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The Irresistible Power of Religion

by Fethullah Gülen on . Posted in Gülen's Thoughts

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Regardless of change, advancements in science and technology, and new ways of thinking, the feeling of attachment to a religion always has been the primary factor in forming humanity's scientific and intellectual life, developing human virtues, and establishing new civilizations. With its charm and power, religion is still the most influential element in people's lives and power. This reality will continue to exist. The existence of two great civilizations in recent history, one based mainly on Islam and the other owing a good deal to Christianity, proves this argument.

In contrast to some of the Muslim world's so-called Westernized intellectuals, who seem to be ashamed of Islam and their history, Western people appreciate their cultural and civilizational roots. While paying tribute to that important cultural through Christian political parties, Western people continue to present global messages of hope and salvation in the name of Jesus. This also supports the argument that religion gradually will grow more influential and play a unique role in the future, just as it did in the past.

Following the near-global collapse of communist ideology, the Orthodox Church is restoring its influence in the former communist bloc. Christian parties have come to power in some European countries, and people take oaths by the Bible in official or nonofficial places. Religious education is given great importance in schools and colleges, and is propagated through the mass media... All this indicates that, even after distortion and corruption, religion cannot be defeated.

Until recently, only theologians defended religion. But now many biologists, anthropologists, zoologists, physicians, physicists, psychologists, and sociologists are doing so. This shows the eternity of religion's reality.

It is a pity that, contrary to what is going on in the West, certain Muslim intellectual circles remain stuck in a materialist philosophy and have set their hearts upon a Marxist utopia. Fortunately, their lack of sound reasoning and insight, as well as their intellectual separation from the majority, means that not many people pay attention to them. People who can draw the right conclusions from what they read and observe know that positivism was dethroned long ago in scientific and intellectual studies, and that the physical sciences, spirituality, morality, and other forms of knowledge based on intuition and inspiration are irreplaceable in human life. Furthermore, right now it is hard to claim that positivistic and materialistic scientists can apply a moral perspective to their work. In irresponsible hands, science and its products are deadly weapons. Unless combined with moral reflection, science is apt to bring about new kinds and degrees of calamity, like the Hiroshima and Nagasaki tragedies.

Many products of science and technology, like nuclear power, are neutral, for the end result depends upon how they are used. In the hands of virtuous people who have deep, heartfelt, and strong relations with the Creator, they are like tame animals ready to serve humanity. They are a cause of fear for the unjust and oppressors, and a promise of support and hope of security for the innocent and oppressed.

Great thinkers opine that science and knowledge can have positive value if used to benefit humanity by virtuous people with high moral standards. Einstein said that science teaches us the relations between phenomena and how phenomena exist together under the conditions particular to each. He added that science, which consists of the knowledge of what already is, does not teach us what should be; only religion teaches us how things should be and to which goals we should aspire. Einstein also believed that religion points out our goals, and that science can be very helpful in showing us how to reach those goals. Religion should define science's limits by pointing science to its objective and teaching it how to pursue that objective. Science without religion is crippled, while religion without science is blind.

If we restrict our thinking to "scientific" confines, the world will appear as a monotonous, one?dimensional mechanism. However, in regard to its miraculous birth and inevitable death and its amazing operation, science has nothing to say about the universe and existence. Such areas are the proper sphere of religion. Such scientists as Sir J. Jeans and Eddington have suggested new and primarily God-based ways for science to follow, in opposition to materialistic tendencies and attitudes. They also have tried to remove the obstacles before science.

We hope and believe that science will draw nearer to religion, and that scientists will realize the absolute necessity of believing in God. Gunler Bahari Soluklarken, Izmir 1997, pp. 88-92