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Evolution is at or near the heart of the matter.
The fact is that intelligence, emotion, consciousness and ethics have evolved. The evolution of intelligence and consciousness are obviously of great importance; but the evolution of morals and ethics is perhaps of even greater significance.
All of these attributes and virtues will continue to evolve to higher levels. It is now within the purview of human beings to direct their own further evolution. This may result in accelerated evolution.
The principle of the oneness of humanity is a central precept for us going forward. One possible road for mankind is to evolve in multiple directions, with some groups becoming more intelligent than others. Some may see this as good, if it promotes competition amongst groups, thus producing selective pressures for each group to out-perform the others.
But the Baha'i principle of the oneness of humanity gives us a cardinal guiding principle; we must evolve together, as one species.
Perhaps Nietzsche saw some things clearly, but his visions were so frightening that he went insane; he could not see the solution. We are headed into a future in which a superman could evolve, and it could be beyond good and evil. But as Baha'is we have guidance, in order to preserve the unity of humanity, and in order to focus our thinking on the evolution of ethics, morals, and spirituality.
Abdul Baha has pointed out to us that the concept or ideal of humanity has existed since before the dawn of time. Thinking, conscious people were pre-destined to evolve.
Our understanding of the most important matters evolves very slowly over time. The Manifestation of Adam was the dawning of a whole new cycle of revelation, the prophetic cycle. In the beginning of this cycle, worship was relatively simple.
Abraham's revelation put an end to the worship of idols, in the most evolved religious group of the time. Gradually, people began to comprehend that God was not representable in stone or wood; and eventually, that He was not representable in human form either.
Jesus raised people's understanding of revelation, pointing to the ultimate spiritual meanings behind revelatory symbols that were previously taken literally. Muhammad rationalized even more of revelation. Gautamma Buddha, coming from within a completely different religious tradition, also pointed to the essential spiritual nature of humanity.
Baha'u'llah brings not only a new revelation, but a new cycle. He pointed out the weakness and futility in the limited literal understandings of Christian and Islamic scripture. As He points out, true religion and revelation is in harmony with reason. This is a guiding principle; if our comprehension of revelation seems to be in contradiction to reason and science, then we must carefully look for deeper meaning, just as Baha'u'llah has directed us to do.
This new cycle is meant to result in the maturity of humanity. In the previous prophetic cycle, people began with quite literal, physical, anthropomorphic conceptions of God; but they gradually were guided by revelation to a deeper understanding. Since this is a not only the beginning of a whole new revelation, but also of a whole new cycle of revelation, how much more spiritual will be our future evolved comprehension of the nature of reality?
If we were meant to continue to conceive of God in anthropomorphic terms, as if He could "inhabit" the physical body of a human being; if we were meant to continue to conceive of God in literary terms, as if He could be described in words, or inhabit a book; then we would not have needed a new revelation at all. The already existing religious groups are quite capable of disputing with each other about these things.
If we are to occupy ourselves with disputes about who's understanding of God is correct, then we have wasted the precious new revelation of which we are recipients.
Now that we are at least attempting to begin to enter into maturity as a species, we must accept that our earlier, literal understandings of religion were simplifications; the sun did not stand still at Jericho; the Red Sea did not literally part; Jesus did not literally rise physically from the dead.
But if we are to turn around and spice up the Baha'i Faith with its own set of astounding but unreasonable stories, then we are back where we started from and have missed a major point of the new revelation. If we are to require that humanity accept our particular supernatural stories as mere replacements for the stories of Muhammad going physically to heaven, and Jesus physically rising from the dead, then we would become just another one of the squabbling religions on earth, each arguing about the truth of its stories and the untruth of all the others.
The only way to unite the earth is to offer the pure revelation of Baha'u'llah, unadorned with supernatural myths, a religious faith in total harmony with reason and science; this is the hope for humanity.
A humanity without religion is doomed. A humanity with a supernatural, immature conception of religion is also doomed to fight amongst itself until virtual extinction. At this point, humanity can never agree on which supernatural stories are true and which are false, because in reality all of them are immature.
We must, and we will, awaken in this day and age, no matter how gradually, and no matter with how many fits and starts, into the beginnings of a mature notion of reality; a paradigm of the evolution of ultimate things; of the importance of nurturing the intelligence that has evolved and that will further evolve; and most importantly, a nurturing and furthering of those human and divine principles that only we can carry forward into the far future.
Only a humanity as a united whole, guided by revelation and reason,
and focused on things of ultimate importance, can possibly evolve to the
next stages of reality.