I googled the phrase “independent investigation of truth” after remembering that it was supposed to be a basic teaching of the Baha’i Faith. Among the references I found on the internet, was this:
[[[The Independent Investigation of Truth
Baha’u’llah emphasizes the fundamental obligation of human beings to acquire knowledge with their “own eyes and not through the eyes of others.” One of the main sources of conflict in the world today is the fact that many people blindly and uncritically follow various traditions, movements, and opinions. God has given each human being a mind and the capacity to differentiate truth from falsehood. If individuals fail to use their reasoning capacities and choose instead to accept without question certain opinions and ideas, either out of admiration for or fear of those who hold them, then they are neglecting their basic moral responsibility as human beings. Moreover, when people act in this way, they often become attached to some particular opinion or tradition and thus intolerant of those who do not share it. Such attachments can, in turn, lead to conflict. History has witnessed conflict and even bloodshed over slight alterations in religious practice, or a minor change in the interpretation of doctrine. Personal search for truth enables the individual to know why he or she adheres to a given ideology or doctrine.
Bahá’ís believe that, as there is only one reality, all people will gradually discover its different facets and will ultimately come to common understanding and unity, provided they sincerely seek after truth. In this connection, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said:
Being one, truth cannot be divided, and the differences that appear to exist among the many nations only result from their attachment to prejudice. If only men would search out truth, they would find themselves united.
[[[I believe that many Baha’is don’t investigate the claims of Christianity fairly because they uncritically accept what the Central Figures and Shoghi Effendi said about it. Shoghi Effendi said that Christ was born of a Virgin, so Baha’is believe it. If he had said he wasn’t, then they wouldn’t. Abdu’l-Baha said that Christ was speaking figuratively when he called himself the bread of heaven, so Baha’is believe him. And then Baha’is tell us Christians that we should investigate the truth for ourselves instead of blindly accepting what our “religious institutions” tell us. Sounds like the pot calling the kettle black.
How do you know that a book of Baha’i history is accurate? Because it was published by a Baha’i Publishing Trust? That’s not independent investigation of truth.
How do you know that when a Baha’i author says Baha’u’llah fulfilled a particular prophecy from some religion, that he is both quoting the prophecy accurately and reporting the event in Baha’u’llah’s life accurately? Because the author is a respected Baha’i? That’s not independent investigation of truth.
When I was a Baha’i, one of my favorite books was Portals to Freedom. My perception of Abdu’l-Baha was therefore partly dependent upon Howard Colby Ives. In other words, it wasn’t independent. This example can be multiplied a hundredfold – for Taherzadeh, for Ruhe, for Esslemont, etc.]]]
I once knew a Baha’i family in which the teenage daughter raised within it never took part in any Baha’i activities. So I was impressed that she felt free to reject her parents’ faith without losing her parents’ love. At the same time, however, I wondered why she would not want to follow a faith as wonderful as that of her parents. After I deconverted from the Faith in 2004, I finally figured out that the girl must have done that “independent investigation of truth” but it had led her away from that Faith, as it would me eventually. This is evidence enough that the Baha’i teachings are flawed and contradictory. Ironically, children raised in the Faith who DO accept it are not necessarily doing so after investigating other options and rejecting most of them, since in all the years I was Baha’i, I saw no examples of Baha’i children being encouraged to visit other religions’ houses of worship, though they certainly were not forbidden to do so either (though I found it interesting that they had services every Sunday, as if they were competing directly with Christian churches. Baha’i teachings do NOT require any Sunday services.) But at the Unitarian Universalist church I attend now, the youth there ARE taken to other churches as part of their Sunday School lessons.
But it is even worse, since faithful Baha’is are absolutely required to shun “Covenant-breakers”, those who claim to be Baha’i but reject the current Baha’i leadership. Any Baha’i who associates with such people, who are said to have a deadly spiritual disease, is also subject to being declared a Covenant-breaker. How can the principle of independent investigation of truth be upheld in this case? One thing that is not widely known about the Faith is that most of the relatives and descendants of Baha’u’llah were declared Covenant-breakers simply for not blindly following the absolute authority of Abdu’l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi! The family of Baha’u’llah was torn apart by the claims of the leadership of the Faith to be infallible. Since these must have been the people who knew those leaders best, one would have expected them to be the most loyal members of the Faith……unless they KNEW how flawed those leaders’ actual characters were!
For children raised in the Baha’i Faith, the issue of independent investigation of truth does not really apply to them, since they are assumed to have the truth already. Rather, that principle is taught to “seekers” (non-Baha’is who are learning about the Faith) to entice them to read more Baha’i propaganda and be seduced by it. Such duplicity must be exposed and debunked, hence my writing this.