Table Of Contents
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- Religions in Global Perspectives and a Vision of their Future (Mehmet Akgül / Mustafa Sami Baybal / İbrahim Kaynak)
- Is it Terror or Jihad? Understanding the Global Violence Rising from Syria (Bünyamin Ayhan)
- Globalization and Values (Gürcan Şevket Avcıoğlu)
- The Place of Childhood in the Cultural Process and Games (Özgür Gül / Hakan Salim Çağlayan)
- Globalization and Religion (Kübra Küçükşen)
- Life Styles and Consumption Culture Changing in Parallel with Globalization (Zülfiye Acar Şentürk / Ahmet Tarhan)
- The Globalization of Hollywood (Onur Taydaş / Enderhan Karakoç)
- The Transformative Power of Information Technologies in the Surveillance Societies (Tuba Livberber Göçmen)
- Globalization and Migration (Namaitijiang Maimaiti / Doğa Başer / Hasan Hüseyin Tekin)
- Globalization and Culture (Hurigül Eken)
- Kurdish Identity: The Reconstruction of Collectivity in the Press (Selahattin Çavuş)
- News and Globalization (Salih Tiryaki / Emre Vadi Balcı)
- Global Marketing as Floating Strategy (Süleyman Karaçor / M. Erhan Summak)
- Globalization, Financial Crisis and The Turkish Economy: The Case of the 2001 Crisis (Zeynep Karaçor / Sevilay Konya / Bedriye Tunçsiper)
- Financial Globalization (Ayşe Özge Artekin)
- Globalization and Accounting (Mustafa Ay / Burhanettin Aydın)
- The Relationship between Globalization and Tourism (Süleyman Karaçor / Betül Garda)
- Fair Play Education in Sports (Hakan Salim Çağlayan / Özgür Gül)
- Globalization and Airline Transportation (Nilüfer Canöz)
- Globalization and Health (Ayhan Uludağ / Şerife Didem Kaya)
Religions in Global Perspectives and a Vision of their Future
The core of any civilization that has existed in the past or still exists in the present on the face of the earth belongs to the culture it is affiliated to or which it has built up, i.e. to its world view. According to the observations of anthropologists and sociologists, the core of any culture is constituted by religion. As is known, culture is defined as a way of solving the problems facing individual or collective humans, and as a combination of human actions/behaviors and material/technological means. In the natural and human world, there are some beliefs, norms and values behind human actions – those mental and conscientious elements, which are called spiritual culture, form the ground of culture. The problems that arise in the process of change, in our world which witnesses very speedy changes, as well as the related demands of change, lead to the adoption of new styles, if the old or traditional solutions or the means of satisfaction are not adapted to the new situations (Güngör, 1987: 31). The intersection of globalization and the conflicting-controversial agenda displayed by religions which are spread all over the world seem to make it more difficult to reach a solution.
Despite the positive prospects and optimism that have been experienced in the last two centuries of the modernization process of humanity, a cursory look at such problems as the distribution of resources, the shortage and unjust distribution of economic resources, racial and gender discrimination, wars, violence, immigration, alienation, as well as the ongoing socio-cultural and political problems, shows that the world is facing a number of impasses (Morin, 1987). One can say that we are faced with important problems that should be handled by the process of globalization at the turn of a new century, and these concern the future of ← 11 | 12 → humanity (Tomlinson, 2004: 11–50). Therefore, in addition to the tensions caused by the relationship between religion and change, what is needed more than ever is that religions should act in conformity with the natural and social world and should play a positive role in constructing a meaningful life (Falk, 2003: 32–39; Çapcıoğlu, 2011: 150–168).
Vis-à-vis the problems that humanity suffers from worldwide, is it possible for the ideal of a much yearned-for peaceful world to be realized worldwide? Or to what extent can those much-desired ideals be attained under the present conditions of the world? What is the role of religion in coping with the current problems, and what contribution can it make to this need?
Religious Problems in a Globalized World
In the context of the relationship between globalization and religion, the present study relies upon the projections set forth by McFaul in his article “Religion in the Future Global Civilization: Globalization is Intensifying Religious Conflict. What Will Happen in the Years Ahead?” (The Futurist, September–October 2006: Volume: 40, Issue: 5) and afterwards in his book The Future of Truth and Freedom in the Global Village (Praeger, 2010). In the light of Aaron M. Cohen’s critique of McFaul’s views in his “Prospect for Truth and Freedom: A Religion Professor Offers Three Scenarios for Globalization’s Effect on Freedom” (The Futurist, May–June 2010 Volume: 44, Issue: 3), I shall offer my own considerations on the subject by reviewing the present literature.
The aforementioned studies present three scenarios about the shape the world will take in the years to come and the possible understandings of religion in the context of the interaction between globalization and religion. The first is the worst scenario for humanity. It represents the uncompromising understanding of religion which spreads fragmentation and radicalism in a world dominated by an exclusive understanding of religion and finds its expression in the motto “I am right, you are wrong.”
The second is an optimistic scenario based on peace and tolerance. As a reflection of the pluralistic understanding of religion, it may allow for diversity and harmony among the world religions, putting in practice the formula “We can co-exist despite our difference.”
The third is the scenario that is thought out on the basis of the prospect of the inclusive and “global cultural integration” that represents the conception of the probable global village which will be caused by globalization. “We all can be one family” (McFaul, 2006, McFaul, 2010 & Aaron, 2010). Considering the actual situation of the globalized world in which many religions make their appearance, ← 12 | 13 → we can start discussing from many perspectives the question “What kind of future is awaiting us in a globalized world?” We think that the present problems are the results of the disharmony of religion with the present socio-cultural sphere because religion has until recently stayed away from socio-cultural life and lived involutedly. In this context, the question of religion, culture and change forms the periphery of the problem.
Culture and Change
When the subject of culture is examined in the literature of anthropology and sociology, it is addressed in its two dimensions, material and spiritual. The religious beliefs and norms making up the core of culture, therefore, form the “hardest element” which resists change. They resist the demands of change, and even do not change. Considering the resistances and conflicts occurring about religion in the globalized world, both in the changes taking place in an independent culture and in intercultural relations and exchange of cultures, those elements of culture that are easier to learn and communicate change relatively faster, according to the data given by the philosophy of mind and psychology. In other worlds, the concrete appearances that constitute the material aspect of culture change more easily than the abstract sphere which is composed of beliefs and values (Güngör, 1986: 15; 2005: 330).
As can be understood from the above explanation, religion has more roles in a culture than any human or social factor, for religion forms a perception of truth in man through the meaning it imparts about the position and importance of man in the universe and through the concepts and explanations it offers about the origin of the world. By providing answers to such questions as “Why are we living and what is the meaning and purpose of life?”, religious beliefs and values steep and saturate culture in any society as the mechanism of problem-solving, as it were. Religion defines the nature of good and evil, creating remarkable perceptions about the rewards and punishments to come in this world and the hereafter (Güngör, 1983: 113; McFaul, 2006). However, one should accept that the traditional culture saturated with religions has been broken asunder in modern times and the existence of religion has been open to debate in the process of modernization. One can say that in the ongoing process, religions have not disappeared, but various ideological and scientific understandings claim to have temporarily superseded them.
The twentieth century is full of such debates, to the detriment of religion, as religion and freedom, equality, science, industrialization and secularism have clashed, and religion has been convicted by the negative viewpoint of the “Cold War years.” Yet at the turn of a new millennium, nothing has shaken the secularist ← 13 | 14 → sensitivity as much as the “return of religion”, which appears in a variety of ways, and the manifestations of the revival of religion in different countries and regions are, alas, not pleasing, especially since the events of 9/11. Yet one should not consider all its appearances startling and threatening (Falk, 2003: 1). One should consider religious movements and development on two levels. First, there may be found more positive and more liberating energies that are connected with the adoption of human solidarity, in face of the challenging moves of the modernization process, the re-appraisal of man’s spiritual aspect, the quest for the sacred and mystical lying at the heart of human existence and in face of the “disillusionment” as termed by Weber. The principal reason for religion maintaining its existence and influence becomes more understandable when considered together with these human needs. The second level, upon which we focus more, is the issues that have been deeply debated on the basis of the reflections of the revival of religion in the present world. Worldwide, there are religiously originated problems such as religion and global developments, religious diversity/pluralism, tolerance, viable peace, religious rights and limits, political recognition, new religious movements, new religious actors and transitivity, conversion or proselytization by force, on the one hand, and on the other, there are such important national or international problems as democracy, human rights, social gender and religion, national and international relations, religion and growing violence and terror, and problems originating from economic, social and political inequalities. In the final analysis, religion should never be described as the only factor vis-à-vis this whole domain of problems (Banchoff, 2008: 3). The larger part of the problem lies in the fact that the traditional religions and the world that is interpreted and explained by the beliefs and practices represented by them have been changing very rapidly in the last couple of years, and the fact that the gap is growing between religion and the world views claiming to supersede religion as a schema of explanation and the fact that the modern structures have failed to solve human-social problems such as liberty, equality and fraternity, as opposed to their claims.
Religions in the Globalized World and the Unseen Picture
No single religion is dominant among 6.5 billion people living on the earth. The world’s population is divided into a variety of cultures with different religious roots. Despite the existence of hundreds of religions all over the world, only 75 percent of the world’s population is followers of the five major religions. The followers of these five religions are Christians with a population of 2.1 billion, Muslims with a population of 1.3 billion, Hindus with a population of 900 million, Buddhists with a population of 360–376 million, and Jews with a population of ← 14 | 15 → 14–20 million. Christianity and Islam have spread in more regions than others. These two, combined, constitute more than half the world’s population. If we add Hinduism to these two, we can say that one of every three people living on earth is affiliated to these three major religions. Clearly, religion will be the main prompting, directing power of the future (McFaul, 2006).
This means that the process of modernization that is supported by technological, economic and political forces should make progress and lay deep roots in the diversity of world culture, for religion reaches the heart of culture. A world that is divided into religions without the religious communities finding a way to overcome the historical antagonisms will produce a disintegrated global village during the twenty-first century. However, we can ask, “How does this occur?”
Looking for a Common Ground between Various Religions and Worldviews
Under the given conditions, the family of two major religions will determine the global village. The first consists of the religious traditions that arose in and spread across Asia. The second is the religious traditions that spread from the Middle East into various regions of the world. The two Asian religions that spread into an extended area of the world and became very influential are still so, despite the traces left on a small scale by Jainism, Hinduism and Buddhism. The Asian religions or the religious philosophies of Confucianism and Taoism have been regressing since the Communist revolution (the Maoist Revolution) that took place in China in the late 1940s. Yet it is not easy to identify those people who believe in these religions and determine if they constitute a great number. According to the study group formed by their adherents, around 394 million people perform the religious practices of the “traditional Chinese religions”, which are composed of Taoism and Confucianism. Nevertheless, Taoism is practiced as a religious philosophy as much as a religion. Confucianism is less a religion than the codes of moral orders like ancestor worship. Shintoism, which is based on the consecration of nature and is the religion of the Japanese, tended to regress after World War II (McFaul, 2006). The three most influential religions of the Middle East, which are called Abrahamic religions because they bear traces of the Abrahamic tradition, consist of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
The impact of the family of these two religions of Middle Eastern origin – Christianity and Islam – on bringing about justice and peace or hatred and violence in a larger area in the global village will depend, to a certain extent, upon the emphasis they will place upon the similarities or differences between them, for all the world religions adopt both a world view and a series of moral values. While ← 15 | 16 → the similarities of these religions allow for the possibility of finding common ground on earth, that is, for global cooperation, their theological and historical contradictions cause the destruction of this common ground (McFaul, 2006).
Contrasts or contradictions exist both between the Asian and Abrahamic religions and within each religion. At the level of world view, the Asian religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism share such common themes as enlightenment, karma, reincarnation, and worship/duty. At the same time, they interpret these themes differently. Hinduism and Sikhism are pantheistic because they regard the world as the body of God. While Buddhism does not recognize a supreme being, it accepts one single cosmic reality. Jainism, like Buddhism, can also be defined as an atheistic religion, at least by Western standards. In addition, Jainism supposes that every individual has a unique and infinite soul. Despite the conceptual differences between them, the prominent central religious goal is to reach enlightenment, ending up with reincarnation. In order to stop the dreadful circle of rebirths/reincarnations – which means not falling below the position in which one is located at rebirth – each religion shows their believers different moral paths to follow (McFaul, 2006).
Abrahamic religions like Islam, Christianity and Judaism share common beliefs such as monotheism, reception of divine orders/revelations through the prophets, life after death, doomsday, paradise as reward for good and hell as punishment for evil. All beliefs are based on the revelation which, through the prophets chosen from among the people, informs humanity who went astray from God’s path of the path to be followed. Each has a sacred scripture which informs their believers of the reward or punishment they will incur in the life after death, and of faith, worship and moral rules that they should follow in order to attain to good in the worldly life (McFaul, 2006).
Although all these common monotheistic beliefs are widely shared, and all these beliefs go back to Abraham, is it possible for these religions to meet with a common ground? The answer is “No” for now, because each of them explains its tenets of faith differently (for a classical Islamic interpretation of monotheism, see Veli, 2006: 73). Each claims that it evolved after a revelation. Each accepts its own scripture – the Torah, the Bible and the Qur’an – as a holy book and as superior to others, and states that no revelation will come after its scripture. Each claims that its prophet brought the last and highest moral values to humanity through the revelation he received from God.
If one carries out research to find a common ground upon which the world religions may unite, one will eventually encounter irreconcilable world views on the contradictions in the assumptions of the Asian and Abrahamic religions, ← 16 | 17 → starting with the subject of the real being. For example, God and the universe are the same in Hinduism, while in Christianity and Islam they are distinct and different. There are many gods in Hinduism and Shintoism, while there is no belief in any God in Buddhism. In the end, all these differences make it impossible for a synthesis to occur among religions at a conceptual level.
In simple terms, there is not yet a common ground that is shared by the Asian and Middle Eastern religions to secure peace and justice in the pluralistic global village. While it is a very low possibility that such a commonly shared world view should arise, the probability of finding such ground is low at best.
If we think on the conceptual level, the Asian religions are more open to pluralism than the Abrahamic beliefs are, and the former accept equality on a spiritual level in attaining universal truth more than the latter.
On the other hand, since the Abrahamic religions bear the potential to carry forward the narrow interpretations of monotheistic beliefs, they have more potential to develop wider tolerance. If this happens, the global village will take one step forward with the potential to secure peace and justice. This might be possible if the adherents of these religions make two changes to their world view, though this is not easy.
The first is the freedom from reincarnation that is the primary goal of the Asian religions. Monotheism itself also needs to be emancipated from the borders which all of the three Abrahamic religions defend and grow around.
What is needed is a common definition of monotheism that will open the door for a constructive dialogue and open a new way of thinking about their multi-faith revelation. That new form of monotheism can be called “radical monotheism.” In this form of monotheism, all the followers who devoted themselves to the Abrahamic beliefs will view themselves as members of the truths revealed about God and with the same and equal moral and spiritual values. The conception of the common revelation will allow understanding in more detail of the goals of God for humanity, rather than the specific beliefs, of any religion (for the difference between the Christian and Muslim understanding of monotheism, see Uluç & Argon, 2006: 133).
The second, radical, monotheism is a new concept. One of the central teachings of radical monotheism is not “progressive-innovative,” but “continuous.” The ideal of continuous revelation would protect the strength of revelation and at the same time allow the inter-faith discussions to go forward through the clarity it would provide in discussions. In the Abrahamic religions, progressive revelation is viewed as perfect steps. The concept of continuous revelation annuls the belief that exists in each religious tradition and claims that the later revelations are more perfect than the earlier ones. In the same manner, the understanding of continuous revelation, like the pearls dangling in equal strings which form a necklace, ← 17 | 18 → harmonizes the notion of the chronological order and equality of religions, helping the equalization of their beauties (McFaul, 2006).
Continuous revelation accepts that none of the current religions comprises the final truth of God. At the same time, it supposes that God will continue to inform of new truths in the future. Accepting the continuous revelation means that no religion is allowed to appropriate and use God for its own goals. This understanding allows God to be God. The truths represented by each religion are part of the truths imparted to various religions and collected in a pool.
Therefore, even if the claims of religions are in this direction, there is not a comprehensive worldview that will secure the world religions to unite, nor is there an effort to direct that potential in this way. This recognition starts with knowledge that the “truth” is too great to be grasped as a whole by individuals, religious communities, societies or any religions, beginning with the idea that “God creates/is the creator” and using the broad and comprehensive definition of radical monotheism: according to the Middle Eastern religions, God sent various revelations. Yet one can conclude that divine transcendence exceeds the capacity of any religion to comprehend the whole truth. If enough people can accept this idea, this potential may create inter-religious dialogue among those religions which reject each other. Though this may seem to be illogical at first sight, Jainism in the continent of Asia and the radical monotheism of the Middle East, though they are opposite, may reach the same result by accepting that the truth is multiple in the spectrum of world views.
The parallel between Western monotheism and Hindu pantheism, though the connection between the two is not clear, is equally remarkable. Hinduism begins with the acceptance that the truth is one, but there are many paths leading to it. This acceptance allows for a very wide diversity among Hindus in choosing the image of God and religious rituals. Radical monotheism supposes the notion of multiple revelations in the Middle Eastern religions. On the theological ground, when there is a shift from exclusive monotheism to radical monotheism, though this shift is not sufficient, this can be seen as a small step towards the recognition of God’s allowing for multiple revelations. In other words, the Middle Eastern religions, like Hinduism, may provide various paths to reach God.
If the sincere believers of the world religions carry out the following things, they will serve an important function in attaining wider peace and justice in the globalized world: First, there should be a collective insight in order to understand that religions are various ways of seeing the ultimate truth. Second, despite the personal limits and perceptions of truth, they should define themselves through an open dialogue and promise to harmonize their views around a common point. ← 18 | 19 →
Ironically, one of the reasons for comparing the world religions is the fact that, though they are different theologically and philosophically, they broadly share the same moral values. As opposed to the challenges of integrating monotheism, pantheism and atheism on the level of their world views, it is relatively easy and clear for them to unite on their values across the interfaith borders. Every religion has the special values that shape the image of ideal character development. For example, though they do not display similarities on such subjects as economic resources, gender and social class, the world religions always share the core of such common values as mercy, forgiveness, love, grace and justice.
The following claims made by the dominant theories of modernization in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have lost much of their vigor and many of their advocates: Religions will gradually lose their position and importance in the life of man and society, and in turn humanity will fill the vacuum left by religion with reason and science, and the morals, norms and values needed by society shall be built upon scientific truths, for the findings of science help to identify right and wrong, though it can play little role in determining good and evil, beautiful and ugly. As is demonstrated by the process of modernization, the question that sociologically concerns all humanity in general and scholars in particular is no longer whether religion will disappear or not. In view of the history of modernization, the question that begs an answer is under what conditions people turn away from religion or keep it at arm’s length, and in turn, under what conditions they move towards religion or any other belief, for religions do not disappear when they are unsatisfying or cause dissatisfaction; on the contrary, there come into play new interpretations of religion or new religious movements or conversions into other religions. The present situation in the world is the growth of religiosity, although this fact is interpreted in different ways. In this case, what is important is the ability to predict the religious landscape of the world that will appear in coming years, from the perspective of global peace and justice.
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- 2018 (November)
- Global Age Digital Age Social Network Culture Value Economy
- Frankfurt am Main, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2017. 372 pp., 6 fig. b/w, 10 tables, 2 graphs