Baha'u'llah versus Daniel Quinn! What say ye?

All research or scholarship questions
Dawud
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Baha'u'llah versus Daniel Quinn! What say ye?

Postby Dawud » Tue Oct 12, 2004 7:46 pm

Daniel Quinn is the author of Ishmael, The Story of B, Beyond Civilization, and other books with an ecological theme. He gives his religion as "animism" (after Tyler).

So what do you think of the following points? Am I being fair?

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Quinn: There is no one right way to live, though there are certainly WRONG ways to live. The only "laws" are natural laws, which carry their own obvious punishments; and human ones which some groups of people have adopted to regulate their various societies.

Baha'u'llah: There is a divinely-inspired code of laws which all people ought to obey.

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Quinn: Human beings are not qualitatively different from other animals, except insofar as we face the choice of whether or not to destroy our environment through "totalitarian agriculture." To think otherwise is just hubris on our part.

Baha'u'llah: Humans have souls. Animals don't.

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Quinn: The "agricultural revolution" and "civilization" represent the dangerous and unsustainable practice of uncontrolled population growth, fueled by territorial expansion. Soon no more expansion will be possible, at which point the system of "civilization" can be expected to collapse. The notion of "progress" is merely this culture's propaganda.

Baha'u'llah: God arranges for humans to experience an ever-expanding, ever-progressing civilization which will continue indefinitely.

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Quinn: For millions of years, humans have lived a tribal existence. This is as natural to us as living in hives is to bees. We ought to figure out a way to return to this way of life. (This is not to say that we ought to be hunters and gatherers.) We ought to stop suppressing indigenous peoples, who have continued the tribal way of life, and learn from them for a change.

Baha'u'llah: We ought to live in a one-world political system, with a single government and a single overarching group identity, though allowing for cultural diversity. Indigenous peoples will somehow be incorporated within this new system.

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Quinn: Since "civilized" peoples assume that there is one right way to live, and since we feel that there is something wrong with the world as it is now, our cultures look for prophets and leaders who can "fix" things and lead us back to the one true path.

Baha'u'llah: I am a prophet. Return to the one true path!

Tony

Postby Tony » Wed Oct 13, 2004 1:01 pm

You are wrong to assume that the Baha'i Faith stands in opposition to all Daniel Quinn's ideas. For instance, we certainly should learn from indigenous peoples: Baha'u'llah states that the whole world will be illumined by the influence of the Native Americans.

And I don't believe any Baha'i would accept your bald summaries of Baha'u'llah's Teachings at face value.

Re "civilisation" Baha'u'llah stated: "It is incumbent upon them who are in authority to exercise moderation in all things. Whatsoever passeth beyond the limits of moderation will cease to exert a beneficial influence. Consider for instance such things as liberty, civilisation and the like. However much men of understanding may favourably regard them, they will, if carried to excess, exercise a pernicious influence upon men."

Dawud
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Postby Dawud » Wed Oct 13, 2004 6:56 pm

You are wrong to assume that the Baha'i Faith stands in opposition to all Daniel Quinn's ideas.


Not "all" but probably "most." Certainly "much."

For instance, we certainly should learn from indigenous peoples: Baha'u'llah states that the whole world will be illumined by the influence of the Native Americans.


And yet, Baha'is seem more interested in converting them than in learning from them. I suppose the idea is that once they become Baha'is, then they will be able to influence you through your councils...?

Quinn heaps scorn upon the idea of "programs" solving our problems. Baha'is, I note, have five- seven- and nine-year plans, sort of like the Soviet Union.

And I don't believe any Baha'i would accept your bald summaries of Baha'u'llah's Teachings at face value.


Fair enough. Where do they go wrong?

Most of these descriptions are "bald" because the contrast is so stark. For instance Baha'is are monotheists; Quinn says he does not know how many gods there are.

I wonder, is "moderation" in obedience to the Faith good?

brettz9
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Postby brettz9 » Wed Oct 13, 2004 8:00 pm

Here is one passage I think might be helpful in this discussion:

A challenge of similar nature faces economic thinking as a result of the environmental crisis. The fallacies in theories based on the belief that there is no limit to nature's capacity to fulfill any demand made on it by human beings have now been coldly exposed. A culture which attaches absolute value to expansion, to acquisition, and to the satisfaction of people's wants is being compelled to recognize that such goals are not, by themselves, realistic guides to policy. Inadequate, too, are approaches to economic issues whose decision-making tools cannot deal with the fact that most of the major challenges are global rather than particular in scope.


The earnest hope that this moral crisis can somehow be met by deifying nature itself is an evidence of the spiritual and intellectual desperation that the crisis has engendered. Recognition that creation is an organic whole and that humanity has the responsibility to care for this whole, welcome as it is, does not represent an influence which can by itself establish in the consciousness of people a new system of values. Only a breakthrough in understanding that is scientific and spiritual in the fullest sense of the terms will empower the human race to assume the trusteeship toward which history impels it.


All people will have sooner or later to recover, for example, the capacity for contentment, the welcoming of moral discipline, and the devotion to duty that, until relatively recently, were considered essential aspects of being human. Repeatedly throughout history, the teachings of the Founders of the great religions have been able to instill these qualities of character in the mass of people who responded to them. The qualities themselves are even more vital today, but their expression must now take a form consistent with humanity's coming-of-age. Here again, religion's challenge is to free itself from the obsessions of the past: contentment is not fatalism; morality has nothing in common with the life-denying Puritanism that has so often presumed to speak in its name; and a genuine devotion to duty brings feelings not of self-righteousness but of self-worth.

(Prosperity of Humankind, par. 49-51)

janine

Baha'u'llah versus Daniel Quinn

Postby janine » Sat Oct 16, 2004 7:36 pm

I say that experience should decide.

lets wait for a hundred years and see which fruits are more beneficial for humanity, those which are the result of people following Baha'u'llahs teachings or those which are the result of people following the philosophy of the person you mention.

His way of thinking has been around for ages, and still harmony between people have not been achieved.

By the way, your summary on how Bahais view the unfolding of the Bahai world order is very off the mark. If you read The World Order of Baha'u'llah you may get a better idea of how unity in diversity can be achieved, and where the obedience to the decisions taken by the various levels of administration come in, and what the relationship of moderation and obedience is.

much love,

janine

Pilosofia
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Daniel Quinn?

Postby Pilosofia » Sat Oct 16, 2004 9:21 pm

Daniel Quinn is a very interesting person and gives one much to
think about, but I do not see the connection "Baha'u'llah vs Daniel
Quinn'? These two persons are very different in their contribution
to the peoples of the world. What I like about Daniel Quinn he gives
one a direct focus on events and the relationship of one's role in it.
While Baha'u'llah brings to the world a far greater redemptive remedy
for human kind. However I see the challenge in this discussion,
but really "Baha'u'llah vs. Daniel Quinn?" :wink:

Dawud
Posts: 97
Joined: Mon Jun 14, 2004 11:59 pm

Postby Dawud » Sun Oct 17, 2004 8:52 pm

Brett, thank you for that quote. I wonder what else like that might be buried in the mass of holy texts, unemphasized?

Janine, I like very much your suggestion to wait a hundred years, and see what happens. Interestingly, the Baha'is are well-positioned to still be around, no matter what happens with the environment. Meanwhile Quinn's thought is unlikely to survive, if he is correct!

Pilozofia, I don't imagine giant figures of Baha and Quinn slugging it out during the apocalypse. I do see a clear contrast between them (of course each could be contrasted with many others), which I think is illuminating in what they bring out in each other.


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