Friday, September 25, 2009

Williams warns Tokyo students against ‘rationality’

From The Church Times-

THE NEXT generation is being betrayed by a utilitarian approach to reason, one that asks “What is the use or profit of this?”, the Archbishop of Canterbury said this week.

Dr Williams was speaking on Monday at Rikkyo Gaukin Univer sity, an Anglican institution in Tokyo, during a week-long visit to Japan to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Nippon Sei Ko Kai, the Anglican Church there.

Dr Williams challenged those who contrasted religion and reason, suggesting that theirs was a narrow interpretation of reason: “A way of arguing and testing propositions, usually so as to become better at manipulating the world around us”. This secular approach, he argued, had not proved entirely successful: “A rationality that has brought us into the age of nuclear weaponry and global economic meltdown invites some sharp questions, to put it mildly.”
He criticised the likes of Darwin, Marx, and Freud as having a debt to Christian theology, and yet cutting off the branch on which they were sitting.

Speaking to the university stu dents, Dr Williams cited St Bernard’s dispute with Peter Abelard, in which St Bernard argued that “the ultimate test of being reasonable was whether you understood what your place was in the universe.”

Separation from God left people defenceless “against the destructive powers that imprison our true humanity”, Dr Williams said. “Reason properly understood here is what ought to deliver us from this shrinking and defacing of what we are in our full dignity.” It would help students to “understand their place and potential in society”.

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