Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Beautiful Argument

I love (for real, no sarcasm in this post) this kind of reasoning.
When Logos came to our solar system from a galaxy far, far away to study the decline of American Civilization, he found our tendency to make life or death political decisions based on emotion to be profoundly fascinating. He analyzed many aspects of our society, but on no issue was our dislocation from reality more acute than on the separation of church and state.


An impartial observer of this sort would first be struck by the obsession we have with purging every remnant of religious expression from our public sphere. Why, with the frenetic sense of urgency with which we pursue this course of action, you would think the task was one of isolating some new virus that threatened to wipe out mankind. Of course, Logos would find no constitutional basis for such a complete rending of our religious traditions, but those of us who have read the Constitution already know it doesn’t exist. Anyway, one way or another, the law eventually takes the shape of the morality of its creators.

Logos first may ask a very simple question: if these ideas really have been handed down by God, the Creator of the Universe, don’t you have an obligation to infuse your every institution, including the public ones, with them? Have you not then been enjoined to inculcate children with them, in as well as out of school?

Of course, I don’t have to tell you what the response will be. An army of naysayers will utter something to the effect of: “Well, you may think God is these ideas’ progenitor, but not everyone agrees with you. Many people believe they are simply man-made.”

Ah, yes, such an obvious answer, and the final word. End of discussion.

Except, you see, there’s one minor detail that it overlooks. For Logos will respond, “If they are man-made just like the secular ideas, why do you distinguish between the former and latter? Why do you insist that these man-made ideas that we call “secular” are grist for the public mill, but these man-made ideas that we call “religious” cannot be. If they’re all man-made, wherein lies the difference?

This is how you put the secularists in a box, for they will be trapped. In either case, there is no justification for excluding religious ideas from the public square. It transforms the debate from “Do they deserve equal status with secular ideas or lesser?” to “Do they deserve equal status with secular ideas or greater?” If these ideas are simply man-made, then the distinction between them and secular ones is a false one, ergo they enjoy equivalency. If, however, these ideas originated in the Infinite Mind, then they must take precedence in all things over mere products of limited minds.

One frailty of limited human minds, however, is that they often cling to old, mistaken ideas long past the time when they should have been disabused of them. So, alas, the debate wouldn’t end there. The next tactic might be to claim that these “man-made ‘religious’ ideas” are offensive to many who don’t hold them.

But Logos, steeped in reason, has the answer to that too. Quite simply, offense cannot be given, it can only be taken; what is offensive is very subjective. And I’m sure that liberals can understand this. After all, they’re the first ones to use the argument that what constitutes offensiveness is completely subjective when, for instance, defending pornography against those who would censor it. Be that as it may, however, the fact is that traditionalists find many secular ideas that are foisted upon them and theirs to be deeply offensive. For instance, multiculturalist, feminist, radical-environmentalist ideas, and notions about the rectitude of homosexuality, are often the stuff of indoctrination in public schools. Some of you may agree with some of these ideas, but that’s irrelevant. Logos’s point is that they are as deeply offensive to some people as religious fervor is to the most ornery atheist.

So, religious ideas cannot be stricken based upon their origin or a garden-variety offensiveness argument, but the opposition still has one card to play...

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