Hey, papal apologists (papalologists?), stop reading this! You won’t like it. It’s nothing but a couple of links to religion-bashing, prompted by the naked sectarian stupidity of one bizarre religious leader.
Christopher Hitchens takes the pope to task for pissing off Islam (a triviality, as always) and criticizing the application of reason.
It is often said–and was said by Ratzinger when he was an underling of the last Roman prelate–that Islam is not capable of a Reformation. We would not even have this word in our language if the Roman Catholic Church had been able to have its own way. Now its new reactionary leader has really “offended” the Muslim world, while simultaneously asking us to distrust the only reliable weapon–reason–that we possess in these dark times. A fine day’s work, and one that we could well have done without.
At least the atheists aren’t going to respond by shooting any nuns in the back. Can we just tell both Islam and Christianity to take their Dark Age superstitions and stuff them up an orifice into an equally dark, putrid place? A pox on both of them. But to the Islamic fundamentalists…a special curse on their brand of hatred and violence.
Also, Sam Harris similarly cusses out Pope Ratzi for baselessly appropriating reason. Sorry, Pope, it isn’t yours.
While the pope succeeded in enraging millions of Muslims, the main purpose of his speech was to chastise scientists and secularists for being, well, too reasonable. It seems that nonbelievers still (perversely) demand too much empirical evidence and logical support for their worldview. Believing that he was cutting to the quick of the human dilemma, the pope reminded an expectant world that science cannot pull itself up by its own bootstraps: It cannot, for instance, explain why the universe is comprehensible at all. It turns out that this is a job for … (wait for it) … Christianity. Why is the world susceptible to rational understanding? Because God made it that way. While the pope is not much of a conjurer, many intelligent and well-intentioned people imagined they actually glimpsed a rabbit in this old hat. Andrew Sullivan, for instance, praised the pope’s “deep and complicated” address for its “clarity and openness.”
Sullivan has confused “pompous and contradictory” for “deep and complicated”, I think, and Harris has the old man pegged. This was an appeal to treat Christian superstition as primary, ruling over the false religion of Islam and the even more detestable godlessness of much of Western culture. It was played for the Catholic conservatives, no one else.
I don’t think the Pope should apologize for his remarks, however. The more it is made clear that religion is a source of division and ignorance, the sooner we can hope to be rid of it.