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Old 10-14-2010, 01:26 PM   #1
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Satan

The Devil is believed in certain religions and cultures to be a powerful, supernatural entity that is the personification of evil and the enemy of God and humankind. Most religions have a concept of 'Satan', an evil spirit which stands opposed to God and tempts humanity away from the right path.
Zoroastrians call him 'Ahriman', the evil being who wars against Ahura Mazda. Buddhists call him 'Mara'. Christians and Muslims have a very similar view of the devil; indeed both of these religions are the ones with the most pronounced and detailed view of the devil. In Islam the Devil is referred to as Iblis. According to Muslim theology, Iblis was expelled from the grace of God when he disobeyed God by choosing not to pay homage to Adam, the father of all mankind. He claimed to be superior to Adam, on the grounds that man was created of earth unlike himself. This caused him to be expelled by God, a fact that Iblis blamed on humanity.According to the verses of the Qur’an, the Devil's mission until the Qiyamah or Resurrection Day (yaum-ul-qiyama) is to deceive Adam's children (mankind). After that, he will be put into the fires of Hell along with those whom he has deceived.
The Abrahamic religions have thus variously regarded the Devil as a rebellious fallen angel or demon that tempts humans to sin or commit evil deeds. Others regard the Devil as an allegory that represents a crisis of faith, individualism, free will, wisdom and enlightenment. It is my understanding that the Baha'i Faith shares this view. Am I right? If so, how does the Baha'i Faith reconcile this with Islam and Christianity's belief in a LITERAL devil? How can Baha'is uphold the validity of the Quran and the Bible when they deny that a devil exists?

Last edited by Yeshua; 10-14-2010 at 01:31 PM.
 
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Old 10-14-2010, 01:50 PM   #2
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My understanding is that Baha'is believe this to be a metaphor. There is no concept of heaven and hell, however it does say that for a Baha'i the concept of hell is distance from god or imperfection.

I have read nothing about hell or heaven being real places, it is said we all exist when our bodies are conceived on the spiritual plain - if we're already there, having our spirits mirrored into our bodies, it is difficult to see where we'd go based on bad or good acts in this life. I have always felt that heaven and hell are reward and fear tactics respectfully which Baha'u'llah does discuss. The reward is that you become close to god, close to perfection... the fear being that you are far from god, and imperfect.
 
Old 10-14-2010, 02:05 PM   #3
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In On Free Choice of the Will, Augustine argued, in the context of the problem of evil, that evil is not the opposite of good, but rather merely the absence of good, something that does not have existence in itself. I am definite that I remember reading Abdul-Baha say something similar, can anybody help me?
Likewise, C. S. Lewis (one of my all-time favourite Christian writers) described evil as a "parasite" in Mere Christianity, as he viewed evil as something that cannot exist without good to provide it with existence. Lewis went on to argue against dualism from the basis of moral absolutism, and rejected the dualistic notion that God and Satan are opposites, arguing instead that God has no equal, hence no opposite. Lewis rather viewed Satan as the opposite of Michael the archangel.
 
Old 10-14-2010, 02:07 PM   #4
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In On Free Choice of the Will, Augustine argued, in the context of the problem of evil, that evil is not the opposite of good, but rather merely the absence of good, something that does not have existence in itself. I am definite that I remember reading Abdul-Baha say something similar, can anybody help me?
Likewise, C. S. Lewis (one of my all-time favourite Christian writers) described evil as a "parasite" in Mere Christianity, as he viewed evil as something that cannot exist without good to provide it with existence. Lewis went on to argue against dualism from the basis of moral absolutism, and rejected the dualistic notion that God and Satan are opposites, arguing instead that God has no equal, hence no opposite. Lewis rather viewed Satan as the opposite of Michael the archangel.
Indeed, in Some Answered Questions, Abdul Baha does touch a great deal on this. I believe this is also where I read of the Heaven/Hell discussion within Baha'i.
 
Old 10-14-2010, 02:12 PM   #5
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Indeed, in Some Answered Questions, Abdul Baha does touch a great deal on this. I believe this is also where I read of the Heaven/Hell discussion within Baha'i.
Thank you my friend :wub If anybody could find me a quotation I would be grateful (I always like to hear what Abdul-Baha has to say). As I said above Augustine of Hippo maintained that evil is not a thing that exists and thus evil is not created by God. Evil is only privatio boni or an absence of good such as in discord, injustice, and loss of life or of liberty. I think this is similar to the Baha'i view. Christians reject Zoroastrian-type dualism. Augustine stated that natural evil (evil present in the natural world such as natural disasters etc.) is caused by fallen angels, whereas moral evil (evil caused by the will of human beings) is as a result of man having become estranged from God and choosing to deviate from his chosen path. Augustine argued that God could not have created evil in the world, as it was created wholly good, and that all notions of evil are simply a deviation or privation of goodness - an absence of good. Evil cannot thus be a separate and unique substance. For example, is blindness a separate entity from sight? No, it is merely a lack of sight. Thus the Christian would argue that the problem of evil and suffering is void because God did not create evil; it was man who chose to deviate from the path of justice and love.
 
Old 10-14-2010, 02:13 PM   #6
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To deny satan is to give him power. Satan appeared to Christ in the gospels. We have no reason other than arbirtrary acceptance he does not exist, to say this event did not happen. It central to the ministry of JEsus in that he was physically tempted three times by Satan to do his will. It follows the narrative perfectly and leaves no distinction.

The Devil likes two things, he likes it when men think he does not exist and he likes it when men make him deity (that is obses over him) he does not prefer either as both further is goal. That is a classic C.S Lewis quote.

Last edited by Orthodox; 10-14-2010 at 02:17 PM.
 
Old 10-14-2010, 02:15 PM   #7
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To deny satan is to give him power. Satan appeared to Christ in the gospels. We have no reason other than arbirtrary acceptance he does not exist, to say this event did not happen. It central to the ministry of JEsus in that he was physically tempted three times by Satan to do his will.

The Devil likes two things, he likes it when men think he does not exist and he likes it when men make him deity (that is obses over him) he does not prefer either as both further is goal. That is a classic C.S Lewis quote.
Thank you Orthodox :wub
 
Old 10-14-2010, 02:16 PM   #8
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Wikipedia says:

Saint Thomas Aquinas systematized St. Augustine principles supplementing them. Evil, according to St. Thomas, is a privation, or the absence of some good which belongs properly to the nature of the creature. There is therefore no positive source of evil, corresponding to the greater good, which is God; evil being not real but rational—i.e. it exists not as an objective fact, but as a subjective conception; things are evil not in themselves, but by reason of their relation to other things, or persons. All realities are in themselves good; they produce bad results only incidentally; and consequently the ultimate cause of evil if fundamentally good, as well as the objects in which evil is found.

"Evil is threefold, viz., metaphysical evil, moral, and physical, the retributive consequence of moral guilt. Its existence subserves the perfection of the whole; the universe would be less perfect if it contained no evil. Thus fire could not exist without the corruption of what it consumes; the lion must slay the ass in order to live, and if there were no wrong doing, there would be no sphere for patience and justice. God is said (as in Isaiah 45) to be the author of evil in the sense that the corruption of material objects in nature is ordained by Him, as a means for carrying out the design of the universe; and on the other hand, the evil which exists as a consequence of the breach of Divine laws is in the same sense due to Divine appointment; the universe would be less perfect if its laws could be broken with impunity. Thus evil, in one aspect, i.e. as counter-balancing the deordination of sin, has the nature of good. But the evil of sin, though permitted by God, is in no sense due to him; its cause is the abuse of free will by angels and men. It should be observed that the universal perfection to which evil in some form is necessary, is the perfection of this universe, not of any universe: metaphysical evil, that is to say, and indirectly, moral evil as well, is included in the design of the universe which is partially known to us; but we cannot say without denying the Divine omnipotence, that another equally perfect universe could not be created in which evil would have no place."(Catholic Encyclopedia:Evil
 
Old 10-14-2010, 02:36 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Orthodox View Post
To deny satan is to give him power. Satan appeared to Christ in the gospels. We have no reason other than arbirtrary acceptance he does not exist, to say this event did not happen. It central to the ministry of JEsus in that he was physically tempted three times by Satan to do his will. It follows the narrative perfectly and leaves no distinction.

The Devil likes two things, he likes it when men think he does not exist and he likes it when men make him deity (that is obses over him) he does not prefer either as both further is goal. That is a classic C.S Lewis quote.
Within the Baha'i Faith, it is said that hell is a metaphor for distance from God. If we strive to be close to God, if we seek to become as close to perfection as we possibly can, how then can we give the Devil - a fictional being personifying evil - power?

The people Jesus spoke to were extremely primitive, and thus I believe they required such scare tactics to straighten their lives. Baha'u'llah discusses how todays people require more reasoned thought than this, thus his Manifestation.
 
Old 10-14-2010, 02:42 PM   #10
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Well the Bahai faith is part way there. But Hell is much worse it is an eternal shame and the torture of not accepting God. It Is eternal punishment more severe than anything, inflicted not by God but oneself with no hopes of escape. This is hell. If all I have to worry about is distance from God, I say the atheist has got exactly what they wanted. Especialy the Misotheist.

I love it when people undermine the people of the past. Please read the philosophies of the ancients and realise they were intelligent don't choke them up for cavemen who thought the world was flat. This is a common stereotype that I see bahai have embraced.

Lord have mercy.
 
Old 10-14-2010, 02:47 PM   #11
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Well the Bahai faith is part way there. But Hell is much worse it is an eternal shame and the torture of not accepting God. It Is eternal punishment more severe than anything, inflicted not by God but oneself with no hopes of escape. This is hell. If all I have to worry about is distance from God, I say the atheist has got exactly what they wanted. Especialy the Misotheist.

I love it when people undermine the people of the past. Please read the philosophies of the ancients and realise they were intelligent don't choke them up for cavemen who thought the world was flat. This is a common stereotype that I see bahai have embraced.

Lord have mercy.
How does this differ at all compared to what Baha'i teaches? It teaches that distance from God is inflicted by man on himself, and that it eternally condemns you to imperfection. The only difference I see is that Baha'i do not believe heaven and hell are real places, they simply strive for as close to perfection as possible while understanding utter perfection is not possible. This akin to Christians understanding they will all sin.

Note that Baha'i do not undermine the people of the past, we simply understand that people today are more advanced intellectually. If there is no growth in people, there is very little reason for continuation of the race. However, I think you'll find that it was indeed Christians that condemned those that taught the world was round for many years. While I recognize there were very intelligent people in those times, I think you'll agree that todays society is vastly more civilized and our accomplishments far more advanced.

Last edited by Lunitik; 10-14-2010 at 02:53 PM.
 
Old 10-14-2010, 02:53 PM   #12
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Yet they don't believe this distance is painful. This is a pain so painful it cannot be described. That being said the Christian understanding is that sin is unnatural. Yet Bahai I imagine would consider it otherwise.
 
Old 10-14-2010, 02:57 PM   #13
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Yet they don't believe this distance is painful. This is a pain so painful it cannot be described. That being said the Christian understanding is that sin is unnatural. Yet Bahai I imagine would consider it otherwise.
Baha'i do indeed believe this distance is extremely painful.

It is plainly obvious, however, that sin is extremely natural. Look at those cases where human children are not exposed to society and civility at all as proof. These children are violent and without morals, they exist almost entirely on a level with beasts.

You can deny this all you please, but logic and real world example prove your statement false.
 
Old 10-14-2010, 03:01 PM   #14
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To some extent you are right. For the world was corrupted at the fall and thus the human nature was marred and scarred but never destroyed. But from the few cases of feral children I have seen they do not retain their lawlessness. But Sin is unnatural as it was never intended for humanity. Are you Bahai Lunatik? And if not, Why defend them?

Last edited by Orthodox; 10-14-2010 at 03:03 PM.
 
Old 10-14-2010, 03:07 PM   #15
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To some extent you are right. For the world was corrupted at the fall and thus the human nature was marred and scarred but never destroyed. But from the few cases of feral children I have seen they do not retain their lawlessness. But Sin is unnatural as it was never intended for humanity.
Baha'i Faith teaches that, as we are born of flesh and bone just like the beast, it is only our spirit that can allow us to deny those instincts. Also, in all feral children I have researched, while they learned to trust other specific humans they never truly learn to practice restraint. This has resulted in most ending up in a home.
 
Old 10-14-2010, 03:09 PM   #16
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You deny the very image of God within you. You are not an animal You shame God by proclaiming humanity as such. Lord have mercy. Was not creation good in the eyes of God? Did not God bless man and woman? The Bahai seriously need to read genesis.

Last edited by Orthodox; 10-14-2010 at 03:12 PM.
 
Old 10-14-2010, 03:13 PM   #17
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Are you Bahai Lunatik? And if not, Why defend them?
I have done much reading about the Baha'i Faith, and I certainly agree with everything I have read to this point. I am not officially Baha'i, however, no. I am currently engaged in the process of becoming a Baha'i, and wish to find more Baha'i in my area.

I am actually thankful I have found you on this forum, however, as you are strengthening my convictions by the very way you attempt to convey your own. You are extremely unaccepting and seem to refuse to acknowledge any merit in views you do not share. For me, this is the purpose of God sending his latest Manifestation, in this day and age, we require unity on a grand scale due to our world becoming infinitely smaller due to technology.
 
Old 10-14-2010, 03:16 PM   #18
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Lunatik I might acuse you of the same thing. You refuse to acknowledge orthodox christianity, or any idea that does not share your view. Your own words refute you. Now please engage and don't make this personal. Forgive me if I seem harsh, there is no excuse for it. If you think I am being to harsh or insulting point it out. I get carried away because I am not perfect, Like all men besides Christ I am not perfect.
 
Old 10-14-2010, 03:19 PM   #19
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You deny the very image of God within you. You are not an animal You shame God by proclaiming humanity as such. Lord have mercy. Was not creation good in the eyes of God? Did not God bless man and woman? The Bahai seriously need to read genesis.
Again, you misunderstand me.

I cannot recall the correct passage, so I cannot quote it directly, however it teaches that the spirit is mirrored into this body of flesh and bone, and this alone is what gives us our humanity. It is the spirit that separates us from beast, and we must ensure our mirrors are as reflective as possible to ensure we are always acting in a pure way.
 
Old 10-14-2010, 03:21 PM   #20
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The thing is we were not created beasts. We were created mankind given dominion over the beast. Even if you take genesis not literally ( I don't ) that is clearly he message. Man is distinct from Beast, for if he was beast he would have been created with them.
 
Old 10-14-2010, 03:27 PM   #21
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Lunatik I might acuse you of the same thing. You refuse to acknowledge orthodox christianity, or any idea that does not share your view. Your own words refute you. Now please engage and don't make this personal. Forgive me if I seem harsh, there is no excuse for it. If you think I am being to harsh or insulting point it out. I get carried away because I am not perfect, Like all men besides Christ I am not perfect.
Again, misunderstood. I believe Christianity served a great purpose, every country I have lived and visited, I can see the effects on that societies civility and thus know it to be good. Baha'u'llah teaches we must consider science as well as our faith to get a true picture of the world, however. He cites a fairly simply example of this: if a man tells you the lamp in the next room will not work, should you just accept this? No, you should go into the room and see for yourself that it is on, and understand he has lied.

Orthodoxy I believe is flawed in a fundamental way. It teaches that you must believe blindly, it teaches that you should not question even when presented with fact that is contrary. Surely you do not believe that God would want his subjects to be gullible and naive?
 
Old 10-14-2010, 03:30 PM   #22
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The thing is we were not created beasts. We were created mankind given dominion over the beast. Even if you take genesis not literally ( I don't ) that is clearly he message. Man is distinct from Beast, for if he was beast he would have been created with them.
We are taught that our spirit, and thus our ability to understand, is what gives us dominion over the beast. The spirit is what distinguishes us from the beast. I have already cited that - to continue the metaphor - if our mirrors are not reflective of our spirit, our soul, we can become beastly just as feral children are.
 
Old 10-14-2010, 06:17 PM   #23
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That being said the Christian understanding is that sin is unnatural. Yet Bahai I imagine would consider it otherwise.
Where did you get that stuff
 
Old 10-14-2010, 06:19 PM   #24
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The thing is we were not created beasts. We were created mankind given dominion over the beast. Even if you take genesis not literally ( I don't ) that is clearly he message. Man is distinct from Beast, for if he was beast he would have been created with them.
So, what does this mean? from Bible:

" . . . the sons of men, God tests them, that they may see that they themselves are like beasts.” ECCLESIASTES 3:18
 
Old 10-14-2010, 06:20 PM   #25
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Orthodox seems to like to assume that this may be part of his catechumen class..

If you want to know what the Baha'i belief is about Satan, evil and hell a simple question will do just fine..

The belief in a literal Satan that battles God and loses probably comes from Zoroastrianism and later perhaps Mithraism..otherwise known as dualism.. Actual Zoroastrian belief is monotheistic. When people have been taught to read the scriptures literally and take them as word for word you will have people having these fantasies of a literal hell or as in the Dante's Inferno.

Regarding demons:

"As to the question of evil spirits, demons and monsters, any references made to them in the Holy Books have symbolic meaning. What is currently known among the public is but sheer superstition."

(From a Tablet of 'Abdu'l-Bahá: Spiritualism and psychic Phenomena, p. 3)

(Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 512)



Regarding "Satan":

The reality underlying this question is that the evil spirit, Satan or whatever is interpreted as evil, refers to the lower nature in man. This baser nature is symbolized in various ways. In man there are two expressions, one is the expression of nature, the other the expression of the spiritual realm.

~ Abdu'l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 77

A world in which naught can be perceived save strife, quarrels and corruption is bound to become the seat of the throne, the very metropolis, of Satan.

~ Baha'u'llah, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 176

Regarding Evil:

THE NONEXISTENCE OF EVIL

The true explanation of this subject is very difficult. Know that beings are of two kinds: material and spiritual, those perceptible to the senses and those intellectual.

Things which are sensible are those which are perceived by the five exterior senses; thus those outward existences which the eyes see are called sensible. Intellectual things are those which have no outward existence but are conceptions of the mind. For example, mind itself is an intellectual thing which has no outward existence. All man's characteristics and qualities form an intellectual existence and are not sensible.

Briefly, the intellectual realities, such as all the qualities and admirable perfections of man, are purely good, and exist. Evil is simply their nonexistence. So ignorance is the want of knowledge; error is the want of guidance; forgetfulness is the want of memory; stupidity is the want of good sense. All these things have no real existence.

In the same way, the sensible realities are absolutely good, and evil is due to their nonexistence -- that is to say, blindness is the want of sight, deafness is the want of hearing, poverty is the want of wealth, illness is the want of health, death is the want of life, and weakness is the want of strength.

Nevertheless a doubt occurs to the mind -- that is, scorpions and serpents are poisonous. Are they good or evil, for they are existing beings? Yes, a scorpion is evil in relation to man; a serpent is evil in relation to man; but in relation to themselves they are not evil, for their poison is *264* their weapon, and by their sting they defend themselves. But as the elements of their poison do not agree with our elements -- that is to say, as there is antagonism between these different elements, therefore, this antagonism is evil; but in reality as regards themselves they are good.

The epitome of this discourse is that it is possible that one thing in relation to another may be evil, and at the same time within the limits of its proper being it may not be evil. Then it is proved that there is no evil in existence; all that God created He created good. This evil is nothingness; so death is the absence of life. When man no longer receives life, he dies. Darkness is the absence of light: when there is no light, there is darkness. Light is an existing thing, but darkness is nonexistent. Wealth is an existing thing, but poverty is nonexisting.

Then it is evident that all evils return to nonexistence. Good exists; evil is nonexistent. *265*

~ Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 261

Regarding Hell:

Light must be spread afar, so that, in the school of humanity, all may acquire the heavenly characteristics of the spirit, and see for themselves beyond any doubt that there is no fiercer Hell, no more fiery abyss, than to possess a character that is evil and unsound; no more darksome pit nor loathsome torment than to show forth qualities which deserve to be condemned.

~ Compilations, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 263

Last edited by arthra; 10-14-2010 at 06:39 PM.
 
Old 10-14-2010, 06:29 PM   #26
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Arthra seems to assume that every single thing in this forum has to be relating to Bahai despite the fact that it was no where mentioned on the terms and conditions. So please Arthra, stop with the snide remarks.
 
Old 10-14-2010, 06:59 PM   #27
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To add my two cents, I've always held that the idea of "Satan" was created to create a symbol for what was evil. Of course, what is evil is entirely dependent on who is in charge. Satan has a bad stigma because over the past thousands of years, various people have used the name "Satan" in unison with evil acts (Satanic acts, etc)

Satan is considered "evil" (if the falling to Hell story is taken literally) because Satan realized his fault but is too prideful to apologize to God, so Satan tries to sway humanity to his side. Or, that is how the story goes.

The problem with this is, like said before, this can be easily manipulated for various means. It is easy to sling mud on an opponent by calling them Satanists or Satanic. It is easy to control people with fear of Hell and the temptation of Satan.

I think we live in a time where the idea of a literal Satan to keep us in check is a bit archaic...yet, it still happens.

That being said, I have met many Satanists (atheistic and theistic), and none of them were evil. They practice their faith or lack thereof peacefully, so I have no place to sling dirt on it.
 
Old 10-14-2010, 10:35 PM   #28
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Do Ocean keyword searches for antichrist, evil spirit, Evil One, demon, devil, dragon and you'll find some more quotations. An individual human being who is a central figure in opposing a Manifestation of God is a satan/devil/antichrist. The word Satan literally means adversary. Devil literally means slanderer.


"From the beginning of the world until the present time each 'Manifestation' sent from God has been opposed by an embodiment of the 'Powers of Darkness'.

This dark power has always endeavoured to extinguish the light. Tyranny has ever sought to overcome justice. Ignorance has persistently tried to trample knowledge underfoot. This has, from the earliest ages, been the method of the material world.

In the time of Moses, Pharaoh set himself to prevent the Mosaic Light being spread abroad.

In the day of Christ, Annas and Caiaphas inflamed the Jewish people against Him and the learned doctors of Israel joined together to resist His Power. All sorts of calumnies were circulated against Him. The Scribes and Pharisees conspired to make the people believe Him to be a liar, an apostate, and a blasphemer. They spread these slanders throughout the whole Eastern world against Christ, and caused Him to be condemned to a shameful death!

In the case of Muhammad also, the learned doctors of His day determined to extinguish the light of His influence. They tried by the power of the sword to prevent the spread of His teaching.

In spite of all their efforts the Sun of Truth shone forth from the horizon. In every case the army of light vanquished the powers of darkness on the battlefield of the world, and the radiance of the Divine Teaching illumined the earth. Those who accepted the Teaching and worked for the Cause of God became luminous stars in the sky of humanity.

Now, in our own day, history repeats itself."

(Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 104)

Last edited by bwb; 10-14-2010 at 10:40 PM.
 
Old 10-14-2010, 10:45 PM   #29
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Satan can also refer to the lower nature of human beings, as Arthra has already cited. This lower nature is God's "adversary".

The reality underlying this question is that the evil spirit, Satan or whatever is interpreted as evil, refers to the lower nature in man. This baser nature is symbolized in various ways. In man there are two expressions, one is the expression of nature, the other the expression of the spiritual realm.

~ Abdu'l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 77
 
Old 10-15-2010, 04:36 AM   #30
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Greetings!

I have to disagree with several of you on various points.

Like it or not, Orthodox, this is a BAHA'I forum, so it would be really nice if you at least stuck to the theme and stopped complaining about this.

On to other points.

God being One, Supreme, and having no rival or equal, in the Baha'i viewpoint there is no "devil" out there competing with Him or trying to "get us."

And satan simply refers to our own lower (animal) nature whenn we give it control instead of our higher (spiritual) nature.

Heaven and hell definitely do exist as the spiritual conditions of nearness to and separation from God, and as such also exist here and now in this life. Indeed, each of us is in one or the other at each instant as a function of where our heads are at!

Finally, in the Next Life being in hell isn't a permanent condition because the Baha'i scriptures assure us that God, in His infinite Love and Mercy, aids everyone--even those most removed from Him--eventually to draw near to Him, thus achieving Heaven (quote upon request).

Peace,

Bruce
 
Old 10-15-2010, 08:11 AM   #31
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One thing for sure.. I think once people stop believing in demons or Satan there will be a lot fewer movies on exorcisms and vampires.. that could depress some of the TV/film industry but I think it will make a lot of children better off too..A dark fantasy life doesn't help small children..Uhhh and then there's Holloween..:tongue
 
Old 10-15-2010, 11:17 AM   #32
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I find it incredibly interesting that Saints Thomas and Augustine embrace the concept that evil is the absence of good. I have had Christians reject that idea and yet it is found within Chrisitianity as well, and not a new thought whatsoever, though I had not seen that idea before I saw it in SAQ. Baha'is do not deny the effects of evil, or that it exists. Having had addictive behavior that was against my values and beliefs, and beyond my simple will to control, I am aware of how one can feel the devil at work. However I had to take responsibility for myself to overcome that and turn more fully toward God. It was a process that required time to be healed and help from others. I think far too many people give up rather than seek help. That is 100% way not to change!
 
Old 10-15-2010, 12:09 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by cire perdue View Post
I find it incredibly interesting that Saints Thomas and Augustine embrace the concept that evil is the absence of good. I have had Christians reject that idea and yet it is found within Chrisitianity as well, and not a new thought whatsoever, though I had not seen that idea before I saw it in SAQ. Baha'is do not deny the effects of evil, or that it exists. Having had addictive behavior that was against my values and beliefs, and beyond my simple will to control, I am aware of how one can feel the devil at work. However I had to take responsibility for myself to overcome that and turn more fully toward God. It was a process that required time to be healed and help from others. I think far too many people give up rather than seek help. That is 100% way not to change!
Hi :wub

Yes the view that evil is the absence of good is well established within Christianity. Saints Thomas and Augustine are two of the most imortant thinkers and Doctors of the Church in the Western Christian tradition. The Baha'i Faith must have inherited it from Christianity, just as some Baha'i ideas (eg Unity in Diversity) have influenced Christianity. I do not think, for example, that the idea is present in Islam (although I may be wrong). Regardless Christianity theorized it first before Islam came into being so if it is in Islam then Islam obviously inherited it from Augustine as well. Is Augustine anywhere mentioned in Baha'i literature? The way I like to describe it - simply - is that evil is the absence of good just as cold is the absence of heat. It is a sujbective conception of the mind - we know something is 'evil' because of what it is not, what it lacks which is 'good' Gods way - but it is not an objective fact in itself. Evil isn't 'real' like good, it is 'rational'. Saint Thomas Aquinas got it in a nutshell when he said,

"Good can exist without evil, whereas evil cannot exist without good."
Saint Thomas Aquinas

When a man is born without eyes, we say he is blind. Do we say that a rock, which also has no eyes, is also blind?

Why is the man blind and the rock not blind? Neither can see. So if being 'blind' is a real thing in itself, an existant reality, then it should be proper and correct to say that both the man and the rock are 'blind'. However we know that this is logically not the case. Its absurd.

The man is blind because he is deprived of a power which God designed him to posses. Men are seeing beings. To be a sightless man is to be deprived of some power natural to man.

The rock is not blind because it is not deprived of anything it has by nature. It is made without eyes and without sight, so there is no 'absence' of sight in its case and so we do not call it 'blind'.

Further, notice the word "deprivation" and "deprived" - or absent. These signal that to be sighted is the norm for humans; to be sighted is to have actualized that which is designed into man with respect to sight.

To be a sighted man, then, is to have being in respect to sight. To be blind is to lack this being: it is to be less in respect to sightedness.

And so with good and evil. To be - aka to exist as a human person - IS to be good. Its how we were designed, its our inherrant nature since we are made in the image of God who is perfectly good. Any falling short in goodness is a falling short in being. The less good a man is, the less real he is: the less being he has. In so far as he is not good, that far is he less distinguishable from other men, that much less uniquely himself.

I am a firm believer in the Augustinian school of thought when it comes to evil as being the privation of good, or to say that evil is the absence of good.

For example, what is cold? Can we measure cold? We have units of measurements to measure heat: celsius, fahrenheit, and kelvins. These are used to measure heat. Water at 60 degrees F is colder than water at 80 F. It's not that former has more cold, but rather less heat. Therefore, cold is simply less heat.

We also cannot measure darkness. Again, we have units to measure light, but not darnkness. Darkness is simply less light.

The choice we have isn't, "To do good or do evil" as the heretical offshoot of Zoroaster's revelation 'Zurvanism' taught, with its Good and Bad God competing for the heart of man. Rather, it is choosing to do good or not. The less good one does, the more evil one becomes. Satan is devoid of all good. Evil does not have a source on and of itself. The existence of evil lies squarely on the absence of good. So on this front the Baha'i Faith and Christianity are correct and religions which teach otherwise (aka Zurvanism and other dualistic creeds) are, in my opinion, wrong :wub And thats it, some things are either true or not true. Evil doesn't REALLY exist, its the absence of good.

PS I just want to clarify that the Zoroastrian religion was not originally and is not currently 'dualistic'. When the Zend Avesta talks of the 'twin spirits' of good and evil it is not speaking of Ahura Mazda (God) and Ahriman (Satan) but Spenta Mainyu (the Bounteous Spirit - equivalent to the Arcangel Michael or Gabriel in Islam) and Ahriman. The Zurvanite, dualistic, heresy arose in the time of the Sassanid Dynasty in Persia. It died out and modern Zoroastrianism is monotheistic once more.

Last edited by Yeshua; 10-15-2010 at 12:18 PM.
 
Old 10-15-2010, 01:51 PM   #34
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You write pretty well for an eighteen year old Yeshua.. Are you in academia?

I would suggest that the source of the idea maybe found in Platonism itself which influenced both Christianity and Islam..

Plato never went the length of condemning matter and the human body in particular, as the source of all evil — for wealth, health, art, and innocent pleasures are means of attaining happiness, though not indispensable, as virtue is. Virtue is order, harmony, the health of the soul; vice is disorder, discord, disease.

And consider the Allegory of the Cave.

Also after the Academy of Athens was closed by the Emperor Justinian in 529 AD the philosophers went east to reside in the Sassanid Empire..which later came under Muslim control .. So Platonism infleunces Islamic philosophy and preserves the wisdom in Arabic until the beginnings of the Renaissance..

Earlier than that though Mount Carmel figures into the story when Pythagoras consults an oracle there on his way to Egypt..

In 529 C.E., the Byzantine emperor Justinian I closed the school in because he considered it a pagan institution, which date is often cited as the end of Classical antiquity. According to the sole witness, the historian Agathias, the remaining members of the academy sought protection under the rule of Sassanid king Khosrau I of Persia in his capital at Ctesiphon, carrying with them precious scrolls of literature and philosophy, and science. After a peace treaty between the Persian and the Byzantine Empire in 532 guaranteed their personal security (an early document in the history of freedom of religion), some members found sanctuary in the pagan stronghold of Harran, near Edessa.

Source:

Platonic Academy - New World Encyclopedia

Baha'u'llah mentions Plato, Pythagoras in His Lawh- i-Hikmat where they are identified as spiritual philosophers.

Last edited by arthra; 10-15-2010 at 01:55 PM.
 
Old 10-15-2010, 02:00 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by arthra View Post
You write pretty well for an eighteen year old Yeshua.. Are you in academia?

I would suggest that the source of the idea maybe found in Platonism itself which influenced both Christianity and Islam..

Plato never went the length of condemning matter and the human body in particular, as the source of all evil — for wealth, health, art, and innocent pleasures are means of attaining happiness, though not indispensable, as virtue is. Virtue is order, harmony, the health of the soul; vice is disorder, discord, disease.

Also after the Academy of Athens was closed by the Emperor Justinian in 529 AD the philosophers went east to reside in the Sassanid Empire..which later came under Muslim control .. So Platonism infleunces Islamic philosophy and preserves the wisdom in Arabic until the beginnings of the Renaissance..

Earlier than that though Mount Carmel figures into the story when Pythagoras consults an oracle there on his way to Egypt..

In 529 C.E., the Byzantine emperor Justinian I closed the school in because he considered it a pagan institution, which date is often cited as the end of Classical antiquity. According to the sole witness, the historian Agathias, the remaining members of the academy sought protection under the rule of Sassanid king Khosrau I of Persia in his capital at Ctesiphon, carrying with them precious scrolls of literature and philosophy, and science. After a peace treaty between the Persian and the Byzantine Empire in 532 guaranteed their personal security (an early document in the history of freedom of religion), some members found sanctuary in the pagan stronghold of Harran, near Edessa.

Source:

Platonic Academy - New World Encyclopedia

Baha'u'llah mentions Plato, Pythagoras in His Lawh- i-Hikmat.
Hi Art :wub

Well I'm just a student so I don't really know if thats wot you mean by 'academia' :unsure I study Law, I'm interested most in International and Human Rights Law.

And thats some pretty interesting information, thank you very much! :wub Yes Platonism did indeed influence both Islam and Christianity in a big way, especially Sufism. However I still think that the concept of 'good being the absence of evil' came from Augustine. The genesis probably will lie with the Platonists (what doesn't? haha :lol) but the actual phrase and concept spoken of by Christians and in Baha'i literature seems to have an Augustinian origin. To put it simply, I have never heard that particular phrase or the concept spoken of in anything before Augustine. In both his philosophical and theological reasoning however, Augustine was greatly influenced by Stoicism, Platonism and Neo-platonism, particularly by the work of Plotinus, author of the Enneads.

Wikipedia says:

Privatio Boni can be loosely translated as "privation of good." It is a theological doctrine that good and evil are, in some circumstances at least, asymmetrical. Strictly speaking, it holds that evil is insubstantial, so that thinking of it as an entity is misleading: it would be more constructive to speak only of it as the lack of good.

It is typically attributed to St. Augustine of Hippo, who wrote:

And in the universe, even that which is called evil, when it is regulated and put in its own place, only enhances our admiration of the good; for we enjoy and value the good more when we compare it with the evil. For the Almighty God, who, as even the heathen acknowledge, has supreme power over all things, being Himself supremely good, would never permit the existence of anything evil among His works, if He were not so omnipotent and good that He can bring good even out of evil. For what is that which we call evil but the absence of good? In the bodies of animals, disease and wounds mean nothing but the absence of health; for when a cure is effected, that does not mean that the evils which were present—namely, the diseases and wounds—go away from the body and dwell elsewhere: they altogether cease to exist; for the wound or disease is not a substance, but a defect in the fleshly substance,—the flesh itself being a substance, and therefore something good, of which those evils—that is, privations of the good which we call health—are accidents. Just in the same way, what are called vices in the soul are nothing but privations of natural good. And when they are cured, they are not transferred elsewhere: when they cease to exist in the healthy soul, they cannot exist anywhere else.
—St. Augustine of Hippo, Enchiridion of Augustine, Chapter 11: What is called Evil in the Universe is But the Absence of Good

Last edited by Yeshua; 10-15-2010 at 02:06 PM.
 
Old 10-15-2010, 02:09 PM   #36
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Baha'i literature seems to have an Augustinian origin.

I would doubt that very much Yeshua.. When you make statements like that you need to have more supporting material.

The other problem with Augustine is the idea of original sin which is very foreign to our Faith..:wink

What university are you attending?
 
Old 10-15-2010, 02:13 PM   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arthra View Post
Baha'i literature seems to have an Augustinian origin.

I would doubt that very much Yeshua.. When you make statements like that you need to have more supporting material.

The other problem with Augustine is the idea of original sin which is very foreign to our Faith..:wink
Ah but thats taking what I said out of context brother :lol :wub

I said: "the actual phrase and concept spoken of (the non-existance of evil) by Christians and in Baha'i literature seems to have an Augustinian origin". The way you quote it, one would assume that I was saying that Baha'i literature has an Augustinian origin which would be non-sensical You know very well I was referring only to the non-existance of evil, which Augustine is typically held to have conceived. Augustine clearly hasn't influenced the Baha'i faith in any other way. All I was saying was that the Baha'i Faith agreed with 'the non-existance of evil' view stipulated by Augustine and so is in agreeance with the Catholic Church on this point. As concerns original sin, I actually don't agree with Augustine fully on that either. I support the Eastern Orthodox view of original sin more than the Augustinian one. He was human, he couldn't be right about everything but he was still a great mind and a glorious saint. In fact you've given me the idea for my next thread! Baha'is and original sin :wub Augustine is actually an Eastern Orthodox saint as well but they never agreed with his view on original sin. I think it was influenced by his former Manichaen faith.

Wikipedia (incredibly) has another good point (whoever wrote it is good):

"Our perceptions are based on contrast, so that light and dark, good and evil, are imperceptible without each other; in this context, these sets of opposites show a certain symmetry. But a basic study of optics teaches us that light has a physical presence of its own, whereas darkness does not: no "anti-lamp" or "flashdark" can be constructed which casts a beam of darkness onto a surface that is otherwise well-lit. Instead, darkness only appears when sources of light are extinguished or obscured, and only persists when an object absorbs a disproportionate amount of the light that strikes it.

The relationship between light and darkness is often used to frame a metaphorical understanding of good and evil. This metaphor can be used to answer the problem of evil: If evil, like darkness, does not truly exist, but is only a name we give to our perception of privatio boni, then our widespread observation of evil does not preclude the possibility of a benevolent, omniscient, and omnipresent God.

If the metaphor can be extended, and good and evil share the same asymmetry as light and darkness, then evil can have no source, cannot be projected, and, of itself, can offer no resistance to any source of good, no matter how weak or distant. In this case, goodness cannot be actively opposed, and power becomes a consequence of benevolence. However, in this case evil is the default state of the universe, and good exists only through constant effort; any lapse or redirection of good will apparently create evil out of nothing."

Last edited by Yeshua; 10-15-2010 at 02:24 PM.
 
Old 10-15-2010, 04:28 PM   #38
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Sorry for the misunderstanding I'm just not up discussing Augustine of Hippo with you on this forum.. Maybe someone else would like to do that..

Yeshua wrote:

In fact you've given me the idea for my next thread! Baha'is and original sin Augustine is actually an Eastern Orthodox saint as well but they never agreed with his view on original sin. I think it was influenced by his former Manichaen faith.

Well I think that would be interesting but I think you already know the answer..basically we don't accept the original sin idea.. and we would take an allegorical view of the Garden of Eden story..:wink
 
Old 10-15-2010, 04:37 PM   #39
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Regardless of who says it, truth is universal and it is from God first. I would say that it is/can be perceived by pure souls. That which is spiritual, of God, is perceived by many at different times. Repeating truths that are in the pasts does not mean that is where it came from. The Faith is a Revelation, not something someone sat down and composed. The Faith is said to reveal the remaining 22 letters of knowledge that have been withheld from mankind, that only 2 have been revealed prior to this. Man's progress in the last 200 years is a result of the spritual release from God.
 
Old 10-15-2010, 06:21 PM   #40
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Cire perdue is correct of course... There's some material I found awhile ago from Jacob Boehme and John Comenius that I felt was very far sighted and universal in theme...
 
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