4.01.2005theblackw0lf: was there nothing left you had to comment on, or are you stuck in indecision? I thought I made a compelling argument that ever if you are right about faith, it ought to play no role in politics. I attempted to be fair to the religious view and take your concerns in to consideration, but it seems like there is no case to be made for the stronger position you seem to be toying with.
I ask because I am concerned, since you are obviously interested and seriously grappling with this faith issue, and I want to make sure you dont fall off into the dark side
ian came out of the closet to say
It ought to play a role insomuch as it grounds your moral code and provides inspiration for reasoned argumentation. Like "I believe because of the example of Christ that we have a duty, as a State, towards all individuals. Here are some secular reasons why this is the right path."
Just as a hypothetical, what is your reaction to the following example:
A senator claims to have been visited by space aliens from the Crab Nebula, who proceeded to describe in great detail the particular plan for solving major (but tractable) problems in the world. The Crab Nebuleans also gave the senator a stunningly brilliant and convincing secular argument for why those particular changes were needed. They then said they trusted in the Senator to enact this policy for the better of mankind, and they will return in 2000 years to check our progress. No one else was witness to this event.
Now we may think the senator is crazy for believing in aliens, but we should still accept his arguments if they prove to be valid and sound, independent of their source. However, because the Senator insists on citing this dubious source, we are more likely to be skeptical of his arguments as well.
This inclines me to believe that the Senator should leave the Crab Nebuleans entirely out of presenting his argument, and keep the whole matter private, and instead concentrate on enacting the world-bettering policy. What effect could it possibly have to reveal its source but spurn ridicule and skepticism?
I take religion to be the same sort of thing. If it inspires a particularly good secular argument, then it is the argument that should stand on its merits alone; the source is irrelevant. The difference between the two cases is that in America the majority actually believe in God and Jesus and so on, and so when a political figure appeals to them it encourages the public, but does not dissuade them, and in fact radically encourages them, and thus we are in the faith quagmire we are in right now.
I think the difference between the two cases is important, though, because in America the majority belief in the source takes the burden off the validity of the argument itself, which is dangerous because it discourages critical thinking. If the guy in the suit in front of the American Flag says 'I love Jesus and ..." I am less inclined to critically examine what he says after the 'and', since the person has already presented himself as 'on my side'.