Reality as Revelation

The central premise and self-justification of many religions is that humans are spiritually blind. Once it is established that they are blind, it's only natural to hope for a guide who transcends human blindness.

This strategy is similar to that used by many advertising agencies, who leverage on human insecurities in an effort to sell a product.

Here is a passage from Bahá'í scripture that makes this case for religion:

man is unable to comprehend that which hath streamed forth from the Pen of Glory and is recorded in His heavenly Books. Men at all times and under all conditions stand in need of one to exhort them, guide them and to instruct and teach them.

Lawh-i-Maqsúd (Tablet to Mirzá Maqsúd)

Note that Bahá'u'lláh is also claiming that man not only needs training, but further, man needs to be continually reminded! Not only is man too blind to go it alone, but man is too blind to understand the guide! Whatever is he to do?

In this respect, the Bahá'í Faith has uniquely low regard for human nature, reminiscent of the doctrine of original sin.

Religion is full of contradiction, and the Bahá'í Faith is no exception.

There are passages in the Bahá'í scriptures that claim the humans are capable of reading Nature as though Nature were scripture:

Say: Nature in its essence is the embodiment of My Name, the Maker, the Creator. Its manifestations are diversified by varying causes, and in this diversity there are signs for men of discernment. Nature is God's Will and is its expression in and through the contingent world. It is a dispensation of Providence ordained by the Ordainer, the All-Wise. Were anyone to affirm that it is the Will of God as manifested in the world of being, no one should question this assertion. It is endowed with a power whose reality men of learning fail to grasp. Indeed a man of insight can perceive naught therein save the effulgent splendour of Our Name, the Creator. Say: This is an existence which knoweth no decay, and Nature itself is lost in bewilderment before its revelations, its compelling evidences and its effulgent glory which have encompassed the universe.
Lawh-i-Hikmat (Tablet of Wisdom)

The notion that Nature can be read like scripture is a controversial one, especially among the followers of organized religion, because if Nature alone can reveal the Will of God, what need have we for religion?

As can be expected, Bahá'u'lláh's reference to "natural revelation" in the above passage is not given much weight throughout the mass of Baha'i literature. It is a relic from Iranian mystical traditions, and does not occupy a prominant place in the doctrine of Bahá'u'lláh.

The concept of special revelation, as promoted by the western monotheistic tradition needs human failure to succeed. It waits like a parasite for the more advanced organism to fall. Worms feed on sick tissue; western religion feeds on sick spirit.

The Christian, Moslem, or Baha'i that loses faith faces the dark spectre of doubt. The believer is incessantly tought that the human heart is crippled, in continual need of moral guidance. The greatest blasphemy to Western religion is the suggestion that the human heart is morally perceptive.

Of course a key question in the face of all this self-denunciation is: how can such a blind cripple determine the correct divine guide? How is one to tell divine messenger from false prophet if one cannot tell right from wrong?

Enter miracles!

More Bahá'ís prop up their faith with miracles and prophecies than Bahá'ís would care to admit.

Secondly, divine guidance is so often hard to follow that it seems we end up depending on our own intuitions after all, only with a great deal more conceptual baggage to carry.

How strange that "faith" should be founded on such complexity, uncertainty, and spiritual self-denegration!

The monotheist will of course reply, "look at human behavior; you can't possibly have faith in that", but I have faith only in the soul, the deep potential that shows itself from time to time in atheists, polytheists, monotheists, and agnostics alike.

Religion is merely a circumstance of the saint and the sinner. Faith runs much deeper than doctrine.