Weigel on Faith, Reason and Jihadism

Reviewed the book here (and highly recommend it – for some it might even be Lenten reading).

Thanks to Gloria.TV, came across EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo interviewing author George Weigel on the book – excellent!

Quickly transcribed excerpt – somewhat paraphrased:

Thomas Aquinas learned a lot of his Aristotle from Muslim philosophers…A religious community [Islam] which for several hundred years ad been the ground for great speculative accomplishment not only in philosophy but in math and other sciences suffered a kind of intellectual shut-down that continues to affect Islam today. A great illustration of this is that in any 20 year period more books are translated into Spanish than have been translated into Arabic in the last 900 years.

Also, read this well-done piece by Vasko Kohlmayer who argues that American Christians – particularly Evangelicals – are the West’s “Last Hope” against the advances of Islamic fundamentalism. Quite interesting. I’ve said before that Islam has a supernatural mindset that secularists simply cannot fathom – that takes others with the same eye/ear toward supernature. FTA:

[...] a piece which appeared late last year in the Brussels newspaper De Standaard. Its author, Oscar Van den Boogaard, who is a Dutch citizen and a self-described ‘humanist,’ wrote that facing the Islamization of Europe is like ‘a process of mourning.’ Although it makes him feel sad, he is unwilling to do anything about it: ‘I am not a warrior, but who is? I have never learned to fight for my freedom. I was only good at enjoying it.’

Distinguished Belgian journalist Paul Belien, one of Europe’s most insightful commentators, put it this way:

In Europe a secularized post-Christian culture is facing a Muslim one. The secularized culture is hedonist and values only its present life, because it does not believe in an afterlife. This is why it will surrender when threatened with death because life is the only thing it has to lose. This is why it will accept submission without fighting for its freedom. Nobody fights for the flag of hedonism, not even the hedonists themselves.


About Elizabeth Scalia
  • http://bamapachyderm.com Beth

    It’s now on my wish list! :D

  • Terrye

    There may be truth to the remarks about Evangelicals. Perhaps people who view the Bible as the literal Word of God can better understand how Muslim view the Koran.

    I usually think that NPR is biased to the point of stupidity, but they recently did a report on Muslim women in Europe which was very interesting. In fact, it gave rise to the notion that Europe might be changing Islam, not just the other way around. Many of these women were championing equal rights for women. They say things like “neither submissives or whores”. In fact Sarkozy just put a Muslim woman in his cabinet.

    Does this mean there is no problem? No, but it sounds like there might be trouble in some of those Muslim homes where young people and women are not so sure they want to be completely seperate from the cultures around them.

  • Evon

    Secularists assume because they are anti-Christian, they are better qualified to understand and relate to Muslims. What may be needed is what Martin Marty called the “ecuminism of deep faith relating to deep faith.”

    That statement about not being able to fight because one has only learned how to enjoy freedom, not fight for, it is chilling. The insight about hedonism helps me understand why Pacifism is ofen the popular religion of Hollywood. They need to maintain the illusion that freedom can be taken for granted–except to ask for more freedom via the ACLU.

  • Bender B. Rodriguez

    Kohlmayer says “the energy and electoral impetus to battle the resurgent Islam comes largely from evangelical Christians. . . . Without the evangelicals, America’s will to fight would collapse. All those who care about this civilization should realize that if the evangelicals lose politically in the US, there will not be enough will left anywhere in the West to fight for it.”

    OK, perhaps the electoral and political impetus comes from evangelicals (who often share the same mindset as Muslims in blurring distinctions between faith and government), but this fight will not be won by political means because it is not a political fight. This fight is a fight that has been going on for 1,400 years, and it is a fight between one conception of God (Truth, Love, Reason) and another conception of God/Allah (will, power, authority – which really does not differ all that much in its essentials from many tenets of evangelicalism). And so, it is a fight that will be won, ultimately, on that ground of philosophy/theology, the ground of Reason, Truth, and Love.

    And the Number One defender of Reason, Truth, and Love ain’t the politicians, it ain’t the evangelicals, it is, that’s right, the Catholic Church, which has believers and parishes in nearly every region in the world. Just like the Church was and is the ultimate battler against Communism. Not overtly, of course, but she was and is.

    And, paradoxically, one of the weapons that has been brought to bear against the Catholic Church (unsuccessfully) will also contribute to the downfall of radical Islam — modernity. The consumeristic materialism of modernity is spreading throughout the Islamic world, providing physical comfort and pleasure to many who otherwise looked to Allah for everything. The idea of personal autonomy of modernity is likewise spreading, leading many to personally ask philosophical questions regarding life and the nature of God/Allah. And, frankly, many Muslims are downright tired of war and death and destruction, both with outsiders and amongst themselves.

    I’ve not read Weigel’s book, but is that essentially what he says too?

  • Evon

    The Kohlmayer is long and interesting. I don’t know why he omitted Catholics and saw evangelicals as the main religious hope in the War on Terror. Perhaps he personally knows mainly Catholics who seem secular-minded to him. At any rate, both evangelicals and Catholics understand the reality of evil–and if sending two mentally-challenged women to die carrying bombs they probably didn’t know they had and detonating those bombs by remote control isn’t evil, I don’t know what is. Are there any so-called moderate Muslims condemning this attack?

    My nephew told me that Europeans didn’t want either Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee to become President because they were “too religious.” Europeans just don’t get it.

  • TheAnchoress

    Evon, I’m not sure why he ignored Catholics, either. As the Weigel piece shows, we’re pretty aware of the situation, too. Whatever.

  • Diogenes

    You folks need to give this book a careful read: The End of Faith; Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason. The author, Sam Harris, has said in an interview that he realizes that many secularists simply do not believe that anyone actually takes the fables and fantasies of religion so seriously that those lies are as true to the believer as, say, a belief that water exists. This, Harris says, means some secularists cannot grasp the nature of the war with Islam.

    Yet as Harris makes abundantly clear in his lucid and informed book, he does understand faith — and its inevitable horrible implications. Over and over, he stresses that we must all grasp the fact that Muslims have the best possible incentives to commit suicide attacks, and that the war with Islam will coninue until faith itself is everywhere discredited. (Meanwhile, we must do what we can to drive Islam back, as did our cultural ancestors.)

    (Make no mistake: the West has been at war with Islam for a thousand years. The fact that the violence waxes and wanes deceives some into thinking of “beginnings” and “endings” of the war. Big mistake. Islam fights when it sees the opportunity, and the West, which has over the last half century displayed an unwillingness to see any conflict through to its conclusion, has invited the attack of its oldest and most vicious blood enemy. Bin Laden thinks we are a paper tiger because we obviously lack the will to win.)

    Christians and Jews can govern wisely, and lead us in the war against Islam effectively, if and only if they literally ignore large sections of the Bible. Yes, Islam surpasses all other faiths for lunacy and brutality. Yet Christianity and the Hebrew faith have multiple cruel injunctions that rational people simply overlook even as they profess religious belief and affiliation.

    This is a problem that may soon lead us to disputes within our ranks. Suppose we turn the war over to true believers, that is, latter-day crusaders. If the politically correct, multiculturalist, post-modernists on the left oppose the struggle because it is led by hardshell Southern Baptists fighting for the victory of Christ over Mohammed, we face collapse. The current “culture war” could even become a true civil war.

    Rational secularists can and do perfectly understand the nature of the threat to Western Civilization. They are best qualified to lead the defense of our evolved ethical insights and future. Because they oppose all faiths on principle, and refuse to prosecute thought crimes, they are least likely to impose authoritarian governance. True Liberty matters most to the rational secularist.

    Read Harris for the full story. Do.

  • TheAnchoress

    Diogenes – commented on a Harris essay here.

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