I am flying to Minnesota for CONvergence today and too swamped with my Batman and Philosophy preparation to use any time on the ground today to write a new post. Plus it’s the Fourth of July so I expect traffic to lag no matter what I do. But for those of you with some time to think with me today, here are posts where I have talked about America and the values of secularism which define the country for me:
And, finally, in honor of the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, here is a place where I use the document itself to debunk the the claim that America depended on Christianity for its founding values and that it requires sustained Christianity in order to keep them:
The very genius of America is the Declaration of Independence’s claim that the rights being claimed wereself-evident. Implicitly in declaring the moral and political principles on which they declared independence “self-evident” they were saying that these beliefs and values required neither special acknowledgment of any traditions nor even of rational argumentation. They were supposedly plain on their face.
This means that anyone–whether or not they were Christians and deists like the majority of our Founding Fathers–could understand and acknowledge their beliefs and values. They needed no biblical derivation.
Even the “Creator”cited in the Declaration of Independence (but of course, not the Constitution) did not require a uniquely Biblical formulation but was part of an alleged claim to self-evidence. The extent to which they cited a Creator was the extent to which this was a universally recognizable concept and not a tradition specific one. This conception of a Creator was so broad and inclusive and rationalistic as to be amenable both to the anti-supernaturalistic deists as it was to the devoutly Christian ones.
In other words, the uniqueness and specialness of America is precisely in its audacious claim to be founded specifically on rationally self-evident and non-tradition-specificprinciples and beliefs. Invocation of the necessity of one religion over another for either the source or justification of distinctively American principles is as antithetical to the true beliefs and values that distinctively characterized America.