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Thread: Apologetics Anyone?

  1. #1
    Ensign, Principal Bahaichap's Avatar
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    Baha'i Apologetics

    Apologetics is a branch of systematic theology, although some experience it’s thrust in religious studies or philosophy of religion courses. Some encounter it on the internet for the first time in a more populist and usually much less academic form. As I see it, apologetics is primarily concerned with the protection of a religious position, the refutation of that position's assailants and, in the larger sense, the exploration of that position in the context of prevailing philosophies and standards in a secular society. Apologetics, to put it slightly differently, is concerned with answering critical inquiries, criticism of a position, in a rational manner. Apologetics is not possible, it seems to me anyway, without a commitment to and a desire to defend a position. For me, the core of my position I could express in one phrase: the Baha'i Revelation. With that said, though, the activity I engage in, namely, apologetics, is a never ending exercise.

    The apologetics that concerns me is not so much Christian apologetics or one of a variety of what might be called secular apologetics, but Baha'i apologetics. There are many points of comparison and contrast, though, which I won't go into here. Christians will have the opportunity to defend Christianity by the use of apologetics; secular humanists can argue their cases if they so desire here. And I will in turn defend the Baha'i Faith by the use of apologetics. In the process we will both, hopefully, learn something about our respective Faiths, our religions, which we hold to our hearts dearly.

    At the outset, then, in this my first posting, my intention is simply to make this start, to state what you might call "my apologetics position." This brief statement indicates, in broad outline, where I am coming from in the weeks and months ahead. -Ron Price with thanks to Udo Schaefer, "Baha'i Apologetics?" Baha'i Studies Review, Vol. 10, 2001/2002.
    married for 48 years, a teacher for 32, a student for 18, a writer and editor for 16, and a Baha'i for 56(in 2015)

  2. #2
    Ensign, Principal Bahaichap's Avatar
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    Baha'i Apologetics: Part 2

    I want in this second part of these introductory words to finish, as best I can, outlining my basic orientation to Baha’i apologetics. There are many ways of approaching apologetics whether one is a Christian, a Jew, a Bahá’í or, indeed, any one of literally 1000s of positions on the spectrum of life’s views. Critical scholarly contributions or criticism raised in public or private discussions that are not scholarly, an obvious part of any apologetics of depth, of seriousness, should not necessarily be equated with hostility.


    Questions are perfectly legitimate aspects of a person's search for an answer to an intellectual conundrum, to their search along the road of life or even a more casual and light-hearted exercise of inquiry which for millions is all they desire. Paul Tillich, one of the more famous Protestant theologians of the 20th century, once expressed the view that apologetics was an "answering theology."(Systematic Theology, U. of Chicago, 1967, Vol.1, p6.). I would add that apologetics is both a questioning and an answering. It is a process very much like Alfred North Whitehead’s process philosophy and one of its major extensions by Charles Hartshorne, but readers may know nothing of these men so do not be concerned if you have not heard of them.

    I have always been attracted to the founder of the Baha'i Faith's exhortations in discussion to "speak with words as mild as milk," with "the utmost lenience and forbearance." I am also aware that, in cases of rude or hostile attack, rebuttal with a harsher tone may well be justified. It does not help an apologist to belong to those "watchmen" the prophet Isaiah calls "dumb dogs that cannot bark."(Isaiah, 56:10)

    At the same time, I prefer a barking that contains what you might call an etiquette of expression and a more acute exercise of judgement that evokes more of wisdom and less invoking fires from heaven.

    In its essence apologetics is a kind of confrontation, an act of revealing one's true colours, of hoisting the flag, of demonstrating essential characteristics of faith. "Dialogue," as Hans Kung one of the most prestigious Catholic philosophers puts it, "does not mean self-denial."(quoted by Udo Schaefer, "Baha'i Apologetics," Baha'i Studies Review, Vol.10, 2001/2) Schaefer goes on: "A faith that is opportunistically streamlined, adapting to current trends, thus concealing its real features, features that could provoke rejection in order to be acceptable for dialogue is in danger of losing its identity."

    It is almost impossible to carry the torch of truth through a crowd, whether that crowd is: religious, secular, philosophical, intellectual or, indeed, in any field at any level of sophistication in these latter days----through a crowd without getting someone's beard singed. In the weeks, months and possibly years that follow, my responses to whoever writes—in response to this first, this exploratory, missive, will probably wind up singing the beards of some readers and, perhaps, my own in the process. Such are the perils of dialogue, of apologetics.


    Much of apologetics in any field of thought derives from the experience each of us has of what seems like a fundamental discrepancy between what each of us thinks and some other person thinks. In some ways, the gulf often seems unbridgeable. This is so in many/most fields of life even for those who are essentially practical realists and even for those who hold similar of the same general positions, Christian, Muslim, Baha’i, et cetera.


    It should be possible to maintain one’s own norms as functional and native to the process of one’s own thinking and experience without justifying or requiring arbitrary absolutes. It should be possible to uphold one’s own categorical imperatives without calling down fire from heaven. Our ends should not be confused with complete objective reality, truth, an all there is position. They are purely functional and relative to our own lives. One might think of reality as a central fact and as white light broken up as in a prism of human life and thought into a spectrum of values, values which are derivative aspects of the same reality.


    In the process, we should try and avoid bigotry, bias, and arbitrary orthodoxy. Of course, we all have some bias, some position, some view, some dogma, if you like, and it should serve as a tolerant assertion of preference not an intolerant insistence on agreement of finality. Anyway, that's all for now. It's back to the summer winds of Tasmania, about 3 kms from the Bass Straight on the Tamar River. The geography of place is so much simpler than that of the philosophy, intellectual and spiritual geography readers we are concerned with, although even physical geography has its complexities. Whom the gods would destroy they first make simple and simpler and simpler. I look forward to a dialogue with someone, anyone. This is just a start or, as Churchill once said, it is not the beginning or the end, but the end of the beginning. Although I know from experience at the ripe old age of 63 that the above words will often be the beginning of the end and will evoke from many no response at all. That is okay.


    Here in far-off Tasmania--the last stop before Antarctica, if one wants to get there through some other route than off the end of South America and go by boat--your email/post will be gratefully received. -Ron Price, Tasmania.
    married for 48 years, a teacher for 32, a student for 18, a writer and editor for 16, and a Baha'i for 56(in 2015)

  3. #3
    Commodore con Forza Sybarite's Avatar
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    So has someone actually found proof of the extistence of a god, then?

    And if so, which god is it? The god of Baha'i? The god of Christianity? The god of Judaism? The god of Islam? Any of the gods of Hinduism? Something from the animist tradition, perhaps?

  4. #4
    Seaman, Mezzoforte
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    Well, from my understanding, the Baha'i's believe all those religions you (Sybarite) counted up is the one and same God. Jesus, Mohammed and Moses were prophets sent by the same God to be revelations for a specific time. What they don't believe is that Jesus is God (trinity), he was just a prophet, or messenger of God, like Moses or Mohammed and there have been several other revelations since speaking God's word to men since those as well. Progressive revelation I recall them calling it.

    Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of Baha'i is, according to their belief system, the latest such messenger of God.

    I am not a Baha'i, nor am I professing myself to belonging to any organized religion, but I have been studying a fair bit about different religions (hey, something that effects us to such a degree in society, regardless if you're a believer or not, can't be a bad thing to know something about). In fact, the last time I actively went to a church, I was asked to not return by that church elders (a presbyterian church) because, after they invited me to discuss their beliefs (in hope of converting me, I'm sure), my questions became too inconvenient or hard for them... I was never rude or anything, just knowing a few historical facts about what is actually part of the bible, what has been added later , how and by whom it was added, translation errors + some inconsistencies that I wanted to query... I think it became too much for them and they decided to spend their energies on someone that didn't know much so they could use the line of God's ways are mysterious and it is not for us to know certain things... just have faith.

    However, I am fully aware that this was a human decision of a specific individual from a particular church, not something representative for that religion or presbyterian churches in general.

    I am, what most religions call a slightly misguided seeker, who have my own relationship with My God and I simply refuse to live a life based on what I can determine coming from Men with men's motives behind it and not from any divine being. I am definitely not going to challenge anyone else's faith or belief, if someone asks me for examples, I will provide but I won't nowadays seek out to challenge someone's faith by pointing out what to me appears as inconsistencies or errors. Live and let live, believe in what you want and what makes you happy. Which, BTW, has not stopped me from continuing learning more about various religions and various interpretations of said religions.

  5. #5
    Ensign, Principal Bahaichap's Avatar
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    I leave the words of Hawkan for an appropriate response. As he says: "Well, from my understanding, the Baha'i's believe all those religions you (Sybarite) counted up is the one and same God. Jesus, Mohammed and Moses were prophets sent by the same God to be revelations for a specific time. What they don't believe is that Jesus is God (trinity), he was just a prophet, or messenger of God, like Moses or Mohammed and there have been several other revelations since speaking God's word to men since those as well. Progressive revelation I recall them calling it. Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of Baha'i is, according to their belief system, the latest such messenger of God."

    Thank you Hawkan.-Ron Price, Baha'i of 50 years membership.
    married for 48 years, a teacher for 32, a student for 18, a writer and editor for 16, and a Baha'i for 56(in 2015)

  6. #6
    Ensign, Principal Bahaichap's Avatar
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    Baha'i Apologetics and Your Apologetics: A Dialogue

    Since there are so many questions raised and issues discussed concerning people’s basic assumptions about life, about their philosophy, about their religious beliefs, indeed, about people’s very approach to reality and the way their society goes about organizing things, I seemed like a useful exercise, useful at least to me and hopefully to some others, to say a few things about: "My Position and Beliefs: My Religion." Religion, in the sense I am using it here, is the set of values, beliefs and attitudes each of us has as we go about our daily life at a particular moment in time—at the time of this writing in my case and at the time of the response of a reader in your case. I hope this opening note of some 1300 words provides a general, a useful, a helpful context for any continuing discussion we may have. If the note I strike is too long, I advise readers to just click me off, a simple enough exercise of the hand and the mind.-Ron Price in Australia.
    _______________________
    Apologetics is a branch of systematic theology, although some experience it’s thrust in religious studies or philosophy of religion courses. Some encounter it on the internet for the first time in a more populist and usually much less academic form. As I see it, apologetics is primarily concerned with the protection of a position, the refutation of the issues raised by that position's assailants and, in the larger sense, the exploration of that position in the context of prevailing philosophies and standards in a secular society, a religious society, indeed, any society past or present.

    Apologetics, to put it slightly differently, is concerned with answering critical inquiries and with criticism of a position and dealing with the process, the exercise, in a rational manner. Apologetics is not possible, it seems to me anyway, without a commitment to and a desire to defend a position. Naturally in life, one takes a position on all sorts of topics, subjects, religions and philosophies. Often that position is inarticulate and poorly thought out if given any thought at all.

    With that said, though, the activity I engage in, namely, apologetics, is a never ending exercise with time out for the necessary and inevitable quotidian tasks of life: eating, sleeping, drinking and a wide range of leisure activities. The apologetics that concerns me is not so much Christian or Islamic apologetics or one of a variety of what might be called secular apologetics, but Baha'i apologetics. There are many points of comparison and contrast, though, between any form of apologetics which I won't go into here. Christians and Muslims will have the opportunity to defend their respective religions by the use of apologetics; secular humanists can also argue their cases if they so desire here. I in turn will defend the Baha'i Faith by the use of apologetics. In the process we will all, hopefully, learn something about our respective Faiths, our religions, our various and our multitudinous positions, some of which we hold to our hearts dearly and some of which are of little interest.

    At the outset, then, in this my first posting, my intention is simply to make this start, to state what you might call "my apologetics position." This brief statement indicates, in broad outline, where I am coming from in the weeks and months ahead. -Ron Price with thanks to Udo Schaefer, "Baha'i Apologetics?" Baha'i Studies Review, Vol. 10, 2001/02.
    I want in this second part of my first posting to finish outlining, as best I can, my basic orientation to Baha’i apologetics. Critical scholarly contributions or criticism raised in public or private discussions, an obvious part of apologetics, should not necessarily be equated with hostility. Questions are perfectly legitimate, indeed, necessary aspects of a person's search for an answer to an intellectual conundrum. Paul Tillich, that great Protestant theologian of the 20th century, once expressed the view that apologetics was an "answering theology."-Paul Tillich, Systematic Theology, U. of Chicago, 1967, Vol.1, p6.

    I have always been attracted to the founder of the Baha'i Faith's exhortations in discussion to "speak with words as mild as milk," with "the utmost lenience and forbearance." This form of dialogue, its obvious etiquette of expression and the acute exercise of judgement involved, is difficult for most people when their position is under attack from people who are more articulate, better read and better at arguing both their own position and the position of those engaged in the written attack than they are. I am also aware that, in cases of rude or hostile attack, rebuttal with a harsher tone may well be justified, although I prefer humour, irony and even a gentle sarcasm to hostile written attack in any form. Still, it does not help an apologist to belong to those "watchmen" the prophet Isaiah calls "dumb dogs that cannot bark."(Isaiah, 56:10)

    In its essence apologetics is a kind of confrontation, an act of revealing one's true colours, of hoisting the flag, of demonstrating the essential characteristics of one's faith, of one's thought, of one's emotional and intellectual stance in life. Dialogue, arguably the greatest of Catholic apologists Hans Kung once puts it, "does not mean self-denial." The standard of public discussion of controversial topics should be sensitive to what is said and how. Not everything that we know should always be disclosed; to put this another way, we don't want all our dirty laundry out on our front lawn for all to see or our secrets blasted over the radio and TV. Perhaps a moderate confessionalism is best here, if confession is required at all—and in today’s print and electronic media it seems unavoidable.

    I want to thank Udo Schaefer, "Baha'i Apologetics," Baha'i Studies Review, Vol.10, 2001/2) for some of what I write here. Schaefer, a prominent Baha’i writer, scholar, lawyer and man of many intellectual seasons, emphasizes that one's views, one's faith, "should not be opportunistically streamlined, adapting to current trends, thus concealing their real features, features that could provoke rejection in order to be acceptable for dialogue." To do this puts one in the danger of losing one's identity, if not one’s honesty and integrity.

    It is almost impossible, though, to carry the torch of truth, of light, of any set of words in any colour, through a crowd without getting someone's beard singed. if one has no beard one’s emotions can be equally fried and hung out to dry. In the weeks and months that follow, my postings will probably wind up singing the beards of some readers and, perhaps, my own in the process. Emotions, if not fried, are often behind barricades of self-defence and that is natural because what is being considered is at the centre of a person’s life. Such are the perils of dialogue, of apologetics.

    Much of Baha'i apologetics derives from the experience Baha'is have of a fundamental discrepancy between secular thought and the Baha'i teachings on the other. In some ways, the gulf is unbridgeable but, so too, is this the case between the secular and much thought in the Christian or Islamic religion or, for that matter, between variants of Christianity or within what are often the muddy and pluralistic waters of secular thought itself.

    Anyway, that's all for now. It's back to the winter winds of Tasmania, about 3 kms from the Bass Straight on the Tamar River. The geography of place is so much simpler than that of the spiritual geography readers at this site are concerned with, although even physical geography has its complexities as those who take a serious interest in the topic of climate change are fast finding out. Whom the gods would destroy they first make simple and simpler and simpler. I look forward to a dialogue with someone. Here in far-off Tasmania--the last stop before Antarctica, if one wants to get there by some other route than off the end of South America--your response will be gratefully received.-Ron Price, Tasmania, Australia
    married for 48 years, a teacher for 32, a student for 18, a writer and editor for 16, and a Baha'i for 56(in 2015)

  7. #7
    Commodore con Forza
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    Hi Ron and congratulations on an unusually substantial and ambitious thread opening. I like to think about life's big questions, and exchange views, but there's no doubt it is very dangerous territory, because people's religious views are deeply personal to them, and to have those views challenged may be very hurtful. Religions are, almost by definition, not subject to the laws of reason, and whether or not a religion is "true" (and they can't all be true, as is often pointed out) is perhaps a far less important question than what benefits the religion brings to its followers, such as helping them to lead moral lives, or to deal with the unpleasant realities of our mortal existence. The whole concept of "apologetics" tells us a lot about the nature of religion, in fact. There can be very few people indeed who sit down and study the belief systems of all the major religions, and then decide which one is right for them. Mostly people are born into a religion and accept it without question, or they may take to a religion by the sort of process: "I really like those people at the church down the road, I wonder what it would be necessary for me to believe if I wanted to join them." So the process is back to front, in a way, the belief in the religion comes first, and the justification of the belief (ie apologetics) comes second. So I am a bit sceptical as to whether debating religious beliefs is ever likely to lead to a meeting of minds or only to deepen divisions. Nevertheless, I am very curious to read what you are going to write next ....
    Best wishes, John.
    PS, in case you haven't guessed, I'm an agnostic.

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    Lieutenant, Associate Concertmaster Pista Gyerek's Avatar
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    It takes two, baby

    Ron posts his religious ruminations on a number of boards I've visited. He seems like a nice enough guy, but I've never seen him engage in anything even remotely resembling a dialogue.

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    Ensign, Principal Bahaichap's Avatar
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    Thanks Folks

    Thanks, jhnbrbr and Pista Gyerek. Yes, a sensitive area for sure: one's values, beliefs and attitudes--one's religion--for want of a better term. We all believe all sorts of stuff but, in the end, it seems to me we are faced with a fundamental agnosticism in the face of the truth of some ultimate meaning. I have a dialogue at many sites and at others I do not....the sensitivity of the topic militates against extended dialogue in many cases. In other cases the dialogue goes on and on---as itdoes in one's own life. Writeagain if you like, I am always open to continued chat inspite of some appearances to the contrary.-Ron in Tasmania
    married for 48 years, a teacher for 32, a student for 18, a writer and editor for 16, and a Baha'i for 56(in 2015)

  10. #10
    Commodore con Forza
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    Wow! I love the poetry and passion of your post, JW, even if I don't agree with all the sentiments expressed.

  11. #11
    Ensign, Principal Bahaichap's Avatar
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    Some Thoughts on Religious Reconcilation

    Apologies for the following long post, but it may interest some readers here.-Ron Price, Tasmania
    ------------------------------------------------
    Tragically, organized religion, whose very reason for being entails service to the cause of brotherhood and peace, behaves all too frequently as one of the most formidable obstacles in the path; to cite a particular painful fact, it has long lent its credibility to fanaticism.

    The crisis of our time calls on religious leadership for a break with the past as decisive as those that opened the way for society to address equally corrosive prejudices of race, gender and nation. In particular, the rise of religious fanaticism, as exemplified by terrorist attacks, attacks on houses of worship and the desecration of cemeteries, and civil wars spurred by religious differences, is becoming perhaps the dominant source of conflict in the world.

    Dr. Lincoln, who represented the Community at the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders, held August 2000 at the United Nations said that the Baha'i Faith has been especially focussed on reconciliation of religions for over 150 years. (See: Volume 14, Issue 1 / April-June 2002..
    In a letter to "the world's religious leaders," the
    Universal House of Justice, the international governing body of the Baha'i Faith, warned of the danger posed by "the rising fires of religious prejudice" and calls for decisive action against fanaticism and intolerance
    ------------------
    NEW YORK - Expressing concern over the worldwide rise of religious prejudice, the international governing council of the Baha'i Faith has issued an appeal to the world's religious leaders, calling for decisive action to eradicate religious intolerance and fanaticism.



    Issued in April 2002 and delivered to religious leaders around the world in May and June via the global network of national Baha'i communities, the message warns that "[w]ith every day that passes, danger grows that the rising fires of religious prejudice will ignite a worldwide conflagration the consequences of which are unthinkable."

    By the end of June, the six-page letter had been delivered to at least 1,600 leaders in more than 40 countries. And the response has, so far, been overwhelmingly appreciative, with religious leaders, academics who study religion, and specialists in related fields saying that the letter is a much needed and timely intervention on an issue of global concern.
    "This is the message. This is the moment," said Professor Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of Great Britain and the Commonwealth. "We are facing the greatest challenge that God has ever given us and this is the message we need."



    Many leaders - whether Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Islamic or other - expressed hope that the message will spur religious leaders and their followers to action.



    "I would hope that this letter will have consequences, that there will be people reacting to it," said Dr. Ulrich Dehn of the Protestant Center for Religious and Ideological Issues in Germany. Dr. Dehn added that he agreed generally with the letter's premise that religious leaders need to "clarify their position" on religious tolerance.



    In some regions, the appeal received significant publicity in the news media. In India, for example, The Times of India and The Hindu, as well as several other newspapers, have featured articles on the message. One newspaper in New Delhi, The Pioneer, reprinted excerpts of the letter in two installments.



    The letter begins its appeal for tolerance by pointing to the general rise over the last century of the consciousness of the oneness of humanity. It notes specifically that prejudices based on gender, race, or nationality, while persisting in many quarters, have nevertheless been widely recognized as unacceptable by people everywhere.



    However, the letter continues, religious prejudice not only persists but has become a "formidable obstacle" in the "cause of brotherhood and peace."



    "The crisis calls on religious leadership for a break with the past as decisive as those that opened the way for society to address equally corrosive prejudices of race, gender and nation," states the letter.



    The letter suggests that increased interfaith dialogue can be an important step in fighting religious prejudice, noting that the Baha'i community has been a "vigorous promoter" of such dialogue. But the letter also warns that if interfaith dialogue is to be effective, it must become far more vigorous and searching.



    "Baha'is see in the struggle of diverse religions to draw closer together a response to the Divine Will for a human race that is entering on its collective maturity," the letter states. "[i]nterfaith discourse, if it is to contribute meaningfully to healing the ills that afflict a desperate humanity, must now address honestly and without further evasion the implications of the over-arching truth that called the movement into being: that God is one and that, beyond all diversity of cultural expression and human interpretation, religion is likewise one."



    In the letter, the Universal House of Justice offers the assistance of the worldwide Baha'i community in the creation of new efforts to foster such dialogue.



    "Taken as a whole, the letter and its distribution amount to a global initiative by the worldwide Baha'i community to assist humanity to overcome what has, at this stage in history, emerged as a major obstacle to peace, security, and prosperity in the world," said Albert Lincoln, Secretary General of the Baha'i International Community.



    "In particular, the rise of religious fanaticism, as exemplified by terrorist attacks, attacks on houses of worship and the desecration of cemeteries, and civil wars spurred by religious differences, is becoming perhaps the dominant source of conflict in the world," said Dr. Lincoln, who represented the Community at the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders, held August 2000 at the United Nations. "So, as the Universal House of Justice itself explains in its letter, it felt obligated to 'speak frankly' to the leaders of other organized religions about the need to take action."



    So far, the letter has been translated into 16 languages, including Afrikaans, Arabic, French, Hindi, Persian, Portuguese and Zulu. A great many more translations are in the works and the distribution of the letter will be an on-going project.



    For the most part, Baha'i National Spiritual Assemblies around the world have focused first on distributing the letter to national level religious leaders, along with academics and journalists who specialize in religion. Local Baha'i communities have also begun to join the effort by presenting the letter to the leaders of other religions at the local level.
    In Brazil, for example, the National Spiritual Assembly prepared a list of some 44 names of national religious leaders, theologians, and religious academics, and then sent the letter out by mail or personal delivery. As a second step, some 330 copies of the letter were sent to 66 local Spiritual Assemblies in Brazil, for distribution to local religious leaders.



    "In Brazilian society, religious divisions are a problem," said Roberto Eghrari, secretary of external affairs for the Brazilian National Spiritual Assembly. "There are tensions between evangelical groups and other Christian denominations, and between Christians and Afro-based religious groups. So we believe the distribution of this message is very timely, that it has the potential to bring new understandings."



    Mr. Eghrari said religious leaders have acted with much appreciation. Several groups had indicated a desire for some kind of collaboration or follow-up on the message with the 55,000-member Brazilian Baha'i community. "It is not just a matter of people reading the message. They want to put it into action."



    Reports from national Baha'i communities indicate that Baha'i delegations bearing the letter were treated with a high level of courtesy and dignity, which was seen as a reflection of the seriousness of the issue.



    "We felt an extraordinary courtesy from them all, a response not so much to us in particular, but to the occasion itself and the inherent weight of the message," said Amy Marks, who was involved with the efforts of the local Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Capetown, South Africa, to present the letter to more than a dozen religious leaders there.



    Dr. Marks, who served as co-chair of the Parliament of the World's Religions, South Africa, which was the local host of the 1999 Parliament of the World's Religions, said she believes the letter's warm reception has come partly because of the rising tide of interfaith activity in recent years.
    "In our region, at least, I believe that the interreligious work that has gone before, particularly the goodwill generated by the Parliament of the World's Religions here, has laid a foundation for people to respond in a very sincere and reverent way," said Dr. Marks. "I anticipate that this letter will help to open new doors for dialogue among the religions."



    A number of religious leaders indicated that they will distribute the letter among other leaders in their own organizations. In one African country, the national Muslim council requested additional copies for distribution to all mosques in the capital. An academic dean at a Catholic-run Latin American university expressed interest in working with the Baha'i community there to develop a program for professors and students at the university.



    In the United Kingdom, George Carey, the Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Anglican Church, wrote: "I very much share your view that we all need to address the question of how our different faiths can become forces for peace and justice. Much honest discussion between the communities will be required as we pursue this goal, and it is good to learn, from the message which you delivered, of the ways in which the Baha'i community is seeking to engage with these matters."
    Last edited by Bahaichap; Aug-22-2009 at 15:59. Reason: to correct a spelling mistake
    married for 48 years, a teacher for 32, a student for 18, a writer and editor for 16, and a Baha'i for 56(in 2015)

  12. #12
    Rear Admiral Appassionata (Ret.) intet_at_tabe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bahaichap View Post
    Ron Price, Tasmania, Australia
    What a great interesting read, Ron Price.

    You have a lot of personal clear thoughts and ideas around religion an philosophy in your post, and I admire you for entering those here. Religion can and will always be an interesting subject or issue for discussions, however often dangerous, because the two natural confronting parties 1) The believers 2) The non believers... rarely can discuss it.

    However, I am not the one to disregard other peoples believes or faith, nor challence you on anything whatsoever concerning religion at all, since I am not a serious believer in any religion. Though I do find there are things happening between the earth and the sky that no one can explane.

    I have more or less sided with the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), since he spoke his famous words: Gott ist tot.

    It was due to F. Nietzsche´s personal believes about religion as a faith post the theory of The Origin Of Species by Means Of Natural Selection (1859), created by the english scientist, biologist and doctor Charles Darwin (1809-82).

    However, food for thought. I will remain a true believer of the scientific explanation on The Evolution of Man evolving from the apes in Africa, which has been scientificly proven, which leave the Christian God, Jesus Christ and the story of creation - to be nothing but a fairytale.

    The English antropologist and author Desmond Morris wrote and intriging and most provocative challenging book in the late 1960´s called: The naked ape. In this book D. Morris states: There are 193 species of the ape. 192 of these species of the ape are covered with hair. Only one ape the 193 is born without hair - We the human beings have decided to call this ape - Homo Sapiens.

    In our part of the western world in Europe, religion as a faith with it´s fixed set of rules that did not change for hundreds of years has suppressed any human individual thought for centuries. In the Dark Ages, christianity was much more a precise political power, a military power and the only power of justice there was. The Roman Catholic Church tortured and burned on the open fire anyone due to the Inquisition, who did not agree in what the Church spoke. The Church controlled any Kingdom in Europe, and no King nor Queen, nor a general in any foreign or domestic army would declare war, unless the Church had sanctioned it.

    When Christopher Columbus left Europe on his fleet of ships to go exploring to the west of the far end of the horizon. The generel thought within the Church spoken to the masses, was that he would come to an edge, then fall down to hell and burn forever more. Obviously it never happened. However the Roman Catholic Church has never come up with an explanation to this event. But as we all know, the Roman Catholic Church sent it´s hardcore priesthood - the Jesuits, to the new world in South America and in a few hundred years, South America and each population here were convinced that the only God there was, was the one they had been taught through the physical scars on each their backs, enslaved, by the tribunal of the holy Inquisition, which left everybody accused of heteracy without a chance for survival, unless they repented and admitted to the accusations. Then they were burned anyway.

    Just one question for you Ron. In your opening statement you say: "Religion, in the sense I am using it here, is the set of values, beliefs and attitudes each of us has as we go about our daily life at a particular moment in time—at the time of this writing in my case and at the time of the response of a reader in your case", quote unquote.

    Ron, in my personal best opinion, I believe you´re talking about the morals, we all have been taught from childhood, which has to be respectfully performed socially between people - rather than religion. Please, will you comment on this?

    However keep the thread up and you´ll have an interested reader along the way. I will try to keep any disagreements to myself.

    jhnbrbr: Good thoughts for an agnostic!!
    Last edited by intet_at_tabe; Aug-23-2009 at 13:30.
    Best regards,
    intet_at_tabe

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    Lieutenant, Associate Concertmaster Pista Gyerek's Avatar
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    intet-at-tabe, thanks for the input.

    Quote Originally Posted by intet-at-tabe View Post
    Religion can and will always be an interesting subject or issue for discussions, however often dangerous, because the two natural confronting parties 1) The believers 2) The non believers... rarely can discuss it.
    I agree, it's hard to discuss something when the subject at hand is so vague that you can't be sure what you're talking about.

    We can approach most issues in society with a certain measure of objectivity. It's easy to understand what we mean when we talk about sports, the weather, or even politics. A statement like It's raining in Boston is meant to be taken literally, and should mean essentially the same thing to everyone who hears it. We can argue about how hard it's raining and in what parts of Boston, etc., but at least there's a basis for discussing the subject and arriving at a consensus.

    With religion, however, there's no such basis. Can we truly say what a statement like John 3:16 is supposed to mean, despite the fact that it constitutes a defining belief of millions of twenty-first century Christians? If it's 'true', it's true in a way that's vastly different from the way we define 'true' in any other context.

    And this is deliberate. Religion has survived for so long because it can be whatever the believer wants it to be. Nonbelievers aren't supposed to examine and criticize religious claims the same way we would any other claim in society.

    I too find religion and mythology a fascinating subject. The creation myths of human civilization are wonderful in their poetry and imagination. However, believers seem to think it's an insult to their scripture to read it as the literature it is. Some think it should be accepted as the literal truth, in the face of overwhelming evidence that it isn't literally true. Others think it's 'true' in a deeper, more spiritual way, whatever that means. This is why it's so difficult to discuss religion with believers.

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    Rear Admiral Appassionata (Ret.) intet_at_tabe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pista Gyerek View Post
    intet-at-tabe, thanks for the input.


    I agree, it's hard to discuss something when the subject at hand is so vague that you can't be sure what you're talking about.

    We can approach most issues in society with a certain measure of objectivity. It's easy to understand what we mean when we talk about sports, the weather, or even politics. A statement like It's raining in Boston is meant to be taken literally, and should mean essentially the same thing to everyone who hears it. We can argue about how hard it's raining and in what parts of Boston, etc., but at least there's a basis for discussing the subject and arriving at a consensus.

    With religion, however, there's no such basis. Can we truly say what a statement like John 3:16 is supposed to mean, despite the fact that it constitutes a defining belief of millions of twenty-first century Christians? If it's 'true', it's true in a way that's vastly different from the way we define 'true' in any other context.

    And this is deliberate. Religion has survived for so long because it can be whatever the believer wants it to be. Nonbelievers aren't supposed to examine and criticize religious claims the same way we would any other claim in society.

    I too find religion and mythology a fascinating subject. The creation myths of human civilization are wonderful in their poetry and imagination. However, believers seem to think it's an insult to their scripture to read it as the literature it is. Some think it should be accepted as the literal truth, in the face of overwhelming evidence that it isn't literally true. Others think it's 'true' in a deeper, more spiritual way, whatever that means. This is why it's so difficult to discuss religion with believers.
    Thank you so much for the personal pm to me and this entry from you Pista Gyerek. Really great to read your two posts.

    I specificly admire and enjoy your clear thoughts on the subject of OBJECTIVITY towards undefined none-objective religious fairytales, translated from the Greek language and the Greek Bible in to latin around the late 700 by a couple of munks. In other words, the Christian Bible we all know of where the context are what a couple of munks thought it meant according to their translation of the Greek Bible then - some 1300 years ago.

    In my best itellectual judgement, one can never speak of objectivity or scientific truth, when talking about religion. No matter which religion. All our societies throughout the world have evolved during our time of history - century following century. Religion never evolves - nor do Christians when talking religion.

    It simply does not make any sense to me, when some believer in order to explane his believes and his/her faith inChristianity, The Lord Jesus Christ , the Story of Creation etc., and the thoughts behind and in it, says: "All you have to do is to read....John 3:16", as if this statement is the only obvious truth, that will make you instantly rush to the nearest church, fall to your knees to ask for forgiveness and give thanks to the Lord.

    To me it unfolds an extreme fear in individual human thinking, natural reasoning and judgeging on any actual subject or issue on your own. But then, this is excactly what religions in generel need, a totally manipulated flok of none-independent human beings, who all need for someone else - a religious leader - to tell them what to do? No dialogue here neither.

    Think of the Klux Klux Klan from the southern states of the USA 1500-1960, still working and practicing but invicible these days, better known in the short expression - for the K.K.K. A group of ultra white religious americans - Christian Crusadors, who took copyright on their own way of the Bible - that is the King James Bible (the old testamente) believing in God and Christianity, by burning down the churches of the enslaved african americans, who were imported by the thousands to the New World from the year 1500, only alowed to keep the color of their skin and some culturel and musical background from Africa, beside hundreds of lashes from the wip on their backs - to show them the love of the Christian God - for centuries.

    Even in the 1930-1950´s african american citizens, were not alowed to vote or study how to read and write nor calculate. In fact ordinary american schooling to african americans were prohibited by US law. No dialogue here neither.

    Now, where in the Christian Bible does it speak of those condescending abusive rules only for african americans? What is the natural Christian explanation for this according to the words of - a Christian God? Where does the dialogue appear?

    But then the Christian Crusadors around the year 1000, who came from every royal family in Europe brought with them all the way down to Turkey to meet the muslims and the mauers - a set of very short simple rules: Either you will believe in Christianity and the Lord Jesus Christ - or I will cut off your head with my sword. So in short for the native population: Either you´re with us or against us. Keep the Bible high in your right hand, but the sword higher in your left hand. Simple white Christian pedaggogy equals no whatsoever dialogue here neither.

    Pista Gyerek. It does seem as if the originator of this interesting thread Mr. Ron Price, may not himself want to engage in a dialogue?
    Last edited by intet_at_tabe; Aug-31-2009 at 11:33.
    Best regards,
    intet_at_tabe

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    Lieutenant, Associate Concertmaster Pista Gyerek's Avatar
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    Nice talking to you.

    Quote Originally Posted by intet-at-tabe View Post
    Religion never evolves - nor do Christians when talking religion.
    You couldn't be more wrong, actually. The difference between religion at its inception and religion today is vast.

    The Biblical God was an entity with powers and intentions; today, the word 'God' can refer to anything from a Big Magic Guy to a vague mystical force. Ancient believers at least expected that their acts and prayers would have concrete consequences; nowadays, believers consider it a virtue to have faith even if their prayers seem ineffectual. The modern believer is obliged to prove his faith through professing nonsense like John 3:16 and performing rituals that aren't meant to be understood.

    It does seem as if the originator of this interesting thread Mr. Ron Price, may not himself want to engage in a dialogue?
    Ron will probably show up and post some word salad that doesn't have anything to do with the points others have raised. He seems like a good-natured guy, but he's not equipped for dialogue.

    And I'll say this, Baha'i is definitely the least offensive religion I've come across. Their emphasis on peace, tolerance, and enlightenment is admirable. But as I've always said, there's no good deed that religion inspires that couldn't be inspired by a sincere commitment to, for example, peace, tolerance, and enlightenment.

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