Friday, September 15, 2006

Regensburg Speech

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.
I interpret the Pope's speech as being about the limitations of scientific reasoning absent faith, calling for a new synthesis rather than a binary choice. Quite topical I would say given the debate over creationism. Would Islam not see the same philosophical problems? Good thing I read the speech before burning the Pope in effigy. But then, I have access to the text. The roiling masses don't, and have to rely on their imams to pass along the speech. Might there be some distortion in that filter?

Whoop-it-up after Friday prayers at the mosque

Certainly one thing democracy can do is make possible the infrastructure in which access to information, such as the Pope's Regensburg address, are available more or less universally.

I was impressed by the Pope's speech and the depth of thought it represented. No, I'm not Roman Catholic.