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Symposium 2013

Proposal - Religion and Global Stability: Some Solution Proposals

The Challenge

Many global problems such as climate change require global solutions that will often involve the provision of costly public goods. While the benefits outweigh the costs at the global level, this may n ...

Many global problems such as climate change require global solutions that will often involve the provision of costly public goods. While the benefits outweigh the costs at the global level, this may not be the case in every country or for every social group. Accordingly, individuals – as voters, consumers, investors or politicians – are more likely to support costly global solutions if they care more strongly about the global common good than about themselves or their nation, social or religious group.

In order to survive man must acquire knowledge, he must go through the process of learning, he must go through the process of thinking, he must activate his faculty of reason. This is why we have it in our Islamic tradition that: - The first thing created by God was the ’aql (reason), as well as that: - The reason is God’s Scale on Earth - as the great Muslim philosopher and mystic Imam al-Ghazālī had said. [سعلطان العقل الذي هو ميزان الله في الارض].

Yes, you are right to ask: but where is this 'aql (reason) and where is this God's reason scale in religion? Is religion compatible with reason? Is there a meeting place for religion and reason? Does man need religion if for him the basic means of survival is reason? Is religion a source of conflict or means for reconciliation?

I do not pretend to give you satisfactory answers to those questions that we often hear these days, but I will try to provoke your thought about the meaning of "faith", "religion" and "morality" as three similar, but in some aspects quite different concepts that should be properly understood.

So let me say that “faith” is God’s gift of personal belief; “religion” is a theology as “the study of God and his relation to the world especially by analysis of the origin and teachings of an organized religious community” , and “morality” is man’s inner understanding of the difference between good and evil, right and wrong, true and false.

It is said that the first man Adam before he became a human being he had been clay in the no life no death state until God had breathed in it (the clay) His own spirit, the result of which has been the living organism in the shape of Man/Adam with his ability to walk, to think and to talk. This spirit of God has been shared ever since by each and every human being on earth and thus we are all equal in the initial position of our faculty to trust in God, that is to say to have "faith" as a substantial entity of our human nature. Thus we all have faith as God's injected spirit in our human nature as a condition for us to be alive. The moment this God's spirit is taken from us we cease to be living organism, we become dead. Of course, the spirit that has kept us alive goes where it came from - to God, to Whom in the end we all belong.

Now, religion is made out of this substantial entity of human nature, as a copy paste of "faith", by the way of a human interpretation of human destiny and human need for survival in this world and salvation in the hereafter. Thus, the religion as such is not necessarily the original "faith" of God's spirit. It is often just an attempt of man to articulate his thought about God and to attract other men to his guidance, say, to his influence over the cosmogonical, cosmological and eschatological concerns of man. Hence the religion is a theology as a human concept of God, of society, of morality and of man's ultimate destiny.

Religion is one of the factors that make up personal and group identities. The question is how the religious identity can be saved from misuse to legitimate other issues and, instead, to motivate people to strive for peace, justice and tolerance in everyday life situations. Today, we do not live in a separate world of our own. We see that within a relatively short period of history, the telephone, radio, television, motion pictures, and, more recently, computers, e-mail, and the worldwide web are drastically altering our perceptions of time, space, and each other. However, these tools of modern technology that are connecting people closer to each other in the physical sense do not bring fruit in making them closer in the sense of their decent human relationship.

Indeed, the real issue here is morality. Either this morality that is of God's spirit of the original "faith", of the human consciousness and of the man's rational ability to recognize true or false, right or wrong, and good or evil; or, that morality that is based on pure human feeling, taste, urge, wish or whim.

"A being who does not know automatically what is true or false, cannot know automatically what is right or wrong, what is good for him or evil. He is not exempt from the laws of reality, he is a specific organism of a specific nature that requires specific actions to sustain his life. He cannot achieve his survival by arbitrary means nor by random motions nor by blind urges nor by chance nor by whim. That which his survival requires is set by his nature and is not open to his choice. What is open to his choice is only whether he will discover it or not. He is free to make the wrong choice, but not free to succeed with it. He is free to evade reality, he is free to unfocus his mind and stumble blindly down any road he pleases, but not free to avoid the abyss he refuses to see... Man is free to choose not to be conscious, but not free to escape the penalty of unconsciousness: destruction. Man is the only living species that has the power to act as his own destroyer - and that is the way he has acted through most of his history". ( Ayn Rand, The Objectivist Ethics).

In order that the humanity avoid that destruction, the 21st century must be the century of spiritual revolution. That spiritual revolution is different from the Industrial Revolution or informational revolution or bourgeois revolution. This spiritual revolution should be the revolution of coming to the basics of humanity.
"Revolution" means a circle from one point going around and coming back again to the initial position. I think we humans have left this initial position of our understanding of who we are and what we are supposed to do, and we are sometimes playing the roles of other creatures than human creatures. I believe in a fundamental coming-back to the human basics. This is why I believe in human fundamentalism or fundamental humanism.

And the basics are of the five values of each and every human being: the value of life, the value of freedom, the value of trust or faith, of religion or morality, the value of property, and the value of human dignity. These five values—you may call them rights—are the basics of human fundamentalism or fundamental humanism, that each and every human being must be aware of himself or herself. By having the awareness of the importance of my life, my freedom, my religion, my property, and my dignity, I become aware of these values that belong to others, too.

All the rights that we have are from God. They are gifts. They are not the mercy of anybody that is equal to us, and all humans are being equal. No one is superior over others. This non-superiority to others makes you human and also humane, and makes you humble before the fact that you are equal with others and that you have no right to exercise power over others, but to be a friend, to be a brother, and to be aware that what you possess as a human being is a gift of God.

Hence, we must recognize that the era of self-righteous and arbitrary religious clams by extreme views is over. Our world has become too complex. Human egoism is not adequate to govern or manage countries, or to solve the global challenges of the future. We need religious cooperation and coordination to make intelligent and sustainable decisions for the future! Theology and theologians must transform into change of tomorrow. They should not stand in the way of human progress.

We must solve global problems globally such as the global nuclear threats, the global hunger, the global poverty, the global peace and security. Because neither the meek nor the aggressive will inherit the earth but the cooperative.

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