Man is not by nature evil and incapable of good, but "the noblest and most perfect of all created things." In him "are potentially revealed all the attributes and names of God to a degree that no other being hath excelled or surpassed." He is the mystery of God. But lack of education has "deprived him of that which he doth inherently possess." He is "a mine rich in gems of inestimable value." But "education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures." (Baha'u'llah). Not any sort of education: what is meant is divine education through the manifestations and according to their teachings and commandments. Just as a plant needs light to develop the perfections within it, so man needs spiritual illumination through the Sun of Truth, the Logos. Man-- as is said in the daily (Baha'i) prayer-- is created "to know and worship God." If he fails in this duty, he has missed the purpose of his existence, and the spiritual potentialities within him will not be fully developed. Without divine guidance, and relying only on his reason, man goes astray. Baha'u'llah leaves no doubt that "nothing whatsoever can exist without the revelation of the splendour of God." "Were the Hand of Divine Power to divest of high endowment all created things, the entire universe would become desolate and void." The whole development of the human race has been brought about by the revelations of God which have succeeded each other from time immemorial. (91:4)
But, one might object, the world is in a bad state, and evil is to be seen everywhere. This is recognized well enough. "And if God willed to punish men for their misdeeds, he would not leave a single living being on earth." it says in the 'Qur'an'. Baha'u'llah too complains that men "have been led astray, and are truly of the heedless," that there is no one who sincerely craves after truth and "seeketh guidance," that all are "dwellers in the land of oblivion" and "followers of the people of wickedness and rebellion," that the peoples, "have languished, stricken and sore athirst, in the vale of idle fancy and waywardness," because they have failed "to seek from the luminous and crystal Springs of divine knowledge the inner meaning of God's holy words." Baha'u'llah also warns against following "the steps of the Evil One," who "is lying in wait," who "hindereth the rise and obstructeth the spiritual progress of the children of men." Satan, however, is not an independent power opposed to God, but a metaphor for the lower nature of man tied to the world. (92:1)
'Abdul-Baha speaks of man's dual nature. The physical nature is inherited from Adam, the spiritual nature "from the Reality of the Word of God." The physical nature "is the source of all imperfection," the spiritual nature "of all perfection." The low qualities of man, the sins, are the consequence of "the power of the lusts." The body obeys the demands of Nature: "A man who has not had a spiritual education is a brute." Lofty as the station is "which man, if he but choose to fulfil his high destiny, can attain"-- he can also sink into the depths of degradation, "depths which the meanest of creatures have never reached." This (above) verse from Baha'u'llah is a sufficient explanation of all the evil on earth-- including Auschwitz and Hiroshima. The Devil was not needed; for that! But all the imperfections, all the bad qualities, "which come from the requirements of the physical life of man," can be "transformed into human perfections" by the Word of God, the cause of spiritual life, which "is a quickening spirit... Therefore Christ was a quickening spirit, and the cause of life in all mankind." (93:1)
The transformation of man-- his inner deliverance and turning to God-- is a precondition of his ability to partake of spiritual life. "Repent!" cried John the Baptist of old, to those who prepared for the coming of Christ. ..(The theologian) did not recognize that the transformation of man is more than "education, piety and brotherly love, etc.", more than the naive call, "be kind to each other and obedient to God." The transformation of man, the "return" demanded in the Jewish religion, is the complete turning of man to God, with whom he becomes united through the accomplishment of the law: transformation is the spiritual resurrection which Jesus demanded. Nothing can bring about this transformation except the living Word of God.