Myten om det kristna Europa

I anslutning till de tre föregående bloggposterna rekommenderar jag detta inlägg av den brittiske författaren Kenan Malik, The Myths of Christian Europe.

”Christianity has certainly been the crucible within which the intellectual and political cultures of Western Europe have developed over the past two millennia. But the claim that Christianity embodies the ‘bedrock values of Western civilization’ and that the weakening of Christianity inevitably means the weakening of liberal democratic values greatly simplifies both the history of Christianity and the roots of modern democratic values – not to mention underplays the tensions that often exist between ‘Christian’ and ‘liberal’ values.”(…)

”But if the Church kept alive elements of a learned culture, Church leaders were ambiguous about the merits of pagan knowledge. ‘What is there in common between Athens and Jerusalem?’, asked Tertullian, the first significant theologian to write in Latin. So preoccupied were devout Christians with the demands of the next world that to study nature or history or philosophy for its own sake seemed to them almost perverse. ‘Let Christians prefer the simplicity of our faith to the demonstrations of human reason’, insisted Basil of Caesarea, an influential fourth century theologian and monastic. ‘For to spend much time on research about the essence of things would not serve the edification of the church.’”(…)

”Not only are ‘Christian values’ and ‘Islamic values’ more complex, and with a more convoluted history than contemporary narratives suggest, so too is the relationship between Enlightenment ideas and religious belief. There were, in fact, as the historian Jonathan Israel has pointed out, two Enlightenments. The mainstream Enlightenment of Kant, Locke, Voltaire and Hume is the one of which we know and which provides the public face of the movement. But it was the Radical Enlightenment, shaped by lesser-known figures such as d’Holbach, Diderot, Condorcet and, in particular, Spinoza that provided the Enlightenment’s heart and soul.

The two Enlightenments divided on the question of whether reason reigned supreme in human affairs, as the radicals insisted, or whether reason had to be limited by faith and tradition – the view of the mainstream. The attempt of the mainstream to hold on to elements of traditional beliefs constrained its critique of old social forms and beliefs. The Radicals, on the other hand, were driven to pursue their ideas of equality and democracy to their logical conclusions because, having broken with traditional concepts of a God-ordained order, there was, as Israel puts it, no ‘meaningful alternative to grounding morality, political and social order on a systematic radical egalitarianism extending across all frontiers, class barriers and horizons.’”

”Egalitär” kan i liberal bemärkelse här betyda lika rätt till frihet.

Mattias Svenssons samtal med Malik i Neo, Nr 6-2009.

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