Posted by Peter Lawler
Here’s a remarkably perceptive analysis of the pope’s speech from TIME. Clearly, its focus is the rational pursuit of the truth human beings can share in common. Is it possible for people of different faiths really to talk about God and the good?
Important question...but is it prudent? What if the answer is no...
Can Hindi talk to Buddhists? Can Buddhists talk to Christians? Can Christians talk to Jews? Can Jews talk to Hindi? None of these questions is the real thrust of your question are they? The real question is can anyone talk to Muslims? And the answer is...demonstrated by Muslims reaction to the Popes speech. The only talk anyone can participate in with Muslims is to explain to them, ever so delicately, what we can do to appease them....And Im talking about the "moderate" ones. Any other talk will result in an immediate violent response, followed, like clockwork, by demands of concessions. Its so predictable, youd think it was written down somewhere.
I think the answer is yes... but not as Muslims or Christians...or even hindi or Buddhist. If you ask me organizations like the world council of religions are a bunch of crap...but they are crap that answers the question affirmatively. In short I think it is a trick question. You have to ask if the human beings who are muslim or christian or (insert faith...perhaps even Darwinian) are capable of approaching the question from outside of the particular structure of the faith. I think Muslims and Christians can sit down together and say this is why God is this way...this is why this is good...but at the end of the day they are really speaking past each other. But this is a lot bigger question... the question is...is the University experience possible...can multiple conceptions of truth communicate? And that is why the pope started with reminiscing about the experience of faculty comming together. How do you solve the ontological tower of bable problem?
Is there a universal truth, that can integrate the truths derived from all possible starting points...or do some truths and therefore faiths need to be consigned to the flames because they contain nothing but sophistry and illusion?
Personally I think the pope should have told a story that Gibbon discounts about the burning of the library at Alexandria...namely Caliph Omar ordered that all the books in the library should be destroyed because, as he said "they will either contradict the Koran, in which case they are heresy, or they will agree with it, so they are superfluous."
So the question is...who really burnt down the library at Alexandria?
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