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Can Muslims Name the Animals?

In Genesis, God parades the animals in front of Adam, who then names them, and these names are what they are. In the Qur'an, it is Allah who names the animals, not man. Man does not have this power to name.

So begins Robert Reilly of The Catholic Thing in his review of the second Muslim-Catholic Forum which was held on the east bank of the Jordan River last month. The theme of the forum was "Reason, Faith and Mankind," which Reilly distills to a primary tension of reason.

The essential issue here is the status of reason, which is why this latest forum was so important. Can we reason together? This was an issue Benedict XVI dealt with in the Regensburg Lecture. His answer: this is possible only in so far as we and they are Hellenized, which means that we both recognize reason as capable of apprehending reality.

Reilly contends that the Biblical power to name the animals "is symptomatic of the difference between the two views of man in Genesis and the Qur'an." 

The power to name is, in a way, the power to know. Joseph Pieper once wrote, "Reality becomes intelligible through words. Man speaks so that through naming things what is real may become intelligible."  If you cannot name a thing, can you know it?  Can reality be intelligible to you without this power?

Interesting commentary and worthy of contemplation.

Categories > Religion

Discussions - 4 Comments

Amusing to see religious zealots (in this case a Catholic one) exalt the virtues and primary importance of reason - reason! - when they play their game of "My religion is better than yours and all others"

I guess it's true that most fundamentalists, literalists, and zealots are essentially atheists, holding up every other religion to the strictest standards of reason and empirical evidence - for every religion but their own.

What, you've never heard of St. Thomas Aquinas or Pope John Paul II's "Fides et Ratio" or Pope Benedict?

Catholics have always tried to reconcile reason and revelation, but they do give pride of place to revelation. This is the difference between the secular and the sacred, but I agree with the troll that Christians have no call to get puffed up about their superior reasoning abilities over other theists. Any time you let blind faith trump your own powers of observation and cognition you are abrogating your birthright, that which makes us different from the animals (IMHO). The fact that Muslim are even more blinded by what Bacon called "the idols of the mind" is no justification for self-righteousness.

Justin, I'm guessing this is yours... or perhaps cow's?

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