The Pope has just made a speech in which he attacked the concept of jihad promoted by extremists by saying that God does not justify violence.
But that's not the point on which I wish to express my respectful disagreement with the Pontiff, if recent news accounts are correct.
Rather, it is, as reported on CNN and in the source below, the Pope's seeming identification of faith with reason. The Pope appears, by reports, to urge that the two are literally inseparable.
But on the other hand, everything I've learned tells me that the two forces of the human spirit co-exist only uneasily, and that they cannot always be deemed inseparable by the teachings of existence itself.
I used to believe that faith reinforces reason, and that reason reinforces faith, and that by their very nature, never the twain may be torn asunder. But I have come to believe that this is false. Reason can exist without faith, and faith without reason, although -- I hasten to add -- their separate existence is not, by any means, recommended. The point is that the two are not, as may possibly be urged, two sides of the same coin.
Rather, I now believe that reason is provided so that we may apprehend the universe, and faith is given for two purposes: To apprehend God's place in a moral universe, and to place limits on reason.
In this way, faith is, within its own realm, and its own realm only, superior to the edicts of reason. But faith is independent of reason, as reason is independent of faith. Where faith collides with reason, there is never a clear victory in any respect. There is only the personal application of faith in conscience that can prevail.
Reason tells us how and why the universe works. It tells us almost nothing about God. One can be an atheist, and yet be reasonable. This is what experience has taught me.
Faith, however, tells us almost nothing about the physical universe. But faith of some sort is essential for a moral civilization, because without faith, there is only the convenience of egoism, which is nothing more than rationality dressed up in clothes of our own design.
I wish to read the Pope's speech in close translation, because from all news accounts I have read, his take on faith and reason may not be correct at all.
A complete identification of faith in which faith is equated with reason invites the subjugation of reason, and leads inevitably, and ironically, to violence.
[Edited 2006-09-13 18:18:31]