Pope, in New Step to End Crisis, Converts to Islam

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Well, not quite, but getting closer, according to LA Times:

Pope, in New Step to End Crisis, Pays Respect to Islam

The pontiff uses a general audience in St. Peter's Square to again reassure Muslims after his words last week provoked their fury….

"I hope that my profound respect for the great religions and, in particular, for Muslims…has become clear," the pope said. It is Muslims, he said, "who worship the one God and with whom we promote peace, liberty, social justice and moral values for the benefit of all humanity."

Whole thing here.

Reason on the original rope-a-pope contro here.

NEXT: "It still smells of sulphur, but God is with us."

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  1. If I were pope, I’d make a speech about some innocuous subject, then, at the end, I’d raise a sword and shout, “Death to Islam!”. After pausing for a moment or two, I’d add, “Just kidding”.

  2. Pro Libertate,

    After Benedict dies, we were considering taking the Church in a more “Mel Brooksian” direction. Please submit your resume.

  3. What is it about Muslims, that gives them such thin skin? I can imagine one of them saying “You must respect our religion, you heathen warmongering imperialist Christian pig”…

    And there are STILL idiots who bring up the Crusades. Yeah, they were bad, but WHY were they fought? And how long ago was that, again?

  4. After Benedict dies, we were considering taking the Church in a more “Mel Brooksian” direction. Please submit your resume.

    Awesome! I always wanted to be the Pope. Glad to learn that having a girlfriend and not being Catholic are no bar to me ascending to my rightful place on the Throne of St. Peter. Kiss my ring, biotch.

    It’s good to be the Pope.

    Pope Onan? Pope Peter II? Pope Origen? Pope Puff? Pope Jim Morrison? Hmmmm.

  5. I still don’t understand why the Pope brought up that quote in the first place. It was tangential to his point, didn’t do a very good job illustrating what he was trying to say, and was so obviously insulting that the Pope himself included a disclaimer before it in his lecture.

    There are a few hundred million people who are afraid that the Christian West is waging a civilizational war agaisnt Islam. There are a few thousand people who want to exploit that concern to build up support for their own civilizational war against the West. We really, really don’t want to make it any easier for them. Would it be too much to ask for the Pope to steer away from statements that express hostility to Islam?

  6. I hope that my profound respect for the great religions and, in particular, for Muslims…has become clear

    What a fucking pussy. Shouldn’t he hold his particular respect for Christianity? He should be standing on the balcony, shaking his post-hole digger hat in his hands, daring them to bring it on.

  7. And there are STILL idiots who bring up the Crusades.

    And there are still idiots who bring up the siege of Vienna.

    I’m not saying you’re one of them, I’m just pointing out that there are plenty of idiots grinding axes over things that happened centuries ago. A few of them even post on this blog.

  8. To be clear, the people that I’m referring to comment here, they don’t post on the main page. I don’t think any of the Reason staff writers use the siege of Vienna to make points about Islam.

  9. “What is it about Muslims that gives them such thin skin? I can imagine one of them saying “You must respect our religion, you heathen warmongering imperialist Christian pig”…”

    It is called massive insecurity. They may not admit it, but they look around and see how Islam has failed in nearly every country in which it is the majority. The world revolves around places like New York, Tokyo, New Deli and London, not Mecca and Cairo. The Indians and the Pakistanis are the same people; it is just that one is majority Muslim and the other is not. India is a budding superpower and Pakistan is only significant because it has nukes and threatens India. It is a hell of a thing to have to face the fact that your religion and culture have completely failed to compete or adapt to the modern world. Most people’s response to that situation is to live in complete denial and try to cover up the obvious through bravado and barbarity. The West is able to ignore Islam’s insults because we are so strong. Muslims respond to the slightest perceived insult because they are so weak and know it.

  10. The Crusades changed everything.

  11. I’d say the Arabs started it by conquering the Middle East and North Africa. And Spain. Time for Christian vengeance.

    Just kidding! What would true Christian vengeance look like, anyway? Forceful turning of the other cheek?

  12. He insults Muslims and he apologizes because they got violent. Yet he seems to have no problem dissing Buddhists and he doesn’t apologize to them because they don’t get violent.

    Sounds like the m.o. of the NYT Editorial board. What a pussy!

  13. John’s “Failure of Islam” fails to explain why such outbursts never occur in places like Bangladesh, Chad, or Brunei. And it’s not as if countries with large animist populations see these kinds of riots, even though the Pope disses paganism with much greater frequency, and in much harsher terms, than he disses Islam.

    “You’re just jealous” is something you yell in a school yard. It is not a serious explaination for international politics.

  14. Swillfredo,

    “In particular” modifies “hope” in that sentence, not “Islam.”

    Russ2000,

    He didn’t apologize. But then again, he didn’t insult Muslims. As a matter of fact, his “apology” consisting of saying that he didn’t insult Muslims.

    Thugs on both sides are eager to pick a fight. Screw them.

  15. “And it’s not as if countries with large animist populations see these kinds of riots,”

    Joe,

    Animists are being murdered all over Africa by Muslims. To answer your point, people react to failure in different ways. First, I haven?t heard the Pope say anything about Animism. If he did, I am sure the Animists wouldn?t be happy about it. Frankly, I wouldn?t say that the Animists would never react violently. Certainly, Africa is a violent enough place that you can?t say Animists are all peace loving. With regard to Muslims, look at places where Muslims are violent and you will find that it is always places where they are failures. Muslims are at the bottom of the totem poll in places like the Philippines, Thailand, and Europe and the middle-east, where they run the place is a complete mess. In places like the U.S. and Indonesia, where Muslims are more successful, they are also a lot more peaceful. Sure some of that causality goes the other way; in that being a violent crazy fuck generally doesn’t get you very far in the world. But you can’t under estimate the effect of personal honor and self worth on people’s actions. Radical Islam offers a way for the disenchanted and the outcasts of the world to feel powerful and to be a part of something larger. It sells in places like Paris ghettos because it gives people who feel completely alienated by the society they live in a chance to feel superior to that society by being a part of a larger group and cause dedicated to the destruction of that society. It is the same reason there are lots of converts to Islam in western prisons. Ultimately it is failure and insecurity that makes the ideology so appealing. The base of the ideology is this fragile sense of superiority and bravado.

  16. Wasnt it Tim Cavanaugh’s last post on this subject that noted =

    This has been one of the great stupid news stories in recent memory.

    …. yet reason editors keep treating it like Serious News?

    Reason has also speculated broadly on Ratzi’s ‘goals’ for the church, (e.g. ‘rechristianize’ Europe*) despite no specific evidence for those claims*, and has attributed motives to him that don’t necessarily exist (e.g. Ron Bailey’s gleeful acccusation that he’d fired an ‘evolutionist’ for his beliefs). You call this kerfuffle ‘stupid’, but hang on every word.

    [*from what I’ve read, he does want to address the issue of declining participation through reducing emphasis on proscriptions, but that’s true all over the developed world, not just Europe; Africa and South America are the Catholic regions in ascendency]

    What exactly is the interest in this whole thing? H&R doesnt comment on every piece of news, but for some reason Papal issues are always taken note of. Pope-fetish?

    I think the issue has little/nothing to do with Ratzi, who basically stumbled into this, and more to do with the Muslim inability to engage in any conversation at all without screaming for blood at the slightest sense of slight. The guy was giving an acedemic presentation. @#($*@ Ayatollahs say things like “jews must be wiped off the earth for our culture to flourish”: http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=subjects&Area=antisemitism&ID=SP89705

  17. I guess I just don’t understand why he has to bend over backwards to apologize to people that openly say they want to wipe every jew off the map.

  18. Gilmore,

    You are exactly right. The Muslims scream bloody murder because that is all they can scream. As Reason’s Pope fetish, that is a good question that I would love to hear answered. I never could figure out why Bailey was so concered about the sacking of some third level bureaucrat at the Vatican.

  19. I’m not saying you’re one of them, I’m just pointing out that there are plenty of idiots grinding axes over things that happened centuries ago.

    Aaah man, tell me about it dude.

    All these people going on and on and on and on about Guantanamo Bay……Jesus….that is SO last week.

    I want the pope to get some cajones on this one. If the 21st Century crusades go down I want to know for damn sure that Big Poppa B to the DickT is NOT GOING TO TAKE ANY SHIT.

    The only cool part about being into religion is getting to arbitrarily hate random people – I wanna see some of that from the pope.

  20. I think John’s right. The riots occur in coutries where lots of people don’t have anything better to do. India and Bangledesh have booming economies that provide work for pretty much anyone who wants it; therefore, India and Bangledesh don’t have riots.

    I really don’t think this is something inherent in Islam as a philosophy so much as it’s a basic part of the human nervous system. Primates are pretty rigidly hierarchical, and survival depends on obtaining as high a status as possible. Being a pathetic loser hits the person with that status in a very sensitive and basic place. In the West, we have so many ways of gaining status, from work to professional organizations to hobby clubs, that almost no one has to be that much of an outcast. Didn’t get a promotion? No big deal, I’ll just start competing in Soduku tournaments, join the bridge club or the book group. In places like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan, things like this just aren’t there. There’s the government and the madrassa, and Westerners dismiss any status conferred by the latter. (yeah, I know we sometimes make a big deal about guys like Grand Ayatollah Sistani, but in general having memorized the Koran gets you nowhere in Europe or North America.)

    I don’t have the remotest idea what to do about this. I don’t think we should suddenly start acting like memorizing the Koran is a big deal just to improve the self-esteem of Cairo’s slum-dwellers. (For one thing, I have a feeling said slum dwellers would catch on to the deception pretty quickly.) I do think that it’s a waste of time analyzing the doctrines of Islam for the verse that causes riots. All the Korans on the planet could disappear tomorrow and certain now-Muslim countries would still be hellholes. This problem is basic to human nature and until we find a way to solve that problem, it’s going to continue.

  21. John reflects =

    …It is called massive insecurity. They may not admit it, but they look around and see how Islam has failed in nearly every country in which it is the majority
    Ultimately it is failure and insecurity that makes the ideology so appealing. The base of the ideology is this fragile sense of superiority and bravado.

    I think this is probably correct –

    The progressive development of a culture of suicidal ‘defense’ of their sense of self-respect seems to be a direct product of the history in the middle east in the 20th century= which is a tale of consistent occupation, ass whooping, manipulation, and so on. They have to look backwards 500 years to think of any example where they were flourishing. I think consequently, they define themselves partly by their ‘resistance’ to something, because they can’t just be happy being what they are.

    Eric Hoffer broke it down best in the True Believer. Man I refer to that book a lot these days.

    JG

  22. You may have noticed that the Pope is the head of a religion that claims monopoly power over almost the entire Western hemisphere. He’s a little bit important.

    There are tons of posts about Walmart on Reason, even though Walmart is not nearly as powerful.

  23. Please can we put an end to these ongoing lies about how islamic culture used to be flourishing/oh-so-civilized/ahead of the West?

    They were great preservationists of ancient Greek, Roman, and Jewish learning. The libraries of Seville were an incredible boon to Late Antiquity and early Renaissance Europe, for instance. But ALL the knowledge the Muslims contributed was stuff they had translated from Greek, Latin, and Hebrew.

    Islam contributed NOTHING except pretty tile-work. The Mohammedan world has always been a cheap copy of of superior cultures, at best.

  24. “You’re just jealous” is something you yell in a school yard. It is not a serious explaination for international politics.

    I couldn’t disagree more. The same fears and motivations that exist in the school yard often drive world leaders and all of us for that matter.

    How do you explain anti-Americanism? Sure, American has done some bad things but is it uniquely evil enough to warrant this kind of hate from everybody from Hugo Chavez to the president of Iran? Can you imagine the Venezualan president going before the United Nations and calling the head of China’s government “the devil”? Of course not.

    As Thomas Sowell once said, when given the choice between hating themselves for their faliures or hating others for the success people never choose to hate themselves.

  25. Does this mean ,like, I can raise my own little armies with sweet looking crests and their own armor and stuff?

    Deus Vult!

  26. And there are STILL idiots who bring up the Crusades. Yeah, they were bad, but WHY were they fought? And how long ago was that, again?

    According to Bush, the crusades are still going strong.

  27. “In particular” modifies “hope” in that sentence, not “Islam.”

    Upon further review I think that “In Particular” modifies Muslims, not Islam, and not hope. Unfortunately the ellipses are in the LA Times article too. My comment needs a three letter edit.

    Shouldn’t he hold his particular respect for Christians?

    The point is unchanged.

  28. “And there are STILL idiots who bring up the Crusades.

    And there are still idiots who bring up the siege of Vienna.”

    As a person of British descent, I am STILL waiting for the Italians to apologize for the Roman invasion.

  29. Karen,

    Bangladesh is one of the most poverty-wracked disaster countries on the face of the earth. It’s Haiti with typhoons. And it’s Muslim.

    In other words, it has everything that the “jealous Muslims” theory states is necessary for the rise of radical jihadism, and yet there is virtually none.

    dave k, “I guess I just don’t understand why he has to bend over backwards to apologize to people that openly say they want to wipe every jew off the map.” I was unaware that every Muslim on earth has openly said that he wants to wipe every Jew off the map. If you are going to make appeals to anti-racism, you might want to avoid indulging in racist stereotyping yourself.

  30. In places like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan, things like this just aren’t there. There’s the government and the madrassa, and Westerners dismiss any status conferred by the latter.

    Karen, before you go on describing how to gain status in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, do you even know what “madrassa” in Arabic mean?

  31. You may have noticed that the Pope is the head of a religion that claims monopoly power over almost the entire Western hemisphere. He’s a little bit important.

    I’ve noted this.

    My point is more the kind/quality of coverage Reason tends to give the pope, religion in general. I think it’s important to acknowledge the power and influence of these institutions and treat them relatively seriously (excepting hat jokes, etc), because they’re not going away.

    But in general H&R coverage of anything related to religion is fairly childish and unserious. It’s not always clear what the perspective is from the paper – the majority of the time it’s simply making fun. Its unclear in this case what the point is. Does this particular follow up apology matter for some reason I dont get?

    JG

    p.s. Catholicism = ‘claims monopoly over the western hemisphere’ isnt exactly accurate. Maybe= ‘once was the ruling power of the known world’ – but as Ratzi has pointed out, his current principal task is generally to keep Catholicism from slipping into total irrelevance

  32. The interesting fact amid all the talk of violence in Islam and muslims is that most of the killing in the last century is committed by the civilized west. Go figure. I guess it is only violence when a bunch of idiots who have nothing to do burn a couple of tires and the obligatory efigy that make it in the nightly news all over the west. Dropping bombs from F-15s, not so much…

  33. joe’s right. Bangledesh is a thoroughly godawful place. According to Nationmaster.com, it has the highest percentage of undernourished children under age 5 on Earth. Still, again according to Nationmaster, the country has posted a 5% annual growth rate in its economy over the last 5 years. That’s impressive, especially since the largest sector of the economy is agriculture and they have pretty much no natural resources and a third of the country is under water during the monsoons every year. Of course, as my econ professor in college used to say, 0 to 1 is 100% improvement. I think the key is that the economy is actually growing, which should alleviate the grimness for enough of the population so that the critical mass for riots never quite develops. Enough people have enough to do.

  34. joe, minor nitpick.

    It’s Haiti with typhoons.

    Haiti has typhoons too. But they call them hurricanes. And they’re all the more devastating compared to the rest of the region because of deforestation.

  35. anon, I thought a madrassa was an Islamic school.

  36. Religion is the root of all evil, whether its various adherents wear turbans on their heads or yarmulkes or crowns of thorns. A pox on all their houses. When was the last time you saw a gang of atheists torch an embassy or burn a witch or stone an adulteress?

  37. I thought Bangladesh was having a major boom. That doesn’t mean that poverty has been eliminated–just like it hasn’t been eliminated in also-booming China and India–but things are on the upswing. Still, joe’s point hits on a reason why Bangladesh isn’t a good example for this argument, either way. Things there have been so bad that no one there had the energy to revolt or to do much else other than survive.

    Radical Islam appears to be mostly limited to the Middle East, though, of course that’s an over-generalization (and which countries are actually geographically in the “Middle East” is debatable). If Iran returns to where I think is its more natural state–moderation–then the big problems will likely be limited to the Arab countries. They have their share of moderates, of course, but it’s a fair generalization to say that radical and violent thinking are probably held by a majority. Otherwise, why do the governments bother with the rhetoric, and why is there popular support for terrorism and anti-Western talk?

    The Iranians and the Kurds were the center of the Muslim renaissance, as I understand it. The Turks and the Arabs were more into the whole conquest by the sword thing and less involved in deep thoughts about mathematics, science, and philosophy. That’s not to trash the Arabs–let’s not forget that we Europeans weren’t doing much in that area at the time, either. Not to mention that some great intellects from the period were Arab.

    I respect people having different values and interests. I can even respect some of the moral repugnance that the more conservative Muslims feel about the West. However, moderation, tolerance, human freedom, science, technology, and knowledge are, all told, good things. Countries and people that realize and respect that are going to be successful and relatively peaceful. Countries and people that don’t will feel resentment and anger. We’ve brought some of the hate upon our own heads, but 95% of the problem isn’t here in the U.S. or in Europe–it’s in the people that think that unthinking anger and violence are appropriate responses to words and images. And, to be fair, the saddest thing is that the people at large are having their feelings inflamed by demagogues who care more about their own personal power than in the truth or in what’s best for their people.

  38. Islam contributed NOTHING except pretty tile-work. The Mohammedan world has always been a cheap copy of of superior cultures, at best.

    This is wholly untrue. Look into the history of mathematics, astronomy, medicine, optics, chemistry. In astronomy alone they are consdered extremely significant contributors to the early development of the field.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_Golden_Age

    JG

  39. Gilmore,

    Remember “Afrocentric History?” No no, all those breakthroughs the Greeks and Sumerians accomplished came from Africa. Then, for any given historical development, it was a just a matter of figuring out how it came from Africa.

    I predict that we’re about to see the anti-Muslim analogue to that movement play out over the rest of this thread.

  40. When was the last time you saw a gang of atheists torch an embassy or burn a witch or stone an adulteress?

    Commies dude. Commies. They’re just as bad.

    I just want to break ranks, hold my hand up and say I have absolutely nothing useful, creditable or helpful to add to this debate.

  41. PL,”They have their share of moderates, of course, but it’s a fair generalization to say that radical and violent thinking are probably held by a majority.”

    I wouldn’t say a fair generalization…although if you posit a plurality, then…

    from a study done last Novermber…
    http://pewglobal.org/commentary/images/1001-3.gif
    http://pewglobal.org/commentary/images/1001-5.gif

    Despite the continuing unpopularity of the U.S.-led fight against terrorism, there is growing evidence that support for terrorism is waning among Muslim publics. Support for violence against civilians in the defense of Islam has declined significantly in several countries, including a dramatic 34 point drop in Lebanon since 2002. There have also been smaller, but still important, decreases in Morocco and Pakistan. Meanwhile, in Turkey, support for terrorist acts has remained at a relatively low level. On the other hand, Jordan, where support has risen by 14 points, is an exception to the overall pattern.

    Muslim publics are somewhat more inclined to support suicide bombings when carried out against Americans and other Westerners in Iraq, although here, too, the proportions considering such actions justifiable have declined over the last year. Only in Morocco does a majority still find such bombings justifiable, although that percentage is down substantially from March 2004.

    In both Jordan and Lebanon, nearly half of Muslims support suicide bombings against Westerners in Iraq, but in Jordan support has declined from 70% a year ago. In Turkey and Pakistan, fewer than three-in-ten now say suicide attacks can be justified. In Morocco, Pakistan and Turkey, men are significantly more likely than women to find such actions justifiable.

    Another sign that support for terrorism may be fading is that opinions of Osama bin Laden have turned more negative over the last two years in Morocco, Lebanon, and Turkey. In Morocco, the decline has been particularly steep – in 2003 roughly half of Moroccans expressed confidence in bin Laden to do the right thing in world affairs; today, about one-in-four hold this view. Troublingly, however, majorities in Jordan and Pakistan still have some or a lot of confidence in bin Laden, and support for the Al Qaeda leader has actually grown in these two countries.

    Support for terrorism may be declining in part because Arab and Muslim publics see Islamic extremism as a threat to their own country. This is especially true in Morocco, Pakistan, and Turkey, as well as among Lebanese Christians. In contrast, relatively few Jordanians or Lebanese Muslims are concerned about domestic extremism.

  42. anon, I thought a madrassa was an Islamic school.

    No, it means school in general, more specifically grade school (elemntary through high school).

    In Pakistan and Afghanistan, it used sometime to describe religious schools becuase they teach Arabic as part of the curriculum and they use the Arabic name for school.

  43. MainstreamMan,

    No doubt that moderation of the views held in the Middle East will occur and may even already be happening. Obviously, some countries have a larger proportion of radicals than other countries, too. Also, the nature of the governments in that part of the world means that even a country like Iran, which most likely does not have a majority of radicals, acts, as a nation, like a supporter of radical ideals.

  44. Another sign that support for terrorism may be fading is that opinions of Osama bin Laden have turned more negative over the last two years in Morocco, Lebanon, and Turkey.

    Ehh. I saw an arab journalist once comment that polls dont always necessarily mean what we think they mean in the Arab world. Turkey in particular has contradictory responses in a lot of these areas.

    Diminishing support for OBL, he explained, was based partly on the fact that he hasnt actually done anything to the US to follow up on the boldness and scale of 9/11 – or rather, he’s just not as current and visible as say, Nasrallah, who is the current poster boy in the area. I mean, the dude’s been in a cave for last 4 years. People who support Jihadists admire people who scream ‘god is great’, blow themselves up in the main square – not elusive planners.

    I think there’s also some other funny, contradictory findings as well = like, most people believe Osama did the right thing attacking America; then in the same poll, most people will answer that they dont believe 9/11 was done by Arabs (its the Joos, obv).

    Here’s some stuff = http://pewglobal.org/reports/display.php?ReportID=253

    JG

  45. Radical Islam is probably most popular among European Muslims and the disaffected middle class in the Middle East. The 9-11 highjackers were not poor, but well educated and from fairly affluent backgrounds. But all of them were miserable failures in life despite being educated. I have no doubt a lot of people in the middle-east are disgusted and repulsed by the radicals say. There are two problems though. First, even if they are not radicals most Arabs hate the Jews and sympathize with what the radicals have to say about them. Second, even though they are not radicals themselves, there is a real sense of Arab unity against the outside. Arabs are loath to criticize other Arabs in front of non-Arabs. This causes a lot of people who are not radical in the Middle East to acquiesce to the radicals. They might not like or agree with the radicals but they are not going to come out and attack them if doing so means siding with a Westerner.

    As far Islam contribution’s to civilization, yes a lot of people who happen to be Muslims in the Middle Ages did a lot of great things. The question is whether the same thing or better would have happened had the Muslims not taken over. The Sasians and the Christian Hellenistic civilizations were doing quite well before the Arabs came out of the desert. I would argue that to the extent that Muslims have contributed to civilization, none of it really related to them being Muslim and all of it was due to Islam taking over already productive and creative civilizations and not screwing them up for a few centuries

  46. “I’m not saying you’re one of them, I’m just pointing out that there are plenty of idiots grinding axes over things that happened centuries ago. A few of them even post on this blog.”

    THE SOUTH WILL RISE AGAIN!

  47. I would argue that to the extent that Muslims have contributed to civilization, none of it really related to them being Muslim and all of it was due to Islam taking over already productive and creative civilizations and not screwing them up for a few centuries

    ??

    Ridiculous. I retract my earlier comment, Joe.

    John – “Took over”?

    They didnt “take over” greece – but were the first to put Hippocrates into actual practice, and introduced fundamental medical ideas to the West, when Europeans still were keen on leeches.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Canon_of_Medicine

    Or look into the history of math. “Al-jabr” etc. Al-Khwarizmi, Omar Khayyam

    The idea of “Originalism” is stupid and pointless anyway (i.e. ‘where did an idea START?’) – the issue is who was putting them into practice, advacing them rapidly, operating at a higher level of civilization.

    The fact is, for about 500 years, if you had to choose between midieval arabia and midieval Europe… it was simply no contest.

    And it was not a consequence of their geographic expansion or occupation of ‘much smarter lands’.

    The prinicple intellectual hubs were in places like persia/iran, because thats where they controlled commerce between Europe and the East, and consequently were exposed to the widest range of ideas/technologies, and were able to exploit and develop them.

    Islam did in fact contribute to their freedom to explore new ideas, while Christianity at the time was as we know incredibly repressive and resistant to science because clerics essentially controlled the culture, burned heretics on the regular, etc.

    I have no dog at all in this fight, and no reason to make a big deal out of this, but facts are facts, and revisionist history is just advancing ignorance to no one’s aid.

    JG

  48. Gilmore,

    No question the world revolved around the Eastern Mediterranean in the middle ages. It was a much more advanced and enlightened place than Western Europe. How much of that had to do with the fact that it was still Hellenized? What did Islam really bring to table? I would say not much other than a wonderfully poetic language. Persia and Egypt were pretty amazing places before the Muslims got there. If Mohammad had never been born, Persia would have still been a much better place than Western Europe in the Middle Ages.

  49. Certainly, Greek and Hellenistic culture played a large role in the development of Islamic science and philosophy, as did Hindu culture. Not to mention indigenous intellectual traditions, particularly in Persia. We owe the Muslim lights of that era a great deal for their mathematical and astronomical achievements, not to mention their help in preserving and restoring some of the great Greek texts (though the Byzantine Empire–as a fusion of Roman and Greek culture–played a greater role in that process).

    No society exists in a vacuum. The point remains that regardless of who did what, when, there was a time that an Islamic society helped to advance, and had a great respect for, knowledge and learning. Therefore, there is no reason to believe that Islam cannot coexist with a scientific and technological culture. That won’t happen without profound change, but it at least can happen. If Iran can de-radicalize, I would imagine that it has the best chance of leading such a renaissance.

  50. “This is wholly untrue. Look into the history of mathematics, astronomy, medicine, optics, chemistry. In astronomy alone they are consdered extremely significant contributors to the early development of the field.”

    Yeah, and Pabst won a blue ribbon for their beer in 1893. But what have they done lately?

  51. “This is wholly untrue. Look into the history of mathematics, astronomy, medicine, optics, chemistry. In astronomy alone they are consdered extremely significant contributors to the early development of the field.”

    Yeah, and Pabst won a blue ribbon for their beer in 1893. But what have they done lately?

  52. Wasnt it Tim Cavanaugh’s last post on this subject that noted= This has been one of the great stupid news stories in recent memory.

    As the rest of the paragraph you’re quoting noted, it’s a stupid story because everybody was pointing out that the pope was quoting Emperor Manuel, but nobody was providing any context or even indicating how the pope characterized the quoted material. My post was an effort, successful or not, to try and do that.

    Obviously this is an important story, and it also continues to generate a lot of commentary. My post got more than a hundred comments and this one’s already looking to top 50, so John can spew and salivate all he wants about our “pope fetish,” but he should start by explaining his own.

    Reason has also speculated broadly on Ratzi’s ‘goals’ for the church, (e.g. ‘rechristianize’ Europe*) despite no specific evidence for those claims*,

    The specific evidence can be found in almost all of Benedict XVI’s public comments-notably the speech we’re discussing here-his book Without Roots, his writings, and any informed commentary. That he has made the withering of Christianity in Europe a major concern of his papacy isn’t some thing I made up: He says it himself, and everybody who knows anything about this topic agrees.

  53. John:

    What did Islam really bring to table?

    The question isnt really meaningful to the point; which is that *Muslims* brought a shitload to the table, as is obviously demonstrated. Whats YOUR point? That “oh, it was just coincidental”, that Islamic civilization and culture was totally independent of the phenomenon? That seems sort of silly.

    By contrast, what did “Christianity ever bring to the table” other than obstacles to the pursuit of knowledge, initially, and especially at that point in history? The question presumes that somehow religion by itself is supposed to inherently grant some intellectual advantage, instead of what the truth is = that the islamic culture at the time was what allowed greater inquiry and achievement.

    But, accepting your question – what islam, by itself, brought to the table was greater openess to experimentation and theorizing about the nature of the natural world at a time when Christianity was imposing top-down authority on all matters of knowledge and culture. There are a few suras specifically declaring that human knowledge can never be complete, and the ‘struggle to understand’ must be repeated by each generation.

    JG

  54. Yeah, and Pabst won a blue ribbon for their beer in 1893. But what have they done lately?
    Comment by: mediageek

    Two points

    1) Heineken? Fuck That Shit!

    Pabst is still awesome, I have no idea what you’re talking about.

    2) The comment I replied to said, “Islam contributed (note past tense) NOTHING”

    I myself pointed out that the relative positions between Islam and Christian culture has flipped completely, where now the Islamic world presents obstacles to its own advancement the same way Christianity did in the middle ages. Thats how the cookie crumbles.

    JG

  55. JG,

    Dennis Hopper was just kidding around. PBR really is crappy beer.

  56. Nobody knows what the world would be like if Islam hadn’t spread. What we do know is that for centuries the world’s centers of learning in mathematics, medicine, optics, astronomy, and chemistry were in Muslim countries. If Islam was an impediment, it sure wasn’t an effective impediment.

    Religions are what you make of them. They encompass the best and worst of the human experience. Some civilizations have done great things while adhering to religions, others, well, not so much. There’s nothing wrong with pointing it out when people adhere to a destructive brand of a religion. The problem is when people insist that a positive brand of Islam is not possible. The people who insist that alienate the people whose help we need.

  57. Tim = mea culpa. What I thought I’d heard you state was that the story was “stupid” – then continue to gleefuly cover it. I was nonplussed* as to why you guys bother with these things if they’re essentially large-scale misunderstandings about “what someone said”. (e.g. niggling over excerpts while ignoring intent)

    And FYI, I made the comment re: pope-fetish, my name is John, but dont recall spewing & salivating. Maybe you confuse me for someone else.

    re: “no evidence” – sorry – my point there was certainly overstated, and then amended with my comment

    “”from what I’ve read, he does want to address the issue of declining participation through reducing emphasis on proscriptions, but that’s true all over the developed world, not just Europe””

    If Europe is his main focus, I was unaware; pardon my ignorance. Past popes seemed to be sending the ground troops out into the jungles mainly, rather than trying to bring cynical Europeans back into the fold. Reversing 100yr historical trend is pretty serious endeavor.

    JG

  58. [justifying tims point, making this thread even longer with off topic sniping]

    Dennis Hopper was just kidding around. PBR really is crappy beer.
    Comment by: Pro Libertate

    To each their own mon ami. During college I used to help make beer at Market Street Brewery in Nashville, and as bonus for my services was allowed to fill my pony keg with whatever draught i prefered – bocks, porter, stout, weiss, indias, browns, pilsners, quality-hop lagers, whatever.

    After a few years of drinking that shit i rediscovered cheap, tasty crisp beer. If you want to wash down a burger, go to a music festival, chill on the beach, etc. no craft brew should be involved = crappy canned freezing cold swill for me, sir. And in this C-class of beers, Pabst Blue Ribbon reigns supreme.

    [if money were no object, i’d go for spaten premium out of the bottle most of the time, but such is life]

    You doubt – I will not likely convince you. But go google “best cheap beer” and look at what the top 20 links point to.

    The internet proves all!

    JG

  59. Spaten is good. I’m also fond of Stella Artois lately, only because I can wear a wifebeater and shout, “Stelllllla!” when I want another one 🙂 Around this time of year, Hacker-Pschorr’s br?u hits the spot, too.

    I noticed in the north that beer taste was somewhat less selective than down here in Florida (that’s among young professional types–I’m NOT comparing the working classes of the regions). I was quite shocked by that, given all the German/Scandinavian types up that way. Of course, I’m half German myself, but I wasn’t raised in the German beer-drinking tradition.

    Just to be clear, I drank nasty stuff in college. Milwaukee’s Beast, Meister Brau, The Rock, low-grade Anheuser-Busch products. Oh, and Stroh’s, which once gave a $5.00 rebate for a case of their beer. Which cost about $7.50 back then. Ah, gut-wrenching times.

  60. I know, why don’t we just draw some cartoons of representing Muhammed, that’ll settle this whole “muslims with hurty-feelers” problem.

  61. I am still agog at this supercilious line from Joe:

    “Would it be too much to ask for the Pope to steer away from statements that express hostility to Islam?”

    Joe, would it be too much to ask people who write on the comment thread on a libertarian blog to support anyone who wishes to criticise another religion? Freedom of speech, you know, that sort of thing. Go read some JS Mill.

  62. I have an idea for my papacy. I’m going to sell naming rights and endorse various products (for a hefty fee) as the “Official ______ of the Roman Catholic Church”. The Coca-Cola? Sistine Chapel? Sure. Pabst Blue Ribbon, the Official Beer of the Roman Catholic Church? Why not. . .if they pay enough.

  63. For a wickedly funny site that drives Muslims absolutely bonkers, go here:

    http://www.prophetmohammed.co.uk/

    Peace be upon you.

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