Monday, 25 September 2006

that pope speech in full

The pope caused a fuss - ongoing, latest bulletin here - with this 14th-century quote: "Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

The BBC story helpfully gave a link to a 'speech highlights' page, which in turn gave a link to a full speech page. The quote turns out to be not from a speech about terrorism or violence, 'religious' or otherwise, or even Christianity and Islam, but a much more interesting speech (given at a university where he used to teach) about faith, science, reason and the nature of God. For example:

'The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature. The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality.

'At this point, as far as understanding of God and thus the concrete practice of religion is concerned, we are faced with an unavoidable dilemma. Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God's nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true?'

Conclusion: '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.'

There's also an interesting non-critical para about the Reformation in the full speech (which is a pdf and I'm not going to retype here).

The quotation is from an illustration which is perfectly reasonable in the flow of the argument. In fact, the illustration could have been worked without the quotation; ah well, live and learn, eh?

And that's the first time I've read a speech by a pope. Ah, the internet. And ah, the media.

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