So what is Western Civilization, anyway? The term itself is under assault from progressives, as if the very notion is somehow passé and is not inclusive enough in a globalized world.
But, the fact is, our daily lives in the U.S and throughout much of the world are governed by core values and concepts that grow out of two inextricably linked aspects of the human condition: faith and reason. You don’t have to be a religious person to benefit from gaining an understanding of how the pairing of reason and faith is one of the hallmarks of Western Civilization and is unique to it.
In his illuminating 2019 work of intellectual history, Reason, Faith, and the Struggle for Western Civilization
(Gateway, 2019), Samuel Gregg
demonstrates that key features of what we call the West--from the market economy to scientific advancement and the quest for human freedom and justice--are rooted in the relationship between faith and reason. He shows, for example, that the Enlightenment has been misleadingly portrayed as almost wholly anti-religious in nature whereas many of its leading figures were in fact deeply devout and welcomed the development of new fields of study and were, indeed, often pioneers in them.
Gregg examines key historical events such as the Regensburg Lecture delivered in 2006 by Pope Benedict XVI (and which led to mass demonstrations and riots in parts of the Muslim world) and the origins of the idea of a reasoning, reasonable God in ancient Judaism and early Christianity in order to argue that Western Civilization is worth preserving in an era of Jihadism and other mortal threats to values we all cherish such as religious freedom, freedom of speech, and human rights and dignity.
In his book, Gregg compellingly argues that a renewed commitment to the foundational linkage of faith and reason is not only possible but imperative for everyone on the planet who does not wish to live under tyranny. Give a listen.
Hope J. Leman is a grants researcher.