Liberal Grace

Saturday, September 16, 2006

What Was the Pope Trying to Say?

I understand better but I'm still not buying it.

As these scandals take a life of their own, original context tends to be lost but here is a good analysis of the pope's speech by Melanie McDonagh of The Telegraph.

The gist [of the speech], to spare you the trouble of looking it up, is that belief in God is entirely consistent with human reason and the Greek spirit of philosophical inquiry. By using the reason God gave us, we become, in a way, more like him.
If you're looking for a real critique of Islam in the speech, there is one tucked away in the text, but hardly anyone noticed. The Pope suggests that the Islamic idea of God is so transcendent that he cannot be seen in terms of human reason. He cites one medieval Islamic scholar, Ibn Hazn, who says that God is entirely remote from our rational categories.
A question of faith and religion

I'm still not buying his premise. First of all, Christianity is not rooted only in Greek logic, it also has deep Hebrew (thus Middle Eastern) roots. I've heard more than a few sermons about the mystery of God who transcends logic... as recently as last Friday (church day, here.)

If Muslims are more irrational than Christians, it isn't too obvious. Widespread lack of logical reasoning surely comes from a failure in the educational system more than anything else.

Be sure to compare apples with apples. Don't compare Pakistanis to the Norwegians (for example) who have very different levels of education. Are Muslims with PhDs as logical as Christians with similar PhDs? Are Muslim tribals as illogical as a Christian from a similar tribe? I have never seen a study but my fairly extensive personal observation would say "no".

Like I said yesterday, the pope's premise doesn't hold up on a macro scale either. Do a body count from wars by Christian countries versus wars by Muslim countries. We Christians have the Muslims beat by a large margin!

Nor am I convinced that logic is much of a deterrent to war. The Germans are famous for their hard-edged logic. I don't see how that helped them much in the '30s. Furthermore, the less-logical mystical wings of both our religions tend to be more peaceful, not less.

PS: I doubt many Muslims read my blog but to any that do: I'd encourage you to use this offense as an opportunity to prove the West wrong about that Muslims-are-violence-prone accusation.

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