Questions about Adam and the literal/symbolic in 'Some Answered Questions'

Jan 2018
United States
Hello Everyone!

There are several things in 'Some Answered Questions' that I've found confusing, especially in light of the agreement of science and religion. Perhaps I'm thinking too literally about certain themes and ideas. I'm curious what you all think about some of these verses and about Adam in general.

The parts I'd like to discuss are in 'Some Christian Subject'.

In the 'The Greatness of Christ', Abdul-Baha writes, "A great man is a great man, whether or not he is born of a human father. If being without a father were a virtue, Adam would excel and surpass all Prophets and Messengers, for He had neither father nor mother." To me this exposition seems to simultaneously deflect our attention from the importance of a literal virgin birth of Christ while flatly stating that Adam had no mother or father. Again this lack of mother and father of Adam is mentioned towards the end of the passage, "...then Adam would surpass everyone, for He had neither father or mother." Perhaps much of my confusion comes from not properly understanding Adam. Of all the prophets he is obviously the most difficult to connect with real historical events, while with Muhammad, and the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh the connection is relatively easy.

Does Adam represent a new development in the physical or spiritual evolution of humankind? The transition to monotheism? Did this individual actually exist? Or is Abdul'Baha actually asserting that Adam was not born from a mother like the rest of us mammals?

I know some scholars have said that the Sabians mentioned in the Quran where followers of Adam's teachings. If the traditional biblical timeline is used, Adam would have existed some 6 thousand years ago (correct me if I'm wrong about this or over simplifying). That is very small percentage of the time that us homosapiens have been around. I know that Baha'is believe that Adam was the first prophet in a cycle and that the grace of God has never been denied us. So how do we come to understand the 200 thousand years before Adam in relationship to divine and spiritual teachings and humanity.

I think this idea of beginnings and endings of cycles is interesting and important, especially since we are living in such a transition. I'm not really sure what specifically I'm asking, but I would be happy to hear your thoughts and ideas about some of these subjects.
Jul 2017
Dear Couch of Heedlessness,

Adam occurs twofold in the Writings. One is the Biblical Figure that is told to be the first human to ever exist, the allegorical beginning of mankind. Therefore, this personage did not exist in a literal sense. Considering the given context of this passage it seems to me that 'Abdu'l-Bahá referred to this allegorical first human being when he compared him to Jesus Christ. Otherwise it would not make any sense because Bahá'u'lláh as well as Shoghi Effendi clearly state that Adam was merely the first Prophet whose name we have knowledge of and neither the first prophet to ever exist nor the first human being.

The Prophet Adam is not the same as the Adam in Paradise. we have no remains of His Teachings or His life accounts left.
Likes: arcane

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