Acton Institute Powerblog

Losing faith in reason

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A lack of reason may lead to violence and an inability to respond to crises, but that didn’t stop the West from abandoning it. In a new article for the Catholic World Report, Acton’s Samuel Gregg reflects on Pope Benedict XVI and his 2006 address near Regensburg, Germany. “Ten years later,” Gregg laments, the West is “still in denial.”

On September 12, 2006 Benedict made global news with his lecture–his words enraged, gained support, and were analyzed countless times. The speech was concerned with the “deep problems of faith and reason that characterize the West and Christianity today,” particularly in relation to Islam. Despite causing great controversy, this speech is considered to be one of the most important papal addresses on world affairs. Benedict argued that our understanding of the divine ultimately creates the foundation for how we view and “can judge particular human choices and actions to be unreasonable.” Gregg continues:

Most commentators on the Regensburg Address did not, however, observe that the Pope declined to proceed to engage in a detailed analysis of why and how such a conception of God may have affected Islamic theology and Islamic practice. Nor did he explore the mindset of those Muslims who invoke Allah to justify jihadist violence. Instead, Benedict immediately pivoted to discussing the place of reason in Christianity and Western culture more generally. In fact, in the speech’s very last paragraph, Benedict called upon his audience “to rediscover” the “great logos”: “this breadth of reason” which, he maintained, orthodox Christianity has always regarded as a prominent feature of God’s nature. The pope’s use of the word “rediscover” indicated that something had been lost and that much of the West and the Christian world had themselves fallen into the grip of other forms of un-reason. Irrationality can, after all, manifest itself in expressions other than mindless violence.

That irrationality is loose and ravaging much of the West—especially in those institutions which are supposed to be temples of reason, i.e., universities—is hard to deny. Take, for instance, those presently trying to turn Western educational institutions into one gigantic “safe space.” In this cocoon, those who maintain, for instance, that gender theory fails basic tests of logic, or that the welfare state has negative cultural effects, or that not all forms of inequality are in fact unjust (to name just some propositions which many today consider offensive), are regularly designated as “haters” or some word to which the suffix “phobe” is attached.

Continue reading “Regensburg Revisted: Ten Years Later, A West Still in Denial.”

Sarah Stanley

Comments

  • autdrew

    👍👍👍👍🤗he was so right but all our PC media heard was islam and hundred upon hundreds of years of warfare (the crusades were After hundreds of years of muslim attacks, razzias, and slave taking of Christians. We finally fought back & won ONE crusade and are bad guys forever, despite the US not even existing yet!): aWe lost almost all the lands that had been Christian to this scourge and they considered the crusades to be a huge victory until they realized almost all of the media would swallow their great victim stories after the establishment of the modern state of Israel.Ever since then and the discovery of oil, they jolted out of the 7th century and are bound and determined to drag the world to the 7th rather than join the 21st. But the funniest thing of All is that they’re trying by using infidel inventions since they refuse to believe that everything that there is to know is NOT in that satanic little evil instruction book and refuse to allow thriving centers of learning unless it’s about satan, I mean allah