The Corner

Jumping Back in Here …

1. The discussion so far has largely focused on electoral politics. I confess that I am pretty indifferent to Republican fortunes at this point. But I do think that one should try to make the case for conservative principles on the widest possible ground. When Republican pundits and politicians link conservatism with faith in a Christian or Jewish God, they are gratuitously limiting its appeal. I have heard it said repeatedly over the last six years that what makes Republicans superior to Democrats is their religious faith. I would counter that what makes Republican principles superior to Democratic principles is that they are based on a more accurate assessment of human nature. Anyone who uses his reason or a knowledge of history can arrive at that assessment. You don’t need to believe in God.

2. As to whether non-believers are parasitic on the legacy of religion, I would never deny the incalculable role of Christianity in Western thinking. I just don’t believe that Christianity is divinely dictated. Religion is the product of our innate moral sense, not vice versa.

You don’t have to believe in a god to see yourself in the other. The golden rule is based on empathy and self-interest, not on divine revelation. Will it break down? Of course. It is no guarantee against injustice, mass killings, and torture, but neither is Christianity.

3. I am amused by the claim that God provides a “fixed” place for moral or philosophical certainty. The Bible is as open-ended a text as any other. Ever since Medieval theologians tried to contain Biblical interpretation through hermeneutics, it has evaded all efforts to rein it in. The history of Christianity, with its bloody sectarian wars, does not suggest to me harmonious agreement about the meaning of God’s word. Nor do I notice any more unanimity now that Christians have finally laid aside the sword. 

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