Saturday, March 03, 2007

On dialogue with Islam
And the Pope’s Regensburg lecture
Today, resentment of the West has fuelled the terrorist movement to the point where Islam is fast becoming precisely the caricature of itself which popular prejudice presents.
Or ‘9/11 didn’t happen for no reason’. Bring the soldiers home and stop propping up the state of Israel. Saddam Hussein’s secular country was nothing to do with it; actually he was the kind of ‘bad Muslim’ Osama bin Laden would hate.

Want to sample dhimmitude? Try living as a Christian in Mr Bush’s ally Saudi Arabia (where most of the 9/11 hijackers were from by the way).

Islam is Eastern Orthodoxy’s Mormonism, a fanciful and non-Christian blend of native Arab beliefs, Judaism, Assyrian (Nestorian) Christianity (the Eastern Christians Muhammad knew and the historic church of what’s now Iraq) and probably, like Joseph Smith more than a millennium later, things from Muhammad’s imagination.

Old friend Brendan Ross has pointed out that the mosque is an Eastern Christian church stripped of its icons. (Literally true in Constantinople/Istanbul* historically.) Interestingly the Assyrians don’t use icons (which has led some Protestants to think they were long-lost brethren), but don’t forbid them either, because their tradition is older than that practice. Muslims, like Jews, ban images in worship.
[Muhammad] seduced the people by promises of carnal pleasure to which the concupiscence of the flesh urges us. His teaching also contained precepts that were in conformity with his promises, and he gave free rein to carnal pleasure. In all this, as is not unexpected; he was obeyed by carnal men. As for proofs of the truth of his doctrine, he brought forward only such as could be grasped by the natural ability of anyone with a very modest wisdom. Indeed, the truths that he taught he mingled with many fables and with doctrines of the greatest falsity.
— St Thomas Aquinas

That said, believe it or not as regular readers of this blog know I’m not out to bash Muslims. Like Joshua Snyder I can say it’s better to be a born and observant mainstream Muslim than a militant secularist.
... the Pope [makes] a deeper and more philosophical point about Islam when he refers to the relationship between faith and reason. Here he seems to be subverting the conventional post-Enlightenment Western concept of reason (that is, reason as conceptual thought excluding intellectual intuition), by anchoring it in the Greek term Logos, meaning “order”, “word” or “ground”, one of the New Testament names for the Son of God. In this way he can claim that faith — or at least Christian faith — is inherently “rational” because it identifies God with Reason in this sense.

He contrasts with this Islam, which he claims worships a God who is pure Will, rather than Reason. By implication, the God of Islam must be arbitrary in his decrees, determining the nature even of good and evil by simple
fiat.
And of course he’s right: reason as the ancients, the Schoolmen and classical Anglicans rightly understood it, conforming to objective reality. The Catholic view.

From Cælum et terra.

*One legend says the city’s modern name (officially since 1930) is a corruption of the Greek ‘eis ten polin’, ‘to “the City”’.

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