SteveGrossman

US Religious Origin

41 posts in this topic

Conservatives can make a brief and quickly understood claim that America had a religious origin

by simply noting concrete religious references in the Declaration of Independence. Is there a similarly brief and quickly understood claim that the origin was rational. When conservatives encounter a summary of "The Nation of the Enlightenment" in Peikoff's _Ominous Parallels they quickly ignore it for the, to them, quickly convincing religious references in the Declaration of Independence. One Objectivist (Peikoff?) noted that divine revelations, ie, out-of-context concretes, are the pattern of conservative psycho-epistemology. Ie, they want a sensational concrete and damn the context. Does anyone know how to reach them or is it impossible, ie, there can be no Objectivist "bolt from the blue." Thus conservatives must learn to reason or be patient for an extended, contextual defense of a rational US origin, a patience they may simply not have.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Conservatives can make a brief and quickly understood claim that America had a religious origin

by simply noting concrete religious references in the Declaration of Independence. Is there a similarly brief and quickly understood claim that the origin was rational.

I'm sympathetic to your desire, but I don't think it's possible to make a "quickly understood claim" in this regard. As you point out, knowledge is not a series of acontextual revelations; if we are to prove that the founding of America was reason and secularism, we must say more than a sentence or two.

On the other hand, I think there is some value in trying to find an especially insightful point that may cause an honest conservative to see some measure of plausibility in the claim that America was not founded on religion. The best point to bring up that I can think of in this regard was a comment that Dr. Peikoff made in the Q&A period of ARI's first public lecture back in 2002. In the form of a close paraphrase from memory, he asked:

[begin paraphrase]

If it is true, as the conservatives say, that America was founded on Christianity, and that it was the Founding Fathers' devotion to Jesus that led them to create the United States, why wasn't the United States founded in the 12th century, or in the 9th century, where people were beside themselves with their ecstasy and love for Jesus and the saints?

[end paraphrase]

I think something like this could grab an honest conservative's ear.

(As an aside, the problem of trying to convince a conservative that America was founded on secularism rather than religion is analogous to trying to convince a liberal/leftist that the problems of a mixed economy are caused by the controls rather than the freedom. Here too, bringing in a broad historical perspective -- i.e., pointing out, by looking around the world and at history, that the freest nations are the most prosperous -- can cause some people to stop and think.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[fom Peikoff] If it is true, as the conservatives say, that America was founded on Christianity, and that it was the Founding Fathers' devotion to Jesus that led them to create the United States, why wasn't the United States founded in the 12th century, or in the 9th century, where people were beside themselves with their ecstasy and love for Jesus and the saints?

Good try but it's about the religious claim rather than the rational claim. It would have to be something like the spirit of science, technology, and capitalism. That might make conservatives and others take notice, tho it's a generalization rather than the concrete fact of religious references in the Dec. of Independence. Perhaps a reference to Franklin's Autobiography, in which he attempts to live by, more or less, rational principles and for the purpose of living in the material universe (or so I recall it from high school).

By the way, Peikoff underestimated the religious potentiial for dishonesty. A Christian clergyman once told me, when I noted the much more consistent religiosityof the Dark Ages, that they were (allegedly) ruled by soldiers. To my comment about ideas created by religious thinkers rather than soldiers, he changed the subject. Perhaps my original concern is hopeless and an extended, contextual argument is needed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
By the way, Peikoff underestimated the religious potentiial for dishonesty. ...

I don't know why you say this. Lest I was unclear, Dr. Peikoff never said that the above idea which I paraphrased from him would necessarily convince anyone; it was a just a comment he made in answer to a question. And in providing this paraphrase, I was in turn merely providing one of many possible ideas that one could use to get an honest religious person interested in thinking about the ideological foundation of America. The dishonest (qua dishonest) are, of course, not to be reached.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[...] By the way, Peikoff underestimated the religious potentiial for dishonesty. [...]

What is the evidence for this conclusion?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I don't know why you say this. 

A Christian clergyman once told me, when I noted the much more consistent religiosityof the Dark Ages, that they were (allegedly) ruled by soldiers. To my comment about ideas created by religious thinkers rather than soldiers, he changed the subject.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I don't know how many of you have seen this, but it is wonderful.

http://www.aynrand.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=6177

Altho the quotes are good, they are still negative. Ie, i wanted dramatic concrete evidence, like "God" in the Dec. of Independence, to convince conservatives of the US religious origin. Perhaps, however, the evidence must be contextual and thus beyond the typical "revelation"-based, concrete conservative (or conservative Pragmatist) psycho-epistemology. If you identify the context (Enlightenment, worldly, commerical activities of Revolutionary era, etc), conservatives wont focus away from the, to them, intellectually overwhelming power of "God" in the Dec. of Independence.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Conservatives can make a brief and quickly understood claim that America had a religious origin

by simply noting concrete religious references in the Declaration of Independence.

The problem goes much deeper than references to the Declaration. If one reads the Founders own words, including Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Adams, et al., one finds many references to God, where religion is given the credit for all morals and virtues.

The problem is that this country was originally colonized, for the most part, by those who were seeking religious freedom. Even the merchants of Virginia brought their religion with them. Those who came from England were specifically trying to get away from the Civil War surrounding the battle between Catholicism and Protestanism. There were battles being fought between the various Protestant sects as well, such as those fought between Calvanist Scotland and the Church of England.

Until Jefferson wrote the Virginia Constitution, there was no separation of church and state. Every township was governed by clergy of one sort or another, in one capacity or another. It was to forestall the same kind of religious infighting experienced in Europe that the separation was proposed.

The United States was founded on mixed premises, both Enlightenment and religious. This is why we have the difficulty we have in trying to separate the two when we discuss the founding. Protestantism itself was a reversion to a much more strict religious observance. This had twin causes: the Catholic Chruch became obviously decadent, and the Bible became available to believers to read for themselves. The key aspect of Protestantism, however, was its denial of the Church as a necessary intermediary with God. Protestantism preached that each person had a personal, i.e., individual relationship with God.

Once the clergy lost their actual positions of political power, the individualist aspect of the religion (the individual is responsible for his own soul) allowed people to do what they had to in order to live, and going to church on Sunday took care of their public religious life. But, the fundamental ethic remained rooted in Christianity.

It is this marriage of two vastly different ideas of the individual that causes all the trouble. The Protestant religionist said that the individual is responsible for his life because it is his own personal soul that is in relation to God and which must answer for itself to God. He separated church and state on the religious tenet of "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and unto God that which is God's." Even religious altruism was subdued under the idea that it was up to the individual to live properly so that God would reward them with prosperity. Thus, if you were wretched, you must have done something to deserve your wretchedness. This is why, until 20th century Progressivism (and FDR), even the poor of this country were proud not to be "beholden" to anybody (and it was the guiltily prosperous and educated Progressives who wiped that pride right out of our culture).

The Enlightenment idea of the individual is (close to) the Objectivist idea of the sovereign mind of the individual. But even this Enlightenment idea was poorly formed due to mixed philosophical ideas.

One can see the dichotomy involved in every facet of American culture. Slavery was argued from both sides on religious grounds. Americans have always believed in hard work that leads to properity, but not too much prosperity because that must mean that you've come by it immorally. And so on.

The problems we have with the founding are very complex. I haven't found a "key" yet. I don't think there is one. The Fathers did not have a full, correct philosophy with which to work. They had Locke, who was only partly Aristotelean. Added to this problem was the fact that by the time of Locke, Aristoteleanism was out of fashion due to its ties to Catholicism. Until Miss Rand, there wasn't a proper philosophy to underpin the idea of individual sovereignty, which was a new, and incompletely understood idea at the time of the founding.

Now we have to fight the religionists' idea of secularism because modern secularism has consisted of either humanism (which is religion without God) and Marxism (which led to today's decadant, amoral Left). Objectivists are being lumped in with these two obviously failed altruist moralities. If you're going to be an altruist, the religious American believes, why not go back to the original, God, where, it can be pointed out, we had our most auspicious beginning?

So, I'm afraid that there isn't any quick fix here. The argument must be made from the very foundations of philosophy. This takes time. This is why, when I am talking to a religionist whose mind I know I cannot change, I argue Americanism, not philosophy. I remind them that their particular brand of religion may not be the one that rules. I point out the corruption that political power brings to religion. I remind them that it isn't Caesar's job to see to their morals. Etc. I do this to buy the time we need to pour a new foundation. With those who are open to rational argument, I argue. With those who aren't, I beat the original, and concrete, American drum.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think what is important to keep in mind about the Founding Fathers is that, while some of them were certainly religious in their approach toward government, their distinguishing quality was deism. Overall, they didn’t explicitly rejected religion, but certainly they were unprecedented in putting severe cracks in the previous church-state monolith in Europe. Thus, I regard the Founders as *a bridge* between the religious Old World and the Objectivist, atheist future we all hope comes sooner than later.

Moreover, the Founders served as a bridge on other issues as well, including ethics, from explicit altruism to our explicit rational self-interest) and slavery, from ancient Egypt to the Emancipation Proclamation.

Regarding religion, conservative can offer religious quotes from Jefferson, Madison, Adams, etc., until they are blue in the face. But such quotes merely reflect what virtually everyone uttered before these great men. Surely you can find similar quotes from Charlemagne onward. What is historically *significant*, however, and what distinguishes the Founders are the secularist and explicitly anti-religious ideas they and other important figures from the Enlightenment era boldly asserted. While such assertions were perhaps made by a handful of individuals before them here and there, and were probably burned at the stake for doing so, that they were made by a group of men founding a new country is absolutely unprecedented. That’s what’s most important, and clarifies this apparently complex issue of church-state separation that rages on today.

Similarly, some founders, such as Jefferson, owned slaves until their dying days, while others, such as John Adams, were never slave owners (or at least I believe Adams never owned another human being). As even conservatives are fond of arguing, slavery had been practiced the world over from time immemorial. But what distinguished the Founders, some of whom supported slavery, some who were vehemently opposed to it, is that they created, for the first time in history, the moral and political foundation to ultimately abolish that horrible institution. No one had ever quite made the argument against slavery as did the slave owning Thomas Jefferson.

The Founders ideas on religion and slavery were, in the context of the 18th century, *radical.* Despite his belief in God, Jefferson was called an atheist (an insult) by his conservative opponents. He was a radical by their standards (See “The Godless Constitution” by Kramnick and Moore). By contrast, today’s conservatives champion Jefferson as one of their own, not as a radical but as “a traditionalist,” and will call upon all his religious quotes to ground their claims that ours is a Christian-based nation. On the other hand, they *never* quote any of his secularist, anti-religious ideas, which is a non-objective measure on a par with the worst multiculturalists. On the issue of the founding of this country in relation to religion, conservatives are every much the revisionist historians the multiculturalists are with, say, American Indians. To include such quotes into their histories would only suggest that there was something significant tempering the Founders’ religious beliefs.

If you want to persuade some honest conservatives about the secularist founding of this nation, it’s vital to point out the context of the pre-Founding era -- that before the Jefferson and Adams virtually everyone was claiming God Almighty and Jesus Christ as the foundations of their European states. And also that the Founders were the first to challenge this with *radical* appeals to reason over faith, “natures God,” i.e., science, over a supernatural God, individual rights over divine authority, etc. When you point out, as Dr. Peikoff has, that if God and Christ are the foundation of America, then why didn’t America arise in Medieval Europe when Christendom reined supreme, the dishonest religionist will say: well, America is God’s chosen country. The more honest conservatives can no longer buy or utter that canned comeback. He’ll have to grapple with this fact, and allow for, at least in his own mind, that there was more to the Founders than just their religion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Overall, [the Founding Fathers] didn’t explicitly rejected religion, but certainly they were unprecedented in putting severe cracks in the previous church-state monolith in Europe. Thus, I regard the Founders as *a bridge* between the religious Old World and the Objectivist, atheist future we all hope comes sooner than later.

Moreover, the Founders served as a bridge on other issues as well, including ethics, from explicit altruism to our explicit rational self-interest) and slavery, from ancient Egypt to the Emancipation Proclamation.

This is an important perspective when evaluating cultural change and is similar to a point Dr. Ellen Kenner made when discussing how to measure one's progress when making positive changes in one's personal life.

Dr. Kenner recommended always measuring the distance from one's starting point and not from one's ultimate goal. That leads to a realistic assessment of the change and to an optimistic outlook that motivates further positive changes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dr. Kenner recommended always measuring the distance from one's starting point and not from one's ultimate goal.  That leads to a realistic assessment of the change and to an optimistic outlook that motivates further positive changes.

Mrs. Speicher, this is a very re-affirming and important theme.

I observe that you are psychologically insightful, and this is splendidly so.

On a personal note: in another thread you recommended Dr Hurd, and I thought of him by this statement. His approach is this way, and that is what I like (and ultimately respond to).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Conservatives can make a brief and quickly understood claim that America had a religious origin

by simply noting concrete religious references in the Declaration of Independence. Is there a similarly brief and quickly understood claim that the origin was rational.

I think what you might find helpful is quotes by the Founding Fathers calling Christianity absurd and a curse upon mankind. Thomas Jefferson does this, Madison too I think. Thomas Paine wrote a whole book about how evil and absurd Christianity is. The Tripoly treaty signed during Adams' administration explicitly says that "we are not a nation of Christians". Etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think what you might find helpful is quotes by the Founding Fathers calling Christianity absurd and a curse upon mankind. Thomas Jefferson does this, Madison too I think. Thomas Paine wrote a whole book about how evil and absurd Christianity is. The Tripoly treaty signed during Adams' administration explicitly says that "we are not a nation of Christians". Etc.

I believe that the Adams/Tripoli Treaty quote was published here. But exactly where (online? and original document, pages) are such quotes from Jefferson and Madison. Which Paine book and exactly where are the best comments in it? The "God" references in the Dec. of Ind. are much more authoritive because they are in one of the two most important US documents but your references are of some importance also.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Conservatives can make a brief and quickly understood claim that America had a religious origin by simply noting concrete religious references in the Declaration of Independence. Is there a similarly brief and quickly understood claim that the origin was rational."

Thus, Steve Grossman begins this thread. I already wrote a lengthy post that addressed this issue broadly. I'd like to add to that post by whittling it down to simple, brief and quickly understood claims that the origin of our nation was rational.

I would simply point out that in our nation’s most important, foundational document, the Constitution, there is *not one* reference to God, nor of religion as the basis of our government.

Conservatives commonly reply by pointing back to the religious references in the Declaration of Independence, particularly that we are “endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights.” I’d then simply reply that virtually every prior ruler of some European state in Christendom laid claim to God and Jesus Christ as its foundation, and add that what *distinguished* the Founding Fathers is that they upheld something unique: each individual’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness based on “nature’s God,” that is, science, which means, reason. You may want to add that the Founders were products of *the Age of Reason,* and that reason and science are the arch enemies of religion.

Of course, the dishonest conservatives will come up with a host of objections -- the First Amendment is about freedom of religion, not *from* religion; reason and science are compatible with religion, etc. Of course, there are rational answers to these, but let them wallow in their evasions. With honest conservatives, you may perhaps plant the seeds that will get them to begin questioning their beliefs. I think that’s the best that can be done briefly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would simply point out that in our nation’s most important, foundational document, the Constitution, there is *not one* reference to God, nor of religion as the basis of our government. 

Conservatives will bring up the use of the religious words “Blessings” and “ordain” in the first paragraph of the Constitution and “the Year of our Lord” in the last Article.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I’d then simply reply that virtually every prior ruler of some European state in Christendom laid claim to God and Jesus Christ as its foundation, and add that what *distinguished* the Founding Fathers is that they upheld something unique: each individual’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness based on “nature’s God,” that is, science, which means, reason.

That's a good point, tho not concrete as "God" in the Dec. of Ind. Similarly, almost all societies in history were and are religious, but almost all of these were and are poor, without individual rights, science, and capitalism. Again, I think that conservative concrete-boundedness prevents them from

accepting anything other than concrete facts. Ie, if the Dec. of Ind. had appealed to nature, but not nature's God, and also explicitly to reason, conservatives would accept that because they could stare mindlessly at words without considering context. Rand's observation, in "For The New Intellectual," that history is caused by psycho-epistemology is all too true. When I was a philosophy student, I often focused on the psycho-epistemology of my professors. It was like observing the sideshow in a philosophical circus. All this means that Objectivists have no quick road to changing the culture.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Conservatives will bring up the use of the religious words “Blessings” and “ordain” in the first paragraph of the Constitution and “the Year of our Lord” in the last Article.

This is more concrete evidence that will intellectually freeze anti-conceptual conservatives.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The United States was founded on mixed premises, both Enlightenment and religious.

So, I'm afraid that there isn't any quick fix here.  The argument must be made from the very foundations of philosophy.  This takes time. 

This is why, when I am talking to a religionist whose mind I know I cannot change, I argue Americanism, not philosophy.

The Enlightenment premise is essential, tho, and the religious premise, while it may be a close second, is non-essential. Ie, reason explains more of our founding than does religion; and also, reason most distingushes us from other societies.

Agreed, probably, no quick fix. Agreed, philosophy is the key. On this, today's NYT reported that Bush, speaking to Europeans, approvingly quoted Camus on freedom! :o The NYT, however, identified Camus' context of existentialist angst. Wouldn't you like to exile the Pragmatist dumkopf speechwriter who gave that to Bush? Talk about the influence of ideas!

Yes, appeal to the rational part of American culture. Explicitly praise reason, science, technology, rights, business, worldliness, personal achievement, and pride, especially pride. Confront conservatives with the need for a non-Pragmatist decision.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
But exactly where (online? and original document, pages) are such quotes from Jefferson and Madison.
Well, in order to argue against Christians using the words of the Founding Fathers, you have to study the latter in depth first, right? I haven't done so, and cannot provide exact references. I just know what their views were, largely by osmosis and by memory of select quotes.
Which Paine book and exactly where are the best comments in it?
The entire book is "the best comment". It's an incredible tour de force. But if you want something smaller than an entire book, he says somewhere something like, "The Book of Revelations is a collection of lunatic nonsense, that itself requires a revelation to be understood."
The "God" references in the Dec. of Ind. are much more authoritive because they are in one of the two most important US documents but your references are of some importance also.
Yes but you do realize that Jefferson was referring to the Deist god, not the Christian god, right? Christians like to blur the difference today and make it seem as if the differences between Deism and Chrisianity are minor, and are merely hair-splitting, but they once called Jefferson an atheist for this very same belief. More specifically in the election of 1800, there was little more common than an accusation that Jefferson was an atheist because he rejected the Christian god. They prosecuted him in the court of public opinion then, but call him a Christian now. How's that for intellectual honesty?

In short, the best way to answer such accusations as you've shown requires a solid possession of the facts of history. I don't have all the facts yet, but I know where to look when I will want to learn them, and hopefully I've helped you with knowing where to look as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The entire book is "the best comment". It's an incredible tour de force. But if you want something smaller than an entire book, he says somewhere something like, "The Book of Revelations is a collection of lunatic nonsense, that itself requires a revelation to be understood."

What is the name of the Paine book?

The Christians I've heard don't even know about Deism. It's all Chnstianity to them. Eg, Bill O'Reilly

of Fox TV and Bush.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Paine book is called The Age of Reason. It shows just how radical some of our founders were on the issue of religion. (The history of Paine after the book, however, shows just how entrenched religion was in our culture, even then.)

ARI has a page that includes a ton of quotes by our Founding Fathers on religion. (Here's the link.) I myself think this is the best site you'll find online with regards to religion's role in early America.

Janet Busch's comments on this are worth reading again, though--because both were a big part of our founding, like it or not, both should be acknowledged. For my own part, I believe this is the best way to approach such discussions:

1. Point out the essential role that reason, and the Enlightenment, played in our nation's founding.

2. State (briefly if you must) where our concept of individual rights came from, along with our political structure. In other words, point out the parts of America that were the products of reason.

3. Acknowledge that religion was around and did influence some of the founders.

4. Point out, however, the very minimal role that religion had at the time of our nation's birth--contrasting this, with the more dominant role it had before, and soon after, the founding.

5. Show the products of religion in America--the lack of freedom in early or pre-America, and the restrictions that the religious placed on all types of activities after the founding, because they conflicted with their faith.

Do the above, even briefly, and any honest thinker will at the very least want to discuss more. Many will even agree that there was another part to our Founding than "faith in god"--which is a start.

This approach has proven to me to be infinitely better than trading quotes--which can go on ad infinitum. Moreover, by using this approach, you will have planted in that person's mind an extremely important principle regarding the epistemological precursors of both freedom and force--one that you can regularly help to grow in future conversations. (Any new attack on freedom by the religionists can, for instance, be brought up--with you pointing out how it's just another application of the principles previously discussed. "Faith led to an assault on our freedoms in the past," you can say, "just as it is leading to the same today." And so on.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
<snip>

For my own part, I believe this is the best way to approach such discussions:

1. Point out the essential role that reason, and the Enlightenment, played in our nation's founding.

2. State (briefly if you must) where our concept of individual rights came from, along with our political structure.  In other words, point out the parts of America that were the products of reason.

3. Acknowledge that religion was around and did influence some of the founders.

4. Point out, however, the very minimal role that religion had at the time of our nation's birth--contrasting this, with the more dominant role it had before, and soon after, the founding.

5. Show the products of religion in America--the lack of freedom in early or pre-America, and the restrictions that the religious placed on all types of activities after the founding, because they conflicted with their faith.

Do the above, even briefly, and any honest thinker will at the very least want to discuss more. Many will even agree that there was another part to our Founding than "faith in god"--which is a start.

This approach has proven to me to be infinitely better than trading quotes--which can go on ad infinitum. Moreover, by using this approach, you will have planted in that person's mind an extremely important principle regarding the epistemological precursors of both freedom and force--one that you can regularly help to grow in future conversations.  (Any new attack on freedom by the religionists can, for instance, be brought up--with you pointing out how it's just another application of the principles previously discussed. "Faith led to an assault on our freedoms in the past," you can say, "just as it is leading to the same today." And so on.)

I agree completely with this approach, and I have used it myself. I emphasized "any honest thinker", however, because it is the fundamentalist and evangelical Christian that I've been thinking about, and they are not honest thinkers, but wallowers in faith.

I see that I haven't provided a context for my thinking in this matter, so I will do so now. One may justifiably ask why I would bother engaging a faith-based person in any discussion in the first place.

I've been thinking about this problem since George W. Bush was voted in with the backing of the Religious Right. Until Reagan, overt religion in this country was on the wane. What is the primary motivation behind the average religious person seeking political power now? What has pushed religion to the fore in our civic discourse?

There are those who want this country to become an explicitly Christian country, with all that entails. But, in my experience, most people have turned to religion again because they've seen the results of the nilhilism of the Left. Their children are taught in government schools and taxpayer supported universities that morality is relative, that one culture, or belief system, is just as valid as any other. The necessary consequences of all this has been the complete breakdown of a moral sense of any kind and has led to rampant degeneracy; their daughters are sluts and their sons are thugs or wimps. This is why the discussion centers around values, which is an important point.

They have turned to the only value system they know -- religion. (For this they are ridiculed, laughed at, and not taken seriously by the Left establishment. I understand the danger religion poses. I don't laugh at it, but give it the serious consideration it deserves.)

This isn't anything new. The pendulum has swung many times in this country. What is new, however, is that many religious conservatives have accepted the big government tenets of the Left, which, in reality means that they have accepted group politics. This comes easily because of a shared altruist ethics.

One may point out the essential Enlightenment ideas at the base of our politics till they're blue in the face, but this misses the point. The problem is that we had the political philosophy before we had the metaphysical, epistemological, and most importantly in this context, the ethical premises with which to sustain the politics. Thus, it is important to understand that arguing for the ideas of the Enlightenment alone will not do. Even thinking people are able to wed the political ideas of the Enlightenment with religion (but one may certainly go on to argue for reason over faith with such a person).

"And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God?  That they are not to be violated but with his wrath?  Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep forever."

Sound familiar? That's not Bush. That's Thomas Jefferson. (Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 18, 1781)

(As an aside, quoting Thomas Paine isn't a good idea. Even Franklin quipped in answer: "If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be without it?" Modern religious Americans have seen quite well what men would be without it.)

One cannot fault the Fathers for not having the genius for the ages that Miss Rand owned; i.e., for not coming up with all the essential principles which validate the political ones. But we are now paying the price of their lack. Thankfully, Miss Rand has provided what is needed to rectify the problem and reverse the course this lack has caused, but this takes time. Objectivism has come far, but not nearly far enough to keep us from the danger we are now in.

So, because the faith-based individual has the vote :o, I began to wonder how I could engage such an individual and put a stop to the most immediate problem of entrenching these beliefs in law. As I have said, the deeper problems must be addressed philosophically, and that is the job of the professionals. We are making inroads in academia, which is where that battle must be fought, but the political questions remain in their immediacy. Trying to argue politics with those blind to anything non-religious, without the requisite philosophical premises, is difficult at best. I use whatever tools I can find to do so, including reminding Christians that Caesar had no place in religion, and all the other various arguments I talked about in my first post. (I'm still working on these arguments.)

Very many of the Religious Right also believe that we must go back to the Constitution. I point out that what made the Constitution unique in the world was the fact that it based the law of the land on the rights of the individual. My purpose is to argue for the sovereignty and rights of the individual, which is the salient point of agreement. All else flows from that, including the ability to spread Objectivism.

I've gone on long enough. I ask only that you remember that I am not advocating abandoning reasoned argument based on the proper philosophical premises, but only that one can make an argument with someone who is deaf to the deeper principles. If I sound unsure in places, it is because I'm still in the process of working out my thoughts about this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites