The Faithful’s Challenge in the 21st Century

Posted on: September 9, 2008

This article was published by The Jakarta Post on September 9, 2008. Read the article on The Jakarta Post, here

The battle between the unfaithful and the faithful has filled this world for so many years with countless debates, conflicts and even holy wars.

The faithful, however, seems to always win the argument. For so many centuries the faithful bloc has successfully made people around the world believe that God is watching every move they make and religion is the answer for every misery in this world.

And so for many centuries the people who think rationally and logically and believe that religion and science don’t go together have been called sinful people, the devils, and the wrong ones.

History tells us how it was fine to capture the unfaithful for no reason and punish them for not believing, for spreading the words of the devil to others.

The debate between the faithful and the unfaithful continues and it will not likely cease any time soon. The people who believe in religions accuse the atheists and the agnostics for doing sinful things and say they will go to hell. While on the other hand people who don’t believe religions bring any good to this world reply, “You’ve never even seen hell.”

But the 21st century may be the time for the so-called unfaithful to show how good their view points are. Their complaint that people who have never seen hell and heaven can accuse them for being the mistaken ones seems to sound reasonable after all.

Looking at the world from the perspective of the unfaithful may be advantageous for all of us — including people of faith.

The earth is suffering every single day from our greed. Global warming is no longer a myth you tell your children before going to bed. But, do we really care about it? What have the faithful done for this problem? The unfaithful think the faithful haven’t done anything about it, they are just making things worse.

In the United States, it’s the conservatives, people who believe in religious and moral values, who back oil drilling and think it’s in the people’s interest, while the unfaithful backed by scientific data think that’s a crazy idea. It’s the conservatives who want to have more wars and support gun ownership.

Islamic radicals are something so feared by the West, appearing often in books and TV shows. The Sept. 11 tragedy was a reminder for the West that they are facing another kind of war. Since then thousands of missiles have been launched to kill Islamic extremists in Afghanistan and Iraq.

According to CNN’s documentary God’s Warriors, Islamic radicals are not the only ones the world should be concerned about. Christian and Jewish extremists may too endanger liberal values in the long run. This happens because their loyalty is unbeatable. What can stand against the loyalty of a devout religious person who believes in things she or he has never seen?

But while religious people are still waiting for the Messiah to come and save all of us from the world’s turbulence, the unfaithful always have rational solutions. To the unfaithful everything has to have a rational reason, if not why should we do it?

To them the world’s unsafe condition sparked by religious hatred is a good justification to why religions are not relevant any more. It’s the religious who reject hundreds of scientific researches, including stem cell research, that are supposed to make the world a better place for all humans.

With the technology growing so fast the unfaithful are asking this question: “Who needs religions and God,anyway?” They think science has all the answers, or at least it will.

Good news for the faithful — statistics show that about 5 billion people in this world still think they need religions and that God does exist. So, it seems the faithful still win the argument.

But it is also true that more people are doubting religions. And the unfaithful are happy to announce that there are more parents who want their children be taught Darwinism.

More young people, not just in the West but also in the East, are questioning the effectiveness of religions in dealing with the world’s challenges. They are demanding religious clerics to provide them with proven answers and not just some magical answers. And they don’t just want to believe, they want to feel and see.

Science seems to have all the answers this generation needs. It has provided us with amazing inventions that enable us to have much better lives. Everyone who lives in the big cities, including Jakarta, know exactly how good today’s inventions are — internet, cell phones, computers and iPods are some of the modern inventions that we cant’ seem to live without.

Religions have never faced the tremendous pressures they do today. In the old times, it was easy for the faithful to explain how this earth had been created: God created earth in several days — just like that, no farther explanation needed.

But now the unfaithful have their scientific explanation. Although it’s still a big debate, scientists now believe they will eventually find the true answer of how the earth was really created that everyone who believes in science can agree on.

Buddhism, which some people think is a philosophy, has shown its flexibility toward current world’s issues in an extreme way. The Dalai Lama has said that if science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change.

Monotheistic religions may not need to follow Buddhism’s unusual move. But there’s something the faithful should be concerned about: The world is changing rapidly. Religions have to follow and adapt themselves to the current conditions if they want to survive in the future.

The last thing that religious people ought to do is attack the unfaithful and call them names. That is simply useless. Instead of fighting, religious people should embrace both the people who don’t believe in religions and the science they believe in, and show how religions can indeed be the answer for all the world’s problems. Not just problems in the past, but present and future.

To grab the attention of today’s younger generation, religious clerics should understand how they think. This generation is not the same. Clerics should not expect that their old methods, successfully given to the parents of this generation, will always be useful.

A tip for Indonesian clerics: They all should start using Internet and computers; if they have, then they will have to use them more.

Picture is taken from here.


15 Responses to "The Faithful’s Challenge in the 21st Century"

for better solution, why don’t we visit heaven and hell together. just to prove who’s right, who’s wrong, wanna bet? :mrgreen:

i think, being a believer, disbeliever, agnostic, atheist, etc is private and exclusive because it’s a privacy area of everyone’s. i think everyone should appreciate other people’s choice why s/he chooses this or that. even if we concern with them, simply by asking why do you do this or that, is there another chance for them to change their mind, do it persuasively of course, we just want to discuss with good common sense and intellectual, not with anger and emotional debate. emotional debate not worth our time, logical discussion worth our knowledge.

those battles, nowadays, are more to satisfy political interest. that’s why i like to be more look impartial, although i’m not completely impartial, but let’s say that i don’t want to share it in public 🙂

congratulation! this article is the tenth published in The Jakarta Post…10….it means your articles’ number turns out to two digit 🙂

gak kan kusia-siakan kesempatan pertamax dan hattrick ini….yeeyy, yeeyy, yeeyy

all we have to do is know your religion. if a moslem never open his / her koran or hadist. never know the meaning of each ayat or hadist. just shalat, fasting, or going to mecca. knowing by learning our religion is the key.

sorry….if a moslem never open his / her koran or hadist. never knows the meaning of each ayat or hadist, they are moslem because they just shalat, fasting, or going to mecca, they will find that islam is useless. i think it’s better for us to wait the death and prove what ALLOH said in Koran.

sorry….and i think it’s better for us not to say anything we don’t know about.

nice post!
This is why we are the faithful have to keep our mind open with diversity.
cara berpikir yang sempit dan chauvinist membuat manusia memiliki standar ganda. sangat patuh pada larangan-larangan agama yg sepele tapi begitu mudah melanggar larangan-larangan agama yang sulit dilaksanakan.
as far as i know, dalam agama pun sering diajarkan agar manusia hidup selaras dengan alam, menjaga, merawat, bukan mengeksploitasi. hal-hal seperti itu juga diajarin loh dalam agama. tapi jarang ada yg tahu, atau tahu tapi ga peduli.
dan, gue percaya, agama seharusnya berjalan beriringan dengan ilmu pengetahuan, dan cara paling jitu untuk melakukannya adalah dengan cara menerima semua ajaran agama dan ilmu pengetahuan yang diterima dengan pemikiran yang terbuka. tapi terbuka bukan berarti ga pake saringan loh.

still, klo pikirannya sempit, ga ada gunanya juga rajin buka internet, Sa! hehehe…

One question. Is it possible for us to be faithful and scientist in the same time?

good question! Yes, it’s very possible. In my religion I embrace to, Islam, it gives us a lot of chances to be faithful and scientist at the same time. No wonder there are many western scientists converted to Islam because they find many compatibilities between science and Islam.

but if you are already a Muslim, you know what I mean. But if you’re not a Muslim, this answer is only for information 🙂

On your last line:
They should start using internet? I certainly don’t want internet to be full with their dogmatic perspective…

Religion’s dogmatic doctrine is their most powerful tools, yet is is their biggest weakness. It is one powerful justification for people to accept religion, but the nature of dogmatic doctrine–doesn’t provide any space for the society to be critical on it or to not questions the fallacies and obscurities behind religious doctrine–is undoubtedly the biggest questionable thing about religion.

Btw, boleh exchange link?

In my opinion, both faithful and unfaithful can co-exist together because in current world both can balance and contribute to our life. Religion in some places , it make people believe there is a feedback by doing good deed. As all we know, technology and science have been the key progress of human society since 20th century. I think we don’t have to choose between them. Both can be coexist since both are part of humanity. Your example that religion can’t do anything about global warming is unfair for one part as we know that if some one want to suicide science and technology will be useless in this part. We have to admit that science and technology progress faster than religion in this part. Maybe it is time for religion to progress in order to adapt the progress of human society. I think it will be useful if both side have more overlap with each other as religious side know more about science an technology and the other side know more about religious side. Extremist is always a bad thing since both will never accept other point of view. Seeing using the other people ‘s angle will be the best for all of us.

kak tasa, hanya ini bahasaku. hehehe…
saya meyakini bahwa setiap ilmu yang ada di dunia ini saling berkaitan dan melengkapi satu sama lain. agama adalah salah satu ilmu yah…
jadi, ilmu agama dan ilmu alam (tidak lupa ilmu sosial dan teknologi dan teman2nya semua) juga saling berkaitan dan saling melengkapi.
manusia yang hidup hanya memegang ilmu agama adalah manusia yang tidak lengkap. kita bisa lihat pasukan2 jihat yang menyalahartikan ayat kitab mereka sendiri. pastinya karena mereka tidak rasional, tidak menggunakan akal dan logika yang telah Tuhan berikan buat mereka.
manusia yang hidup hanya mengandalkan ilmu pengetahuan juga tidak lengkap. mereka pinter, otak mereka digunakan secara maksimal, sayang kurang baik. kurang mempertimbangkan sisi kebaikan dari penemuan mereka. yang penting nemu dan temuan mereka baik bagi diri mereka sendiri saat itu. tau deh apa akibatnya nanti.
manusia harus hidup dengan keduanya, ilmu pengetahuan dan ilmu agama. keseimbangan. dipelajari, dimengerti, dan diterapakan dengan benar-benar benar.
aku gak suka muluk2, tapi muluk2ku yang ini bener kan?

it’s time to the faithful for act something that would do any good for all humans, not just the faithful themselves. the faithful usually only cares about their belief, which is not believed by everyone. While the unfaithful have created something useful and worthy to all humans ( in terms of secular inventions like the tech we use today)

and with the faithful (conservative, radicals) make more wars and chaos.. it brings more bad names for the faithful side.

Yonna: That’s a good idea. Would you like to be our tour guide? Hehe. Thank you for your support, yes it’s my 10th article on The Jakarta Post.

artikel: You have a good point. I guess religious people need to find the true meaning of their religions.

macangadungan: Setuju banget! Dunia ini memang dipenuhi oleh orang-orang dengan pemikiran sempit, maunya menang sendiri dan tidak pernah mau kalah. Kadang gue juga gitu sih, hehe. Thanks.

blackjack: Why not?

Andika: Well, “using the internet” essentially means they should understand the way today’s people think. Boleh banget tukeran link.

Isyu: I believe so too. Thanks for sharing 🙂

Areta: Halo, udah lama nih gak bersua. Kemana aja? Maksud kamu sangat benar, mungkin sudah saatnya tiap-tiap kubu saling mengalah dan mengisi kekurangan satu sama lain. Capek kan berantem terus.

Sherry: Good one. Sometimes the faithful can be too arrogant and think that they have the right to judge others wrong or right.

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guebukanmonyet is Tasa Nugraza Barley. He's a free man with unique thoughts and dreams. He sees his life and this world differently from anyone else. That's because he knows what he wants; and for that reason he doesn't want to be the same. Read why he blogs, here.

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