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The Irresistible Power of Religion

Written by Fethullah Gülen. Posted in Commentary

In whatever way the world changes, however advanced sciences and technology are, and whatever changes take place in ways of thinking, the feeling of attachment to a religion has always been the primary factor in the formation of the scientific and intellectual life of mankind, the evolution of human virtues and in the establishment of new civilizations. With its charm and power, religion is still the most influential element in the lives of the world's peoples and will continue to be so. It is sufficient proof of this argument that, of the two great civilizations in recent history, one is mainly based on Islam and the other owes a good deal to Christianity.

In contrast to the indifference to their own religion and history of some so-called Westernized intellectuals in the Muslim world, Western people are quite appreciative of the roots of their own culture and civilization, so much so that those Muslim intellectuals should be ashamed. While paying tribute to that important pillar of their culture through Christian political parties in power or in opposition, Western peoples also continue to present to the world the messages of hope and salvation in the name of Jesus. This too is an argument that religion will gradually grow more influential in the world as a whole and playa unique role in the future as it did in the past.

Following long years of Communist pressure, the Orthodox Church has already begun to restore its influence in the former Communist bloc; Christian parties have come to power in some Western countries; people take oaths by the Bible in official or non-official places; religious education is given great importance in all institutions of education, and religion can be propagated through the mass media Ali this indicates that, even when it has been distorted and corrupted, it is not possible to defeat religion.

Until recently, those who defend religion appeared only from among theologians. But now many among biologists, anthropologists, zoologists, physicians, physicists, psychologists and sociologists come forward to defend religion and thereby show the eternity of the reality of religion.

It is a pity that, contrary to what is going on in the West, certain intellectual circles in the Muslim world are still stuck in a materialist philosophy and have set their hearts upon Marxist utopianism. It is fortunate that they lack in sound reasoning and insight and are intellectually far from able to convince the majority of people. Those with sufficient understanding and intellectual capacity to draw the right conclusions from what they read and observe are aware that positivism has long been dethroned in scientific and intellectual studies, and that not only physical sciences but also spirituality and morality and other forms of knowledge based on intuition and inspiration are irreplaceable in human life. Furthermore, it would be difficult to claim, at least for the present, that scientists with positivistic and materialistic worldviews are capable of using a moral perspective in their work. In irresponsible hands sciences and their products are deadly weapons. Unless combined with moral reflection, scientific studies are 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 in value; they can be used for beneficial purposes as well as for evil ones. It depends on the one who uses them whether they are good or bad. If they are in the hands of virtuous people who have deep, heartfelt and strong relations with the Creator, they are like tame animals ready to serve humankind; a cause of fear for the unjust and for oppressors, they are a promise of support and hope of security for the oppressed and innocent.

Great thinkers are of the opinion that science and knowledge can have positive value if they are used for the benefit of mankind by virtuous people with high moral standards. Einstein said that science teach us the relations between phenomena and how phenomena exist together under the conditions particular to each; he added that science which consists in the knowledge of what already is does not teaches us what should be. According to him, it is only religion which teaches man how things should be and what goals man should aspire to. Einstein was also of the opinion that religion shows man what his goal in life is, and sciences have much to say about how man can realize that goal. Religion should define the limits of scientific activities or, in other words, religion should point science to its objective and teach it what way to follow to that objective. Science without religion is crippled, while religion without science is blind.

If we restrict our thinking to 'scientific' confines, then the world will appear to us as a monotonous, one-dimensional mechanism, whereas, with its miraculous birth and inevitable death and with its amazing operation, the universe and existence have many aspects concerning which science has nothing to say, but of which religion has the right and authority to speak. Well aware of this reality, scientists such as S. J. Jean and Eddington suggested new ways for science to follow, in opposition to materialistic tendencies ad attitudes, and tried to remove the obstacles before science. The ways they suggested are primarily based on believing in God.

We hope and believe that science will draw nearer to religion and that scientists will realize the absolute necessity of believing in God.