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Tilting at Windmills

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September 20, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

STEWART ON BENEDICT....As much as I enjoy the Daily Show, I occasionally get tired of suggestions that Jon Stewart is the only guy in America who "really gets it." Yesterday, however, I finally got around to reading Pope Benedict's recent remarks on reason and faith, and I was appalled. The reference to Islam near the beginning of the speech was entirely gratuitous and disingenuous, as were Benedict's subsequent crocodile tears over the idea that anyone could have taken offense at his remarks. For the record, here's the nickel version of what he said:

Mohammed was a violent man. Violence is unreasonable. God loves reason. Draw your own conclusions.

Benedict's supporters are mostly defending him by insisting that Benedict didn't actually say that. He was just quoting the 14th century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus, who said it. So why are people so upset? What's wrong with quoting someone?

This is the reasoning of a ten-year old. And the reaction of the Islamic world though almost certainly exaggerated by the cable networks, which just love a good picture was typically abhorrent, little more than a staged media circus designed to keep the local yokels riled up. It's pretty much impossible to find any good guys in this debacle.

Anyway, back to my original point: Last night Jon Stewart pegged all this perfectly. In two entertaining minutes you can learn more about this affair than by reading reams of op-ed commentary. Does anyone know if that segment is available somewhere? Maybe on YouTube or something? It's worth watching.

UPDATE: Here it is.

Kevin Drum 12:57 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (259)

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Comments

I would look for it at Crooks and Liars. If they don't have it up, they will.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 20, 2006 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Frist twice in two days!

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 20, 2006 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

http://www.comedycentral.com/shows/the_daily_show/videos/headlines/index.jhtml

Click on "watch" under "Papa Don't Preach." I use Firefox, and usually these crappy streaming players don't work for me, so you want to open it in IE.

Posted by: New Talking Wall on September 20, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

I found this in five seconds of searching on You Tube, considerably less time than it took you to write a post asking us to look for it for you, Kevin.

Posted by: wish you were here on September 20, 2006 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

Here you go:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sduc1HQpNoI

You were right it was good.

Posted by: hector on September 20, 2006 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

I don't understand how you could have read Benedict's remarks and been "appalled" unless you were trying to be appalled. If you read it in context it is quite obvious that Benedict is highlighting how interfaith dialogue was far more tolerant in that the 14th century than it is today. He says that Manuel was speaking to the Persian with a "brusqueness" that is shocking to us today. It is not insulting, it provides a context for Manuel's remark and attitude.

And what if the remarks were seen as by Muslims as insulting? So what? Why does the Pope have to be sensitive to Muslims' or Protestants' or Buddhists' feelings on matters of doctrine? Remember, he is the leader of the Catholic Church - his main job is really marketing if you think about it. It is hardly surprising the Pope would tell us Catholic doctrine is superior to Islamic doctrine - otherwise what is the point of the Church? Do you get offended if the CEO of Daimler Chrysler makes a negative remark about Ford?

Posted by: Vanya on September 20, 2006 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

He was just quoting the 14th century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus, who said it. So why are people so upset? What's wrong with quoting someone?

This is the reasoning of a ten-year old.

What a hypocrite you are for saying that. You quote people all the time even though you might not agree with them. In the post titled Traditional Values you just recently wrote you made the following quote.

"This very definitely is going to put a chilling effect on the tremendous strides he has made in the conservative evangelical community," said the Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, one of several conservative activists who support Bush's proposal on interrogation techniques.

But because you're a liberal, you didn't agree with him. This is no different than what his holiness Pope Benedict did. He just quoted Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus without necessarily agreeing with him just as you quoted Rev. Louis P. Sheldon without necessarily agreeing with him. There is no difference between what he did and what you did.

Posted by: Al on September 20, 2006 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

Someone tell Prof. Bainbridge what a ponce he is being, since he seems to approve of the Pope's non-apology.

Ten year old logic from a law Prof..

Posted by: Ack Ack Ack Ack on September 20, 2006 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

"Pope Benedict's recent remarks on reason and faith, and I was appalled. The reference to Islam near the beginning of the speech was entirely gratuitous and disingenuous, as were Benedict's subsequent crocodile tears over the idea that anyone could have taken offense at his remarks. For the record, here's the nickel version of what he said:

Mohammed was a violent man. Violence is unreasonable. God loves reason. Draw your own conclusions.

Benedict's supporters are mostly defending him by insisting that Benedict didn't actually say that. He was just quoting the 14th century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus, who said it. So why are people so upset? What's wrong with quoting someone?

This is the reasoning of a ten-year old."


Christians and Muslims are both people of the book. But theres a difference: Christianity started out as a religion of the weak, held by the lowliest in society and advanced by conversion and example, independent of the state. A distinction between religion and temporal power is embedded in its founding narratives. Compare the final words of Jesus to his disciples, on the day of his ascension: Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. with the final words of Mohammed to his disciples: I was ordered to fight all men until they say, There is no god but Allah.

Posted by: Fitz on September 20, 2006 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

One further point - it is appalling that Drum would refer to the vandalism of churches and the killing of a nun as "a staged media circus." What low standards you have for Muslims, Kevin, if you truly think that killing and vandalism are nothing more than circus.

Posted by: Vanya on September 20, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Drum:

Did you read the remarks you linked to? The mention of Islam is incidental. You seem like you're just trying to jump on the bandwagon.

That was a very sloppy and dishonest post.

Posted by: brendan on September 20, 2006 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Why are the incoherent rage and too-often lethal actions of Islamic reactionaries considered any more representative of Muslim faith than the killing of doctors and bombing of abortion clinics by so-called Christians?

Someone can throw gasoline on a fire and say he's a firefighter. That doesn't make it so.

Posted by: Dave In Texas on September 20, 2006 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

Why all the violence in the response. Fire bombing 4 churches? Come on. If the Muslims want to advance their cause surely they don't need violence.

As to the Pope's quotation, when taken in context it is clear the Pope was using the quote to advance his argument. He clearly thought Manuel II Paleologus made a point worth repeating.

Why, in the context of the topic at hand he thought the quote was necessary, I don't know. Maybe somebody can tell me.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 20, 2006 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Benedict was basically saying Islam supports violence towards non-Muslims.

And that's right. Any religion whose adherents kill defenseless elderly nuns in response to an academic speech is a religion that encourages violence. Any religion whose (non-terrorist) people attack people and embassies because of cartoons is a religion that encourages violence. Any religion whose devotees sympathize with terrorists (and that's most of the Muslim world) is a religion that supports violence.

Posted by: polthereal on September 20, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Pope Benedict ought to shut up about Muslims and start making sure that his priests aren't buggering their altar boys.

People who live in glass churches....

Posted by: infidel on September 20, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Any religion whose adherents kill defenseless elderly nuns in response to an academic speech is a religion that encourages violence.

Any right wing nut job who doesn't know the history of the Reformation and the Thirty Years' War before criticizing a faith going through a very similar type of upheaval is a goddamn fool.

Posted by: Baldrick on September 20, 2006 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

well, Vanya, let's substitute the word "christian" for "muslim" and "christianity" for "Islam" and we'll see who gets upset.

Maybe we should rename our soon to be anti-christian theocracy "Dumbfuckistan"

Posted by: marblex on September 20, 2006 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

"Does anyone know if that segment is available somewhere? Maybe on YouTube or something?"

How quaint!

Posted by: Kenneth on September 20, 2006 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

Whew! The Papistenesel and similar trolls are out in full force on this thread.

Posted by: Wendy on September 20, 2006 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks to Kevin for pointing out that segment, and to the readers for finding it.

On Monday I was listening to one of our local LA conservative radio hosts (Ed Rantel) and he was talking about this subject, along with a local story about Dr. Maher Hathout, the head of the L.A. Mosque getting a public relations award.

In one breath he was whining about how Muslims can't protest without being violent. They wanna cut off our heads, blah blah blah. In the next breath, he's condemning Hathout and the award he's going to receive, because he said some unkind words about Israel. In my young, rambunctious days, I used to scoff at Hathout because he said Israel had a right to exist and he didn't wear a beard for example. This guy is the epitome of a Muslim moderate, someone that puts out statements against Muslim extremists all the time. But it is never enough. If you're a Muslim, you either have to disown your religion or burn something to get anyone to pay attention.

Posted by: enozinho on September 20, 2006 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Hey brendan, having read the remarks he linked to, Kevin's nickel version of the thrust of Ratzinger's use of the quote is more or less on the mark.

That he or his speechwriter's would deliberately chose to use this story, knowing full well the inflammatory nature of his remarks, is appalling. Equally so if they can sincerely say they did not foresee any potential for a negative reaction to such comments.

Don't get me wrong, I could give a shit about the fragile religious sensitivities of catholics, muslims, "evangelicals" or whoever. But then again i'm not the infallible representative of god on earth. Vanya, your comments reflect all the political sense of a rock.

Posted by: greggy on September 20, 2006 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

oh, and the "Mea Kinda" was brilliant.

Posted by: greggy on September 20, 2006 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

If the Pope had one honest bone in his body (aside from the one he likes to stick into altar boys), he would come out and speak truth:

"Islam spread by violence.
I stand by this statement, because it is historical FACT.
Catholocism also spread by violence.
This is also, an undisputed historical FACT.

Both of these religions, of the children of God, can survive, and thrive, on reason alone.

It's high time both these religions put a stop to this bullshit."

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on September 20, 2006 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

Al :: "There is no difference between what he did and what you did."

The difference is in the context. The Pope is a Dope and Kevin isn't.

Posted by: wr on September 20, 2006 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Benedict is a brilliant man. A nickel version of his ideas ain't gonna cut it, so don't bother with any reductionism. Read the speech as is.

He does have an agenda. A while ago, he went into a synagogue and said Nazism was more about neo-paganism than about traditional anti-Semitism. That was something indeed. Then he said to Turkey, in effect in another address, that the idea of a "clash of civilizations" was wrong and he was for dialogue between Europe and the Middle East. He is clearly staking out an interesting intellectual position.

In political terms, you have to realize he was up against some serious lefties at University of Tubingen in 1968, so he is well tempered and knows what to expect from opposition. He knows they are not going to calmly discuss faith and reason.

He is a brilliant man, one of the best minds to come to public life in ages. Ignore him at your loss is my opinion, and I am not religious.

Posted by: Bob M on September 20, 2006 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

Religon: Responsable for over 200 million deaths.

Posted by: Mann Coulter on September 20, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

"with the final words of Mohammed to his disciples..."

Muhammad's Last Sermon

Fitz, that's pretty disingenuous. Muhammad's last sermon can be found above. I don't know what his last words were to his disciples, but his last sermon was his final message to mankind. It's very short, and I think quite beautiful. It sums up Islam in just a few sentences.

Posted by: enozinho on September 20, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Vanya:

If Benedict's purpose there was PR as you say -- then he couldn't have failed more abysmally.

The response was entirely predictable. And the reference entirely gratuitous; there were any number of other ways to have prefaced his remark save by citing the history of the bloody rivalry between Christendom and Islam that ended with the Ottoman conquest of the Levant. Sheesh!

The great irony is that in the rest of Benedict's speech, he was making points that any Islamic cleric would have understood and applauded. He even said that the West has so exorcised faith through an overreliance on reason that the Muslim world no longer understands it. Music to bin Laden's ears!

But of course he also wove a *counter*narrative through it, which is an attempt to justify faith *through* reason that's been a Catholic game since Aquinas. Well guess what -- tell it to Gallileo.

The fact of the matter is that the Western world has supplanted faith by reason because of faith's insufficiencies. The Pope's trying for a flying buttress of illogical rhetoric to shore that up.

Because in truth, if Benedict were right -- that faith is justified by and compatible with reason -- then the Western world wouldn't have fallen away from faith to begin with.

Pope Benedict -- doctrinal enforcer.

And BTW, can anybody even *imagine* John Paul II ever being that remotely insensitive -- despite the doctrinal agreement he doubtless would have felt with his former Grand Inquisitor?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 20, 2006 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, you know, the Islamic Revolution in Iran tagged the US with the moniker "Great Satan," and the Protestants in Europe during the 16th and 17th Centuries routinely referred to the Pope as the "Antichrist." There may be more to this Thirty Years' War analogy than I realized.

By the way, then as now, the atrocities are perpetrated by both sides.

Also, no one really won the Thirty Years' War. I guess that's what took thirty years--to wear everyone down to the point that they just couldn't fucking pick themselves up to kill any more. On the bright side, maybe we only have 25 more years of this before the same can be said for the idiot antagonists in this conflict.

Posted by: Baldrick on September 20, 2006 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

If you're a Muslim, you either have to disown your religion or burn something to get anyone to pay attention.
Posted by: enozinho on September 20, 2006 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

My question is;
Why is getting anyone to pay attention so damn important?

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on September 20, 2006 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

The story has 2 parts - the Pope's use of the quote, and Muslim reaction to his use of the quote. I side with Kevin: both players behaved badly.

But the violent reaction of Muslims protesting accusations of being violent takes the cake.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on September 20, 2006 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Mann Coulter: Religon: Responsable for over 200 million deaths.

Not a reason, just an excuse. Besides religion, people can choose sides based on the color of their skin (or for that matter any aspect of their ancestry), their language, whether they're left or right handed. You name it. If you want to kill people, you can always find an excuse.

Posted by: alex on September 20, 2006 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

After watching the segement, I feel that I am not missing much by not watching the Daily Show at all. Anything funny that appears there will be shown at the end of Special Report. Besides Steven Cobear is much funnier than Jon Stewart. Anyway, I would be interested in hearing why Kevin believes this segement teaches us more about this issue than "reams of op-ed commentary."

Posted by: Chicounsel on September 20, 2006 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

We seem to be at cross channels relating to two separate impulses of our respective faiths (dogmas)

#1) The Theist ( Myself, the Pope) seeks to differentiate two separate religious traditions and the underlying philosophical/theological predispositions to violence.

#2.) The Secularist (others) falls upon his multiculturalists dogmas and (a) refuses any marked contrast between the two (b) falls upon his anti-religious bigotry and strives to NOT-differentiate the two because it satiates his impulse to paint ALL religion as archaic & barbaric.

Posted by: Fitz on September 20, 2006 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

from Osama_Been_Forgotten's proposed papal statements: It's high time both these religions put a stop to this bullshit.

Ok, but in keeping with Catholic practice, we need a canonical translation. Is "fimus bovis" Latin for bullshit?

Posted by: alex on September 20, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

I beg to differ. It is organized statist/authoritarian groups that impose "external enemies" on their constituents (loosely used here) in order to maintain control over populations. It is their way of demonstrating to the people "why they need us"

The Church would have folded centuries ago had people been left to their own free reason and will. But by keeping people IGNORANT, POOR and AFRAID, the Church thrived, even inculcated children to be "christian soldiers" (an oxymoron if ever there was one). Kinda like they are doing now....imagine, our own fuehrer has his own Hitler youth: http://www.jesuscampthemovie.com/

Posted by: marblex on September 20, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

But none more Religon,It far outpaces any other reasons for killing.But your point is well taken Alex.

Posted by: Mann Coulter on September 20, 2006 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Why is getting anyone to pay attention so damn important?

Because lies and distortions about Islam and Muslims are used as justification for invading their countries, propping up their dictators, and leaving them to languish in poverty indefinitely.

Posted by: enozinho on September 20, 2006 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Fitz:

I don't paint either religion as archaic or barbaric.

I just think that justifying faith by reason is a sucker's game whether you're a Muslim *or* a Catholic.

We're an enlightened civilization now.

The Caliphate was an enlightened civilization when we were burning each other at the stake and dying of communicable diseases in the Dark Ages.

Benedict's point?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 20, 2006 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Last night Jon Stewart pegged all this perfectly.

Yeah. And just think how on the money he'd be if he had, you know, some writers and stuff!

Posted by: craigie on September 20, 2006 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

In reference to my earlier post, I think Anne Applebaum's op-ed in yesterday's Washington Post was much better commentary than the Daily Show segement. The following excerpt should suffice for those who haven't read it.

"All of which is simply beside the point, since nothing the pope has ever said comes even close to matching the vitriol, extremism and hatred that pour out of the mouths of radical imams and fanatical clerics every day, all across Europe and the Muslim world, almost none of which ever provokes any Western response at all. And maybe it's time that it should: When Saudi Arabia publishes textbooks commanding good Wahhabi Muslims to "hate" Christians, Jews and non-Wahhabi Muslims, for example, why shouldn't the Vatican, the Southern Baptists, Britain's chief rabbi and the Council on American-Islamic Relations all condemn them -- simultaneously?
. . .
But if stray comments by Western leaders -- not to mention Western films, books, cartoons, traditions and values -- are going to inspire regular violence, I don't feel that it's asking too much for the West to quit saying sorry and unite, occasionally, in its own defense. The fanatics attacking the pope already limit the right to free speech among their own followers. I don't see why we should allow them to limit our right to free speech, too."

Posted by: Chicounsel on September 20, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

#2.) The Secularist (others) falls upon his multiculturalists dogmas and (a) refuses any marked contrast between the two (b) falls upon his anti-religious bigotry and strives to NOT-differentiate the two because it satiates his impulse to paint ALL religion as archaic & barbaric.
Posted by: Fitz on September 20, 2006 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Yep. That's about right.

Although I personally strive to NOT-differentiate betwen the two, because THEY ARE THE SAME. Both are wrong, both are based on fallacious scripture, and both are used as excuses for murder, rape, mayhem, and genocide.
That goes for totalitarian communism as well. Ideologically different than Catholocism and Islam. Functionally the same.

That's because - it's all a form of barbaric tribalism. The rest of us are just patiently waiting for y'all to kill eachother off, and we're hoping you leave us out of your petty squabbles over angelic pinhead dancing.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on September 20, 2006 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

In the name of religon,Whole cultures of people where wiped out.There trees cut down there villages torn down and hauled off,There land was salted.Experts think there may have been up to Forty culters of people wiped off the face of the earth,every man womman and chid of that decent just wiped away.All in the name of religon.Go figure!!

Posted by: Mann Coulter on September 20, 2006 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Look! Another post that thinks Jon Stewart is funny! Or is it so say Jon Stewart is right?

So if religion killed 200 million people does that mean that anti-religion killed all the rest?

Posted by: Orwell on September 20, 2006 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

How can you possibly be appalled? The pope was raising a basic theological point: "God is His own Word, which is Reason (Logos), Who is His co-essential Son and eternally One with Him from before the ages, whereas Allah's word is the eternal Qur'an, which has no obvious or necessary relationship to reason, and which he could nonetheless repudiate at any time if he so chose." (this is a direct quote-- check my blog for more). After all, any serious Muslim would call a Christian a blasphemer (multiplicity into the one God) and an idolator (worship as God a man named Jesus). Should Christians be offended by this? Of course not.

I'm sick to death of the tip-toeing and kid gloves treatment accorded to any major theological difference. By all means, we need mutual respect (and the pope acknowledges that). But brushing this under the carpet means we cannot address the core issue at the heart of Benedict's talk: violence in the service of religion. His point is that it is irrational, no matter who does it. He shows how Christianity works it out (despite the fact that Christians, to put in mildly, did not always take this to heart!). How does islamic theology work this out? For it should work it out, and the pope is right to condemn all violence in the service of religion.

No, the real story here is the Muslim reaction: we respond with violence to protest you calling us violent! Where's the irony? When Pope Benedict looks out from the Vatican, he can see a big Saudi-funded mosque on the hills. In the meantime, Christianity is illegal in Saudi Arabia, and Islam applies the death penalty for conversion. Are we to keep burying our heads in the sand, as the great South Park carton implied? Or are we to address the elephant in the room? If the answer to this question is yes, then we need to have an honest theological debate, and not shy away from key differences. Go Benedict!

(from a serious Catholic who is a staunch supporter of the Democratic party-- for reasons you all can understand, I'm sure. I try to expose some of the Repunblican hypocrisy in this area on my blog).

Posted by: Morning's Minion on September 20, 2006 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Baldrick--so you're saying because the West has matured beyond religiously-inspired violence that we should just excuse it in Islam? Is this the "I was a teenager too" excuse?

Islam, as currently practiced and believed, supports violence.

Posted by: polthereal on September 20, 2006 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK
For the record, here's the nickel version of what he said:

Mohammed was a violent man. Violence is unreasonable. God loves reason. Draw your own conclusions.

That's not at all what he said.

Benedict's supporters are mostly defending him by insisting that Benedict didn't actually say that.

Which, since he didn't say that, is a perfectly reasonable response.

He was just quoting the 14th century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus, who said it.

More specifically, he was quoting Manuel II Paleologus comments in the context of a broader argument about faith and reason, and endorsing the view of the relation between faith, reason, and violence that Manuel II Paleologus put forth, not endorsing the particular characterization of Islam that formed the context for that characterization.

In fact, Benedict is, though its not the central point of his remarks, making an attack on Islam: making a far deeper, far more serious, and far more basic attack on Islam (or at least a strain of theology found within Islam, though not exclusively sothan the simplistic focus on the reference to Manuel II Paleologus' comment on Muhammed as, as you characterize it, a "violent man" would have it seem.

Rather, his endorsement of Manuel II Paleologus comments on faith, reason, and violence followed by his later reference to Khoury's characterization of Ibn Hasan's articulation of the Islamic view of God makes clear that, insofar as he is commenting on Islam per se, he is attacking the Islamic view of God "absolutely transcendent", unbounded even by reason; he extends this attack to not only against Islam, but against strains of thought within Christianity that adopt similar or related positions, as well.

So why has there been all this focus on a distortion of a minor point? Because lots of people, on both the right and the left, really don't want any serious discussion of Benedict's actual point in the speech: that of the role of philosophy and theology vis-a-vis natural sciences, where Benedict argues that theology must be considered a "within the wide-ranging dialogue of sciences" (an unspeakable affront to doctrinaire liberalism), and that, yet, its subject matter is outside the bounds of the natural sciences (an equally unspeakable affront to those who would sell their theological indoctrination as natural science).

This isn't to say I agree with Benedict's argument—I don't think I do, at least as it presented. But I do think lots of people have sacred cows that are threatened by serious consideration of it, and would much rather distract from it by recasting it as "Pope calls Islam violent".

Talk about missing the entire point.


Posted by: cmdicely on September 20, 2006 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Christianity in America, as currently practiced and believed, supports violence.

Posted by: marblex on September 20, 2006 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK
The Pope is a Dope and Kevin isn't.

Without commenting on the broader characterization of either party, in the context of the Pope's remarks and Kevin's remarks about them, I'd say Kevin is the dope (and a dupe, as well), not Benedict.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 20, 2006 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

So if religion killed 200 million people does that mean that anti-religion killed all the rest?

No.

Posted by: craigie on September 20, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK
Benedict's point?

Well, you could just click through and read it. Benedict is pretty clear what his point is (and it has nothing to do with "Islam = bad"; that's just a deliberate distortion of a minor piece of the argument in an effort to (1) take any excuse to advance the al-Qaeda/neocon "clash of civilizations" meme, and (2) distract from Benedicts actual points):

And so I come to my conclusion. This attempt, painted with broad strokes, at a critique of modern reason from within has nothing to do with putting the clock back to the time before the Enlightenment and rejecting the insights of the modern age. The positive aspects of modernity are to be acknowledged unreservedly: We are all grateful for the marvelous possibilities that it has opened up for mankind and for the progress in humanity that has been granted to us. The scientific ethos, moreover, is the will to be obedient to the truth, and, as such, it embodies an attitude which reflects one of the basic tenets of Christianity.

The intention here is not one of retrenchment or negative criticism, but of broadening our concept of reason and its application. 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. For philosophy and, albeit in a different way, for theology, listening to the great experiences and insights of the religious traditions of humanity, and those of the Christian faith in particular, is a source of knowledge, and to ignore it would be an unacceptable restriction of our listening and responding.

Here I am reminded of something Socrates said to Phaedo. In their earlier conversations, many false philosophical opinions had been raised, and so Socrates says: "It would be easily understandable if someone became so annoyed at all these false notions that for the rest of his life he despised and mocked all talk about being -- but in this way he would be deprived of the truth of existence and would suffer a great loss."

The West has long been endangered by this aversion to the questions which underlie its rationality, and can only suffer great harm thereby. The courage to engage the whole breadth of reason, and not the denial of its grandeur -- this is the program with which a theology grounded in biblical faith enters into the debates of our time.

"Not to act reasonably (with logos) is contrary to the nature of God," said Manuel II, according to his Christian understanding of God, in response to his Persian interlocutor. It is to this great logos, to this breadth of reason, that we invite our partners in the dialogue of cultures. To rediscover it constantly is the great task of the university.

Agree or disagree with it, that's his point.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 20, 2006 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

After all, any serious Muslim would call a Christian a blasphemer (multiplicity into the one God). and an idolator (worship as God a man named Jesus). Should Christians be offended by this? Of course not.

I don't understand why this is so.
I have been a Christian all my life, and I understand implicitly that I pray to God, and I worship God, and the whole point of God sending his Son was not so we worship His Son, but so that we can be forgiven.

Who is worshipping Christ? Nobody who understands the message of the New Testament is worshipping Christ.
Recognizing the Divine origin of Christ doesn't mean Christ is God.

I just don't get the difference between Islam's view of Christ, and Christianity's view of Christ.

I also don't get the difference between the Sunnis and Shiites, though I understand it's actually cultural, and not necessarily doctrinal or ideological.

the Muslim reaction: we respond with violence to protest you calling us violent!

This is where Benedict is totally failing, as a leader. He has backed down from what he said, and is now parsing his words. He doesn't have the courage to stand by what he said, and he doesn't have the courage to retract what he said fully. He's trying to weasel in between the two views.

Westerners can see the irony of "If you insult Islam by calling it violent, we will kill you!" - The Pope should have the balls to stand up and say this. I think he'd win a lot of moderate Muslim hearts and minds this way. Maybe he'll get himself assassinated, but Popes have been killed for worse causes.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on September 20, 2006 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Because lots of people, on both the right and the left, really don't want any serious discussion of Benedict's actual point in the speech

I'm sorry, but I don't buy the idea that there is a conspiracy to not talk about his larger point. Muslims are angry because the Pope passively quoted a 14 century king, implying that Islam is inherently violent.

It's like quote someone 20 years after the crucifixion claiming, "Jesus grabbed my ass."

Posted by: enozinho on September 20, 2006 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK
I'm sorry, but I don't buy the idea that there is a conspiracy to not talk about his larger point.

I didn't say there was a conspiracy. Lots of people having related motives for similar actions and taking them independently is not a "conspiracy".

Muslims are angry because the Pope passively quoted a 14 century king, implying that Islam is inherently violent.

Sure, lots of Muslims are angry about it. Why do they even know about it? Because people—for, I would argue, the motives I suggested—have focussed on that minor part of Benedict's speech, and publicized that spin on it.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 20, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Islam does not consider Jesus to be divine. He is considered a prophet. Islam says that God has no partners, so attributing divinity to Jesus is understood as implying that without Jesus, God is deficient.

On the day that Muhammad died, one of his companions (Umr Bin Khattab, I believe) said, "He who worshiped Muhammad, let them know that he is dead. He who worships God, let him know that he is alive and never dies."

Posted by: enozinho on September 20, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

Because in truth, if Benedict were right -- that faith is justified by and compatible with reason -- then the Western world wouldn't have fallen away from faith to begin with.

This argument relies on equivocation: Benedict clearly does not argue that faith is justified by the conception of reason modernly popular in the West, and indeed criticizes that as a misconception and improper narrowing of the concept of "reason".

Posted by: cmdicely on September 20, 2006 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

So I finally got around to reading the pope's speech. Even though I'm a church-going Catholic (depending on the week), my sense of theology and faith is far different than the church's. But I rather liked the pope's ideas about the importance of reason in practicing religion. I would agree that there is a difference between Catholicism and Islam, and I agree that the practice of jihad (war in the service of God) is not justified.

But that's not all that that pope said. He quoted the Byzantine emperor who said: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

The quote does not just condemn jihad. It says that all Mohammed has added is "evil and inhuman." In other words, it condemns all Islam.

That might not be the pope's belief, but then why say it? If the pope was looking for a way to condemn jihad, surely there is a better way to do it then finding a quote that condemns all Islam.

The pope's I-really-didn't-mean-that defense is ridiculous.

The Muslim protests also are ridiculous, to the extent that they are violently protesting the assertion that they are violent.

But as Stewart pointed out, rioting at soccer matches doesn't exactly demonstrate that the West is superior. People can react violently about things they care about. With some people, it's sports, and with others, it's religion.

The pope did have another quote near the end of his speech that is worth remembering. Here's Socrates to Phaedo: "It would be easily understandable if someone became so annoyed at all these false notions that for the rest of his life he despised and mocked all talk about being -- but in this way he would be deprived of the truth of existence and would suffer a great loss."

There is a lot of wisdom in that.

Posted by: JJF on September 20, 2006 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Baldrick--so you're saying because the West has matured beyond religiously-inspired violence that we should just excuse it in Islam? Is this the "I was a teenager too" excuse?

No, not really. I am saying that Christianity has at times been a violent religion also, and that people frequently kill and maim other people due to abstract ideas that possess them. I am saying that Islam is not substantially different from any other man-made belief system in this regard, including Christianity. I am also saying that, your supreme confidence that the West does not kill in the service of its religion (or other ideology) is badly misguided. On the contrary, you only have to look back at the history of the twentieth century (and, now, sadly, the twenty first) to see it. And the right wing nut jobs who are leading this charge and their enabling useful idiots in their basements with the cheetos are very good examples of the kind of demented, blind rage at the other that I am talking about.

What would a rational human do if attacked by a group of thugs and madmen? Well, he might go after the thugs and mad men and try to "bring them to justice." He would not, if behaving rationally, go after some other thugs and mad men who are incapable of doing him harm, and he most certainly would not go up the street of the thugs and madmen and provoke all of their innocent neighbors by attacking them as well.

What I am saying is that the West, as represented currently by the Bush Administration, kills just as much in service of its ideology do Muslims. Our wealth helps us to present it in a little more palatable way, of course.

Posted by: Baldrick on September 20, 2006 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Fitz, if there were any difference in the predisposition to violence between these religions of the God of Abraham, I'm hard pressed to find them. Both have a history of going to war against others, both have a history of going against themselves, both have shown themselves willing to kill to enforce orthodoxy. Christianity, in general, and Catholicism, in particular, are peaceful now because revolutions destroyed their secular power. When the Catholic Church was running its shadow-theocracy before the Reformation Era and even after, say in France before the Revolution, it was every bit as bloodthirsty and every bit as willing to manipulate the peasants for their own benefit. That was a major reason that the Church was a target of the revolutions, not merely something standing on the side, like the King of Thailand during a military coup.

Bob M -

He does have an agenda. A while ago, he went into a synagogue and said Nazism was more about neo-paganism than about traditional anti-Semitism. That was something indeed.

The something is dishonesty. Paganism has had little real resonance in Europe for a long time. Sure there are many symbolic gestures to paganism in various areas, but I'm willing to bet that the Roman Catholics have borrowed more pagan symbolism than the Nazis ever did. Blaming the other works, whether in Germany after WWI or Iran today. Sorry, but Europe's history of anti-semitism is inextricably bound up in Europe's history of Christianity.

Then he said to Turkey, in effect in another address, that the idea of a "clash of civilizations" was wrong and he was for dialogue between Europe and the Middle East. He is clearly staking out an interesting intellectual position.

What dialogue does he want? Europeans want Turkey to be the bulwark against the "really crazy Moslems" that they fear, but they don't want to pay the price by admitting Turkey to the EU. Ataturk's vision of secular countries that are overwhelmingly Islamic cannot survive in one or two places without support. The battle, however, is not between Christian and Moslem, it is between religiously controlled and secular. The power and appeal of secular life, not Christianity, is why the West, which has pretty well and wisely given up on proselytizing in Islamic countries, is a threat in Islamic countries. Secularism can destroy the power of the clergy without destroying the religion. That is the fear. That is the fact. That is the battle.

Posted by: freelunch on September 20, 2006 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

"I occasionally get tired of suggestions that Jon Stewart is the only guy in America who "really gets it."

YOU HAVE GRAVELY OFFENDED PIOUS DAILY SHOW VIEWERS! APOLOGIZE IMMEDIATELY - AND NOT JUST SOME HALF-APOLOGY - WE WANT, LIKE, A REAL SELF-FLAGELLATION "I HAVE OFFENDED THEE" HAIRSHIRT THING - OR WE WILL ISSUE A FATWA AGAINST YOU AND TORCH ALL KINDS OF CHURCHES AND CAT GROOMING PARLORS AND STUFF. WE TRIED TO BURN YOU IN EFFIGY BUT DIDN'T HAVE ENOUGH HAY TO MAKE ONE BIG ENOUGH. (HIYO!)

Posted by: Cazarto-Bin-Laden on September 20, 2006 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK
Benedict was basically saying Islam supports violence towards non-Muslims.

No, Benedict was basically saying that a wide range of religious thought, including a strand found within historical Islam and within historical Christianity, improperly considers Divine Will unknowable and beyond reason, and in doing so and yet calling for absolute submission, engenders all sorts of problems, including violence.

Note specifically his reference to Ibn Hasan's description of the Islamic concept of God, and his later references to trends within historical Christianity that led the same direction.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 20, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK
This is where Benedict is totally failing, as a leader. He has backed down from what he said, and is now parsing his words.

Except that he didn't back off what he actually said. He "backed off" a distorted characterization others made of remarks taken, deliberately, out of context.

He doesn't have the courage to stand by what he said, and he doesn't have the courage to retract what he said fully.

Yes, he does. He is standing by what he said. There is no lack of courage in not agreeing with whatever self-serving distortions other people come up with of your statements in order to stir controversy.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 20, 2006 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

For the record, Pope Benedict opposed both Bush's invasion of Iraq and the Israeli assault on Lebanon. He is consistent in his views on peace.

Posted by: Morning's Minion on September 20, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Sure, the Pope was dumb to try to take on this issue with 13th century references, given just how violent the Catholic Church and the papacy was in that same time period. Its just dumb to draw on references from a time when religeous problems were being solved on the battlefield.

That being said, you, Kevin, have always bristled at the criticism that the left "doesn't acknowlege" or "is soft on" the violent intent of radical Islam and the illiberalism of Islam in general. Good, because I think there is a need for smart voices who are both against the Iraq war but acknowlege what's awful in certain sects of Islam. Heck, their women are treated worse than blacks were in apartheid South Africa, just to pick a random example.

However, after such past protesting, here you go drawing a moral equivilence between a speech and actual violence. On one side is a guy speaking. On the other side are people who out-and-out say that they will use violence to stop that speech. And you consider theys guys equally bad? What if Bush or Rumsfield were threatening a violent response to Hugo Chavez's over-the-top speech in the UN today? Would you declare moral equivilence there as well between the speaker and those threatening violence?

Sure, I don't like Benedict and kind of enjoy seeing him embrarassed, but I would never equate a few lines in his speech to the actions of the Islamic world in response. And I would have that position even without the unbelieveable irony of Muslims responding to a statement that they are violent by... threatening lots of violence.

Posted by: coyote on September 20, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Islam does not consider Jesus to be divine.

A Muslim also said that the Bible is accurate when it says that Jesus is the Son of God. Because we are all Sons of God.

Frankly, I don't see an important (worth fighting over) difference here.

He is considered a prophet. Islam says that God has no partners, so attributing divinity to Jesus is understood as implying that without Jesus, God is deficient.

That makes no fucking sense.
The fact that I have a son means that I'm somehow deficient?

This amounts to a parsing of words and meanings to the extent that I think we should just chalk it up to linguistic and cultural differences, and call it a day. Personally, I don't think God/Allah gives a crap about this stuff - in fact, according to Genesis, he scattered our languages and cultures for a reason (to keep us from getting too arrogant).

This barely merits a heated discussion over beers in a pub, let alone a holy war, bombings, torture, beheadings, invasions, etc.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on September 20, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK
The Muslim protests also are ridiculous, to the extent that they are violently protesting the assertion that they are violent.

Well, yeah, but then that's not what they are protesting. They are violently protesting the idea that what the Koran teaches regarding jihad is "contrary to God's nature."


Posted by: cmdicely on September 20, 2006 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Baldrick--so you're saying because the West has matured beyond religiously-inspired violence that we should just excuse it in Islam? Is this the "I was a teenager too" excuse?
Islam, as currently practiced and believed, supports violence.
Posted by: polthereal

the west hasn't matured beyond religiously inspired violence ... we've just sublimated these impulses into (arguably more sophisticated) nation-state or a racial ideologies.

today american, and in their day spanish and british, violence reaches proportions unmatchable by muslims of any age. the body count and atrocities committed by westerners, particularly whites, surpasses muslim extremism even today. the fact that it isn't identified as christian, except subconsciously and accidentally, is irrelevant.

... and the ONLY thing, I submit, preventing the wholesale return of apeshit, violent, racist, genocidal, bible-thumping christianity in this country, are liberals.

Posted by: Nads on September 20, 2006 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Some decades back, the KKK sometimes lynched an African American for "being uppity". In those days, liberals didn't sit around and debate whether he really was uppity. All their anger was directed at the KKK and the lynch mob.

Now Islamic rabble-rousers used the Pope's words to promote the burning of churches and the murder of a nun. Liberals want to debate whether or not the Pope's words were truly provacative. I don't care what the Pope said. All my anger is directed against the rabble-rousers, the arsonists and the killers.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 20, 2006 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

"...a strand found within historical Islam and within historical Christianity, improperly considers Divine Will unknowable and beyond reason"

I haven't read Ibn Hasan, but I have seen examples of this type of thought among Muslims. A lot of Muslims misunderstand the word "Taqwah" to mean fear of God, when in fact in means understanding, or knowledge of God.

On the subject of reason, all I can say is that what brought me to Islam were the Quran's calls for man to look the world around him for answers to the meaning of life. That's not to say there aren't ideas and rules in it that don't make me cringe, there are. But, in general, my impression when reading the Quran for the first time was that it could have been written by Aristotle.

Posted by: enozinho on September 20, 2006 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

hmmm, "uppity nigger" vs the Pope.

I sense a small disparity in power, but I can't quite put my finger on it...

Posted by: craigie on September 20, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with most of your posts, KD, when it comes to bread-and-butter political and economic issues (including foreign policy). But here it is you who sound like a child. I'll concede this point: it was clumsy and probably careless for the pope to have used that quote. That criticism is perfectly fair. But for you to be "appalled" by the speech as a whole requires not reading it carefully. The entire speech is about the incompatibility of genuine faith with violence, and the important role of reason, that must not be limited only to questions that can be answered with demonstrable certitude (thus in effect excluding all the fundamental human questions about love, human purpose, God, meaning, etc.). It calls for people of diverse faiths and none to converse with one another honestly. And while the quote was indeed ill-chosen, it was included precisely because this notion of conversation about basic human questions is under threat in part via a violent interpretation of Islam, the Koranic validity of which continues to be debated within Islam. Yet that was not the central focus of the lecture: the pope also discussed at length the problem of a positivist secularism that denies that these ultimate questions can be discussed rationally at all (the latter problem received far more attention in the speech).
I like The Daily Show too, but it is-- if not a ten year old's response-- at least an adolescent response to limit one's self to giggling at someone trying to raise these questions, as if the problem of nihilism has not been an important question in the West for at least the last 100 years, and violent Islamic fundamentalism is not a danger to peace and to reason alike. There is a place for jokes and for anticlericalism-- The Daily Show took some good shots there-- but that you think this is the truth-telling last word on the pope's speech is not a recommendation for your thinking on these questions.

Posted by: Bill on September 20, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Someone who needs to go to a Mindless Religious Zealotry Re-education camp wrote:

Frankly, I don't see an important (worth fighting over) difference here.

Well, there's the execution of thousands of heretics wasted.

Posted by: freelunch on September 20, 2006 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

From Baldrick: I am saying that Christianity has at times been a violent religion also...I am saying that Islam is not substantially different from any other man-made belief system in this regard, including Christianity.

Except that the Pope wasn't calling for people to go out and kill elderly Islamic priests.

History is clear, no doubt. But Islam is violent now, while Christianity, on the whole, is not.

I'm not saying Western nations aren't militarisitic and violent, but they (1) have a set of rules for not attacking innocents through terrorism or other random violence (notwithstanding Bush's lamentable attempts to gut parts of the Geneva Conventions); and (2) are capable of discussion where Muslims seem predisposed towards horrific personal violence.

By the way, I'm a solid Democratic who believes the Iraq war was stupid and that we should get out now. I just don't believe we ought to excuse Islam from its violent tendencies.

Posted by: polthereal on September 20, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK
Sure, the Pope was dumb to try to take on this issue with 13th century references, given just how violent the Catholic Church and the papacy was in that same time period.

First, it was a 14th Century reference. Second, Manuel II Paleologus was, as a Byzantine Emporer, certainly neither a Catholic nor a representative of the Papacy. Third, the Pope also criticized theological trends within Christianity in the Middle Ages for the exact same reasons that Islamic theology was criticized.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 20, 2006 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps I didn't word that especially well, what the Muslims were protesting. But it's really hard to know exactly what they are protesting, because acts of violence -- attacking churches, burning the pope in effigy -- are not speeches that can be parsed but are acts that are so dramatic they blur whatever the protesters may have been trying to say.

Violence gets attention, but it's a hard way to persuade.

Posted by: JJF on September 20, 2006 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

This barely merits a heated discussion over beers in a pub, let alone a holy war, bombings, torture, beheadings, invasions, etc.

On this, we are in total agreement. The fact is that the Quran and Muhammad both said that Christians and Jews will be in heaven. Muhammad married Christians and Jews, some of whom never converted. Heck, my wife is a Catholic.

But we also know that the broader support for extremists in Muslim lands has little to do with theology. That's why discussions of 14th century kings used to explain the world we see today are so fruitless and insulting.

Posted by: enozinho on September 20, 2006 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not saying Western nations aren't militarisitic and violent, but they (1) have a set of rules for not attacking innocents through terrorism or other random violence (notwithstanding Bush's lamentable attempts to gut parts of the Geneva Conventions); and (2) are capable of discussion where Muslims seem predisposed towards horrific personal violence.
Posted by: polthereal

these are the first steps towards 1) self-justification of our own atrocities, and 2) de-humanization of the enemy.

for instance, we may have set rules but we STILL (somehow?) kill large numbers of civilians; I'm not sure if the distinction of our supposedly good intentions matters to either the corpses or to their relatives.

if muslim countries interfere in our affairs, install our dictators, and rape our natural resources, we'll see how courteously we respond.

Posted by: Nads on September 20, 2006 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

forgive me but....does anyone care that our congress is poised to dispose of habeus corpus and pass the American version of the enabling act?

Or is this little diversion from the very real constitutional crisis building here at home, really that significant in the overall?

Better discuss how after DIEBOLD steals another one for the fringe lunatics, there will be no stopping whatsoever, the snowballing hellish rendezvous with the 11th century here as constitutional rule is finally disposed of and replaced by an anti-christian theocracy?

Then perhaps it will be apparent that this Pope like his neo-"con" supporters, is instigating, fomentng and feuling Muslim fear of yet another Crusade.

Posted by: marblex on September 20, 2006 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK
Violence gets attention, but it's a hard way to persuade.

The people promoting violence aren't trying to persuade anyone of anything except that people not like them are there enemies.

Its all part of selling the clash of civilizations.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 20, 2006 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

History is clear, no doubt. But Islam is violent now, while Christianity, on the whole, is not.

That's because the West has destroyed the power of the Church. How many governments in countries that are primarily Islamic are in the position to arrest and convict an Islamic religious leader who claims to be "doing God's Will"? When Islam's power over the state is broken, it loses its ability to be violent just as happened with Christianity.

Posted by: freelunch on September 20, 2006 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK
While I buy what cmdicely is saying - essentially, that the Pope was not attacking Islam but was making a broader statement about Divine Will - there should have been some mechanism that kicked in and prevented the Pope from giving out what is essentially 'red meat' to people who are looking for a justification to incite violence and hatred.

Anything can be used as red meat to someone who is skilled in casting the world into a preconceived framework; getting outside of the current Islamist/neocon efforts to sell a clash of civilizations, I think the history of radical Marxist and feminist "analysis" (among many other examples) has demonstrated that rather effectively. If you never said anything that other people could distort to sell their pre-packaged ideas, you'd never say anything at all.

This is especially true when you've got factions on "opposing" sides trying to sell the same struggle as the fundamental defining theme of the times.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 20, 2006 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Has the Pope said anything about the killing of innocents in the Iraq war? Even if someone professes to have compunctions on and even well defined rules against killing someone, if he engages in behaviour that is pre-ordained to kill innocents, he is as guilty of violence as anyone else.

I don't have a dog in this fight as I am an atheist, but I don't think that the Pope is a credible source for lectures on non-violence and rationality.

Posted by: gregor on September 20, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK
But Islam is violent now, while Christianity, on the whole, is not.

How do you figure? I see a lot more Christians going half way around the world to kill Muslims than vice versa.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 20, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

What Benedict ignored was that, at the time of the Byzantine emperor, the Islamic world was far more tolerant of their Jewish and Christian minority than the Christian world was of non-Christians. The Ottomans did not forcibly convert those that they conquered (though they did discriminate, charging higher taxes to non-Muslims, many high-ranking officials in the Ottoman empire were Christians). The Spanish expelled or killed Muslims and Jews, and large numbers of Jews fled Spain for the Islamic world during the 14th and 15th centuries.

Posted by: Joe Buck on September 20, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

That John Oliver guy is hilarious too!
I hope we get lucky enough to have him covering the Rapture.

Posted by: melior on September 20, 2006 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Sure, lots of Muslims are angry about it.

Spare us. The immams have rent-a-crowds.

Posted by: Bob M on September 20, 2006 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK
What Benedict ignored was that, at the time of the Byzantine emperor, the Islamic world was far more tolerant of their Jewish and Christian minority than the Christian world was of non-Christians.

Since that has no relevance to the comment he was making, I can see why he "ignored" it.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 20, 2006 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Freelunch, good points, but the neo-paganism relationship to Nazism will be developed more by Ph.D students, I am sure. Benedict was pointing out a new area of research. He was a prof, remember. I think the research will find interesting things and change our view of Nazism, for I wondered about it when I looked into the area myself. I don't have the German to go further so I let it drop.

As for his idea of dialogue with Turkey/Islam, we will see. I regard his political savvy as more sound than mine, so I will wait and watch, rather than opinionate.

I agree that secularism is more a threat to the Islamic clery than Christianity. Good point.

Posted by: Bob M on September 20, 2006 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK
"Christians" are not going around the world killing in the name of Christianity.

So? Is a religion any less violent if the morality it engenders, in practice, encourages its adherents to kill for excuses other than religion?

Is it really a ringing endorsement of Christianity that it apparently produces large crops of people who are willing to kill because someone might speculatively threaten them in the future?

Posted by: cmdicely on September 20, 2006 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

YOU HAVE GRAVELY OFFENDED PIOUS DAILY SHOW VIEWERS! APOLOGIZE IMMEDIATELY

Cazarto-bin-Laden, you made my day!

Posted by: Bob M on September 20, 2006 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Nads--I haven't said anything about Muslims being less than human. Many of them are simply convinced that it's ok to burn down churches when they're angry. That's violent.

Many of them are convinced that killing innocent civilians in towers or road-side cafes is justified by Islam. That's violent.

Of course the U.S. can be and is violent. We are in love with power and with money and use military violence to defend and expand our way of life--just like any culture will. But Americans don't burn down mosques and don't kill elderly imams because of words or pictures.

Now can you see a difference? Or are property destruction and out-of-the-way elderly nuns too little to care about?

Posted by: polthereal on September 20, 2006 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

I occasionally get tired of suggestions that Jon Stewart is the only guy in America who "really gets it."

Well of course you do, Kevin. That's because you're a Sensible Liberal. Sensible Liberals often get tired of hearing things that they agree with, and they also get tired of saying things that they believe in, because they begin to feel nagging sensations that they're not being Sensible enough, and that somewhere, some rightwinger might start to think that you have real opinions that you're willing to stand up for. Thus, you always have to qualify your remarks and detach yourself from what you assert, in order to appear nice and Sensible.

Really, we understand.

Posted by: Irony Man on September 20, 2006 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

So if religion killed 200 million people does that mean that anti-religion killed all the rest?

We already know logic isn't your strong suit, Orwell. No further reminders are necessary, thank you.

Posted by: Irony Man on September 20, 2006 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK
Of course the U.S. can be and is violent. We are in love with power and with money and use military violence to defend and expand our way of life

Or because someone attacked us, but doesn't present "good targets", so we need to use another country as an outlet for our anger.

Yeah, there are violent radical Muslims and the world would be a better place if they weren't around.

But the US has violent radical Muslims beat hands down for irrational violence right now.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 20, 2006 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

"Christians" are not going around the world killing in the name of Christianity.

Yes, they are. And the American taxpayer is footing the bill. Anyone that believes this is a Christian country, while supporting a war for our way of life, is endorsing a religious war.

Posted by: enozinho on September 20, 2006 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Osama_Been_Forgotten: Who is worshipping Christ? Nobody who understands the message of the New Testament is worshipping Christ.

There were times and places where such a statement could have gotten you burned at the stake, or started a war.

People have been debating the exact nature of the Trinity for almost two thousand years now.

Full disclosure: I'm a Unitarian, but I didn't go to Harvard.

Posted by: alex on September 20, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

I think JJF above pretty well nails it.

The defenses of Benedict's remarks simply refuse to come to terms with the generality and vehemence of the condemnation of Islam in the quote Benedict offered up.

How hard is it to see how pernicious such a quote would seem to Muslims, coming from the mouth of the leader of a Christian religion? Do you imagine Benedict would gladly quote someone saying that everything new in Catholicism was nothing but "evil and inhuman", without immediately rebutting it? How hard would it have been for him to make the point he supposedly was making without this quote?

Please, what Benedict said was indefensible, given who he is and how it would predictably be understood.

Posted by: frankly0 on September 20, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Some people here are assigning blame to all "Christians" for the suspect theology of the American evangelical cadre. These are the people whose Calvinist deterministic theology has no problem dividing up the world between "good" and "bad" and obliterating the latter. They also believe the United States is somehow exceptional, and that Israel should be victorious at all costs. Oh yes, and they believe in nonsense like the "rapture" that says God will zap good white American fundies into heaven while leaving everybody else to death and destruction. Yes, Bush believes this too.

Catholicism is different. We don't believe in predestination, the rapture, collective guilt, vengeance, the death penalty, torture, and Bush's wars.

Just look at Pope Benedict's call for Israeli restraint in Lebanon. And when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, he was quite clear where he stood on the Iraq war:

"the United Nations is the [institution] that should make the final decision."

"It is necessary that the community of nations makes the decision, not a particular power,"

"The fact that the United Nations is seeking the way to avoid war, seems to me to demonstrate with enough evidence that the damage would be greater than the values one hopes to save,"

"The concept of a 'preventive war does not appear in the Catechism of the Catholic Church,"

"There were not sufficient reasons to unleash a war against Iraq. To say nothing of the fact that, given the new weapons that make possible destructions that go beyond the combatant groups, today we should be asking ourselves if it is still licit to admit the very existence of a "just war.'"


Posted by: Morning's Minion on September 20, 2006 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

"Islam does not consider Jesus to be divine. He is considered a prophet. Islam says that God has no partners, so attributing divinity to Jesus is understood as implying that without Jesus, God is deficient."

Muslims consider Jesus to have divine origins, they just trip up on what that means a lot. They believe in the Virgin Birth, which means they believe that Jesus' birth was an act of God.

They get really hung up on the divinity/non-divinity of Jesus, just like Christians do, because it is one of the few major theological differences between the faiths.

Jesus is the most important prophet of them all, as supported by both Christianity and Islam. Islamic doctrine says that Christ, not Muhammed, will return to defeat the anti-Christ, al-dajjal, just as Christian doctrine does.

According to Islam and Christianity, Jesus is, to borrow some business speak, the "top-down" prophet, while Muhammed, Moses, Abraham, and the others are "bottom-up" prophets. Jesus is the only one with divine origins, and he was put on earth by God to serve a pre-defined divine purpose. The other prophets were people, who due to their piety and quality, God found worthy of using as tools.

Muslims have a hard time reconciling the clear language of their text with their actual views of Jesus and Muhammed, mostly due to the history of antagonism between the two faiths, not due to any genuine basis for that belief.

That being said, as a Catholic, I find it laughable to suggest that Christ WAS/IS God on Earth...but I know a great deal of Christians that could never believe otherwise.f

I also find the Muslim story of the crucifixion protrays a far more loving God, and it is that story (which says that Jesus was saved from the crucifixion and brought to heaven leaving an empty shell to be crucified), which I have internalized as part of my faith. The fact that this view jives a lot more with the story of God's test of Abraham - that he had to demonstrate that he was willing to sacrifice his son for God, but not required to do so having shown his devotion, also lends credibility to the Muslim version of the crucifixion, in my mind at least.

The shorter statement of my point is that we, Muslims and Christians, allow our political problems to obscure overwhelming agreement between the New Testament and the Qu'ran, and thus between ourselves, on the very subjects that become the lightning rods for the religious conflict, in the minds of fundamentalists.

Posted by: Dismayed Liberal on September 20, 2006 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

"Christians" are not going around the world killing in the name of Christianity.

General Casts War in Religious Terms
The top soldier assigned to track down Bin Laden and Hussein is an evangelical Christian who speaks publicly of 'the army of God.'
The Los Angeles Times
October 16, 2003

by Richard T. Cooper

WASHINGTON The Pentagon has assigned the task of tracking down and eliminating Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and other high-profile targets to an Army general who sees the war on terrorism as a clash between Judeo-Christian values and Satan.

Lt. Gen. William G. "Jerry" Boykin, the new deputy undersecretary of Defense for intelligence, is a much-decorated and twice-wounded veteran of covert military operations....

Yet the former commander and 13-year veteran of the Army's top-secret Delta Force is also an outspoken evangelical Christian who appeared in dress uniform and polished jump boots before a religious group in Oregon in June to declare that radical Islamists hated the United States "because we're a Christian nation, because our foundation and our roots are Judeo-Christian ... and the enemy is a guy named Satan."

Discussing the battle against a Muslim warlord in Somalia, Boykin told another audience, "I knew my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol."

"We in the army of God, in the house of God, kingdom of God have been raised for such a time as this," Boykin said last year.....

Posted by: Stefan on September 20, 2006 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Kingdom of daylight's dauphin,

You'll have to excuse Charlie/Thomas1. He gets a little defensive when his fundamentalist bloodlust--in which he himself engages freely--is actually pointed out.

Posted by: wish you were here on September 20, 2006 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

The pope should not have mentioned these words about Mohammed. The muslim word is going through a very difficult period and it wasn't the right moment and time to say these things. I hope it will soon all be forgotten.

Posted by: Eric on September 20, 2006 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

> Because in truth, if Benedict were right -- that faith is justified
> by and compatible with reason -- then the Western world wouldn't
> have fallen away from faith to begin with.

> This argument relies on equivocation: Benedict clearly does not
> argue that faith is justified by the conception of reason modernly
> popular in the West, and indeed criticizes that as a misconception
> and improper narrowing of the concept of "reason".

And that's a tautological redefinition of "reason" to
bolster his argument worthy of an Aqinian metaphysician.

Chris, I understand his intent. I understand his epistemological point
about irrational faith. I also understand that the broader critique in
his speech would appeal to Muslims just as assuredly as to Christians.

But he can't unbreak the egg. Nor can he attempt to pretend that
falsification epistemology is anywhere in the same *universe*
reason-wise as religious faith. If faith can't function properly without
reason (and I agree with Benedict there), reason can function perfectly
fine, thank you very much, without faith. It's become unnecessary even
for ethics -- and this is why the Western world has drifted away from it.

Now look -- there are many wonderful things that Benedict's church
believes that I think make the world a better place. But there's
also *plenty* of medieval absurdity: No ordination of women
priests, no marriage for priests, a doctrine of sexuality so
anti-human that nobody with a pulse can live up to it (and a
few who try become child molesters), the denial of condoms to
*married women* at risk of getting AIDS, opposition to embryonic
stem cell research, opposition to the right to die with dignity,
opposition to a woman's ability to control her reproductive destiny.

Can *any* of this be considered compatible with "reason?"

Only if you play angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin games with the definition.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 20, 2006 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

Dismayed Liberal: Well said.

Posted by: enozinho on September 20, 2006 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

And Benedict's apology was as phony as a Bush apology -- he practically seems to be taking his cues from Rove himself.

I mean, he was sorry for the "reaction" to his remarks? What the hell does that mean? That he's sorry that he made a remark that didn't take into account the sensibilities of others? Or that he's only "sorry" that others reacted to his remarks?

Weasel that he is, he of course just leaves it hanging out there which interpretation he meant.

Posted by: frankly0 on September 20, 2006 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

> Because in truth, if Benedict were right -- that faith is justified
> by and compatible with reason -- then the Western world wouldn't
> have fallen away from faith to begin with.

> This argument relies on equivocation: Benedict clearly does not
> argue that faith is justified by the conception of reason modernly
> popular in the West, and indeed criticizes that as a misconception
> and improper narrowing of the concept of "reason".

And that's a tautological redefinition of "reason" to
bolster his argument worthy of an Aqinian metaphysician.

Chris, I understand his intent. I understand his epistemological point
about irrational faith. I also understand that the broader critique in
his speech would appeal to Muslims just as assuredly as to Christians.

But he can't unbreak the egg. Nor can he attempt to pretend that
falsification epistemology is anywhere in the same *universe*
reason-wise as religious faith. If faith can't function properly without
reason (and I agree with Benedict there), reason can function perfectly
fine, thank you very much, without faith. It's become unnecessary even
for ethics -- and this is why the Western world has drifted away from it.

Now look -- there are many wonderful things that Benedict's church
believes that I think make the world a better place. But there's
also *plenty* of medieval absurdity: No ordination of women
priests, no marriage for priests, a doctrine of sexuality so
anti-human that nobody with a pulse can live up to it (and a
few who try become child molesters), the denial of condoms to
*married women* at risk of getting AIDS, opposition to embryonic
stem cell research, opposition to the right to die with dignity,
opposition to a woman's ability to control her reproductive destiny.

Can *any* of this be considered compatible with "reason?"

Only if you play angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin games with the definition.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 20, 2006 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

Are we talking about the Islam that came out of present day Saudi Arabia that ran around invading and colonizing other lands?

Christianity as well did invading and colonizing.

Biggest difference between the two concepts is Christianity is a socically "defeated" religion while Islam is going though that stage now.

If you want to have fun and play with a religious person, just tell them they have no standing in society to tell society what to do. Better duck though, they are violent people and the only way to truly keep their terrible ideas going is to use violence.

Christianity didn't start out violent, but found that if it wanted to remain in power to tell societies what to do it had to resort to violence.

Islam started flat out violent. It has always and must be forever violent, otherwise it would become a shadow of it's main purpose of telling people how to live. Islam in itself is not a self-stable concept. Never was. It has to have members constantly attacking it's own kind with violence to maintain the "Islam" structure.

In fact, There really is no such thing as "Islam", but "Islams", meaning multiple translations of what Islam is suppose to be. Since the main concept of Islam is not stable, everyone tries to define what Islam is and isn't. That's why you have Sunni's and Shia, plus other subgroups in those group as well. Gee- Which IS the right translation? Does it matter? Nope.

Bottom line is people are just using Islam as an excuse to stomp on other's so they can obtain resources. Communism did the same as any other concept to form groups. Sometimes religion has no part at all. Ghengis Khan created a hugh empire just on his force of will and military ability; Loot was still the bottom line.


Posted by: James on September 20, 2006 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

After Mohammed made his storied trip from Mecca to Medina he aimed his sights at Jews who were not thrilled with him. He had his men dig trenches, lined up 700 Jewish men and had their throats cut. The disposition of their bodies was simple- they fell easily into the trenches. Anyone who has read the life of Mohammed knows this to be fact. Anyone who has not read the life of Mohammed and insists that the prophet was not a violent man is a fool. Within one hundred years of Mohammed's death his armies had conquered territory from India to Spain- the conquest was by the sword. (Despite what liberals say, the aims of the crusades was to recover the land the muslims had taken.) The land from Spain to India is the territory that bin Ladin aims to reconquer for islam. As usual many liberals talk without informing themselves of the details of history.

Posted by: m on September 20, 2006 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

That was funny but his correspondent messed it up.. the Fonz couldn't say the word "Wrong", not "Sorry".

duh!

Posted by: SkippyFlipjack on September 20, 2006 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

Benedict and Bush really should do lunch.

I mean, putting two infallible people in one room should go a long way toward solving all of mankind's problems.

Posted by: frankly0 on September 20, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

>> Because in truth, if Benedict were right -- that faith is justified
>> by and compatible with reason -- then the Western world wouldn't
>> have fallen away from faith to begin with.

> This argument relies on equivocation: Benedict clearly does not
> argue that faith is justified by the conception of reason modernly
> popular in the West, and indeed criticizes that as a misconception
> and improper narrowing of the concept of "reason".

And that's a tautological redefinition of "reason" to
bolster his argument worthy of an Aqinian metaphysician.

Chris, I understand his intent. I understand his
epistemological point about irrational faith. I also
understand that the broader critique in his speech would
appeal to Muslims just as assuredly as to Christians.

But he can't unbreak the egg. Nor can he attempt to pretend
that falsification epistemology is anywhere in the same
*universe* reason-wise as religious faith. If faith can't
function properly without reason (and I agree with Benedict
there), reason can function perfectly fine, thank you very much,
without faith. It's become unnecessary even for ethics --
and this is why the Western world has drifted away from it.

Now look -- there are many wonderful things that Benedict's church
believes that I think make the world a better place. But there's
also *plenty* of medieval absurdity: No ordination of women
priests, no marriage for priests, a doctrine of sexuality so
anti-human that nobody with a pulse can live up to it (and a
few who try become child molesters), the denial of condoms to
*married women* at risk of getting AIDS, opposition to embryonic
stem cell research, opposition to the right to die with dignity,
opposition to a woman's ability to control her reproductive destiny.

Can *any* of this be considered compatible with "reason?"

Only if you play angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin
games with the definition.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 20, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

"But he can't unbreak the egg. Nor can he attempt to pretend that
falsification epistemology is anywhere in the same *universe*
reason-wise as religious faith. If faith can't function properly without
reason (and I agree with Benedict there), reason can function perfectly
fine, thank you very much, without faith. It's become unnecessary even
for ethics -- and this is why the Western world has drifted away from it."

Bob

You seem to be ignoring the regression into postmodern nihilism that a pure enlightenment project liberalism has brought us too. Many contemporary ethicists have abandoned the objective standard and regressed into mere statisticians and cataloguers of numerous ethical worldviews. Not to mention the myriad of social deviances and pathologies that a libertarian perspective permits. By claiming the mantle of modernity and extinguishing the continued viability of metaphysical rooted-ness, we stand unable to defend life, the family, the state & our very civilization from attack. This regression is not at the edges of contemporary thought- rather it stands triumphant as contemporary liberalisms reigning orthodoxy.

Posted by: Fitz on September 20, 2006 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0,

Yeah, I noticed that too. It was one of those phony "I'm sorry you are such a baby" apologies. I don't know why, but for some reason I expected better from the Pope. Either apologize or don't apologize but this phony crap is disappointing.

Posted by: Tripp on September 20, 2006 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

what a load of Coulteresque claptrap talking points

Posted by: marblex on September 20, 2006 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

Pope Benedict XVI said:

"In this lecture I would like to discuss only one point -- itself rather marginal to the dialogue itself -- which, in the context of the issue of "faith and reason," I found interesting and which can serve as the starting point for my reflections on this issue.

In the seventh conversation ("dilesis" -- controversy) edited by professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the jihad (holy war). The emperor must have known that sura 2:256 reads: "There is no compulsion in religion." It is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under [threat]. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Koran, concerning holy war.

Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels," he turns to his interlocutor somewhat brusquely with the central question on the relationship between religion and violence in general, in these words: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

The emperor goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God is not pleased by blood, and not acting reasonably ("syn logo") is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats.... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death....""

And the lesson is.......

Muslims will not convert Catholics to Islam by killing nuns and firebombing churches, AND

Athiests will not convert Catholics by spreading lies, misinformation and propaganda, by stripping us of our religious freedom, or even by feeding us to lions.

Posted by: anonymous on September 20, 2006 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Arrg. Sorry for the multiple posts.

Lotta lag on the server today.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 20, 2006 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Taking consideration the histories of the two largest religions in the world, I would say that the radical muslims have been far more faithful to their founder's wishes, than all of Christianity has been to their founder's wishes.

Truth has a liberal bias.

Posted by: sheerahkahn on September 20, 2006 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

Doesn't it drive you crazy when pundits give the short version and the short version is almost always wrong. Does it also drive you crazy the liberal world is now almost uniformly blaming the Pope for driving muslims toward violence. Will there ever be a day when the NYTs holds muslims responsibily for their own actions?

This is the sort of thing Karl Rove prays for as close to elections as possible. It will be infuriating to many catholics and other religious people that liberals blame Benedict for this. If liberals won't hold Muslims responsible for their actions how can they be trusted to be tough regarding our security.

The GOP is on a roll. As long as we're talking about Islamic violence and detainee rights and unleaded falls to $2.00 (down $.04 today) it's going to be hard to lose Congress.

Posted by: rdw on September 20, 2006 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Doesn't it drive you crazy when...

every god damn thing is boiled down how it effects partisan politics? Talk about re-aranging the deck chairs on the Titantic.

Posted by: enozinho on September 20, 2006 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know why, but for some reason I expected better from the Pope.

I guess it would be too much to expect the Pope to be a mensch.

Posted by: frankly0 on September 20, 2006 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas:

Religion doesn't *cause* child predation -- obviously.

But the priesthood offers an avenue for men who have unresolved sexual issues to simply deny them and attempt to live up to a sexual ideal that's extremely difficult for the most well-adjusted males.

And that's why you had the pederasty scandal in the Catholic Church -- and not in Protestant denominations.

If priests were allowed to marry, it would attract more sexually well-adjusted men and the pederasty problem would be reduced to pederasty as a percentage of the general population -- as opposed to several orders of magnitude higher.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 20, 2006 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone that believes this is a Christian country, while supporting a war for our way of life, is endorsing a religious war.

Who cares what they believe? The Constitution says otherwise.

Posted by: Bob M on September 20, 2006 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Morning's Minion: Some people here are assigning blame to all "Christians" for the suspect theology of the American evangelical cadre. These are the people whose Calvinist deterministic theology ... Catholicism is different. We don't believe in predestination ...

And neither do most Evangelicals. Evangelicalism has its strongest roots in Methodism, which is not in the Calvinist tradition, and specifically eschews predestination.

More importantly, while many whack jobs may be Evangelicals, most Evangelicals are not whack jobs. This is important both for reasons of accuracy and politics. There are politically progressive strains of Evangelicalism, and these strains have strong historical roots.

Posted by: alex on September 20, 2006 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

I wasn't asking about partisan politics, enozinho

I wasn't responding to you Thomas, unless you also post as rdw.

Posted by: enozinho on September 20, 2006 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Fitz:

It's called conventionalism.

It's a pre-Socratic concept.

And it led to the birth of philosophy.

Personally, I'll stand with the philosophers.

Your "postmodern nihilism" shtick is a canard.

You think *religion* gave us the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 20, 2006 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Benedict's supporters are mostly defending him by insisting that Benedict didn't actually say that. He was just quoting the 14th century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus, who said it.

Actually, it is hardly clear that Manuel II Palaeologus actually did say that. According to Ratzinger, these "discussions" between Manuel II and the Persian took place in 1391, and that Manuel II wrote it down during the siege by muslims (Ratzinger doesn't make clear whether they were Turks or Arabs) of Constantinople 1394-1409 beginning some three years after the discussions allegedly took place. It may very well be that, by the time Manuel II got around to writing them down, he had become upset that Muslims were chopping away at his domains--they had been for some time even before 1391--and his recollection of what had been discussed may very well reflect that fact.

If, in fact, Ratzinger's intention in regards faith and reason--aside from the fact that faith is inherently non-reason--was to suggest that spreading of faith by the sword (which was what Manuel II was referring to, although the spread was also mixed in with dominion over land), he could have done that more abstractly, without reference to the Zitat from Manuel II.

As far as I can tell, Ratzinger has a tin ear. Apparently he wasn't listening when (some of) the Muslims in the Near East rioted in response to the publication of the Mohammed caricatures in the Danish newspaper a year or so ago. Stupid (referring to Ratzinger) is as stupid does.

Posted by: raj on September 20, 2006 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

I hate to say this but I have to because it's true. The Pope is an asshole. He seems interested in only one thing: expanding his dwindling congregation. And if that takes stirring up ancient sectarian hatreds he'll happily do it. The Catholic Church can't do better than him?

Posted by: markg8 on September 20, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

"Mohammed was a violent man. Violence is unreasonable. God loves reason. Draw your own conclusions."

Which part of this is appalling, that the pope thinks Mohammed was violent? That the pope thinks violence is unreasonable? That the pope thinks God loves reason? Or that the pope thinks Mohammed is not a prophet of God? Because none of those things strike me as surprising.

Or is the appalling part that the pope would actually speak his mind even though it might offend Muslims?

"It's pretty much impossible to find any good guys in this debacle."

There may not be any "good guys", but some guys look better than others. The pope spoke his mind. The muslims fire-bombed churches, threatened assassination, and killed a nun . . . so far.

"And the reaction of the Islamic world ? though almost certainly exaggerated by the cable networks, which just love a good picture ?"

That's funny, I don't remember Kevin talking about cable network exaggeration during the Abu Ghraib scandal.

Posted by: c on September 20, 2006 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Bob
"Now look -- there are many wonderful things that Benedict's church
believes that I think make the world a better place.

Thats nice of you

But there's also *plenty* of medieval absurdity: No ordination of women
priests
{men & women are different- we maintain a separate spiritual place for men and women so as to acknowledge this incarnate difference, honor it as God given and just} , no marriage for priests,{ In order that the flock is not responsible for their children, making nuns & priest more available to the Faithful & dedicated to Christ not family responsibility} a doctrine of sexuality so
anti-human that nobody with a pulse can live up to it
{ Sex within marriage has/dose work as a sexual ethic for thousands of years and continues to do so} (and a few who try become child molesters) _{cheap shot, no correlation between chastity & child molestation}, the denial of condoms to *married women* at risk of getting AIDS,- { Chastity within marriage assures against infidelity, encourages faithfulness, places sex within monogamy that discourages the spread of disease} opposition to embryonic stem cell research, {an embryo is a fully integrated, unique human being that uninterrupted will continue to grow its destruction for any purpose undermines respect for human life} opposition to the right to die with dignity, - {once again killing humans (or allowing them to commit suicide) undermines respect for life} opposition to a woman's ability to control her reproductive destiny. {an embryo is a fully integrated, unique human being that uninterrupted will continue to grow its destruction for any purpose undermines respect for human life}

Can *any* of this be considered compatible with "reason?"

Yes Bob, all of it can. None of it requires appeals to revealed truth- all of it is philosophically tenable. You might not like it, or see it as good public policy, or agree with it but none of it can be called unreasonable.
All of it is assessable through reason alone. Moreover it represents a understanding of humanity as a whole as a different sexed, rational minded creature that can strive to control its impulses. It also understands man capacity for destruction of its own and seeks to draw clear distinction on the ethical approach to life in its earliest & latest stages. (its also important to note that the entire system of morals is done under a rubric of sin & redemption) Its a comprehensive ethical standard openly acknowledged not to implemented as a utopian ideal.

Posted by: Fitz on September 20, 2006 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

markg8:

Actually, it's the opposite.

Ratzinger has said many times that he'd prefer "a smaller, more pure Church."

I think his overall message -- that blind faith per se is a wrong idea, that faith must be tempered with the dictates of reason -- is a welcome idea.

This is part of why the Catholics aren't quite as virulently anti-science as some evangelical Protestants when it comes to things like evolution. It means that the Pope is open to admitting the historical mistakes of the Church.

The problem is, rather, that reason itself, in its own terms, simply has no use for faith. This isn't to say that *humanity* has no use for faith. While personally an agnostic, I don't believe that at all. I believe that religion plays at least as much a constructive role in the world as it has played a destructive role. Some people just need the rules given to them because they have trouble thinking them through themselves. Humanity is made up of more than our reasoning faculties.

But humanity seems to be set on living in an ever-more-rationalized world. That's been the trend in modernity since at least the Renaissance for better or worse.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 20, 2006 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know why, but for some reason I expected better from the Pope.

Maybe because he's a world leader, supposedly some kind of a holy man, and a follower of Christ. I thought he would have employed a little sensitivity given the current sorry state of Muslim/Christian relations. Instead, his comments seem designed to inflame a clash of civilizations. Hmmmmm...

Posted by: choco chip kooky on September 20, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK
And that's a tautological redefinition of "reason" to bolster his argument worthy of an Aqinian metaphysician.

I don't think its tautological; he is making a moral argument that the "right" conception of reason ought to include these concepts because there are morally undesirable consequences if we treat things otherwise.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 20, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Pope Benedict XVI said:

"In this lecture I would like to discuss only one point -- itself rather marginal to the dialogue itself -- which, in the context of the issue of "faith and reason," I found interesting and which can serve as the starting point for my reflections on this issue.

In the seventh conversation ("dilesis" -- controversy) edited by professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the jihad (holy war). The emperor must have known that sura 2:256 reads: "There is no compulsion in religion." It is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under [threat]. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Koran, concerning holy war.

Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels," he turns to his interlocutor somewhat brusquely with the central question on the relationship between religion and violence in general, in these words: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

The emperor goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God is not pleased by blood, and not acting reasonably ("syn logo") is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats.... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death....""

And the lesson is.......

Muslims will not convert Catholics to Islam by killing nuns and firebombing churches, AND

Athiests will not convert Catholics by spreading lies, misinformation and propaganda, by stripping us of our religious freedom, or even by feeding us to lions.

Posted by: an on September 20, 2006 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK
And that's why you had the pederasty scandal in the Catholic Church -- and not in Protestant denominations.

No, you had the pederasty scandal in the Catholic Church and not in Protestant denominations because there was a confluence of incentives to litigation (the Catholic Church being more organizationally unified creating clear deep-pockets defendants) and convenience in leveraging the scandal produced by the litigation for the interests of critics of the status quo within the Church on the right (who hyped the emerging scandal and used it to agitate for harsher weeding out of those with homosexual tendencies from the priesthood, and other pet issues) and the left (who hyped the emerging scandal and used it to agitate for married clergy, female clergy, and other pet issues).

There is no evidence whatsoever that the actual incidence of the behavior at the center of the scandal was any different between the Catholic Church and other religious institutions.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 20, 2006 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

In that message, Chris, I rattled off a list of Church positions that are based on formulaic a-priori assumptions rather than reasoned analysis, and which lead to morally unjustifiable consequences.

The entire sexual doctrine of the Catholic Church is batshit insane and morally unjustifiable.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 20, 2006 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

The muslims fire-bombed churches, threatened assassination, and killed a nun . . . so far.

We get it. We need to incite "the Muslims" in order to expose their true evil nature. The West is not fully committed to the mass slaughter of millions of Muslims because they have not seen enough examples how evil they all are. So we need to create reasons for Muslims to hate us, then we can act all hurt and surprised by the barbarity of it all. Only then will we have the guts to do the right thing, which is to wipe out or convert 2 billion people.

Posted by: enozinho on September 20, 2006 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

There is no evidence whatsoever that the actual incidence of the behavior at the center of the scandal was any different between the Catholic Church and other religious institutions.

Correct. And your list is right as far as it goes, but it leaves out a crucial factor: the determination of the church to hide, blithely transfer or delay addressing known pedophile priests--indeed, to delay dealing with the issue in general--as long as possible.

This quite understandably and rightly has had the effect of stoking popular resentment and heightened discussion, including among numerous staunch Catholics who have held fast against challenges to church tradition and doctrine but have found the boys' club protection of their own at the very significant expense of children a bit much to stomach.

Posted by: wish you were here on September 20, 2006 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

That's probably the most mind-bogglingly counterintuitive message I've ever seen you write.

I think you're confusing consequences with cause. Even if there wasn't an equivalent *legal* scandal, if Prot ministers had been furgling children in the same numbers, you surely would have heard from the victims as loudly.

There is no way you've made anything remotely like a case in that message that a vow of lifetime celibacy (and the self-selection process in the priesthood that creates) wasn't the key factor there.

Are you seriously trying to imply that if priests could be married like their Protestant, Jewish and Muslim brethren -- that the pederasty scandal wouldn't have been vastly smaller, if it indeed occured at all?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 20, 2006 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK
But he can't unbreak the egg. Nor can he attempt to pretend that falsification epistemology is anywhere in the same *universe* reason-wise as religious faith. If faith can't function properly without reason (and I agree with Benedict there), reason can function perfectly fine, thank you very much, without faith. It's become unnecessary even for ethics -- and this is why the Western world has drifted away from it.

Faith is not at all unnecessary for ethics; insofar as the Western ethical tradition refers to faith by name less, it does so by invoking arbitrary standards that are, in terms of the narrow definitions of "reason" adopted in modern Western philosophy, substantively no different from the kinds of things otherwise labelled "faith" but not gracing them with the name, including just-so stories invented solely to justify their results, but incapable of being justified themselves except by aesthetic appeals.

Now look -- there are many wonderful things that Benedict's church believes that I think make the world a better place. But there's also *plenty* of medieval absurdity: No ordination of women priests, no marriage for priests, a doctrine of sexuality so anti-human that nobody with a pulse can live up to it (and a few who try become child molesters), the denial of condoms to *married women* at risk of getting AIDS, opposition to embryonic stem cell research, opposition to the right to die with dignity, opposition to a woman's ability to control her reproductive destiny.

Can *any* of this be considered compatible with "reason?"

Uh, yeah. Reason doesn't say anything about any of the things you are criticizing here.

Its all clearly incompatible with your personal aesthetics, but that's not the same thing as "reason", most clearly not in the narrow sense that you are advocating is the right use of the word.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 20, 2006 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

All that cash to fill up the popemobile at the dawn of peak oil doesn't come from liberals folks. Benedict could care less about the ire of the Muslim world, and in his mind (not to the mention the minds of many conservative Catholics) the murder of that nun only vindicates his point of view.

The goal of this pope is a "smaller, purer" Church. Liberal Christianity has been in fatal decline for the past forty years; it will never recover. But in Benedict's view too much of the church hierarchy is still controlled by liberals. He envisions a Bush-style takeover of conservatives up and down the organization, and he may well succeed in that end.

Posted by: Linus on September 20, 2006 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Linus:

Word.

Thomas:

That may be the most profound thing you've ever written :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 20, 2006 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Bob (please)
"The entire sexual doctrine of the Catholic Church is batshit insane and morally unjustifiable"

As compared to? (ie. - What is your sexual ethic?)

I hope this does not mean you are going to ignore my previous post were I supplied reasoned analysis of each contested Church position. (are these not reasonable positions? once again- Whats your sexual ethic?)

"Are you seriously trying to imply that if priests could be married like their Protestant, Jewish and Muslim brethren -- that the pederasty scandal wouldn't have been vastly smaller, if it indeed occured at all?"

You seem to be conceding that your original point was wrong. In truth it is. Other denominations, Protestant & Jewish alike ALL have a pederasty problem within their congregations. Evangelicals problems are acute amongst Quire directors. The Episcopalians have had married priests since there inception and have also had this problem. (Rabbis too).
Indeed this pederasty problem occurs in any occupation that places men I a position of trust over youth and includes Big Brothers Big Sisters, Coaches, Boy Scout leaders, Youth Directors, and most overwhelmingly Public Schools teachers. This last groups incidents of sexual assault/molestation are much more numerous both as percentage of the whole and in absolute terms. However they are not presented as a INSTITUTUIONAL problem, but rather portrayed as a individual aberration.

Posted by: Fitz on September 20, 2006 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK
That's probably the most mind-bogglingly counterintuitive message I've ever seen you write.

Er, okay.

I think you're confusing consequences with cause.

No, I'm not. "Scandal" is consequence, not underlying action. There is no evidence of differences in the underlying action.

Even if there wasn't an equivalent *legal* scandal, if Prot ministers had been furgling children in the same numbers, you surely would have heard from the victims as loudly.


That's probably the most mind-bogglingly counterintuitive (or outright naive) message I've ever seen you write. What you seem to be telling me is that the involvement of interest groups, big-money conflicts which garner media attention, etc., have no substantive effect on how much people get heard? Now, that might be true in some ideal world (but there aren't any pederasty scandals in such a world to start with), but its certainly not true in the real world.

There is no way you've made anything remotely like a case in that message that a vow of lifetime celibacy (and the self-selection process in the priesthood that creates) wasn't the key factor there.

Since there is no evidence of a difference in the underlying behavior, why would I try to argue for what the cause for such a difference might or might not be?

Are you seriously trying to imply that if priests could be married like their Protestant, Jewish and Muslim brethren -- that the pederasty scandal wouldn't have been vastly smaller, if it indeed occured at all?

No, indeed, since the absence of such a policy was, in my explanation, one of the sources of motivation for interest groups to work to turn the misconduct into scandal, I clearly wouldn't say that having such a policy wouldn't have reduced the scandal.

Similarly, were it not for the Catholic Church's relatively conservative stand on clergy sexuality generally, there wouldn't be as big of an opportunity for a clash between expectations and reality to make a good media story, and the scandal would have been less.

And if it weren't that the Catholic Church was so much more of a unified institution that most other religious denominations, there wouldn't be people that were in the kind of positions were they could be painted (and rightly so, don't get me wrong) as responsible for so many cases where they weren't the original wrongdoer: which also magnified the scandal.

And if the Catholic Church weren't so unified of an institution, also, there wouldn't be an incentive for major lawsuits (because there wouldn't be common responsibility), and bigger lawsuits mean wider media attention, and bigger scandal.

OTOH, none of this has to do with the actual incidence of pederasty, for which there is no evidence that there is any difference.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 20, 2006 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

And if it weren't that the Catholic Church was so much more of a unified institution that most other religious denominations, there wouldn't be people that were in the kind of positions were they could be painted (and rightly so, don't get me wrong) as responsible for so many cases where they weren't the original wrongdoer: which also magnified the scandal.

I suppose this counts as a rather weak acknowledgment of my point.

Posted by: wish you were here on September 20, 2006 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK
Correct. And your list is right as far as it goes, but it leaves out a crucial factor: the determination of the church to hide, blithely transfer or delay addressing known pedophile priests--indeed, to delay dealing with the issue in general--as long as possible.

Actually, there's plenty of cases of similar coverups in other religious institutions; the greater scale and integration of the Catholic Church means there is more common responsibility (I'm not trying to minimize this: it also means the Catholic Church ought to have been more able to effectively identify and deal with the problems without being compelled by scandal, so there is certainly a legitimate reason for a outrage here, but it has little to do with the Church's rules on who can be ordained or married.)

Posted by: cmdicely on September 20, 2006 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK
I thought it was designed to rid Europe of war by uniting Christendom under the banner of the Pope

And I thought it was to get rid of (or minimize) wars within Christendom by giving the superfluous restless extra children of the European aristocracy where primogeniture was becoming more accepted something to do besides starting wars with each other.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 20, 2006 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

but it has little to do with the Church's rules on who can be ordained or married.

Right--and I neither said nor implied that the church's rules on ordination or priestly celibacy had anything to do with pedophilia or the public reaction to it. I was defining a significant contributor to the breadth of the scandal which you'd omitted to mention.

Posted by: wish you were here on September 20, 2006 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

Stop making the trolls heads hurt. They are still working on Camus, the Coloring Book to keep up with Brother Bush.

Posted by: enozinho on September 20, 2006 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK
I suppose this counts as a rather weak acknowledgment of my point.

Well, no, because I hadn't seen your point yet: but the direct response to it I think is a stronger acknowledgement. In case that's not enough for you: I agree with you completely, the point I was making was simply about the (lack of) connection between Church policy on ordination and marriage to the priesthood and the sexual abuse, not that the Church as an institution had no real responsibility for the scandal.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 20, 2006 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK
The goal of this pope is a "smaller, purer" Church.

I don't think that's accurate. While this Pope has said he'd rather have a smaller, purer Church than a larger, less pure Church, I think his goal is a larger, purer Church.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 20, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK
In that message, Chris, I rattled off a list of Church positions that are based on formulaic a-priori assumptions rather than reasoned analysis, and which lead to morally unjustifiable consequences.

The entire sexual doctrine of the Catholic Church is batshit insane and morally unjustifiable.

While, as do all moral positions, they ultimately rest on a priori assumptions that can't be justified by logic, they are, no less than other moral positions, justified by reasoned argument (of variable quality) from those assumptions, and only "morally unjustifiable" if one assumes moral postulates incompatible with them.

That being said, I think the common application of them by the heirarchy suffers a lot from the recurring problem overly rigid applications of derived rules without adequate consideration of the underlying principles, which is tragically ironic given that's one of the main problems that Jesus repeatedly pointed to in the religious authorities of His day.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 20, 2006 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

Correct. And your list is right as far as it goes, but it leaves out a crucial factor: the determination of the church to hide, blithely transfer or delay addressing known pedophile priests--indeed, to delay dealing with the issue in general--as long as possible.

Let me concede your point immediately : Yes the Church has an interest it protecting its name from being identified with such abhorrent acts. As do other denominations and religions. So do other institutions as well Big Brothers Big Sisters, Coaches, Boy Scout leaders, Youth Directors, Public Schools teachers.

Obviously no one is going to call the local paper every time an incident occurs. The Church, at the time of the problem has previously acknowledged it and was continuing to implement programs to deal with it.

That said allow me to point to the problematic nature of the offense itself.
(1) Sexual Assault (as is the case in Rape) is a notoriously unreported crime. It is usually in the interest of both the victim and the perpetrator to NOT launch an investigation. The victims (and parents) want to avoid further stress and anguish and just get on with their lives.

(2) The nature of the crime (like rape) involves two competing witnesses and often little definitive physical evidence. I.E. its hard to prove, and as such contributes to the lack of reporting and subsequent investigation.

(3) the due process rights of the accused make it necessary for justice to prove such a heinous allegation least the innocent accused have their reputations destroyed & careers ended.

Posted by: Fitz on September 20, 2006 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

This doesn't surprise me. It's a common tactic of right-wingers to insinuate their views by citing or quoting "past voices." They practice the cultural relativism they so decry when they write books about the perspective of American Southern slaveowners, or British imperialists in India. Post-post-colonial studies.

This strategy appears like an academic game in the Anglo-American world, and maybe in Europe too, but in the formerly colonized parts of the world, it's very offensive.

Posted by: sara on September 20, 2006 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

> Faith is not at all unnecessary for ethics; insofar as the Western
> ethical tradition refers to faith by name less, it does so by
> invoking arbitrary standards that are, in terms of the narrow
> definitions of "reason" adopted in modern Western philosophy,
> substantively no different from the kinds of things otherwise
> labelled "faith" but not gracing them with the name, including
> just-so stories invented solely to justify their results, but
> incapable of being justified themselves except by aesthetic appeals.

Well first, Christ, I don't believe that you're saying -- nor would
you ever say -- that an atheist or agnostic, a "faithless" person --
is incapable of behaving ethically. That would seem to contradict
your first clause above. Ethics is assuredly possible without faith.

But you're saying something different, and that's that ethics -- aside
from a blind utilitarianism that most people would find abhorrent --
is impossible without a-priori assumptions, and thus a metaphysics. On
this I'd have to agree. You needn't religious faith; Kantian ethics
works fine without it. From the first principle of autonomy, you get
the Categorical Imperative, out of that all the derivative commands
that map neatly onto the duty-bound ethics of the J/C tradition.

But for most people, fundamental ethical principles are simply
socially constructed. And, you know, that works quite fine as well.
People like Fitz are terrified of "relativism," and there is indeed
no way out of this box without a transcendent metaphysics. Maybe
Kant has provided one that you needn't believe in for it to work.

>> Now look -- there are many wonderful things that Benedict's church
>> believes that I think make the world a better place. But there's
>> also *plenty* of medieval absurdity: No ordination of women
>> priests, no marriage for priests, a doctrine of sexuality so
>> anti-human that nobody with a pulse can live up to it (and a few
>> who try become child molesters), the denial of condoms to *married
>> women* at risk of getting AIDS, opposition to embryonic stem cell
>> research, opposition to the right to die with dignity, opposition
>> to a woman's ability to control her reproductive destiny.

>> Can *any* of this be considered compatible with "reason?"

>> Uh, yeah. Reason doesn't say anything about
>> any of the things you are criticizing here.

Au contraire. From a Kantian perspective, most of this litany flatly
contradicts the first principle of autonomy by assuming the inequality
of the sexes. It also rests on a neoplatonist metaphysics which splits
the spirit from the body when no proof of "spirit" exists to warrant
such a thing, it sets up unjust consequences by keeping condoms out of
the hands of faithful married women whose husbands likely have AIDS,
it prevents the development of possible cures from embryos that would
be discarded regardless, it prolongs pain and suffering against the
will of the sufferer, it denies the self-ownership of a woman's body.

I'd say reason has a few things to say about this, in the name of
a metaphysics that holds personal autonomy as a first principle.

And since that metaphysics grounds our ethics just as
assuredly as do the teachings of the J/C tradition, then
I can say that reason absolutely objects to these things.

"Aesthetics" (social construction) need not apply here.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 20, 2006 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,
thanks so much for taking the pains to post your understanding of what [i]point[/i] the Ratz was trying to make. based on this evidence alone we can conclude that he never attended college in the U.S., for if he had, he would know that any college freshman has had the "science can tell what but only philosophy can tell you why" discussion with all the related arguments and conclusions late at night over beer and pot about 8,000 times. His point is about as fucking trite as it gets and he didn't have to insult/attack anyone or anything to make it.

Posted by: greggy on September 20, 2006 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

And I thought it was to get rid of (or minimize) wars within Christendom by giving the superfluous restless extra children of the European aristocracy where primogeniture was becoming more accepted something to do besides starting wars with each other. Exactly - the order of succession is clarified by sending the ne'er do wells away. Plus, they were able to make someone the King of Jerusalem at one point, I believe.


I hope you all realize that modern historical scholarship (secular) on the crusades has shown this concept to be untrue. It is now debunked and considered conspiratorial and nave thought. (as if the Church and Christian Europe had that wide a view, or were that callous)
No. the prevailing view is that the Crusades were exactly what the portrayed themselves to be A Christian effort to secure the holy Lands from what they saw as Muslim Aggression.
(By the way as a matter of historical fact---Islam is some 500 years younger than Christianity) Modern day Israel & Northern Africa were largely Christian before Muslim invasions)

Posted by: Fitz on September 20, 2006 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

El Papa looks too much like Richard Perle.

Posted by: Hostile on September 20, 2006 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely & Fitz:

Okay, I understand the distinction you're drawing between the Church *scandal* and the existence of pederastic behavior among priests.

The question of the amount of pederasty in priests vs in other groups that hold a position of authority and trust with children is an empirical one.

I'm still quite inclined to believe that the priesthood, as it offers one of the few avenues for a man struggling with his sexuality to transcend it with the applied power of his will, tends to attract the sorts of men who would be more likely to abuse children than in other more common positions, like teachers and married ministers. And I think this would be especially so in the time frames when this abuse occured, which is often well before gays and sexual expression generally began becoming more accepted in this society.

I might be wrong; as I say it's an empirical question. I guess my next stop here is google.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 20, 2006 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

Any religion whose adherents kill defenseless elderly nuns in response to an academic speech is a religion that encourages violence.

The El Salvadorans who killed nuns, after raping them, were Catholic. Catholicism has always encouraged violence. In this way Islam and Catholicism are very much alike.

Posted by: Hostile on September 20, 2006 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

Hostile:

Honestly, I think this has much more to do with culture than religion.

Religion is always a justification after the fact for impulses you had before it.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 20, 2006 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

but it is humanity that is violent not Christainity or Islam per se.

Consider yourself disinvited from Free Republic's 5th Annual 9/11 Collage Film Festival and Pillow Fight.

Islams are evil. Try not to forget.

Posted by: enozinho on September 20, 2006 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

Enozinho:

I think you meant MooooOOOOoOOoOoOooOSSSssssSLLLLuuuUUmmMMssSS ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 20, 2006 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

"First and foremost, what legal claim does a noble from Normandy or Bavaria have on territory in Palestine?"

Right by Conquest - of coarse.
The thing about this right is that its so universally subscribed to.

Both the Arabs and Native Americans subscribed to this right without influence from western Christians.

Posted by: Fitz on September 20, 2006 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry Kevin, I just don't see much reason for outrage over the Pope's comments. Judging from the context, in which he presented the quote, it looks to me as though the point upon which His Holiness was attempting to focus was not that everything new in Islam is evil and inhuman, but that spreading faith by the sword (the specific example cited by Manuel II Paleologus) is evil and inhuman. Far more central to his point was the following, more substantive quote from the same conversation, "God is not pleased by blood, and not acting reasonably ("syn logo") is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats.... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...."

The initial quote, which has caused all of the uproar was pretty clearly simply contextualized the second. Had it been his intent to malign Islam, he would have expanded upon the portion of Manuel II Paleologus' condemnation of everything new in Islam, the incompatibility of violence and faith upon which he elaborated at length.

Posted by: Chesire11 on September 20, 2006 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

Bob, I know. I argued the other day humanity is violence. Religion does not inform the individual to become violent. Religion just informs the individual of the identity of who to attack or not attack. I was reacting to the false idea that Catholicism is a peaceful religion.

Catholics are just as guilty of killing the defenseless as any other religion, as the baptized and Catechized El Salvadorans proved.

That may not be true. The French Revolution was extremely violent. Most of the French acting out this violence were baptized and Catechized Catholics. The Iranian Revolution was Islamic, yet the American hostages were not given a show trial and executed for spying and interfering with the internal affairs of Iran. I would say, historically, that was a remarkable restraint. Yet, the neo-conned still want to spread the lie that Islam is inherently more violent than their own religion, as they screamed for the death penalty for Moussawi.

Posted by: Hostile on September 20, 2006 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

Charlie/Cheney/Thomas: "Choice is an illusion..."

Bob: Thomas,that may be the most profound thing you've ever written :)

Uh, more like the most profound thing he's ever cut and paste, straight from Matrix: Reloaded

The only original thoughts Cheney has are how he'd like to torture his enemies if he ever became king of the univserse, and even those are derivative of Old Testament and medieval sources.

Posted by: trex on September 20, 2006 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

Alright ... cmdicely, wish you were here, Fitz, Thomas1:

I was wrong guys. A little googing has demonstrated to me that sexual abuse is actually higher among Protestant ministers, and higher still among teachers.

I won't link the info in a further pointless orgy of self-recrimination :(

Not Mea Kinda -- Mea MAXIMA Culpa.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 20, 2006 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK
Well first, Christ, I don't believe that you're saying -- nor would you ever say -- that an atheist or agnostic, a "faithless" person -- is incapable of behaving ethically.

I believe an entity genuinely without faith is neither a "person" nor an actor to which considerations of "ethics" can meaningfully apply.

But I don't believe that refers to atheists or agnostic human beings.

That would seem to contradict your first clause above.

Huh? The second clause, sure, but the first ("Faith is not at all unnecessary for ethics")? How? Or are you saying that if I wasn't saying that, my failure to say it would contradict the first clause?

But you're saying something different, and that's that ethics -- aside from a blind utilitarianism that most people would find abhorrent -- is impossible without a-priori assumptions, and thus a metaphysics. On this I'd have to agree. You needn't religious faith; Kantian ethics works fine without it.

So? The distinction between "religious faith" and other metaphysics is entirely arbitrary; yes, you can have a different faith and still end up with some system of ethics or morals.

From the first principle of autonomy, you get the Categorical Imperative, out of that all the derivative commands that map neatly onto the duty-bound ethics of the J/C tradition.

Since the first principle of autonomy itself is a close restatement of a belief central to the Judeo-Christian tradition, its not really all that surprising that people working from it as a fundamental principle create a generally similar system of ethics to those within the Judeo-Christian tradition. (Though I would argue much of Kantian ethics is really layers that are suggested by previous layers rather than rightly logically demanded, that each step itself requires the injection of generally unspecified a priori assumptions to hold up.)

From a Kantian perspective, most of this litany flatly contradicts the first principle of autonomy by assuming the inequality of the sexes.

Only three of those (less than half, not "most") in your presentation even superficially relate to the question of equality of the sexes: the rule against ordination of women, and "opposition to a woman's right to control her reproductive destiny", and the denial of condoms to married women at risk of AIDS. But the latter of these is only related to the issue because of dishonest presentation, women are treated no different from men in that policy. So only two are even arguably related to the equality or inequality of the sexes; but the "reproductive destiny" policy has to do with what women are allowed to do in situations men cannot face, which is not really a question of "equality".


It also rests on a neoplatonist metaphysics which splits
the spirit from the body when no proof of "spirit" exists to warrant
such a thing exists to warrant
such a thing,

So? We've already established that any moral system requires a priori assumptions. Not, anyhow, that I agree that this is true; while something like this description is a feature of Catholic belief, very little, if any, of the substantive content of moral teachings (the "do/do not" parts) depends on it.

it sets up unjust consequences by keeping condoms out of the hands of faithful married women whose husbands likely have AIDS,

You have yet to articulate how this is an unjust consequence.

it prevents the development of possible cures from embryos that would be discarded regardless,

This ignores that demand stimulates supply; now, one could argue that embryos have no moral status at all, I suppose, but then the "discarded regardless" would be moot.

it prolongs pain and suffering against the will of the sufferer,

You may have a point here.

it denies the self-ownership of a woman's body.

Er, no, it doesn't.

I'd say reason has a few things to say about this, in the name of a metaphysics that holds personal autonomy as a first principle.

Sure, reason from a particular set of a priori assumptions might lead to conclusion different from those of different a priori assumptions.

It is a gross error to say that this means that reason has anything to say. It would be better to say that the conflicting set of a priori assumptions has something to say.

And since that metaphysics grounds our ethics just as assuredly as do the teachings of the J/C tradition, then I can say that reason absolutely objects to these things.

You can say anything you'd like, but the fact that the assumptions of one set of metaphysics can be a basis for a system of ethics and they disagree with the results of the assumptions of a different metaphysics is not a valid basis for saying that "reason" prefers the former and "absolutely objects to" the latter, unless you are using a bizarre definition of "reason".


Posted by: cmdicely on September 20, 2006 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

The Pope was clearly being snarky by proxy. Kinda like a clique-y high school girl.

Posted by: Vareica on September 20, 2006 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK
I hope you all realize that modern historical scholarship (secular) on the crusades has shown this concept to be untrue. It is now debunked and considered conspiratorial and nave thought.

Er, first, I thought we were exchanging overly simple, grossly generalized explanations, and, second of all, I never thought that even those who had seriously advanced the concept ever took it as true in the conspiratorial, conscious sense ("Hey, fellow members of the ruling class, lets get rid of our surplus children by sending them to fight Muslims"), but rather that the evolving movement to primogeniture and stronger, more centralized governments produced, among other effects, a lot of extra sons of nobility without much socially acceptable to do but fight wars given the social conventions regarding the role of the aristocracy, contributing, along with numerous other factors, to the social milieu which framed the particular manner in which Western Christendom responded to the request of their Eastern brethren for a little help dealing with their Islamic foes.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 20, 2006 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

I recall around the time that Ratzinger was elected pope, I read a quote in which he said that Buddhism was the current greatest threat to Christianity. This showed me that however "brilliant" he may be intellectually, as someone above claims, he is profoundly spiritually unaware. When two signs point to the same "destination", one is not the enemy of the other.

Posted by: thump on September 20, 2006 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

>> Well first, Christ, I don't believe that you're saying -- nor would
>> you ever say -- that an atheist or agnostic, a "faithless" person
>> -- is incapable of behaving ethically.

> I believe an entity genuinely without faith
> is neither a "person" nor an actor to which
> considerations of "ethics" can meaningfully apply.

Well, before I get into the weeds with you on the rest of your
response (NB: I improperly punctuated the beginning of my litany and
did not mean to imply that all of it pertained to inequality of the
sexes; that was one element in the start of a list), I'm going to
have to ask you to clarify here, because this leaves me breathless.

If you're saying that it's impossible to be a "person" without
faith, then I truly haven't the foggiest idea of what you mean.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 20, 2006 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

The Rat knew exactly what he was saying. To quote Hunter S. Thompson, fuck the pope.

Posted by: JeffII on September 20, 2006 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

Okay, let me pick this one point out, because it will require
an explanation. I can't believe you haven't heard of this ...

>> it sets up unjust consequences by keeping condoms out of the hands
>> of faithful married women whose husbands likely have AIDS,

> You have yet to articulate how this is an unjust consequence.

In many African countries as I'm sure you're aware, AIDS is a
tremendous public health problem. Unlike the prevailing pattern,
the transmission rate is extremely high among heterosexuals --
including for monogamous married women. This bizarre state of
affairs in a disease otherwise spread almost exclusively between
homosexual men and IV drug users can be explained by the cultures
in which this happens. African cultures generally have an extremely
strong real culture / ideal culture split on homosexuality: Otherwise
straight married family men have regular homosexual encounters that
they barely admit to themselves, let alone to their male friends or
gods forbid, their wives. Because this conduct is considered so
shameful, these men cannot be counseled to have safe sex -- because
they are in monstrous amounts of denial. If their wives bring it
up to them in the interest of their own protection as well as his,
often the men become enraged and beat their wives for insulting them.

So the women in these relationships live under a death sentence
merely by submitting to conjugal relations with their husbands.

Some priests who shepherd these families, going by the "least harm
doctrine," have argued to the Vatican that condom use by these women
(who know what's going on) ought to be sanctioned, because while
their husbands' behavior is sinful, theirs is not, and it's wrong
that they should die for a harm that they did nothing to produce.

The Vatican wrote back: No dice. Use abstinence to avoid AIDS.

I find this morally abominable.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 20, 2006 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

I recall around the time that Ratzinger was elected pope, I read a quote in which he said that Buddhism was the current greatest threat to Christianity

He literally compared Buddhism to masturbation (the exact phrase was "autoerotic spirituality"). He also took cheap shots at Hinduism and Protestantism during the Cardinal Ratzinger years, that is when he wasn't busy going after other Catholics. I don't get why people were so shocked that he went after Islam. He's basically William Donohue of The Catholic League with a Bavarian accent.

Posted by: C.L. on September 20, 2006 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK
If you're saying that it's impossible to be a "person" without faith, then I truly haven't the foggiest idea of what you mean.

That's exactly what I'm saying: the conceit of life without faith is a self-delusion.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 20, 2006 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry Kevin, I just don't see much reason for outrage over the Pope's comments. Judging from the context, in which he presented the quote, it looks to me as though the point upon which His Holiness was attempting to focus was not that everything new in Islam is evil and inhuman, but that spreading faith by the sword (the specific example cited by Manuel II Paleologus) is evil and inhuman. Posted by: Chesire11

Though I don't buy your argument for a second ( this is the Rat we're talking about after all), if he didn't mean to offend the followers of Islam (ya, right), he's at least guilty of the grossest sort of stupidity to use such an example given the circumstances in the world today and, especially, "the Church's" historic relationship to Islam.

Crusade anyone?

Posted by: JeffII on September 20, 2006 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

I might be wrong; as I say it's an empirical question.

No Bob you are not wrong. You have just hit a little too close to home for those two guys' comfort. Their reaction is way too predictable.

Posted by: Keith G on September 20, 2006 at 8:08 PM | PERMALINK

That's exactly what I'm saying: the conceit of life without faith is a self-delusion. Posted by: cmdicely

This is a parodic post right?

Step away from the soapbox, Mr. Pharisee, before you hurt yourself.

You are one arrogant SOB.

Posted by: JeffII on September 20, 2006 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK
Okay, let me pick this one point out, because it will require an explanation. I can't believe you haven't heard of this ...

I am familiar with the facts at issue. What I've yet to see is your specification of, and argument supporting that description, where the injustice is.

As far as I can tell, the general case you describe is one in which it is eminently clear that the unitive function is grossly deficient if not completely absent, where the commitment viewed as necessary in the Catholic conception underlying marriage is likewise deficient if not completely absent, and where both morally and prudentially, not submitting to conjugal relations in those cases is the proper course.

There are difficult cases where I can see a real bases for questioning Church policy, but the general case you describe doesn't seem immediately to be one of them. At any rate, if you are going to assert that reason "absolutely objects" to the teachings of the Church, you ought to be able to show reason, not merely describing circumstances and asserting that you find them abominable. That's reflex, not reason.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 20, 2006 at 8:10 PM | PERMALINK

you left out what stewart had to say about the irony of muslim violence to protest the pontiff calling them violent.

Posted by: klyde on September 20, 2006 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK
That's exactly what I'm saying: the conceit of life without faith is a self-delusion.

Looking at that again, I think that's actually less clear than what I said before. What I meant by that is perhaps better put this way: the conceit that one can avoid having some kind of faith is a self-delusion.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 20, 2006 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

BOB
The Vatican wrote back: No dice. Use abstinence to avoid AIDS.

Hardly: One cannot remove Catholic social teaching from its larger context and then craft a situation that pits its teaching to the extreme of possibilities. The Vatican and the rest of the Church are the ones encouraging monogamy to begin with (if not- no marriage) Secondly the Church has more than a few things to say to the Husband that will prevent him fro contracting AIDS to begin with. Fornication and adultery are condemned by the Catholic Churchare they also responsible for every person who does not contract AIDS?
Furthermore: The Church allows circumstances (while encouraging abstinence) that lessens moral culpability. The lesser of two evils is still a lesser evil, although not a good (in itself). Remember the whole ethic is maintained under a rubric of sin & redemption (forgivness)

(more info here)
http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=OTI5ZGZlN2YxNTgzNWNhOTdiMzY1ODc3ZGMzZjk2YmM=

I find this morally abominable.

Let me tell you what I find morally abominable. I lived through the entire aid epidemic. Not once, and until this very day have I heard the gay community or the cultural left encourage restraint much less abstinence. This was at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives. The sexual revolutions (non)ethic of unrestrained sexual licenses could not be allowed to yield even when life was in the balance.

Posted by: Fitz on September 20, 2006 at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK

FYI

"If we truly want to be realistic and objective, we should look to Uganda, the only African nation that has substantially curbed the rate of AIDS infection. Through an intense abstinence-based campaign, Uganda managed to reduce the infection rate from 29 percent to 4 percent in just ten years.
Compare Ugandas success with the dismal failure of the two most condom-flooded African nations, Botswana and South Africa. South Africa has been inundated with condoms and its rate of AIDS infection continues to soar at 22 percent of the entire population. Botswanas situation is even worse, with 37 percent of the adult population infected by AIDS. Professor Norman Hearst, of the University of California at San Francisco, notes that in Botswana condom sales rose from one million in 1993 to 3 million in 2001, while HIV infection among urban pregnant women rose from 27 percent to 45 percent. In Cameroon, as well, condom sales rose from 6 million to 15 million, while HIV prevalence rose from 3 percent to 9 percent.

Moreover, despite critics accusations that Catholic moral teaching is the cause of Africas woes, the facts demonstrate the contrary. The World Health Organization puts the figure for HIV infection in Swaziland at 42.6 percent of the population, where only 5 percent of the population is Catholic. Similarly, in Botswana, where 37 percent of the adult population is HIV infected, only 4 percent of the population is Catholic. Compare this to Uganda, where 43 percent of the population is Catholic, and the number of HIV-infected adults has dropped to only 4 percent.

Its seems to me that the cultural imperialism is a sexual revolutionized west that cannot philosophically promote restraint between consenting adults to any degree. While countries like Uganda enjoy success with condom usage being one part of a multi faceted approach that understands human sexuality within their larger culture."

Posted by: Fitz on September 20, 2006 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

Not once, and until this very day have I heard the gay community or the cultural left encourage restraint much less abstinence.

Then you have not been listening very hard. Those messages are abundant. In fact, that has been one of the foundations for the recognition of gay marriages, an institution that your churchs hierarchy is fighting tooth and nail to prevent.

Posted by: Keith G on September 20, 2006 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

Oh -I See Keith G

Suddenly (when they want something) they start talking about monogomy & restraint, but death itself was not enough to propel them twoards these concepts before?

Posted by: Fitz on September 20, 2006 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

Oh Fritz, wrong assumption. I have been involved in gay political and social activism since 1977. The changes have been phenomenal. In the early days of the epidemic no one but us (gay people) cared. Changes did come and they were motivated from with in the various gay communities (there is no one gay community).

Studies now show, unfortunately, that there is a significant amount of backsliding occurring now. This seems to mainly be as a result of the behaviors of younger folks who did not come out during the early years of the epidemic. We are trying like hell to find ways to tailor messages that focus the attention of these younguns.

Posted by: Keith G on September 20, 2006 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

That is one gigantic stick you've got up your ass, rmck1. How'd ya get it so far up there?

Posted by: liminate on September 20, 2006 at 9:37 PM | PERMALINK

Suddenly (when they want something) they start talking about monogomy & restraint, but death itself was not enough to propel them twoards these concepts before?
Posted by: Fitz

well ... death itself wasn't enough to encourage research and epidemiologic or biologic studies into the disease when it was just fags dying of GRID ... suddenly, straights and basketball players start getting publicity, and overnight it became an epidemic.

Posted by: Nads on September 20, 2006 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

If you're saying that it's impossible to be a "person" without
faith, then I truly haven't the foggiest idea of what you mean.

Maybe I can clarify by looking at a subset of this problem:

Can a person have no moral code? I don't mean, say, Charles Manson - he has a moral code, it is just a moral code that says he can do whatever the hell he likes. Without some form of moral code, one cannot act.

Cmdicely, in my interpretation, is not saying "faith" in the terms of christianity, islam, or scientology is required. Cmdicely is taking the broader interpretation of "faith" as belief in any philosophical stance - reason, a moral code, the kantian imperative, heck, even the existence of an external universe. "faith" means any set of a priori assumptions used as a basis for thought or action. Under this definition, there is no person without faith of some sort.

Of course, if I've misinterpreted the argument, hopefully cmidicely will correct me :)

Posted by: Shinobi on September 20, 2006 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

Cmdicely, in my interpretation, is not saying "faith" in the terms of christianity, islam, or scientology is required. Cmdicely is taking the broader interpretation of "faith" as belief in any philosophical stance - reason, a moral code, the kantian imperative, heck, even the existence of an external universe. "faith" means any set of a priori assumptions used as a basis for thought or action. Under this definition, there is no person without faith of some sort.

One assumes that's what he's saying. One also assumes that he repeatedly neglected to explain this to the extent required for the more trigger-happy to understand it because he was looking for just such reaction. In that, he comes off quite a bit like the Poke Em with a Stick Pontiff, no?

Posted by: Mikey on September 20, 2006 at 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

Cmdicely, in my interpretation, is not saying "faith" in the terms of christianity, islam, or scientology is required. Cmdicely is taking the broader interpretation of "faith" as belief in any philosophical stance - reason, a moral code, the kantian imperative, heck, even the existence of an external universe. "faith" means any set of a priori assumptions used as a basis for thought or action. Under this definition, there is no person without faith of some sort.

Of course, if I've misinterpreted the argument, hopefully cmidicely will correct me :)
Posted by: Shinobi on September 20, 2006 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

Busted!!!!

This is rmck1 doing a blatant SockPuppet post, suckas!

Obviously, it is Bob. There is the use of quotes, the Emot-I-Con and the use of 'Kant' for at least the Second Time on this thread. Dumbass!!

"Shinobi" is Bob, who is rmck1, who is ???

Posted by: rmck1 Watch on September 20, 2006 at 10:58 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1 Watch:

Check the hypen style -- idiot :)

What a dumbass.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 21, 2006 at 12:44 AM | PERMALINK

Uh... I'm agreeing with cmdicely, and attempting to explain something to rmck. And I'm supposed to be his sockpuppet?

That's the dumbest accusation of sock puppetry I've ever heard.

Posted by: Shinobi on September 21, 2006 at 1:38 AM | PERMALINK

[Bob to cmdicely]:
"Well first, Christ . . ."

So that's who cmdicely is? Wow. Hey, Kevin, you certainly have an interesting readership . . .
________

"{men & women are different- we maintain a separate spiritual place for men and women so as to acknowledge this incarnate difference, honor it as God given and just . . .}"

"{whites & blacks are different- we maintain separate places for whites and blacks so as to acknowledge this incarnate difference, honor it as God given and just . . .}"

In other words, isn't it interesting that this separate spiritual place for women happens to be one of lack of power?
______

"We have heard talk enough. We have listened to all the drowsy, idealess, vapid sermons that we wish to hear. We have read your Bible and the works of your best minds. We have heard your prayers, your solemn groans and your reverential amens. All these amount to less than nothing. We want one fact. We beg at the doors of your churches for just one little fact. We pass our hats along your pews and under your pulpits and implore you for just one fact. We know all about your mouldy wonders and your stale miracles. We want a this year's fact. We ask only one. Give us one fact for charity. Your miracles are too ancient. The witnesses have been dead for nearly two thousand years."

"We have already compared the benefits of theology and science. When the theologian governed the world, it was covered with huts and hovels for the many, palaces and cathedrals for the few. To nearly all the children of men, reading and writing were unknown arts. The poor were clad in rags and skins -- they devoured crusts, and gnawed bones. The day of Science dawned, and the luxuries of a century ago are the necessities of to-day. Men in the middle ranks of life have more of the conveniences and elegancies than the princes and kings of the theological times. But above and over all this, is the development of mind. There is more of value in the brain of an average man of to-day -- of a master-mechanic, of a chemist, of a naturalist, of an inventor, than there was in the brain of the world four hundred years ago.
These blessings did not fall from the skies. These benefits did not drop from the outstretched hands of priests. They were not found in cathedrals or behind altars -- neither were they searched for with holy candles. They were not discovered by the closed eyes of prayer, nor did they come in answer to superstitious supplication. They are the children of freedom, the gifts of reason, observation and experience -- and for them all, man is indebted to man."

What? Oh, I didn't say that! I'm just quoting the 19th century agnostic Robert Ingersoll.

And y''know, in the 18th century, Voltaire wrote to Frederick the Great that "Christianity is the most ridiculous, the most absurd, and bloody religion that has ever infected the world." And in his Philosophical Dictionary he said that ""Nothing can be more contrary to religion and the clergy than reason and common sense," "The truths of religion are never so well understood as by those who have lost their power of reasoning," and "Theological religion is the source of all imaginable follies and disturbances; it is the parent of fanaticism and civil discord; it is the enemy of mankind."

Just quoting, y'know. What, you're a little upset? Oh, I'm sorry about your reaction. Don't know why you're blaming me, though.

Posted by: Dan S. on September 21, 2006 at 2:39 AM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

>> If you're saying that it's impossible to be a "person" without
>> faith, then I truly haven't the foggiest idea of what you mean.

> That's exactly what I'm saying: the conceit
> of life without faith is a self-delusion.

Well okay -- but are you calling these benighted
delusional faithless types not "persons," too?

I thought you said this wouldn't apply to atheists and agnostics?

> I am familiar with the facts at issue. What I've
> yet to see is your specification of, and argument
> supporting that description, where the injustice is.

Talk to the African priests who contacted the
Vatican. I explained the case as well as I could.

> As far as I can tell, the general case you describe is one
> in which it is eminently clear that the unitive function
> is grossly deficient if not completely absent, where the
> commitment viewed as necessary in the Catholic conception
> underlying marriage is likewise deficient if not completely
> absent, and where both morally and prudentially, not submitting
> to conjugal relations in those cases is the proper course.

And it's precisely this "unitive function" gobbledygook that only
white celibate old men can dream up that gets me so outraged.

Chris, this isn't America. It isn't even Italy. This is *Africa*,
in syncretic churches, where it's likely that the regional bishop
has four wives. These women don't have a *choice* not to have
conjugal relations with their husbands -- if they try not to, they'll
be raped. And not a soul in their villages or local constabulary
recognizes marital rape as a crime, so there's nothing to report.
We're talking about some *blisteringly* patriarchal cultures, Chris.

It's not a question of "proper course." It's a question of what
*happens*. These women have families; they can't just bail on their
husbands in a society where women have so few rights. So doing
their best, as they know how, to raise their families -- gets them
a Catholic Church-sanctioned death sentence. You're not furious?

> There are difficult cases where I can see a real bases
> for questioning Church policy, but the general case you
> describe doesn't seem immediately to be one of them.

Then I have no choice but to question the level of empathy
you feel for the oppression of women in non-Western cultures.

> At any rate, if you are going to assert that reason
> "absolutely objects" to the teachings of the Church,
> you ought to be able to show reason,

I did show reason. Apparently priests in your Church agree with me.

> not merely describing circumstances and asserting that
> you find them abominable. That's reflex, not reason.

It's reason, Chris. It's is a violation of the Categorical Imperative.

> That's exactly what I'm saying: the conceit of life without faith
> is a self-delusion.

> Looking at that again, I think that's actually less clear
> than what I said before. What I meant by that is perhaps
> better put this way: the conceit that one can avoid
> having some kind of faith is a self-delusion.

Only if you wish to play word games with the concept of "faith."

Benedict means to contrast faith with a positivistic /
deterministic worldview where everything is potentially explicable.

Shinobi:

>> If you're saying that it's impossible to be a "person" without
>> faith, then I truly haven't the foggiest idea of what you mean.

> Maybe I can clarify by looking at a subset of this problem:

> Can a person have no moral code? I don't mean, say, Charles
> Manson - he has a moral code, it is just a moral code that
> says he can do whatever the hell he likes. Without some form
> of moral code, one cannot act.

A moral code can have nothing to do with either reason or faith.
Moral existentialism -- e.g. the doctor in Camus' The Plague -- is
justified by neither, yet every day he *acts* to try to save lives.

He doesn't know why. He just *does* it.

> Cmdicely, in my interpretation, is not saying "faith" in
> the terms of christianity, islam, or scientology is required.
> Cmdicely is taking the broader interpretation of "faith" as
> belief in any philosophical stance - reason, a moral code,
> the kantian imperative, heck, even the existence of an
> external universe. "faith" means any set of a priori
> assumptions used as a basis for thought or action. Under this
> definition, there is no person without faith of some sort.

But that definition is a word game, and certainly not what Benedict
meant by "faith." Faith is the belief in something beyond human
understanding. If it could be understood, then reason would suffice.

"Faith" in the sense you mean it is more like playing the odds
-- because induction proves nothing. I have faith that the sun
will rise tomorrow. I have faith right now that I'll be able to
complete this comment and upload it before I have a heart attack.

But it's entirely possible to imagine a completely deterministic
worldview that dispenses with faith in any mystery or grand purpose
of life beyond what the human mind can potentially explain. And
that's the sort of thing that Benedict was warning the West about.

What Chris is calling "faith" here is more like gaps in
human knowledge that are in principle entirely fillable.

Benedict's "faith" is in things unknowable by the rational mind.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 21, 2006 at 3:26 AM | PERMALINK

cmdicely on September 20, 2006 at 4:23 PM |

No, you had the pederasty scandal in the Catholic Church and not in Protestant denominations because there was a confluence of incentives to litigation (the Catholic Church being more organizationally unified creating clear deep-pockets defendants)...

This is incomplete. The pederasty scandal in the RCC was due in large part because

(i) The pederasty scandal in the RCC was due in large part because the hierarchy--the managers--in the various archdiocese and diocese knew what was going on, and merely shuffled the offending priests around the various parishes. They did this instead of notifiying law enforcement--although that might not have been of much use since in more than a few heavily Catholic areas, there was at least a tacit agreement between the RCC hierarchy and law enforcement that the hierarchy would "take care of matters." Which they did, of course, by shuffling the offending priests around. But I digress--it is the facts that (a) the hierarchy knew of the offenses and (b) largely did nothing about it, that made the diocese and archdiocese liable for the offenses.

(ii) There was no pederasty scandal in Protestant denominations for two reasons. One, because they are structured much differently--the individual churches get to choose their pastors, and other church officials; the pastors may be ordained by the denominations, but they are not assigned by the denominations to the respective churches. And, two, because it is hardly unknown for an offending paster or other church official to be turned over to law enforcement when his conduct becomes known. Regarding "one," since the individual churches choose their pastors and other officials, the churches would be liable, but not the denomination. Accordingly, the pockets for prospective claimants would be significantly shallower.

Posted by: raj on September 21, 2006 at 4:48 AM | PERMALINK

cmdicely on September 20, 2006 at 4:34 PM

Faith is not at all unnecessary for ethics...

There is no indication that faith is at all necessary for ethics. There is more than a bit of evidence from evolutionary biology that altruism--ethics--in a social species such as Homo sapiens can be explained by evolution. See the late Jean Myer's article in the July 2002 issue of Scientific American.

Or did you mean to say that Faith is not at all necessary for ethics?

Posted by: raj on September 21, 2006 at 4:57 AM | PERMALINK

Uh... I'm agreeing with cmdicely, and attempting to explain something to rmck. And I'm supposed to be his sockpuppet?

That's the dumbest accusation of sock puppetry I've ever heard.

Shinobi is rmck1--

Busted!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Looky at how he even quotes his OWN SockPuppet! Dumbasss!!!!

Give it up and admit it rmck1!!!!!

Dumbfuck!!!!!

Posted by: rmck1 Watch on September 21, 2006 at 7:39 AM | PERMALINK

Shinobi:

>> If you're saying that it's impossible to be a "person" without
>> faith, then I truly haven't the foggiest idea of what you mean.

> Maybe I can clarify by looking at a subset of this problem:

> Can a person have no moral code? I don't mean, say, Charles
> Manson - he has a moral code, it is just a moral code that
> says he can do whatever the hell he likes. Without some form
> of moral code, one cannot act.

A moral code can have nothing to do with either reason or faith.
Moral existentialism -- e.g. the doctor in Camus' The Plague -- is
justified by neither, yet every day he *acts* to try to save lives.

He doesn't know why. He just *does* it.
*********************************************

OK, blatant sockpuppetry here. So obvious. Just, y'know, admit it. Nobody makes a bland existential claim and then throws 'Camus' at it unless they, like, PLAN it out ahead of time.

The hyphen style is different ON PURPOSE. "Shinobi" misspells the handles of cmdicely and rmck1 ON PURPOSE--falsely attempting to look "unfamiliar" with something he/she is writing about. "rmck1" and "Shinobi" both show up to refute the claim of sockpuppetry one after another? BULLSHIT, kids, BULLSHIT!

Sockpuppet action isn't about punctuation. It's more about using a second voice to "hit" at your opponent in a debate. That's CLEARLY what is going on here, kids.

Then, on ANOTHER thread, "Shinobi" shows up and makes a lameass "rmck1" joke:

****************************************
Implanted or not - if it's less cognitively developed than a cow (and embryos have about ths same cognitive development as any amoeba), why exactly should I treat it with any more respect than the beef stew I had last night?
citing religious dogma I don't adhere to is a pretty weak answer.
Posted by: Shinobi on September 20, 2006 at 9:09 PM | PERMALINK
******************************************

And:

"Shinobi" -- Of course, if I've misinterpreted the argument, hopefully cmidicely will correct me :)
"rmck1" -- Totally agreed, as it should go without saying :)

THIS is why I think "Shinobi" is a sockpuppet. Any takers? Anyone else buy this? Oh, "rmck1" will probably launch another sockpuppet to hide himself. Dishonest bastard.

It's BULLshit, kids. BullSHIT.

Posted by: SOCK PUPPET!!! on September 21, 2006 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

*snicker*

What fucking idiots.

First it was spoof attacks. Now it's accusations of sock puppetry.

Sorry, guys. There are enough rhetorical differences in those posts for anybody with a brain to know that Shinobi ain't me.

But you know what? The funny thing is that if you keep *insisting* on this, all you'll do is to enhance my rep as a writer who's capable of morphing his rhetorical style and narrative tone of voice on a dime.

And since your *intent* is to make me look like an asshole -- you would have defeated your own purpose :)

Knucklehead. Don't you have anything better to do?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 21, 2006 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

YOU WANT PROOF?

Suck on this, kids. Here's rmck1 ADMITTING that he does the SockPuppet dance:

Red State Mike:

As long as we're doing Spoofing Confessions, I'll admit there's a few times I've done it in the past. I also have a consistent persona tucked away for special occasions. But never to regulars, troll or otherwise (save for a rather absurdist incarnation of tbrosz when he was around). Generally, I aim for absolute over-the-top satire, going beyond common vulgarity into full-blown perversion :)

But it's very very rare that I do that. I not only have to be in the right mood, but the target has to be extra-deserving.

I will say, though, that the Thomas / GOP spoofage I consider to be both pedestrian in humor content and stupid tactically. Both those guys will immediately start spoofing back, to the point where the threads start to degenerate.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 19, 2006 at 8:44 PM | PERMALINK

"Shinobi" is the persona that he uses and now he has been caught red fucking handed, kids. cmdicely was, apparently, "extra deserving" of a little SockPuppet action from fuckwit rmck1.

Game/set/match.

Posted by: SOCK PUPPET!!! on September 21, 2006 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

But you know what? The funny thing is that if you keep *insisting* on this, all you'll do is to enhance my rep as a writer who's capable of morphing his rhetorical style and narrative tone of voice on a dime.

NOW the fuckwit is absolutely DELUSIONAL!

Some "rep" as a writer!

The poster "rmck1" has been caught doing the SockPuppet Dance as "Shinobi."

Say "goodbye" to your credibility, fuckwit!

Posted by: SOCK PUPPET!!! on September 21, 2006 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

Thomas:

Sorry, pal. I know you'd just *love* that to be so, but believe it or nay I have better things to do than rattling the cage of an inmate at a Home For The Easily Amused :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 21, 2006 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

Asshole:

That's not admitting to sock puppetry (in a dead thread, with two or three participants, hmmm ... ).

That's me admitting -- like many others here, as RSM said -- to a very occasional and highly selective use of spoofery for parody purposes.

You *do* know the difference, right?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 21, 2006 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas:

Hardly. You think the regulars won't see this for what it is?

You think with *Thomas* leading the charge of sock puppetry, they won't just *laugh at your lame ass* -- eh ... Charley? :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 21, 2006 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Idiot persecution troll:

No, the persona I occasionally use is Ann Coulter's twelve-speed dildo :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 21, 2006 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas:

Maybe not -- but if that troll was to *convince people* that I could write like Shinobi (and there are many subtle difference in posting style, starting with the use of a single vs a double dash), then they would help make that case :)

Again, defeating their intended purpose of scourging me :)

See ... people here would more likely respect a writer who could nail the voices other posters than feel moral disapproval of a sock puppet.

And since you can't have it both ways ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 21, 2006 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas:

And finally ... you have to look where this is coming from. A couple of anonymous trolls -- and you.

Thomas, fairly or not -- you're the person here with the single *worst* reputation on the blog for crimes of identity-hiding.

Nobody's going to take these charges seriously coming from *you*.

And that's the bottom line, my chameleonlike friend.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 21, 2006 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK
Cmdicely, in my interpretation, is not saying "faith" in the terms of christianity, islam, or scientology is required. Cmdicely is taking the broader interpretation of "faith" as belief in any philosophical stance - reason, a moral code, the kantian imperative, heck, even the existence of an external universe. "faith" means any set of a priori assumptions used as a basis for thought or action. Under this definition, there is no person without faith of some sort.

This is pretty much right.

Essentially, there are, as I see it, three disjoint categories of basis for belief: present direct observation (which alone justifies, strictly speaking, only beliefs about the content of present observation), reason or logic (which alone justifies only statements about the relation of logically defined concepts), and a priori assumption or faith (which is an essential component of any belief that extends beyond the realm justified by observation or reason alone.)

Bob and Pope Benedict both seem to adhere to a broader definition of reason that includes some of what I call "faith", conveniently including some subset of their own a priori assumptions as being part of "reason" rather than (or, in Benedict's case, as well as—he seems to see the categories as overlapping rather than disjoint—"faith".)

This is to me a dangerous conceit, because reason is understood to be (and rightly so, when narrowly defined) a privileged basis for knowledge in that it is universally knowable and decidable, whereas observation and faith are personal in different senses. But when you improperly expand the definition of reason to include some of what is rightly part of faith, this becomes a means to judge others beliefs as not merely wrong within the context of a belief system you think others should adhere to but as a objectively and universally demonstrable as wrong.


Posted by: cmdicely on September 21, 2006 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK
There is no indication that faith is at all necessary for ethics. There is more than a bit of evidence from evolutionary biology that altruism--ethics--in a social species such as Homo sapiens can be explained by evolution.

Er, so? "Faith" is a description of justification for belief, "evolution" is a description of mechanistic process by which one comes to a belief. An explanation in one category has no bearing on the other category at all.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 21, 2006 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK
Well okay -- but are you calling these benighted delusional faithless types not "persons," too?

No, I'm saying that the idea that they lack faith is a self-delusion; they are persons, they are not without faith.

I thought you said this wouldn't apply to atheists and agnostics?

I said that the description "an entity genuinely without faith" did not apply to actual atheist and agnostic human beings, correct.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 21, 2006 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Fuckwit rmck1 has been caught doing the SockPuppet do-si-do!

Look at the fuckwit squirm like a fish on a hook!

Save your "reputation" and admit to it. Otherwise, this will "follow" you.

rmck1 is a SockPuppet!

A child caught thieving from the cookie jar has more sense than "rmck1"

Posted by: SOCK PUPPET!!! on September 21, 2006 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Look at the idiot troll squealing like a four-year-old for attention while the adults are discussing philosophy :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 21, 2006 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

while the adults are discussing philosophy :)

...and myself. As usual. Me, me, me.

Posted by: the rest of Bob's post on September 21, 2006 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

No, actually it was Chris Dicely who just resurrected this thread from perdition.

Although if you'd like to gawk and gape at my obscenely overinflated self-image -- you *can* note (with a shudder) that he just said I was using the same concept of "faith" as Pope Benedict :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 21, 2006 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

See? I'm still talking about me. I can't stop. Every topic has something to do with me - just ask me.

Posted by: still more Bob on September 21, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Look at the idiot troll squealing like a four-year-old for attention while the adults are discussing philosophy :)

Look at the SOCK PUPPET user! Nailed dead to rights and he drones on!

Where is "Shinobi" to defend you?

Check the other threads, fuckwit. People should be "warned" of debating with you. Shame on the SockPuppet, Shame!!!

Posted by: SOCK PUPPET!!! on September 21, 2006 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

I love how trolls have, like, a congenital inability to perceive the dryly sardonic.

It's like they all have a mental birth defect to go along with their green-gray complexions, warty skin and four-foot height :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 21, 2006 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Nobody takes "warnings" seriously from posters who, if they're regulars, hide behind pseudonyms like "SOCK PUPPET."

Sorry guys. But, by all means keep it up.

The only reps that'll be wrecked by it will be yours as you disrupt the threads.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 21, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

If people don't think I'm funny, it couldn't be because my attempts at humor are so clumsy and labored. It's because they don't *get* my unique charisma, bro.

Mmmmmmmmmmmm. Me.

Posted by: Bob, stiiiiiiiill gooooooing on September 21, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Trolls don't fit into the category of "people."

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 21, 2006 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

I hope this reply won't be lost among all the troll spam.

Anyway, I do think that it's important to expand reason beyond the mere logical consistency of metaphysical systems. This is why I admire Kant so much. I think his distinction between analytic and synthetic a-priori statements is extremely important. And these building blocks not merely mental concepts, but are necessitated by the nature of perception itself. Kant's system is hardly flawless, but I think it still remains the cornerstone of modern philosophy.

I don't think that the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights -- a cross-cultural statement that transcends various religious traditions -- would be possible without Kantian ethics.

Transcendent ethical principles which go beyond mere cultural norms *are* possible. And I say "are" because i find Kant's proof of transcendental apperception convincing.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 21, 2006 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Did the widdow widdow sock puppet get all mad? Did the widdow widdow baby cry? Waaa! Waaa!

The vitriol of your responses is proof that you are a SOCK PUPPET! If you weren't a SOCK PUPPET you wouldn't care, would you?

This must have hit a "nerve" because you can't admit that you were posting under the name "Shinobi."

This is the dishonest action of a grade "A" fuckwit who has no more credibility.

"Evidence of SockPuppet Activity"

"More evidence"

Posted by: SOCK PUPPET!!! on September 21, 2006 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

SOCK PUPPET: Shut the fuck up. You're even annoying us now.

Posted by: All the non-trolls who mock Bob on September 21, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK
And it's precisely this "unitive function" gobbledygook that only white celibate old men can dream up that gets me so outraged.

Augustine of Hippo, of "Grant me chastity and continence, but net yet" fame? White? Well a North African Roman citizen, so maybe. Old and celibate? Perhaps when he expounded the doctrine, but certainly not sheltered and ignorant.


Chris, this isn't America. It isn't even Italy. This is *Africa*, in syncretic churches, where it's likely that the regional bishop has four wives.

I'm having trouble with taking seriously the charge that the formal doctrines of the Catholic Church regarding behavior in marriage and sexuality are particularly influential in any place where the "regional bishop has four wives".

These women don't have a *choice* not to have conjugal relations with their husbands -- if they try not to, they'll be raped. And not a soul in their villages or local constabulary recognizes marital rape as a crime, so there's nothing to report.

If they don't have a choice, then it is not a question of they would be raped, they are being raped. And I hardly think, in the circustances you described, there is an practical choice for the woman to impose terms, either. What has been advocated is, in fact, not that merely that the women should be "allowed" condoms, but that the Church should seek to minimize the harms by publicly endorsing the use of condoms by the rapist in the context of such marital rapes as are taking place.

We're talking about some *blisteringly* patriarchal cultures, Chris.

Yes, and the Church is being asked to endorse one particular mode of rape rather than condemn the entire practice.

It's not a question of "proper course." It's a question of what *happens*.

No, its not. A question of what happens is an objective question of what the actual facts are. A question of the proper course is a question of the proper actions in the context of those facts. It is, emphatically, a question of the proper course.

These women have families; they can't just bail on their husbands in a society where women have so few rights. So doing their best, as they know how, to raise their families -- gets them a Catholic Church-sanctioned death sentence.

The Catholic Church does not sanction marital rape. Nor does it sanction (indeed, it would usually hold as null) marriage entered into without the intent to be monogamous. Nor does it sanction the failure of societies to respond to marital abuse. Nor do its formal teachings have much practical effect in a place where they are so roundly ignored.

You're not furious?

Yes, I'm furious that societies like this exist, and I'm furious that so many in the West rather than focussing on the real problem use them as an excuse to bash Catholic sexual teachings that are widely ignored rather than focussing any effort on dealing with the actual problems that are the root causes of the suffering.

It's reason, Chris. It's is a violation of the Categorical Imperative.

The Categorical Imperative is not a product of pure reason any more than the body of doctrines of the Catholic Church is.

Benedict means to contrast faith with a positivistic / deterministic worldview where everything is potentially explicable.

Well, yes and no. Benedict clearly means to contrast faith with a positivistic/deterministic worldview, at the same time, he equally clearly means to assert that faith is encompassed by reason and that its subjects are potentially understandable and explicable: his criticism of aspects of Muslim (and other) theology that has been distorted into the controversy that produced this thread in the first place, after all, was centered on the point that it is an error to see Divine Will (or, in other words, the ultimate a priori underpinnings of faith) as being outside the comprehension of human reason.

A moral code can have nothing to do with either reason or faith.

I disagree.

Moral existentialism -- e.g. the doctor in Camus' The Plague -- is justified by neither, yet every day he *acts* to try to save lives.

He doesn't know why. He just *does* it.

To me, that is a description of a moral code based purely on faith, not one not based on reason or faith. I will agree that an unexamined set of priorities cannot, by definition, be said to be based on reason, even if it might be justifiable through reason.

But that definition is a word game, and certainly not what Benedict meant by "faith." Faith is the belief in something beyond human understanding. If it could be understood, then reason would suffice.

Again, Benedict makes very clear that he does not consider "faith" to refer to "something beyond human understanding", or even to refer to something that is by definition outside of human "reason".

"Faith" in the sense you mean it is more like playing the odds -- because induction proves nothing.

Well, no, "faith", in the sense I mean it, includes that type of thing, but isn't restricted to it.

I have faith that the sun will rise tomorrow. I have faith right now that I'll be able to complete this comment and upload it before I have a heart attack.

More likely, you have "faith" in a number of more fundamental things (the existence of an external universe, perhaps, and that such universe is governed by regular laws) which, combined with direct observation and reason combine to justify all these beliefs.

But it's entirely possible to imagine a completely deterministic worldview that dispenses with faith in any mystery or grand purpose of life beyond what the human mind can potentially explain. And that's the sort of thing that Benedict was warning the West about.

I think you are missing Benedicts central point from beginning to end, which is that faith is not outside of the scope of things that the human mind can potentially explain.

What Chris is calling "faith" here is more like gaps in human knowledge that are in principle entirely fillable.

No, it is not. "Faith", as I use the term, does not refer to "gaps in knowledge" at all. "Faith" refers to a basis for belief. And, no, its not generally replaceable with other bases for belief, even in principal, though some narrow subjects of belief are completely within the purview of either observation or reason.

Benedict's "faith" is in things unknowable by the rational mind.

No, its not. Indeed, Benedict harshly criticizes the idea that the subject matters of faith or unknowable by the "rational mind" or outside of reason. Indeed, his entire point in the address is to attack that belief.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 21, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

SOCK PUPPET: Shut the fuck up. You're even annoying us now.

Posted by: All the non-trolls who mock Bob on September 21, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

The poster "rmck1" now stoops to the level of the gutter and wallows in his own juices. How obviously pathetic and wretched are you to take on a third (fourth? Fifth!?!) persona to try to fight back.

You wave your limp noodle like a fool in this sword fight, fuckwit.

Posted by: SOCK PUPPET!!! on September 21, 2006 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

Vitriol? Oh man, that's funny :)

You've proven nothing, obviously. That's kind of why you have to be so, umm, shrill in your accusations.

You know, stating them over and over again, with lots of CAPS for emphasis.

Any observer knows the deal. The only thing that bugs me a little bit is that this nonsense is beginning to disrupt a very engaging thread.

Which, of course, only goes to demonstrate how little you care about Kevin's blog.

See -- you're the real egomaniac, putting your own need to hurt someone above any other value. You must carry round a lot of psychic pain.

And the mechanism by which you're attempting to deal with it is projective identification. Accusing me of what you're guilty of.

And every fair observer can see that.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 21, 2006 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK
Anyway, I do think that it's important to expand reason beyond the mere logical consistency of metaphysical systems.

I think its dangerously misleading to expand the term "reason" to anything beyond that; and serves as a barrier to celar and effective communication by robbing the term of its principal utility of distinguishing a class of jutification which, in principal, admits of a kind of certitude and universality which other sources of justification do not.

This is why I admire Kant so much. I think his distinction between analytic and synthetic a-priori statements is extremely important.

There is a certain value in some philosophical discussions to the analytic/synthetic distinction, I would agree. But, I don't think that it is particularly useful to describe the belief that any particular a priori (synthetic or not) is true as a product of "reason" (I would describe the adherence to a "synthetic a priori" proposition as a product, generally, of a combination of observation and faith.) And, particularly I find that in practice expansion of "reason" to include synthetic a priori propositions of any nature as within the products of reason alone serves largely to falsely grant the results of that process the illusion of the kind of certitude which only validly appies to the more narrow definition of "reason".

Posted by: cmdicely on September 21, 2006 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

Lemme get a little Socratic here, before I go back and respond in detail, both to that post and our bigger argument about the Church:

Upon what principle do you believe the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights is founded?

How is it that so many cultures of the world, with varying ethical and religious traditions, could arrive at such a document?

If reason when extrapolated into the realm of morals, which are merely "aesthetic," is dangerous because it projects a false universalism, where could such a set of universalist ideas ever possibly come from -- or, more importantly, be justified?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 21, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK
Upon what principle do you believe the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights is founded?

A instrument that sounds good, doesn't actually bind anyone, and whose contents are widely ignored by its supposed adherents? The "principle" of propaganda?

How is it that so many cultures of the world, with varying ethical and religious traditions, could arrive at such a document?

Confluence of self-interest among the ruling classes in portraying themselves as committed to warm fuzzies.

If reason when extrapolated into the realm of morals, which are merely "aesthetic," is dangerous because it projects a false universalism, where could such a set of universalist ideas ever possibly come from -- or, more importantly, be justified?

Your first mistake here is in believing that the UDHR is a set of "universalist ideas". Its supposed adherents clearly don't believe in much of the content. But since there is no consequence in not adhering to it, its easy to agree to.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 21, 2006 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

You respond with exquisite cynicism towards the UDHR in developing countries.

And yet you uphold the Catholic Church in developing countries -- "furious" at the cynicism with which it's percieved by people who ... endorse the concept of universal human rights.

I'm sorry. This is a bit more demoralizing than fending off a troll attack.

I need a break from this. I'll be back later.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 21, 2006 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sorry. This is a bit more demoralizing than fending off a troll attack.

I need a break from this. I'll be back later.

Waaa! Waaa! I need to suck on my pacifier for a while and try to think of a way out of this mess!

Waaa! Waaa! Now I have poop in my diaper!

I want my baby, baby, baby, baby-back ribs.

"rmck1" is outed as a SockPuppet and he runs away crying like a titty-baby.

Posted by: SOCK PUPPET!!! on September 21, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

Be afraid, be very afraid.

I've followed much of this discussion and it is scary how closely I agree with you. Your responses in the post of 2:13 are very conservative and clearly cover so much of what happens at the UN.

One might think you have a lower opinion of the institution than I do and I didn't think it was possible. Which begs the qustion, when will Kevin cover Hugo and his UN adventure?

Posted by: rdw on September 21, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely -- with whom I share a mutual respect -- is capable of getting under my skin sometimes because I take his ideas and arguments very seriously. Unlike him, I think the Catholic Church can and has acted as a socially destructive force in developing countries.

Trolls, though, I could thwack all day long :)

Chris' words touch me. Yours don't.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 21, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

And now that Wooten's here -- I'm *definitely* out of here for awhile.

Have *oodles* of fun with him, Chris.

L8r,

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 21, 2006 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, I didn't really leave. I didn't want to miss any chance to, you know, discuss myself and the "mutual respect" I have with Chris.

Y'know, Chris has never indicated any such feeling on his part, but he wouldn't discuss stuff with me if he didn't *dig* me right? I mean, he *never* talks to GOP or anyone else he doesn't respect.

Posted by: blahblahblahBob on September 21, 2006 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

"Upon what principle do you believe the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights is founded?"

That all men a created in the image and likeness of God. Therefore they are entitled to equel dignity and humanity.

P.S. Quit the dumb-ass flame war...this WAS a good discussion

Posted by: Fitz on September 21, 2006 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

: Charlie Rangel and Nancy Pelosi have CONDEMNED Chavez for his speech and have defended the office of the President. That's right, rdw--Rangel and Pelosi have defended President Bush from Chavez' attacks. Go back and read that again. This is how Democrats respect and love this country.


I'll give you Nancy and Charlie but I have to admit I'm skeptical of their motives. Are they mad at Hugo for what he said or because he's stepping on their turf? That's their job!

Still, they did the right thing. It's too bad for the Democrats other fools like Harkins and Bill Clinton did not. Rove still gets to trash the libs as whacko!

Now when do we get our apology for all the nasty shit said about Bill Clinton?

What nasty stuff? I love Bill Clinton. Check this out from NRO!

****************************

Vieira Simpers Through Interview With Clinton

09/21 11:47 AM, The Markup

Both Kathryn and Mark Finkelstein note the way a clearly lovestruck Meredith Vieira fawned over Bill Clinton this morning on the Today show. Not only were there plenty of "Ew" moments, there was also this bit of sympathy for the, uh, devil:

Now, it's easy to dismiss somebody like [Hugo] Chavez and some have as a nut. But do you think he is giving voice to to wider frustration in the developing world about this country and this country's policies? Do we need to change the way we act?

I also loved this: Finkelstein writes, "Speaking of his Clinton Global Initiative, she claimed 'everyone is calling you a genie' for his ability to accomplish good things." What is it about Clinton that makes lefties go all weak in the knees?

*****************************************

The reason is desperation. They need each other. Slick Willie needs the MSM as much as they need him. Who else can they cream over? Gore? Kerry? Dean? Murtha? Nancy? Reid? Hillary?

How can someone as smart as Clinton be such an intellectual coward? To even suggest the USA should conduct its foreign policy in the hopes of being liked is utter cowardice.

This also raised the question of Monica. Why on earth would Bill go to Monica when Vieira, much better on the eyes and ears, is available every day and she'll swallow?

How can one be so smart yet so dumb?

Posted by: rdw on September 21, 2006 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

P.S. Quit the dumb-ass flame war...this WAS a good discussion

Then, Bob showed up and used a *sock puppet* to try to gain the upper hand in the discussion.

Bob/rmck1 is the reason things got out of hand (...again!), so STFU.

Posted by: blabityblabBob on September 21, 2006 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK
You respond with exquisite cynicism towards the UDHR in developing countries.

I didn't say anything about "developing countries". What I said is as applicable to the US approach to the UDHR as to that of any "developing country". You think the US government is at all committed to substantive action implementing the idea that:

"Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control." (Art. 26, § 1)

or:

"(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace." (Art. 26, § 1 & 2)

Or even:

"Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law." (Art. 8)


And yet you uphold the Catholic Church in developing countries -- "furious" at the cynicism with which it's percieved by people who ... endorse the concept of universal human rights.

Er, no, I am furious at people who accept extraordinary social oppression in African societies as if it were an inalterable fact of nature not resulting from human choice, but that then focus on one result of that oppression to attack the Catholic Church for something that isn't even the cause of the problem that is focussed on, and then pretend that they "endorse" the concept of universal human rights, despite the fact that what they advocate is legitimatization of the culture of oppression that is the root cause of the problem they pretend to be concerned about.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 21, 2006 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for proving to us that you don't have the least bit of respect for the Presidency or women in general

Au Contraire!

I have great respect for the Presidency and women.

Slick Willie is a pig and I have no respect for him. Vieira is simply an airhead.

Posted by: rdw on September 21, 2006 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

I'm going to try to get back to the more philosophical aspect of our dispute as it relates to reason, faith and Benedict -- but the point you make in your second graf will lead to something very interesting.

The issue is not -- nor can it be -- the acceptance of cultural oppression by smug Western relativists. Do we invade Saudi Arabia because they enforce a particularly brutal form of Sharia? Egypt, Somalia or Yemen because they practice full clitoridectomy? Obviously not; these remedies would doubtless be much worse than the ills they address -- no matter how much we in the West are committed in principle to an idea of universal human rights.

Pivot the question to African Catholic churches. How do they address a growing AIDS epidemic which includes the infection and death of married, monogamous, churchly women?

The Pope recommends abstinence. But this doesn't even address the issue, and here's why:

The example I gave earlier with marital rape is doubtless significant, but it conveys the idea that these women are aware of what's going on -- and I don't think that's the most common face of the problem.

What you're not seeming to understand, Chris, is the pathological levels of both homophobia and denial about homosexuality in these cultures. Your "unitive function" analysis collapses because these couples simply do not believe they're being unfaithful. Gay conduct exists in a netherworld that absolutely no one talks about. What's most likely is that the women becoming infected have absolutely no idea that their husbands are doing this -- and the husbands could doubtless pass a lie detector test on the fidelity issue -- because they're not having an affair with a woman.

How would a priest deal with this in a Benedict-approved way? If he gave a sermon on the evils of unprotected homosexual conduct (and I'm sure this is de rigeur), every man in that congregation would nod his head vigorously. "What ... animals these homosexuals are -- infecting our women! That's horrible conduct, Father, horrible -- if we ever find any homosexuals in our village, we'll surely take care of them for you." And then next Saturday night they're out cruising the bars in Lagos ...

There's a parallel to this in African-American culture that a guy blew the lid off about year ago. It's called going "on the DL." And there are a significant number of married, straight, monogamous and religious African-American women with AIDS because of it. Obviously, there's nowhere near the level of denial about homosexuality in America. Doubtless if that book had been published in Nigeria, the author would have to hire bodygaurds. And there's a parallel in Saudi Arabia and doubtless other Mideast countries, which are finally beginning to acknowledge their growing AIDS rates.

Again, how do you deal with this in a properly Catholic way? Expect these men to eventually make it into the confessional booth? Is that *remotely* realistic? There are human lives at stake here.

So it's pretty obviously to me why these priests, when they found out about this subculture after discussing AIDS with medical professionals, took their brief to the Vatican. They have to try to do what they can do -- and saving lives is a higher priority than breaking the cultural patterns surrounding homosexual conduct. It's a classic "least harm" analysis. These women aren't doing anything sinful. How can they stop having sex with their husbands on the *suspicion* that they *might* be having gay sex on the side?

I think these priests have the moral upper hand on Benedict here. Sometimes ideals of human behavior which come with sanctions against not meeting them have the practical effect of being profoundly destructive.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 21, 2006 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

>> Benedict's "faith" is in things unknowable by the rational mind.

> No, its not.

Really? Then what would you call: The Holy Trinity, the Virgin
Birth, the Immaculate Conception, the Ressurection of Christ,
the transubstantiation of bread and wine, the immortal soul,
the Assumption of Mary into Heaven -- need I go on?

> Indeed, Benedict harshly criticizes the idea that
> the subject matters of faith or unknowable by the
> "rational mind" or outside of reason. Indeed, his
> entire point in the address is to attack that belief.

Then Benedict is playing a silly little Acquinian word game. If
you want to equate reason with ratiocination, that's fine. If
you want to call "reason" the quality of internal consistency,
then the Unabomber Manifesto is an eminently reaonable document.

If you want to equate reason to something a tad more substantitve like
*falsification epistemology*, then the argument collapses -- because
every bit of those Mysteries of the Church I enumerated above are not
trans-observable, not duplicatable, not verifiable, not falsifiable.

And since Benedict was also leveling a critique against
determinism and positivism -- systems which rest on falsification
epistemology -- he was leveling a critique against a central
gift of rationality, if certainly not all of Reason itself.

I think Benedict set up and then knocked down a strawman. He may
have no conflict with reason itself (no medieval theologian would).

He and his church have a *huge* conflict with systems of
thought which can provide the rational tools to in effect
deny the functional reality of the Mysteries of the Church.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 21, 2006 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK
The issue is not -- nor can it be -- the acceptance of cultural oppression by smug Western relativists.

Why do you claim that?

Do we invade Saudi Arabia because they enforce a particularly brutal form of Sharia? Egypt, Somalia or Yemen because they practice full clitoridectomy?

Acceptance and invasion are not the only choices, though particularly in the case where this is a matter of state policy (Saudi Arabia, for one), you'd have a lot easier time selling me on an invasion than many countries the US has invaded in the last several decades.

Pivot the question to African Catholic churches. How do they address a growing AIDS epidemic which includes the infection and death of married, monogamous, churchly women? The Pope recommends abstinence. But this doesn't even address the issue, and here's why:

The example I gave earlier with marital rape is doubtless significant, but it conveys the idea that these women are aware of what's going on -- and I don't think that's the most common face of the problem.

Where the woman doesn't know what's going, at least to the extent of knowing that there is a substantial risk, "allowing" condoms isn't going to help, either.

What you're not seeming to understand, Chris, is the pathological levels of both homophobia and denial about homosexuality in these cultures.

No, actually, I understand that entirely. What you seem not to realize is that that is the fundamental problem here.

Your "unitive function" analysis collapses because these couples simply do not believe they're being unfaithful.

I don't get it. How is that relevant?

Gay conduct exists in a netherworld that absolutely no one talks about.

Yes, and that's exactly the problem.

What's most likely is that the women becoming infected have absolutely no idea that their husbands are doing this -- and the husbands could doubtless pass a lie detector test on the fidelity issue -- because they're not having an affair with a woman.

Yes, this is all true. And this illustrates the fundamental problems. Which are what should be addressed.

How would a priest deal with this in a Benedict-approved way? If he gave a sermon on the evils of unprotected homosexual conduct (and I'm sure this is de rigeur), every man in that congregation would nod his head vigorously. "What ... animals these homosexuals are -- infecting our women! That's horrible conduct, Father, horrible -- if we ever find any homosexuals in our village, we'll surely take care of them for you." And then next Saturday night they're out cruising the bars in Lagos ...

Well, yeah, you've suggested a particularly poor response. What is probably needed is less condemnation, and a more effective, more highly personal ministry, including to and through those already undeniably affected, focussed on acknowledgement, forgiveness, and corecting the dangerous behaviors.

There's a parallel to this in African-American culture that a guy blew the lid off about year ago. It's called going "on the DL."

A year ago? The lids been blown off that for several years. (Really, covert homosexuality that hasn't been acknowledged by those engaging in it as infidelity or discussed has been a feature of many societies, including European society, for quite some time.)

So it's pretty obviously to me why these priests, when they found out about this subculture after discussing AIDS with medical professionals, took their brief to the Vatican. They have to try to do what they can do -- and saving lives is a higher priority than breaking the cultural patterns surrounding homosexual conduct.

Which is more important would only be an issue if the two goals conflicted.

They don't. The source of the threat to lives is the cultural patterns surroundign homosexual conduct.

It's a classic "least harm" analysis.

No, its not, at least not good analysis. Its either successful, in which case it leads to extermination through zero fertility, or it fails, in which case it doesn't protect against AIDS and the underlying problem creating the risk is not dealt with. I'm a big supporter of properly targetted, effective harm mitigation like needle exchange programs, controversial as those can be. But this is not such a proposal.

These women aren't doing anything sinful. How can they stop having sex with their husbands on the *suspicion* that they *might* be having gay sex on the side?

Seems to me if they demand condom use on the suspicion that they might be having gay sex on the side, they can as justifiably abstain from intercourse on the same basis.


I think these priests have the moral upper hand on Benedict here.

Seems to me that they have a proposal which is unlikely to have much success in mitigating harm, is likely to produce other harms, and ignores the fundamental problem, because it doesn't address the fundamental problem which is that, in any case, married couples have to deal with each other out of mortal suspicion.

Sometimes ideals of human behavior which come with sanctions against not meeting them have the practical effect of being profoundly destructive.

Sure, that's a true generality.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 21, 2006 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

Just for the record I am not rmck1. I am bob. Bob and rmck1 are the same person. I am Bob, but not the rmck1 aspect of his personality. And like Meradeth Viera, I swallow Bob every day :

Posted by: Shinobi on September 21, 2006 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK
Really? Then what would you call: The Holy Trinity, the Virgin Birth, the Immaculate Conception, the Ressurection of Christ, the transubstantiation of bread and wine, the immortal soul, the Assumption of Mary into Heaven -- need I go on?

While they are unknowable by "reason" as I would define it, they clearly aren't as Benedict defines it, and while you clearly don't believe these particular things are knowable, I don't see any valid distinction between those and the kinds of things that must be posited as knowable by "reason" to allow any synthetic a priori truths to be held as knowable by reason.


Then Benedict is playing a silly little Acquinian word game.

Well, yeah, that's my problem with you and Benedict when it comes to the overbroad painting of reason.

If you want to equate reason with ratiocination, that's fine.

I would argue that "reason" becomes unmeaningful as a term when extended beyond that.

If you want to call "reason" the quality of internal consistency,

I don't. Reason is a process which produces internal consistency, of course, but it is not the quality of internal consistency.

then the Unabomber Manifesto is an eminently reaonable document.

Its been a while since I read it, but I don't recall that being the case. Not particularly relevant to the point at hand, except that you seem to be making an aesthetic argument that you would reject a narrow definition of reason because it would allow "bad" things to be products of "reason", which you apparently dislike.

If you want to equate reason to something a tad more substantitve like *falsification epistemology*, then the argument collapses -- because every bit of those Mysteries of the Church I enumerated above are not trans-observable, not duplicatable, not verifiable, not falsifiable.

Neither is the Categorical Imperative in any of its articulations, which, of course, you assert to be pure reason. Neither are any of the fundamental premises of any modern system of ethics (certainly not Rawlsian justice!).

Falsification epistemology requires reason, but it is not the same thing as reason.

And since Benedict was also leveling a critique against determinism and positivism -- systems which rest on falsification epistemology -- he was leveling a critique against a central gift of rationality, if certainly not all of Reason itself.

I think it is inaccurate to say Benedict was leveling a critique of determinism and positivism. His statement seems neutral on determinism except perhaps in a way directly derivative from his mild critique of positivism, and the "critique" of positivism he makes is simply suggesting that it is inappropriate to view it as properly bounding either "science" or "reason".

That's, of course, no challenge at all to any "gift" of rationality in the form of productive tools.

I think Benedict set up and then knocked down a strawman.

I don't think he did: the position he attacks in the conclusion of the address is the position that positivism bounds what ought to be considered "science" and "reason". This is not a strawman, but a pair of very real and widely held positions.


Posted by: cmdicely on September 21, 2006 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

persecution troll:

> Then, Bob showed up and used a *sock puppet* to try to gain
> the upper hand in the discussion.

How, exactly, do you know I used a sock puppet? You don't, right.
I mean, you certainly couldn't prove it. You just have a strong
*hunch*. The writing styles were similar. Okay, what if they
were -- they were also different. What explains those differences?

And why, exactly, would I use a sock puppet? The SP in question
didn't jump on to hifive my position the way sock puppets usually
do (think "tj" and "karen") -- but rather to explain cmdicely's
position. Now, as it should be obvious -- I've been pretty strenuously
arguing with cmdicely all day. Just why would I feel the need to
deploy a sock puppet to explain a position I don't agree with?

Because, obviously, I didn't use a sock puppet.

For the record, I've on very rare occasions spoofed trolls. Most of
us have, I'd bet. But sock puppetry is the sine qa non of retardation.

> Bob/rmck1 is the reason things got out of hand (...again!), so STFU.

I defended myself from a repeated lie, with good humor and dispassion.

You guys tried your darndest to make it as ugly as possible.

*shrug*

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 21, 2006 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1, cmdicely:

What a delightful pair of bitchy boys you have turned out to be this fine day. Actually 'debating' the merits of faith, religion, the Catholic Church and so on and so forth.

Pray, tell me: what makes either of you shitheads think you can intelligently debate a matter of religion or faith without looking like two rubes in a carnival full of cash-poor jackasses?

Pope Benedict XIV, who is a genius and a scholarly master of all things ecumenical, has given a fine speech and taken the Muslims to task. Did it occur to either of you that the Pope is infallible? No, of course not because the likes of the two of you are more comfortable inside of an Asian handjob parlor getting a five finger trip to la-la land from a woman old enough to be your grandmother than you are in a place of worship.

This fine Pope has studied and written for decades at a level that neither of you will ever hope to rise to. He is an intellectual giant; you two are gnats on the ass of a donkey. Why do you not see that you are both completely out of your element, here? Catholic theologians standing fast by the teaching of the Church and investigating the divine mysteries with the "separated brethren" must proceed with love for the truth, with charity, and with humility. When comparing doctrines with one another, they should remember that in Catholic doctrine there exists a "hierarchy" of truths, since they vary in their relation to the fundamental Christian faith. This is what the Pope was speaking about. And you turn it into a college freshman's masturbation session. Satan himself will singe the backsides of you both for daring to carry on a conversation in public. Take it to the bath house and have your Greek way with one another. Heathens.

Both of you profane the notion of religion by speaking. I would like some silence from the two of you. Please close your mouth when you breathe.

And you wonder why I think you're both morons.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on September 21, 2006 at 8:58 PM | PERMALINK

[Norman Rogers comment]

I think the Pope has a sock puppet . . .

Oh, that would be funny.

Posted by: Dan S. on September 21, 2006 at 9:09 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1:

"Unlike him, I think the Catholic Church can and has acted as a socially destructive force in developing countries."

A citation is needed for such anti-Western drivel as this. You do realize that this world was uncivilized and full of people who used blunt weapons to clobber one another and stone knives to disembowel one another, correct? They worshipped the sun, the tree and the dick of the biggest monkey as easily as they squatted in their own droppings. They waged war like savages and brained the children of their enemies. Or was it all peace, love and progressive liberal butt-fucking all the live long day? Understand this, junior: the Catholic Church brought the sword AND the word of God to people for a good reason--to save their bloody souls.

Trolls, though, I could thwack all day long :)

You put a juvenile smile-face at the end of a statement that drips with self-satisfaction. The 'trolls' seem to have wiped your ass for you, you whiny assed titty baby. [that's what one of them called you, correct?]

Chris' words touch me. Yours don't.

Glad to see you are touched by something other than the fumbling, rough hands of a boy who can't figure out how to work his tools. Perhaps if the two of you got a room at the Christian Reading Room instead of Motel 6, and actually learned something about religion and philosophy, the look of confusion in the midst of immoral sex acts would be wiped from your knotted brow. Or do you give out your love at the local bingo parlor for free popcorn and a backrub? One would think that the local police would be keeping an eye on you.

cmdicely:

I think it is inaccurate to say Benedict was leveling a critique of determinism and positivism. His statement seems neutral on determinism except perhaps in a way directly derivative from his mild critique of positivism, and the "critique" of positivism he makes is simply suggesting that it is inappropriate to view it as properly bounding either "science" or "reason".

Determinism? Positivism? No, the Pope was explaining to the unwashed masses that hell awaits the person who uses the trickery and mockery of ill-informed commentary to explain away the need to be absolutely ruthless in dedication to the betterment of the soul in the service of God. Science is the dog that didn't bark in Catholicism; what you have left is the acceptance that man must devote himself to God. Man exists to serve God, without question. Philosophy is the clumsy language of a child talking back to God; nothing more. And you wonder why you can't explain yourself.

That's, of course, no challenge at all to any "gift" of rationality in the form of productive tools.

I can't figure out which one of you two morons said this, so I'll let it stand; it means nothing. There are many, many sentences here that say nothing and for that, you two should hang your heads in shame. This kind of thing makes me grit my teeth and think of jackhammers and rivet guns.

I don't think he did: the position he attacks in the conclusion of the address is the position that positivism bounds what ought to be considered "science" and "reason". This is not a strawman, but a pair of very real and widely held positions.

I find it rather amusing that one would accuse Pope Benedict XIV, who is clearly an intellectual giant of this troubled day, of engaging in setting up a "strawman" argument better suited to the likes of a corrupt Democratic Congressman who shoves cash money down the back of his pants. And it is even more amusing to watch someone pretend to know what the Pope was talking about. It's somewhat like watching a blind man drive a bus in the Indianapolis 500.

The Pope was telling the Muslims to scatter to the wind; the Devil shall be chased back into hell by the force of Christianity. A rousing chorus of "Onward Christian Soldiers... would do nicely, cmdicely.

And you wonder why I'm sneering at both of you.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on September 21, 2006 at 9:34 PM | PERMALINK

Norman Rogers:

Chris and I weren't talking to you. There's a sword hanging on the wall. Why don't you run along and make yourself useful like a good lad by slicing us up some Muslims? Rember to share the good pieces with your brother.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 21, 2006 at 11:05 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

Well, I'm not going to get into the weeds with you in another point-by-point, as you've said several things that I can't for the life of me parse, and also I think we're beginning to talk past each other. I will try to formulate a response in a fresh message.

First, i don't think it's remotely possible to epistemologically equate the Mysteries of the Church with the Catagorical Imperative. If you'll take Kant at his word (and most philosophy since that point has been a reaction to Kant, so I realize there are any number of ways to critque this, but bear with me), he was attempting to *discover* certain groundrules of thought that are necessitated by the very nature of perception itself. Anyone could, theoretically, stumble upon these groundrules themselves, just as assuredly as the uneducated slave in Plato's dialogue could be coached into describing the rules of geometry.

The Mysteries, OTOH, are revealed truth. Why do we believe the Ressurection? Because several hundred people are said to have witnessed it. The Virgin Birth? Because it's in Scripture, etc. These are not things that any attuned mind could just stumble on, because they happen to be part of the fabric of the transcendental unity of apperception. Instead, the Divine had to interpolate itself into daily experience. Kant's truth is revealed by reason -- because you can test Kant's ideas any number of ways to determine their truth value. Religious truth is revealed by faith; you can't test them at all, you either believe them or you don't.

Now I haven't studied Benedict's speech thoroughly (I've only read excerpts and interpretations), but he seems to be saying two different things to separate but compatible purposes. On the one hand he's trying to draw reason back into faith (you've made some points to support this) to argue that religious faith is fully compatible with the faculties of thinking. This is an old, old line of argument (something I've called Acquinian), and Benedict is doing this especially to make the point that religious thought anathemizes violence. That's the essence of his critique of Islam; that no religion can endorse violence because violence is contrary to the nature of God, who wants us to discover the truth through the exercise of free will. Religious faith, therefore, cannot be compelled.

The other line of his thinking maps onto many things he's said previously as part of a broad critique of the Western approach to, let's call it "instrumental rationality." And the problem with it (whether you call it determinism, positivism, reductionism, means-ends rationality, etc.) is that it tends to drive out religious belief. Atheistic societies are entirely possible with a scientific worldview. And there's a long line of critique of this -- from the left as well as the right -- because it tends to strip humanity of a higher purpose, finds no groundable ethical principle and, some argue, leads to nihilism and decadence. And again, not merely from the conservative Leo Strauss acolyte anti-postmodernist culture warriors, but implicit also in Max Weber's warning about the "iron cage" of bureaucracy at the end of the cultural routinization process, and explicitly in Horkheimer and Adorno's The Dialectic of Enlightenment.

Benedict is trying to reconcile these two lines of argument -- that reason is necessary for faith rightly understood, and that reason is insufficient alone to ground human life. He's trying to say reason is great, it's wonderful, it's essential to properly understand religion (because faith *without* reason -- the supreme unmediated transcendence of Allah and similar medieval Christian ideas) is an extremely dangerous thing. But, with that said, reason without faith makes the defense of life impossible.

It's an interesting critique. I have less problem with the first part of it than I do with the second. I do believe that "instrumental rationality" has limitations. Determinism -- once supreme a century ago -- has taken a beating, especially from quantum physics, and is no longer the reigning scientific paradigm. There well may be things (the nature of consciousness, for example) that will forever remain beyond our understanding.

We need something more than instrumental reason. I'd go with the Categorical Imperative, with moral existenttialism as an ever-handy backstop.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

Chris' words touch me. Yours don't.

The SockPuppet revelation shall follow you. Don't think we didn't notice that you posted as "Shinobi" last night, fuckwit.

You wear a lovely shade of bitch when you walk in here and tell everyone how "talented" of a writer you are.

The facts speak for themselves. As soon as you were caught being a SockPuppet you became shrill and hysterical.

A persecution troll? No.

YOU are the troll. Fucking deal with it. YOU are the troll.

Posted by: SOCK PUPPET!!! on September 22, 2006 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

sock puppet:

Can you produce proof? Obviously not.

I happened to read the Plan B thread and caught Shinobi's comments. The writing style's quite different. Lotta typos that I wouldn't make.

What you don't like, Mr. Troll, is that I happen to *be* a better writer than most of you here. That really burns your ass, doesn't it.

Did you even bother to have a look at my last long post to Chris in this thread? Do you understand *any* of the concepts in it? Do you have a fucking clue about Kantian philosophy or falsification epistemology or any of it?

No, you don't. I, however, do. And this makes you insecure.

Poor baby.

You want to continually shop this around, but gods forbid you'd do it under stable identity. How seriously do you think people are going to take accusations of sock puppetry from a poster who calls him/herself SOCK PUPPET?

Not very. People know projection when they see it.

But, by all means, keep trying. I'm going to enjoy watching the regulars shout you down.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

persecution troll:

Oh, and I'm not the shrill and hysterical one.

You are. I'm the calm and rational one :)

So, you know, keep shouting AT THE TOP OF YOUR LUNGS !!!!

It makes your case look so ... airtight.

And filled with stinky, unventilated farts :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on September 22, 2006 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK
If you'll take Kant at his word (and most philosophy since that point has been a reaction to Kant, so I realize there are any number of ways to critque this, but bear with me), he was attempting to *discover* certain groundrules of thought that are necessitated by the very nature of perception itself.

I agree, of course, that Kant was trying to do that, just as Anselm was trying to establish the existence in re of God through pure analysis of concepts.

I just don't think either of them actually did what they set out to do. There's a difference between understanding what someone is trying to do, and agreeing that that's actually what they've done.

Kant's truth is revealed by reason -- because you can test Kant's ideas any number of ways to determine their truth value.

The problem I have with this is that I disagree with the claim that Kant's ideas are testable.

Now I haven't studied Benedict's speech thoroughly (I've only read excerpts and interpretations), but he seems to be saying two different things to separate but compatible purposes.

You ought to read the whole thing. He's making one argument, not two.


On the one hand he's trying to draw reason back into faith (you've made some points to support this) to argue that religious faith is fully compatible with the faculties of thinking. This is an old, old line of argument (something I've called Acquinian),

As an aside "Thomistic" is the more conventional term, and easier to spell, too.

and Benedict is doing this especially to make the point that religious thought anathemizes violence.

I think that's backwards: Benedict is invoking the violence that he claims results from the idea that Divine Will is beyond human reason to underline the importance of getting the connection of faith and reason down right, not discussing the relation of faith and reason to make the point that religious thought anathemizes violence.

The other line of his thinking maps onto many things he's said previously as part of a broad critique of the Western approach to, let's call it "instrumental rationality." And the problem with it (whether you call it determinism, positivism, reductionism, means-ends rationality, etc.) is that it tends to drive out religious belief.

No, its really the same line of thinking. Looked at from the other side, in fact, if you read the speech, this "other line of thinking" is expressly the point he brought up the first part to demonstrate. They are, in fact, inseparable parts of the same argument that viewing consideration of the Divine as outside the scope of human reason is destructive. The difference is that in the first part he discusses how he sees it as dangerous when human reason, seen as incapable of addressing Divine Will, is relegated to secondary status, in the second part he discusses how he sees it as dangerous when consideration of Divine Will, because it is seen as intractable to human reason, is discarded entirely. The two are not merely "compatible" arguments, they are illustration of the harm stemming from the same error (in Benedict's view): the perception that the Divine is outside the scope of reason.

Determinism -- once supreme a century ago -- has taken a beating, especially from quantum physics, and is no longer the reigning scientific paradigm.

Determinism may or may not be undermined by quantum physics; OTOH, the wish that often accompanies determinism, that the laws and state of the universe are utltimately knowable by humans, is certainly challenged...

Posted by: cmdicely on September 22, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

This is an off topic public announcement:

rmck1/Bob a sock puppet? You decide.
WARNING: this shit is WEIRD.

1. Evidence rmck1 is a SockPuppet

2. Chris' words touch me...

3. rmck1 almost admits what he did

4. The panic of rmck1


BONUS: rmck1/Bob reads this post...

Posted by: Public Service Announcement on September 22, 2006 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

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