In September 2006, Pope Benedict XVI gave a speech at the University of Regensburg, which earned him much criticism for dissing Islam. But what the speech was about was the importance of a proper use of reason to Christianity and the West, something missing in Islam.
Samuel Gregg writes about the address and the issue in a provocative post for the Catholic World Report. He and the former pope observe that the Logos, from which the word “logic” comes, is essential to Christianity as the ordering principle of the universe, as well as the Son of God (John 1). Without this order principle, we get irrational violence AND the irrationalities of the postmodern universities, with their “safe spaces,” political correctness, and rejection of truth. We are also getting the kind of irrationalism that reduces reason to empiricism alone, without considering larger truths, meaning that reason is no longer of much help in addressing moral issues.
Benedict recognizes the problems of scholasticism that subjected Scriptural revelation to Aristotelian philosophy, an imbalance that Luther and the other Reformers castigated in their critiques of reason alone. What is needed is a proper use of reason. The address also gives ammunition for classical education, as Benedict argues for the necessity of preserving the “hellenic” heritage of the West. [Read more…]