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We humans have immense capacities for learning. Just try to imagine all the things you’ve learned in your life, and how they’ve helped you grow from a tiny zygote to a mature adult.
We learn by osmosis, when we watch or help a carpenter build a shed, for example, then we can duplicate their actions and produce a similar shed. We learn by following instructions, usually verbal or visual, such as how to set up Alexa by following prompts. We learn by repeating what we experience and adding complexity. Some of our learning is instinctual, but usually unknown things are learned and taught by comparing things that are known.
We learn through history – a series of events and the causes and outcomes of them on humans – which provides us with an excellent teacher.
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How Belief in God has Altered Human History
History is replete with examples of beliefs in God that altered the lives of millions, and even billions, of people. Regardless of their beliefs, virtually everyone on the planet has participated in this process. Chiefly, we’ve been most influenced by the prophets of God, whose lives were recorded and whose words were memorialized and acted upon, and whose teachings established great civilizations.
Whether we believe in a Creator or not, our lives have been profoundly influenced by the revelations of those prophets and messengers. Today we’re most familiar with Moses, Abraham, Krishna, Buddha, Zoroaster, Christ, Muhammad, and Baha’u’llah, but according to the Baha’i writings, every human civilization and nation has had its own spiritual messengers:
There is none other God but Him. He hath called into being His creatures, that they may know Him, Who is the Compassionate, the All-Merciful. Unto the cities of all nations He hath sent His Messengers, Whom He hath commissioned to announce unto men tidings of the Paradise of His good pleasure, and to draw them nigh unto the Haven of abiding security, the Seat of eternal holiness and transcendent glory.
In most cases, the civil or religious authorities during the time of those messengers reviled, jailed, exiled, tortured, or even put them to death – yet their messages prevailed among the generality of the people. Not only that, their messages inspired their followers to develop new modes of thinking and worship. Out of that new thinking came new forms of government, whether temporal, spiritual, or combined. New civilizations grew as a result.
Today, the lives and words of the prophets still inspire and lead billions of people to believe that there is only one God, with unlimited creative power. We know Him through his divine attributes, or virtues. I asked myself, “Why did the prophets subject themselves to suffering in the name of God when they could have remained silent, or simply gone along with the will of the people of their time?”
In the analogy mentioned previously of the sun, or God, being obscured behind clouds, and the discovery of the Higgs boson confirming a force that exists everywhere, I thought of a quotation of Baha’u’llah’s from his book Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, where he metaphorically compares God to our solar system’s sun:
He — glorified be His mention — resembleth the sun. Were unnumbered mirrors to be placed before it, each would, according to its capacity, reflect the splendor of that sun, and were none to be placed before it, it would still continue to rise and set, and the mirrors alone would be veiled from its light. I, verily, have not fallen short of My duty to admonish that people, and to devise means whereby they may turn towards God, their Lord, and believe in God, their Creator.
We know the sun exists – we have blindingly visible proof every day – but how do we know God exists? We know through his messengers and prophets, the Baha’i teachings say.
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The Ultimate Proof of the Existence of God
Human history records a constant repetition of prophets calling the people to believe in God. These holy messengers sacrificed their families, homelands, belongings, well-being, and their lives, to spread His word. What they did, and what they accomplished, grant us the greatest proof that God exists.
If we choose to examine their lives and teachings for what motivated them to speak the truth of their convictions regardless of outcome, we find they suffered so that we might see that an unknowable, yet all-loving Creator exists. Those messengers destroyed idols, tore down outdated mores of entrenched societies, established new moral and social laws, brought the light of the metaphorical sun into our souls, and inspired hearts and minds with words of wisdom.
Believe thou in God, and keep thine eyes fixed upon the exalted Kingdom; be thou enamored of the Abha Beauty [Baha’u’llah]; stand thou firm in the Covenant; yearn thou to ascend into the Heaven of the Universal Light.
Be thou severed from this world, and reborn through the sweet scents of holiness that blow from the realm of the All-Highest. Be thou a summoner to love, and be thou kind to all the human race. Love thou the children of men and share in their sorrows. Be thou of those who foster peace. Offer thy friendship, be worthy of trust. Be thou a balm to every sore, be thou a medicine for every ill. Bind thou the souls together.
Recite thou the verses of guidance. Be engaged in the worship of thy Lord, and rise up to lead the people aright. Loose thy tongue and teach, and let thy face be bright with the fire of God’s love. Rest thou not for a moment, seek thou to draw no easeful breath. Thus mayest thou become a sign and symbol of God’s love, and a banner of His grace.
We can each affirmatively choose to be “a summoner to love” and be “kind to all the human race.” When we make that spiritual choice, it shows that we truly believe in God, and that we’ve taken the first step toward solving the ills afflicting humanity.