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Op-Ed: Experts needed to face ISIL

Additionally, granted only reluctantly the right to persist in their quaint, archaic ways, even though the vast majority of us know better and have long since abandoned such silly and childish ways of seeing the world.

Now imagine pockets here and there of people to decry this rejection of such important bases of guiding and advancing human well-being, and in anger and resentment conspire to show the world the cost of their arrogance and condescension. A science Caliph arises, and leads marginalized and disenfranchised outcasts and rebels to create epidemics and diseases to show that our world ignores science at its own peril.

As these deadly diseases spread, people begin falling ill in ever greater numbers, delighting the makers of these deadly, demonic designs. These backward Neanderthals (poor souls who still think life guided by science is possible) feel power as they finally show the world the true way. Meanwhile panic rages in every corner, in the villages and in the cities.

Suddenly, people with zero scientific knowledge or understanding begin to overpopulate 24 hour news cycles, presidential campaigns, international summits, and every imaginable place. These are experts of nothing even remotely relevant to the epidemic of science-generated terror. The more they talk, the worse things become.

What is really needed to address the growing horror are people who actually know science. People with sophisticated, advanced, appropriate scientific knowledge. But instead the endless, suffocating din comes from people who in fact are experts over nothing at all. We are left to listen to an endless stream of empty, hollow rants, and puffery, while we agonize over loved ones and strangers dying through the barbaric perversion of science.

I describe in metaphor our present moment. But of course the reverse is the case. The side of human knowledge, awareness, and understanding that has been neglected, mocked, derided, and lost is not science of course, but religion, and religious life.

At the end of the 19th century the intense advance of historical and linguistic criticism so crippled the environment for simple and facile faith, that religion failed to maintain its dignity in the advance of modernity.

Tremendous advances in science and technology further eviscerated the chance for simple faith to survive as intellectually defensible. Finally the myopic persistence of religions and people of faith to remain apart from one another, in silos, and hostile to people from other religions different from my own ultimately created a Geist, all adding up to create the intellectual environment of our time in which religion is permitted only as private. God forbid someone should assess some form of human behavior as right or wrong.

The failure of religion to remain viable as a public, intellectual force in the modern period, has left a vacuum in which the only open voices of religion (with the exception of isolated celebrity-like phenomena like His Holiness Francis I) grow ever more extreme, misguided and uninformed. The most horrifying of all are the ones who now are called “radicalized.”

Despite such slogans as “terrorism has no religion,” the contrary happens to be the case. What we are facing with this demonic assault on our world is, in its most important quality, and above all religious.

The people we most need to hear from now are the best and most powerful religious minds from all religions and cultures, if there are in fact any left to be found. Just as scientists and medical experts would be needed In the imaginary scenario I created at the beginning of this article. We need people who know religion, and know it well. But should be noted that what is meant here by religious minds, is thinkers who know directly religion and religious life. Not people who know about religion, in the way someone may know about 1940s musicals, or the last four midfielders traded by Real Madrid.

There are two serious problems that stand as obstacles to providing this desperate need we face as terror and radicalization grow and increase. These are 1. Religions are disunited, and 2. Truly religious authority and knowledge that derive from spiritual practice and devotional life are silenced and impermissible in our time. The only nod to good allowed is trivialized virtue in saccharine slogans, rather than the fruits of wisdom, insight, and knowledge earned on the treacherous landscape of true spiritual growth.

Sadly, we now are mired in triage, dependent on rapid short term needs, needs left best to law enforcement, security, and other surface elements that contribute to a fragile and vulnerable social order. While this happens as a matter of course, what is needed quickly and desperately however is the emergence of a deadly serious effort among extant world religions to harmonize and integrate with one another at a deeper level than current interfaith niceties. Religions and believers must transcend historically inherited divisions, and secondly courageous men and women of faith must be invited to, and must themselves begin to speak without timidity to provide deeply rooted spiritual and religious virtues inherent in the world’s great scriptures and traditions.

As this evolves and true spiritual maturity amasses among believers and sincere practitioners forming a multi-religious, unified front we can develop proper designs to address religiously motivated evil. We require the finest ideals spiritual traditions have to offer held in harmony and in one accord abandoning religious division. Leaders with these qualities and resources will be the ones to tackle step by step the task to eviscerate the perverse forms religion attained during the great spiritual void that came to hold sway resulting from modernity’s biases and imbalance.

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