The American Spirit

Boing Boing guestblogger Mitch Horowitz is author of Occult America: The Secret History of How Mysticism Shaped Our Nation and editor-in-chief of Tarcher/Penguin publishers.

Gandhiiii Parade magazine publishes a new poll tomorrow - with a piece on CBS Sunday Morning that I'm part of - which reveals the fluid and expanding meaning of spirituality in America. Fifty-nine percent Americans polled agree that "all religions have validity" and only twelve percent agree that "mine is the only true religion." To an extent, this reflects an attitude introduced into America by Enlightenment philosophy, Freemasonry, Transcendentalism, and, most recently, Theosophy in the late 19th century. Theosophy emphasized the principle that all religions emerge from a universal source. Likewise, the survey reflects the inroads of what might be considered occult or New Age outlooks in America: Seven percent of Americans believe in reincarnation (a concept that few Americans had heard of a generation ago); seventeen percent report having contact with the dead; forty-nine percent read horoscopes "for fun," whereas twelve percent are believers. The poll reveals many other wrinkles, which readers will find cause for cheer or depression, depending upon their outlook. But consider: Gandhi, whose 140th birthday fell yesterday, was making what was considered a radical statement when he declared that "all religions are true" (to which he also added, "all have some error in them"). Today, a majority of Americans agree.

CBS Sunday Morning runs its piece tomorrow at 9 a.m. EST in which I will discuss "the history of the occult in the United States."

What We Believe (CBS Sunday Morning)

Spirituality Poll results (Parade magazine)

85

  1. … Thank you for this. You’ve put the salt of optimism on my venison of realism, warding off the germs of pessimism. Ok, I really just want jerky.

  2. What is a “national online panel”? Is that a euphemism for an online poll?

    It’s interesting to note that, while the poll starts out with a “Are you religious?” angle, it quickly moves to assuming that everyone taking the poll is; several questions don’t even have an option for atheists, and at least one (7) only has positive options for religion.

  3. American Enlightenment attitudes like tolerance and pragmatism would have far more to do with the poll you cite than Madame Blavatsky. And what about the 1960s and America’s growing cultural trend toward “It’s all cool, man”: we don’t really have a cultural center in ways that we were once assumed to, and certainly this opening-up of standards of what’s permissible has more to do with tolerance toward other religions than Theosophy (which I daresay few Americans know about)? I mean, really.

  4. Um, its a nice picture of Ghandi, but why is he there? He wasn’t an American, didn’t preach here, and was as far as I know, a fairly conventional Hindu (which yes, is usually fairly tolerant of other faiths).

    Perhaps the photo is left over from yesterday, the 140th anniversary of his birth.

  5. Only 7% believe in reincarnation? But it’s one of the most rational beliefs. I would think the number would be somewhat higher than that.

  6. Mind you, this is coming from an atheist, but I don’t think that going from “My superstitious bullcrap is true” to “All superstitious bullcrap is true” is exactly rational progress.

  7. “the survey reflects the inroads of what might be considered occult or New Age outlooks in America: Seven percent of Americans believe in reincarnation (a concept that few Americans had heard of a generation ago)”

    Oh, I don’t think so. A generation ago was the 1970s, a major outbreak of mysticism even if the term ‘new age’ hadn’t become popular yet.

    “seventeen percent report having contact with the dead”

    Likewise, this is nothing new. There were massive “spiritualism” crazes a century or more ago where people flocked to mediums who would channel the voices of their dead relatives.

  8. @11 – depends on what you mean by “true”. A refresher course in epistemology might be in order, if you think that absolute truth is definitively retrievable within our lifetimes via empirical means (or any means, for that matter). Provisional truth, on the other hand, may be retrieved through introspection – when one realizes that is the nature of religious truth, not final, but provisional; that any religion is only “true” when all religions are, and that this truth is a record of the human experience, and not the outside world – truth of the human experience that is effective only insofar as it binds people together through shared experience and commonality, and fails when it oppresses them through exclusion or violence. This, I think, is what Ghandi and the theosophists were getting at – and the bridge from Madame Blavatsky to the hippies in the 1960s (what was Timothy Leary reading, after all?)

  9. only twelve percent agree that “mine is the only true religion”

    The loudest and most obnoxious 12%, BTW.

  10. @WA: I used to work in survey design. If someone answers “I don’t believe in any religion” or some such, the askers then skip the questions that don’t apply to those people. For example, people who answered #11 with “I never pray” were almost certainly not asked “What do you typically pray for?”

    In other words, the percentages reflect the percentages of people who were asked the question, not the percentages of all survey respondents.

    (Note: I don’t know how this particular survey was set up, but that’s how a responsible survey researcher would do it.)

  11. I had the pleasure to experience the presence of a middle aged suburban woman who would channel the voice of a well-known, though deceased, spiritual teacher from India. After several moments of focused meditation, the woman would begin speaking, offering extremely wise and prescient counsel to the group as a whole and then to individuals. A sort of group therapy, you could say. Anyway, I’m not too hung up on the mechanics of the operation. I would say that she was somehow able to get in touch with a very deep aspect of her self and was skilled in communicating from that place. Some of the audience was a tad too sycophantic for my taste, but the spiritual guidance was really spot on.

  12. I’d like to see exactly how the questions were phrased.

    “Validity” is a pretty broad, inexact word.

    Almost all faiths are mutually incompatible if you are approaching it in anything other than a dabbling, pick-and-choose, non-committal way. I’d be willing to bet more than 12% of Americans would tell you the Bible is the absolute, literal, inerrant word of God, which means they aren’t familiar with its demands.

    Whaddayathink the percentage of Americans is that can’t correctly define the word “validity”? I bet that’s over 12% as well.

  13. I notice the online poll results are far far different. A majority practice no religion at all.

    Must be the Boing Boing effect.

    Or maybe people smart enough to use the internets have at least half a brain between their ears.

  14. I still like the way Swami Vivekananda put it. He said he believed that, just as the rivers of the earth, in their many and varied paths, all pour into the ocean, so too do man’s many religious faiths all point to the same source. I think that’s a fine analogy for it.

  15. In the hooverville of my childhood there were probably 4 or 5 Ouija boards going most nights as people talked to the dead. My agnostic parents participated occasionally but were more amused than believing. There were, however, some interesting coincidences and a few head-scratching puzzlers.

    I thought it was spooky and didn’t like it.

  16. Fifty-nine percent Americans polled agree that “all religions have validity”

    Wait, wait. . . 59% of Americans say that Scientology has validity? That explains a whole lot about what is wrong with the USA. . .

  17. so too do man’s many religious faiths all point to the same source.

    yes, a very vivid imagination….

  18. @Cicada

    Absolutely agreed. Claiming “all religions have validity” is logically nonsensical because different religions present incompatible hypotheses. For example, the Judeo-Christian Bible presents one creation myth, and the Koran presents a different (but related) myth. Logically, the possibilities are that 1)The Bible is right 2) The Koran is right or 3) Neither is right. I vote for 3, myself, but “they are both right” just isn’t possible; it’s just an empty feel-good statement.

  19. @22

    D’aww, look at how much work you put into being sarcastic! You must still be in your rebellious pupa stage. There is another Vivekananda quote for people like you.

    “The first sign of your becoming religious is that you are becoming cheerful.”

    :D

  20. The statement “all religions have validity” doesn’t mean that they agree or are correct in all, or even major, particulars. Mr. Horowitz’ Gandhi quote indeed sums up the idea.

    Someone could believe that both Christianity and Islam “have validity” simply because they both espouse a “personal God”, i.e., one that takes an interest in the actions of individual humans. Whether either, both, or neither of those religions are correct about what that interest is would not, in that case, mean that either “lacked validity”. “They’re both right” isn’t necessarily an “empty, feel-good statement” unless you believe that religion is inherently an “empty, feel-good statement”. You’re welcome to believe that personally, but it provides little insight to the views of the mainstream.

    And while rather few Americans probably have any idea who Blavatsky was, people influential in the spiritual movements of the 20th century certainly did. That makes Theosophy influential in spite of not being a household word.

  21. @Umbrial
    Religions are just like any other hypothesis; you can’t just pick and choose what you like in order to say “all religions have validity”. The fact is that both Christianity and Islam are much more specific than asserting a “personal god”. You can create a new religion like Baha’i that tries to merge them, but then you’ve just added another selection to the list of religions, not solved the inconsistency.

    This isn’t about whether religion is valuable or not (although I’m in the *not* camp). It’s about not being inconsistent and hypocritical. It seems the “mainstream” as you put it are suffering from doublethink. For example, they supposedly believe in an all-powerful being that can cure them, and yet when they get sick, they go to hospitals. Logically, they should just stay at home and pray to get well, like some Fundamentalists do. At least those people are being honest.

  22. @Jonathan Badger

    Religions are just like any other hypothesis; you can’t just pick and choose what you like in order to say “all religions have validity”.

    As much as I agree with the logic of your statement, I believe you are making assumptions not in evidence about the process used by those reaching the “all religions have validity” conclusion.

  23. “He said he believed that, just as the rivers of the earth, in their many and varied paths, all pour into the ocean, so too do man’s many religious faiths all point to the same source.”

    From that I take:

    Remember to always keep yourself upwind of that particular body of water, and never go swimming.

  24. Once one realizes they all have equal validity and one of them is Mormonism, then one quickly realizes that they should stop trying to think about their religion.

    Any philosophy that relies on anthropomorphizing the universe is inherently flawed and will lead you to some bad decisions. It makes about as much sense as talking to your car when it won’t start, only it can start wars.

  25. re #12: “this truth is a record of the human experience, and not the outside world”

    Sorry to say it, but every faith makes definite claims about the world, and it is empty rhetoric to pretend that those claims are not made, or that they are somehow compatible. Claims about creation, genealogy, the annihilation of cities, punishments meted out to the souls of the dead etc, are the staples of religious literature (try telling a rabbi that “exodus” has no historical truth!).
    By making out it all has an “internal truth”, you’re simply a way of saying that they are all capable of evoking a deep reaction in the audience (although “sermon” is generally a byword for “boring speech”).
    That puts religion on a level with all the other fiction out there, much of which is far more moving than any religion. Its all just showbiz, kid.

  26. @danlalan

    “As much as I agree with the logic of your statement, I believe you are making assumptions not in evidence about the process used by those reaching the “all religions have validity” conclusion.”

    Religion is a separate question than god. Religions are a based on some claim of knowing God’s will. They contradict each other more often than they contradict themselves. So if there were to be a God, certainly not all of them can be in touch with how he would like us to live.

    To “picking and Choosing” I find it to be the most perplexing habit of the somewhat religios. I have always thought that central to religion is a belief that religion isn’t made up. I don’t know how that can be if you make up your religion yourself.

  27. hmm. validity in this context is like saying ac and ad have validity wrt zf, because they can be useful/relevant/meaningful, even tho it’s known zf + ac + ad is inconsistent.

  28. @redshirt77

    It makes about as much sense as talking to your car when it won’t start, only it can start wars.

    Are you trying to say talking to my car doesn’t help? Ridiculous. My car is a jealous car, and needs to be verbally praised. It says so in the owners manual.

  29. I think picking a religion is like visiting the restaurants section of town. First there are the big national chains, then beyond that the local favorites, then off the main street are the little specialty places. Most people stop at the big chains and never try the small cafes.

    It’s worth trying them all just to get a taste, but I think you’re better off making it out to the fields and cooking up your own. And even then, less is more.

  30. who am “I”? when I’m not thinking mySELF into existence? lol
    “The Truth doesn’t answer anything. The Truth is Everything.”

    “Love moves without an agenda.”

    “What is ultimately behind the set of eyes reading these words?”

    “Please wake up to the essence of what you are, through the natural and spontaneous opening of mind,heart, and body that holds the secret to happiness and liberation.”

    Namaste

  31. @RedShirt77
    I always find it amusing when people make blanket statements about religions. There’s basicly no single statement that applies all religions – except maybe “this is a reglion” and i can guarantee you there will be debates over that.

    Case in point – in Budhism, gods are utterly irelevent.

  32. @Daemon

    “I always find it amusing when people make blanket statements about religions. There’s basicly no single statement that applies all religions”

    Interesting insertion into a discussion about a blanket statement made by Ghandi.”all religions have validity”

    How about this statement? “Mass magical thinking.”

  33. To me, religions are like distracting and colorful candy sprinkles on the Giant Donut of Truth. People could rake the sprinkles off, and still have perfectly delicious Truth. But man, people do love those colorful sprinkles.

  34. @TOMWOOD:

    You don’t have to “eat” at any of the “restaurants”, you know.

    You’re not going to starve to death. Forgoing “food” altogether might make you healthier in the end.

  35. @ jtegnell Yes, But many people go to restaurants not for the food, but for the atmosphere. Yes, I could cook at home, But I LIKE dining with friends. Some times it’s not about the food/grub/slop, it’s about the friends.

  36. Hmm. Sad that people have to pretend to believe in Iron Age superstitions in order to have a social life.

  37. @7 : While Gandhi was a practicing Hindu, he was an avid theologist and read extensively about other religions.

    Quote 1 : Gandhi : Later in his life when he was asked whether he was a Hindu, he replied:
    “Yes I am. I am also a Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist and a Jew.”
    Quote 2 :
    “As soon as we lose the moral basis, we cease to be religious. There is no such thing as religion over-riding morality. Man, for instance, cannot be untruthful, cruel or incontinent and claim to have God on his side.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohandas_Karamchand_Gandhi#Faith

  38. I am consistently shocked at bb readers reaction to posts about religion. This blogs readership is intelligent, thoughtful and progressive, and yet when faith is mentioned in almost any context it is almost immediately ridiculed. Why not apply the same critical thinking and dialogue used for other topics, rather than this clearly fear-based knee jerk response? The error is one of assumption. There may have been a time when to call yourself a “Christian”, for example, meant generally the same thing for anyone who self identified as such. That time is past, if it ever was. When someone talks about their “faith” or “religion” and you ASSUME they MUST believe LITERALLY in some superstitious nonsense, it’s like my grandmother assuming all Muslims MUST be anti-American. It is contempt prior to investigation, and not a common practice at bb.

  39. @48, I read that with my blurry morning eyes as “Tron Age superstitions.” But that’s around the same thing, when you think of it. ;-)

    Gettin’ more ponderful, I find the word “superstition” a rather useless term. Really, all a superstition is, is something someone else believes that clashes with your what you believe.

    Rather than simply discounting someone else’s weird and obviously wrong-headed beliefs, I find it much more useful to investigate =why= someone would believe that, and how it might help them live, love, thrive and survive.

    @32, “That puts religion on a level with all the other fiction out there, much of which is far more moving than any religion. Its all just showbiz, kid.”

    But of course! Religion =is= fiction & showbiz, and they both serve the same functions – at one level to entertain, at another to make money for the teller(s) of the tale, at another level to give us common culture, and at another level to make us stop and wonder or laugh out loud at what it really means to live in this world.

    Some people do have the weird and obviously wrong-headed belief that if the details of one story contradict another, then one of them must be “false.” That belief must serve them somehow, I suppose, though I think that’s a belief of very limited benefit, with a lot of potential for harmful side-effects when dealing with others.

  40. Some people do have the weird and obviously wrong-headed belief that if the details of one story contradict another, then one of them must be “false.” That belief must serve them somehow, I suppose, though I think that’s a belief of very limited benefit, with a lot of potential for harmful side-effects when dealing with others.

    Funny how in every issue *except* religion this “belief” (if critical thinking can be considered a “belief”) is in no way “weird” or “wrong-headed”. In most fields, such as science, law, medicine, and history, the use of critical thinking to separate real evidence from falsehood and unsupported assertion is considered essential.

  41. I’ve noticed that too, #49. Religion is one topic on boingboing where people are very prejudiced. You can guarantee that any post that is related to religion will receive a huge response in the comments, most of which are the same contemptuous phrases that I see in every other like thread.

    It’s just a subject where people see red here.

  42. I don’t understand spirituality. I understand connecting with people, with humanity, and sharing common human experience. I understand empathy and compassion. I understand connecting to our past, our shared cultural and biological inheritance. I don’t understand where belief in God or reincarnation or any other religious system comes into it.

  43. @Alowishus
    Yes, exactly. The truly wonderful thing about both history and science is that they are actually *more* uplifting than any religious myth. It’s one thing to say that one ought to be nice to other people and animals because some dusty book tells you that, and quite another to realize that “all life on Earth is part of one family” isn’t a mystical concept but one that is literally true…

  44. As an Atheist, part of me really wishes we had someone like the Emperor from the Warhammer 40k universe to just take care of the whole religion problem…

    But that isn’t exactly PC so I’ll just keep that in my head.

  45. You can guarantee that any post that is related to religion will receive a huge response in the comments…

    I won’t be me (sometimes I might lurk). I left that behind in the dorm and the barracks.

  46. @daverunsfromfire

    “This blogs readership is intelligent, thoughtful and progressive, and yet when faith is mentioned in almost any context it is almost immediately ridiculed.”

    Intelligent, thoughtful and progressive people that ridicule beliefs without factual basis and resist any application of reason, and whose believers fight tooth and nail against science(evolution, global warming, Big bang,etc). Wow, this really must be a blind spot for us.

    “The error is one of assumption. There may have been a time when to call yourself a “Christian”, for example, meant generally the same thing for anyone who self identified as such. That time is past, if it ever was.”

    I don’t remember making these assumptions. I think religious folks can often be placed into two man groups. Those that believe in silly things (eve ate an apple from a snake). and those that think silly things are a metaphor. The problem with the latter half is they don’t seem to think about what the metaphor means or if their god really is just a metaphor for natural law, then does it do any good for all the bad it does through the people that actually believe the silly stories are true.

    If you want a pleasant warm feeling and deep inner meaning, have a beer and discuss philosophy with your friends like Intelligent, thoughtful and progressive people do.

  47. #59

    “Intelligent, thoughtful and progressive people that ridicule beliefs without factual basis and resist any application of reason, and whose believers fight tooth and nail against science(evolution, global warming, Big bang,etc). Wow, this really must be a blind spot for us.”

    This is the kind of prejudice I was talking about. An unfair assumption that all believers are radical opponents of reason.

    It’s funny that you mention the Big Bang. The theory was proposed by a priest and hailed by the pope, and caused controversy among scientists because it was seen to have brought an idea of creation into the universe.

  48. Well Sure Mahatma Gandhi said “All religions are true” but its quite the opposite. Many religions are exclusive in their beliefs, their views, the ways of attaining Immortality/nirvana etc….
    So it cant be that all religions are true…They all contradict one another…But Mahatma Gandhi had a great influence in shaping My country to what it is now, so i am grateful! I hope India will continue to prosper and become a great nation.

  49. Not all of the readers of boingboing are so entranced by their own powers of reason that they would ridicule matters of faith. Things of the spirit can only be spiritually discerned, a real and vital process that is mocked as foolishness by those who have closed their minds to it. Through personal revelation we can learn that there is indeed a God in heaven, who is our eternal father. He will reveal Himself to the humble seeker.

  50. re:redshirt
    “I think religious folks can often be placed into two man groups.”

    These are the kind of assumptions to which I refer. This thread is full of them.

    “Intelligent, thoughtful and progressive people that ridicule beliefs without factual basis and resist any application of reason, and whose believers fight tooth and nail against science(evolution, global warming, Big bang,etc). Wow, this really must be a blind spot for us.”

    I’m not sure what you are saying here, but it seems to hinge on your assumption that all religious people shun science, which is absurd.

    Read some Herbert Spencer, he’d be right up your alley. He also said this:

    “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which can not fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance-that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”

  51. @lawman @daverunsfromfire

    “This is the kind of prejudice I was talking about. An unfair assumption that all believers are radical opponents of reason.”

    “These are the kind of assumptions to which I refer. This thread is full of them.”

    “I’m not sure what you are saying here, but it seems to hinge on your assumption that all religious people shun science, which is absurd.”

    Hey there, nowhere in my comments do I try to say all religious people oppose science. Sorry if I didn’t specify “some” or “many” but i also didn’t care to try to use a word that would imply some percentage. Religious people are quite capable of applying reason in areas not closely related to their faith. My argument was indeed that those people that moderate their religious views, are in part at fault for supporting the radicals within their own belief systems and the fail to really say why the Bible or other Iron age stories are really the best metaphors for us to base our philosophy.

    But more to the heart of the original discussion, can all religions have validity? Yes, but in order for that to be true, all religions must be wrong about most things. And if they can be wrong about most things….

  52. @13:
    >only twelve percent agree that “mine is the only true religion”

    >The loudest and most obnoxious 12%, BTW.

    For what it’s worth, a certain class of adolescent atheists are vying for second place.

  53. @62: The problem is that “spiritual discernment” is entirely, 100% unreliable, as demonstrated by the fact that different people discern entirely different, contradictory things using spiritual discernment. Thus, most of the intelligent, thoughtful posters on this blog wisely reject it.

    “This blogs readership is intelligent, thoughtful and progressive, and yet when faith is mentioned in almost any context it is almost immediately ridiculed.”
    I think that “yet” should be “so”. After all, is it surprising that intelligent people ridicule the principle of not applying intelligence? Is it surprising that thoughtful people ridicule the abdication of thought?

    Note that I differentiate here between faith and religion. Faith is the doctrine of human infallibility in any realm, religious or otherwise – the idea that because I feel something to be true, it must be so.

  54. “I don’t understand spirituality. I understand connecting with people, with humanity, and sharing common human experience. I understand empathy and compassion. I understand connecting to our past, our shared cultural and biological inheritance.”

    Hey, look there’s spirituality right there…

    “I don’t understand where belief in God or reincarnation or any other religious system comes into it.”

    Hey, look, there is isn’t.

  55. @nemo

    “Hey, look there’s spirituality right there…”

    I must have missed it. the word spirituality contains the word spirit. As in spirits. It at the very least implies some link to the supernatural or other-worldly. Many folks feel empathy, compassion, and deep connection to our world without need to believe in some suspension of natural law that true magic would require.

    Perhaps you don’t either, but then I think you don’t really need that word to describe your philosophical realizations.

  56. >The loudest and most obnoxious 12%, BTW.

    “For what it’s worth, a certain class of adolescent atheists are vying for second place.”

    After tens of thousand of years of telling people how to live their lives,judging every part of human behavior, perpetuating clannish feuds, and condemning people to eternal suffering at the hands of their supernatural overlords, religious people encounter a population that thinks and says very clearly that they are wrong. Their reaction? “How obnoxious and childish!”

  57. @redshirt77

    Their reaction? “How obnoxious and childish!”

    If you can’t counter the other guys arguments, attack their credibility…

  58. To our religious commenters:

    Why should atheists have an open mind to your religiosity when you do not have an open mind to our atheism?

    Re: Not reading the bible literally.

    Why the hell do you even need all the silly parables and tall tales and rituals outlined in many religions to teach people to be nice and respectful to each other and the earth? They just confuse things.

    It’s much easier and waaaay less messy to say: Be nice to people and they’ll be nice to you and everybody will be happy. Not to sound too much like Mr. Spock, but it’s just logical.

    All those texts and rites and edicts and rules do nothing but confine the mind, oppress creativity, and induce shame.

    Thus we, the atheists of Boing Boing, outright reject religious thought and spirituality.

  59. Jonathan Badger,

    >>The fact is that both Christianity and Islam are much more specific than asserting a “personal god”. You can create a new religion like Baha’i that tries to merge them, but then you’ve just added another selection to the list of religions, not solved the inconsistency.

  60. In other words, I have no idea. There was no secret html message when I investigated.

  61. I am not an atheist. I am a member of DarwinsChurch.com My family tree is global but probably not universal, not entirely tolerant, but we are still very young :~}

  62. @Redshirt77: “I must have missed it. the word spirituality contains the word spirit. As in spirits. It at the very least implies some link to the supernatural or other-worldly.”

    “Smells Like Teen Spirit” wasn’t exactly about malodorous adolescent ghosts.

  63. @robert

    I didn’t think that was a song about teen spirituality.

    There is a secular definition for spirituality, but I generally find its use to be about creating some sort of non religious philosophical mysticism. Obviously that is my personal impression of the words use and other people may feel differently. My point to Nemo is that redefining a religious word for truly non-religious reasons, just causes confusion.

  64. “Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before. He is full of murderous resentment of people who are ignorant without having come by their ignorance the hard way.”

  65. Seven percent of Americans believe in reincarnation (a concept that few Americans had heard of a generation ago)

    I don’t buy that for a second. It was a key plot point in the “The Mummy” back in 1932, and that was a blockbuster that’s been spawning remakes and sequels ever since.

  66. Any post that features a poll of readers of Parade Magazine should be tagged Fortean and Discordian.

    “Everything is true. Nothing is permitted.”

  67. “Any post that features a poll of readers of Parade Magazine…”

    i know, right. A magazine wrapped in a newspaper. Why don’t they just stick both of those inside a phone book, inside a sears catalog and have folks participate in the poll via telegraph.

  68. “You can create a new religion like Baha’i that tries to merge them, but then you’ve just added another selection to the list of religions, not solved the inconsistency.”

    Excuse me, Johnathan Badger, but you clearly do not know much about the Baha’i Faith. You shouldn’t make such logically fallacious statements.

    I’m a Baha’i, so I can speak with more knowledge on it. The Baha’i Faith does not “merge” religions. That is a classic misconception.

    The Baha’i Faith believes that CERTAIN MESSENGERS are true, and brought the same Message from the same God, all with distinctions for the time and place. Many Messages of which, have been DISTORTED over time (though not always), and then they were interpreted incorrectly, dogmas formed, diverging the followers many many sects, etc etc.

    To the same effect that say Islam honors Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and others, yet do not “merge” “Judaism” and “Christianity” – and rather believe those Messages and followings have deviated from their Source, and uphold their OWN Messenger, and their OWN Revelation as “the latest and greatest” and primary for the world for this day, the SAME is true for Baha’i’s.

    Baha’i’s however go farther than that in honoring 3 more Messengers not generally considered “Abrahamic” so to speak – these are, Zoroaster, Buddha, and Krishna. The latter two, many would argue are not considered even by their own followers as “Messengers” per se. But that is irrelevent, since Baha’i’s believe the followers have deviated from the given path by those Messengers teachings and misinterpreted their stations anyway.

    Baha’i’s believe that their own Messenger Baha’u’llah is the Messenger for mankind for this day. Baha’i’s also do not believe He will be the last.

    for more information please go to http://www.bahai.org

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