Thursday, September 21, 2006

Heaven Preserve Us!

The Tory Reptile steals my stock phrase as he dives into the Pope and Reason vs Islam and Offence debacle to rail against the apparent surfeit of morons. He is, of course, correct. For that matter, so is this.
Unlike, the substantial collection of utter, utter, utter morons here.
Sir, The Pope has made a distinction between Christian reason about God, and Islamic submission to a transcendent God ( reports and letters, Sept 16, 18, 19 and 20).

But the Church dealt harshly with Giordano Bruno and Galileo when they dared to reason.

That would be Giordano Bruno (1548 - 1600) and Galileo Galilei (1564 - 1642).

Calvin denounced Servetus because he dared to reason about the divinity of Christ.

And that would be Michael Servetus (1511 - 1553). Whilst we are about it, do you know exactly how Calvin denounced Servetus? No? Here he is:

I neither hate you nor despise you; nor do I wish to persecute you; but I would be as hard as iron when I behold you insulting sound doctrine with so great audacity.

Does calling for the Pope's execution constitute a fervent wish not to persecute him? No? So what's your point then?

Today the Baptists demand the same submission to the Bible as Muslims do to the Koran.

And? Not even the Pope insists that the Bible is the literal, direct and unalterable word of God. There are some clues in the titles of the main books: "The Gospel According to St. Luke". As such Christianity is open to critical interpretation in a manner that is often treated as the worst heresy by Islam if applied to the Koran.

The Book of Common Prayer threatens any "publick Reader in either of Our Universities . . . or any other person in either of them", who dares to question the 39 articles.

"Either of Our Universities"? What about Hull?

Darwin delayed publication of the ideas in Origin of Species for 20 years because he feared denunciation by clerics.

And? Your point is? Specifically as relevant to the attitude of Christianity to scientific enquiry NOW, as opposed to 200 or more years ago.

With the second letter, what one gains on the swings of brevity is blithely cast away on the roundabouts of more concentrated stupidity:

Sir, If Islam had a co-ordinated hierarchy (such as the papacy) leading the religion, perhaps we would have less violence. Maybe this is the time for Islam to consider the reintroduction of the caliphate, or its modern-day equivalent ( letters, Sept 15), so that Islam can provide a united front to the world.

London SW3

In some sense he is correct: there is a school of thought that suggests, because there is no hierarchy in the clergy, one can gain status by attempting to "out-Islamisise" the next man: "I'm purer than him!", "He's a heretic!" etc. Whether or not one agrees with that position, the Caliphate would very definitely not be the solution for three very fundamental reasons.
Firstly, the Caliphate does not create the hierarchy of the clergy, only a unified governmental structure. Under sharia. Hmmm...
Secondly, the comment that created all this furore was the suggestion that the religiously motivated violence is sanctioned by Islam. If that is true, it needs to be addressed. At any rate, we DO know that Mohammed was a leader in war, in a way that Jesus simply was not as another letter writer to the Times lays out here:
The swords of the Prophet, as well as those of the caliphs, signify that they were real people living in a real, very hostile world. The swords were used to defend the fledgeling Muslim community from a tidal wave of aggression unleashed upon it by a pagan society. It is easy to level allegations of aggression on someone fighting for his rights against great odds.
That may be so, but it brings one unavoidably to the third and most important reason why the Caliphate is not the answer: Islam historically and Islamists today do not recognise the separation of church and state.
We cracked all this 200 years ago. It's not hard stuff.


furriskey said...

There are some flaws in the arguments presented by these goons, PG.
1. Baptists have nothing to do with the Pope & vice versa.
2. It is only the sunni muslims who have no hierarchical clergy. The shia' are knee deep in Ayatollahs, and it doesn't seem to have made them better people.
3. The fledgling Muslim society was not attacked by anybody. It laid about itself with gay abandon and occupied half the known world on the end of a scimitar.

The Pedant-General in Ordinary said...


Wotcher. Are you a younger brother of Furriskey1? Or is my prep school education getting the better of me?

I see your points but have some "builds".

1. This is a rebuttal to one smallish part of the first letter. I'm not sure that your complaint, though true, is necessarily relevant.

Firstly this whole letter is merely says "look! the Christian faith as a whole is up to its neck in irrational behaviour and dogma". To which the answer is "ummm, given that all your examples are 200 years old, exactly what relevance do they have to the faith of today?"

In this context, I don't think the specific sect or confession really relevant here. The Pope was making comments about the Hellenic/rational basis of Christianity as a whole, rather than merely the particular RC flavour thereof.

2 and 3 deal with the second letter, which is entirely laughable because it assumes that the different sects of Islam, who have been visiting slaughter upon each other to a degree that we could never hope to match since the word go, could unite under a Caliph at all.

In this context, your 2 is relevant. Clerical hierarchy is very probably a red herring.

3 is again irrelevant I think. One doesn't need to show that Islam was the aggressor - one only needs to show that the particular manner in which Islam tends to set itself up as a state requires there to be justification within the religion for war in order to defend the state and the religion.

This is the issue that the Pope wished to highlight. I know that we are not completely clean on this (HM being Dei Gratia Fidele Defens and all that) but there are degrees of separation: In particular, HM has no power to PROPOSE law: our legislature is entirely separate from the church.

To illustrate this, take the corollary: can you imagine the Archbishop of Canterbury attempting to mobilise HM Armed Forces?

Or - more pertinently - as Stalin so famously and dismissively said of the Pope: "How many divisions has he got?"


furriskey said...

My alter ego is in suspended animation over on TDA pending the return of The Hidden Scott