Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Response for Anonymous' comment

I guess I'm not completely sure of which part of my post your comment was directed to, but let me make an attempt at an answer.

In fact, I favor removing "under God" and "In God We Trust", etc., from any and all government productions. You can see that a person's belief in a God, even an anthropomorphic one, does not imply that s/he wants the country to be explicitly godly? First of all, genuine faith must be derived from a genuine freedom to choose it, so embedding religiosity in government is, actually, not in the interest of a religious person--anyway, someone who wants other people to have real faith. I don't claim to be in the mainstream (among the religious) in this view. So it goes. In a previous post, I commented on the religious rights of atheists (though I gave a rather strict definition of an "atheist" in that case). So second, these references to God are not acceptable constitutionally speaking. So here I agree with you.

However, I have to contradict your claim that an anthropomorphic god is implied by phrases of the "God and country" sort. That particular turn actually goes back to the Roman Empire, where new legionaries took an oath of loyalty before "God"--this God being a substitute for "whatever gods you may happen to believe in." With the Christian era, this placeholder turned easily into the Christian God. But even noting this transition, I'm not ready to admit that Jefferson and his ilk, Deists I mean, and raving classicists, would have been thinking of an old bearded guy. Maybe this historical junk isn't relevant. I think it fits in though.

Finally, I don't believe that "contemplating the seeming need for a prime cause" is so easily distinguishable from more detailed (or flamboyant?) beliefs. Surely, the presumption that a Prime Mover is basically uninterested in the universe It created is itself an unverifiable "mythological" story, hence really in the same category, rationally speaking, as any religious story. (If you read some Plotinus, you can see how religious reason can be.) That said, I don't believe that a person who is willing to permit a Prime Mover is really an atheist, unless s/he posits that such a being is somehow sub-divine, which would be a difficult argument, I think.

I hope this does not offend you. And I hope I’ve given you some kind of worthwhile answer.