Thursday, September 29, 2005

Religion: A Baha'i View

I'm posting a portion of a talk I gave last year about the contrast between some of the commonly held views about what religion is and the Baha'i view.
COMMONLY HELD VIEWS
1. Religion is a set of beliefs, customs, traditions and rituals
2. There are lots of religions, but only one of them (usually the one I belong to) is true
3. There are lots of religions and they are all equally true, so it doesn’t matter which one I belong to
4. Because my religion is "right" and yours is "wrong" I should try and pressure you into believing what I believe
5. Religion involves believing something even if reason and science contradict it, thus religion and science are in conflict with each other
6. Faith is an emotional attachment to a belief that is irrational or unscientific, the deeper this attachment, the more "sincere" your faith is
7. Religion is something that only "special" people, usually religious leaders are able to understand
8. Religion is a source of conflict and contention among people, the world would be better off without it
9. If the followers of a particular religion do bad things, that religion must be bad or false
10. Religion is basically a good thing, as long as it is kept private and is only about individual happiness and satisfaction

BAHA'I VIEW
1. Religion is the revelation of God’s love and wisdom for humanity’s spiritual education and development
2. There is only one religion, which has been revealed progressively from age to age, by a series of Divine Messengers, each of whom brought spiritual "truths" that are eternal, and social teachings suited to the age in which they appeared
3. There is only one religion, which is revealed progressively from age to age, by a series of Divine Messengers, thus we must seek out and recognize the Messenger for our age and live according to that Messenger’s teachings
4. Religious truth is one and we each have the ability and responsibility to investigate truth for ourselves
5. Religious beliefs must be in harmony with reason and science, if they are not, they are simply superstitions
6. Faith is conscious knowledge expressed in action
7. Religious truth is something that each of us has the capacity to understand, recognizing that our understanding will always be limited
8. It is human, ignorance and prejudice that is the source of religious conflict. True religion promotes unity and love among all people
9. The behavior of individuals regarding religion is a reflection of their own human imperfections, not of religion itself
10. True religion has the power to bring happiness and well-being to society as well as individuals