There is a common core in variants on the Golden Rule, the concept of the Greater Covenant, variants of most of the Ten Commandments, and prayer and mediation across the major religions. As 'Abdu'l-Baha explained in some talks in North America, the differences between religions are temporal and not essential and due to human limitations and misunderstandings, superstitions, and blind imitation. Go read various talks on this in Promulgation of Universal Peace. What we also understand is many of the older religious traditions lack authority of the original texts and all have many divisions and sects and misunderstandings even within them.
What really matters is whether Baha'u'llah and the Bab met the tests of a Messenger of God by demonstrating knowledge without learning. https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/smiths-bible-dictionary/prophet.html That is and has been the most convincing test and is found in the Hebrew Bible and the Qur'an as well as in other texts. To this day, only the Bab and Baha'u'llah proved capable to producing verses with such rapidity without research, assistance, substantial education, or practice. The Bab makes this point repeatedly and proved it before numerous witnesses (Mulla Husayn, Siyyid Yahya-i-Darabi, the Governor of Isfahan). This is discussed in the Persian Bayan, Vahid 2, Bab 1. http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/tb/SWB/swb-74.htmlBaha'u'llah discusses this at length in the Kitab-i-Iqan pages 180 to 221, which He revealed in two days. http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/b/KI/ki-7.html See also Proofs of Baha'u'llah's Mission, compilation by Paul Lample.
Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha made numerous predictions that proved true but were mocked or doubted that the time that were recorded between 1868 and 1920. This is discussed in Promised Day is Come by Shoghi Effendi and The Challenge of Baha'u'llah by Gary Matthews (2018 edition). Mirza Abu' Fad'l also discusses this and noted that, as an opponent of the Baha'i Faith, he converted based on one such prophesy of Baha'u'llah. They anticipated many scientific developments, including nuclear power and weapons and developments in medicine. They demonstrated much knowledge that could only have come from God, even though 'Abdu'l-Baha was derivative of Baha'u'llah's authority. Indeed, there are over 100 instances of statements that were contemporaneously recorded but proved true. None have been proven false if properly understood.
Additionally, in answer to many questions Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha explained many passages in the Bible and Qur'an concerning this Day, including whole chapters in Some Answered Questions. Unlike academic scholars, they did not spend hours studying many books researching and pondering such things. Baha'u'llah and the Bab did not practice these Revelations over and over and 'Abdu'l-Baha did not practice His many talks. They each spoke spontaneously and without reference to the texts they cited.
Then there are the many expectations regarding the Promised One found in the texts of each major religion that refer to Baha'u'llah by title, place, date, and key events associated with His coming.
In doing so you came to a rather elementary conclusion of which Baha’ism is certainly not the only corollary. What about Islam itself, from which this whole concept of ‘progressive revelation’ is ultimately derived, or Hinduism, where such a concept has not been more succinctly expressed as in the Bhagavad Gita, where it is said: “Whenever righteousness wanes and unrighteousness increases, I send myself forth […] I come into being age after age” (4:7–8)—What about all of this? There is nothing novel about the Bahāʾī concept. What Baha’ism does, which is entirely different to the noble concept of perennialism, is to blur the lines between the various Traditions and to subsume them all within its own framework, that is, to effectually destroy them. This is no better demonstrated than than in Saiedi’s Gate of the Heart where he tries to portray the Bāb as some kind of anti-clerical modernist who believed in the Protestant idea of ‘independent investigation’ as Baha’ism preaches it (see pp. 3–14)—God forbid! The reality is that Baha’ism itself lacks any kind of traditional authority in that it actively seeks to subvert the spirit of Tradition. Your argument that others don’t have such authority since they lack their original texts seems to be suggestive of physical taḥrīf, an idea which Baha’ism unequivocally rejects (see the Kitāb-i Īqān,para. 93), and you seem to ignore the fact that a religious tradition is much more than just a book or a collection of books (this is really a Protestant tendency) or that there might be deposits of Tradition which are superior the written word. Ce qui est écrit n'est rien (What is written is nothing).
Your other points are hardly even worth addressing. You’ve repeated them over-and-over again, and they’ve been refuted over-and-over again. Yes, Bahā’u’llāh did refer to books (see the Īqān,para. 203). He was born an aristocrat—it was a given that he would have received an excellent education from a private tutor—and we know from ʿIzziya Khānum that, well before his claim, he had amassed a large personal library of religious literature and frequented the company of those learned in such matters (Tanbīh al-Nāʾimīn [The Awakening of the Sleeper], pp. 4–8). There is no basis for his claim of ‘innate knowledge.’ He did practice ‘revealing verses,’ which he disposed of in the Tigris (see ʿAtiyya Rūḥī’s biography of Ṣubḥ-i Azal, cf. God Passes By, p. 138). In any case, the Bible does not even refer to ‘innate knowledge’ as a criterion for prophethood (Paul, for example, was a very learned Pharisee), nor does it say that a case of seemingly innate knowledge is even proof of a claim to prophecy. The Bible even allows for the possibility that God would test the people by sending them a false prophet who would nevertheless perform miraculous signs and make accurate predictions (Deuteronomy 13:1–5). Perhaps the text intends by this that God would give the false prophet the power to perform such signs and to make such predictions, but what seems more likely is that the text is referring to tricksters like those of Pharaoh’s court (Exodus 7:8–11, cf. Qur’ān 20:61–70). In his Seven Proofs, the Bāb seems to view these occurrences as literal and physical and contrasts them with the more abstract and figurative miracles which he viewed himself and Muḥammad as having performed (namely the revelation of their texts). Bahā’u’llāh’s ‘prophecies’ were nothing more than clever trickery, just like those of Joseph Smith and others. His prediction about the Ottoman Empire was written when everyone was already labeling it ‘the sick man of Europe,’ and anyone with insight who lived in that period could have noted the inevitability of a conflict between France and Prussia (the event which led to the downfall of Napoleon III), considering that the interests of the latter (a strong, unified Germany) were directly at odds with those of the former, which found itself wanting for allies and on a direct collision course with Prussia a year before Bahā’u’llāh made his prediction. There is nothing extraordinary in his letters to rulers. There is not even evidence that the majority of them were even seen by their addressees.
I am off the forum for some time. I do respect your effort to at least reply with at least some substance. That is refreshing.
Much of what you are saying is really a mishmash of excuses, selective explanations much like the Jewish clerics did in the time of Jesus. The Bab, Baha'u'llah, and 'Abdu'l-Baha did not perform "cheap parlor tricks" like the opponents of Moses. The priests opposing Moses did cheap magic tricks if the story is to be believed. (There is a lot of evidence that the story of Moses and the Exodus is substantially embellished and inconsistent with archaeological and historical records, as noted by Finkelstein, Dever, and Freedman. By contrast, the Central Figures tended to dismiss simple miracles as reliable evidence except to those that witnessed them, even the miracle of the Bab's execution which was witnessed by perhaps 10,000 people and attested to in a report by a Western diplomat present.
Also, I have rarely posted such things on the exBaha'i forum and only periodically on the Baha'i forum. A review of the exBaha'i forum shows a lot of repetition (without substance) of the same material over and over again with little originality. Besides, one cannot assume that persons visiting the site go back and read prior threads.
As to the more direct issue:
The test of a Prophet in Judaism is well-known and partially set forth in Deut. 18 and again in Isaiah 41;21-23 but more fully in other places in Jewish literature. Isaiah makes very clear that only a Prophet of God would be capable of such things. This is noted in Smith's Bible Dictionary Discussion of a Prophet (Nabi). In fact, the very definition of Nabi is derived from a spring that appears in a desert without a known source (implying that the source could only be from God).
You can manufacture excuses to explain away one or two specific events or predictions but not all. The Bab and Baha'u'llah repeatedly revealed verses before witnesses. They did so without reference to the underlying texts or other information. Often they were in prison or exile, without extensive libraries and assistance. Neither had evidenced any such abilities prior to becoming the Messenger of God and no human since Muhammad has done so.
The Bab did it before multiple witnesses multiple times. Baha'u'llah repeatedly challenged people to show where He had obtained such abilities, as did the Bab. Baha'u'llah also challenged repeatedly that He did not have such learning and had not attended such schools as to enable such abilities or knowledge.
As for the prophesies, it is not one or two, it is more than 100 by my count. It is not one ruler or vizar or country but multiple ones. Mirza Abul Fad'l attested to the fact that Baha'u'llah's prophesy regarding the Ottoman Empire was not foreseeable and was his personal test of Baha'u'llah. We also know historically that the Messages were received in many cases.
Beyond that, the prophesies of nuclear power and the League of Nations and United Nations, World Wars I and II, the rise and fall of communism and the fall of kings in 1917, medical developments, etc. are numerous, too specific, and sufficiently documented to be more than cheap parlor tricks. Some of these were then repeated or confirmed by 'Abdu'l-Baha in 1911 to 1913.
Finally, as for Joseph Smith, I grew up near a LDS church. Joseph Smith struggled to purportedly translate and write the Book of Morman. And he claimed to need a device (multiple conflicting stories) to do so. It is not particularly well written even in the original language (a lot borrowed from the Bible). He NEVER made such predictions as Baha'u'llah, the Bab, and 'Abdu'l-Baha about events in the greater world. If he had, the LDS missionaries would be repeating them over and over again as proofs, which they don't.
Anyway, I wish you the best.
You are ignoring the more important passage in this case, namely Deut. 13:1-5, which undermines your argument. Isa. 41:21-23 is not referring to simple events in the near future, which a clever impostor could easily approximate, as the author in Deut. 13 is aware of, but to the events before the world's creation (v. 22) and to the events of the Last Day (see Rashi's commentary on v. 23). Moreover, the challenge presented in this passage is not to people but to the idols (v. 22), which the people have created with their own hands (vv. 5-7). This is a polemic against idolatry (cf. Isa. 40:19-20, 44:12-13, 46:6, etc.), and so, in v. 26 the author asks "Who [that is, which of your gods], declared it from the beginning [that is, who predicted these events]?" It was only the God of Israel who predicted these things (see Torrey, Charles C., "Isaiah 41" [H.T.R. 44, 3: 121-136], p. 129). This is not describing the criteria for knowing a prophet, which were already laid out in Deut. 13 and 18, but demonstrating the superiority of the God of Israel over the false gods of all other nations. What you are doing here—and what a lot of Bahāʾīs tend to do when dealing with either the Biblical or Qur'ānic text—is called 'prooftexting,' and this is eisegesis, not proper, critical exegesis of a text. Moreover, your argument about the etymology of נביא (nābîʾ) is wrong. Even the source you cited says it is "derived from a verb signifying 'to bubble forth' like a fountain; hence the word means one who announces or pours forth the declarations of God" without any mention of a spring which appears without explanation; you seem, again, to be reading that into the text. In any case, Smith's Bible Dictionary is quite an outdated source, and John Huehnergard notes, drawing from more recent research in his article entitled "On the Etymology and Meaning of Hebrew Nābîʾ" (Eretz-Israel 26 : 88-93), that the likely origin of the word is the Akkadian nabû, meaning 'the one called.'
Now, as for Bahā'u'llāh's supposed prophecies, you are grasping at straws here:
You can manufacture excuses to explain away one or two specific events or predictions but not all.
The argument you are invoking is called the cumulative weight argument. I did not 'manufacture excuses;' rather, I provided very rational explanations as to how an astute observer could have easily made such predictions without any divine assistance. This obviously does not disprove his claim to prophecy. However, in light of this, there is only a slight possibility of each prediction being an actual prophecy, and a bunch of slightly plausible arguments taken together does not make a strong argument. Rather, as Steve Mason notes, "cumulative weight drastically reduces probability. That is, every additional proposition that I need to be true (i.e., certain), but is only probable, drags the argument down" (Orientation to the History of Roman Judaea, p. 77).
Besides, some of the prophesies of Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha are not near-term prophesies. There are over 100 documented prophesies or statements confirmed by subsequent events, like the rise and fall of communism, fall of monarchs, World War I and World War II, League of Nations, and United Nations. Moreover, they are far more extensive than the Prophet Muhammad and Baha'u'llah and the Bab produced far more extensive revelations with far more documentation than the Prophet Muhammad. I know the source and background of the concept of a Nabi quite well and have an older, printed version of Smith's Bible Dictionary. You cannot prove Muhammad without accepting the Bab and Baha'u'llah provided superior and more extensive and documented proofs. That is the point.
You are just quibbling because you don't want to believe. You have that right but as a Baha'i I have no desire to merely argue if it bears no fruit. So, I am DONE.