Well, it doesnít get any more blunt than this. Why do Christians deserve to put up creches on public property and atheists have to
shut up and support it with their taxes?
"There's a very militant atheist
movement that's trying to drive out vestiges of the truth. They're trying to deny the truth that this nation is founded on
Christian principles," Jameson said.
"These people, atheists, a number
of them, like Mr. Vix, are bound and determined to drive away from any public place any manifestation that Americans are God-loving
people," Jameson added. "This is not fair, this is not just."
happened is this. Santa Monica allows private citizens and groups to put up holiday displays
in a public park. Because the residents of Santa Monica are equal before the
law, the system for allocating the public space consists of a random drawing of applicantsí names. This year, the random selection turned up a higher than usual number of atheists. The atheists put nothing on the spaces in the park, or put up quotations from the founding fathers and
quotations from Supreme Court cases on the separation of church and state. Nothing
that mocked or condemned religion (unlike this, which just strikes me as unnecessary).
But, despite all logic to the contrary, a
random drawing is not a fair or just method of distributing this public space. A fair and just method would be to distribute
it to those whose beliefs are true. That statement speaks volumes about the religious
mind. It consists of a failure to grasp a fundamental feature of rationality. The question of belief consists not only of what to believe, but also of why
one believes it. ďItís true because it just is,Ē doesnít count. Neither does ďItís true because I need to believe it,Ē and nor does ďItís true because I was taught it
as a child.Ē
Itís important to understand what atheists say when
they talk about truth. It is not necessarily to say there is no such thing as
truth, though some atheists believe that. It is not necessarily to say that
truth, if it exists, is a matter of social convention, though some athieists believe that. Many,
like me, believe that there is truth in the world, and that it includes moral truth.
Moral realism is well explained here. Naturalistic moral realism says moral truth exists in nature by virtue of
the natural features of human beings in their natural environment. Our knowledge of it is approximate, for the
same reason that the facts science produces are merely approximate. We believe hypotheses that are falsifiable in principle,
but that have not been falsified -- yet. Newtonian physics was approximate, Einstein got it about right, superstring
theory is closer. None of them quite state the truth, because stating the truth is not how science works. It's
all approximation. And naturalistic moral realism makes only the same modest claim.
Think about how modest the moral realist is,
compared to the religious believer. More important, isn't it clear that naturalistic moral realism is compatible
with equality than religion is? The citizen whose beliefs are tentative by nature and subject to disproof is not committed
to precluding the consideration of other beliefs. He thinks his beliefs are more defensible, but that all believers
are entitled to defend their beliefs, however incompetently.
Then there's the claim that a fair and just
method of distributing public space would be to give it exclusively to the group whose beliefs correspond to the underlying
belief system of the government that controls public spaces.
Except that there is no such underlying philosophy
of government. You canít jump from the fact that Christianity was the dominant
belief system in the founding era to the conclusion that itís the underlying belief system of government. The founding fathers could have created a Christian nation. But they just didn't. Where the
US Constitution is concerned, itís not the separation clause that establishes this, itís Article Six, which bans religious
tests for public office. Itís almost impossible to imagine a clearer expression
of the principle that government is not the province of religion.