Sam Harris, fearless as ever, hammers the Pope for having ... religious faith. One core element of Benedict's address was that science cannot account for science itself, that there is something called the whole in which scientific and empirical discourse have an essential place - but not the only, or prime, one:

Modern scientific reason quite simply has to accept the rational structure of matter and the correspondence between our spirit and the prevailing rational structures of nature as a given, on which its methodology has to be based. Yet the question why this has to be so is a real question, and one which has to be remanded by the natural sciences to other modes and planes of thought — to philosophy and theology ...

Harris has no real answer to this (scientism has its limits), concedes that questions of epistemology can indeed make one sweat, but then dismisses Benedict's point by arguing that he said nothing "interesting or controversial" about this issue. So, in one essay, Harris both condemns Benedict for being controversial in inflaming Muslims and then condemns him for not being controversial enough. I can understand Harris' argument, respect his intellect, and admire his last book. But asking the Pope to be an atheist is not exactly illuminating. And between the pope's call for reason-in-faith and the Islamist insistence on revolutionary violence, I don't think it's the "silly old priest" who bears the greater moral burden in these perilous times.

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