Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Fundamentalist God

From James McGrath at Exploring Our Matrix:

I am glad that fundamentalists are finally being a bit more honest about what they mean by “God.” 

They clearly do not mean an omnipresent being who cannot be excluded from any place. It’s quite a different notion from that encountered on more than one occasion in the Psalms, for instance. The ancient Israelite author never said “Where shall I go to flee from your presence? I know – a public school!” And in the Book of Jonah, the main character’s attempt to flee from the one who he himself says “made the sea and the dry land” on a boat is depicted as a fool’s errand. And could you imagine any ancient Israelite or Christian author taking seriously the notion that God could be kept out of somewhere? 

But even though creating laws that exclude a real and omnipresent God from public school would be utterly futile, there are in fact no such laws in the United States. 

What is excluded is the use of state power and influence to promote religion in general or some sectarian religious dogma in particular. 

Read the rest here.


Tom Van Dyke said...

Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

Gov./Rev. Huckabee often blurs the lines between his two hats. And I think that the way he's overshot this incident is what has rightfully capped his rise in electoral politics. But it's those who would mock him or dismiss him without entertaining his larger point who are the fools, those who prefer the sophisticated sneers of a Jon Stewart to the wisdom and experience of, say, a George Washington.

Jimmy Dick said...

I think that Huckabee and the others that echoed his original statement are very indicative of the conservative viewpoint and their interpretation of God. This is exactly what you get when religion and politics mix. If anything the Religious Right has shown their willingness to use politics to further their religious goals while the politicians have shown their willingness to use religion to further their political goals.

The result is the utter insanity and lack of understanding of God's nature. That of course is my opinion and others may disagree. However, I find Huckabee and his idea to be the reason why the two should not mix.

Tim Schoettle said...

You raise a good point. If morality requires religion and if morality is essential to the United States then should the United States government promote a particular religion, e.g. Christianity? More to the point, should the United States promote Christ? (A related question is whether it is constitutional to do so.) I do think that there is an increasing belief that the two (religion and morality) can be detached. Whether this is possible or advisable is a good question and very much open for debate. My own view is that you are correct: ethics ultimately depends on God (and specifically on Christ). On this point I am with Kierkegaard. Without Christ, ethics collapses into an empty legalism devoid of meaning or spirit. If this is right then the question is what this means in terms of how to run the U.S. government. That's a tough question. After all, it is notable that Christ himself showed little interest in political reform of the Roman empire. On the other hand, one would hope that the United States government is more open to Christianity than the Roman Emperor was when Christ lived.

Tom Van Dyke said...

An "ethical monotheism" such as Ben Franklin's "civil religion" will suffice. He wasn't what you can call a Christian, but his God resembled Jehovah close enough.