M. Fethullah Gulen
Existence, which exists solely for humanity, was created in order to bear fruit for all people. Earth was decorated for humanity, just as the sky serves as a dome and the sun as a torch to light up this world. All of creation, except for humanity, fulfills its functions perfectly, and all realms beyond humanity's reach depict an absolute serenity, peace, and joy. A sense of serenity overrides the ceaseless motion despite the countless objects in space, and no disorder or confusion can be seen among them. Even though humanity has been given emotions, a mind, and a conscience, people are still capable of causing discord in the midst of this universal peace and harmony. Since humanity bears the consequences of its destructive impact more than any other species, all people should join this harmony with their will power, discover the underlying reasons behind this peace and serenity, and act accordingly.
Yes, we are responsible for fulfilling the duties of being human. If, as believers, we trust that we are on the right path and perform our tasks accordingly, there is no need to worry. Since a life dedicated to faith, worship, and serving humanity is exempt from material and status gain, these duties cannot be affected by conflict and political confrontation.
In fact, people may have different thoughts and behaviors due their human nature. But the responsibilities of being God's servant keep them from going astray. Since the path and its requirements are determined, the goal is known: to observe everything as a sign of Divine Wisdom, search for the Divine reasons behind events, and draw lessons from them. Just as physics, chemistry, astronomy, astrophysics, and biology'all titles of God's creation in the universe'have laws, history also has laws. God has made these laws known to us through His Prophets and Books. Thus, every event is a message from Him, a light on our path, a source of excitement in our hearts.
Negative consequences of technological advancement
Since the Renaissance, humanity has designed amazing innovations in science and technology. Especially in our age, information technology and transportation have advanced to incomprehensible speeds. This is an age of speed. For some, the time between happiness/comfort and thought/action decreases as distances shrink. They reach the targets promptly or are unexpectedly prevented from doing so. Perhaps in the future we will confront a world in which events occur too quickly. We cannot comprehend the advantages and disadvantages of such a world, and for now they are topics for science fiction movies and books. Yet we have to admit that such possibilities make us shiver, even though we have total trust in God and His justice.
Science and technology
We must praise scientific research, the wonders of civilization, and the outcomes of technological innovation. However, could speed and globalization, the product of so much effort and intellectual striving, be made to serve a higher goal? Could time and space, as they are squeezed more and more everyday, serve a loftier purpose? Or have they become ends and goals in and of themselves, serving the material betterment of the patent-holders? If finding out the most secret things and knowing about every single town in the world has priority over our moral values and needs, would not a world without these advancements, but one in which people would be far happier, be more desirable?
Although science and technology have never been humanity's first need, it is wrong to reject them in favor of some idealistic philosophies. At most, doing so would be a utopian rejection. What is important here is who controls science and technology and what goals they are serving. In the hands of a few irresponsible individuals, science might make the world into a hell, whereas no one has ever been hurt from a gun in the hands of an angel. Science and technology are desirable as long as they serve human values, bring peace and happiness, contribute to international harmony, and help solve humanity's material and spiritual problems. If they move away from these goals and serve the interests of a few people, the world is better off without them.
Science and technology have to be evaluated from this perspective. What is science serving in our day? Relations between individuals and states, mutual respect, love, truth, and understanding; deception, corruption, slander, seeking others' faults, and invading one's privacy; or capital and the powerful?
If science and technology serve negative values, they will cause a global nightmare. If globalization is based on these values, than one-fourth of the world's population will continue to lack drinkable water, the spread of AIDS will increase, health services will become an industrial sector, and global pollution will worsen. A significant part of the world's population will continue to be deprived of democratic rights, and widespread terrorism will prevail.
Fundamentals of Social Life
The fundamentals of social life consist of four aspects: religion, law, moral values, and power.
Religion: A person or a society without a religion cannot survive long or benefit others. Essentially, religion is a phenomenon that is determined independent of us and has been made part of our lives. Therefore, it is a crucial element that provides for our material and spiritual needs and shapes our personal and family lives.
Even if we were perfect, uncontrollable elements would still shape our lives. For instance, the time and place of our birth and death are determined. We have no say in choosing our parents and siblings, place of birth and childhood, language, race, and physical features. Our body functions without our will, for we cannot control even our becoming hungry, thirsty or sleepy. We do not determine our essential needs and the way to acquire them. Our input in such daily functions as eating and drinking consists only of working to obtain and then eat the food. Regardless of what we wish, we are surrounded by binding conditions.
Laws: Religion also has an important role in determining the laws that shape our lives. Since laws are not goals in themselves, they are valuable only to the extent that they serve individuals and society. In order to have a healthy society, therefore, laws should not contradict nature and the laws of creation. They also should take into consideration the nation's religion, history, sociology, anthropology, as well as the natural laws of physics and chemistry, for law is not an independent science but one that encompasses everything. If this were not the case, the laws would not match the nation's essentials and therefore would be more detrimental than beneficial.
When drafting laws, it is crucial to know humanity perfectly, consider people's fundamental nature, understand their needs and search for ways to meet them, and to analyze interpersonal relations and society-member dynamics. While power has a role to play in law enforcement, religion's role is also significant. Religion is defined as having faith in the existence of a Supreme Being who is constantly aware of our actions, intentions, and thoughts. Thus, religion teaches us that even if we manage to bypass the law and escape punishment in this life, we will be called to account for all of our acts in the afterlife.
Moral values: Religion and the moral values that construct its basis have been universally accepted throughout history and are independent of time and place. The impact of moral values on an individual depends upon one's religious beliefs and how they are lived. In addition, they play a significant role in educating people, enforcing the law, and obtaining the desired effects. The possible argument that religion and moral values have no place in developed societies is mistaken, for people in many developed countries are highly dedicated to their religions.
Despite the more than 200 years of corruption in religious values worldwide, people are once again turning toward religion. In many developed countries, leaders are religious even though the population might be ignorant of religious values. Even though these countries are secular, there has never been an attempt to take advantage of religion for individual or social life or to control it. Furthermore, religion has a say in domestic and foreign policies. For example, we can see religion's influence upon their criminal codes.
Even Western historians state that Christianity is the most important element in shaping the West's modern social structure. According to them, Christianity has always played a crucial role in determining laws, religious holidays, public prayers, and many other aspects of social and political life.
Power: This is a very important aspect of social life, for laws cannot be enforced, and internal and external security cannot be established, without it. But power is not'and should not be'a goal in itself. It is valuable only as long as it serves the law, justice, and righteousness.
Humanity still faces a long-standing problem: What to do when individuality overrides all values, racism overpowers universal principles, and settling international disputes is decided by power. We cannot talk about rationality and justice when problems are addressed only with sheer power. Power is a potential strength that might help solve some problems if used rationally. If power is driven by emotions, it is a harmful instrument. What made Alexander the Great feel dizzy, destroyed Napoleon's genius, and made Hitler such a monster was the insanity of replacing justice with power. It seems that our present troubles will continue until the powerful decide to adhere to justice and the people will judge with justice while moving beyond their daily concerns.