The Bahá'í Faith:
A Shift of Paradigm

By Ghasem Bayat

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #95
Bosch Bahá'í School: Santa Cruz, California, USA
May 19–23, 2010
(see list of papers from #95)

    Since the mid 19th-Century and the emergence of the age of science and technology, every aspect of human life on earth has been revolutionized and great progress has been achieved in all areas of human endeavor: travel and transportation, communication, manufacturing, agriculture and food production, healthcare and medicine, the building of major cities and roads, all on scales never before dreamed. These achievements in turn resulted in large population growth and the growth of cities and towns, the coming together of peoples with diverse cultures and beliefs and languages, and hence the globalization and the emergence of a global village. Religions that until then had served various scattered groups of humanity across the globe, and had accumulated harmful creeds, superstitions and prejudices, now in combination with corrupt and narrow-minded partisan politics became a major cause of resistance to change and played large parts in many regional and global wars.

    The Bahá'í Faith that ushered in this age, itself, was at first taken to be another traditional religion with provincial interests and issues of the land of its birth, but soon recognized by its believers to go beyond all they had bargained for. This Faith, step by step, broke the yoke of the believers' traditional thinking and their expectations, and systematically revolutionized all things religious and otherwise. Only a serious break from the traditional religious thinking of the past, a world perspective and an all-inclusive belief system could promote the unification of the human race, and this was exactly what this new Faith and its vast volume of Scriptures injected into the consciousness of mankind. It introduced new concepts in faith and religion, placed a deeper purpose for life and proposed a radically different set of values for family life and human rights, offered new guidance for education and governance, envisioned new roles for arts and sciences and particularly social sciences, and gave fresh outlook to philosophy and metaphysics, etc.

    In the words of The Revelation of John 21:5, "All things are made new".     This presentation will show that the Bahá'í Faith does not fit the traditional description of a religion and that it has brought about a shift in the religious paradigm.

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