Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Pope apologises, but ...

The Pope has apologised for the effect that his words have had; he has not retracted them, nor has he given any further opinion on the contentious quote from the Byzantine Emperor, Manuel II Paleologus. His fundamental point (in relation to Islam) remains valid; his basic question remains unanswered.

The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature...
Benedict's speech is about the place of reason. With regard to the secular West, he is saying that we have narrowed the field of reason, constrained it within the bounds of science and therefore excluded not only God, but also Philosphy and Ethics. With regard to Islam, he is saying that, for the Jihadist, reason has been disavowed and that this cannot be pleasing to God. However, there is a further, more general point, one that seems to go to the heart of Islamic doctrine.
But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality.
Here is the question. If this interpretation of the Islamic view of God is correct, how can there be discussion either between the faiths, or between Islam and modernity? The question is unanswered; or rather, the answers so far received would seem to indicate, as things stand, there is little (I'm an optimist) possibility of discussion between any of those parties.

Protesting Muslims burn the Pope's effigy in India

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