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Copper to Gold?

Posted by Sen on February 3, 2014

coppernugget Amended July 2015

An enquirer asked: Do Baha’is really believe that copper turns into gold after 70 years if protected from becoming dry (or solidified)?

The most important skill for understanding scriptures, including the Bahai scriptures, is not mastery of the original languages, or other arcane knowledge, but familiarity with literary language: the ability to read poetry and similar writing. Religious language is necessarily metaphorical, using the physical world (as understood at the time) as a correlative and reflection of spiritual realities. A literalist mind-set makes a complete hash of reading any scripture. This is a problem in all religious communities today, as modernity has given such a high status to the hard sciences and their way of describing the world that many people have never learned to read literary language as literature.

The text the enquirer asked about is in Baha’u’llah’s “Book of Certitude” or Kitab-i Iqan. In Shoghi Effendi’s translation it reads:

It is evident that nothing short of this mystic transformation could cause such spirit and behaviour, so utterly unlike their previous habits and manners, to be made manifest in the world of being. … Such is the potency of the Divine Elixir, which, swift as the twinkling of an eye, transmuteth the souls of men!

For instance, consider the substance of copper (محاس / nahas). Were it to be protected in its own mine from becoming solidified, it would, within the space of seventy years, attain to the state of gold. There are some, however, who maintain that copper itself is gold, which by becoming solidified is in a diseased condition, and hath not therefore reached its own state.

… the real elixir will, in one instant, cause the substance of copper to attain the state of gold, and will traverse the seventy-year stages in a single moment. Could this gold be called copper? Could it be claimed that it hath not attained the state of gold, whilst the touch-stone is at hand to assay it and distinguish it from copper? Likewise, these souls, through the potency of the Divine Elixir, traverse, in the twinkling of an eye, the world of dust and advance into the realm of holiness;
(Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i Iqan, p. 156)

Let’s start reading this at the end, with “Could it be claimed that it hath not attained the state of gold, whilst the touch-stone is at hand to assay it and distinguish it from copper?” Baha’u’llah expects his readers to see that a touchstone is available, but this is an assaying tool: not the sort of thing that readers would have on their tables. I think the touch-stone is a metaphor for Baha’u’llah himself, who really is “on hand.” Some of his Babi readers would recognise the metaphor, for it is found in the Persian Bayan, Vahid V, Chapter 4. In E.G. Browne’s summary we read:

The best of all names are such as are related to God like Baha’u’llah and Jalalu’llah, and Jamalu’llah . . . He whom God shall manifest is like a touchstone, discriminating between pure gold and all beside. For instance if a person be named Baha’u’llah … and if he believes in the splendour (Bahá) of him who was the First to believe, then that Name becomes confirmed for him in Heaven … (From  “Selections from the Writings of E.G. Browne” edited by Moojan Momen, pp. 362-3)

And if the touchstone is metaphorical, the copper and gold must also be metaphorical.

The context gives us more clues. The previous context is the “mystic transformation” of certain “blessed souls,” and the point being made is that this can happen gradually, over a lifetime, or, with the help of the elixir it can happen in a moment. And then he argues, who is to say that somebody is not the real gold (just because he was something less than that previously), when the Touchstone is at hand and the Touchstone says “he’s real gold”?

There are more indications that the transformation of copper to gold is being used simply as a metaphor. The copper is “in the mine of its own self.” Copper does not have a self, people do. Seventy years is the lifetime of a man.

In a tablet to Ali Kuli Khan, Abdu’l-Baha states that the words “… the substance of copper … Were it to be protected in its own mine from becoming solidified, … would, within the space of seventy years, attain to the state of gold” is a quote, pointing to the views of one group of natural philosophers. (He writes, in hekaayat qawl-e hokamaa ast). I do not have the tablet, which so far as I know is unpublished, just a citation and transliteration, but I regard the source as reliable if not authoritative. Moreover, it is likely that Baha’u’llah did intend these words to be recognized as a quotation, since he then contrasts that view to the ideas of another group who “maintain that copper itself is gold, which by becoming solidified is in a diseased condition, and hath not therefore reached its own state.”

In that citation, Abdu’l-Baha refers to the copper being protected from a “preponderance of dryness.” Solidity and a preponderance of dryness are synonyms, in the physics that prevailed in the Islamic world at the time (which drew on classical Greek physics). This physics supposes that all things are composed of four elements: earth, fire, water and air, of which only the dry element, earth, is a solid. So if something is a solid it must by definition have a preponderance of dryness. Shoghi Effendi’s term “becoming solidified” is therefore a good translation, for a readership who do not know about the categories used in the physics of that time. A translator must always consider the readers as well as the source text, for the purpose of translation is to convey as much as possible of the source to an audience who cannot read the original, and have a different cultural and educational background.

In other works by Baha’u’llah that refer to this physics and the alchemical process, the dry/earth element represents the body of an individual, and water represents spirit. gold-loorbeerkranzSo to be preserved for 70 years from a preponderance of the dry, is to escape the attractions of materialism, and benefit from a spiritual education, throughout one’s life. And potentially, to be transformed from a mixed character to a pure one, from copper to gold.

Baha’u’llah did not believe in alchemy, in the form that was proposed by Islamic scholars. He writes in the same book:

Among the specified sciences were the science of metaphysical abstractions, of alchemy, and natural magic. Such vain and discarded learnings, this man hath regarded as the pre-requisites … (The Kitab-i Iqan, p. 186)

Nevertheless he often uses alchemical metaphors. Here’s another:

The Book of God is wide open, and His Word is summoning mankind unto Him. No more than a mere handful, however, hath been found willing to cleave to His Cause, or to become the instruments for its promotion. These few have been endued with the Divine Elixir that can, alone, transmute into purest gold the dross of the world, and have been empowered to administer the infallible remedy for all the ills that afflict the children of men…
(Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 183)

Thus far I have dealt only with the contextual and literary reading of the text. There are more layers of meaning, if one looks at the Persian. The word translated as ‘copper’ is nahaas (نحاس). With a different vocalisation, nehaas, it means nature or origin. But there is a variant vocalisation, nohaas, which means ambiguously either copper or nature/origin. Baha’u’llah did not vocalise his text, so he leaves it to the reader to choose, or rather, he requires the Persian reader to hold both possible meanings in his mind as he continues to read. Elsewhere in Baha’u’llah’s writings, the meaning of ‘original state’ comes to the fore. For example in Prayers and Meditations XXXVIII, page 54, Shoghi Effendi translates: “the Elixir through whose potency the crude metal (nohaas) of human life hath been transmuted into purest gold.” The same meaning, the raw material of base metals, can be seen in Gleanings XCII, where he translates:

The Book of God is wide open, and His Word is summoning mankind unto Him. No more than a mere handful, however, hath been found willing to cleave to His Cause, … These few have been endued with the Divine Elixir that can, alone, transmute into purest gold the dross (nohaas) of the world, and have been empowered to administer the infallible remedy for all the ills that afflict the children of men.

Finally, there is one place where Shoghi Effendi deduces that the meaning is not copper, a soft metal, nor ore or dross, but rather, ‘a hard substance.’ In the Tablet to Dhabeh in Gleanings (p. 245) he translates: “Sharp must be thy sight, O Dhabih, and adamant thy soul, and brass-like (nohaas) thy feet, if thou wishest to be unshaken by the assaults of … selfish desires.”

In all but the last of these examples, and in the Iqan text, we see that ‘copper’ refers to the original lower station of the soul, while gold is the goal, the possible and desired station. Baha’u’llah refers to another way of using these metaphors, saying “There are some, however, who maintain that copper itself is gold, which by becoming solidified is in a diseased condition, and hath not therefore reached its own state. Be that as it may … ” This is a reference in passing, to the idea that we are born naturally noble, have descended into a base condition, and can return to our noble condition. If this was Europe, we would call this Rousseau’s glorification of the natural, and it is an idea that Abdu’l-Baha engaged with vigorously in his European tours. But the idea is not exclusively modern or western. It is also beside the point here, as Baha’u’llah says: the point is that the ‘elixir’ can cause an instant transformation.

Reading on, Baha’u’llah says “the real elixir will, in one instant, cause the substance of copper (مادّه نحاسی) to attain the state of gold (مقام ذهبی), and will traverse the seventy-year stages in a single moment.” Substance here (Greek ὑπόστασις) is a technical term in neo-platonic philosophy and theology, referring to the unchanging ipseity of a thing. “State” here translates maqaam, and is a technical term in Sufi terminology. It is usually translated as “station,” for example “The station (maqaam) which he who hath truly recognized this Revelation will attain is the same as the one ordained for such prophets of the house of Israel as are not regarded as Manifestations ‘endowed with constancy.‘” (Baha’u’llah, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 111).

Gold and copper in this sentence are both in adjectival form, so we have the cupric substance attaining to (not being transformed into) the golden station. It is significant that the cupric substance does not attain to the golden substance: the ‘station’ or ‘state’ of a thing is the net effect of attributes that are attached to its substance, and the substance does not change. Steam and ice are states of water, for example. A person progresses through the spiritual stations by acquiring virtues and eliminating vices, but they remain the same person. Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha often emphasized that, while perfections are endless, and “the object of every Revelation [is] to effect a transformation in the whole character of mankind” (Kitab-e Iqan, p. 240), this does not mean that the transformed and perfected individual becomes “a perfect man” in the Sufi sense, or a Manifestation of God.

P.S. There is a paragraph in the Foreword to the 2014 retranslation of Some Answered Questions that warrants citation, as an indication of how the harmony of science and religion is being understood today at the Bahai World Centre. Not every Bahai will agree with these thoughts, as is evident from the comments to this post, but they are a useful indication of trends in thinking in the community.

A notable case in point is the treatment of the subject of the evolution of species, … which must be understood in light of several Baha’i teachings, especially the principle of the harmony of science and religion. Religious belief should not contradict science and reason. A certain reading of some of the passages found in Chapters 46–51 may lead some believers to personal conclusions that contradict modern science. Yet the Universal House of Justice has explained that Baha’is strive to reconcile their understanding of the statements of ‘Abdu’l-Baha with established scientific perspectives, and therefore it is not necessary to conclude that these passages describe conceptions rejected by science, for example, a kind of “parallel” evolution that proposes a separate line of biological evolution for the human species parallel to the animal kingdom since the beginning of life on earth.

~ Sen
Short link: http://wp.me/pcgF5-2oJ
[Amended July 2015: added analysis of the Persian terms; August 2015, added the quote from the Foreword of Some Answered Questions.]

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58 Responses to “Copper to Gold?”

  1. Tonyfish58 said

    Sen – Thank you for the article. I see your point. At the same time I see no reason that this outcome could not be achieved in a literal sense as well. What is the Real elixir to make this so? God Bless, I enjoy your replies on the Forums – Regards Tony

  2. Hasan said

    Sen, what about this note of the Aqdas? “The first sign of the coming of age of humanity referred to in the Writings of Baha’u’llah is the emergence of a science which is described as that “divine philosophy” which will include the discovery of a radical approach to the transmutation of elements. This is an indication of the splendours of the future stupendous expansion of knowledge”.

  3. He does say that deadly poison can become (or be changed into) panacea of unfailing efficacy. This is borne out by homeopathy and also, perhaps, by such things as vaccination and even Botox. As difficult as it may be to affect such a transmutation, Bahá’u’lláh has been empowered to accomplish the far harder job of changing hearts. In all of this, I don’t see Him as ruling out certain kinds of literal transmutation but He is certainly saying that the bigger and more worthwhile challenge is changing hearts.

    Oh, He also says that any substance can be made to acquire all the attributes of another substance. “Say: Yes, it is possible.”

    One further thing is the interesting fact that the technology now exists to change one element into another, including gold. It involves, I think, bombarding stuff with certain kinds of radiation (regrettably, I’m not a nuclear scientist). Unfortunately, it costs much more than just mining the stuff. I read that someone looked into the matter and specifically the dates when Bahá’u’lláh revealed that tablet and when the technology was developed. Turns out that the time period from the one to the other was 70 years!

  4. Mark Townsend said

    70 was also the average life span, “three score and ten”. By the end of our life, are we gold?

  5. Darrell said

    Sen, I love the metaphors and always viewed this passage as both metaphorical and literal, but had not considered the correlation to Greek physics: “solidarity” = “earth” = “materialism”. So to answer Mark, I might say YES, but only if that life of 70 years has not been too “earthly”.
    One point I want to offer regards your introduction about understanding the writings. It doesn’t even require an ability to read poetry. Baha’u’llah says: “The understanding of His words and the comprehension of the utterances of the Birds of Heaven are in no wise dependent upon human learning. They depend solely upon purity of heart, chastity of soul, and freedom of spirit. This is evidenced by those who, today, though without a single letter of the accepted standards of learning, are occupying the loftiest seats of knowledge; and the garden of their hearts is adorned, through the showers of divine grace, with the roses of wisdom and the tulips of understanding. Well is it with the sincere in heart for their share of the light of a mighty Day!” (Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 210)
    Years ago I had a friend who could barely read. She struggled with each word, trying to recognize the word by its shape, and often
    said an entirely incorrect word when reading. One day, so excited to share something she had read, she read a passage to several of us and slaughtered every large word while reading. (We were all familiar with the passage and only smiling, did not interrupt.) But she closed the book and said without hesitation, “now this is what this passage means to me…” and proceeded to blow us away with her profound understanding of the passage. Those three child-like qualities of “purity of heart, chastity of soul, and freedom of spirit” were evident in her and, I feel, constitute that “ethereal” (or to the Greeks, “water”) quality essential to a mystic transformation.

  6. Sen said

    “Freedom of spirit” will also help with reading poetry. The human spirit is a rational faculty. To read poetry, or scripture, it must not be shackled to brute fact and causal relationships, it must find associations, commonalities and beauties. It must be free.

  7. harry said

    Sen,

    I have a fundamental problem with your justification about the language of religion being poetic and religion being necessarily Metaphorical. Although I can easily accept an amount of metaphors whose intention and meaning is apparent in the context used (just like the metaphors people use in there everyday communications), any other metaphors that are not clearly cut will become problematic for those who want to adhere to the religion and the divine scripture. For if the meaning of a metaphor is not understood, it will cause ambiguity and misguidance, which is against the spirit of religion itself whose purpose is to guide people to do what is right and refrain from what is wrong, and not baffle them about the meaning of a specific verse or text and creating further divisions and differences. Baffling, using extensive unclear metaphors, and poetic language are peculiar to Sufi and Mystic cults, not divine religions.

    What is apparent from the text of the Iqan in very simple terms, is the fact that Baha’u’llah wants to show how people change from “bad” to “good”. He uses a metaphor of how “copper” changes to “gold.” The meaning of this metaphor is very clear.

    Now what you have done in your explanation is that you are apparently claiming there is a metaphor inside a metaphor! In which the second metaphor virtually has the meaning of the original word. You have reached this conclusion by claiming that “touchstone is on hand” refers to Baha’u’llah whilst that touchstone was already mentioned in the first paragraph, parts of which you have deleted:

    “so utterly unlike their previous habits and manners, to be made manifest in the world of being. For their agitation was turned into peace, their doubt into certitude, their timidity into courage.” The touchstone is the evident change in there manners not Baha’u’llah.

    Furthermore, Baha’u’llah is not citing the beliefs of others when he is speaking about the seventy year period needed for copper to change into gold. It is his own belief and at the end he says other people have other beliefs. This can clearly be seen in other tablets from Baha’u’llah. For instance:

    “The King of the Names (God) has made the possibility in some things to change and in others He hasn’t. For instance copper can turn into Gold but earth/soil (turab) does not have this possibility actually (bil-fi`l). Since the scientists have already mentioned these subjects this servant did not like to mention it comprehensively.”
    Ma’idiyi asimani, vol. 7, p.44

    You see he is clearly stating his own belief which is based on beliefs about alchemy that were known in those days. He explicitly says I won’t explain it furthermore because it has already been mentioned by others, this apparently shows that he did indeed believe in alchemy as proposed by scientists (you have mentioned Islamic scholars which is wrong).

  8. Peter said

    “Considering that a century ago, nobody knew the nature of matter, and couldn’t split any kind of an atom, it should not surprise the scientist that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá states that copper can be transmuted into gold.

    “There may come a time, for all we know, when the mass of many atoms can be changed by scientists. We have no way of proving or disproving at present the statement of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Just because we cannot demonstrate a contention in the Bahá’í Teachings does not mean the contention is not true.

    “The same holds true of the statement of Bahá’u’lláh in the Íqán, regarding transmutation of copper into gold after seventy years, under certain conditions.

    “We as Bahá’ís must assume that, as He had access to all knowledge, He was referring to a definite physical condition which theoretically might exist. Because we don’t know what this condition is in scientific terms does not refute Bahá’u’lláh’s statement at all.

    “The Guardian hopes that Mr. … will not let so small a thing stand in his path. The principle of Faith is to accept anything the Manifestation of God says, once you have accepted Him as being the Manifestation. That is really the crux of the whole matter. It is a question of confidence.”

    (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 14, 1955)

    # 1580: http://www.aqdasproject.com/lg-hbh/lg-1574-1613.html

  9. dale ramsdell said

    He (Baha’u’llah) is making a point from a reference understood within a cultural context which includes alchemy according to
    their perceived world view. From this He points them in a spiritual direction. It really has nothing to do with material reality itself (in my opinion), for it is even as the audience intended by the work of the Seven Valleys, and the Four Valleys, which must be understood in the context of Sufism. Whatever the particular “language” of the audience, Baha’u’llah enters into their “world” and, speaking to them in their language, lifts them out of the valley of limitations and earthly meanings and directs them to the heights of Certitude.

  10. Hasan said

    Sen, you happily passed over my comment:

    Sen, what about this note of the Aqdas? “The first sign of the coming of age of humanity referred to in the Writings of Baha’u’llah is the emergence of a science which is described as that “divine philosophy” which will include the discovery of a radical approach to the transmutation of elements. This is an indication of the splendours of the future stupendous expansion of knowledge”.

  11. Sen said

    I do not know of any support in the Bahai writings for this belief Hasan. The “sign” affirmed in the Book is the selection of a common language and script. The “sign” given elsewhere is in Baha’u’llah’s “Tablet addressed to Shaykh Salman: ‘One of the signs of the maturity of the world is that no one will accept to bear the weight of kingship. Kingship will remain with none willing to bear alone its weight. That day will be the day whereon wisdom will be manifested among mankind.'” (tr. Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come, p. 70)

    The belief in a third sign which is the transmutation of elements is, in my opinion, not to be relied upon. Mr. Taherzadeh asserts that such a tablet exists:

    The question of alchemy has occupied the minds of people for centuries. During Bahá’u’lláh’s ministry it was a live issue and several believers were involved in it. Bahá’u’lláh urged them not to seek to achieve it at that time. However, He confirmed that transmuting baser metal into gold, the dream of the alchemist, was possible. He promised that it would be realized, and asserted that its realization would constitute one of the signs of the coming of age of humanity. He also prophesied that after its discovery a great calamity would await the world unless mankind came under the shelter of the Cause of God.
    (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Baha’u’llah v 2, p. 268)

    But where is this tablet? I am suspicious that he may be reading this meaning into the text, after the fact of Hiroshima. I know of nobody writing before WWII who asserted the tablet existed and had this meaning.

  12. lostdervish said

    only thing ive gathered is that the reference Taherzadeh cites is the following:

    Má’idiy-i-Ásamání, vol. I, p. 41

    Google didnt return anything on that.

    Also here is the other reference to transmutation:

    XCVII: Consider the doubts which they who have…

    Consider the doubts which they who have joined partners with God have instilled into the hearts of the people of this land. “Is it ever possible,” they ask, “for copper to be transmuted into gold?” Say, Yes, by my Lord, it is possible. Its secret, however, lieth hidden in Our Knowledge. We will reveal it unto whom We will. Whoso doubteth Our power, let him ask the Lord his God, that He may disclose 198 unto him the secret, and assure him of its truth. That copper can be turned into gold is in itself sufficient proof that gold can, in like manner, be transmuted into copper, if they be of them that can apprehend this truth. Every mineral can be made to acquire the density, form, and substance of each and every other mineral. The knowledge thereof is with Us in the Hidden Book.

  13. Sen said

    Má’idiy-i-Ásamání, volumes 1, 4, 7 and 8 are available online at:
    http://reference.bahai.org/fa/t/b/

  14. Mr. Sen,

    It is my pleasure to inform you that the “Divine Philosophy” related to radical approach of “Transmutation of elements” as prophesized by Bahaullah in his prophecies was well mentioned by Dr. Walter Russell in his teachings. Where he claimed that any elements can be transmuted into any other elements. I am sure in future based on Dr. Walter Russell’s teachings scientists will be able to transmute copper into Gold very easily. Thus prophecy of Bahaullah have literal meaning and no metaphorical meaning at all.

    It is good news that Bahaullah’s prophecy has been fulfilled in its fullness.

    I would recommend to this group to read “The new concept of the universe” by Dr. Walter Russell to have idea about transmutation of elements.

    For Dr. Walter Russell’s book please download books free from the following link – http://1drv.ms/17ubXpm

  15. Sen said

    It is known today that transmutation is possible: this is not a valid argument for dismissing the metaphorical nature of Baha’u’llah’s 70-year metaphor. It is for example known that whales swim in the sea, yet when Abdu’l-Baha speaks of “whales swimming in the oceans of life” he is speaking metaphorically.

  16. Dear Sen,

    I wasn’t referring to the turning of copper into gold in 70-year. My specific reference was about the emergence of “Divine Philosophy” related to “Transmutation of elements” which was foretold by great Bahaullah as follows-

    The second sign refers to the emergence of a “divine philosophy” which will include the discovery of a radical approach to the transmutation of elements:

    “Consider the doubts which they who have joined partners with God have instilled into the hearts of the people of this land. “Is it ever possible,” they ask, “for copper to be transmuted into gold?” Say, Yes, by my Lord, it is possible. Its secret, however, lieth hidden in Our Knowledge. We will reveal it unto whom We will. Whoso doubteth Our power, let him ask the Lord his God, that He may disclose unto him the secret, and assure him of its truth. That copper can be turned into gold is in itself sufficient proof that gold can, in like manner, be transmuted into copper, if they be of them that can apprehend this truth. Every mineral can be made to acquire the density, form, and substance of each and every other mineral. The knowledge thereof is with Us in the Hidden Book.”

    (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writing of Bahá’u’lláh, Section XCVII, undated)

    Except nuclear fission and nuclear transmutation there is no technology yet developed which will transmute elements into each other. It is not well known at all.

    My point here is that Dr. Walter Russell’s science is the “Divine Philosophy” which was foretold by great Bahuallah in his prophesy.

    Anand Singh

  17. Sen said

    Every “word” of scripture has 72 meanings: there is no reason why you should not read Gleanings XCVII as a prophecy of Dr. Russell’s as yet unrealised vision, although it is not phrased as a prophecy.

    Another way of reading this part of the Lawh-e Siraj is suggested by putting it alongside another part of the same tablet, translated in Gleanings L. This reads in part:

    … How foolish are those who murmur against the premature birth of His light. O ye who are inly blind! Whether too soon or too late, the evidences of His effulgent glory are now actually manifest. It behoveth you to ascertain whether or not such a light hath appeared. It is neither within your power nor mine to set the time at which it should be made manifest. ……”

    The context is clearly that some Babis have objected that the Revelation of Baha’u’llah comes prematurely, just 19 years after the beginning of the Bab’s public mission.

    Another objection raised by some Babis was that the Bab had appointed Mirza Yahya to some central role (it entailed, among other things, a duty to preserve the Bab’s writings), and in Baghdad Baha’u’llah had acquiesced to the enigmatic ‘leadership’ of Yahya, serving in a way as the outward spokesman for Yahya behind the veil. How could a follower of Yahya now claim a station higher than Yahya, if, as Babis and Bahais believe, the Manifestation of God is not a human who as worked himself up to perfection, but rather occupies a super-human station from birth, indeed, from before the creation itself? This question is pictured as “how can copper (the follower of another) become gold (immaculate, innately preserved from corruption)”? When Baha’u’llah says that “gold can, in like manner, be transmuted into copper,” he is alluding delicately to Yahya’s evident failure to live up to the expectations of the Bab for him.

  18. Willie said

    after humanity learns how to push atoms around like legos (nanotechnology)… the next step is learning how to push protons and neutrons around like legos. this will allow any element to transform into any other element.

    http://www.nanowerk.com/nanotechnology-news/newsid=40416.php

    tremendous applications in medicine, but another double edged sword for weapons and warfare.

    the prophecy COULD have stated “lead into gold” since lead is closer in nature to gold: http://chemistry.about.com/cs/generalchemistry/a/aa050601a.htm

    it is worth noting in the prophecy that “the second sign of maturity of humanity is the transmutation of elements”. which means “while inevitable, it won’t happen for some time because humanity must become mature first”.

    humanity must progress out its warmongering ways before actually becoming mature.

  19. Sen said

    There is this statement in the notes to the Aqdas: “The first sign of the coming of age of humanity referred to in the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh is the emergence of a science which is described as that “divine philosophy” which will include the discovery of a radical approach to the transmutation of elements.”

    But no source is given, so it remains uncertain whether “the transmutation of elements” is a plausible translation. One has to presume that it is not, first because the simple or essential materials in Islamic sciences are not the same thing as the elements of the periodic table in modern chemistry, and second because nuclear transmutation has no relationship with psychological or social maturity. Until the source of this statement is located, it must be regarded as intrinsically dubious.

  20. Roland said

    Why don’t you accept the interpretation of the Guardian that the transmutation referred to is literal and not metaphorical? He categorically states that this applies also to Abdu’l-Baha’s references to turning copper into gold. You are clearly rejecting and/or ignoring the authoritative interpretation of the Guardian.

  21. Sen said

    Not very helpful Roland, if you do not quote your source.

  22. Roland said

    The source is in post number 8 above by Peter. I’ll just copy and paste it for you again then.

    “Considering that a century ago, nobody knew the nature of matter, and couldn’t split any kind of an atom, it should not surprise the scientist that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá states that copper can be transmuted into gold.

    “There may come a time, for all we know, when the mass of many atoms can be changed by scientists. We have no way of proving or disproving at present the statement of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Just because we cannot demonstrate a contention in the Bahá’í Teachings does not mean the contention is not true.

    “The same holds true of the statement of Bahá’u’lláh in the Íqán, regarding transmutation of copper into gold after seventy years, under certain conditions.

    “We as Bahá’ís must assume that, as He had access to all knowledge, He was referring to a definite physical condition which theoretically might exist. Because we don’t know what this condition is in scientific terms does not refute Bahá’u’lláh’s statement at all.

    “The Guardian hopes that Mr. … will not let so small a thing stand in his path. The principle of Faith is to accept anything the Manifestation of God says, once you have accepted Him as being the Manifestation. That is really the crux of the whole matter. It is a question of confidence.”

    (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 14, 1955)

    # 1580: http://www.aqdasproject.com/lg-hbh/lg-1574-1613.html

  23. Sen said

    You wrote “You are clearly rejecting and/or ignoring the authoritative interpretation of the Guardian.” But your source is a letter on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, which in any case does not say that “the transmutation referred to is literal and not metaphorical.”

    Shoghi Effendi himself wanted the Bahais to make a strong distinction between his writings and those of his secretaries. One of his secretaries warns

    “Although the secretaries of the Guardian convey his thoughts and instructions and these messages are authoritative, their words are in no sense the same as his, their style certainly not the same, and their authority less, for they use their own terms and not his exact words in conveying his messages.” (Unfolding Destiny 260)

    If these letters had doctrinal authority, it would not make much sense to say they had ‘less authority.’ I think the meaning here is that they share in Shoghi Effendi’s authority as Head of the Faith, they have to be followed by the assembly or individual to whom they are addressed, and we may suppose that they were the right thing to say, to the assembly or individual concerned (since Shoghi Effendi checked them, with very few exceptions). The exact status which Shoghi Effendi has intended the friends to give to those communications he sends to individual believers is explained in the following statement written through his secretary to the National Assembly on November 16, 1932:

    “As regards Shoghi Effendi’s letters to the individual Bahá’ís, he is always very careful not to contradict himself. He has also said that whenever he has something of importance to say, he invariably communicates it to the National Spiritual Assembly or in his general letters. His personal letters to individual friends are only for their personal benefit and even though he does not want to forbid their publication, he does not wish them to be used too much by the Bahá’í News. Only letters with special significance should be published there.”

    It is not legitimate to attribute a general signficance to a letter intended for the benefit of a particular person. A doctor may tell the patient what they need to “know” to minimise their stress, although it is not true. A teacher answers a question in terms appropriate to the pupil. And a Guardian helps individual Bahais with their particular difficulties at that time, instructs assemblies about what is to be done, and also defines Bahai teachings in general letters to the Bahai world. Only the last of these have general and unchanging doctrinal applicability.

    Related content:
    Letters on behalf of Shoghi Effendi
    Letters on behalf of Shoghi Effendi – 2
    Letters on behalf of Shoghi Effendi – 3

  24. Roland said

    I have noticed you trying to make this distinction before Sen. Whether or not it was written to an individual believer is irrelevant.

    He is not giving advice to the individual re a personal issue (which might not be applicable to someone else). He is categorically interpreting what the scriptural text means…i.e. what the meaning of Baha’ú’llah’s statement in the Iqan is. Indeed, many of his interpretations are in the form of responses to individual (as well as NSA & LSA) queries about the meaning of texts and various issues. Unfortunately, your approach to such issues has caused you to reject the Guardian’s interpretations re this topic and others such as homosexuality (even when it has been pointed out to you that the Guardian signed and/or approved letter).

    In a letter to an individual believer, for example, the Guardian states: “We cannot know God directly, but only through His Prophets. We can pray to Him realizing (italicized) that through His Prophets we know Him, or we can address our prayer to Baha’u’llah, not as God, but as the Door to our knowing God.” (High Endeavors, Messages to Alaska, p.71) This interpretation is in complete conformity with Baha’u’llah’s explicit statements that we can only know God through His Manifestations and not directly (since we can never know His Essence). The fact that this is addressed to an individual is pointless as this fact in no way undermines the validity of the interpretation.

  25. Roland said

    When we look at the quote you provided this is very clear: “…the secretaries of the Guardian convey his thoughts and instructions and these messages are authoritative…..” They may have less authority than his writings but they are nonetheless “authoritative.” If you choose to split hairs and write a justification fo ra metaphorical interpretation of copper into gold you are still rejecting the “authoritative” literal interpretation of the Guardian particulalry also when one bears in mind that he states this interpretation also applies to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá stating that copper can be transmuted into gold.

  26. jamaica said

    Baha’u’llah speaks in a literal sense in the Kitab-i Iqan and in no wise says “the transmutation I speak about is metaphorical and not literal,” but Sen insists that Baha’u’llah was speaking “metaphorically”. Now that someone has come up with a quote from Shoghi whose context shows in the clearest manner that Baha’u’llah was in fact speaking about a literal transmutation of copper to gold, Sen is claiming that it hasn’t been explicitly mentioned by Shoghi (or whoever wrote the letter on his behalf and was ‘read and approved’ by Shoghi) that “the transmutation referred to is literal and not metaphorical.”

    You’ve gotta be kidding me.

  27. Sen said

    I’m not kidding jamaica. All I can say is, read the text for yourself:

    It is evident that nothing short of this mystic transformation could cause such spirit and behaviour, so utterly unlike their previous habits and manners, to be made manifest in the world of being. … Such is the potency of the Divine Elixir, which, swift as the twinkling of an eye, transmuteth the souls of men!

    For instance, consider the substance of copper. Were it to be protected in its own mine from becoming solidified, it would, within the space of seventy years, attain to the state of gold. There are some, however, who maintain that copper itself is gold, which by becoming solidified is in a diseased condition, and hath not therefore reached its own state.

    … the real elixir will, in one instant, cause the substance of copper to attain the state of gold, and will traverse the seventy-year stages in a single moment. Could this gold be called copper? Could it be claimed that it hath not attained the state of gold, whilst the touch-stone is at hand to assay it and distinguish it from copper? Likewise, these souls, through the potency of the Divine Elixir, traverse, in the twinkling of an eye, the world of dust and advance into the realm of holiness;
    (Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i Iqan, p. 156)

    As I said at the beginning of the post, most important skill for understanding scriptures is familiarity with literary language: the ability to read poetry and similar writing. If you haven’t got it, you haven’t got it (yet). People who cannot read literary language can still be Bahais, but they will have extra difficulties with texts that, in their literal meaning, are quite impossible, such as stars falling to the earth and the like. For them, there is a consoling way out: maybe in the future science will make the impossible possible. Literalists almost always put a high value on science (the leaders of fundamentalist groups almost always have a science or engineering background), so this is comforting for them. But of course this literal reading is impoverishing: it entirely misses the point that mystical transformation can happen gradually, over a lifetime, or, with the help of the ‘elixir’ it can happen in a moment.

    Again, I can only say, read the text carefully. Try to attain to a deeper understanding of the import of these words for the life of the believer, without being distracted by the surface metaphors. In the Iqan, Baha’u’llah goes on to say,

    O brother, behold how the inner mysteries of “rebirth,” of “return,” and of “resurrection” have each, through these all-sufficing, these unanswerable, and conclusive utterances, been unveiled and unravelled before thine eyes. God grant that through His gracious and invisible assistance, thou mayest divest thy body and soul of the old garment, and array thyself with the new and imperishable attire. (Kitab-e Iqan, p. 156)

    The transmutation of ‘elements’ is another inner mystery waiting for you to unravel.

  28. Sen said

    With respect to the Tablet of Abdu’l-Baha, I have referred to this in the posting:

    “In a tablet to Ali Kuli Khan, Abdu’l-Baha states that the words “… the substance of copper … Were it to be protected in its own mine from becoming solidified, … would, within the space of seventy years, attain to the state of gold” is a quote, pointing to the views of one group of natural philosophers. (He writes, in hekaayat qawl-e hukamaa ast).”

    I do not need to split hairs to justify a metaphorical reading: it is obvious from the text of the Iqan itself, from other uses of the same terms in Baha’u’llah’s writings, that he meant it metaphorically and that Shoghi Effendi did not understand it, and did not translate it, as a literal transmutation of elements. I have added an analysis of the Persian terms to the end of the post, but I think that access to the original texts is not necessary: “he who has eyes to see, let him see.”

    As for the letters written on behalf of the Guardian by his secretaries, I have dealt with this question elsewhere and I included links to those postings previously.

  29. Sen said

    You are of course free to decide for yourself what is relevant for you. The distinctions I have made are those that were important to Shoghi Effendi. I have found that a large portion of the difficulties Bahais face, or that they try to make for other Bahais, come down to 1) reliance on pilgrim’s notes and 2) not heeding his plea that “the words of the Guardian [should be] clearly differentiated from those of his secretaries. Your mileage may vary.
    ~ sen

  30. jamaica said

    I had already seen your notes about the letters written on behalf of Shoghi. In my opinion, those letters are perfectly authoritative and convey what Shoghi had intended because he would always double check them.

    It would be very helpful if you provide a source (either a book available on the net or some form of verifiable scanned document) for Abdu’l-Baha’s Tablet to Ali Kuli Khan.

  31. Sen said

    Unfortunately I do not have the source of that tablet jamaica. It is not in the searchable texts at the Bahai Reference Library. The only place I can think to look is the 5 volumes of the INBA collection devoted to Abdu’l-Baha’s letters, on H-Bahai, which are scanned manuscripts in pdf format. It’s looking for a needle in a haystack, unless someone happens to know where to look.

  32. Roland said

    You might find this 2006 letter from the House of Justice helpful Sen: http://bahai-library.com/uhj_letters_behalf_guardian
    I’ll quote the sections I found relevant to our discussion re letters from his secretaries being “authoritative” and that they “convey his thoughts and instructions”.

    “With regard to your questions about the authority of letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, particularly those sent from the Holy Land during the latter part of his ministry, there is no justification for summarily dismissing the authoritative guidance contained in this body of correspondence. If concerns arise in relation to specific messages or topics addressed, clarification can be sought from the Universal House of Justice.”

    “Reference is made to statements on the Internet which apparently infer that the Guardian discontinued the practice of reviewing all letters written on his behalf when the amount of correspondence increased. Mr. __ seeks confirmation of the fact that Shoghi Effendi continued to review all letters written on his behalf until the end of his life. The Research Department sets out below the only information it has, to date, been able to locate on this subject.

    In a postscript appended to a letter dated 7 December 1930, written on his behalf to an individual believer, Shoghi Effendi described the normal procedure he followed in dealing with correspondence written on his behalf:

    I wish to add and say that whatever letters are sent in my behalf from Haifa are all read and approved by me before mailing. There is no exception whatever to this rule.

    Given the Guardian’s categorical assertion, it follows that any “exception” to “this rule” would require his explicit permission. For example, in the latter years of his ministry, Shoghi Effendi assigned to the Hand of the Cause Leroy Ioas the special responsibility for monitoring the progress of the goals of the Ten Year Crusade. In implementing this specific function, Mr. Ioas worked under the close supervision of the Guardian; however, not all of his letters–for example, those simply requesting information about the goals–were viewed by Shoghi Effendi before being transmitted.

  33. Roland said

    Also this which I forgot to include: “Mr. __ also enquires about the relative degree of authority associated with letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi. He indicates that he is puzzled by a statement in a letter written on the Guardian’s behalf, which indicates that such letters are “less authoritative”, especially since he presumes that Shoghi Effendi would have reviewed these letters prior to their being sent out. It seems likely that the statement referred to by Mr. __ is contained in the following extract from a letter dated 25 February 1951 written on behalf of the Guardian to a National Spiritual Assembly. It is suggested that a careful reading of this statement, which is cited below, will resolve the concern raised by Mr. __. The extract states,
    Although the secretaries of the Guardian convey his thoughts and instructions and these messages are authoritative, their words are in no sense the same as his, their style certainly not the same, and their authority less, for they use their own terms and not his exact words in conveying his messages.
    (25 February 1951 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles)

    Note that the letters written on behalf of the Guardian are also described as being “authoritative”. No additional information has, to date, come to light on this subject.”

  34. Sen said

    I am also puzzled by “less authoritative.” My best reading to date is that the assumption is that such letters deal with administrative matters, ie that it is assumed by all parties that the Guardian’s role as interpreter is never delegated. But he was also head of the community and had a lot of correspondence in that sphere. As regards decisions on administrative matters, “less authoritative” makes perfect sense — the meaning would be, that the decisions conveyed by the secretaries do not set out general policies and principles, but they do say what a particular National Assembly or other body must do now, and must be obeyed.

  35. Mr. Sen,

    I would like to hear your so called “metaphorical” explanation of Baha prophecy made by Bahullah about the future in which he says –

    The second sign refers to the emergence of a “divine philosophy” which will include the discovery of a radical approach to the transmutation of elements:

    “Consider the doubts which they who have joined partners with God have instilled into the hearts of the people of this land. “Is it ever possible,” they ask, “for copper to be transmuted into gold?” Say, Yes, by my Lord, it is possible. Its secret, however, lieth hidden in Our Knowledge. We will reveal it unto whom We will. Whoso doubteth Our power, let him ask the Lord his God, that He may disclose unto him the secret, and assure him of its truth. That copper can be turned into gold is in itself sufficient proof that gold can, in like manner, be transmuted into copper, if they be of them that can apprehend this truth. Every mineral can be made to acquire the density, form, and substance of each and every other mineral. The knowledge thereof is with Us in the Hidden Book.”

    (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writing of Bahá’u’lláh, Section XCVII, undated)

    Please take your full time and explain me in full that what is the ‘metaphorical’ explanation can be for such prophecy.
    Thanks in advance.

    Anand
    India

  36. Sen said

    I have addressed this section of Gleanings above, see comment #17.

    The metaphor is clearer in the Persian-Arabic original, for it says that copper can attain the golden ratbeh (=rank or station), and then can return to its original condition. Ratbeh is the word translated as “station” in this verse:

    “Through the Teachings of this Day Star of Truth every man will advance and develop until he attaineth the station at which he can manifest all the potential forces with which his inmost true self hath been endowed..” (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 67)

  37. Mr. Sen,

    So you mean to say there is no possibility that the “Divine Philosophy” will emerge in future which will give radical approach to the ‘Transmutation of elements’. Because according to you it has already happened in the metaphorical meanings.

    I know that how difficult it is to understand the scripture but you have gone far away. Now I can understand what the priest and interpreters do with the words of a Master after he leaves his body. You are a perfect example of that. I fell sorry for you and for whole Baha community.

    For your kind information I would like to remind you that the “Divine Philosophy” regarding radical approach to the ‘Transmutation of elements’ was proposed by Dr. Walter Russell. There are many scientists are working on this right now. It has become possible to spread the word because of the invention of internet.

    I will be highly thankful to you if you can introduce me someone from Baha community who has physics background. I hope you will be able to find one. Much thanks.

    Anand
    India

  38. Sen said

    There is a reference in the notes to the Aqdas that says:

    “The first sign of the coming of age of humanity referred to
    in the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh is the emergence of a science
    which is described as that “divine philosophy” which will
    include the discovery of a radical approach to the
    transmutation of elements. This is an indication of the
    splendours of the future stupendous expansion of knowledge.
    (Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 250)

    However the notes to the Aqdas are merely the opinions of the staff at the Research Department: they have no authority and some have already been marked for removal in a second edition of the translation. In this case, the note gives no source for this claim, and I do not know what text they may be thinking of. Therefore the note seems more likely to mislead than to clarify matters for the reader.

    However the “divine philosophy” is mentioned several times in the Bahai Writings, and we can get a good idea of what it means. Abdu’l-Baha says, in the new translation of Some Answered Questions, “… Galen and Hippocrates were celebrated for their skill in medicine, Aristotle in logic and speculative reasoning, and Plato in ethics and divine philosophy (الهيّات – elahiyyaat).” Baha’u’llah writes, “The sages aforetime acquired their knowledge from the Prophets, inasmuch as the latter were the Exponents of divine philosophy (الحکمة الآلهيّة – al-hekmat al-elahiyyat) and the Revealers of heavenly mysteries.” (Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 144)

    From this we see that the divine philosophy is initially given by Revelation, and that the study of the truths of Revelation is also called “divine philosophy.” In the latter sense, the term can also be translated as “theology.” In his last letter to EG Browne, Abdu’l-Baha writes :

    “Praised be God I have traveled safely from London in Paris but alas the occasion did not arise to meet again, because the intention was to speak on topics pertaining to divine philosophy, including eternal life of the spirit and other theological subjects…” (dated February 9, 1913, printed in Hayat-e Hazrat-e ‘Abdu’l-Baha (Life of Abdu’l-Baha), by Faizi p. 220, not my translation)

    Divine philosophy, in the sense of the study of revealed truths (i.e., theology) is contrasted to natural philosophy, which explains material phenomena.

    In one sense, the divine philosophy already exists, because its essential teaching have been promulgated by Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha. But these teachings have not yet been widely applied. There are many many spiritually oriented souls who are doing God’s work, but the mass of mankind are materially oriented, still seeking material and technological solutions to problems that are spiritual and ethical at heart.

    (Abdu’l-Baha, MISC-AB-1408)

  39. Lynette Garcia said

    There is a book called From Copper to Gold: The Life of Dorothy Baker It is a wonderful read about how this ordinary woman was transformed to an extraordinary person that changed a community, pioneered to a foreign land to share a Divine message and her transformation into a powerful, knowledgeable, eloquent, heartfelt speaker on the subject or the Baha’i Faith. From ordinary to extraordinary…from copper to gold with the transformative power of the Word of God. It is a story that gives a living example to the wonderfully stated explanations that Sen has shared.

    How any of us can go from being merely copper to one the greatest conductors of energy…Gold

  40. Jamie said

    In number # 8 above ion this thread Peter quotes the Guardian’s explicit references to physical transmutation (scientists splitting atoms) and the categorical statement that Bahá’u’lláh “was referring to a definite physical condition” yet all you do in the thread is to evade and avoid this and assert in your rejection of the Guardian’s interpretation that literary analysis is required and that it was a metaphorical transmutation. It is as if you are usurping his role and substituting your own interpretation in clear defiance of his role as authorized interpreter.

  41. Sen said

    The letter is on behalf of Shoghi Effendi: it is not an authoritative interpretation of the text, and is not necessarily correct. The Guardian could delegate his function as head of the Universal House of Justice, but I have no evidence that he could delegate his role as authoritative interpreter of the text, and the evidence of letters written on his behalf shows that while he had a consist habit of reading the outgoing mail, he did not always align it to his own knowledge and understanding.

    If we took the letters written by the Guardian’s secretaries to be equivalent to authoritative interpretations of the scripture, how would we deal with the secretary’s letter that says that “‘this is the day which will not be followed by the night” (a prophecy of Baha’u’llah, in The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 34) refers to a never-ending line of Guardians:

    “The Guardians are the evidence of the maturity of mankind in the sense that at long last men have progressed to the point of having one world, and of needing one world management for human affairs. In the spiritual realm they have also reached the point where God could leave, in human hands (i.e. the Guardians’), guided directly by the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh, as the Master states in His Will, the affairs of His Faith for this Dispensation. This is what is meant by ‘this is the day which will not be followed by the night’. In this Dispensation, Divine guidance flows on to us in this world after the Prophet’s ascension, through first the Master, and then the Guardians. If a person can accept Bahá’u’lláh’s function, it should not present any difficulty to them to also accept what He has ordained a divinely guided individual in matters pertaining to His Faith.”
    (From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 25, 1948: Bahá’í News, No. 232, p. 8, June 1950) ditto Shoghi Effendi, Directives from the Guardian, p. 34)

    Further examples are the statements that the Bahai teachings do not specify an age of maturity for marriage, and that saying grace before a meal is a Christian, not a Bahai practice. There are a number of other examples.

    Moreover what the letter says is “We as Bahá’ís must assume that, as He had access to all knowledge, He was referring to a definite physical condition which theoretically might exist.”

    However your comment and Peter’s both miss the point entirely. Whether copper can be transmuted or not is beside the point: to read Baha’u’llah’s literary tropes as if they are science texts is to miss their literary dimension. To me there seems to be little point in reading Baha’u’llah at all, if one starts with this approach to reading. The best preparation for reading religious literature, is to read literature.

  42. Jamie said

    Neither I nor Peter miss the point. You referred to a specific passage and interpreted it as having a metaphorical meaning which it does not have. It has a literal/physical meaning as stipulated by the Guardian. We are not talking here about general literary dimensions but about your literary analysis of a specific statement of Baha’u’llah.

    This is why I wrote that all you do in the thread is to evade and avoid this in your rejection of the Guardian’s explicit interpretation. Your attempt to minimize this specific interpretation by arguing about letters written on his behalf ignores the reference Roland provided: http://bahai-library.com/uhj_letters_behalf_guardian “I wish to add and say that whatever letters are sent in my behalf from Haifa are all read and approved by me before mailing. There is no exception whatever to this rule.”

    The best preparation for reading the religious literature of the Faith is not training in literary analysis but rather obedience to the Lesser Covenant–i.e. to the Master’s and Guardian’s explicit interpretations. Training in literary analysis can indeed be very helpful but it is irrelevant and redundant if it leads you to reject a specific interpretation as the Faith is not like other religions where theologians can decide what the text means and have conflicting multiplicities of meaning.

    Moreover, the logical line of your argument leads to a path in which everything Baha’u’llah wrote could have only metaphorical meanings. He is a Manifestation of God and not a writer like Shakespeare who someone can asses according to the norms of literary criticism. In the Tablet of the Holy Mariner, for example, the authorized interpretation is that He was referring to actual future events and not metaphorical topics with no literal meaning: “Study the Tablet of the Holy Mariner that ye may know the truth, and consider that the Blessed Beauty hath fully foretold future events. Let them who perceive, take warning!” – `Abdu’l-Bahá On the other hand, the Guardian states that “Jinabi Fazel’s explanations regarding the Tablet of the Holy Mariner are so inaccurate and full of mistakes that they should be entirely ignored.”This is why Bahá’u’lláh ensured the appointment of authorized interpreters to avoid precisely the sort of problematic readings (such as your metaphorical interpretation of this passage which is inaccurate and full of mistakes) introduces and which has been the cause of so much religious schism and strife in the past.

  43. Jamie said

    Further to my previous reply to your very inadequate attempt to justify ignoring the Guardian’s interpretation of this passage as a physical and not metaphorical fact I also refer to your quotation of the secretary’s letter that says that “‘this is the day which will not be followed by the night” (a prophecy of Baha’u’llah, in The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 34) and your erroneous inference that this refers to a never-ending line of Guardians.

    “On the contrary, although future Guardians are clearly envisaged and referred to in the Writings nowhere is there a guarantee that the line of Guardians would endure forever. Yet, in spite of this, there is a repeated insistence in the Writings on the indestructibility of the Covenant and the immutability of God’s Purpose for this Day.

    One of the most striking passages which envisage the possibility of such a break in the line of Guardians is in the Kitab-i-Aqdas itself:

    The endowments dedicated to charity revert to God, the Revealer of Signs. No one has the right to lay hold on them without leave from the Dawning-Place of Revelation. After Him the decision rests with the Aghsan (Branches), and after them with the House of Justice – should it be established in the world by then – so that they may use these endowments for the benefit of the Sites exalted in this Cause, and for that which they have been commanded by God, the Almighty, the All-Powerful. Otherwise the endowments should be referred to the people of Baha, who speak not without His leave and who pass no judgment but in accordance with that which God has ordained in this Tablet, they who are the champions of victory betwixt heaven and earth, so that they may spend them on that which has been decreed in the Holy Book by God, the Mighty, the Bountiful.

    The passing of Shoghi Effendi in 1957 precipitated the very situation provided for in this passage, in that the line of Aghsan ended before the House of Justice had been elected….” http://bahai-library.com/uhj_guardianship_uhj_infallibility

  44. Neal Werle said

    Jamie and Sen are currently discussing whether this passage from the Iqan has a metaphorical meaning or a literal one. There is of course room for it to have both literal and metaphorical meanings, as acknowledged by others above. I tend to revisit this page from time to time so as to rediscover this passage’s meaning, yet I find that the comments section is providing me with an abundance of information but a dearth of clarity. For my own sanity I am going to revisit the pertinent texts and provide my own thoughts. This is mostly a rehash of the debate, but with my own thoughts as well.

    This apparently troublesome passage from the Iqan is preceded by an exploration of the meanings of “rebirth” and “return” in the scriptures before Baha’u’llah. In the paragraph beginning “It is evident…” Baha’u’llah states unequivocally that the rebirth of human souls is possible and happens as a mystic transformation via the consumption of a “Divine Elixir.” This elixir is a metaphor if ever I read one, in the same way that “rebirth” is a metaphor.

    The next paragraph begins with, “For instance, consider the substance of copper.” This paragraph is the source of contention in these comments. It is clear that the statement “Were it to be protected in its own mine from becoming solidified, it would, within the space of seventy years, attain to the state of gold,” is to be taken for granted by the reader. Why this should be taken for granted is up for interpretation. Baha’u’llah does not stress a literal interpretation, nor does he yet give any indication it is a metaphor. He simply states it as a fact. Sen says he believes this is a quote from natural philosophers of Baha’u’llah’s time, but that Baha’u’llah did not bother to indicate it was a quote. Baha’u’llah is known to have done this before, in the Tablet of Wisdom (cf. http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/b/TB/tb-10.html note 4 at the bottom). All I can say in confidence is that the reader is being told that this is so, and to take this as a “For instance,” meaning it is an foundational principle for the point Baha’u’llah is to make next.

    The next sentence is as follows: “There are some, however, who maintain that copper itself is gold, which by becoming solidified is in a diseased condition, and hath not therefore reached its own state.” I don’t know if Baha’u’llah is referring to a belief truly held by Islamic scientists/scholars/alchemists, or if he is now speaking metaphorically regarding a debate over the nature of the human soul. But I do know that we were reading about souls being reborn via a metaphorical Divine Elixir, and that we were then told to take for granted that copper can reach the state of gold if left in liquid form, and that this is an “instance” of the soul being reborn into a purer state. I could take this sentence literally, but that would seem irrelevant to the preceding paragraph, and it should be relevant to the preceding paragraph, because this is supposed to be an “instance” of divine rebirth. So this sentence, referring to a debate among people regarding the nature of copper, makes less sense as a strictly literal fact (as that would be irrelevant to what Baha’u’llah was talking about in the preceding paragraph) and makes a lot more sense as a metaphor for a debate regarding the human soul and its purity. I agree with Sen that this particular sentence has metaphorical meaning, even if it is also literally true as Jamie contends, as it seems thematically out of place as a strictly literal statement.

    In the next paragraph, beginning “Be that as it may…” Baha’u’llah begins discussing the “real elixir” which can instantly transform copper to gold. It may be that this “real elixir” is a well known concept among Baha’u’llah’s contemporaries, but as a lay reader, I immediately assume that this “real elixir” is a metaphor for the Divine Elixir, as confirmed in the next paragraph. As such, if the elixir is a metaphor, than the copper and gold it transmutes are also metaphors, presumably for the souls of men.

    I would therefore say that Sen’s metaphorical interpretation is a valid one for all sentences after the sentence, “Were [copper] to be protected in its own mine from becoming solidified, it would, within the space of seventy years, attain to the state of gold.” That particular sentence is not introduced as a metaphor, but is a statement by Baha’u’llah, used as a foundation for the metaphor that follows. It may be a truth on reality affirmed by Baha’u’llah (Jamie’s position), or it may be a quote from natural philosophers in His day (Sen’s position), but it is not itself stated as a metaphor. We should recall that Baha’u’llah did describe alchemy as a “vain and discarded learning” (Iqan pg. 186). If the belief that copper turned to gold after 70 years in liquid form was common only to alchemists in His day, then it would seem more likely that Baha’u’llah did not literally believe this statement to be true, and was only employing this idea for the metaphor. If, however, he introduced this specific idea in this Tablet, then I would say it is more reasonable to say He truly believed and taught this as a literal truth regarding metallurgy and the transmutation of elements.

    In short, based solely on the Writings of Baha’u’llah (the Iqan and the Tablet of Wisdom), I believe that both a literal interpretation and a metaphorical interpretation are plausible, but that the metaphorical interpretation seems more intended. To be more certain, familiarity with the writings of Persian natural philosophers would be useful in determining His intent.

    Jamie and others in this comments section contend that these verses have a literal meaning, regardless of a metaphorical one. Some comments even state these verses do not have a metaphorical meaning, but I believe all but the one (“Were it to be protected…”) certainly do have metaphorical meanings, based on how and when Baha’u’llah introduces the subject of metals and transmutation. So I will explore whether they also definitely have a literal meaning in addition to the metaphorical meaning, rather than force this into a dichotomy of literal vs. metaphorical.

    I do not believe that a justification of literal meaning can be derived from Baha’u’llah’s Writings alone, as He does not always distinguish quotations from external sources from His own beliefs and He is known to speak in metaphors quite often, so we must seek guidance from the authoritative interpreters if we wish to conclude these verses have literal meanings. Shoghi Effendi is such an authoritative interpreter for the Baha’is, as Abdu’l-Baha gave him that authority, who in turn was given that authority by Baha’u’llah. Whether this authority/infallibility for statements by the Guardian or Abdu’l-Baha protects them from factual error, or is merely a covenant that Baha’is must trust them regardless of their perfections, I cannot say. But we must adhere to their statements regarding the interpretation of scripture.

    In 1955, a secretary wrote on behalf of Shoghi Effendi:

    “Considering that a century ago, nobody knew the nature of matter, and couldn’t split any kind of an atom, it should not surprise the scientist that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá states that copper can be transmuted into gold.

    “There may come a time, for all we know, when the mass of many atoms can be changed by scientists. We have no way of proving or disproving at present the statement of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Just because we cannot demonstrate a contention in the Bahá’í Teachings does not mean the contention is not true.

    “The same holds true of the statement of Bahá’u’lláh in the Íqán, regarding transmutation of copper into gold after seventy years, under certain conditions.

    “We as Bahá’ís must assume that, as He had access to all knowledge, He was referring to a definite physical condition which theoretically might exist. Because we don’t know what this condition is in scientific terms does not refute Bahá’u’lláh’s statement at all.

    “The Guardian hopes that Mr. … will not let so small a thing stand in his path. The principle of Faith is to accept anything the Manifestation of God says, once you have accepted Him as being the Manifestation. That is really the crux of the whole matter. It is a question of confidence.”

    What astounds me is that some readers are presuming that this means that Baha’u’llah definitely spoke literally. This whole letter is riddled with uncertainty, and merely asserts possibilities regarding His meanings, and obligations regarding the beliefs of His followers.

    The first paragraph is an apology for Abdu’l-Baha’s use of outdated scientific language regarding transmutation, pointing out that it was the language common in His time.

    The second paragraph says it is possible (but does not guarantee) that one day we will be able to change the mass of atoms. This paragraph does not say we should believe scientific statements in the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha literally, it only says we should not rule out literal interpretations because they are not confirmed as of yet. It says we should leave room for possibilities, and that is all.

    The third paragraph says we should view Baha’u’llah’s Writings on copper and gold the same way.

    The fourth paragraph says we “must assume that… He was referring to a definite physical condition which theoretically might exist,” on account of Baha’u’llah having “access to all knowledge.” Read that again. We must assume (assuming is not “knowing”) that Baha’u’llah was referring to a definite physical condition which “might exist” (ergo might not). We must assume this because we believe “He had access to all knowledge,” so this is undeniably a possible meaning of His. But this is an “assumption” we must make, and it is regarding a “theoretical” physical condition that “might exist.” Now, this means that I, as a Baha’i, cannot rule out that Baha’u’llah may have been speaking literally. Indeed, I should assume he might have been speaking literally. That does not prelude the possibility He was not speaking literally. He could have been only using metaphors! That is allowed by this guidance up to this point. I just need to assume it is possible He was also speaking literally.

    The final paragraph affirms that the “principle of Faith is to accept anything the Manifestation of God says…” So, according to the Guardian (via his secretary), when I read the Iqan, I must accept that copper can be turned into gold in 70 years. That is my duty as a Baha’i. This paragraph has no bearing on the actual meaning of the verses, but it is a guidance for how the believer should engage with the Writings.

    So to summarize, it seems that Baha’u’llah generally believed that alchemy was a pseudoscience, but He still used it in His writings for metaphors quite often. In the Kitab-I-Iqan, he wrote a statement that seems to affirm a definite physical condition that is not yet confirmed by science, and he used this condition as a metaphor for the transformation of the human soul. Because the Kitab-I-Iqan requires the reader to accept this statement as true for the metaphor to make sense, I, as a Baha’i, should accept it as true so as to best receive the revelation of the Iqan. This does not guarantee that the statement is an absolute fact, but accepting it is my obligation as a Baha’i, and it is a key component of having Faith.

    Whether I need to continue to accept this statement outside of the context of the Iqan is unclear, and possibly irrelevant to my spiritual growth. Time will tell how scientific advancements are made.

    I hope these reflections are useful for other readers down the road. Allah-u-Abha

  45. Sen said

    Thank you Neale. I disagree on one point, where you wrote “the Kitab-I-Iqan requires the reader to accept this statement as true for the metaphor to make sense.” Generally speaking, a metaphor does not require a factual foundation, or the belief in one: it only requires that the reader or hearer can surmise what it is meant. For example, if I say that I’m living as happy as God in France, you do not have to believe that God is actually happy when in France, to understand the saying. If I say that a suggestion went down like a lead balloon, you do not have to believe that anyone has actually made a lead balloon to test its rate of downward acceleration. I know what “as blind as a bat” means although I know bats are not blind.

    In this case, I only need to surmise that there was a debate, among natural scientists or alchemists, with one group saying that copper could be transformed into gold by a long process, another saying that copper is prematurely solidified gold. And I understand from Baha’u’llah’s offhand expression, “be that as it may,” that he doesn’t really care: he is saying something about transformation itself and “the Divine Elixir, which, swift as the twinkling of an eye, transmuteth the souls of men!”

  46. Sam said

    Thanks a lot Neale for the beautiful expose’ on the matter. To me it is very clear that in Iqan Baha’u’llah has used transmutation of copper to gold after seventy years as metaphor to convey a deeper spiritual message, and attaching a literal significance would certainly deter from a deeper spatial intent. However, this should not lead me to rule out a literal interpretation. I am, therefore, somewhat puzzled by the Sen’s insistence of rejecting any possibility of the text having a literal interpretation at all. After all as Sen himself has stated in post 17 “Every “word” of scripture has 72 meanings”. Why can’t one of those 72 meanings be literal?!

  47. Sen said

    Hi Sam,
    While every word has multiple meanings, not every meaning that everyone finds is a good and correct meaning. Sometimes people misread a text, or impose an invalid meaning on the text and its author.

    Scripture is the creative word: it has one multi-layered meaning for the people to whom it is addressed, and more meanings for subsequent generations. For example, 19th-century New Zealand Maori found meaning in the Old Testament narratives of the promised land and the trials of the Hebrews, which could not have been in the minds of the authors. But some of these were good meanings, consonant with the original meaning and bearing good fruit. An example is the New Jerusalem built by Rua Tapunui Kenana and his followers. However the same texts and themes are used by the Lord’s Resistance Army, in ways that are not consonant with the historical meaning, and not informed by the spirit of faith, and do not bear good fruit. This is the instrumental use of scripture to justify inhumanity.

    I do not believe we can read the words of the Iqan about copper and gold as references to these chemical elements and to science, for several reasons. First, because this reading is impoverishing, as you have noted. It is not the discovery of a new meaning for our times, under the guidance of the spirit of faith, it is simply a mis-reading of the author’s intent. Mis-readings happen, and so do mis-translations and mistakes in the transmission of a text. We do not have to say they are all good because every word has 72 meaning ! To read the words copper and gold as references to physical elements is not consonant with the immediate context, such as what Baha’u’llah says about the “elixir” and the “touchstone,” or with Baha’u’llah’s own approach to reading religious literature, which the subject of the first part of the Iqan. Consider his treatment of another physical impossibility, the stars falling to earth. He writes that the stars “primarily” refer to the Prophets and saints, and secondarily to the divines “who hold the reins of religion in their grasp.” To read the words copper and gold as references to chemical elements, or stars and moon as heavenly bodies, is in the first case a reading mistake. When we see such mistakes, we should kindly point them out, because it would be an injustice not to do so. But “you can lead a horse to water, but not make him drink.”

    In addition to consistency with the author’s meaning in context, I apply the standards of being informed by the spirit of faith, and bearing good fruit. The spirit of faith is evidenced by charity in dealing with others (among other things). You can scan the comments yourself to see that, in some cases, it is missing — or I fail to discern it! And what are the fruits of Bahais maintaining that Bahai beliefs include the teaching that copper turns into gold after 70 years if protected from becoming dry? This was the incredulous question that was put to me at the beginning of this posting. Does this make the Bahai Faith attractive, or is it a barrier set up, by these Bahais, that hinders seekers from finding the One who is sought? Does it mark the Bahai community as a reliable and predictable partner for governments and NGOs in dealing with problems, including scientific issues such as global warming? Does it encourage Bahai youth to study the physical sciences and take the findings of science seriously? Or does it rather set up a dichotomy of thinking, in which ‘faith’ becomes a distinct sphere in which one believes what ain’t so?

  48. Sam said

    Sen, I agree with you that the only meaning and intent of the text in Iqan is spiritual and one should waste time and look for a physical interpretation. However, from multiple other sources (which you tend to reject), a literal possibility has not been ruled out. Of course if it has not been ruled it does not mean that it is a scientific certainty. It simply mean we do not have enough knowledge to ascertain one way or the other. The text of the message written on behalf of the Guardian posted earlier and the reference in Má’idiy-i-Ásamání, vol. I, p. 41 and note in Kitab Aqda all point to such a possibility, and not a certainty. Not knowing something to make a definite assertion for or against it should be our attitude on this matter. We simply do not know to state one way or the other. That said it should be clear to all of that the real purpose in the text in Iqan is elucidation of a spiritual principle and not a statement in chemical analysis.

    LIke you I tend to attach only a metaphorical meaning to the text, and nothing else. But it seems you have gone one step ahead of everyone else and have discovered for certain that there is no scientific possibility of attaching a literal interpretation of the text in Iqan. It is fine if you have made that discovery. BUT what I find to be untenable is that to sustain and water-proof that strong personal discovery, you are attempting to disregard or reject any authoritative text that hint at a possibility (as opposed to a certainty) of a literal interpretation. In sustaining your belief you even find it necessary to question the authority of the text of the messages written on behalf of the Guardian. Is that really necessary?!

  49. Sen said

    On the one hand, you say, “the only meaning and intent of the text in Iqan is spiritual” and “said it should be clear to all of that the real purpose in the text in Iqan is elucidation of a spiritual principle and not a statement in chemical analysis.” That is what the text tells us about Baha’u’llah’s message here. On the other hand, you say multiple other sources have failed to rule out the possibility the copper will turn into gold if it is kept dry in a mine, therefore “we do not have enough knowledge to ascertain one way or the other.” By that logic, if someone has failed to rule out the possibility that the earth is flat, then it might be. If some people are unconvinced that water always seeks the lower level, then somewhere it might be found flowing uphill. But copper simply does not turn into gold in a space of seventy years: this not an open question waiting for an answer. Nor is it a discovery I have made. Spontaneous transmutation doesn’t happen, and it cannot happen in the universe we live in. The idea goes beyond science fiction to bizarro fiction, writing that appeals by its weirdness. Can we imagine the results, if elements did transmute spontaneously? It’s an entertaining thought, but it’s not the universe we live in. If people think this is a possibility, they are ignorant – the impossible does not become possible because of their thoughts!

    A separate question is, is it possible that Baha’u’llah entertained this idea in a literal sense? Yes, it is a possibility, given his time and environment. No doubt there were people who did not rule out the possibility of spontaneous transmutation. But if someone wants to claim that Baha’u’llah was one of them, the onus is on them to produce the evidence. This passage in the Iqan is not that evidence, because in context the reference is clearly meant metaphorically.

    If there were an authoritative interpretation which says, this passage in the Iqan refers to the literal transmutation of elements, that would undermine the credibility of the source of the interpretation – it would not somehow create a universe in which the transmutation of elements is possible. Fortunately, there is no such authoritative interpretation.

    Finally, is the chemical elements reading, not intended by Baha’u’llah, a new meaning unfolded from the text under the guidance of the Holy Spirit? In my opinion, it is not, for the reasons I provided previously. It is a reading mistake, which hinders seekers from finding the One who is sought, and marks the Bahai Faith as something akin to a flying saucer cult. This is my opinion, which also means that I am bound to do my best to combat this idea. Not all ideas are equally true, or beneficial.

  50. Sam said

    I think we have reached a point that all these arguments seems pointless, and making no sense at all. No matter what the fact of the matter is, and whose interpretation is right and whose is wrong, one thing is for certain! Baha’u’llah says
    “O Son of Dust!
    Verily I say unto thee: Of all men the most negligent is he that disputeth idly and seeketh to advance
    himself over his brother. Say: O brethren! Let deeds, not words, be your adorning. “

  51. Roland said

    A few might share your deluded view expressed in this article but so many Bahá’ís are familiar with other passages and the interpretation of the Guardian that I doubt they would even bother to try to correct your metaphorical viewpoint in this article. Bahá’u’lláh states categorically in Gleanings which is widely available and one of the first books I bought in the1970s “Consider the doubts which they who have joined partners with God have instilled into the hearts of the people of this land. “Is it ever possible,” they ask, “for copper to be transmuted into gold?” Say, Yes, by my Lord, it is possible. Its secret, however, lieth hidden in Our Knowledge. We will reveal it unto whom We will. Whoso doubteth Our power, let him ask the Lord his God, that He may disclose 198 unto him the secret, and assure him of its truth. That copper can be turned into gold is in itself sufficient proof that gold can, in like manner, be transmuted into copper, if they be of them that can apprehend this truth. Every mineral can be made to acquire the density, form, and substance of each and every other mineral. The knowledge thereof is with Us in the Hidden Book.” http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/b/GWB/gwb-97.html

    There is no doubt whatsoever that He is referring to literal copper and gold and other minerals whose density, form, and substance can be changed. No metaphorical meaning at all.

  52. Matthew said

    That copper can be turned into gold is in itself sufficient proof that gold can, in like manner, be transmuted into copper, if they be of them that can apprehend this truth. Every mineral can be made to acquire the density, form, and substance of each and every other mineral. The knowledge thereof is with Us in the Hidden Book.”

    This quote could also easily be viewed as metaphor. But even when taken literally, it is scientifically true. We now know that transmutation of elements is indeed possible, and we are even able to achieve it in a very crude fashion using particle accelerators and nuclear reactors.. I am not sure why you object to it? Nor does this passage being literally true mean that other passages regarding copper and gold must also be taken literally.

  53. Sam said

    I think those who insist that various passages on the topic mean ONLY one thing, and can have no alternate interpretations whatsoever, are erring on their judgments. Yes, each passage has its own context, and therefore, its primary interpretation should be clear within that context. But saying that attribution of any secondary interpretation is impossible, and even ridiculing the intelligence of those who even make an allowance for such secondary interpretations sounds to me going to the extremes.

  54. Roland said

    “We now know that transmutation of elements is indeed possible, and we are even able to achieve it in a very crude fashion using particle accelerators and nuclear reactors.. I am not sure why you object to it?”

    Mathew, I am not sure how you could conclude I object that it is possible when I explicitly state the passage is literal (i.e. transmutation is possible). I am also unsure how you and Sam could conclude it is metaphorical. The “density, form, and substance of each and every other mineral”: minerals, vegetables and animals have density, form and substance. What is metaphorical about that? Copper and gold have density, form and substance. What is metaphorical about a mineral or its density, form an dsubstance?

    In addition to this passage there is another one (so three referring to transmutation of minerals): ” Is it within human power, O Hakím, to effect in the constituent elements of any of the minute and indivisible particles of matter so complete a transformation as to transmute it into purest gold?” http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/b/GWB/gwb-99.htmlPlease note: “minute and indivisible particles of matter.” This is why I believe Shoghi Effendi was correct in stating that in this passage in the Iqan re copper being transmuted into gold Bahá’u’lláh “was referring to a definite physical condition which theoretically might exist.” Mathew rightly mentions that “transmutation of elements is indeed possible, and we are even able to achieve it in a very crude fashion using particle accelerators and nuclear reactors.”

  55. Sen said

    A motif can be metaphorical without every element within the picture being independently metaphorical. In this case, I see no need to find what the density stands for, what the form stands for, what the substance stand for, because I don’t see anything in this or the other similar texts that suggests that Baha’u’llah wanted us to read it that way. His metaphor compares the theoretical possibility of transforming the characteristics of one mineral into another (it is theoretical, because it is in “a hidden book”) to the possibility that Baha’u’llah, outwardly a follower of Mirza Yahya as head of the Babi community, might become an independent Manifestation of God, while Mirza Yahya, outwardly the head of the community, might decline in power. (To see the context regarding Mirza Yahya, join Gleanings CXVII with Gleanings L, “How foolish are those who murmur against the premature birth of His light…” – Gleanings CXVII and Gleanings L are two parts of the same tablet by Baha’u’llah).

    And more broadly, there is a the metaphor of turning copper into gold by alchemy, compared to the transformation that the Word of God can work in human character. Here’s another example, with my comments inserted:

    “The vitality of men’s belief in God is dying out in every land; nothing short of His wholesome medicine can ever restore it. The corrosion of ungodliness is eating into the vitals of human society; what else but the Elixir of His potent Revelation can cleanse and revive it? Is it within human power, O Hakím, to effect in the constituent elements of any of the minute and indivisible particles of matter so complete a transformation as to transmute it into purest gold? [a rhetorical question I think: it is not within human power]. Perplexing and difficult as this may appear, the still greater task of converting satanic strength into heavenly power is one that We have been empowered to accomplish. The Force capable of such a transformation transcendeth the potency of the [literal, alchemical] Elixir itself. The Word of God, alone, can claim the distinction of being endowed with the capacity required for so great and far-reaching a change. (Gleanings XCIX)

  56. Roland said

    “I don’t see anything in this or the other similar texts that suggests that Baha’ullah wanted us to read it that way”: this is the crux of your problem and has been for decades. Only the authorized interpreter of the Writings of Baha’ullah, Shoghi Effendi, knew and could explain what He meant and I have quoted several times (also re your Consensus of the Faithful and other essays) that he states it means that Baha’u’llah “was referring to a definite physical condition which theoretically might exist.” There is nothing metaphorical about “a definite physical condition” yet you persist in challenging the Guardian as you have been doing for decades by substituting your own interpretations and trying to justify your position by challenging the validity of the letters written on his behalf. Shoghi Effendi also states that “Considering that a century ago, nobody knew the nature of matter, and couldn’t split any kind of an atom, it should not surprise the scientist that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá states that copper can be transmuted into gold” and there is nothing metaphorical about atoms whatsoever. As Brent Poirier asked in his comment on your latest essay, please take time for self reflection as you are definitely not endowed with the ability to understand the sacred Texts as the Guardian was endowed by Baha’ullah to preserve the unity of His Faith.

  57. javad said

    hello Sen, what about 19 mithghal of gold as a fine when copper will turn gold easily? Thank you.

  58. Sen said

    We don’t live in a universe where copper turns into gold easily. We have to start with facts, not build fairy-tale castles

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