Peace through victory - the American way.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Pope Was Talking About Reason Not Islam.

The internet is just better because source documents are usually available online. The full text of the Pope's speech that punctured the thin skins of Moslems worldwide can be read here.

Surprise, surprise, surprise. The Pope's speech was not about Islam at all. The story of the Byzantine Emperor and the Persian scholar was merely a jumping off point for a reflection on reason and faith. After speaking of the interplay between reason and faith in the West in history and today, the Pope concluded his talk by referring back to the Emperor's statement that "'Not to act reasonably (with logos) is contrary to the nature of God,...'" The Pope then invited dialogue between cultures "... to this great logos, to this breadth of reason ..." The angry denunciations from Moslems worldwide is probably not the reasoned dialogue he was hoping for.

Will he get a reasoned response to this?
"... The scientific ethos, moreover, is the will to be obedient to the truth, and, as such, it embodies an attitude which reflects one of the basic tenets of Christianity.

"The intention here is not one of retrenchment or negative criticism, but of broadening our concept of reason and its application. While we rejoice in the new possibilities open to humanity, we also see the dangers arising from these possibilities and we must ask ourselves how we can overcome them.

"We will succeed in doing so only if reason and faith come together in a new way, if we overcome the self-imposed limitation of reason to the empirically verifiable, and if we once more disclose its vast horizons. In this sense theology rightly belongs in the university and within the wide-ranging dialogue of sciences, not merely as a historical discipline and one of the human sciences, but precisely as theology, as inquiry into the rationality of faith.

"Only thus do we become capable of that genuine dialogue of cultures and religions so urgently needed today. In the Western world it is widely held that only positivistic reason and the forms of philosophy based on it are universally valid. Yet the world's profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason as an attack on their most profound convictions.

"A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures. At the same time, as I have attempted to show, modern scientific reason with its intrinsically Platonic element bears within itself a question which points beyond itself and beyond the possibilities of its methodology. Modern scientific reason quite simply has to accept the rational structure of matter and the correspondence between our spirit and the prevailing rational structures of nature as a given, on which its methodology has to be based.

"Yet the question why this has to be so is a real question, and one which has to be remanded by the natural sciences to other modes and planes of thought -- to philosophy and theology. For philosophy and, albeit in a different way, for theology, listening to the great experiences and insights of the religious traditions of humanity, and those of the Christian faith in particular, is a source of knowledge, and to ignore it would be an unacceptable restriction of our listening and responding."


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