|Can you locate it?|
|Can you locate it?|
These debates aside, with the passing of Nimoy, it is worthwhile — as it was at the time of the death of Neil Armstrong two and a half years ago — to take note of the slow and mysterious demise of the Space Age alongside the contemporary turn against rationality, science, and the Enlightenment.
The cover story of this month’s National Geographic speaks to how widespread this anti-modernist phenomenon is, focusing as it does on the growing popular opposition to science in both its right and left varieties, from climate change deniers, creationists, and anti-fluoridation warriors to vaccine refuseniks, alternative-medicine charlatans, and those who oppose all GMO technology in the abstract, rather than just the corporate malfeasance of agribusiness.
|Giving the bike some rest|
|Overlooking Hurma, Konyaaltı|
|Konyaaltı and city center way back|
|Overlooking Antalya Bay|
When a state fails, when its promise to deliver a fair society does not actualize, and all other offers of a solution remain too feeble, religious networks, imaginations, solidarities, and mobilizations emerge as the most powerful, and often the only alternative, to address the question of theodicy and recreate a moral order.
In a context where violence is already present indiscriminately, it is easily seen as a regular and legitimate political option. Deployment of violence becomes a radical attempt to tame, control and re-order a universe that seems to be in decay and evil. Thus, it is not nihilistic as it is often thought, but a Nietzschean attempt to move ‘beyond good and evil’, to establish a new moral order as an answer to the question of theodicy.
An understanding of religious violence deployed by Muslim extremism through the question of theodicy rather than jihad has countless direct implications: from our aid and development programs to long-term counter-terror strategies at home and in theaters of conflict.
Most obviously, this means that we should stop efforts to have other Muslims “condemn violence in the name of Islam” or push for programs that promote theologies that challenge the use of violence. Such programs help to a certain extent, but often lead to a lot of counter-productive pressure on Muslims.
The main theological challenge that lies before us is not whether or not a Muslim can commit acts of terror, but rather, how can there be theologies of hope and social change that channel deep grievances and deprivations into non-destructive activism. This means that our efforts to offer counter-narratives and break cycles of radicalization should not go through arguments on jihad and violence, but projects and messaging that offers a hopeful reading of the world and how deeply religious believers can work to improve, heal and restore a broken world.