What did the Pope say that was so wrong? It isn't obvious to me

With all the attacks on what the Pope said this week, I thought that I would look up exactly what he said (the material quoted by the Pope is in italics). If you were to read the entire speach, I think that it comes across as extremely academic (though despite his discussion of logic I am not sure how logical it actually is). Here is the relevant part of his talk:

In the seventh conversation edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the jihad (holy war). The emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 reads: There is no compulsion in religion. It is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat.

But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur’an, concerning holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the “Book” and the “infidels,” he turns to his interlocutor somewhat brusquely with the central question on the relationship between religion and violence in general, in these words:

Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.

The emperor goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul.

God is not pleased by blood, and not acting reasonably is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death....

The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature. The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: "For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality." Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazn went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God's will, we would even have to practice idolatry. . . .

UPDATE: Dennis Prager has some interesting comments on what the Pope said and the reaction to it.


Blogger saturdaynightspecial said...

In my opinion Arabs and or muslims are, because of things beyond their control, defensive over anything said about their culture or way of life. Foreign military are stationed on their land. I believe they will react to the smallest thing.

9/17/2006 5:30 AM  
Blogger Beau Peep said...

Similar headline as my post published a day earlier? No link as source? ;-)

Anyway, I agree that an academic debate is what is needed in the 21st Century about what is Islam all about and what it really preaches.

This will go a long way in pursuing the Muslims to go for an introspection and also will clear the prejudice (?) the world holds for the followers of Islam.

9/19/2006 3:32 AM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Sorry, Beau Peep. Thanks for visiting the website. The headlines are not particularly imaginative. It is not surprising that two people would come up with the same straightforward headline. None of the text is remotely similar.

9/19/2006 4:04 AM  
Blogger Beau Peep said...

Hey! I was just kidding mate. You must appreciate a little humour. I seriously didn't mean whatever I said and I was sure that it wouldn't get lost on you.

I was surprised to see a huge surge in traffic through various search engines and followed the referral link in Google. That's where I found the link to your post listed below mine.

Please don't think otherwise, I don't mind small and really insignificant things like links etc. If someone is reading your blog, it's all right, if no one, it is all right still. Blogs are your own diaries that you chose to make public. Whether people read it or not, it's insignificant. In any case, I ain't a professional or a corporate blogger.

Thanks for the reply anyway.

9/19/2006 9:28 AM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Thanks, Beau Peep.

9/19/2006 9:34 AM  
Blogger saturdaynightspecial said...

"Anyway, I agree that an academic debate is what is needed in the 21st Century about what is Islam all about and what it really preaches."

This is the problem: that we believe there is something to be done about Islam and the Middle East. No one is going to admit that meddling by outsiders is the problem. This is ethnocentric. What would you think if Islam decided to change everyone else ?

Iran is not a threat - the threat to peace comes from a meddling US government that attempts to control Iran. Iran wants nuclear weapons for self-defense because of the US. If the US would stop meddling Iran would not bother to waste it's resources on nuclear weapons. The same for N. Korea and China.

9/20/2006 5:24 AM  

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