Dealing with cynics

Aug 2012
6
Michigan
#1
Allah'u'Abha everyone!


I'll start this thread off confessing that it is possible I am overreacting to a very simple situation, but here it is anyways. I was speaking with my friend, and somehow we got to discussing politics (not Democrat v Republican, but the flaws in the political systems in general) upon which I tried to elevate our conversation and discuss the world's need for a new system. I then brought up some Baha'i principles without mentioning they were Baha'i principles, and my friend jeered at me saying that if Baha'is had the same power as other religions, we would be just as corrupt.

Now this bothers me for a lot of reasons, probably most obviously because it is not true. I tried reasoning with him, explaining the differences between the inception of the Baha'i Faith, and the inception of the other great religions, how all of our scriptures are 100 percent authentic and incorruptible, how our administrative system works, how we are completely separate from political power etc. but none of my arguments affected him at all. He simply kept stating we would be just as corrupt.

Now my issue is not so much with this friend of mine, I don't expect anyone will really change his mind unless he opens it more. What alarms me is this general distrust and dislike of religion that is becoming more and more prevalent in society. What are some arguments/lines of reasoning beyond what I have mentioned here in this post that you all find useful in dealing with this staunch cynicism, against even our own Faith?
 
Sep 2012
359
Panama
#2
...this general distrust and dislike of religion that is becoming more and more prevalent in society...
Please say which society we're talking about. Most human beings join groups that share a reverence for a force for Good; they always have and they always will. Pop US culture gurus make points that snipe at Christianity, but in spite of all the noise they're still the minority.

If your friend believes people are good, and that we all must do the right thing, than you simply may have caught him on a bad day. Then again, I've had a few friends that view their fellow man as either neutral or bad, and they consider religion a waste of time. I tend to find those poor souls to be so toxic that I end up having to avoid them altogether.

One of the reasons I love forums like these is for making new friends ;)
 
Sep 2010
1,297
Canada
#3
AllahuAbha,

One of the things which I would mention is that, Baha'i Faith does not have clergy, and everyone is just Baha'is.
I would talk about, how it was always the clergy of religions who took advantage of religion for the sake of Power.
I would also mention that, our scripture explicitly says, religion must be separate from Government as Abdulbaha said. Again there are evidences, that every time there was a religious government, it got corrupted.
So, I think it is first important to discuss why historically and factually some religious leaders caused corruption, then i would show those elements which existed in the past, cannot appear in the Baha'i faith.

Then I would also give examples of well known people such as scientists and other positive and respectable people who were believers of God and Religions, but they did not get corrupted as to refute the idea that the corruption comes from religion.
Then I would discuss, every time there is science with no spiritual teachings, the science is used to destruct by for example creating Bombs, and whenever Science is with spiritual teachings, then it is used for comfort. This is what Einstein also said.

Then i would say, how even the famous philosophers were inspired by Messengers. The examples of these are in Baha'i scriptures.
Hope that helps.
 
Jan 2008
32
Canada
#4
I wish I had the answer to that myself as it might resolve my long time thread of cynicism towards religion including the Bahai Faith. But maybe that same cynicism can help bring some understanding to the issue. Reflecting on my upbringing in the Bahai community, I can not help but find that the youth were often manipulated by the powerful personalities of the community into thinking the same way as they did, to stratifying the Bahai principles and laws into the same hierarchy as they did—which as far as I know even Baha’u’llah does not do, and if He does it is not clear cut. We were never given the opportunity to think for ourselves, to ask questions freely and then follow with a real discussion. As youth we did not even have the skills to formulate questions never mind the strength of character to speak them out, and yet there we were in the company of high power Baha’i personalities often far older than us supposedly learning about how to be Bahai’s.
It is not an educational approach which I hold any respect for. A conservative critic might call it lacking, and a little outdated, and a harsher critic might go as far as to say it is corrupt. Either way there is a problem with it. But there is a second problem, that of denying that there even is a problem. Seeing problems in the outside world is a Bahai strength; they have no issue with pointing them out. But seeing problems inside their own community, and I mean deep problems, is often met with denial. That is my experience anyways. My personal theory is that Bahai’s feel that admitting to internal problems some how undermines Baha’u’llah’s sanctity, and maybe even is connected with a weak personal sense of faith.

To deal with the question directly, one way to deal with cynics is to accept that there will be such problems in any organization and show that you have a mindset which can accept that.
 
Apr 2011
1,086
Hyrule
#5
My personal theory is that Bahai’s feel that admitting to internal problems some how undermines Baha’u’llah’s sanctity, and maybe even is connected with a weak personal sense of faith.
I don't think admitting internal problems undermines Baha'u'llah's sanctity, because it probably reveals more about the economic and educational background of the community more than Baha'u'llah's character.

In the Baptist Christian community, I was never taught how to think, and I can see why: these religious leaders didn't have degrees in theology, and a lot of them did not have the leisure time to study doctrine and develop skillful, creative answers to my questions, because they often spent their time working to support their families. The youth simply soaked up everything like a sponge, or they denied their family's faith, but denial is very rare since religious in so deeply connected with the family that some people would see this action as a rejection of the family. The same issues can arise in any community, including an atheist community. What if the leader of my former Christian community would have been as educated as a Martin Luther King Jr? I would probably have very different feelings about the Baptist community.
 
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Apr 2011
1,086
Hyrule
#6
I then brought up some Baha'i principles without mentioning they were Baha'i principles, and my friend jeered at me saying that if Baha'is had the same power as other religions, we would be just as corrupt.
Start with asking where he gets his information. The God Delusion? Any atheist writers? Read what he is reading, and if he is not reading anything, you can read stuff like this anyway to help you understand the viewpoint that all religion is corrupt. Before anything else, you need to understand his perspective.
 
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Aug 2012
6
Michigan
#7
Start with asking where he gets his information. The God Delusion? Any atheist writers? Read what he is reading, and if he is not reading anything, you can read stuff like this anyway to help you understand the viewpoint that all religion is corrupt. Before anything else, you need to understand his perspective.
My friend has lived in Syria most of his life, seen the corruption of religion there, and recently came to America. We're both 20. Ironically I have another friend who has been raised in the Arab world, namely Iraq, and has a very pro religion stance.
 
Aug 2012
32
Mid Atlantic
#8
From what I was taught in my community(by a fairly senior Baha'i) the Baha'i Faith dose not accept separation between church and state but will eventually create a theocracy. Is he incorrect?
 
Sep 2012
359
Panama
#9
...the Baha'i Faith dose not accept separation between church and state...
That's a good debate topic. It's like how many argue that the US constitution doesn't accept 'separation between church and state' either considering how even though it's disestablishmentarianist, it still includes specific reference to Christ as 'our Lord'.
...but will eventually create a theocracy. Is he incorrect?
What we know for sure is that over longer time frames the world has been blending together with religious differences reconciling. The historic trends are definitely moving to world unity and common religion. If that's not a 'theocracy' then it will do until someone finds out what a real one is...
 
Aug 2012
32
Mid Atlantic
#10
That's a good debate topic. It's like how many argue that the US constitution doesn't accept 'separation between church and state' either considering how even though it's disestablishmentarianist, it still includes specific reference to Christ as 'our Lord'.What we know for sure is that over longer time frames the world has been blending together with religious differences reconciling. The historic trends are definitely moving to world unity and common religion. If that's not a 'theocracy' then it will do until someone finds out what a real one is...
The Constitution has no reference to God in it. The Declaration of Independence has a reference to "Nature's God". Jesus is never mentioned in either.
 
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