September 28, 2006

Pope for peace

The Pope's representative at the UN made a speech today about the prospects for peace within civil society given the rise in religious extremism. The Pope's representative spoke against, not religious extremism- but religion without reason. As the Pope had earlier declared faith without reason or reason without faith were dangers to civil society. The Pope's representative likened the situation within the world as regards religion to the Tower of Babel with all the representatives of Christianity, Islam and Atheism speaking in different tongues.

This blog would concur to some extent in that impression- its undeniable that appreciating the strength of other people's position is not the peculiar strength of Al Quaeda. On the other hand is it really the irrationality of Al Quaeda that we should be worrying about. Scholars of the Islamist movement like Fred Halliday identify the real radicalism of it as not being its attitude to reason but its attitude to politics. Islamism represents within the middle East the idea that as in Iran the whole state must be sublimated to religious demands- it must in a sense become theocratic. The problem of Babelism, to borrow Giovanni Lajolo's language, lies not so much in the rationality of the opponents that we face, but in their insistance on using a different kind of presumption to begin their reasoning about politics from. Once you abandon the same starting premise, debate becomes more difficult and that is the source of the Babelism we are talking about.

This was not the impression that the Pope's representative would welcome- particularly because the Catholic, Anglican and other Churches all have as their declared aim the introduction of religious principles into politics- take for example the Catholic Church's stated aim of basing the European constitution on religious principles . Maybe the Pope would feel it an appropriate time to tell us how basing a European constitution on Christian principles, would help his proffessed aim of conversing with atheists and Muslims!

(Thanks to Andrew Sullivan for pointing out this announcement from the Vatican- Sullivan gets to a different conclusion with which I disagree.)


Anonymous said...

nice analysis

edmund said...

hmmm I think a constitution based on christian principals has more chance with muslims as one based on atheist principals (ie almost none as opposed to none)

Islam has been intimitley interwined with politics since it's very beginning-muhammed was after all a conquerer and most aspects of tradiona islami life were rulled or heavily infklueced by Islmaic law . This suggests to me two things


a) Islamism is not anything new it'ms merely fairly boring and standard devout islam for our times- which means it's a much bigger problem than this blog would like to suggest since islam is not going away-indeed atheism shows more signs of going away than Islam


b) This blog is wrong, what is distincitve about Islamism and Al Quada is not their using politics and relgion together but the particular way they do it-and so

I would suggest a bit of both to be honest

Also i don't think eit her the Catholic chuch or even the ~Agnlican take as "their aim" the substitiu of poltiics to religon -0 there is bit more to their teachintg than that you know even were tyhat a fair represenation

edmund said...

also when has Fred halliday been right about islam?

having said that I would agree that it's wrong to say that a lack of regard for reason is the main problem with Islamism in many ways it's it's absolutist belif in the possiblity of human perfection and comprehension (ie it's excessive faith in a veryh particular form of reason) that's the problem