Is there a God?

Is there a God? Over the years many intellectuals have struggled with this question. Obviously, Baha’is do believe in God. For many Baha’is, this belief is not the result of a ‘leap of faith.’ Many Baha’is consider their belief in God to be grounded in logic, reason, and science. To help them confirm their belief in God, Baha’is are given many reasonable arguments in the Baha’i Holy Writings. In addition, today there are arguments offered from the scientific, psychological, sociological, astrophysical, and medical fields that reinforce the idea of a Divine Intelligence behind creation.

First of all, we should be clear about what God is for Baha’is. Since Baha’is do not take a “literal” interpretation of the Bible, they do not believe that the world was created in seven days and that the earth is only five thousand years old. As Abdu’l-Baha said of the Old Testament stories, “The divine Words are not to be taken according to their outer sense. They are symbolical and contain realities of spiritual meaning.” (Abdu’l-Baha, PUP, p. 458).  The Baha’i conception of God therefore accepts modern science which expands our understanding of the universe. Baha’is also turn to philosophy when it is guided by spiritual values. Indeed, they believe that God works through the sciences and arts to inspire and educate humanity.

Whether the Lord created this universe through a Big Bang or some other event—or whether the universe has always existed—Baha’is believe that God is the ultimate Source of the universe and that there is great intention and purpose behind its creation. And Baha’u’llah wrote, “Having created the world and all that liveth and moveth therein, He, through the direct operation of His unconstrained and sovereign Will, chose to confer upon man the unique distinction and capacity to know Him and to love Him — a capacity that must needs be regarded as the generating impulse and the primary purpose underlying the whole of creation.” (GWB pg. 65).

And then there is the powerful record of Divine Messengers of God throughout history. Religion is the only force known to have such an enduring power to unify, empower, inspire, and to truly remake the world around it. No other force has had such a lasting effect. For example, philosophy is a great intellectual force, but it has not spawned great throngs of followers who have scattered throughout the world and sacrificed ease, comfort, and even their lives for its propagation. Only religion accomplishes such a feat time and again. As Baha’u’llah wrote, “If these souls, who have renounced all else but God for His sake and offered up their life and substance in His path, are to be accounted as false, then by what proof and testimony can the truth of what others assert be established in thy presence?” (SLH, p. 113)

Additionally, in the world of science, many leading thinkers are beginning to conclude that the universe must have an intelligent Creator behind it. Many scientists have asserted that the forces of the universe are all working together for one singular purpose: to create and sustain life. As one popular writer put it, “Even the most minor tinkering with the value of the fundamental forces of physics—gravity, electromagnetism, the nuclear strong force, or the nuclear weak force—would have resulted in an unrecognizable universe: a universe consisting entirely of helium, a universe without protons, or atoms, a universe without stars, or a universe that collapsed back in upon itself before the first moments of its existence were up. Changing the precise ratios of the masses of subatomic particles in relation to one another would have similar effects. Even such basics of life as carbon and water depend upon uncanny ‘fine-tuning’ at the subatomic level, strange coincidences in values for which physicists had no other explanation.” (GE pg. 29) While some disbelieving scientists have come up with elaborate explanations for such coincidences, the simplest answer for Baha’is is that there is a God.

Another proof comes from psychology. In study after study, it has become evident to many doctors in today’s world of therapy and psychoanalysis that people who have some kind of religious basis in their lives tend to be healthier, happier, and mentally stronger individuals. For example, in 1972 a study showed that people who did not attend church were four times more likely to commit suicide than frequent churchgoers (GE pg. 63). Another study “concluded that ‘importance of religion’ was the single best predictor of substance abuse patterns.” (GE pg. 63). More studies have shown that depression, stress, divorce, marital satisfaction, and overall happiness and psychological well-being are higher among religious people. (GE pg. 63) To Baha’is, this shows that humans are hard-wired to prosper when they believe in God. Baha’is believe this is not the result of some random mutation, but rather a preprogrammed affinity to turn to the Creator. In addition, studies also show that no particular religion is more effective than any other, this confirms the Baha’i conception that the same God has sent all the main religions of the world. (GE) As Abdu’l-Baha once said, “In reality, the foundations of the divine religions are one and the same. The differences which have arisen between us are due to blind imitations of dogmatic beliefs and adherence to ancestral forms of worship.” (Abdu’l-Baha, PUP, p. 403)

Another argument is based on the many documented recountings of “life after death” experiences. It seems that different people from every age group, ethnic background, and corner of the globe recount these life-after-death experiences. The remarkable similarities between such experiences are difficult to explain if one does not believe in God or the afterlife. Some have come up with explanations such as hallucination, anoxia (oxygen starvation of the brain), endorphins, hypercarbia (elevated levels of carbon dioxide), temporal lobe involvement, and even repressed memories of the birth canal. The problem with all of these explanations is that people can experience anoxia, hypercarbia, endorphin overdose, and the other afflictions and have very different experiences. For example, people who have anoxia or heightened levels of endorphins do not all come back to reality reporting nearly the same story of seeing a bright light at the end of the tunnel, being greeted by a Being of light that seems to know them better than they know themselves, interacting with deceased relatives and friends, and much more. For Baha’is, these near-death-experiences are confirming reminders that this life is fleeting and temporal, whereas an everlasting existence full of love, wonder, and development awaits.

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