Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Hitchie Bites Ratzie

Like I posted below, my problem with the Pope's speech was in all the things he left out. It might be unfair to say that his narrative was largely fantasy-based, but I'm not sure that would be inaccurate. Christopher Hitchens, meanwhile, has taken a few minutes out from writing the same column he's been writing for the last five years (roughly: "The War Against Terror is the most important fight of our lives, and some of my ex-friends on the left just don't understand that!"), to list a few other things Pope Ratzinger left out of his screed about faith and reason. The writing is most crisp and clever here:

"Most of all, throughout his address to the audience at Regensburg, the man who modestly considers himself the vicar of Christ on Earth maintained a steady attack on the idea that reason and the individual conscience can be preferred to faith. He pretends that the word Logos can mean either "the word" or "reason," which it can in Greek but never does in the Bible, where it is presented as heavenly truth. He mentions Kant and Descartes in passing, leaves out Spinoza and Hume entirely, and dishonestly tries to make it seem as if religion and the Enlightenment and science are ultimately compatible, when the whole effort of free inquiry always had to be asserted, at great risk, against the fantastic illusion of "revealed" truth and its all-too-earthly human potentates. It is often said—and was said by Ratzinger when he was an underling of the last Roman prelate—that Islam is not capable of a Reformation. We would not even have this word in our language if the Roman Catholic Church had been able to have its own way. Now its new reactionary leader has really "offended" the Muslim world, while simultaneously asking us to distrust the only reliable weapon—reason—that we possess in these dark times. A fine day's work, and one that we could well have done without."

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