Saturday, March 5, 2011

Politics and Foundations

The other day I was in conversation with a friend who is quite involved in the political scene over here in The States. Every now and then she will forward me the latest "evidence" pointing toward the corruption of government in general. However, she had made a religious claim that she based on subjective evidence. I had asked her to support the assertion in a way that might be compelling to someone else. She not only offered the subjective evidence, but claimed that it was up to the other person to prove her point of view incorrect, then she topped it off with, "That is my opinion".

Many in the apologetics community will recognize the problems right away. For those who can't quite put their finger on it, please refer to these blog posts:

Opinion vs. Truth-Claims
The Burden of Proof: Another Perspective?
Positive vs. Negative Arguments

Those posts really only cover the surface problems, and they are not my concern today. My issue is with her foundations. She provided much evidence to support the actions she believed needed to be taken in (or against) our government. However, her proposed actions require a moral component. In order for her actions to be necessary, the morality must be true. In order to be true, her morality must have a solid foundation, itself. Unfortunately, she undermined the foundations of her morality when she told me that her religious views are just her opinions. If the argument for certain actions are based on premises that are founded by opinions, then the actions can be no more necessary than opinions.

So...let's starting talking separation between Church and State. Before anyone starts to freak out, I'm not going to propose that we have a state-established religion. What I am proposing is two things: that we not confuse our individual politicians with "the State"; and that we allow an inclusion of God in State.

If we confuse the individual politicians with "The State", and tell them that they are not allowed to even think religiously while in office, then we have eliminated their ability to ground what they believe to be objectively moral. If we allow the inclusion of God in State, it allows the State to recognize that, "Yes, there is an objective morality, and that is what we strive to base our laws upon."

I know that many people think that the separation of Church and State is used to keep God out of any area of governing, and it certainly has been by some people. Others allow for God, but not to be used in any absolute sense. These people celebrate the multi-party system (more options, the better)- debate is what is the focus. In these cases, "tolerance" has been taken to the point of celebrating the process to find truth, rather than the truth itself. Unfortunately, if the winner of a debate is promoting an exclusive or "intolerant" position, it is rarely ever acknowledged (unless it will hurt a candidate they don't like). People say that they want to find truth and basque in the process, but don't want to actually settle on the truth. In these cases, "tolerance" is taken to the point of celebrating the process to find truth, rather than the truth being found and the truth celebrated. I go much more into this in my post from a few weeks ago "Dangers of Consistent 'Tolerance'".

If my friend is to maintain that her religious views are merely opinion, she has fallen into the "tolerance" trap. The promoters of the new "tolerance" give her lip service by allowing her to debate her position, but then promote her undermining her position by denying the objective truth of God's existence. If we are to be involved in political debates or making dogmatic assertions about politics, we need to have solid foundations for our religious positions first. As we learn to defend our religious positions, we will gain tools and understanding for how to defend our political positions also.

All political views (at least that I can think of) are based somewhere on a system of morals. If we hold to moral relativism, we also hold to political relativism. Meaning that no one is right, and no one is wrong. There is no standard that any politician is responsible to live up to. The politician who is most powerful or cunning (or financially supported) will become the absolute monarch who legislates and enforces his "moralities" on his subjects (the people). There is no standard that anyone may hold him accountable to, so there is no foundation for calling him "an oppressive tyrant". There is also no foundation for taking action against such a leader.

If the philosophy of moral relativism is true, then so is political relativism. Let's live for the moment by celebrating the diversity in our political system. If moral relativism wins the day, we have no objective foundation to stand against a corrupt government, and without such a foundation we are not sure our outrage is justified, and we will eventually lose the will to fight.

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