The Faithful’s Challenge in the 21st Century
Posted September 9, 2008on:
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.