Tuesday, 27 March 2012
This will be a follow up to my last post. I do not doubt that the founders of the United States believed in a creator. There is evidence in their writings that they believed there was a god. I’m not sure that all of them are Christians but that is irrelevant. If a group of Christians gets together and writes a document, that document is not magically endowed with the principles of Christianity. An overwhelming majority of congress members are Christians. This doesn’t mean that every piece of legislation that is churned out reflects the values taught in the Holy Bible. You wouldn’t pick up a large volume of federal tax laws and say they were written based on the principles of Christianity or the teachings of Jesus.
We can agree that the authors of documents like The Declaration of Independence and The U.S. Constitution believed in a creator god. That much is obvious. In fact they believed our rights were given to us by a creator. At the time, there was no alternative explanation for the origins of life and human beings. It would be extremely bizarre for them to believe otherwise. What we do not find in these documents is a reference to any specific god. Even if all the founders were Christians (which I doubt), there is no mention of that in any of the documents. They purposely represented god in a way that is vague and open to interpretation. It’s clear they did not intend to exclude any particular religious view from these documents.
The idea that The Declaration of Independence itself is a Christian document and as such proves that the idea of individual human rights is a Christian principle is ridiculous. There is no indication in the document that it was intended to be a religious document. The fact that it mentions a god does not make it a religious document. If president Obama thanks god or asks for god’s blessing in a speech that does not magically transform his speech into a religious sermon. It is very clear that the founders of this nation thought that a person’s religious preference was a personal matter. At the time it was written, the U.S. Constitution was heavily criticized specifically because it did not declare Christianity as the official religion of the nation and because it specifically bans requirements for individuals to pass religious tests to hold office. At the time such tests were rather common.
What are the principles that this nation was founded on? A few examples would be freely elected leaders, a government whose power is derived from the consent of the governed, equal and inalienable individual rights (at least for white men). None of these ideas come from The Holy Bible. Any claim that these ideas were assimilated into Christianity proves my point that Christianity has provided nothing new or unique in terms of morals, ethics, economics, government, or human rights. It has provided nothing of value to humanity that has not or could not come from a secular source.The "teachings" of the Holy Bible do not present any wisdom that any human being living at the time couldn't have thought up.
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