Mark of the Beast and Implanted Computer Chips
by / on behalf of Universal House of Justice1998-08-12
To: The Universal House of Justice
Date: 12 August 1998
From: The Research Department
Implantation of Computer Chip and Mark of the Beast
The Research Department has studied the questions on the above-mentioned subjects raised by Mr. … in his letter of 16 June 1998 to the Universal House of Justice. Mr. … refers to media reports which claim that each human being will one day be “identified by the use of a computer chip inserted under the skin”. According to Mr. …, “the proposed chip will be inserted into the hand or wrist of each individual”, and all information pertinent to the individual will be stored on the chip, thereby facilitating such things as financial transactions and the retrieval of medical records. Mr. … states that “many people are drawing parallels between this development and ‘the mark of the Beast’” referred to in the following verses from the Book of Revelation, chapter 13:
16. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads;
He poses a number of questions about the Bahá’í understanding of the Biblical verses quoted above, the relationship between the computer chip and the “mark of the beast”, and what a believer should do if “governments or other authorities require citizens to be implanted with a computer chip”. We provide the following response.
Computer Chip and the “Mark of the Beast”
Mr. ... enquires whether the Universal House of Justice agrees that “the proposal for such a chip equates to the ‘mark of the Beast’” and asks, “If it does not agree, what is the Bahá’í understanding of the verses of Revelation quoted above?”
By way of introduction, we wish to note that the Research Department has been unable to locate any reference in the Bahá’í Teachings to the possible implantation of computer chips for the purposes described by Mr. .... Further, we have found no authoritative interpretation in the Sacred Writings or in the letters of the Guardian to explain the meaning of the “mark” in Revelation 13:16–17. And as the Guardian indicates in a 31 January 1955 letter written on his behalf to an individual believer:
1 The Scofield Reference Bible (New York: Oxford University Press, 1945).
Except for what has been explained by Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, we have no way of knowing what various symbolic allusions in the Bible mean.
While we have found no explanation of the meaning of the “mark of the beast” in the Bahá’í Writings, in one of His Tablets, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá does offer an interpretation of the numerical value of the beast which figures in Revelation 13:18, cited above. The Universal House of Justice in a letter dated 1 August 1978 written on its behalf to an individual believer, provided the following information about the Master’s interpretation:
‘Abdu’l-Bahá in a Tablet has given an explanation for the reference to the “beast” mentioned in Revelations 13:18, saying that the numerical value given to the beast in that passage referred to the date of the year, i.e. 666 A.D., when the Umayyad ruler arose. This is obviously a reference to Mu‘áwíyih, the Umayyad Caliph who opposed the Imamate. He speaks further on this subject in Some Answered Questions, Chapter XI.
For Mr. ...’s information, Mu‘áwíyih Ibn Abí Sufyán was born in Mecca in 602 A.D. and died in Damascus in 680. He assumed the Caliphate in 661 following the assassination of ‘Alí, the Fourth Caliph, thereby establishing the Umayyad dynasty, which ruled for 92 years. His reign was marked by prolonged and virulent opposition to the clan of Baní Háshim, to which ‘Alí’s household belonged. To date, the Research Department has not been able to determine the nature of the activities in which Mu‘áwíyih engaged during the year 666.
Mr. ... may be interested to know that two other references to the “beast” in Revelations were found in Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá; however, neither the exact chapter nor verse to which the Master’s interpretations referred was specified. In one of these Tablets, the “beast” is interpreted as the “murderous, impudent, famous Roman Emperor, and the like”; in the second as “the one who made his utmost efforts to obliterate the Cause of God, and that was the Persian king; a king from among the ancient kings”.2 The Research Department could not locate any authoritative reference as to the identity of the persons referred to by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in these Tablets.
Response of Individual Bahá’ís to Governmental Order
With regard to how individual Bahá’ís should respond if “governments or other authorities require citizens to be implanted with a computer chip”, it is suggested that, should such a situation come to pass, it would be appropriate for Mr. ... to turn, in the first instance, to his National Spiritual Assembly for guidance. At that time, the National Assembly would doubtless have on hand detailed information about the legal, political, and medical implications of such a ruling, and would thus be able to guide the … believers.
2 N Provisional translations.