Reason, Freedom and God: What is happening in Egypt?

Right now, in Egypt, these are all words that emerge in the debate. Freedom and democracy, God and his will, reason to navigate the situation. The world watches the perceived (I do not know enough Middle Eastern politics to know this is true) linchpin of stability between the West and radical Islam, Egypt, as the history of humanity unfolds. And already the results are pretty: violence, massive unrest, deaths. Since God and religion are at the core of Egypt’s future debate, a possible question, while looking at the mess unfold is: Is God good? Here is a short video, which will save many words.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/13122183]

Reason is connected to God, and explains freedom. In the same way as God cannot make a square circle, or prevent people from doing evil, he cannot do evil himself. Reason, and the reasonability of God, was at the core of the Pope’s most famous address, at Regensberg in 2006. The result was a stiring up in the Muslim world, opportunities of dialogue in the positive and violent backlashes in the negative. If God is reason, and violence is contrary to reason especially in the name of God, then no religion and justify violence. Picking up on this theme, an Egyptian Jesuit priest has an interesting piece on the new movement in Islam, consequence of the last events, bringing reason into the debate. Read the whole article by Sandro Magister here. He concludes, quoting Pope Benedict XVI on the challenge of Islam, which describes one important dimension of what is happening in Egypt now:

Benedict XVI said to the Roman curia on December 22, 2006:

“The Muslim world today finds itself facing an extremely urgent task that is very similar to the one that was imposed upon Christians beginning in the age of the Enlightenment, and that Vatican Council II, through long and painstaking effort, resolved concretely for the Catholic Church. […]

“On the one hand, we must oppose a dictatorship of positivist reasoning that excludes God from the life of the community and from the public order, thus depriving man of his specific criteria of judgment.

“On the other hand, it is necessary to welcome the real achievements of Enlightenment thinking – human rights, and especially the freedom of faith and its exercise, recognizing these as elements that are also essential for the authenticity of religion. Just as in the Christian community there has been lengthy inquiry into the right attitude of faith toward these convictions – an inquiry that certainly will never be concluded definitively – so also the Islamic world, with its own tradition, stands before the great task of finding the appropriate solutions in this regard.”


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