To claim that the GOP and conservatism rest on the “remnant of religious feeling in America” strikes me as a shaky foundation upon which to base a political theory. At the very least, such a purported lifeline can not explain the many non-“envious” skeptics who enthusiastically endorse conservative values. Support for limited government and a respect for human tradition are simply not dependent on a belief in God or “transcendent reality.”
I bow before — and therefore “respect” — the aesthetic legacy of Christianity. My life would be immeasurably poorer without Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion, B Minor Mass, and cantatas, or Mozart’s great choral works; it would not be life as I know it but a sad hollow thing. I also recognize that countless men of intellect light years superior to mine have been drawn to the great philosophical enterprise of Christian theology. But I will treat the truth claims of Christianity just as I would any other proposition about the world. The claim that we are overseen by an omniscient, omnipotent God who also loves every human being and treats every human being with justice does not square with the slaughter of the innocents that I see every day. I do not understand why religion should get a pass from the empirical and logical demands that we make towards other factual proposition. Nor do I think that serious believers exempt other religions from such demands. Do Catholics, for example, believe that the angel Moroni gave Joseph Smith a pair of magic spectacles in 1827 with which to read the mysterious golden tablets from God? And if not, why not? Doesn’t it matter whether it is true or not, or is it OK to live in error as long as one is happy? I will not raise the similar question of, say, Islam’s veracity.