Nice try

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Posted by Dawu on March 03, 2000 at 22:37:46:

In Reply to: Re: Is this an academic site or not? posted by saul levine on March 02, 2000 at 22:00:42:

If by "unsubstantiated claims" you mean Cole's observation that Baha'i translations seem to be compiled with an eye to concerns other than mere fidelity to the text, well, I'm not an Arabist or a Persianist but that's my impression too. How else can one explain "Selections from the Writings of the Bab", for example? One would imagine that the Baha'is would want whole texts in their contexts for such an important figure.

In a better world, a "Baha'i" site could follow the lead of other religions (Judaism, Catholicism) and open up its academic work to the outside world. Catholic scholars have the freedom to publish, often in Catholic journals, articles on biblical or church history which challenge even very basic teachings, on the assumption that academic work ought to be respected regardless. Buddhists have achieved a very high level of self-criticism. Why are the Baha'is more like the Scientologists than the normal religions in this respect? This doesn't have anything to do with relativism (a fuzzy term anyway), just a healthy skepticism and humility which would allow Baha'is to concede the *possibility* that their critics might be right. Particularly when a critic comes with impressive academic credentials, the assumption ought to be that it would be worthwhile to at least consider his/her views.

It's a poor form of tolerance which bans serious criticism of the party line as "inappropriate." But then this is why I'm not a Baha'i.

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