Thought Archive

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Familiar Clash

We are now officially combatants. For when the last voices praising new world order and spread of shared values across the globe grow quiet, we will see this with much clarity. Conflicts existed across the world through all of its history, and some, such as an age-old conflict between Islam and Christianity were truly global as two faith battled for domination for over a millennium. Since that time Christianity had been phased out, but in now way extirpated in the West, by secular values of democracy and liberalism. Christianity is still at the core of secular of societies in the west and contributes to their social cohesion, however hard modern day secularist try to change it completely. This has not happened in Islam, where Faith is and God’s law are supreme and are as dominant as ever.

Today the fight is far from equal where one side yields most of the Worlds’ wealth, power and scientific excellence; whereas the other rages on in despair, misery and sadness. Yet at the time of Islam’s weakness the people of the West are feeling more under threat and question possibility of co-existence of these two societies. Infamous “Clash of Civilizations” all over again.

Pope’s remarks, quite unnecessary or even foolish in current climate, caused an offence, precisely because they tapped into an age-old feeling of victimhood amongst Muslims, which is understandable from a point of view of defeated but not yet a vanquished foe. I do not want to go in detailed analysis of the speech, but I was especially drawn to the following comment. His quoted source emphasized a difference, i.e rationality of belief in God in Christianity as opposed to Islam. Leaving aside wrongness of “forced conversion” statement which is not central to both faiths, or indeed to any faith, he should have compared modern Christianity to Islam rather than to Medieval one.

For true Faith was and is balancing act of Reason and Revelation. True faith proclaims that science is inferior to intuition. But religion needs science to explain and legitimize it. And herein lies the difference – at the times of emperor Manuel – two sides were warring brothers of similar convictions. Today’s Christianity is a changed institution modified by rational thought, where balance of doctrine is squarely towards the reason and where cultural traditions fade away under colossus of modernity.

The battle rages on today not between Christianity and Islam – oh no! It is a battle between Reason and Emotion, Progress and Tradition, Science and superstition.

However two sides should not despair, nor be up in arms. For humanity to survive needs both; conflicts and wars are at the core of what is to be human.

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