Saturday, May 30, 2015

Should Religious Dogma be Left at the Door

Does religion or religious conviction have a place in public conversation? Many secularists insist that religion is of faith and science is of facts that can be publicly evaluated. Therefore, religion should be kept at home or just among the faithful. The late Christopher Reeves told a student group at Yale University:

·       “When matters of public policy are debated, no religions should have a seat at the table!”

Why not? One secularist tried to justify this position by claiming that religious assertions are not amenable to reason, therefore shouldn’t be taken into the public:

·       [Religious] dogma should be checked at the door, as it is inappropriate for a philosophy discussion. Dogma has its place, but that is not in a philosophy discussion. One of the eternal truths within philosophy is that appeals to authority [like the Bible] are logical fallacies - our appeals within philosophy should be limited to reason.

However, secularism - secular humanism - is also religious in nature, containing its own foundational values:

·       BERTRAND RUSSELL: “The greatest danger in our day comes from new religions, communism and Nazism. To call these religions may perhaps be objectionable both to their friends and enemies, but in fact they have all the characteristics of religions…”

·       THE FIRST HUMANIST MANIFESTO (Paul Kurtz, 1933): “Humanism is a philosophical, religious, and moral point of view.”

·       JOHN DEWEY, WHO SIGNED THE MANIFESTO: “Here are all the elements for a religious faith that shall not be confined to sect, class or race…It remains to make it explicit and militant.”

·       THE US SUPREME COURT (Torasco v. Watkins – 1961): “Among religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God are Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, Secular Humanism and others.”

Some secularists still admit that their beliefs are religious. Evolutionist Michael Ruse admits that:

·       Evolution came into being as a kind of secular ideology, an explicit substitute for Christianity…an ideology, a secular religion—a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality... Evolution is a religion.

Even atheists are now creating their own churches! They are just as religious and even as evangelistic as the rest of us. They are also:

1.     Secular Humanists
2.     Moral Relativists
3.     Materialists
4.     Naturalists

Are any of their beliefs evidentially or reasonably supportable? No! Although we all engage in moral reasoning, a set of values must first be accepted before reason can assist in applying them. However, reason alone cannot derive values.

If this is so, the Christian should not be rejected because of his values, while the secularist or other religionists are given a free-pass. This is just outright discrimination! For instance, the courts have hypocritically ruled against the teaching of ID (or even any mention of it), claiming that ID is “religiously motivated.” But aren’t we all motivated by religious assumptions! We all have our values!

The secularist often argues the Christian should be marginalized and disqualified because his values come from a book he believes is of divine origin. Does it make any difference that our values/morality come from a book - the Bible?  The secularist argues that it should – that it constitutes an illegitimate appeal to authority. But perhaps by being explicit about our source of authority, we are behaving more professionally, transparently, and with more integrity. And perhaps by denying that they too have their own sources of authority, their inculcated, unprovable assumptions, they are acting less transparently and with less integrity.

Are secular values more amenable to reason and therefore more acceptable in the public sphere? I don’t think so! Secularists are almost exclusively moral relativists. They gladly admit that their values are made-up and reflect the culture that has raised them. Yet, whenever they sit down to discuss a policy or a moral issue, they behave in an illogical manner, treating their created values as if they carried some sense of gravitas. These values can only be justified pragmatically, in terms of beneficial outcomes. But what makes these outcomes beneficial? Moral relativism is incapable of objectively declaring anything as beneficial.

Let’s look at an example. Let’s say the secularists decided that everyone deserves equal health care, but why? They argue that we are all equal and therefore deserve the same health care. However, this argumentation includes many unprovable assumptions:

1.     That we should be healthy.
2.     That we deserve anything.
3.     That there is an objective moral truth of equality.

Besides, all of their reasoning depends upon the existence of objective moral truths or laws, something that moral relativism denies.

Therefore, if the secularists were honest, they would say, “Well, we have nothing substantial to say on this issue or any issue, so let’s all go home and eat a good meal.”

Reason? In its deepest sense, it has been rejected. Meanwhile, there are many objective proofs for the divinity of the Bible – the miracles, fulfilled prophecies, wisdom, life-improving track record, and internal and external consistency. Who then is lacking in rationality?

Even if all of the secularists saw the light and decided that I was correct, and they invited me to sit at their table, I probably wouldn’t slap my Bible down on the table. Instead, I would probably want to speak a language that they could understand. This is also a matter of respect. However, I wouldn’t want to be told that “religious dogma should be checked at the door.”

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