And God Created . . . the 'Net?
Here's an interesting pair of quotes for you:
Consider...the positive capacities of the Internet to carry religious information and teaching beyond all barriers and frontiers.
(Pope John Paul II, January 2001)
A mechanism of world inter-communication will be devised, embracing the whole planet, freed from national hindrances and restrictions, and functioning with marvellous swiftness and perfect regularity.
(Shoghi Effendi, March 1936)
The Pope and other religious leaders have recognized, to one degree or another, that the power of the Internet can be harnessed for promoting their religious messages. Bahá'ís, too, recognize this. The Bahá'í presence on the Internet began early and has rapidly grown to encompass everything from newsgroups to chat rooms to informational, commercial and administrative Web sites. In their quest to deliver the healing message of Bahá'u'lláh to every human being, the Internet is a potent tool.
But Shoghi Effendi wasn't writing in the context of a world that knew the Internet. When he needed to rapidly deliver a message, he sent a telegram, not an email. The idea of a computer that could sit on a desktop and could be linked to millions of other computers via phone lines (much less fiber optic cables!) was still several decades away. Yet somehow he foresaw the development of a system of which today's Internet may only be the beginning. Which brings up an interesting question:
Did the Internet come into being to serve the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh?
Okay, in the narrow sense it didn't. It was invented to serve the needs of the military and university researchers. As technology advanced, it became easier and easier to "get on the 'net", so individuals and businesses began flocking to it. The development of the protocols behind the World Wide Web threw the door wide open. Today people use the Internet for every purpose imaginable, some of which are inspired by the darkest aspects of the human mind. It may be hard to see God in the Internet, except perhaps in an accidental way.
But Bahá'ís have an unusual view of the world, a view summed up powerfully and concisely by Bahá'u'lláh's Words:
Soon will the present-day order be rolled up, and a new one spread out in its stead.
(Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, IV, p. 7)
For Bahá'ís, the history of the modern world only makes sense in light of these Words. The old order is being "rolled up.&" At the same time a new order is being prepared, slowly unfolding so that when the time comes it will be able to support the needs of humanity. Signs of social and moral decay abound, but they aren't the whole story. The advancement of racial equality and gender equality, the increasing recognition of the importance of human rights, the increasing interconnectedness of all nations (both politically and economically) and the advancement of technology are all driving humanity towards a greater state of unity. These are elements that in time will mature to form the social underpinnings of the new order. However, it will not be complete until there is general recognition of the spiritual truths taught by Bahá'u'lláh. These truths are the bedrock of that future society.
And that is where the Internet of today comes in. It has become a major component of the life of the world precisely at the time when the Bahá'í Faith's resources and increasing maturity and experience have poised it to deliver the message of Bahá'u'lláh on a truly massive scale. Is this a coincidence?
You can voice your opinion in our forum. Myself, I don't much believe in coincidences anymore!
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