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Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era

  • Author:
  • J. E. Esslemont

  • Source:
  • US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1980 edition
  • Pages:
  • 286
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Pages 198-199

Persecution of Prophets

The great Prophets of religion have always been, at Their coming, despised and rejected of men. Both They and Their early followers have given their backs to the smiters and sacrificed their possessions and their lives in the path of God. Even in our own times this has been so. Since 1844 A.D., many thousands of Bábís and Bahá’ís in Persia have suffered cruel deaths for their faith, and many more have borne imprisonment, exile, poverty and degradation. The latest of the great religions has been “baptized in blood” more than its predecessors, and martyrdoms have continued down to the present day. With the prophets of science the same thing has happened. Giordano Bruno was burned as a heretic in 1600 A.D. for teaching, amongst other things, that the earth moved around the sun. A few years later the veteran philosopher Galileo had to abjure the same doctrine on his knees in order to escape a similar fate. In later times, Darwin and the pioneers of modern geology were vehemently denounced for daring to dispute the teaching of Holy Write that the world was made in six days, 199 and less than six thousand years ago! The opposition to new scientific truth has not all come from the Church, however. The orthodox in science have been just as hostile to progress as the orthodox in religion. Columbus was laughed to scorn by the so-called scientists of his day, who proved to their own satisfaction that if ships did succeed in getting down to the Antipodes over the side of the globe, it would be absolutely impossible for them to get up again! Galvani, the pioneer of electrical science, was scoffed at by his learned colleagues, and called the “frogs’ dancing master.” Harvey, who discovered the circulation of the blood, was ridiculed and persecuted by his professional brethren on account of his heresy and driven from his lecture chair. When Stephenson invented his locomotive engine, European mathematicians of the time, instead of opening their eyes and studying the facts, continued for years to prove to their own satisfaction that an engine on smooth rails could never pull a load, as the wheels would simply slip round and round and the train make no progress. To examples like these one might add indefinitely, both from ancient and modern history, and even from our own times. Dr. Zamenhof, the inventor of Esperanto, had to battle for his wonderful international language against the same sort of ridicule, contempt, and stupid opposition which greeted Columbus, Galvani, and Stephenson. Even Esperanto, which was given to the world so recently as 1887, has had its martyrs.