writ.

"Thou hast asked regarding the subject of the return. Know thou that the end is like unto the beginning. Even as thou dost consider the beginning, similarly shouldst thou consider the end, and be of them that truly perceive. Nay, rather consider the beginning as the end itself, and so conversely, that thou mayest acquire a clear perception. Know thou moreover that every created thing is continually brought forth and returned at the bidding of thy Lord, the God of power and might." (Baha'u'llah, Tablets, 183)

As Baha'u'llah says, our endings are wrapped up in our beginnings our starts in our stops, and I started out my intellectual life as an atheist. It feels strange to climb laboriously up the long ladder of my faith, look out expectantly from the rail of its high outlook tower, and then only witness the back of my own head.

But that just how I feel as I investigate atheism and the proofs of God.

An old joke has a grain of truth in it: we all start out as atheists in the morning, then become agnostics in the afternoon and in the evening before sleep we transform into firm believers. The non-existence of sleep forces faith, which is why it is crucial for all, Baha'i or not, to enter into prayer and reading of Holy Writ in both morning and evening. That way our beginnings and our endings, our high times and our low, will be in God and for Him, and we will not be tossed so violently on the waves of belief and unbelief. Once, when the kids were unusually reluctant to say their morning prayers, Tomaso asked, "Why do we have to pray?" and I found myself saying:

"We are praying because a lover does not just pray in the bad times when he needs God to get him out of trouble. That is pure selfishness. A true lover enters into a complete marriage bond. He talks to God at all times, happy as well as sad, from youth to old age; he communes not only morn and eve but in the afternoon too every day. A lover shares highs, lows and depression, duds and boredom too. Want it or not, God dominates the beginnings and the ends, but it is the times in-between, free time, the moments we choose at our discretion, that is when it is hardest but it means something, and that is most precious to God. Ultimately, that is the only free, voluntary gift we have to offer."

Our understanding in this world has a saprophagous quality. A saprophagous animal is one that subsists on decaying matter. That is what we do too, for our beginnings and ends resolve into one another. The beauty is that we benefit spiritually from ruminating on why this is so, why nature is incomplete, why we are so uncomfortable, why our life fades out, dies and rots, and why even our vision and understanding of God, however perceptive, still fades to black. `Abdu'l-Baha says,

 "When thou lookest about thee with a perceptive eye, thou wilt note that on this dusty earth all humankind are suffering ...if a human life, with its spiritual being, were limited to this earthly span, then what would be the harvest of creation? Indeed, what would be the effects and outcomes of Divinity itself?" (Selected Writings, pp. 184-5)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

PD Talk II

After the Techno-Proof of Deity

By John Taylor; 2007 Dec 27, 16 Masa'il, 164 BE

Here is the second full address given in
America where Abdu'l-Baha sets out to prove the existence of God (some other major talks come close but for now I count only those that deal exclusively with the existence of God). Recall that in the first lecture He held up the fairly recent human ability to change the world by inventing new technology that "breaks" the iron grip of nature on our fate. We could call this the "techno-proof" of deity. In the following talk given in Chicago on the 2nd of May, 1912, Abdu'l-Baha offers some different proofs.

 As always, in the following I leave the original content as it is in Promulgation, but I take the liberty of adding more paragraph spacing so as to let the meaning "breathe" through a little easier.


 (Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation, 79-83) ==========


When we carefully investigate the kingdoms of existence and observe the phenomena of the universe about us, we discover the absolute order and perfection of creation.

 The dull minerals in their affinities, plants and vegetables with power of growth, animals in their instinct, man with conscious intellect and the heavenly orbs moving obediently through limitless space are all found subject to universal law, most complete, most perfect.

 That is why a wise philosopher has said, "There is no greater or more perfect system of creation than that which already exists."

 The materialists and atheists declare that this order and symmetry is due to nature and its forces; that composition and decomposition which constitute life and existence are exigencies of nature; that man himself is an exigency of nature; that nature rules and governs creation; and that all existing things are captives of nature.

 Let us consider these statements.

 Inasmuch as we find all phenomena subject to an exact order and under control of universal law, the question is whether this is due to nature or to divine and omnipotent rule. The materialists believe that it is an exigency of nature for the rain to fall and that unless rain fell the earth would not become verdant. They reason that if clouds cause a downpour, if the sun sends forth heat and light and the earth is endowed with capacity, vegetation must inevitably follow; therefore, plant life is a property of these natural forces and is a sign of nature; just as combustion is the natural property of fire, therefore, fire burns, and we cannot conceive of fire without its burning.

 In reply to these statements we say that from the premises advanced by materialists, the conclusions are drawn that nature is the ruler and governor of existence and that all virtues and perfections are natural exigencies and outcomes. Furthermore, it follows that man is but a part or member of that whereof nature is the whole.

Man possesses certain virtues of which nature is deprived. He exercises volition; nature is without will. For instance, an exigency of the sun is the giving of light. It is controlled -- it cannot do otherwise than radiate light -- but it is not volitional. An exigency of the phenomenon of electricity is that it is revealed in sparks and flashes under certain conditions, but it cannot voluntarily furnish illumination. An exigency or property of water is humidity; it cannot separate itself from this property by its own will. Likewise, all the properties of nature are inherent and obedient, not volitional; therefore, it is philosophically predicated that nature is without volition and innate perception.

 In this statement and principle we agree with the materialists.

 But the question which presents food for reflection is this: How is it that man, who is a part of the universal plan, is possessed of certain qualities whereof nature is devoid?

 Is it conceivable that a drop should be imbued with qualities of which the ocean is completely deprived?

 The drop is a part; the ocean is the whole.

 Could there be a phenomenon of combustion or illumination which the great luminary the sun itself did not manifest? Is it possible for a stone to possess inherent properties of which the aggregate mineral kingdom is lacking? For example, could the fingernail which is a part of human anatomy be endowed with cellular properties of which the brain is deprived?

 Man is intelligent, instinctively and consciously intelligent; nature is not. Man is fortified with memory; nature does not possess it. Man is the discoverer of the mysteries of nature; nature is not conscious of those mysteries herself. It is evident, therefore, that man is dual in aspect: as an animal he is subject to nature, but in his spiritual or conscious being he transcends the world of material existence. His spiritual powers, being nobler and higher, possess virtues of which nature intrinsically has no evidence; therefore, they triumph over natural conditions. These ideal virtues or powers in man surpass or surround nature, comprehend natural laws and phenomena, penetrate the mysteries of the unknown and invisible and bring them forth into the realm of the known and visible. All the existing arts and sciences were once hidden secrets of nature. By his command and control of nature man took them out of the plane of the invisible and revealed them in the plane of visibility, whereas according to the exigencies of nature these secrets should have remained latent and concealed. According to the exigencies of nature electricity should be a hidden, mysterious power; but the penetrating intellect of man has discovered it, taken it out of the realm of mystery and made it an obedient human servant. In his physical body and its functions man is a captive of nature; for instance, he cannot continue his existence without sleep, an exigency of nature; he must partake of food and drink, which nature demands and requires. But in his spiritual being and intelligence man dominates and controls nature, the ruler of his physical being. Notwithstanding this, contrary opinions and materialistic views are set forth which would relegate man completely to physical subservience to nature's laws. This is equivalent to saying that the comparative degree exceeds the superlative, that the imperfect includes the perfect, that the pupil surpasses the teacher -- all of which is illogical and impossible. When it is clearly manifest and evident that the intelligence of man, his constructive faculty, his power of penetration and discovery transcend nature, how can we say he is nature's thrall and captive? This would indicate that man is deprived of the bounties of God, that he is retrograding toward the station of the animal, that his keen super-intelligence is without function and that he estimates himself as an animal, without distinction between his own and the animal's kingdom.

 I was once conversing with a famous philosopher of the materialistic school in Alexandria. He was strongly opinionated upon the point that man and the other kingdoms of existence are under the control of nature and that, after all, man is only a social animal, often very much of an animal. When he was discomfited in argument, he said impetuously,

 "I see no difference between myself and the donkey, and I am not willing to admit distinctions which I cannot perceive."

 'Abdu'l-Baha replied,

 "No, I consider you quite different and distinct; I call you a man and the donkey but an animal. I perceive that you are highly intelligent, whereas the donkey is not. I know that you are well versed in philosophy, and I also know that the donkey is entirely deficient in it; therefore, I am not willing to accept your statement."

 Consider the lady beside me who is writing in this little book. It seems a very trifling, ordinary matter; but upon intelligent reflection you will conclude that what has been written presupposes and proves the existence of a writer. These words have not written themselves, and these letters have not come together of their own volition. It is evident there must be a writer.

 And now consider this infinite universe.

 Is it possible that it could have been created without a Creator?

 Or that the Creator and cause of this infinite congeries of worlds should be without intelligence?

 Is the idea tenable that the Creator has no comprehension of what is manifested in creation?

 Man, the creature, has volition and certain virtues. Is it possible that his Creator is deprived of these?

 A child could not accept this belief and statement. It is perfectly evident that man did not create himself and that he cannot do so.

 How could man of his own weakness create such a mighty being?

 Therefore, the Creator of man must be more perfect and powerful than man. If the creative cause of man be simply on the same level with man, then man himself should be able to create, whereas we know very well that we cannot create even our own likeness. Therefore, the Creator of man must be endowed with superlative intelligence and power in all points that creation involves and implies.

 We are weak; He is mighty, because, were He not mighty, He could not have created us. We are ignorant; He is wise. We are poor; He is rich. Otherwise, He would have been incapable of our creation.

 Among the proofs of the existence of a divine power is this: that things are often known by their opposites. Were it not for darkness, light could not be sensed. Were it not for death, life could not be known. If ignorance did not exist, knowledge would not be a reality. It is necessary that each should exist in order that the other should have reality. Night and day must be in order that each may be distinguished. Night itself is an indication and evidence of day which follows, and day itself indicates the coming night. Unless night were a reality, there could not be day. Were it not for death, there could be no life. Things are known by their opposites.

 Therefore, our weakness is an evidence that there is might; our ignorance proves the reality of knowledge; our need is an indication of supply and wealth. Were it not for wealth, this need would not exist; were it not for knowledge, ignorance would be unknown; were it not for power, there would be no impotence.

In other words, demand and supply is the law, and undoubtedly all virtues have a center and source. That source is God, from Whom all these bounties emanate.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Proofs of Deity, II

God, Fact or Fiction?
By John Taylor; 2007 Dec 26 (
1983 Apr 08)

We just launched our discussion of the proofs of God with a talk the Master gave in New York just after arriving in America. Let us follow this up with one of my earliest discussions of the proofs of Deity, which I wrote on April 8, 1983 for my friend and lodger at the time, Albert Ouimet. He challenged me to write an essay a day on a topic of his choosing. (I kept up this writing pace for about a month, as I recall -- only now am I sufficiently prepared to write a daily essay indefinitely). Anyway, this is a heavily re-chewed version of what I spewed out back in my salad days.


God, Fact or Fiction? Part One, How We Know

"Think of God as a direction rather than an object." (Rainer Maria Rilke)

God is an unknowable essence, so by definition it is impossible to produce a rigorous, final proof of His existence. It is difficult enough to prove the existence of beings on our own level, for me to be sure that you are you, or for you to be entirely certain that I am a human and not a machine; imagine how much harder it is to point to a Being by nature beyond comprehension. Nonetheless, we do arrive at a comfortable degree of certainty about one another's existence by what the Baha'i Writings term "confirmations." I do not have problems or doubts about the existence of a spouse, parent or child because that is confirmed by our reciprocal interaction.

"Confucius was asked if there was a single word that sums up the true way, and he responded, `"reciprocity" is such a word.'" (Analects 15:23)

If I am in interaction with someone, I love them and know them, and doubt does not enter in. I am constantly in receipt of "live" confirmations of their existence as long as we have direct reciprocal relations. Nonetheless, I have cousins and other family members whom I have never met, yet I do not doubt their existence. The same is true of the several billion human beings that I have never met and never will. I may never hear of them, nor they of me, but I do not doubt their existence, however circumstantial the evidence that they are out there.

This is why I believe that before asking how we know God, we first must ask how we know anything at all, or, more to the point, how we can know any person at all. When we are sure about this we can then proceed to the question of whether we know God or not.

What does it mean to say that I know (savoir) something, or know (connaitre) someone? In neither case can my knowledge be considered solid and unchanging enough to be examined as one would pick up an object in the hand. A person is impossible really to know, connaitre, without having seen and lived in their skin from the moment of their birth. Even then, with complete knowledge of their past, that person would still have free will; I could in no way predict the decisions he or she may make in future. No, it is hard than that; how often does it happen that we do things that surprise ourselves, much less other minds. So even that person does not have complete knowledge of his or her self. Thus, the basis of personal knowledge is pretty shaky. Yet we do not doubt that other minds exist.

Nor is it any easier for the savoir type of knowledge. Ultimately, objects cannot be known without complete omniscience. I might know everything humanly possible about a certain object, its past and composition as a thing in itself; but how do I really understand it if I do not have complete knowledge of its significance in context, its place in the universe of time and space? I must know how it fits into the cosmos, and that would require knowing everything else as well.

Thus according to this chain of reasoning the only being that could know anything in the strict sense of the word would be an omniscient God. Therefore Baha'u'llah says that we can only know God through the Manifestation, and the Manifestation only through His own Self.

"The source of all learning is the knowledge of God, exalted be His Glory, and this cannot be attained save through the knowledge of His Divine Manifestation." (Baha'u'llah, Tablets, 156)

Through God's holy Mirror we gain knowledge of God as both Connaitre and Savoir. We are confirmed as we interact with Him in prayer, which brings about the reciprocity in our relations with Him to the point where we cannot doubt His existence, for He is our Father, and I His son. Thus the proofs of God become my life process, ever dying but at the same time ever flowering again.

"Likewise continue thou to ascend through one Revelation after another, knowing that thy progress in the Knowledge of God shall never come to an end, even as it can have no beginning." (The Bab, Selections, 91)

Monday, December 24, 2007

p13 Proofs of Deity, One

p13 Proofs of the Existence of God, part one
By John Taylor; 2007 Dec 24, 13 Masa'il, 164 BE

I was an evangelizing atheist before God singled me out to partake of the healing medicine of His Cause. Like a reformed alcoholic, part of my "twelve step" cure is to help other victims of my former addiction tear the monkey off their back. So much do I value the proofs of the existence of God that I named my son "Hujjat," or proof; plus, when I began systematically to study the Baha'i principles, the first category I reserved after the obligatory twelve "pamphlet" principles was principle number thirteen, proofs of deity. Indeed, as I delved into them I discovered that each of the first twelve principles, from search for truth to universal peace, in their own way constitutes an independent proof of God. The biggest reason, I realized, that the "vitality of men's faith in God is dying out in every land" was because these principles are in desuetude, utterly absent from the public agenda.
Let us open this essay series on proofs of God's existence with the full text of a talk that Abdu'l-Baha gave on the 15th of April 1912. This was only His seventh address since His arrival in New York four days before. He had just spent the previous Autumn in Europe, including 19 days in England and two months in Paris; He had returned to Egypt to recuperate, and then in spring took the steamer Celtic to New York. In Paris especially He had entered into dialog with leaders of thought in what were and still remain the two main centers of Western materialism, England and France. The trend to secularism in Europe has, if anything, swung even further from God than in the time of the Master. For example, atheists in England are now openly asking why it is that religion so dominates the public agenda when less than seven percent of the population regularly attend church, mosque or synagogue. They are the majority, and they know it well. In what follows we see the Master lay out exactly why the fundamental presuppositions of these materialist thinkers are less than rock solid.

Master Talk on the Proofs of Deity given at the home of Mountfort Mills, in New York City
A few days ago I arrived in New York, coming direct from Alexandria. On a former trip I traveled to Europe, visiting Paris and London. Paris is most beautiful in outward appearance. The evidences of material civilization there are very great, but the spiritual civilization is far behind. I found the people of that city submerged and drowning in a sea of materialism. Their conversations and discussions were limited to natural and physical phenomena, without mention of God. I was greatly astonished. Most of the scholars, professors and learned men proved to be materialists. I said to them, "I am surprised and astonished that men of such perceptive caliber and evident knowledge should still be captives of nature, not recognizing the self-evident Reality."
The phenomenal world is entirely subject to the rule and control of natural law. These myriad suns, satellites and heavenly bodies throughout endless space are all captives of nature. They cannot transgress in a single point or particular the fixed laws which govern the physical universe. The sun in its immensity, the ocean in its vastness are incapable of violating these universal laws. All phenomenal beings -- the plants in their kingdom, even the animals with their intelligence -- are nature's subjects and captives. All live within the bounds of natural law, and nature is the ruler of all except man.
Man is not the captive of nature, for although according to natural law he is a being of the earth, yet he guides ships over the ocean, flies through the air in airplanes, descends in submarines; therefore, he has overcome natural law and made it subservient to his wishes. For instance, he imprisons in an incandescent lamp the illimitable natural energy called electricity -- a material force which can cleave mountains -- and bids it give him light. He takes the human voice and confines it in the phonograph for his benefit and amusement.
According to his natural power man should be able to communicate a limited distance, but by overcoming the restrictions of nature he can annihilate space and send telephone messages thousands of miles. All the sciences, arts and discoveries were mysteries of nature, and according to natural law these mysteries should remain latent, hidden; but man has proceeded to break this law, free himself from this rule and bring them forth into the realm of the visible.
Therefore, he is the ruler and commander of nature. Man has intelligence; nature has not. Man has volition; nature has none. Man has memory; nature is without it. Man has the reasoning faculty; nature is deprived. Man has the perceptive faculty; nature cannot perceive. It is therefore proved and evident that man is nobler than nature.
If we accept the supposition that man is but a part of nature, we are confronted by an illogical statement, for this is equivalent to claiming that a part may be endowed with qualities which are absent in the whole. For man who is a part of nature has perception, intelligence, memory, conscious reflection and susceptibility, while nature itself is quite bereft of them.
How is it possible for the part to be possessed of qualities or faculties which are absent in the whole? The truth is that God has given to man certain powers which are supernatural.
How then can man be considered a captive of nature? 
Is he not dominating and controlling nature to his own uses more and more?
Is he not the very divinity of nature?
Shall we say nature is blind, nature is not perceptive, nature is without volition and not alive, and then relegate man to nature and its limitations?
How can we answer this question?
How will the materialists and scholastic atheists prove and support such a supposition?
As a matter of fact, they themselves make natural laws subservient to their own wish and purpose. The proof is complete that in man there is a power beyond the limitations of nature, and that power is the bestowal of God.
In New York I find the people more endowed with spiritual susceptibilities. They are not mere captives of nature's control; they are rising out of the bonds and burden of captivity. For this reason I am very happy and hopeful that, God willing, in this populous country, in this vast continent of the West, the virtues of the world of humanity shall become resplendent; that the oneness of human world-power, the love of God, may enkindle the hearts, and that international peace may hoist its standards, influencing all other regions and countries from here.
This is my hope.
-Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 16-18

John Taylor

Sunday, December 23, 2007

reader response


By John Taylor; 2007 Dec 23, 12 Masa'il, 164 BE


Now is the time to catch up on our correspondence. First of all, a big thank you to Ed for the heads up on Bill Hatcher's book,

"Minimalism: A Bridge between Classical Philosophy and the Baha'i Revelation" By William S. Hatcher Juxta Publishing,

Ed tells me that this work by a Baha'i philosopher can be downloaded at that URL for free. It should be useful in my mission to bring God to the atheist. More on atheism later. I plan on reading this book ASAP.


 Jim Steyn writes: "Hi friends, We are getting some good publicity for Maxwell International School like the link below. Thanks for your prayers!" and Jim includes this URL to a news broadcast about the Baha'i institution:


 Jim also enclosed this quote of the Master about the value of Baha'i schools, and, interestingly, the responsibility of the learned to oversee them.


 "Make every effort to acquire the advanced knowledge of the day, and strain every nerve to carry forward the divine civilization. Establish schools that are well organized, and promote the fundamentals of instruction in the various branches of knowledge through teachers who are pure and sanctified, distinguished for their high standards of conduct and general excellence, and strong in faith; scholars and educators with a thorough knowledge of sciences and arts."

 "It is incumbent upon the exalted body of the Hands of the Cause of God to watch over and protect these schools in every way, and see to their requirements, so that all the means of progress will continually be at hand, and the lights of learning will illumine the whole world." ('Abdu'l-Baha, in Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 273)


 A couple of weeks ago I wrote some comments about an author whose first name is Mark and whose second name is, in code, wwSaaTnnEkkkYeeeNrrr. I use code for this fellow, hereafter known as MS, because if I spell out his name it will happen again, the troll-bots will pick up this blog entry and plunk it onto the MS website, and I will be deluged with flames. The flames continue to trickle in. Here is one of two that charred my inbox yesterday,


 "The real core problem that MS dances around is lack of testosterone in most males in western society. If you are an aggressive boy in school the female dominated education system wants the child to be medicated. If you are an aggressive male in the work place you need to be sensitized. Western society looks down on the single greatest trate (sic) that preserves freedom -- the stubborn possition (sic) of some to accept nothing else other than freedom. You may call this trate (sic) what you like, I choose Balls."


 This anonymous email came in as a prospective comment for the Badi' Blog, and I accepted it as fair comment. Not that I agree, of course, but at least this guy's testosterone has not completely shut down his higher mental functioning, unlike the sender of this email that came in at the same time. Wanna know what happens to the brain after an overdose of testosterone? Go no further.


 "Dear sport, Georgie Monbiot is a standard Leftard conformist, mental and moral gymnast sans anything worth a d*** to say or to offer anyone, that you can't get from any WTO protest rabble, student crisis meeting or grubby humorless pamphlet. Most every cliche he's ever parroted can be 'Fisked' utterly down to the empty frauds they are. Sure, Monbiot has a negative side too.

 "MS is a witty individual, not a moral vanity fantasist, a very readable writer and empirically correct on virtually every point he ever makes or has made, if not usually every point. That's why his articles stand up over long periods of time and can be reread so fluidly. MS is subject to really only ad hominems by those who are incapable of refuting anything he says with any counter evidence at all on any actual point. That's standard Left modus operandi, folks.

 "MS's enormous talent, humility, wit, sense of fun and decency, clarity of thinking and vast output, is entirely what makes the mentally ill and phony uncomfortable and enraged. It's curious and interesting at how conveniently, lazy and it's a crock, that the same critics who dismiss MS utterly, without ever mounting a coherent argument, neglect to dismiss his writings in music and so on. Because they are as incapable and unaware of it, as they are unaware of themselves.

 "But please, do continue to produce exactly nothing. Colonel X."


This poor fellow's thinking is so tortuous I was reminded of a report in the latest Science News about mathematicians who made a study of spontaneous knots. It seems that the phenomenon we have all observed, where a rope left to itself ties itself into incredibly complicated knots, has been officially confirmed by knot theory. These spontaneous knots, they discovered, are, well, incredibly complicated; the study asks why and how nature comes up with such complexity so easily. After reading this communication and trying to make sense of it, my suggestion is that these mathematicians sit down with psychologists and ask how the human brain so effortlessly ties itself into such incredibly elaborate knots, and how to avoid this. Anyway, here is my reply to Colonel X,

 "Dear Colonel,

 "Just because somebody's opinions do not agree with yours does not make them a bad person. People who stop thinking in that manner become, well, better people. I remind you not to confuse affixing a label with real thought or reasoning.

 "I like MS too, and even agree with much of what he says, but my point was that when it comes to a technical issue like global warming, we are best off trusting to experts, to the opinions of those with real scientific qualifications. In this respect MS's only qualification is the ability to suck up to the private owners of the newspapers he works for."

 Since getting such a shiny example of clear thinking from a military man I keep having nightmares of my son entering the army and being ordered into battle by such a colonel. My father was drafted into the army and his terse opinion on this institution is the best commentary I have ever encountered, bar none: "The army is a dictatorship within a democracy." It is extremely dangerous for a free government to clasp the asp to its breast. Unless, of course, you agree with the first correspondent that testosterone has redemptive value. Otherwise, we should work hard to bring consultative methods to all institutions, and especially the military, where the slightest foggy thinking is paid for in blood and gore.

 Anyway, another reader wrote a much more positive comment about George Monbiot, saying that some Badi' essays on this prompted her to read "Heat" and other works on the environment. This was a relief to hear, and I might go back to reading "The Weathermakers" which I had given up on, not having heard any response from readers on it.

 Over the past week I have been corresponding with an Esperantist friend about his atheist beliefs. This prompted me to volunteer, along with Peter, to give a couple of talks about proofs of deity in January. For that reason the Badi Blog will become very preoccupied with proofs of the existence of God for the next while, so brace yourselves.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Executive Bee

The Parable of the Executive and Queen Bee Syndrome

By John Taylor; 2007 Dec 22, 11 Masa'il, 164 BE


A few essays ago I talked about the tendency of religious teachings to try to right imbalances by going to opposite extremes. Vacillation from one extreme to another is a symptom of corruption and happens when principles are not grasped. The example we used was the renunciation of cleanliness in Christianity. Christians were reacting to the society around them. The Greeks, like all societies, valued cleanliness and regarded personal hygiene as a mark both of piety and refinement. The Greeks valued bathing, using separate, personal bathtubs. Although a daily bath was a luxury, the sure mark of a freeman (that is, a slaveholder), even slaves were usually allowed time during the day to take a bath.

The Romans took this indulgence further. They bathed together in large and increasingly ostentatious bathhouses. As corruption spread, the institution of the bathhouse grew ever more expensive and elaborate. Many were huge, a strange combination of sports stadium, shopping mall and whorehouse. A large city would have hundreds of bathhouses. When two upper class Romans met, their first question was, "Where do you bathe?," just as when two 19th Century British gentlemen met their question was, "What is your gentleman's club?" With the construction of several aqueducts into Rome during its prime, more water per person was supplied than the average North American gets today. Taking a bath extracted three or four hours out of the average Roman's day. In a slave-owning society, such a prodigious expenditure of time on grooming and cleaning seemed the height of cultivation.

Christians reacted against this. Their ideal was a hermit who cut himself off from society and never bathed. Such uncleanliness was deemed to be the ultimate in unworldliness, detachment and devotion to God. Unfortunately the slave owner's values were not renounced. A life of idleness remained a sought-after goal. In the decline of Rome, Christian monasticism became so powerful a movement that it was not unknown for an entire legion of soldiers to convert and be absorbed into an evangelizing monastic order. Parents dreaded the permanent loss of a son or daughter to institutions that must have become a worse drain on the workforce than the bathhouse had ever been. Edward Gibbon was not far from the mark in his thesis that a corrupted Christianity caused the fall of the Roman Empire.

In a slave owning society the slave owner, by indulging in useless luxury and frittering his time away in idle, unproductive activities like baths and circuses, shows himself every bit as "slavish" as the laziest of the slaves that perform his daily domestic tasks. Worse, the slave owner mentality has contempt for manual labor; this eliminates creativity and innovation by cutting off contact with physical experimentation. The hermit or monk essentially does the same thing with the religious life, a life that is sterile unless inseminated by the nitty-gritty of working for a living and raising a family.

As mentioned, the Revelation of the Qu'ran set out to correct such unfortunate tendencies that had infested the Christian fold. One of the most important was their error of confounding piety with idleness. For example, it offers the following, which we will call the parable of the executive,

"God sets forth (another) Parable of two men: one of them dumb, with no power of any sort; a wearisome burden is he to his master; whichever way be directs him, he brings no good: is such a man equal with one who commands Justice, and is on a Straight Way?" (Qur'an, 16:76, Yusuf Ali, tr.)

The lazy, obtuse slave does not serve but does the reverse, his ploys, excuses and diversions make him into a thorn in his master's side. In contrast, a just, active servant of God is someone who gets things done, i.e., an executive. No isolated hermit or monk can ever aspire to being an executive because the only way to get things done over long periods of time is to serve society at large, while perpetuating virtue in a family over many generations. Thus the parable of the executive teaches that there is only one reason God tolerates inequality among His servants, and that is to allow meritocracy to establish itself in work and family and thus to propagate fairness and competence over time and across cultures. Ideally, every distinction in God's Order would arise only from our varying capacities, virtues and styles of serving Him.

This teaching, written into the "constitution" of Islam, kept asceticism and monasticism out for several centuries longer than was the case in Christianity. But my concern today is not with the history of religion but the meaning of this parable. The fact is that today we are more in need of good leaders than ever, and we are every bit as vulnerable to what is being called "toxic leader syndrome" than ever before. The Baha'i Faith and its principle of consultation have a great deal to say to this problem. The thrust of the new Teaching is to end the traditional swing back and forth from personal to collective leadership, between involvement and withdrawal. On one hand, It limits the amount of power that can become concentrated in the hands of any individual. On the other, every individual is expected to be an executive, both materially and spiritually; that is, we are required to search independently, to become educated and to serve family, career and society efficiently.

The problem of incompetent bosses is not as simple as it seems. I have been reading about several studies on the problem of bungling bosses. For one thing, strange but true, when it comes to a higher-up, employees prefer a sadist to a bumbler. One article cites a professor of sociology as saying,

"Surprisingly though, employees dislike incompetent bosses more than ones they found abusive, according to another study. Nobody likes abuse, but employees can find ways to work around abusive managers. Employees do not want to be involved with chaotic, mismanaged workplaces where nothing gets done well and people feel like they cannot be effective," (

This has been underlined for me by viewing the BBC television series, "The Office." Here is a boss whose main concern is to create a relaxed workplace by using humor. Unfortunately, he is blocked from this quite desirable goal by the fact that he is an incompetent comedian. His jokes backfire and create a tense, sullen, discontented atmosphere. This would be painful and embarrassing to witness in real life but the humor in watching this comes from the fact that even funnier than a good joke is to watch a person in authority mess up while telling what would otherwise be a good joke.

Behind the problem of the incompetent boss is the paradoxical fact that it is impossible for victims to complain without bringing discredit upon themselves. This is because of the "queen bee syndrome," the fact that incompetent bosses always hire incompetent workers in order to ward off competition for their own job. So if, like the majority of workers, you think you could do your boss's job better than him, think again. He picked you out to work there because even though he does not know what he is doing, you know even less. I will leave the last word on this "paradox of the bad executive" to a workplace pundit and (competent) comedian whose blog is called "Just ask Dan." Somebody asked him what to do about a boss who cannot do his own work, and this was his answer,

"... competent workers all tend to be in the same boat as you are in. They are deemed to have career-limiting tendencies even though the actual work they produce is always rated as excellent. It is a fact that competent workers do not like incompetent workers, and why would they? Incompetence just puts more work on their plate. What is not widely known is that incompetent workers do not like competent workers because the latter demonstrate how little the former get done, and incompetent bosses would rather hire incompetent employees because they feel competent workers might put their own job in jeopardy.
"The amazing part is that, even though most companies follow this same structure, they tend to keep moving forward. Sociologists have been studying this phenomenon in recent years and have named it the incompetence triangle for the way it usually starts at the top with just one person, the CEO, and cascades down the line growing in incompetence until you get to the base workers who are also, on the whole, incompetent. The average number of competent workers in a given company ranges between ten and twenty percent, but it is estimated that they do over half of the real work.
"President Bush was an avid fan of the research being done in this area, and even systematically implemented a planned incompetence triangle in his cabinet. Unfortunately, he was incompetent in creating an efficient incompetence triangle. A ten-to-twenty percent ratio of competent workers is vital for the incompetence triangle to work, and President Bush made the mistake of assigning one hundred percent incompetent officials to his cabinet. Without anyone that is actually competent enough to do the work his Presidency has floundered, though sociologists have found it to be a boon to their research giving them an excellent example of what might happen when the incompetence is stretched too far."

Friday, December 21, 2007

Philosophy Bites II

Philosophy Bites II
By John Taylor; 2007 Dec 21, 10 Masa'il, 164 BE

Dear John,
Thank you very much for your very generous praise for Philosophy Bites. It is nice to know that what we are doing is appreciated. Rest assured we have many more interviews planned and quite a few recorded too.
You might also be interested in my other podcast Philosophy: The Classics which is at:
Very best wishes,

Dear Nigel,
It was a surprise and relief to get a positive, non-flame response to my essay, after getting so much fervid, negative commentary from readers lately. Again, thank you very much for the service you provide, I enjoy your podcasts immensely.
If you are taking requests, here are some suggestions for future interviews.
It would be wonderful to hear from a specialist in Chinese philosophy, as we hear too little about Confucious, Mencius, and a wonderful thinker I have been reading about lately, Mo Tzu (or Mozi).
A good person to interview would be the editor of Popular Philosophy, or some similar organ, telling about what they are all about.
What do modern philosophers have to say about peace, world government and global warming?
I am involved with a local philosopher's cafe and it would be great to hear something about the Socrates Cafe movement, or Christopher Phillips himself. Has this movement reached the UK?
I hear Alasdair MacIntyre mentioned once in a while; to me his virtue ethics is the most appealing modern philosophy, and it would be great to hear him or from one of his followers.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Baha'i Blogs

Is the Badi' Blog the most prolific of its kind in the world? With that question in mind, I have been checking over the other Baha'i blogs in the "blogosphere." With mixed feelings of gratification and dismay I have so far found nothing close to the Badi' Blog in quantity, if not quality. I was surprised at how much good material there is out there, though, so let us devote an entire essay series to looking over what is available from Baha'is and others blogs. If any readers have favorites I have missed, please share them here.

One blog is called the "Daily Baha'i Blog," <> but in spite of the name it comes out only an average of about four or five times a month. The latest entry is from December 4, 2007 and is quite interesting. It is called "Thoughts on the Baha'i Election Process." I have often deplored the fact that we Baha'i electors tend to elect the same people over and over. This writer agrees, pointing out that we are asking too much of these administrators by doing that; they perform the service at great personal sacrifice and we should not ask too much over too long a period, instead, we should consciously inculcate in ourselves what he calls an "anti-incumbency bias." You can read his whole discussion at:


Another, the "Baha'i Blog," rivaled this Badi' Blog for a while in number of posts -- though not in length. This was in the spirit of the original blogs of the late 1990's, a collection of news and links to websites, rather than full investigative reports. Unfortunately, the last update was back in June and it seems to have gone defunct. Another blog, run by a certain bellyaching malcontent was called "Baha'i Rants," and it too thankfully bowed out. Unfortunately, another contrarian blog came into prominence, the "Baha'i - Catholic Blog." This blogger's concern is to stir up the reverse of interfaith harmony, to argue that Catholics are not the only ones who think they are superior to everybody else, Baha'is and their Writings do too. In view of the convoluted, self-contradictory and self-serving argumentation here I would not advise trying to counter these criticisms of the Faith.

 I came to the conclusion long ago in dealing with certain Christians that their futility is resistless, and conversely, like the Borg, resistance is futile. A fanatic is worse than a non-brain, he is an anti-brain. I believe that the goal of every discussion, especially of interfaith dialog, is to walk together across very thin ice. Each party supports the other most of the time. That is because reason and love are the very ground of discourse, and to disparages either love or reason is to cut the ground out from both their feet. For that reason fanatics are impossible to reach by any means but prayer, because prayer has wings.

Anxiously Concerned

One of the best quality blogs, and perhaps closest in spirit to what I am doing here in the Badi' Blog, is called Anxiously Concerned.


 They call it "Anxiously Concerned" in reference to the advice of Baha'u'llah to care about what is going on in the whole world. We featured that quotation here not too long ago, but still, taken out of context it makes the blog sound like a distraught letter to the editor. The blog seems to be written collaboratively by at least three people. A recent post asks for contributors. They suggest that those who do not want to set up an entire blog independently can send intermittent material to them. One of the most interesting posts I uncovered is a brief one on "The Faith of Woodrow Wilson,"


 Although it is nice to read the praise most Baha'is muster for President Wilson in view of his international achievements, we should stay ever aware that Wilson's reputation is not unalloyed. He had more-than-casual connections with the KKK, and would not have been elected without their support. By sins of both omission and commission he set back race relations several decades.

 Annoyingly, the writers do not cite chapter and verse on this site. While I do not feel it is necessary to do some duties many bloggers think are necessary, (for instance, constantly remind readers that it is not an official blog), I still hold that proper attribution wherever possible is a must, not only from the point of view of Baha'i authority but also plain old garden variety integrity.

 The most recent entry on this blog, dated 24 October, deals with Baha'u'llah's stance on vision. At the end it says,

 "Interestingly, in one passage, 'Abdu'l-Baha identifies speaking ill of one who is absent as one of the greatest sources of harm to our vision, stating that `it would make the dust to settle so thickly on the heart that the ears would hear no more, and the eyes would no longer behold the light of truth.' Thus it would seem that avoiding backbiting would be one indispensable practice that `serveth to reduce blindness and to increase vision.' Doubtless there are a number of other tools that we can use to increase our vision, and thereby increase our understanding."

 Anyway, the Master's point about backbiting dustfall is interesting because it connects the literal dust from air pollution to the metaphorical, spiritual dust of badmouthing others. That is a penny that had not dropped for me. Here is the next verse in the Master's Tablet, which holds forth a carrot after the stick:

 "If, however, a person setteth about speaking well of another, opening his lips to praise another, he will touch an answering chord in his hearers and they will be stirred up by the breathings of God. Their hearts and souls will rejoice to know that, God be thanked, here is a soul in the Faith who is a focus of human perfections, a very embodiment of the bounties of the Lord, one whose tongue is eloquent, and whose face shineth, in whatever gathering he may be, one who hath victory upon his brow, and who is a being sustained by the sweet savours of God." (Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, 230)

My favorite entry is "smiling and laughter," and I will leave it to you to read it.


 The last blog I will look at today is Barney Lieth's Barnabus Quoditianus Blog, <> which he updates ever week or so, also in spite of its nominal promise of daily posts. Here is my favorite of his recent additions, from December 6, referring to a case that has been filling the headlines the past several weeks.

 What is in a Name?

 "You can be imprisoned - or worse - in Sudan for naming your teddy bear Muhammad. But what happens when you name your racehorse Baha'u'llah (Baha'u'llah is the Prophet or Manifestation of God who founded the Baha'i Faith)? Ah, that could never happen, you say. Racehorses? Baha'u'llah? Well, apparently, it did happen - and it happened as long ago as 1951. Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Baha'i Faith, wrote to the Baha'is of Australia and New Zealand: The Guardian was very pleased to see the Racing Conference courteously changed the name of that horse which had been called Baha'u'llah. You do not wanna mix it with those Baha'is. They will be round with the Persian rice and fessenjoon."