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Jaffe Memo Part 10, Religious principles that secularists have and why it matters

I have now spilled much ink contending for the proposition that religion and politics must mix, using the Jaffe memo as my leaping off point.  On the face of it, such a proposition would fly in the face of the notion of a ‘separation between church and state.’  However, it is important to note that in the last two parts many of the examples are in contexts well beyond the confines of the United States.  Even on the secular understanding of that ‘separation,’ it applies only within the US.  Some of the worst trends are seen at the United Nations.  There is no Constitutional prohibition of a mingling of religion with affairs at the UN for the obvious reason that the UN is not a state.  At the international level, the situation is a little different, of course:  Christians and Jews get pushed around, but the Muslims have the run of the place.  My point is that as these issues are globalized, it is exceedingly important to be prepared to apply our values, ethics, and morals to them.

There is a greater chance that grotesque and oppressive population control measures will come to America via international treaty then from American politicians.

I have no doubt that even as these issues are extended- by the secularists- beyond national borders, and hence out of the reach of the Constitution, they will nonetheless try to ensure that their voices are the only ones permitted expression.

Now, as alluded to earlier in this series, the only way to really ensure that a person does not apply their religious values to an issue is to stand inside the ballot box with someone and interrogate them about their motivations.   In my many conversations with liberals, I have frequently heard them say that people are not allowed to cast a vote if they are motivated by their religious principles, but they have always pulled back dramatically when I pressed them about how on earth they would enforce it.  These liberals in question were just shooting off, not really thinking about what they are saying.  Never mind the tyranny it would amount to, it would be a nightmare to pragmatically implement.

What’s the alternative?  Well, in my last post I brought up the eugenicist who said they were going to start focusing on ‘voluntary unconscious selection.’  That is, instead of compelling people to get abortions or be sterilized in order to save the race, the idea is to get *certain* people to voluntarily cease reproducing without them knowing that they are aiding and abetting a eugenic agenda.  Similarly, the thinking, plotting, liberal secular humanists want to have religionists voluntarily, unconsciously, ‘select’ themselves out of the public arena.  If they can convince Christians and other religionists to voluntarily refrain from speaking out on matters of public policy, the secular voice alone will be left, by default.

But we are faced with a problem, especially as far as interaction within the United States goes.  Christians are just as concerned about the Constitution as anyone else, the primary difference being that they are more likely to take the words of the Constitution according to their plain, original meaning than the secularists who… not so much.  And the Constitution does call for a careful implementation of one’s religious values in the public sphere.

I am not saying that Christians have not gone overboard.   Certainly, the blue laws were a huge mistake.  Prohibition was madness, but in their defense, I’d like to point out that there was a goodly number of progressives right along with them on that.  This was, after all, the beginning of the use of government to cure all social ills.

So, Christians do not have carte blanche for inserting their religious views into the state.  But then, it doesn’t follow that the secularists do, either, because many of their motivating views are as religious as any religious person’s.  There is also the difficult problem of sifting suggested public policies for nefarious motives and ‘crypto-eugenic’ plots.  But, as I have argued frequently, you don’t need a conspiracy to have horrible secular over-reach.  Let’s talk about some of the religious principles that secularists have.  This may not mean that they ought to keep these principles out of the public arena, or that they should be prevented from doing so, but it can be helpful for Christians deciding to what extent they can, in good conscience and in conformance to their own beliefs, support policies a liberal secular humanist progressive atheist may submit.

Secular Religious Principles:

1., A secular humanist accepts, without qualification, the premise that we are evolved over billions of years via unguided processes.

There are two basic, contradictory directions a secularist can go based on this fact, but each are are flip sides of the same coin.  1.  If you recognize that humans are merely beasts, or meat-machines, you treat humans as the way you treat animals.  Case in point, PETA, which insists that animals be given the same regard as humans (since both groups are animals, right?), and so give them all the same rights that we have as humans.  Or, you can go the eugenics route, and note  that just as we manage animal herds, we ought to manage the human herd.  The higher animals have the right to dispense with the lower animals, and some humans are higher than other humans.  These two seemingly disparate approaches stem from the one unqualified acceptance of the premise that we are, at bottom, animals.

Both approaches necessarily dismiss the idea that any organism has any intrinsic, inherent value.  We humans decide, and we humans can change our minds.

Which way a given secularist goes seems to be a matter of preference.  There is no authority beyond the individual preference to say which one is ‘correct’ under the evolutionary paradigm.  One might say that it is religious to appeal to the Bible as an arbiter and authority, but this view rejects that and even mocks it, while making the individual the final authority.  But there is still an appeal to authority, albeit, the authority of the individual, and if appeals to authority are intrinsically ‘religious,’ then an appeal to one’s own preferences is religious, too.

2.  The secular humanist believes that they can be distinguished from religionists by the fact that their views are based purely on ‘science’ and ‘fact.’

The ‘discovery’ of Darwin is of course a case in point, but secularists are also quick to point to every technological advance as a victory for ‘science.’  Naturally, if Science can put a man on the moon, then Science can be applied to society.  Several trends have been observed to follow from such thinking.  First of all, social issues are reduced to the discoverable laws of nature, which we note are binding upon us all- so just as it is madness and nonsense to disregard the rate of gravitational attraction, it is madness and nonsense to oppose distributing free condoms to high schoolers.  I am not here speaking to any putative ‘effectiveness’ of such public policies, but rather the attitude of the secularists proposing those policies.   Condoms ‘work’, this is scientifically proven!  How dare you stand in the way of Science with your goat-herder religion?  That’s the mentality.

Birth control and contraception are prime examples of such things.  When the Obama administration reversed itself on giving the morning after pill to underage girls without parental knowledge or consent- that is, off the shelf- his critics asserted that he was standing in the way of Science.  Honestly, I doubt Obama disagreed, but made a political calculation.  This is the same man who, when restoring Federal funding for stem cell research, said, “Rather than furthering discovery, our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values. In this case, I believe the two are not inconsistent. As a person of faith, I believe we are called to care for each other and work to ease human suffering.”  (I discuss the invocation of ‘science’ to snuff ‘moral’ opposition in this post).

Now, how on earth does the fact that we have the technological ability to experiment on embryonic stem cells represent a ‘scientific’ mandate to actually do so?  Theoretical physicists in the 30s and 40s made the nuclear bomb, but that doesn’t mean that they had a moral… ahem, excuse me… scientific justification for doing so that is inherent to the stuff they were working with.  If today’s secularists were around when Truman used the bomb, if anyone would have objected, they would have said, “How dare you incinerate hundreds of thousands of people in an instant?  How can you stand in the way of Science?”

Of course, that’s absurd.  Everyone can see that there is a big difference between being able to do something and the question of whether or not we should do something.

But as I’ve been pointing out, while everyone recognizes the absurdity of believing otherwise, the only people the secularists believe should be allowed to determine the ‘should’ question are they themselves.  So, its all just a ploy to try to get Christians and other religionists to voluntarily withdraw from public discourse, as if we are second class citizens.

3.  The secular humanist thinks primarily in terms of beans and suffering.

By ‘beans’ I mean that which the bean counters count.  Simply put, a liberal believes- or at least acts as though he believes- that the primary purpose and goal of the State is to manage scarce resources in a fair and equitable manner.  But to understand this, we have to revisit principle 1 above.

You see, if we are mere beasts, and we humans are the final, and only, arbiter of what is valuable, we immediately come to some conclusions.  They may be unconscious and unintentional but they are inexorable.  Think about how we assign value to things.  The more we spend on something, the more value we believe it has.  We will spend more money on the things that benefit us, of course, but also the things that will last.  We are willing to pay a premium on the things that last.  We are willing to pay a certain amount for things that are disposable, but would never spend (at least in the short term) more for something that will only last for one day then we would for the same item that last ten or ten hundred days.

You will spend $500 for a car that you think will only last one year.  You will not spend $50,000 for such a car.  You will, however, spend $50,000 on a car that you expect will last 20 years.

According to atheistic liberal secular humanism, we are mere beasts… wisps… here today, and gone tomorrow.  The individual has some value, but only to himself, and to whatever degree society will assign.  But after we die, we die, and that’s it, brother.  What lasts on the secularist view?  The State lasts.  The State is the only thing that we have that transcends our individual life spans, and since we value things that last over the things that don’t, individuals are seen as disposable in comparison.  It becomes the primary human duty to strengthen the State.  It is the highest moral virtue of the secularist.

But how can one implement that morality?  ‘Science’ again to the rescue, but here we see that instead of human behaviors being reduced to brain matter, at the societal level it is reduced to money.  Behaviors are converted to beans.  The government thinks of everything in terms of available beans and how they are to be most effectively and efficiently managed.  Remember how the Malthusiast thinks:  the pie is only so big, and to reduce the competition for it, you should reduce the numbers wanting a piece of it.  A Christian thinks otherwise:  let’s make a bigger pie.  The secularist typically adopts the Malthusiast mindset, but in order to get it to work, everything has to be framed in terms of dollars and cents.  Know this:  the government has determined what your life is worth in American dollars, and it uses this figure when calculating all manners of things- your burden on the health care system, your impact on infrastructure, etc, etc.

After a matter has been reduced to beans, the public policy advocate can now propose anything he likes and deride any opposition as ‘anti-science,’ as if the mere fact that you have correctly counted the number of beans in a jar means that however you think they are to be disposed of is ‘scientific.’

But there is a fly in the secularist ointment.  Despite their worldview, the fact is that the Christian worldview is the actual correct and true one, which means we are not mere beasts.  We are made in the image of God.  Our value comes from God and our rights, if we have them, are God-given, not man-given.  Being made in the image of God means we have inclinations towards compassion and charity and other such intangibles the secularist is madly trying to convert into beans.  So, even if people are disposable, their moral conscience won’t allow them to act on that completely.

What is left of value?  Pretty much just one thing, and you saw it in Obama’s quote above:  “As a person of faith, I believe we are called to care for each other and work to ease human suffering.”

The secularist progressive seeks to implement ‘science’ in an efficient manner that is orientated towards eliminating ‘suffering’ wherever it is encountered.  Such thinking recently led Peter Singer to conclude that no human life is sufficiently free of suffering to justify continued existence, and proposed that we all get sterilized so that we do not bring more humans into existence who will… suffer.  It is immoral of us to inflict suffering on people, and we know that our offspring will suffer.

Are there not other aspects of human existence of note?  What about freedom, liberty, love, and justice?  These are arbitrary mental constructs;  suffering is a visceral fact of our beastly nature, and we have the moral duty to eliminate it wherever we can, at whatever cost- bearing in mind, of course, the duty to manage scarce resources to the ultimate benefit of the transcending State.

The next time you hear a secularist propose some public policy, dig deeper and listen close, and you will see some human behavior reduced to beans and some justification based on the ‘highest’ moral calling of reducing or eliminating suffering.

This does not mean I am suggesting that suffering is all that great, or that we should not try to reduce it if it is in our power.  Nor does it mean that we shouldn’t be careful with our beans.  The difference is this:  on THEIR worldview, such considerations are the ONLY ONES THERE ARE.  On my worldview, I must balance a variety of other principles against my desire to fight suffering, etc.

Let me put it this way.

Let’s say that both me and the secularist wanted to get to Maryland.  On the secularist view, one is ‘morally’ obligated to take the most efficient way possible that causes the least suffering (ie, does not harm the earth, which outlasts even the State!).  If this means gently euthanizing the owner of an environmentally friendly vehicle, then that is what they ought to do.  They may not be able to pragmatically do it, but if that’s the ‘best’ ‘scientific’ way to do it, that’s what they’ll work for.  All that matters is the destination, and balancing beans and minimizing suffering.  But I want to get to Maryland, too.  Well, sure, I could club someone to death and take their high efficiency moped, but this would violate other important values I have.  We both want to get to Maryland, but the ends do not justify the means.  I am as interested in reducing suffering as anyone else- in fact, Christians are more interested than atheists in doing so, since we believe that there is an imminent prospect for some of eternal suffering!- but I cannot morally make the attempt in any manner I please.

I make this point because in my last and final post, I will more frankly state how, and to what degree, Christians ought to support public policies, etc, while remaining faithful to our values.  The goals and aims and methods of the secularists stem directly from their worldview.  We cannot forget this, even when we observe some overlap with our own goals.  Our methods cannot be the same, and the reasons driving us forward will not be the same, either.

Coming soon.



    • ptet on February 20, 2012 at 10:08 am

    Let’s say that both me and the secularist wanted to get to Maryland. On the secularist view, one is ‘morally’ obligated to take the most efficient way possible that causes the least suffering

    By your same reasoning, Christians should be morally obliged to abort as many babies as possible (abortion not being mentioned in the Bible), since all aborted babies got straight to heaven.

    Of course, “secularists” live in the real world, so they are able to make moral judgements at a reasonable level without resorting to Reductio ad absurdum reasoning.

    Turning to the topic of your article, of course “secularists” use “religious principles” sometimes. That doesn’t make religion (which religion?) true.

  1. The word religious principles defines spiritual principles that govern this world. “Which religion?” is irrelevant. That only opens the door to conversation that causes one to throw up their hands and decide there is no truth here since there are so many interpretations.

    Let it suffice to say that there are spiritual “religious” truths that are governing us everyday that we are unaware of. Even in science, there remains unexplained mysteries. If it can be acceptable in science, then it should be acceptable in the spiritual/religious realm. Thing is, spiritual principles are deemed by the secularists as optional. They are not.

    We cannot use reason only with what we understand, but with what we don’t understand. There is faith required to believe spiritual/religious principles. They operate like the law of gravity and we all know what happens when one tries to defy that physical law.

    Excellent dissertation, Anthony!

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