Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Is Islamophilia binding Catholic doctrine?


Catholic writer Robert Spencer’s vigorous criticisms of Islam have recently earned him the ire of a cleric who has accused him of heterodoxy.  Nothing surprising about that, or at least it wouldn’t be surprising if a Muslim cleric were accusing Spencer of contradicting Muslim doctrine.  Turns out, though, that it is a Catholic priest accusing Spencer of contradicting Catholic doctrine. 

Cue the Twilight Zone music.  Book that ticket to Bizarro world while you’re at it.

The priest in question is Msgr. Stuart Swetland, a theologian and president of Donnelly College.  The occasion was a radio exchange about Islam between Spencer and Swetland and a print follow-up, the details of which are recounted at Spencer’s website.  Swetland, it is important to note, is not a theological liberal and is known for his loyalty to the magisterium of the Church.  In the interests of full disclosure I might also add that I have met Msgr. Swetland and found him to be a decent and pleasant fellow. 

All the same, his remarks are in my opinion deeply confused, unjust to Spencer, and even damaging to the Church.  And that is putting it charitably. 

In a statement that reads a little like a disciplinary notice from the CDF (and which is reproduced by Spencer at the link above), Swetland cites a number of positive remarks about Islam to be found in Vatican II’s Nostra Aetate and in the statements of several recent popes.  These include remarks by Pope Francis to the effect that “authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.”  Arguing that faithful Catholics ought to agree with such remarks, Swetland writes:

[W]e owe to their teaching a “religious submission of mind and will”

Robert Spencer’s positions seem to be at odds with the magisterial teachings on what authentic Islam is and what Catholic are called to do about it (accept immigrants, avoid hateful generalizations, show esteem and respect, etc.) At least in the area of morals, Robert seems to be a dissenter from the papal magisterium

It is very important for all believers that the authentic teaching of the Church be clear so that we may know the truth and attempt to live it to the full.  I submit that there is a serious difference between the repeated magisterial teachings of the Church and the teaching of Robert Spencer in this area. (emphasis added)

End quote.  Now, Msgr. Swetland is certainly correct to urge a fair-minded and dispassionate evaluation of Islam.  I myself have argued (here and here), contra some hotheaded critics of Islam, that it is simply not plausible to deny that Muslims and Christians refer to the same deity when they use the word “God,” or to allege that Muslims worship some pagan tribal deity.  At the same time, it is naïve and dishonest to insist a priori that a fair-minded and dispassionate evaluation of Islam simply must result in the conclusion that on any “authentic” interpretation, Islam is peaceful and compatible with the modern Western political order.  Indeed, I have also argued (here and here) that there are serious reasons to doubt such a conclusion.

Msgr. Swetland is certainly also correct to emphasize, as he does in his statement, that the assent Catholics owe the teachings of the popes and the Church extends beyond merely those that are proposed infallibly.  He is right to reject the erroneous minimalist view that holds that as long as a teaching is not proposed infallibly, Catholics are free to dissent from it.  However, there is also an opposite extreme error of a maximalist sort, according to which Catholics are bound to assent to virtually anything a pope says that is even remotely connected with matters of faith and morals.  That is simply not the case.  As I noted in a recent post on papal fallibility and infallibility, there are five basic categories of magisterial statement, and it is only the first three which require assent from Catholics.  Hence it is no good merely to pull a remark out from some papal speech or even from a magisterial document of higher authority, and then declare peremptorily that all Catholics are obliged to assent to it.  One must carefully determine to which of the five categories of magisterial statement the remark belongs.  This is especially true where the remark seems to put forward some novel view, where there are contingent historical circumstances or empirical claims involved, and so forth. 

It is bad enough when political pundits and other theological amateurs engage in the intellectually sloppy procedure in question.  But a professional theologian like Msgr. Swetland should know better.  And in my judgment, his comments on Spencer exhibit exactly this failing.  Other critics of Swetland have pointed out various specific problems with his argument.  For example, William Kilpatrick has pointed out that Pope Benedict XVI himself acknowledged that Nostra Aetate’s remarks on non-Catholic religions are problematic.  Fr. John Zuhlsdorf notes that Nostra Aetate was in any case intended to have merely pastoral rather than doctrinal import. 

But the deeper problem is that Swetland’s suggestion that there is or could be such a thing as “magisterial teaching on what authentic Islam is” is, not to put too fine a point on it, as preposterous as the suggestion that there is or could be magisterial teaching on what authentic jazz is, or magisterial teaching on what the authentic interpretation of Heidegger is.  It simply badly gets wrong the range of the competence the Church’s magisterium claims for itself (as Swetland critic John Zmirak has pointed out). 

This should be obvious from Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium, which Swetland himself cites in his own defense but a crucial detail of which he ignores.  The document says that Catholics are obliged to assent, specifically, to teaching concerning “matters of faith and morals” (emphasis added).  The Code of Canon Law, which Swetland also quotes, makes exactly the same qualification. 

Now, “matters of faith” concern the body of Catholic theological doctrine inherited from scripture and tradition and interpreted by councils and popes.  This includes teachings concerning the Trinity, the nature of Christ, original sin, nature and grace, justification, the sacraments, and so forth.  It also includes historical claims very closely connected with these theological teachings, such as claims about the Resurrection of Christ, Peter’s status as the first pope, and so on.  Matters of “morals” concern the body of Catholic ethical teaching inherited from scripture and tradition and interpreted by councils and popes.  It also includes matters of natural law, of which the Church claims to be an authoritative interpreter.

Questions about the nature of Islam and the content of its doctrines simply do not fall into either one of these categories.  Islam is not only a religion distinct from Catholicism, but arose six centuries after what Catholicism regards as the close of public revelation at the time of the apostles.  In no way, then, from the point of view of Catholicism, can Islam represent a genuine revelation from God.  Hence determining what counts as “authentic Islam” is in no way a part of the Church’s task of handing on or interpreting the deposit of faith.  How Islam arose, what it teaches, its political and cultural implications, etc. are empirical questions on a par with questions such as what the causes of World War II were, whether Lao Tzu really existed, what the chemical composition of salt is, what the basic tenets of Georgist economic theory are, and so forth.  Since they lie outside the domain of Catholic faith and morals, the Church has no special expertise on such matters and thus cannot pronounce authoritatively on them. 

What a pope or ecclesiastical document has to say about Islam thus seems obviously to fall into what, in the post linked to above, I labeled category 5 statements, i.e. statements of a prudential sort on matters about which there may be a legitimate diversity of opinion among Catholics.  A Catholic ought seriously and respectfully to consider statements of this category which concern Islam, but is under no obligation to assent to them.  Hence, questions such as whether Islam is inherently more prone to generate terrorism than other religions are, whether Islam is compatible with liberal democracy, how many Muslim immigrants ought to be allowed into a country and under what circumstances, etc. are in the nature of the case questions about which good Catholics can legitimately disagree.  Even the question of whether Christians and Muslims refer to the same thing when they use the word “God” -- and I certainly believe that they do -- cannot be a matter of orthodoxy.  There is nothing contrary to binding Catholic doctrine in claiming that Muslims worship some pagan tribal deity, even if (I would argue) this claim is false, ungrounded, and too often driven by emotion rather than clear thinking.

(A critic might say: “But hasn’t the Church pronounced on all sorts of non-Catholic doctrines, such as socialism and communism, various heresies, etc.?  So why can’t she pronounce on what counts as authentic Islam?”  But such an objection rests on confusion.  When (for example) Pope Leo XIII condemned what socialists say about private property, he wasn’t saying “Every Catholic is obligated to believe that one of the tenets of socialism is the rejection the institution of private property.”  Rather, he was saying “Every Catholic must accept the institution of private property.”  His point was not authoritatively to define what counts as authentic socialism but rather authoritatively to condemn certain errors which happen to have been widely associated with socialism and which are at odds with Catholic teaching.  If it somehow turned out that socialists don’t really reject private property after all, that wouldn’t affect Leo’s teaching, because the point of his teaching was to tell Catholics that they ought to uphold private property, not to give a lesson in political science about the history and tenets of socialism.)

So, while it is perfectly legitimate for Msgr. Swetland to disagree with Spencer’s analysis of Islam, it seems to me manifestly unjust, and indeed outrageous, for him to label Spencer a “dissenter” -- as if Spencer ought to be lumped in with the likes of Hans Küng and Catholics for Choice! 

But it is worse than that.  When a prominent orthodox Catholic theologian and churchman like Msgr. Swetland confidently (but falsely) asserts that taking a positive view of Islam and rejecting opinions like Spencer’s are nothing less than matters of binding Catholic doctrine, he threatens to give grave scandal.  For some Catholics who sincerely think that Spencer’s views are well-supported might mistakenly conclude that the Church requires the faithful to accept falsehoods, and may for that reason even consider leaving the Church.  And some non-Catholics otherwise attracted to Catholicism might refrain from entering the Church, on the mistaken supposition that doing so would require them to assent to something they sincerely believe to be false.  (Judging from the YouTube combox discussion the radio debate between Spencer and Swetland has generated, some people are drawing exactly these sorts of conclusions.)

I have no doubt that Msgr. Swetland is sincere and only means well.  But in my opinion he owes Spencer a retraction and apology.

164 comments:

DNW said...

I'll do everyone a favor and sit this one out.

Didn't realize that Spencer was a Catholic though, and therefore presumably voluntarily subject to the discipline or correction of some prelate.

Also glad to hear that the Catholic church in the U.S. is thriving to the extent that its cornucopia of pressing concerns spill over into ensuring that Koranic apologetics are properly respected by the ostensible followers of Jesus Christ.

See? I didn't even comment

abevec1 said...

I wish we could have a Pope that would just speak clearly and logically like this. These are basic distinctions and our highest prelates spit on them, instead debasing themselves before the Mammon of popularity and political correctness.

A2 said...

Someone with a Youtube account should definitely direct that young guy, who is thinking of leaving the Catholic Church because of the misrepresentation of infallibility in the video, here. I half agree with Pope Francis. I think people don't appreciate that he draws on personal experience for pastoral practice. Not a great theologian or philosopher, but a very warm hearted man seeking to go out to the lost. People don't try to read or contextualize Pope Francis according to the appropriate particular influences, intentions, charisms or cultral-linguistic influences.

Islam can be interpreted as violent. Just read the Koran or Haddith.
Then again, some Muslims can be great human beings that could put not so great Christians to shame. I also think that people with actual training in a breadth of Islamic theology know more than I do. Few of those people are Catholic or Christian (but some are).

BB said...

To clarify (writing from memory, which is often suspect), Robert Spenser is not a Roman Catholic, but a member of one of the Eastern denominations that is in full communion with Rome. I think that they keep their own liturgy, traditions and identity, but differ from the Eastern Orthodox by accepting the pope as the head of the world-wide church, and the various other doctrines that divide the two Churches.

Jeb Lund said...

Is Harambe a Muslim?

Son of Ya'Kov said...

The sword swings both ways me thinks. I have been butting heads with Catholics over at Crisis Mag who seem to think I must think of Islam as violent and only think of it negatively.

http://www.crisismagazine.com/2016/first-amendment-protect-warrior-religions#comment-2815382783

That is the opposite extreme.

Anonymous said...

What if the Pope (or the last 4 popes) were to say that the Missouri Mormon Church is more in continuity with Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon than the Utah Church?

Now that would be interesting, but why is it any more binding on Catholics than Pope Francis' (or any other Pope's) opinion on what the Koran teaches?

The Pope is an expert on Catholic theology; he is not an expert on Mormon or Islamic theology.

-Neil Parille

Allen Hazen said...

Bit of Latinist pedantry: it's NostrA Aetate, not Nostre.

Edward Feser said...

Whoops! Thanks, Allen, fixed it.

Jeremy Taylor said...

These include remarks by Pope Francis to the effect that “authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.”

I have respect for Islam, but the Pope's comment is simply false. Islam certainly isn't opposed to all forms of violence. Indeed, if you read the Koran the ethos of the holy warrior is one of the major themes that will strike you. Now, I would argue, a couple of ambiguous verses notwithstanding, that you'd also be struck the chivalrous qualities of this warrior ideal - much more like the Emir Abd el-Kader than someone who would mow down civilians in a lorry - but Islam is certainly not pacifist or opposed to all violence, far from it. I don't think the Pope has read the Koran.

Son of Ya'Kov said...

> “authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.”

Well technically that is true. If you are an invincibly ignorant Muslim who is moved by some extra-ordinary divine grace you would likely read and interpret the Koran in a benign manner. That is the authentic way to submit to God outside of becoming a Christian. The Pro-Israel Italian Muslim Sheikh Prof. Abdul Hadi Palazzi comes to mind as an example of a benign interpreter of the Koran(true fact he openly criticized Pope St John Paul II back in the day for being to soft on Muslim Terrorists. The irony!).

The Bible is God's word and can be misinterpreted for evil. Think of Cromwell and his genocide against Irish Rebels slaughtering even the women and the children. He cited the Israelites slaughter of the Canaanites and and other Hareem commands by God in the OT as justification.

The Koran is not God's written word we Catholics and other Christians believe, so what chance does it have to be perspicuous fi God's True word has none?
It means whatever a group of Muslims says it means. Thus an Islamic Liberal might point to the verses that teach religious tolerance and the Jihadist or ISIS nutter will point to the verses that say slay the infidel and claim the tolerance verses are abrogated.

There is no mortal teaching in Vatican II mandating we must always portray Islam positively but in a like manner there is no dogma that says we must always condemn it either (apart from the general condemnation we would extend to all doctrinal error. Wither the Jihadists or the Amish).

emanuel. said...

The existence if this debate just shows how bad things are. We should show backbone and be the most ardent defenders of the ruins of western civilisation and demand an end to mass immigration and start repatriation. Instead we get this crap from our traitorous and ~30% gay clergy.

Son of Ya'Kov said...

>The existence if this debate just shows how bad things are. We should show backbone and be the most ardent defenders of the ruins of western civilisation and demand an end to mass immigration and start repatriation.

I am for that but Pope bashers can go hang. I can agree with the Pope and still vote for the Don and hope the US armed forces & our allies slaughter every ISIS fighter.

It's not hard.

A2 said...

I was talking about ManOfDeath567's comments on Youtube and those like his in my previous post.

Invite the commentators from the video to read this article.

Dean Esmay said...

The problem with Robert Spencer's work is that they present a consistent frustration to those of us who hope to attempt constructive dialogue with Muslims we have no choice but to live among. NB: I have had dinner with Robert a couple times, we used to fight, I was more emotional than I needed to be, we agreed to stop fighting, it's all good now, BUT:

Look for an old debate that our fellow Catholic Dinesh D'Souza had with Robert. I pretty much agree with all D'Souza said. Spencer's work represents a relentlessly negative narrative that routinely declares ONLY the violent brutal and repressive interpretations of hadith or koran as the legit ones, then smiles and asks Muslims to demonstrate how he's wrong. This is very much like someone who takes a long list of grievances on historical & current Catholicism, and personally interprets them in the most negative way, then smiles, and tells the Catholic to prove he's wrong. It's maddening.

Muslim friends of mine have tried engaging him only to be told--indirectly, not in outright words--that they're just making things up or are deluded and brainwashed. Any Catholic who's debated a Protestant or Atheist on Catholic history knows exactly what this feels like and exactly how this game is played.

This puts even a Catholic like me on edge; Muhammed wasn't a prophet any more than Joseph Smith was. Yet if someone was regularly behaving this exact way toward Mormons, I'd have the same reaction.

And there's the other side; Muslims in the Islamic world regularly look at the works of Spencer, Ye'or, Geller, and others in their circle and say "See, the Christians hate us! They smear us! The Christian West is at war with us! We must defend ourselves!" And an unhealthy cycle begins/is repeated. I've even heard from people who've worked in counterterrorism who will TELL you that not only are Muslims sometimes our best allies in that struggle, but also, that those who constantly poke sticks at Muslims are making their job a lot harder and making trust harder to establish, AND ALSO sometimes giving inspiration to our enemies.

This is stuff I've seen for 10+ years now, and all that seems to happen is the generalizations about Muslims get worse and worse, as does the violence.

The irony is that, since I'm publicly often accused by the "antijihadists" of being a simp and a liberal and an apologist--when all I really do is attempt to avoid gross generalizations and the most hateful interpretations--I wind up with Muslim friends. Some of whom I've helped become closer to Christ and helped on their journey to become Christians. And I don't do that by saying they and their families and loved ones are in a barbaric cult that preaches nonstop rape and murder and oppression. Because of this, they know I don't hate them, and they become willing to talk about the problems they DO have, including their own REAL discontents with their faith, not the exaggerated distorted stories.

Make of it what you will but I think if Catholics aren't thinking about how to be FAIR and HONEST and HUMAN toward Muslims, while making FAIR criticism & complaint, we aren't doing our proper jobs as serious Christians.

One Christian lady I know and love recently said she hopes the Chinese completely wipe out Islam. When we say we hope one of the most repressive regimes on the planet represses another faith, what then are we asking for ourselves?

The "it's just a religion of peace, you're just paranoid and bigoted!" claim is poisonously untrue. So is the "it's a barbaric hate cult that offers nothing but murder rape and mayhem" which is also not true.

The devil presents interesting problems, doesn't he?

Dean Esmay said...

NB: I'd like to add that those who criticize Pope Francis for not taking a more bellicose or negative tone toward Islam seem to think the Pope's job is to embrace a defense of Western Civilization--rather than as a world leader who has to think about the fate of not just Catholics but the other Christians living in the Islamic world, including our Coptic brothers, Eastern Orthodox brothers, etc.

The wrong words from Il Papa Francisco or any other Pope has the potential to immediately see Christians who aren't even Catholic murdered in reprisal, and possibly even worse repression than many of them are already facing.

You may respond and say "see that proves all we say about Islam!" Well bully for you sitting in the comfort of your air conditioned office or living room half a globe away from those affected. But how many Coptic or Eastern Orthodox Christians will hear Pope Francis's name spit at them while they watch their children murdered by ISIS thugs who don't know or care they aren't in Communion with us?

It's all well and safe to be self-righteous in thunderous denunciation in comfort and safety, and to reduce EVERYTHING going on to a fight with Islam, rather than the complex economic and geopolitical and ethnic struggles that are also all a part of this.

Literally a Muslim friend of mine, when he was ten years old, had supposedly Christian adults scream he was in a death cult and to get out of their country. Who can find that anything but hideously embarrassing? That little boy gets to carry that experience his whole life--and whether those who did that to him were Christian or not, he will think of them as "The Christians" and think of that as "How Christians behave."

There's a point in which we should be able to say, as Aristotle would, that for every good idea, there are two equal and opposite bad ideas. Armchair antijihadism carries the delicious rush of self-righteous anger.

It may be so Islam isn't culturally compatible with "The West." I increasingly think it can't be, simply because enough Westerners have made it clear this is their own osition. Which they have a right to. But at some point we do have to ask "All right, we've made our point, now what?"

Anonymous said...

NB: I'd like to add that those who criticize Pope Francis for not taking a more bellicose or negative tone toward Islam seem to think the Pope's job is to embrace a defense of Western Civilization--rather than as a world leader who has to think about the fate of not just Catholics but the other Christians living in the Islamic world, including our Coptic brothers, Eastern Orthodox brothers, etc.

I can most certainly vouch for this, being a Christian who used to live in a Muslim country. Every time there is a something done in the west like the Danish cartoons, Charlie Hebdo etc it has had bad consequences for Christians living there. The words the Pope uses are closely monitored and have far reaching effects then people realize.

DNW said...

And there's the other side; Muslims in the Islamic world regularly look at the works of Spencer, Ye'or, Geller, and others in their circle and say "See, the Christians hate us! They smear us! The Christian West is at war with us! We must defend ourselves!" And an unhealthy cycle begins/is repeated. I've even heard from people who've worked in counterterrorism who will TELL you that not only are Muslims sometimes our best allies in that struggle, but also, that those who constantly poke sticks at Muslims are making their job a lot harder and making trust harder to establish, AND ALSO sometimes giving inspiration to our enemies.

This is stuff I've seen for 10+ years now, and all that seems to happen is the generalizations about Muslims get worse and worse, as does the violence."



Yes, I see your point. Christians criticize their ideology of jihad, and in return they kill Christians. Certainly a cycle of escalation.

DNW said...

"emanuel. said...

The existence if this debate just shows how bad things are. We should show backbone and be the most ardent defenders of the ruins of western civilisation and demand an end to mass immigration and start repatriation. Instead we get this crap from our traitorous and ~30% gay clergy.

August 24, 2016 at 12:24 AM"




It may help to explain why the Religion of Submission is treated so gently by those who have made a religion of submission.


DNW said...



So much for favors ...

"But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed."


Mohammad ...

Dean Esmay said...

"Yes, I see your point. Christians criticize their ideology of jihad, and in return they kill Christians. Certainly a cycle of escalation."

And the ones who are horrified by that and want to make it stop, and would work to stop it, you spit on.

I'm sure the self-righteous, delicious, contemptuous rage is very enjoyable to you.

DNW said...



Dean Esmay said...

"Yes, I see your point. Christians criticize their ideology of jihad, and in return they kill Christians. Certainly a cycle of escalation."

And the ones who are horrified by that and want to make it stop, and would work to stop it, you spit on.

I'm sure the self-righteous, delicious, contemptuous rage is very enjoyable to you.

August 24, 2016 at 7:48 AM"



You must mean "spit on" in some figurative sense. It seems probable that a similar sort of "reasoning" is what impels jihadists to take the knife to those who fail to demonstrate an acceptable level deference toward the Koran and its ostensible prophet.


And as for detecting "rage" in my remarks goes, if that is true, your powers of clairvoyance are apparently greater than my own ability to detect my mood.

DNW said...



Dean,

I have now glanced through a couple of your comments, and found one of your asides to show some real self-awareness of an apparent trait which it might behoove you to keep steadily before your eyes in future. You said,

"I have had dinner with Robert a couple times, we used to fight, I was more emotional than I needed to be ..."

You are probably being more emotional than you need to be here ... if being emotional is ever needed at all.

Take a step back, and think about it.

Regards,

Dean Esmay said...

You can see why I rarely bother even to comment on this subject. No meaningful or rational engagement of points, just character assassination and head games.

DNW said...



You can see why I rarely bother even to comment on this subject. No meaningful or rational engagement of points, just character assassination and head games.

August 24, 2016 at 8:24 AM"


Dean,

My last comment above was sincere. I do think that you reacted to my point about the dis-proportionality of the elements of the dynamic i.e., negative comments versus murder mass and otherwise, with a kind of emotionalism which you also, as per another of my observations, seem to recognize in yourself as a liability.

This - quoting you on yourself, after an outburst - hardly seems like an attempt (assuming you even were referring to me) to assassinate your character.

I'm sure that many visiting Ed's blog enjoy reading your contributions. This as evidenced by one in particular who responded on the sensitivity of certain Muslims, whose antennae are apparently always out, and what it was in fact like to live under the domination of these Muslims, and how even remarks made outside the area of direct Muslim domination, reverberated in and impacted upon their own lives as non-Muslims.

So see? You assisted in the making of a very good point; though perhaps not exactly the one you intended. But that is sometimes the way things go.

So, please stay. This is Ed's blog, not mine.

And as a reader, I find your comments very interesting, though I promise not to remark upon them any more.

Dean Esmay said...

Obvious troll is obvious.

Thursday said...

Dean:

It would be one thing for Francis and others like him in the Catholic church to speak diplomatically and to urge others to speak with caution as well. But they've gone way beyond that to speaking obvious falsehoods and, in some cases, to attempting to force others to assent to those falsehoods.

Methinks you're trying a motte and bailey move here.

DavidM said...

It becomes clear here that most people, even some relatively smart and well-informed ones, are not smart enough, or simply don't have an adequate understanding, to distinguish what falls within the magisterial competency of the pope and what does not. Therefore the pope should recognize himself as having a special obligation to keep silent, or to speak with great reserve, when he is on subjects outside his area of competence (and hopefully he himself understands clearly enough what that area is). He is like a physician or an engineer speaking about medical or technical matters. Rightly or wrongly, people will assume that he speaks authoritatively in the name of the Catholic Church. He thus has a strict professional obligation not to present himself as having expertise which he in fact lacks, because if he does do so he brings his office (and the whole Church) into disrepute, just as physicians and engineers bring their professions into disrepute through malpractice and misrepresentation of the true limits of their expertise.

Jeremy Taylor said...

I'm not really sure jibes about the religion of submission is supposed to accomplish, most of us not be atheists here. Submission to God is hardly a bad thing. Indeed, in a previous discussion Glen posted a link to a section of the Summa Theologica which included a passage where Aquinas extols submission to the will of God. I don't see why the Christian or classical theist would object to this kind of submission. I could understand a mature and considered argument against nominalism and voluntarism, but such juvenilia as these jibes hardly constitute such arguments.

Jeremy Taylor said...

- that should be 'what the jibes' and 'not being atheists'.

I don't think I need to mention it was our friend Christopher Hitchens who used to bang on inanely about submitting to cosmic dictators.

DavidM said...

"The religion of submission" (in reference to Islam) is hardly equivalent to "submission to God" (in reference to submission to God). Criticism of the first does not imply criticism of the second.

Jeremy Taylor said...

You will have to explain further, David. If, as is no doubt the case, what is being implied is that Islam encourages a particular kind of submission to a particular kind of God (nominalist, cruel, and unloving), then this should be stated openly, preferably, with ample support, evidence, and learning, don't you think? On the face of it the jibes do seem to mock the notion of submission to God.

Jeremy Taylor said...

Otherwise, why, in the abstract, should a religion of submission (to God, I presume), be a bad thing?

LS said...

I'm not really sure what jibes about the religion of submission is supposed to accomplish

How about laughter and taking pleasure in the word play? Ridicule of the ridiculous is cathartic, be it of the Religion of Peace or Dean's inability to take a punch. DNW won this combox with his "Yes, I see your point. Christians criticize their ideology of jihad, and in return they kill Christians. Certainly a cycle of escalation." Short, pithy, hilarious, and, best of all, true.

Jeremy Taylor said...

We must have very different standards of humour, but I suppose it takes all kinds. Ridicule is worthwhile when it is backed up by knowledge, when it shows insight. Any idiot can mock, as the New Atheists have reminded us.

LS said...

Ridicule is worthwhile when it is backed up by knowledge, when it shows insight.

I agree, which is why DNW's comments were so enjoyable.

Jeremy Taylor said...

I see we have different standards of insight too.

Anonymous said...

"As I noted in a recent post on papal fallibility and infallibility, there are five basic categories of magisterial statement, and it is only the first three which require assent from Catholics."

So, when several Pontiffs granted numerous indulgences to those visiting the magical, angel-levitated House of Loreto, I'm assuming that silly incident doesn't fit into one of the conveniently narrow categories of infallibility then?

Jeremy Taylor said...

David M, or maybe you meant that the religion of submission might refer to submission to something other than the will of God? If so then the former term is quite different to the latter, but it also not what is meant by the term Islam, and those using the jibe would be displaying their ignorance all the more obviously.

Anonymous said...

Thursday, I loved that article you posted. SJWs are just insane.

Junaid said...

Hello Dr Feser,
As a long time Muslim reader of this blog and your published works I believe you sum up your point very eloquently when you say:

"So, while it is perfectly legitimate for Msgr. Swetland to disagree with Spencer’s analysis of Islam, it seems to me manifestly unjust, and indeed outrageous, for him to label Spencer a “dissenter” -- as if Spencer ought to be lumped in with the likes of Hans Küng and Catholics for Choice! "

It's not my place to speak on Catholic authority but it seems to me that this perspective is mirrored among Muslim scholars when urging a fair criticism of Christianity.

Robert Spencer’s criticisms and analysis represent a poorly researched and uncharitable polemic against Islam (happy to be challenged on this) but he is entitled to his opinion no matter how erroneous it may be. It seems that you're saying that it is sound to disagree with him on this and even to denounce it as incorrect but the line must be drawn at silencing him completely using the authority of faith?

If so then I think on the Muslim side (I can only speak for myself) we would agree with you. We have Muslim authors who make despicable caricatures of our Christian brothers which scholars disapprove of in their works but they cannot go as far as labelling their analysis as impermissible. If I have grasped your point correctly then I believe your sentiment is shared within Islamic scholarship among its own academics.

Anonymous said...

DNW said...

Yes, I see your point. Christians criticize their ideology of jihad, and in return they kill Christians. Certainly a cycle of escalation.


Permit me to give a more characteristic reading.

Arbitrary, Rortian Liberal atheists who furnish no objective reason why they or anyone else shouldn't be blown up/dismembered or otherwise tortured if one should so feel like it launch vulgar ridicule against an ideology which holds its wrong to do just that. Proponents of said ideology respond to this attack with force.
Arbitrary, Rortian Liberal atheists do not like this, however a proper critique of it would involve giving up their position so, being of nature too timid for the Nietzschean orgy of blood and violence approach, so instead they opt to displace their discomfort by simultaneously making conciliatory noises to their aggressors and attacking a target they know will not fight back.

(Disappointingly but perhaps unsurprisingly they don't seem to learn from these experiences either since very soon they're back to the vulgar attack. Vive La France!)

Greg said...

I have also been puzzled by the thought that one criticizes Islam by pointing out that the word means "submission". I can see why that would be repugnant if one thought autonomy is the highest good, but if one doesn't...

If it's suggested the submission in Islam differs from submission in Christianity, then I would admit that is surely true if you press the matter far enough. But the point is still that it is that distinction that is salient, and not the fact that 'Islam' means "submission".

Anonymous said...

The Fourth Lateran Council (the 12th ecumenical council) gave its blessing to those who would exterminate the 'heretical' people of the Piedmont Valley; the Waldensians and others, for papal armies to destroy their villages, to burn whole families to death in caves, and torture them. I'm assuming that incident doesn't fit into one of the conveniently narrow categories of infallibility either? Having said that, it does go a long way to explaining why the RCC in general is unwilling to criticise Islamic radicals.

Anonymous said...

It's weird that with all these articles on Islam dguller hasn't appeared considering he himself was once Muslim. I wonder what his take on things would be.

DavidM said...

JT: "or maybe you meant that the religion of submission might refer to submission to something other than the will of God?"

Well obviously that's one logical possibility, and given the context I'd say that's the only logical possibility. You could blithely assert that the very term 'Islam' eo ipso excludes any reference but one, but surely that would be just silly.

DavidM said...

Put it this way: for a Christian, faith in prophet Muhammad/Islam *necessarily* involves submission to something other than the will of God. Concretely, 'submission to the will of God' is necessarily 'submission to some interpretation of the will of God.' To the extent that this interpretation of the will of God is false, the 'submission' will not really be 'to the will of God.'

DNW said...

" ... so, being of nature too timid for the Nietzschean orgy of blood and violence approach, so instead they opt to displace their discomfort by simultaneously making conciliatory noises to their aggressors and attacking a target they know will not fight back. "


I had a dream: "What do you think you are doing? Stop fighting back!" she screamed, " ... you will get the rest of us killed even if you aren't! We need to cooperate. "

I think there is a name for this syndrome. After some city in Scandinavia. Maybe one of the the places where they have all the car fires nowadays. Oh wait, that was a city in France.

Greg said...

@ DavidM

I'm fine with saying that submission to Islam's false understanding to the will of God is a bad sort of submission, speaking objectively.

But then the problem with Islam is not that 'Islam' means "submission", nor is the problem with Islam is not sufficiently articulated by pointing that out. The problem would just be that Islam is false, which is the case with every non-Catholic religion.

DNW said...


Regarding the contrast between the "Religion of Submission" and the Muslim's status as a slave of Allah, and ...


"He said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples***. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”…

We are Abraham’s descendants,” they answered. “We have never been slaves to anyone. How can You say we will be set free?"

Jesus replied, “Truly, truly, I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son belongs to it forever.…"


*** " Old English, from Latin discipulus ‘learner,’ from discere ‘learn’; reinforced by Old French deciple "

Should provide some helpful contrast ...

Simple Simon said...

Mr.Feser, sincere thanks for you splendid contribution that your writings have made to my philosophical education. You are my hero. However, I cannot agree with your view that Muslims and Christians worship the same God. Few indeed are the Muslims who would agree with you. For a devout Muslim the Christian belief is totally blasphemous (the Divinity of Christ, the Trinity). Again, the Muslim view of how God interacts with us, the nature of heaven, etc are all totally different. If I may say so, the Muslim understanding of God is a simply human one. No revealed content whatsoever. Pope Francis is constantly telling all and sundry, let alone Muslims, that we all worship the one God. Does his viewpoint not diminish or downplay the Incarnation? Little wonder that he is not into inviting Muslims or anyone else to convert.

DNW said...




What's the difference between a parable and a command; between the status of the givers and the recipients in the different cases?

Jeremy Taylor said...

David M,

I don't think that makes sense. Firstly, the jibes about submission do seem particularly aimed at the very notion of submission to God. Secondly, when Aquinas or any Christian extols submission to the will of God, then they too mean a particular interpretation of that will. If you wish criticise the Islamic interpretation for being a false interpretation then, as Greg notes, it isn't the idea of submission that is doing the work.

DNW,

Contrast to what? You have only provided insinuations based on the idea that Islam means submission. In Arabic, as in other semitic languages, most words are based on a three letter root. This connection brings up many associations. The term Islam also carries connotations of wholeness. This is without going into the attributes and understanding of God in Islam and the Koran. If the argument is that Islam is about blind and degrading submission to a cruel God, and Christianity is not, you will have to do a lot more than quote a passage that doesn't even seem to support your contention (the Jews seem to be talking about human slavery).

Greg,

I too was going to mention that there is here an implicit appeal to the liberal ideal of autonomy,. I think you will struggle to find such an ideal amongst traditional Christian divines. It is the kind of attitude that made Dr. Johnson exclaim that the first Whig was the devil. Anyway, I have noticed how hard it is to separate liberalism and Christianity in many attacks on Islam. It is somewhat amusing to see conservatives and even Christians as defenders of the bikini. I think traditional Christians (although DNW is not a Christian) really need to define their relationship to liberalism, before beginning to criticise the illiberalism of Islam (and Islam is illiberal to a degree, but I'm far from satisfied that Christianitu does not similarly reject important points of liberalism - this seems to have been the conclusion of the pre-modern divines, Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant).

Jeremy Taylor said...

By the way, Christianity doesn't just affirm submission to the will of God, but the importance of the fear of God.

George LeSauvage said...

@Simple Simon:

Pope Francis is constantly telling all and sundry, let alone Muslims, that we all worship the one God. Does his viewpoint not diminish or downplay the Incarnation?

That argument is problematic, for it also leads to the conclusion that Jews worship a different God than Christians. They too deny the incarnation and Trinity, which tehy also deem blasphemous.

More generally, the claim that someone whose "understanding of God is a simply human one" is therefore not worshiping the Christian God is something which, at a Thomist site, needs more than assertion. It needs defense. The classical theological belief has always been that God can be known by the natural reason. The fact that there is more to know, for which we need revelation, does not change that. And notice that this view long predates the current Pope, or even the modern age. You might recall that in Aquinas's day, Catholics were not exactly all kissy-poo with the Musselmen. They still thought they worshiped the same God.

kyle coffey said...

@George LeSauvage

But isn't there a relevant difference between not knowing enough about God i.e. not having full access to Divine Revelation (as in the case of the Jews and classical theists) and actually being wrong on the attributes of God (as in the case of the Moslems)?

It seems in the former case everything about God is not known (which is still true of Christians) but what is known is correct. While in the latter, some of what is "known" is actually incorrect.

There is a difference in kinds, not degree here. If you don't honor that distinction the only criteria for worshiping the "same God" is monotheism.

That is how I see it. I don't have a degree in philosophy or anything, but Fr. Ripperger (former FSSP thomist professor) goes along those lines by mentioning that the misconception about God's attributes means the Moslems worship a different God.

Anonymous said...

- Kyle, can you be more specific about the attributes you mean.

Edward Feser said...

I don't get all the heavy going here about "submission."

Surely the point is just that what Islam means by "peace" is not what either secular liberals or Christians mean by it, so that to assert that Islam is a "religion of peace" doesn't by itself settle anything even if there is a sense in which the assertion is true. For Islam, genuine peace, whether in the individual's own soul or in society at large, comes only via submission to God, where the precise nature of this submission is spelled out in the doctrine and practice of Islam.

Now, secular liberals obviously don't think of peace in anything like these terms. Hence it would be foolish for any secular liberal to think that very much is settled merely by calling attention to the fact that Muslims think of Islam as a "religion of peace."

Christians, meanwhile, naturally don't have any problem with the idea of submission to God. That's not the point. The point is rather that their conception of what submission to God amounts to is very different from what it amounts to in Islam. Hence it would also be very foolish for a Christian to think that very much is settled merely by calling attention to the fact that Muslims think of Islam as a "religion of peace."

Simple Simon,

Thanks for the kind words. I have already answered that particular objection in my posts on that subject. Getting the nature of X seriously wrong does not suffice to undermine the possibility of successfully referring to X. Otherwise we'd have to say that someone who falsely thinks the moon is made of green cheese isn't really referring to the moon when he says "moon"; that someone who falsely supposes that whales are fish isn't really referring to whales when he says "whale"; etc. Hence, the fact that Muslims are wrong about the Trinity and Incarnation does not by itself suffice to show that they are not referring to the true God when they use the word "God."

DNW said...

Jeremy Taylor said...DNW,

Contrast to what?


Son v slave.

You really are too tedious to talk to Taylor, as your pointless exposition exemplifies.

We acknowledge that Islam principally means submission, because Muslims, those who submit, say so. If you wish to tease out some other meanings in other Semitic languages feel free.

Now, they, most Muslims, may know only just about as much "classical" Arabic as you claim to; and if so, then they are no - according to many other Muslims - more assuredly informed as to the "real content" of Islam, and if there is such a thing, than you are. Nonetheless, many of these people proclaim themselves Muslims, and there is no reason that I should doubt that they are, though their ignorance be entirely profound as to what it is they have mechanically or emotionally assented to.

Nonetheless, it seems that some of those in ISIS, and writing for Dabiq issue 15, say, have precisely the views I have been criticizing, while simultaneously having that appearance of an expertise which you allude to as necessary, but make no claim as having yourself, for understanding Islam on its own terms.

Of course, we don't generally worry too much whether people who are determinedly making war on us and claiming to to do it in the name of their prophet, fully understand all the intricacies involved in sorting out and weighting the various verses of their sacred texts. No more so I would think, than I would bother to deny that so and so was a Marxist, or a Nazi, because he had failed to read Rosenberg or Althusser, and had only read the EPM or Mein Kampf in translation, before pledging his allegiance.


"You have only provided insinuations based on the idea that Islam means submission. In Arabic, as in other semitic languages, most words are based on a three letter root. This connection brings up many associations. "

" Š-L-M ...
Arabic Islām
Further information: Islam § Etymology and meaning The word إسلام Islām is a verbal noun derived from s-l-m, meaning "submission" ..."

"The term Islam also carries connotations of wholeness."

You should have followed the link further to the triconsonantal entry in Arabic Islam itself. Could have dispensed with a lot of the misdirecting blather.

"This is without going into the attributes and understanding of God in Islam and the Koran. If the argument is that Islam is about blind and degrading submission to a cruel God, and Christianity is not, you will have to do a lot more than quote a passage that doesn't even seem to support your contention (the Jews seem to be talking about human slavery). "

And Jesus was talking about the freedom that came with liberation from sin,

"Jesus replied, “Truly, truly, I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son belongs to it forever.…"

... and the son-ship of those who are free.

Hope this helps.

DNW said...

"I don't get all the heavy going here about "submission."

Surely the point is just that what Islam means by "peace" is not what either secular liberals or Christians mean by it, so that to assert that Islam is a "religion of peace" doesn't by itself settle anything even if there is a sense in which the assertion is true. For Islam, genuine peace, whether in the individual's own soul or in society at large, comes only via submission to God, where the precise nature of this submission is spelled out in the doctrine and practice of Islam. "


Neither do I. Apart from the fact that my use of the term seemed to amplify my known disrespect to a respecter of Islam.

Now, for those who figure, as Taylor apparently does, that the vast majority of Muslims will take "submission" in the best possible way, and slave of Allah, in the most noble sense possible, and jihad in the most metaphorical and spiritual sense possible, then I guess the tone they infer, will seem harsh. Especially if they conflate the fear of God into the best possible sense of being a slave of Allah, and assume that Mohammad though he had no real revelation, nonetheless produced a product that had some phenomenal value exceeding its base in reality.

I have myself come across a Muslim apologist who explained that to be a slave of Allah, was merely to be "enthralled", captivated, mesmerized one might even say by the grandeur and wonderfulness etc etc.

Obviously he must have gotten his definition of a thrall from a 1950s teen scene theatrical release rerun some late night; since as Taylor knows a thrall, in A.S, is a slave. And entheowed, does not have quite the same ring to it.

Anyway, didn't mean to toss another bomb into your blog, Ed.

DNW

Jeremy Taylor said...

Dean was correct about you. LS must have low standards, I'm quite sure there are surgical procedures that are more enjoyable than your comments.

It isn't even as if you actually make a meaningful or even coherent point, though I suppose we should be glad you seem not to have relied exclusively on youtube videos this time. In what sense does your post properly deal either with how God and submission are viewed in Islam, how they are viewed in Christianity, or give a proper explanation for the relevance of the Biblical passage you keep quoting? Indeed, you seem to have gone off into some sort of rant about ISIS, Nazis, and Althusser.

My point was clearly not that Islam doesn't principally mean submission. It was about the complex nature of that submission and how God and his will are understand amongst Muslims (and, obviously, there are differing understandings amongst Muslims, as there are amongst Christians).

I really don't see what use it is even discussing these things with you, unless you say anything of actual interest. So in that sense your post certainly helps.

Jeremy Taylor said...

I would advise you to try and define your terms and aim for a modicum of precision in your posts. One minute we are discussing the understanding of submission to God in the Koran, then you are jumping to your beliefs about how how most Muslims understand it, with no attempt to distinguish between submission to God and to religious authorities. Jihad is thrown in here (obviously most Muslims believe in violent jihad against unbelievers - which is why most of the billion Muslims in the world attempt no such thing!); references to ISIS are invoked there.

It must be a thrill to be able to shoot out so many references and allusions, without care for relevance or meaning. It seems that you have taken on board something from youtube comments as well as from the videos.

kyle coffey said...

@anonymous

One attribute that comes to mind is Justice. The Moslem notion (as shown throughout history) that what is owed to infidels is death, is foreign to the Christian concept of God.

Jeremy Taylor said...

Kyle,

The problem is that is not accurate, if we are talking about the Koran (in history, there is at least as great a record of Christian persecution of unbelievers as Muslim). There is an ambiguous passage in one Sura that does seem to sanction the killing of some infidels who had betrayed an alliance with the early Muslims. Apart from this there is little support for the killing infidels in the Koran. In fact, there is support for sparing and being just to those who do not try to persecute Muslims or who repent their previous ill will to Muslims. Certainly, the Koran threatens unbelievers, who are almost always associated with idolaters and wrong doers in such threats, with damnation and the wrath of Allah but the Bible, even the New Testament, threatens such things to unbelievers and those guilty of sin as well.

The Koran does give a slightly different picture of God to the New Testament. It is much more like the Old Testament, in which both the love, beauty, and wisdom of God are stressed and his wrath towards unbelievers, idolaters, and sinners.

kyle coffey said...

@Jeremy,

I'm not sure what historical evidence you are looking at to equate the violence towards unbelievers of Islam with those of Christianity.

I'm not an expert on the Koran, but what a certain religion "practices" should be factored in. Why is it that there are no Christians lobbing peoples' heads off?Polling indicates that there is a significant portion of the worldwide Muslim population that is radicalized in some form or another.

kyle coffey said...

@Ed Feser,

I, like simple Simon, greatly appreciate what the work that you do Dr. Feser, but just like Simple Simon, I don't understand your argument.

Your analogies using the moon and the whale both use physical objects in them. Obviously, if I refer to a physical object, even if I misunderstand that object, everyone knows what I am referring to. Because God (at least His divine nature) is not physical, doesn't the analogy fall apart?

Wouldn't a better analogy be about something not-physical?

For instance, if we were instead referring to angels and person A said angels were immortal, highly intelligent and good spiritual beings but person B thought of "angels" as short-lived, ignorant, and evil spiritual beings; in that case, wouldn't they really be referring to different things and just using the same word (angel) to describe them?

If you don't have the time to respond I understand, and I hope I am not out of place with my remarks.

Robert Byers said...

The Muslim issue is because of interference in the middle east on behalf of Jewish interests in Israel. its not oil. or anything else. Some Muslim groups then seek to impose their ideas on other Muslims but it always comes back to the absurd interference in these primitive areas. It can't be fixed. I think it can be said one reaps what one sows.
Yes no muslim immigration should be allowed as long as one or more might design to kill us. They don't, along with others, deserve to inherit and possess America.
Its the fault of the establishment. iots not the Muslim peoples in their millions or the Koran.

Anonymous said...

"One attribute that comes to mind is Justice. The Moslem notion (as shown throughout history) that what is owed to infidels is death, is foreign to the Christian concept of God."

How do people post this fantasy tripe with a straight face? Educate yourself.

Submission to the will of God in Islam means nothing more than conforming to "The Good". A slave in Arabic is someone who serves the master - in the case of Islam - the master being the one and only Absolute, i.e., God. It's not the kind that is invoked in the imagination when one thinks of the African American slavery that existed in pre-colonial and post-colonial times in North America. Islam is not a pacifist religion, but the majority of Muslims believe only in jihad in self-defense or fighting an oppressor who oppresses another people. War is not seen as some badge of honor but only a necessity for survival. Martyrs are rewarded not because they kill the so-called pejoratively labelled "infidels", but because they believed in something higher than themselves and sacrificed the highest thing they could in defense of others. The Qur'an is to be understood holistically and in context. De-contextualizing verses without reference to the surrounding context and verses framing within its overall weltanschauung is disingenuous. 1.6 billion Muslims aren't remotely defined by some tiny mercenary group that labels itself with an acronym that names a pagan Egyptian goddess, that is funded by a number of different countries in collusion together to stir up trouble in certain areas and kill more Muslims than any other people, because certain people in corporations who run them want to install puppet governments to seize and control billions of dollars worth of natural resources in these areas to enrich their own pockets.

Jeremy Taylor said...

Kyle,

Well, the relationship of historical behaviour to religious (or any other) beliefs is complex, and therefore I think it best to stick to examining these beliefs themselves.

Anyway, I don't think it is fair to compare the modern West and modern Islamic civilisation. Although I think that a good argument can be made for a good deal of religious tolerance based in traditional Christian principles, as it can using traditional Islamic principles, it was not until the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that the idea of tolerance began to spread in the West. It was not drawn from traditional Christian teachings but from liberalism (certainly, there is a good argument that liberalism is a modification of Christian teaching, but it does modify it). Western tolerance and secularism, including that of Christians, are, in general, based in liberalism and the so called enlightenment. So, if modern West is more tolerant than the modern Islamic world, it is not traditional Christianity that can take the credit. Pre-modern Christendom was not noticeably more tolerant the Islamic world now or in the past, in fact I would say it was less so.

So far as lopping heads off is concerned, you seem to be talking about Wahhabis. Now Wahhabism is a modern development in Islam that ensues the traditional pluralism of the different schools of Islamic law and theology and philosophy. This makes tarring all Muslims with the faults of Wahhabism, or even the most radical offshoots of Wahhabism problematic. At least, a good argument must be made to support such an association. Also, the modern world has changed the Islamic world, as it has changed the whole world. There are all sorts of complex factors that contribute to intolerance in the current Muslim world. For example, although traditional Islam has harboured a degree of anti-Semitism, Islamic civilisation has been traditionally far more welcoming to Jews than pre-modern Christendom was. The current surge in Islamic anti-Semitism is connected to the foundation of Israel and such matters, and though it does draw on anti-Semitic undercurrents in traditional Islam, it owes at least as much to Western pre-modern and modern anti-Semitic stereotypes and attacks.

In the Islamic world, you would certainly be at risk of mob attack if you blasphemed Muhammad or the Koran. This is baleful. But you would have been similarly at risk in medieval Europe if you blasphemed Jesus or the Bible. Indeed, in traditional Hindu or Buddhist civilisation you would have faced at least a degree (there is an interesting divide here between the Dharmic faiths and the Semitic monotheisms, though there is similarity too) of this sort of risk for similar blasphemies. This is how traditionally religious societies are. It is not a good thing, although it does represent the importance of religion in the daily lives of those within the societies. The modern West is more tolerant, but a good degree of this is due to indifference and agnosticism.

Jeremy Taylor said...

- that should have been eschews the traditional pluralism.

George LeSauvage said...

@Kyle:

Any analogy will be to something created, whether physical or not. For instance, a better case - based on your example - would be disputing over whether angels are necessarily good (Catholics say no), or for that matter, whether they have bodies, a view which has been defended.

I can't speak for others, but as I see it, monotheism is precisely the test. I mean genuine monotheism, which believes not merely that there is one God, but that there can be only one. It doesn't qualify if one believes in Zeus or Odin, but denies the rest of population of Olympus or Asgard. There's only one monotheist God to go around. And there is a reason that Dante put Avicenna and Averroes in the first circle - they did argue for the same God that Aquinas and Bonaventure did. Or at least, Dante thought so.

Take an example from St Thomas. The five ways is followed by many pages discussing God's attributes. Someone might well disagree with the Summa on some of them, though accepting the 5. (One might even agree with only some of the five, for that matter, or prefer Anselm's proof.) Surely there is no point in claiming they are not referring to the same God as Aquinas.

The trouble with Islam is that, to Christians, they believe in a revelation which isn't real. That situation is analogous to what protestants think of those books accepted by the catholics and orthodox. (Of course, there are protestants who will claim that we don't worship the same God as they do, but never mind that now.)

kyle coffey said...

@Jeremy,

"The Koran does give a slightly different picture of God to the New Testament. It is much more like the Old Testament, in which both the love, beauty, and wisdom of God are stressed and his wrath towards unbelievers, idolaters, and sinners. "

So what you are telling me is that the Moslems need Jesus? Don't we all. Sorry I couldn't resist. Thanks for your detailed comment, I appreciate your civility and maturity rather than Anonymous who probably is a Moslem who thinks that Crusaders tried to unjustly steal the Holy Land.

Jeremy Taylor said...

I missed Dr. Feser's comment earlier. I rarely hear Islam described as the religion of peace by Muslims. That is a term of the modern West. The term Islam does include the connotation of peace. I'm not sure how secular liberals use that term, but it is unlikely to mean the same as it does in Islam. In Islam it means a harmony and equilibrium, a wholeness (which is another connotation of the term Islam), caused by living accordance to the will of God and its expression in nature. Islam is not pacifistic. The holy warrior ideal is one of the main expressions of Islamic identity. If the religion of peace is used to signify pacifism or turning the other cheek, then this is not the norm in Islam. But, I think, support for aggression and conquest would be slight and ambiguous in the Koran. The holy warrior in Koran is primarily concerned with defending believers from persecution. He is meant to act chivalrously, full of mercy and concern for the poor and afflicted, and to show he is not so attached to the things of this world he will not fight against those who attack his faith.

I'm not sure Islam sees submission to the will of God that differently to Christianity. The term Islam is mostly about the submission of the individual soul, and not, except indirectly, about Sharia. Obviously, Muslims believe in the revelation of Muhammad, and like Christianity, there are different understandings of God and this submission, which, as far as I can see, match the different Christian understandings.

DNW said...

Jeremy Taylor said...

I would advise you to try and define your terms and aim for a modicum of precision in your posts. One minute we are discussing the understanding of submission to God in the Koran, then you are jumping to your beliefs about how how most Muslims ..."


So a sensitive soul, in search of offense, advises ...

Well, "we", you and I in any event, are not discussing anything, Taylor. I made comments, and you, true to your form, became emotional and began yapping at my heels, like the predictable little terrier you are. An occasional nuisance to be kicked away, but not deserving of much more.

Why? Because of things like this contemptible and weaseling response of yours after a litany of Mohammad's crimes against God and man were listed in contrast to Jesus.

You wrote, "Yes, Jesus himself cannot be accused of many such actions ..."

"[M}any such": A sniveling, shifty, squalid rhetorical performance worthy of the Archbishop of Canterbury itself.

But, I will grant you more than a kick this time.

I will note that in past exchanges you were invited to point to the official Islam we are expected to hold to account, and you could not do it. That, you were invited to demonstrate how your interpretation of Islam - whatever that is - was more valid than that of ISIS, and you could not do it. I will note that your dreamy Islamophile defense of supposed Sunni orthodoxy was undercut by your combox ally who turned out to be an amiable Shiite, with a penchant for magical numbers. Every time you even move toward making an argument Taylor, you trip up. No wonder you are peeved and frustrated. All you have left is your maundering, parenthetical, tentative expostulations on behalf of something that you cannot even define.

Yet you yelp out demands that others engage in precising definitions when you cannot even say with any precision what it is you are defending.

Is it the feelings of persons who are "Muslim"?
Is it the historicity of Mohammad's claims? This one is important!!! LOL
Is it the "respectability" of a "revelation" which the Christian scriptures define as accursed?

One of the other sensitive and emotional souls beside you commenting here, had this at least to say in nice categorical form:

" Muhammed wasn't a prophet any more than Joseph Smith was."

Can you, Taylor, great respecter of Islam, affirm the same?

You greatly respect what: Mohammad himself as a true prophet? Some persistent social phenomenon as a persistent social phenomenon per se? That fraudulently premised and specious revelation cobbled together out of half digested fragments of semi-heretical Christianity and Judaism?

Taylor, Great Respecter of Islam: To just what exactly is your great respect actually directed?

DavidM said...

JTaylor:
"I don't think that makes sense." - Well I don't think you followed the logic.

"Firstly, the jibes about submission do seem particularly aimed at the very notion of submission to God." - Do they? Perhaps I'm wrongly reading DNW (charitably), then. Or do you have a reason to back up this assertion? DNW has contrasted slave/son, but hasn't indicated that 'submission' as such is necessarily slave-submission and never son-submission, has he? Certainly DNW's comments seem perfectly intelligible (and defensible) in light of Ed's basic point about merely invoking such and such a term ('peace' or 'submission' or whatever) not settling anything, since the actual meaning of those terms is only established in the concrete doctrines and practices of (any and all) particular living traditions.

"Secondly, when Aquinas or any Christian extols submission to the will of God, then they too mean a particular interpretation of that will." - Right, that's just what I said, without spelling it out, and that's just what my argument supposes. So again: you seem to have failed to grasp the logic of my argument (and I dare say, of DNW's).

"If you wish criticise the Islamic interpretation for being a false interpretation then, as Greg notes, it isn't the idea of submission that is doing the work." -
I'm afraid that continuing to refer to 'the Islamic interpretation' (of submission to (the will of) God) will inevitably make some readers suspect some real obtuseness on your part, regardless of your own demonstrated interest in sympathetic and quite possibly well-founded Koranic exegesis.

DavidM said...

Greg: "But then the problem with Islam is not that 'Islam' means "submission", nor is the problem with Islam is not sufficiently articulated by pointing that out. The problem would just be that Islam is false, which is the case with every non-Catholic religion."

Quite correct that the problem with Islam is not that 'Islam' means 'submission' (that should be obvious, I would hope). But no one has suggested that "the problem with Islam" is "sufficiently articulated by pointing that out." And the problem is not, as you say, just that Islam is false, but that it (at least in certain important historical/current manifestations) is false precisely in respect of its doctrine and practice of 'submission' (and false in other ways too, of course, supposing the truth of Christianity).

DavidM said...

... and of course 'submission to God' is a pretty fundamental and profound notion and is not an easy thing for human beings to get right, in any faith tradition, and it should go without saying that also in certain important historical/current manifestations of Christianity we find a false understanding of what this means/entails.

DNW said...

" 'If you wish criticise the Islamic interpretation for being a false interpretation then, as Greg notes, it isn't the idea of submission that is doing the work.' -

I'm afraid that continuing to refer to 'the Islamic interpretation' (of submission to (the will of) God) will inevitably make some readers suspect some real obtuseness on your part, regardless of your own demonstrated interest in sympathetic and quite possibly well-founded Koranic exegesis."
August 26, 2016 at 8:49 AM


A good point and implied question, amiably framed ... and good luck with it.

In the days when I was actually attempting to communicate with Taylor, I pointed out the very same thing: his use of the definite article with regard to Islamic doctrine, despite his repeated waving away the authenticity of, or perhaps the justifiability of (or whatever distinction it was that he had in mind if he had one), the interpretations of a multitude of self-proclaimed Muslims.

So why the persistence in referring to "the" Islamic interpretation, as if there is one that is authoritative or conditioning or should by some standard be, for Muslims and non-Muslims, or we Kafirs as they say, alike?

And although my earlier remark on the practical identification of members of life-way and morally hostile movements, may seem harsh or invidious, I think the point is apposite.

If we wish to claim that X is an inauthentic Muslim, or a Marxist, or a National Socialist, one needs some accepted canon by which to judge.

If then, reading the philosophical and revolutionary proclamations of Marx in translation, and taking what you have read literally and to heart and acting on it, is insufficient to make you a real Marxist, then what is? If reading Mein Kampf and saluting images of Hitler, and rejoicing in the practices of the Reich is not enough to make you a discerning and authentic Nazi, then what is?

And if you are a sensitive kind of National Socialist who would like to affirm that it was unfortunate that the Wannsee Conference took to take place; and that it would have been much better and preferred all around if the Jews had been granted Madagascar and relocated there; and that one must admit that it was not, after all, six million GERMAN Jews who died, (the great majority of those 600k or so who lived there having decamped before the death camps were set up), then perhaps you would have a claim on being some kind of enlightened - speaking relatively - Nazi. Though, how an admirer from afar would distinguish whether you or your more ardent co-ideologists truly spoke for Naziism, seems to me less than clear.

That is a case the tolerant Nazi, or the admirer from afar (say an Oswald Mosley type) would have to make; and no libertarian redneck would likely be able to do it for him.

Anonymous said...

"So why the persistence in referring to "the" Islamic interpretation, as if there is one that is authoritative or conditioning or should by some standard be, for Muslims and non-Muslims, or we Kafirs as they say, alike?"

There is simply no real validity to breaking up people into the dichotomy of "Muslims and Kafirs" as it disregards nuance and is certainly one that the prophet himself and his earliest followers never instituted. This follows from the stupidity of absurd generalizations from the lowest common denominator that plague modern anti-religious discourse from ill-informed media elements who have agendas to enforce. In classical Arabic, Kafir is derived from the trilateral root transliterated K-F-R, which has the connotation of "covering and planting a seed". Hence, metaphorically it implies the "covering of the truth within one's self". In Qur'anic usage it refers two types of people, one open, and one covert 1) those who are open and hostile enemies to the Muslims in their free practice of their faith 2) those who know the truth within themselves and still reject it, and hence "cover it" within themselves.

Christians, Jews, other believers in God, are NOT, in general, ever considered "Kafirs".

DNW said...


read: ".. a sensitive kind of National Socialist who would like to affirm that it was unfortunate that the Wannsee Conference took to take place; ..." as "took place" or "had to take place" .

DNW said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"So why the persistence in referring to "the" Islamic interpretation, as if there is one that is authoritative or conditioning or should by some standard be, for Muslims and non-Muslims, or we Kafirs as they say, alike?"

There is simply no real validity to breaking up people into the dichotomy of "Muslims and Kafirs" as it disregards nuance and is certainly one that the prophet himself and his earliest followers never instituted."



And your authority for saying so is?

Establish it.

And then go argue with Wiki and the history books. You can edit the former.

DNW said...

"But the deeper problem is that Swetland’s suggestion that there is or could be such a thing as “magisterial teaching on what authentic Islam is” is, not to put too fine a point on it, as preposterous as the suggestion that there is or could be magisterial teaching on what authentic jazz is, or magisterial teaching on what the authentic interpretation of Heidegger is. It simply badly gets wrong the range of the competence the Church’s magisterium claims for itself (as Swetland critic John Zmirak has pointed out)."

Let's take a few quotes from the publishers of Dabiq - who claim to be Muslims. Their recent issue "Breaking The Cross", and possibly already covered here, has a number of things to say on just this matter.

Dabiq ISSUE 15 "Breaking The Cross"

" ... [Pope] Francis continues to hide behind a deceptive veil of “good will,” covering his actual intentions of pacifying the Muslim nation. This is exemplified in Francis’ statement that “our respect for true followers of Islam should lead us to avoid hateful generalizations, or authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Quran are opposed to every form of violence” (The Joy of the Gospel).

Part of this approach to subdue Muslims through appeasement involves coordinating with the infamous Ash’ari Sufi institute, al-Azhar University, falsely attributed to being representative of Sunni Muslims worldwide.

This method is an attempt to justify deviating claims that the Muslim nation has no central authority – as in a caliphate – but is rather “managed” in some way by scholars at universities. Adnane Mokrani, a Tunisian slave to the Catholic Church, commented on Francis’ embracing of Ahmed el-Tayeb – the leader of Cairo’s al-Azhar University – saying, “Islam is not like the Catholic Church. There is no single, central authority. There are institutions, traditional universities of the Islamic world.”

Rather, history and texts refute this foolish and obviously ill-intended statement.

After the passing of the Prophet Muhammad, his companions agreed that the most significant matter facing the Muslim nation was appointing its next leader, its next central authority. They did so in a timely manner, and a successive authority continued unbroken for hundreds of years. This successive authority, called the Caliphate, was reestablished in “2014” through the pledging of allegiance to Shaykh Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.


While previous popes spoke against Islam due to the actual reality they faced, based on mutual enmity between the pagan Christians and monotheistic Muslims, recent popes – and especially Pope Francis – have attempted to paint a picture of heartwarming friendship, seeking to steer Muslim masses away from the obligation of waging jihad ..."


Well, perhaps the pope knows best what Muslims think and what they do not, as well as which are true Muslims and which are not. But these fellows, who cite their Koran chapter and verse, and claim to be looking at Islam and the pope's comments on it from the privileged advantage of Muslim insiders, plainly disagree.

If someone can authoritatively state that these Muslims are not real Muslims, or that they have been faking Koranic prooftexts, perhaps they will be able to show it.

These also have something to say regarding the status of Muslims vis-a-vis their presumptive creator, which I will with the patient permission of the blog owner briefly quote in another comment box.

DNW said...

In the matter of men as either holding the status of slaves or sons, and as conceived of by at least some Muslims who have been much in the news lately ...

" They wage war against their Creator, His word, His law, His Messenger, and His slaves. And they shamelessly confess their disbelief in His wisdom, mercy, and justice, by thinking that the Lord would abandon His religion and His slaves to the tyranny of His enemies and their evilness."

"There are many verses in the Quran in which Allah calls His slaves to reflect on the creation. See, for example, ..."

"The battle between the Muslims and the Jews, between the Muslims and the Romans, and the revival of the Caliphate, were all from among the signs foretold by the Prophet through revelation. ... Indeed, it is Allah who prepared the Earth for the bloodiest battle before the Hour, to see His slaves sweat in spilling their blood and that of His enemies."

"In these various verses, Allah teaches His slaves that the universe He created manifests recognition of His lordship and worship of Him alone by exalting His praise and prostrating to Him solely ..."

"Satan ... strives to obliterate this fitrah, as described by Allah in the divine narration, “All wealth I bestow upon a slave is lawful. And I created my slaves all as monotheists. Indeed, the devils came to them, drew them away from their religion ..."


And as for Sons ...

"The whole concept of men being Allah’s “sons” is a fabrication of the priests and rabbis. Allah said, “The Jews and the Christians say, ‘We are the children of Allah and His beloved.’ Say, ‘Then why does He punish you for your sins?’ Rather, you are human beings from among those He has created. He forgives whom He wills, and He punishes whom He wills. And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them, and to Him is the [final] destination” (Al-Maidah 18)."

Now, I am sure there are "nicer" Muslims one could alternatively quote. But what is it exactly that supposedly demonstrates them to be truer Muslims and more objectively authentic spokesmen for Islam?

Jeremy Taylor said...

David M,

Unless I am missing something, DNW made his jibes about submission before the comment of Dr. Feser's you are referring. Indeed, I have seen him make them before this thread. I think it is a natural to think he was mocking submission itself because he mocked it without qualification (at first). He didn't see fit to mock the religion of slaves or slave-submission (contrasts he hasn't properly suppprted anyway). If he didn't mean all submission, then perhaps he should have said that originally.

I don't think charity comes into it, but I have reason not to go any further than is proper in giving intellectual charity to DNW. In the past he has shown himself to be ignorant of this topic, despite harsh mocking and attacks, and to practice New Atheist like strategies when debating them. In the past, he has, for example, criticised, the allegedly chaotic means of establishing the legitimacy and meaning of hadith. But he showed not the slightest acquaintance with isnad who any of the traditional methods and commentary. This to me is exactly like a New Atheist who mocks Christians for picking and choosing which parts of Mosaic law they will accept as binding, without any knowledge of the many debates and conclusions on the matter in the early Church. His response, as you might expect the New Atheist to respond, was others should explain to him the traditional methods and discussions, rather than he should do the slightest bit of research before making harsh and mocking criticism.

Anonymous said...

I found the entire argument proposed by Msgr. Swetland erroneous. The Church does not believe that Mohammad was a true prophet and rejects his revelation as a false one although specific aspects of it, taken in general terms, might be good. This is what the Vatican2 documents teach. Nothing more. For example, Vatican2 states that Muslims pray and that to pray is a good thing, but Vatican 2 does not teach that the actual Islamic prays are good and that, therefore, for example, Christians too can recite them. Vatican 2 does not teach that Islam is a "religion of peace" and so on. So, Msgr. Swetland appears quite confused about what Vatican2 documents teach.

The main problem with Islam is that it does not allow a personal search of the truth. If somebody freely decides to leave Islam because convinced to be a false religion, that person risks to be killed. Equally, Muslims also threat with death whoever critiques Islam. Muhammad was the first to behave in such a way and faithful Muslims consider Mohammad the best example to be imitated.

This fear explains well why a lot of people are so "politically correct" about Islam in our society. But this is not good for us nor for them.

Mohammad is the true interpreter of Islam; not Msgr. Swetland nor the Pope. What Mohammad did and believes is what Allah of the Koran intends for his followers. Therefore, the Hadiths are necessary to correctly interpret the Koran. And, unfortunately, the Hadiths contain a significant amount of violence.

About Islam, there is no doubt that Muslims "believe" that what they worship is the real one and true God. This is actually what Vatican 2 documents state about their belief.

But the problem is another. Is Allah of the Koran the real one and true God? Is he the real Yahweh of the Bible? Or were the Muslims somehow mislead by some demon that presented himself to Mohammad as the one and true God? Or were the Muslims somehow mislead by Mohammad who invented the entire story and simply reformed monotheistically the Arab paganism by taking as much as he could from the Bible?

People need to be free to address these and other issues without fear to be killed by Muslims or to be accused to be "racists" by "politically correct" guys, etc.







Because of this threat a lot of people, Muslims and Christians alike, fear to speak frankly about Islam. Muslims are prevented to hear

Jeremy Taylor said...

David M,

This was one of the original comments I took exception to:


It may help to explain why the Religion of Submission is treated so gently by those who have made a religion of submission.

Where is any qualification of the term submission here? Why would not think he just meant submission? There is charity, but that does not require one to discard what one's opponent says and construct a much better argument or claim for them. It doesn't seem like I was the only one to come to this interpretation. If he meant something more qualified, then I would submit the problem is a lack of precision on his part. But such precision rather interferes with inane mockery.

And the problem is not, as you say, just that Islam is false, but that it (at least in certain important historical/current manifestations) is false precisely in respect of its doctrine and practice of 'submission' (and false in other ways too, of course, supposing the truth of Christianity).

People keep saying there is a different idea of submission, but, leaving aside the different claims to revelation involved, there doesn't seem a lot of support for this (I don't count the silly rants of DNW). As far as I can see, the idea of submission in the Koran is much the same as the Bible. The submission to God's will, to his infinite power and majesty, is an important part of this submission, in either books. So is the role played by fear of God, fear of his wrath, and punishment for our sins. The Bible and Koran call us to obey God's commandments and laws and fear to break them. But they both also emphasis the wisdom of God, and his all benevolence and goodness. They stress he will be just and mercifulness. They show us that by submitting to God we submit to the right order and harmony, indeed to love.

Of course, different Muslims have emphasised different aspects of submission, just as is the case for Jews and Christians. There are Muslims who emphasis his will and power and wrath, just as there are Muslims who emphasis his love and the balance and equilibrium within ourselves and our relationship to nature and the cosmos that comes through living according to God's will. In Sufism, like that of Rumi, you find a metaphysics of love, based in the teachings of Islam. In Suhrawardi, a pivotal figure in the philosophy of Islamic Iran, drawing on the teachings of Ibn Sina (Avicenna), we see the interpretation of the Platonic forms as angels, personal beings, that one is connected to by the deepest bonds of love and light. Islam has its puritans and literalist and nominalists, as Christianity does, but I'm not sure in exactly what way Christianity and Islam hold different ideas of submission, unless you simply mean that there is always great nuance and no too religions or divisions within a religion hold exactly the same idea of submission?

DNW said...

All this furor over a quip in response to a comment? Hilarious.

It is true what they say about a fanatic or scold's lack of proportion and humor; goes twice for a fanatical scold.

"emanuel. said...
... this debate just shows how bad things are. We should show backbone ... Instead we get this crap from our traitorous and ~30% gay clergy.

It may help to explain why the Religion of Submission is treated so gently by those who have made a religion of submission."


Laughter, general applause. But the little man in the pince-nez (pronounced ponce-nays or near enough) furiously takes notes ...

Ah, maybe he just needs a new lens prescription.

Y'all have a nice weekend, hear?

Jeremy Taylor said...

Don't lie. Not only did I explicitly refer to you using this kind of mockery many times, but I began my response by not even referring to you explicitly (having had the misfortunate of trying to discuss things with you in the past I had no wish to try so again), but referring to the general attacks on Islam as a religion of submission. You are not the only one who makes such attacks and even mockery on this score. Although your predictable stupidity drew my ire, I was far more interested in a more general discussion. You seem to have confirmed you can't follow a basic chain of reasoning. Perhaps this is why you have treated us to post after post of intellectual vomit about ISIS, Nazis, and whatever fever dream of fallacy seems to have entered your head at the time.

Jeremy Taylor said...

- that is, I referred to the jibes but clearly pointed towards a broader discussion.

Son of Anonymous said...

Don't you LOVE Christians and Moslems fighting amongst themselves about who has the best imaginary friend!

Jesus sure is a great parent! He hides from his children and then damns them from not believing in him. the god of love people:

"There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out."

Son of Anonymous said...

Both your faiths are evil homophobia relics of the dark ages. How many gays have they killed, how many women enslaved and infidels murdered?

‘You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination."

So saith the invisible friend of love.

Anonymous said...

Kyle, we have Isa(pbh). It is Christians who need to stop worshipping a man even a prophet and worship God.

Anonymous said...

So an atheist moron feels free to chime in and spews the same old drivel. 1) a overused "dark ages" reference as a potshot against the two great religions via a pseudo temporal relativism argument, a philosophical position that is effectively self-defeating except if one invokes a magical special-pleading case like they often ignorantly accuse the theist of in their straw-man caricatures of arguments for God's existence 2) homophobia - Muslims and Christians hate gay people because they are a band of emotional idiots and need to "get with times" in conformance with the thrust of the great argument from 1). It couldn't be that they don't hate gay people, but only the sin, and it could only be emotional and not based on rational argumentation against homosexual acts such as anal sex being being an error via Natural law. 3) the imaginary friend reference - the genius expressed in such novelty! 4) absurd generalization of murdering slaves and infidels as if only the atheist is free from rationalization "in the name of", that is if we ignore the last one hundred years of secularist forms of government and the hundreds of millions of deaths of human beings from wars and all other forms of strife that have been part of human existence since its inception that have plagued this otherwise beautiful century of progress if only we could accept the secular god-head.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DS1icEssOUM

Anonymous said...

Are you a member of the religion of peace or the religion of love? Love that would damn homosexuals to eternal hell because of who they love. Is this your God of love?

There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth! But your imaginary friend is love?! Why don't let love be

Anonymous said...

The religion of peace that enslaves women in their homes and throws homosexuals off buildings!!!

A2 said...

@ Son of Anonymous
It is unfortunate you believe inaccurate caricatures of Christianity (specifically Catholic Christianity). What are the "dark ages" by the way? That term is largely based on a myth. You do know that, right?

Question: What is "love"? Secondly: What is friendship?

As for not allowing people to "love". Well that is false. Unless of course love means sex.

A2 said...

@ Son of Anonymous

Also. Instead of launching insults I encourage you to offer arguments. Unless of course you are yet another drive-by troll.

Some of the issues you have brought up are specifically theological (based on claimed revelation) and not strictly philosophical (the primary nature of this blog). Edward is a philosopher first and foremost, not an apologist with canned answers. You have also went a little off topic from the OP on a minor rant. That is fine I'm sure if you bring your comments back to the OP (at least in some kind of way).

Son of Anonymous said...

Do you believe that God is love? For Catholics? Did they believe this when they burnt Protestants and massacred Cathars? Kill them and let God decide, wasn't this the Catholic motto?

Fred said...

A2, I think if s of a were capable of offering arguments, he would have. He seems to be a typical gnu atheist troll. I'd ignore him.

Don Jindra said...

Son of Anonymous,

"Do you believe that God is love? For Catholics? Did they believe this when they burnt Protestants and massacred Cathars?"

First you need to find a definition of love all parties can agree upon. In order to get a grasp on that problem, you should refer to our gracious host's reflections on bad lovin'. I'm not saying I agree with those opinions (because I don't), but to be effective here, that is where you have to start.

Sean said...

You and the pope can ignore dhiminitude all you want. Its coming your way and your children will pay the price for your naivety

Anonymous said...

LOL @ "dhimmitude". "Dhimmitude" with its maximum tax is still much, much lower than the secularist central banks and other usurious institutions that plague the world and enrich the pockets of small, hidden minority by taxing the ignorant majority up to fifty percent and more of their income in overt and covert taxes keeping them enslaved in a perpetual debt machine.

DNW said...

An apologist for Islam says...

" LOL @ "dhimmitude". "Dhimmitude" with its maximum tax is still much, much lower than the secularist central banks and other usurious institutions that plague the world and enrich the pockets of small, hidden minority by taxing the ignorant majority up to fifty percent and more of their income in overt and covert taxes keeping them enslaved in a perpetual debt machine.
August 28, 2016 at 3:21 PM "



The revised tax on tea was not very much either.

But you know: it's "cheaper" to be a slave of Islam than a free man.

Anonymous said...

It's also "cheaper" to be an buffoon enslaved to ignorance than a free man too.

DNW said...

Anonymous said...

It's also "cheaper" to be an buffoon enslaved to ignorance than a free man too.

August 29, 2016 at 9:14 AM"



Harsh way, so it may seem, to characterize Islam and its squalid fraud of a prophet, but true enough.

Anonymous said...

There's nothing more pathetically unoriginal and more showing of its success than one trying to turn around and use the same retort to a baseless insult on a particular subject matter by the one who first cast the latter.

DNW said...

" Anonymous said...

It's also "cheaper" to be an buffoon enslaved to ignorance than a free man too.

August 29, 2016 at 9:14 AM"



and ..,

Anonymous said...

There's nothing more pathetically unoriginal and more showing of its success than one trying to turn around and use the same retort to a baseless insult on a particular subject matter by the one who first cast the latter.

August 29, 2016 at 10:15 AM



So, obviously, it is difficult to tell which anonymous is which; and to determine whether they are being arch or sincere: since we see anonymous commenters (supposing they are a "they" are not merely one dissociating crank) often disagreeing with each other in the space of moments.

If these comments are all from the same anonymous who I earlier today quoted from the 28th, and then who reappeared with a rejoinder 4 minutes after I made my comment, I would suggest you adopt a name - any name will do "Taylor" or "Richard" of "Puffdaddy" for example - so that when the alerts that I have commented pop up on your mobile device, you can respond intelligibly.

You probably still won't be able to quote properly, but one can only expect so much from a fan of Islam.

DNW said...

Won't your mobile device allow you to pick a name? I quote a comment from the 28th, today, and 4 minutes later you - apparently you - are retorting. With capacity like that, you ought to be able to get yourself a pro forma ID.

As I tried to say earlier: that way, once you get your alerts, you can reply in a manner which will allow others to know if it is the same guy being arch, or someone else entirely being sincere. Or perhaps, as I also allowed, just the same crank dissociating.

Pick a name, any indicative name: Say, "GreatRespecterOfIslam" or something equally apt like "Taylor"; thus, killing two birds with one stone: making your comments identifiable, while honoring yet another commenter who is very much to your own heart and in your own manner and style. Birds of a feather ... not to overuse the bird figure.

A2 said...

@Fred

I agree. He just launches random attacks after ignoring what people actually said.

A2 said...

@ Son of Anonymous
Randomly offering a variety of red herrings isn't an argument. I suspect that your historical education comes from atheist apologetics, rather than credible history books.

Jeremy Taylor said...

DNW,

That's funny, because Son of Anonymous reminded me of you. His gnu stupdity and sophistry is only one step more silly than yours, but at least it is briefer. It is disappointing some who despise gnu tactics when applied to Christians, say little when they are applied to Muslims.

Oh, and it is good to know I have got you so annoyed. It is always good to rattle trolls.

Jeremy Taylor said...

I realised you weren't referring to Son of Anonymous, but another of the infernal army of anons, but I suppose the basic point is still a good one.

Jeremy Taylor said...

Anonymous,

Have you considered changing your name to P Z Myers or Jerry Coyne? If you do DNW will stop attacking you and start asking for debating tips, once he has done prostrating at your feet (he's a free man, you know).

DNW said...

" Jeremy Taylor said...
DNW,
... it is good to know I have got you so annoyed. It is always good to rattle trolls.
"

Trolls: as in hysterical scolds who devote their energies to following others around like obsessed stalkers and attempting to provoke ... trolls like Jeremy obviously.

Watch this Jeremy, if you are looking, and note closely the times.

DNW asks...

"All this furor over a quip in response to a comment? Hilarious. ...
August 26, 2016 at 3:41 PM
"

and within seven minutes, including the time it (presumptively) took Jeremy to log on, and scroll down, and read my comment, and think-up (if he was thinking) what he was to say, and then type-up his petulant paragraph of complaint of 140 plus words, and then post it going through the usual verification routine, this appears:

"Jeremy Taylor said...

Don't lie. Not only did I explicitly ... [yada yada yada]

August 26, 2016 at 3:48 PM"
"

Pretty obvious isn't it. "Presumptively" doesn't apply. Whatever Jeremy's typing speed is, he did not just stumble upon that latest remark - one which was not even addressed to him.

Jeremy, I'll now address you directly.

Don't you think it's time you began obsessing in a less obviously bitter lunatic fashion? Or, at the very least, did something bold and productive, like answering the following question about Islam? To wit:

"Did Mohammad have an authentic supernatural revelation?"

So, Jeremy Taylor Great Respecter of Islam and supposed Christian, do you believe Mohammad received the word of God from the angel Gabriel?

Was then, Mohammad God's prophet? And if so, how do you know?

And if not, what is it exactly, Great Respecter of Islam, that you so greatly respect about him in the face of what the Christian scriptures say about false gospels?

Relatively simple and straightforward questions which should not cause the average great respecter of Islam to launch off on any equally great and evasive peregrination around the circumference of the world of Islam.

Speaking of freedom which you find so funny, do you have the freedom in England to say that Mohammad was not a real prophet, Jeremy?

Is that why you fear to answer this question Jeremy? Maybe you are not allowed to say? Nah ... probably not, They would only throw you in jail for saying Islam is nonsense or untrue.

So if you are allowed to say, is it a question you will answer Jeremy? And if not ... why not?

DNW said...



By the way, and in order to try and focus Jeremy's mind and get him to address the matter of whether he thinks Mohammad received a genuine revelation from God through the angel Gabriel, and to keep him from launching off on a tangent with hysterical cries of "Lies! Lies!" I will stipulate that to be taken to headquarters for questioning or to be thrown in jail, is not the same as to be convicted; and that to say Mohammad was a warlord during a conversation with a Muslim, is not precisely the same as to say in the presence of a Muslim - or within earshot - that Islam is nonsense and untrue per se.

I will grant certain timorous and well hedged formulations. properly bracketed with expression of respect would almost certainly not result in a trip to police headquarters for questioning. Or so we hope.

So now we don't have to be sidetracked in discussions of hoteliers, and so forth, and Jeremy is free to say why Mohammad was a false prophet propounding a fraudulent revelation.

Jeremy Taylor said...

DNW,

I can't make sense of your accusation. Just what are you trying to accuse me of? Calm down and post slowly. Don't get so worked up. You seem to have gone paranoid. I'm a long time commentator here. I am interested in this topic, and you have filled up two threads on it with gnu bilge. This is why I responded to you, although this time only indirectly originally. I am very public spirited - I saw bilge and I felt the need to help keep it up.

I am not afraid of your questions, though I don't usually bother trying to gave serious discussions with trolls. But as these latest ones are relatively straight forward, I will answer them a little later.

Jeremy Taylor said...

-to help clean it up, rather

Jeremy Taylor said...

DNW,

My intent in our interactions has not been to defend Islam in any exhaustive way. I have been focused only on criticism of your comments. These comments combine ignorance, sophistry, and fallacy with harsh mockery, in a way reminiscent of gnus. Indeed, it is somewhat disappointing that some others, who would be quick to respond if such nonsense was said against Christianity, ignore it when it is directed against Islam. My central criticism was that you have some basic understanding of what you wish to harshly mock.

In short, I was under no obligation to give some broad defence of Islam, and your manner of arguing hardly makes me think it will be worthwhile.

I'm really not sure what you are trying to say with the stuff about England. As a barb, I think it must be said that fails - what does it have to do with me exactly?

Anyway, I am neither a Muslim nor a Christian. I am, for want of a better term a Platonist, and my view on revelations and divine inspiration is very similar to that of Henry Corbin, and hold similar views on the inspiration of prophets and holy men like Muhammad. I will not bore everyone by going any deeper into my specific views (and I would have to be satisfied it would be worthwhile discussing the topic with any deeper, anyway).

I am more interested in Islam than Muhammad per se, but I respect Muhammad, certainly. I think an acquaintance with the Koran, Hadith, and early teachings of Islam shows a figure who is profoundly holy and consumed with a faith that does not neglect this world but that is focused on the otherworld. I see in Muhamad's teaching a holy wisdom and the Koran as a remarkable holy book. There are problematic aspects of Muhammad's life and teaching, leaving aside the extravagant exaggerations, distortions, and lack of basic context of some criticisms. But there are problematics aspects in any traditional faith I have ever come across (although these take on different hues in different faiths). I think a balanced and proportioned view would hardly see the problematic aspects as outweighing those worthy of respect.

I respect Islam, in a broad sense, for much the same reason I respect just about every traditional faith and culture, because of its profound spirituality, its metaphysics and philosophy, its art, literature, and customs.

This is a brief and perfunctory, but I hope satisfactory, answer to your questions. I can enlarge upon what I have said, though I'd to be satisfied it was worthwhile.

Jeremy Taylor said...

I should add, a lot of all this depends upon one's basic assumptions about nature, man, and morality. A liberal secularist would have different views about what to respect and what not, so perhaps it is not perhaps right to say a balanced and proportioned view would not see the problematic aspects in Muhammad's life and teaching outweighing what is worthy of respect. It would no doubt depend upon one's basic assumptions. But this does bring us to the entanglement of liberal assumptions with Christian ones in some Christian criticisms of Muhammad. It would wise to disentangle these.

DNW said...

Jeremy Taylor said...

DNW,

I can't make sense of your accusation. Just what are you trying to accuse me of? ...


It is called a demonstration not an accusation. I was demonstrating that despite all your gibbering and protests of a general disinterest in and only occasional attention to my commenting, you have to the contrary been quite, and provably, preoccupied with them. Now with this Corbin business it is clear why. And it is also obvious that despite all your framing and attempts to sell your comment box exchange premise, no one much else is buying.


" I am not afraid of your questions, though I don't usually bother trying to gave serious discussions with trolls. But as these latest ones are relatively straight forward, I will answer them a little later.

August 29, 2016 at 5:45 PM"



Jeremy ... Jeremy ... you are the one who has been sputtering about the wonders of Islam. And the one proclaiming as to how you are a great respecter of it. And the one becoming all indignant when the basic predicate of that by God damned prophet of that religious atrocity (per the Apostle Paul) is challenged.

One would think that after a month or so of high dudgeon, unsuccessfully masked by that comically supercilious pose of yours, you would eventually get to the point wherein you would state outright if you thought Mohammad had an authentic revelation from God through the angel Gabriel.

And now, we see that in posting your supposed answer, you have posted mostly no answer at all, to that as you admitted, plain and straightforward question: " ... these latest ones are relatively straight forward ..."

Except to state clearly that you were not a Christian. Which shows that your defense of Christianity such as it might be said to be, is just a proxy for your other spiritual allegiances.

You were asked:

"So, Jeremy Taylor Great Respecter of Islam and supposed Christian, do you believe Mohammad received the word of God from the angel Gabriel?

Was then, Mohammad God's prophet? And if so, how do you know?"


And you answered,

" ... I am, for want of a better term a Platonist, and my view on revelations and divine inspiration is very similar to that of Henry Corbin, and hold similar views on the inspiration of prophets and holy men like Muhammad. I will not bore everyone by going any deeper into my specific views (and I would have to be satisfied it would be worthwhile discussing the topic with any deeper, anyway)."


No wonder you never quote. You cannot even bring yourself to state your actual views outright; you can only advert to a third party and say that your views are "similar". I suppose that since stating you imagine you are psychologically attuned to a different reality, and that the question as formulated over there would not make sense isn't the kind of thing most people would find persuasive, then, pointing a finger over yonder at Corbin the scholar and saying "similar", is about the best you can do under the circumstances. Quoting, would only serve to highlight the deficiency, not to mention the substantive absurdities.

Anyone interested in reading Henry Corbin's intellectual "manifesto" one might say, for what that will tell you or good it will do, is welcome to follow this link to the Hermetic Library and Henry Corbin's universe of Persian angels and his "imaginary world" (Trademark) reality.

Frankly, Taylor, if it were not for your petty obsessions with policing what others say about Islam, I might be half persuaded you were in fact from another imagination based reality. As it is, you merely come off as a theosophist crank and a PC trimmer. No wonder you scoff at freedom. A line of C.S. Lewis' will come readily to most minds here.

Next up: Joseph Campbell explains Sufism and its relation to the Cinderella fable.

Justin said...

"I respect Islam, in a broad sense, for much the same reason I respect just about every traditional faith and culture, because of its profound spirituality, its metaphysics and philosophy, its art, literature, and customs."

I find it hard to simultaneously respect multiple metaphysical or religious claims which are contradictory to each other. I tend to want to figure out which one is most probably right. What you're saying seems to be sort of the lazy approach to spirituality. The "all feelings, no reason" approach, if you will. Very few religions are 100% wrong, and each can have at least some small amount of truth. That doesn't make that philosophy worthy of politically correct "respect".

I respect Muslims as human beings, each with intrinsic value. A view that doesn't seem to have an exact match in Islamic culture. That doesn't mean I have to appreciate their philosophy or religion.

Also, I believe in submission to God. As you mentioned, the Bible does teach that a fear of God is appropriate. But a religion that teaches that you should not only fear God but you should also fear that religion's adherents doesn't seem legitimate to me for a number of metaphysical reasons (which, based on your stance, I'm sure you will highly respect).

Empirical evidence over the 1,300-year history of Islam shows that it doesn't deviate all that much over time, though they've adapted new ways of spreading within Western culture. Islam's strategy for growth in the West is largely that of subverting Western traditions, laws, values and charity, which is simply dishonest. Islam does not add nearly as much as it subtracts from a society. This is confirmed empirically.

Islamic states often require a brutal dictator be in power in order to be stable at all. Again, empirical evidence is pretty clear on this.

Islamic states often cannot get along with their neighbors. Again, empirical evidence is pretty clear on this throughout its 1,300-year history.

Just observe its history, its present state, and what is necessary to rule a majority Islamic state, and you'll note that something is "metaphysically" wrong with Islam. You don't need a degree in Philosophy to take note of this.

Jeremy Taylor said...

DNW,

As I thought, you are an absolute troll. One could, of course, just replace Corbin's name and a few terms in your crude attacks with that of Aquinas or Aristotle or whoever. I have no obligation to give any extensive defence of my views. My only interest was to smack down your gnu sophistry. You have no given the slightest indication of being worthy of any greater discussion, even if were on topic (even if it were on topic, which it isn't).

By the way, how old are you? I'm now convinced you are a teenagee, you certainly argue like one.

And I had a good chuckle that you would think an arch-Tory like me is pc. Now totter off to school before you get in trouble.

Jeremy Taylor said...

DNW,

Perhaps it is because of the beards many Muslims sport. No doubt fifteen year olds like yourself can get jealous. But do what most sad and angry fifteen year olds do. Go to your room and put on some emo music, don't flood this blog with absolute bilge.

Justin,

Actually, I think it would depend what one means by respect. I respect Aristotle and Plato, Aquinas and Palamas, the Roman and the Greek Church, despite the fact that they cannot all be true to the same degree. At a more general level, I see no real problem in respecting the spirituality or metaphysics of different traditions, as well as cultures and artistic tradition. I don't see why respect, indeed quite a lot and informed respect, should mean one must take sides or that it should be an all or nothing situation. What is to prevent one from thinking a lot of many different traditions but that neither is the exclusive truth or full expression of human spirituality and culture?

Your comments on the empirical nature of Islam and the Muslim world need unpacking. Islam traditionally can be intolerant and warlike, certainly. But not more than traditional Christianity, and generally less so (at least so far as intolerance is concerned - it would be hard to gauge the level of aggression, given all the historical exigencies). Otherwise you confuse liberalism and Christianity (I presume), the modern and the pre-modern world, which makes your claims and judgments very hard to evaluate.

Hussein said...

Dean's profile picture does show him with a beard.....

DNW said...

Well, finally, after a month or whatever of marveling at Jeremy's obsessive and petulant combox stalking, the reason for it becomes clear.

What was initially posed and peddled as a matter of intellectual integrity, as an issue of ethical sufficiency when it came to justifying evaluative statements concerning Islam, has been revealed as having an entirely different character.

What happened was that Jeremy's own emotional commitments to a kind of Islamo-Platonic mysticism ginned up by a professor named Henry Corbin had been chaffed en passant.

This has not been about some disinterested scholarship prefatory to justifying a belief or judgment. Anyone here who has read through a couple of the online editions of the Koran in translation, and skimmed a couple more collections of hadiths has performed more scholarship and has within his grasp a better understanding of the text of their sacred books than have those legions of completely and functionally illiterate Muslims who have never even read the Koran, and still affirm it; and who in their completely benighted state make up a significant portion, and possibly significant majority, of the nominally Muslim population of the world.

If one wishes to ignore the ostensible founder of Islam, and focus on the phenomenal result, then that is the true result and the preponderant nature of the phenomenal Islam one sees and generally confronts.

What the real problem has been here, was not the issue of some intellectual defense of actual Islam (in all of its fulminating and pernicious schools and movements) being ignored, since no such defense was ever directly made by Jeremy. His defenses, were all based on the formal moral equivalence and reciprocal entitlement school of reasoning

Instead, what all his pique and juvenile combox stalking was really all about, was his emotional investment in a form of Islamo-Zoroastrian mysticism with Neo-Platonic elements, a key concept of which is apparently "Mundus Imaginalis".

In other threads where he had flamboyantly expressed his annoyance, I had patiently asked a half dozen times, if I asked once, if Jeremy would address the historicity of Mohammad's claims; usually phrasing it in terms which characterized it as a chain of revelation stretching from Allah, to the angel Gabriel, to the ear of Mohammad, to the Muslim.

Seemed a simple enough question, with an easily anticipated answer.

Yet, he evaded the question, replying, when he referred to it at all, that it was not his primary interest.

Thus, the question most people would consider to be the most critical factual question of all, he characterized as of lesser if not of little interest.

Thus there was no answer; and as it now turns out, if there had been it would have been completely unanticipated - considered unbelievable.

We learn now that Mohammad is "a figure who is profoundly holy", and Jeremy " ... see[s] in Muhamad's teaching a holy wisdom and the Koran as a remarkable holy book."

It was not as may have seemed likely, at least to me, that Jeremy was evading because he considering Islam as a phenomenon with an existential and social impact, and perhaps legitimacy, separate from its historical moorings.

It was rooted in something else altogether. No wonder he evaded answering as long as he did.

Jeremy, you are welcome, if you in fact do claim it, to your Zoroastrian angelology, your "Mundus Imaginalis" reality, and your determination to refer to it as "Platonism". But it is pretty clear that when you say Platonism, what hides behind that term is Islamic/Zoroastrian mysticism, and a bizarre conception of Mohammad as an objectively holy man who left behind a holy book.

You could have saved everybody a lot of time just by eschewing the misdirection and forestalling the ensuing puzzlement and annoyance.

It would not have caused me to respect Mohammad as a genuine prophet, but maybe you would have been entitled to a little more had you been frank about your real commitments up front.

DNW said...

Jeremy Taylor said...

DNW,

Perhaps it is because of the beards many Muslims sport. No doubt fifteen year olds like yourself can get jealous. But do what most sad and angry fifteen year olds do. Go to your room and put on some emo music, don't flood this blog with absolute bilge."



My, oh my. Talk about emotional ...

Since you bring it up as a virtue, you must be unusually hirsute for a Brit, or for a Muslim; since most of the English, or perhaps I should say British, I have met are relatively glabrous, and many of the Muslims are of the neck-beard type. As a youngster I used to think it may have been a perverse fashion for men of your country to shave their flaccid little forearms. Then, I learned from those who supposedly had met many more of you, that it was just that a great many of you had no hair on your limbs in any case.

The fact is, and only since you have made an issue of it, that although my own ancestors were from the Isles some 3 and more centuries ago, the men in my family are heavily bearded, and my own grows quite well and full right up to the eyes almost, thank you.

Really, Jeremy, get a grip on yourself, eh?

I have already forgiven you for the run-around you've led us on, now that you have come more or less clean and made the admission. Why not take that as a consolation prize, and just call it a day?

Jeremy Taylor said...

The Beardless Wonder,

Why is it you can't even troll properly. Must we wade through walls of nonsense? You clearly have nothing to say, so can't you say it more briefly?

And you're about as humorous as you are intelligent. Am I supposed to miffed that you attack Corbin in an infantile manner indistinguishable from the way many a gnu troll has reacted to Thomism (right down to the crude mockery of terms and the claims of absurdity, unsupported by any intelligent argument or commentary)? Is the fact someone who clearly has the intellectual capacity of a boiled cabbage has mocked my brief response to questions I was never required to answer supposed to make me reconsider?

Also, don't lie, there is no way you have read even online versions of the Koran and Hadith. I bet you have trouble enough getting through your remedial Year Nine English homework.



kyle coffey said...

@George LeSauvage

Thanks for your comment George.

Normally I would defer to Dr. Feser (as I am a lay person who finds it difficult to follow along anyways), but I am so hesitant, as a Catholic, because of the amount of trustworthy, educated, and traditional clergy who seem to take a position contrary to Dr. Feser's.

Cardinal Burke thinks it is incorrect to say Moslems and Christians worship the same God. Fr. Ripperger (who taught Thomistic Philosophy at the FSSP seminary in Lincoln) says the same thing. The SSPX (and most traditional clergy I know) have huge issues with Nostra Aetate and the phrase "They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth..."

I am really at a loss here. Are all these highly educated (in philosophy and theology) clerics off the wall on this matter? I have a hard time believing it.

Anonymous said...

But how would you explain the Jewish or philosophical classical theism God. Wouldn't these be different gods then?

Anonymous said...

DNW,

Please, by all means, debate with knowledgeable scholars of Islam. There are many Western and non-Western ones from which you can choose. Your vitriol against the religion and its prophet is tiresome in this combox. If it wasn't for these backward, sword-brandishing, hate-filled, sand diggers from the desert, the philosophical tradition of the Greeks such as Aristotle and their expounding upon by the likes of Ibn Sina from whom Aquinas obtained his essence/existence distinction would have been lost to history. I would like to see how well you fair against them with the breadth and depth of your Islamic knowledge.

Timocrates said...

In the United States, Canada and Europe there are Muslims who are literally risking their heads to keep us safe. They swallow and shoulder our ire toward Islam. But it's not white, European Christians who are infiltrating ISIS and al-Qaeda.

And @ Anonymous above, it was the Byzantine Greeks who preserved the Aristotelian tradition. Muslims invaded and conquered with force. Of course they ultimately had to grapple with the sphere and realm of ideas and beliefs. But it was the Byzantines who preserved that tradition. Of course, in the West you still had the neoplatonism - which itself was already a reaction to Aristotle - of Saint Augustine, so it was scarcely like we were intellectually bankrupt at any point.

Timocrates said...

@ Son of Anonymous,

I'd burn the Cathars again tomorrow. The only force on Earth that could stop me from burning Cathars is the moral authority and power of the Holy Catholic Church. You may as well shed tears and weep for the Nazis, who were also quite frequently burned alive by our ordinances. But I don't see you on that pity train - the memory of their peculiar evil is yet still too fresh. You betray a deep and disturbing ignorance by imagining the Cathars as helpless, poor innocent victims. Just the irony of your Christian inculturation that you pity even the most ruthless enemies of human love and society. You are safe and free because we burned Cathars. You are safe and free because we literally fought a Holy War against a rather uppity Islam. You get to enjoy this thing we call today enlightenment and liberalism because only Christian society and patience could tolerate such a radical novelty.

But perhaps you find, e.g., the materialist atheist's mode of eliminating his antithesis much more humane: after all, the Soviet Communists just shot people in the head in the presence of their families, starting with the fathers first, so their pathetic wives and children could see them die. But something tells me you wouldn't be crying if I burned one of those ruthless murderers alive.

Sometimes you can betray a real lack of love and genuine humanity by not hating what is simply evil and wrong. Modernists are the most absurd people because no one hates as absurdly, unjustly and mercilessly as they do. You want to see someone burned alive? Turn on your news and watch people get roasted.

DNW said...

"Anonymous said...

DNW,

Please, by all means, debate with knowledgeable scholars of Islam.
"

You anonymous posters certainly sprout up like mushrooms after your prophet's ox is gored. You want me to seek out Islamic scholars, yet you cannot even work up the energy to pick an ID out of a hat, and use it here. None of you can quote either.

"There are many Western and non-Western ones from which you can choose. Your vitriol against the religion and its prophet is tiresome in this combox. "

Don't read my comments if my contempt for Mohammad upsets you. Or, if you think that certain assertions can be rebutted with facts, go ahead and state the fact you imagine you have to offer.

You may have noticed that the title of this blog entry was about whether Islamophilia was binding Catholic doctrine. Most popes would have said "no" and agreed with me on Mohammad.

"If it wasn't for these backward, sword-brandishing, hate-filled, sand diggers from the desert, the philosophical tradition of the Greeks such as Aristotle and their expounding upon by the likes of Ibn Sina from whom Aquinas obtained his essence/existence distinction would have been lost to history. "

And you might want to check your own assumptions, as I just did when the term translatio vetus occurred to me while reading your bitter tirade.

I believe my original personal source for this recollection was Gilson's writings, or one of my professors who had studied under him, though it may have been another.

Now: As for Avicenna and Al Farabi, it is remarkable that you try to impute a straw man's categorization of them as "sand-diggers" as part of your attack. This you do of course, in order to inoculate other Muslims, like Mohammad, say, from a justifiable moral disdain. Neither men of course were sand digging desert dwellers from Arabia nor even "Arabs" according to the historical sources. And a quick reminding look at Al Farabi's life shows that he was in direct contact with Christian scholars; and that the translations other Arab philosophers made of the Greek philosophical corpus, was in specific cases from Syriac. This caused some difficulties later when Western Europeans tried to use these thrice translated versions of the texts.

In any event, you are crediting the destroyers of a civilization for preserving fragments of it; often obtained second hand from the very people whom they were oppressing. Of course once Islam got what it was actually aiming at, and realized complete political dominion with no one else worth exploiting left to exploit in the dominion, it collapsed into the civilizational wreck which might be expected of it.

"I would like to see how well you fair against them with the breadth and depth of your Islamic knowledge.
August 31, 2016 at 5:46 AM
"

No doubt you would, since your own angry attempt to make a categorical case just failed miserably. Less hysteria, more mental balance and restraint, would do all you Islamophiles some good, I think.

DNW said...

" ... it was the Byzantine Greeks who preserved the Aristotelian tradition. Muslims invaded and conquered with force. Of course they ultimately had to grapple with the sphere and realm of ideas and beliefs. But it was the Byzantines who preserved that tradition. Of course, in the West you still had the neoplatonism - which itself was already a reaction to Aristotle - of Saint Augustine, so it was scarcely like we were intellectually bankrupt at any point.

August 31, 2016 at 8:08 AM
"


Looks like you said it before I did. Or alluded to the same set of facts.

The Aristotelian corpus was lost to, in the sense of became unavailable to, the Western Empire, insofar as it might have previously existed there in Greek manuscripts, or possibly in Latin translations (I don't know whether Cicero ever attempted such a thing in his retirement before his death, and it might have been lost).

The story of Boethius is well known. If previous translations had existed and been of interest to Romans, I don't imagine he would have intended to undertake the work himself.

DNW said...



It looks as though the response I gave to anonymous 2016 at 5:46 AM, and in which I cited the problems with his characterization - perhaps in overly ungenerous terms - is in limbo.

So that the information is available, I will just re-post the informational elements, and not stand on my honor and insist I be allowed to reply to the personal attack per se.

Now: Regarding Aquinas and his supposed dependence on Arabic preservation of Aristotle's (presumably) Metaphysics; the term translatio vetus came to mind as I read.

Since I cannot at this moment access the work of Gilson, or old class notes from professors who had studied under him, I will leave this link, to what is substantially the same information.

Anonymous said...

"And @ Anonymous above, it was the Byzantine Greeks who preserved the Aristotelian tradition. Muslims invaded and conquered with force. Of course they ultimately had to grapple with the sphere and realm of ideas and beliefs. But it was the Byzantines who preserved that tradition. Of course, in the West you still had the neoplatonism - which itself was already a reaction to Aristotle - of Saint Augustine, so it was scarcely like we were intellectually bankrupt at any point."

No one asserted anything about Christians being intellectually bankrupt. That would be a stupid generalization. The point was to respond to the idiotic caricature of Muslims and their prophet that DNW likes to present. But, by all means, don't give credit where credit is due. It's part and parcel of Western European history when it comes to Muslims.

DNW said...

Well, possibly it is the link that has been the problem, since my comments without links have taken.

I had written, regarding an even earlier comment:

"It looks as though the response I gave to anonymous 2016 at 5:46 AM, and in which I cited the problems with his characterization - perhaps in overly ungenerous terms - is in limbo.

So that the information is available, I will just re-post the informational elements, and not stand on my honor and insist I be allowed to reply to the personal attack per se.

Now: Regarding Aquinas and his supposed dependence on Arabic preservation of Aristotle's (presumably) Metaphysics; the term translatio vetus came to mind as I read.

Since I cannot at this moment access the work of Gilson, or old class notes from professors who had studied under him, I will leave this link, to what is substantially the same information."


The actual link was embedded under the terms "this link"

So that one can actually see what was being referenced, type into Google, " aquinas and translation vetus Metaphysics Doig "

A link to pages from: "Aquinas on Metaphysics: A Historico-Doctrinal Study of the Commentary on the Metaphysics" should appear.

DNW said...

Wonder why it is almost impossible to communicate with Muslims? Why they become sometimes become angry or perturbed or feign indifference when references to the historicity, or the ostensible historical facts of their faith are referenced?

I have pre4viously made allusions to certain postmodern-like ideological precursors such as the social construction of reality, or to a-historical phenomenal analyses of social practices as possibly having some bearing on the extremely subjective-seeming and circular justifications offered on behalf of Islam's ... validity ... as one might call it.

Let's take a look at what the authority who one commenter here follows, has to say about just this matter of worldviews and methods of understanding reality:

" ... the birth and spread of the Christian consciousness essentially signalled the awakening and growth of a historical consciousness. Christian thought is centred on the event which occurred in year one of the Christian era: the divine Incarnation marks the entry of God into history. As a result, the religious consciousness is focused with ever-increasing attention on the historical meaning, which it identifies with the literal meaning, the true meaning of the Scriptures. ...

The religious consciousness of Islam is centred not on a historical fact, but on a fact which is meta-historical. not post-historical, but trans-historical. This primordial fact ...[is] ... anterior to our empirical history ...

Because it [Islam] has not had to confront the problems raised by what we call the 'historical consciousness', philosophical thought in Islam moves in two counter yet complementary directions: issuing from the Origin (mabda'), and returning [ma'ad) to the Origin, issue and return both taking place in a vertical dimension. Forms are thought of as being in space rather than in time. Our thinkers perceive the world not as 'evolving' in a horizontal and rectilinear direction, but as ascending: the past is not behind us but 'beneath our feet'. From this axis stem the meanings of the divine Revelations, each of these meanings corresponding to a spiritual hierarchy, to a level of the universe that issues from the threshold of metahistory. Thought can move freely, unhindered by the prohibitions of a dogmatic authority. On the other hand, it must confront the shari'ah, should the shari'ah at any time repudiate the haqiqah. The repudiation of these ascending perspectives is characteristic of the literalists of legalistic religion, the doctors of the Law. ..."
Henry Corbin, "History of Islamic Philosophy"

They, and their admirers, are inhabiting not only a different moral universe, but another psychological reality altogether; bouncing as it were between Persian angelologies and ISIS.

Small wonder that discussion of the facts gets one virtually nowhere with them ...

"The religious consciousness of Islam is centred not on a historical fact ..."


Or so some experts in Islam, say.

Anonymous said...

Corbin was a Christian...

Jeremy Taylor said...

That is true, and the many of his major themes and ideas, though they were perhaps best expressed by Muslim thinkers like Avicenna, Ibn Arabi, and Suhrawardi, draw directly from ancient Platonism, and were echoed by Christian thinkers like Jacob Boehme, William Blake, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. But this is not the topic of the thread and, anyway, we are hardly to get any sensible discussion from the troll.

DNW said...

Since it does not look as though I am being intentionally blocked and some comments are making their way through, allow me to one more time attempt to address Aquinas' use of Aristotle's works; and in the instance one Anonymous has presumably referred to: the Metaphysics.

As I mentioned several times previously in other comments, I cannot at the moment cite the work of Gilson in which I believe I initially encountered the references to the translatio vetus - and perhaps it was actually from one of my professors who had studied under him. Nonetheless, it is clear that Gerard of Cremona's translations of Islamic translations of Syriac translations of Aristotle, were not the only, or even primary source for Aquinas.

As Wiki has it (and note the circumstances under which this material became available - emphasis added):

"Toledo, which had been a provincial capital in the Caliphate of Cordoba and remained a seat of learning, was safely available to a Catholic like Gerard, since it had been conquered from the Moors by Alfonso VI of Castile in 1085. Toledo remained a multicultural capital, insofar as its rulers protected the large Jewish and Muslim quarters, and kept their trophy city an important centre of Arab and Hebrew culture. One of the great scholars associated with Toledo was Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra, Gerard's contemporary. The Muslim and Jewish inhabitants of Toledo adopted the language and many customs of their conquerors, embodying Mozarabic culture. The city was full of libraries and manuscripts, and was one of the few places in medieval Europe where a Christian could be exposed to Arabic language and culture"

The main point is to allow a reader here to access the following preview commentary on the matter of the manner of the transmission and the availability of Aristotle's Metaphysics, to Aquinas, in Latin.

Use Google to search the following: " aquinas and translation vetus Metaphysics Doig "

DNW said...



Looks like the citation comments with the links are now coming through in a batch ...

Anonymous should be pleased, And edified

DNW said...




"Anonymous said...

Corbin was a Christian...

August 31, 2016 at 12:34 PM"



Yeah ... kind of depends on who you ask.


"Seyyed Hossein Nasr mentions in "In search of the Sacred" the following:

'S.H.N.: Corbin and I also had a lot of personal human contacts and common interest in various spiritual and intellectual matters, and I knew him very well on the human level. For example, we went together for the ziyarat of Jam-i Karan, the site associated with the Twelfth Imam near the holy city of Qom. He considered himself a "Shi'ite," although I think that he never formally converted to Shi'ism. But he was inwardly converted to it. He always used to say, "nous Shi'ites" that is, "we Shi'ites." We also spoke about intimate, spiritual subjects together, about inner visions and matters like that, which I do not want to discuss here.

Jeremy Taylor said...

That's the problem when your research consists of quick gogle searchs, you end up looking like an ignoramus (again). Corbin was a Protestant Christian, though a heretical one (he embraced Docetism). Nasr does not mean Corbin was literally a Shia. Corbin never converted. Nasr is talking about the spiritual ambience that Corbin drew from.

DNW said...

" Jeremy Taylor said...

That's the problem when your research consists of quick gogle searchs, you end up looking like an ignoramus (again). Corbin was a Protestant Christian, though a heretical one (he embraced Docetism). Nasr does not mean Corbin was literally a Shia. Corbin never converted. Nasr is talking about the spiritual ambience that Corbin drew from.

August 31, 2016 at 3:37 PM"



Golly. You are really proving to be an obsessed little combox stalker. Not even 5 minutes of gap that time before you hurriedly inserted your foot into selfsame. mouth

And the upshot? Still just more hysteria from the not too smart phone. Try doing yourself a favor by actually reading what your alerts point you to:

"Yeah ... kind of depends on who you ask."

And by the way, the very charitable surmise that you are tracking my comments through alerts, is the least degrading of the scenarios about you. If you are streaming this stuff, or hovering over an open window ... well it makes you even that much more pathetic, Jeremy.

Get a grip.

Mohammad was a fake prophet. Not only not holy, but unholy. And Islam I regret to say, is a sorry cluster-flock, even for its better intentioned adherents; and most especially for anyone who has the misfortune to have to deal with either it or its rancid fans ... as you have most abundantly if unintentionally demonstrated.

Accept it, get over it, and move on.

Being who and what you are, you don't have any better choices, despite the pantomime chest-thumping.

It's got to be late night if you are where you have implied you are.

Take a pill, pill. And try and get some shut-eye.


And with that Ed, I think I'll make it a wrap on this thread. Jeremy's getting kind of creepy, and charity requires that I do as little as possible to unnecessarily further perturb his already highly eccentric, and unstable, orbit.

Chris said...

I am by no means an Islam apologist, but some of the comments of late here are not much different than the typical gnu claptrap one encounters in the blogosphere.

Jeremy Taylor said...

Indeed, that is a conclusion, at least about one particular poster, that I came to long ago. You get the same sort of combination harsh mockery, ignorance, and sophistry. DNW's comments on Corbin, the witless sneering at terms and insinuations of absurdity coupled with research via google search, seem just to underscore this. You could easily imagine a gnu sneering at Thomism or any non-materialistic philosophy (sometimes even all philosophy) in just the same way. Indeed, for most of his comments it wouldn't take much to turn them into the usual gnu jibes at Christianity.

In this very thread, Son of Anonymous was only one step below DNW, although at least SoA was briefer and less paranoid and whinny.

Edward Feser said...

DNW,

Your comments keep getting stuck in the spam filter, and it sometimes takes me a while to moderate them.

Justin said...

"Your comments on the empirical nature of Islam and the Muslim world need unpacking. Islam traditionally can be intolerant and warlike, certainly. But not more than traditional Christianity, and generally less so (at least so far as intolerance is concerned - it would be hard to gauge the level of aggression, given all the historical exigencies). Otherwise you confuse liberalism and Christianity (I presume), the modern and the pre-modern world, which makes your claims and judgments very hard to evaluate."

I think a simple look at the history and the condition of majority Islamic states and see a noticeable difference that doesn't require writing a dictionary first. Dig under many of the prominent mosques in existence today and you'll find a Christian church or Jewish temple. Islam spread much like a dog that marks its territory in the neighborhood, not through a battle of ideas. And they do the same today.

DNW said...

"Edward Feser said...

DNW,

Your comments keep getting stuck in the spam filter, and it sometimes takes me a while to moderate them.

September 1, 2016 at 2:15 PM"



Wasn't at all concerned that you might have deleted some of the rather harsh rejoinders I directed; feel free anytime. I have no problems with it. Your blog, your standards. Lord knows we do our best to drag them down sometimes.

But I was hoping and then glad to see that the reference to the traslatio vetus finally made it through.

It was I thought directly relevant to an earlier assertion which seemed to imply Aquinas', and in fact all of Europe's, dependency on Gerard of Cremona's translations of translations of translations - and to suggest in it something in the manner of a generous gift from Arabia to Europe, as well. Alfonso's conquest and his cultural tolerance as the real source, puts paid to that notion.

I also thought it might be one of those sometimes significant things which some - of your readers for example - who had studied philosophy per se, rather than the history of philosophy, might have missed mention of.

I had almost forgotten it, until the dubious claim put forth by Anonymous, put me back in Walter Turner's classroom.

Jeremy Taylor said...

Justin,

That is an very simplistic, even false, perspective on the history. Certainly, Islam has often been war-like. But then so were many, many pre-modern (and modern) societies. Conquest was quite normal, and civilisations expanded when they could. The Islamic conquests of the Middle East and North Africa, for example, were launched against Empires, Byzantium and Sassanian Persia, who had done their fair share of conquest and subjugation, and had often invaded the Arabs and used them cynically in proxy wars. I'm not sure how we'd measure the relative martial spirit and aggression of each faith, but Christian civilisations have certainly been aggressive as well. Just ask the indigenous peoples of the Americas.

It is often said that Islam spread by the sword. Certainly, the early Islamic conquests helped to spread the prestige and knowledge of their faith, but it was not usual that people were forced to become Muslims (though incentives, negative and positive, were often given to convert). And often Islam was by spread missionaries, often Sufis. This is the case in much of Central, Southern, and South-Eastern Asia, as well as parts of Africa and the Caucasus. In this sense it was a spread of ideas. Indeed, even in those areas of the Middle East that Muslims conquered, there was a clear exchange of ideas. Christianity originally didn't spread by the sword, and missionary work was often important later on, but it has been far from uncommon for Christianity to be spread by conquest too. And traditional Christian societies were probably less tolerant and more ready to coerce conversion than Islamic ones.

I think a good argument can be made that together Islam and Christianity have the worst record amongst the great religions for aggression and intolerance, perhaps by quite a bit, but I don't see how one can easily claim that Christianity is a lot better than Islam in this regard.

Jeremy Taylor said...

And just to hamner home the complexities of the history, I think you will find many of the more oppressive Muslim states were of Mongol or Turkic orugin, especially those converted not too long ago. This correlates with the oppression non-Muslim Mongol and Turkic conquerors (Genghis Khan was the equal of any twentieth century despot).

OceanD said...

@Jeremy Taylor
Christianity originally didn't spread by the sword, and missionary work was often important later on, but it has been far from uncommon for Christianity to be spread by conquest too. And traditional Christian societies were probably less tolerant and more ready to coerce conversion than Islamic ones

This is actually untrue, in the Indian subcontinent atleast since the 19th century the British empire brought the Christian faith with them. Yes that was not their main objective but only a side effect since their main objective was to increase the British empire and also to bring economic wealth to it. Many generations of Christians still live there because of it, and if you ask most of them as I have, they were not coerced into the Christian faith at all. Most were looking to either get out of the Hindu caste system or were fearing their lives from Muslims. I personally know of a few generations removed christians who's ancestors were very respected religious Sufi pirs who converted to Christianity (even though they had a great influence on people) because of a genuine change of heart.

Jeremy Taylor said...

I'm not sure how that proves what I said untrue, even if we leave aside its purely anecdotal nature (I'm sure you didn't actually mean to say you'd asked most Christians in India). I certainly wasn't suggesting all, or even most, Christian converts were coerced.

OceanD said...

Then what were you suggesting? I am talking about experiences of people living in the subcontinent at that point in time and the stories that they told their children. Yes it is a very small sample size then a full research would show but my point is to show that Christianity was not spread by coercion at least in the Indian subcontinent, I am simply stating what I have obtained from talking with people. Furthermore, Christianity is a religion that would not make sense to actually even promote via coercion. If some christians did that in the past then they were not following Jesus Christ in the truest sense.

Justin said...

Jeremy,

Obviously you enjoy trolling and not actually intellectually honest discussions.

To say that it is false history that Islam was in fact spread by the sword is simply revisionist, dishonest history. And to ignore the fact that one philosophy simply and clearly does not advocate its adherents to convert people by force, while the other does, is also dishonest.

And you ignore modern empirical evidence. In Islamic states, they are clearly third world or worse, deal with a much more brutal system of government, are more poorly educated, are less peaceful, etc.

So, you haven't made a single positive point to back up your continuously spammed claim that we should take Islam seriously, much less respect it. You end up sounding more like a gnu. Nothing to offer, denial of everything else.

Jeremy Taylor said...

OceanD,

My point is simply that Christianity has a history as war-like and intolerant as Islam. I do not see how your anecdote undermines that. I am not saying Christianity always, or even mostly, was spread by force.


Justin,

I know DNW and I haven't given a toid example, but let's try and keep to it civil.

Anyway, I don't think someone who seems to only be naking bald, simplistic, indeed false assertions should be complaining about others not offering arguments.

What does it mean to say that Islam spread by the sword? Islamic civilisations have often been war-like, but so have Christian ones. Generally, most were not forced to convert to Islam, and in many places Islam spread without accompanying armies. The history of traditional Islam and Christianity does not show the former as standing out as more intolerant or even war-like, I would say. Do you have any proper response to this beyond to just make the same unargued for assertion?

You were the one focusing on the empirical nature of Islam, which you are correct to say us different to the internal teachings of a faith. But Islam, or the Koran, simply doesn't teach conversion by the sword. I don't think you have read the Koran.

I am not sure what good it is to compare the modern West and modern Islamic world. We are not talking of levels democracy or of technology. Besides, the relationship of the modern West to traditional Christianity us complex. It would be hugely controversial to claim either liberal democracy or modern technology for traditional Christianity. Liberalism and the so called enlightenment, for example, although they grew of Christianity, are not branches of Christianity.

I am not sure you know what a gnu is. I would say it was more like a gnu to say a religion was obviously evil or whatever and then not back up that assertion, or even explain it. Son of Anonymous did just that sort of thing.

Jeremy Taylor said...

- that should be good example.

Sorry, for the typos,using my phone, and was never a good proofreader, anyway.

Justin said...

Last one for Jeremy,

If you think Islam is on par with Christianity, would you rather be a Christian in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Lybia, Indonesia, or Pakistan; or a Muslim in America?

I think that answers the question well enough.

Jeremy Taylor said...

I think that is a point grossly fallacious, as should be obvious to all. You are equating the contemporary West with traditional Christianity without giving any argument for it. This is hugely controversial. The relationship of liberalism and the so called enlightenment to Christianity is complex, to say the least. One simply cannot claim modern Western tolerance, etc., for Christianity unargued for. Neither can one, actually, equate the modern Islamic world with the traditional one - it too has been changed by modernity.

I think a fairer question would be, would you rather be a Jew in 12th century France or 12th century Al-Andalus.

OceanD said...

OceanD,

My point is simply that Christianity has a history as war-like and intolerant as Islam. I do not see how your anecdote undermines that. I am not saying Christianity always, or even mostly, was spread by force.


I see what you mean, but I still disagree, because you are equating bad behavior of some christians with Christianity. My point is that if christians have been intolerant towards, Jews or gays for instance then they are simply not following Christianity, you cannot judge an entire religion by the bad behavior of some of it's followers. Jesus's teachings are exceptionally clear about how you treat others.

Justin said...

Thanks for making my point, Jeremy.

Jeremy Taylor said...

Justin,

Your poiny is that your argument is silly and fallacious? Okay, was a pleasure to help you realise this.

OceanD,

I agree. I made the same point above. It is others, like Justin the genius, who insist on trying to tall about the historical examples of Christians and Muslims (or, even worse, their own clumsy, inaccurate views on them).

Anonymous said...

Msgr Swetland: "magisterial teaching on what authentic Islam is”... That's an almost Islamic way of thinking about things. He thinks the Magisterium is like the Hadiths. Now it makes sense why he was considering joining Islam. He's just that kind of guy.
In the talk, he was passive-aggressive, whiny, cruel, demeaning, and seeming to derive some sort of joy both from "being persecuted" - he was laying traps to get others to put down anything Catholic - as well as from putting others down without offering anything even resembling a strong argument.
You almost get the sense he went to talk it up with "the girls" after this in order to get reassurance and confirmation about what a jerk that gruff Spencer was and how much more loving and just plain right ("so right guys!!") he is.
He's not an expert on Islam, but he might be one on victimology. That's too bad.