March 15, 2005
[As of March 18, there is no sign of being published.]
To the Editor:
Mona Charen's article (3/15/05 "Losing Our Grip") draws our attention to the absurdity of contemporary historical and legal scholarship asserting that America was founded as a secular nation. One can believe that only by reading current authors, not by reading the founding fathers themselves. They almost unanimously believed us to be both personally and corporately responsible before God.
One need only visit the Jefferson Memorial to understand that Thomas Jefferson was not a deist, as claimed. The words on the walls tell of a person who believed in a Creator who cared for and intervened in human affairs.
William Blackstone, the preeminent legal scholar of the time, whose books were widely read, studied, and quoted in America, said that no human law could supersede the law of God. That is, of course, precisely why Moses is depicted on the Supreme Court building. The American founding fathers, and those voting for them, considered themselves under the law and grace of God.
One might want to argue that that was a terrible mistake, but one cannot argue rationally that the colonialists and early Americans generally believed otherwise.
My disagreement with Mona Charen's article is only that she does not carry her case to its logical conclusion. She notes that, "The petitioners [ACLU, et al] complain the [Texas] monument 'expresses an unequivocal religious message: There is a God, and God has proclaimed rules for behavior.'"
The courts have ruled, she notes, that a "religious" theme can be allowed only if it is buried under secular and other religiously irrelevant themes so as to imply that no one takes the obvious religious implications seriously.
The sad truth is that Christians defend their representations precisely on those grounds, that they are religiously irrelevant and refer only to our "past history", not to a living God.
But Christians betray their own intellectual, moral, and spiritual timidity when they "defend" the Decalogue by saying that it is merely historical artifact, not a claim by God on His whole creation, including the political realm. God does indeed proclaim rules for behavior. So does Congress. But God, if He exists, is a law-giver higher than any human authority -- Congress and the Supreme Court included.
Never, before our own pseudo-sophisticated age, has religion ever been considered a private, personal, not-for-public-consumption, item. The word 'religion' comes from the Latin 're-lig-io', which means to bind back or bind together (as in lig-ament). The religion of a society was that which bound the society together, the most public and open aspect, the shared values and customs of the society.
In that sense every society has a 'religio', a set of shared and binding values upon which laws are based -- or it becomes chaotic. Even our nonsensical "relative truth" culture has at least the shared value of relativism. That makes it self-contradictory, but we are told to believe it just the same.
A religion, then, is a worldview, whether or not it tells of a personal God of the Biblical sort. The first Humanist Manifesto (1933) insists that humanism is a religion:
"Religions have always been means for realizing the highest values of life. Their end has been accomplished through the interpretation of the total environing situation (theology or world view), the sense of values resulting therefrom (goal or ideal), and the technique (cult), established for realizing the satisfactory life." [See www.infidels.org]
Humanism, in other words, is trying to replace the Biblical view, not by being non-religious, but by putting forth a better religion, a better worldview. Did it succeed?
A freemarket of ideas does not exclude one worldview just because it tells of a personal God. Rather, a freemarket of ideas requires of that view (as it requires of any view) that it enter the discussion with honest intellectual integrity, that it be willing to admit when its case is not adequate, that it be on a search for truth, not merely to get its own way. That kind of open truth-seeking is the basis of all honest science and all honest academics. It is also the basis of all honest Biblical religion (see Elijah vs. Ahab on Mount Carmel in I Kings 18:17 ff.).
That honesty is not always evident among Christians or Jews, but then it is also not always evident among secularists. Intellectual deceit is as common in the secularized scientific community as in the religious. The most secular century of human history, the 20th, was also the most brutal, killing a greater percentage of the human population than any other by the time it was half way over -- in almost every case by self-proclaimed secular governments.
A teenager was heard to say that "there is no right and wrong, there is only fun and boring." That is a prescription for social and personal disaster, and it is the logical conclusion of worldviews which ignore God. A Darwinist cosmos is incapable of producing a morality, only fun, boring, and then power-struggle.
As history bears out, when God and His laws are ignored, culture devolves into moral, and therefore, political, chaos. A God-less world can produce no principle of obligation, no reason to show why one "ought" to obey some alleged authority, so politics devolves into a contest of force. Just fun or boring, which leads to chaos, and then massive measures to control.
Only the creator of something can decide its reason for existence. That is a logical fact. And only our reason for existence can be the basis for ob-lig-ation. (There is that root 'lig' - binding together again.) In the end, we are bound together only by a common perception of our reason for existence.
God expresses our reason for existence in His laws, the highest of which is the law of love. That is why some folks like to sing: "Bind us together, Lord, bind us together with cords that cannot be broken, bind us together, Lord, bind us together with love."
Congress cannot do that, the judiciary cannot do that, the executive cannot do that -- all the king's horsemen and all the king's men..... But the King can. That is what the founding fathers (specifically Jefferson) saw, and upon which they based our republic.
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