The real lesson of Regensburg
Media coverage of current events is often misleading. The Regensburg “lesson” given by Pope Benedict XVI last September will be remembered for the outcry provoked in the Muslim world by a Byzantine quotation which was either unfortunate or justified, depending on your sensitivities.
The essence of his speech, which has to a great extent been lost, did not revolve around Islam, however, but rather around the relation - ship between faith and science. He intended to add “meaning” to the issue of the understanding of the universe, “the specifically human questions about our origin and destiny.” In expressing this, is the Pope not touching on an issue which is hotly disputed by the world’s scientific community, the controversy that is Intelligent Design?
The erudite deliberations of Benedict XVI, based on the marriage between Hellenic and Biblical thoughts as implemented by Christianity, are subtle and not associated with Creationist tendencies. In keeping with Evangelical terminology, render unto Caesar (the scientific community) that which is Caesar's (scientific knowledge). While accepting the “facts” illuminated by science (Darwinism, the nature of matter, the Big Bang, etc.), he maintains on the other hand that “Attempts to construct an ethic from the rules of evolution or from psychology and sociology, end up being simply inadequate.” He acknowledges the need for the development of a reasoned discipline called theology “not merely as a historical discipline and one of the human sciences, but… as inquiry into the rationality of faith, [which] right - ly belongs in the university and within the wideranging dialogue of sciences… and of cultures.”
This invitation to dialogue conveys the fact that enlightened religious thought cannot economise on its own readjustment with regard to the acquiring of scientific knowledge. Whether the reverse may be true is another matter.