"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Friday, January 28, 2005

Constitution and Koran?

I found Peggy Noonan's dour assessment of the inaugural speech deflating, but I'm not likely to doubt her judgement. I have to admit that I flinched when Bush referenced our national identity being built on "the truths of Sinai, the Sermon on the Mount, and the words of the Koran (italics mine)."

I think David Gelerntner already covered this ground somewhere out there in the aether, but I'm having a little trouble with that third part simply as a matter of history. I'd love to see someone produce a believable explanation of how the words of the Koran affected our constitutional development or helped promote self-government.

Yes, yes, Bush was playing down the confrontation between Christianity and Judaism on one side and Islam on the other. That's smart. He should do that. He has a responsibility to America's Muslims to do so, but let's not falsify the record.

By the way, none of this goes to say that I think Muslims are incapable of democracy or any of that business. If you had intercepted Christian civilization at various points, you would have likely said the same about Christians. Certainly, the twentieth century was full of Protestants heavy-handedly making that accusation about Catholics.

5 comments:

Tlaloc said...

while your at it why not also produce a believable explanation of how either Judaism or Christianity contributed to our constitution.

Hint: they really didn't except in that they were a big part of the overall culture.

The Constitution is derived from the Magna Carta principly, not the Bible or Talmud. Indeed, given the First Amendment freedom of religion it should be obvious that no religion can claim a seminal influence on the US founding.

Hunter Baker said...

You're out of your depth here, Tlaloc. Reading last month's issue of Skeptic magazine doesn't qualify an opinion about the founding. And by the way, just where do you think the Magna Carta got its inspiration? If you'd like to read a good author on this score, check out Brian Tierney, who broke new ground by showing seeds of democracy even during the medieval period.

Maybe one of these days I'll put together a very long post about the Bible and how it helped lead to U.S. style constitutionalism. Concepts like original sin, the fallen state of mankind, and the image of God in man all play an important part in the evolution of western thinking about government.

Tlaloc said...

Hunter: "You're out of your depth here, Tlaloc. Reading last month's issue of Skeptic magazine doesn't qualify an opinion about the founding."

That's not a very nice way to start a conversation, Hunter.


"And by the way, just where do you think the Magna Carta got its inspiration?"

From the ideas of limited or constitutional monarchy which goes against christian doctrine. The whole notion of a constitution at all is anti-christian. A christian nation has a rather huge body of church law to draw upon. Creating a secular document is an obvious break from such theological forces.


"Maybe one of these days I'll put together a very long post about the Bible and how it helped lead to U.S. style constitutionalism."

I'd be interested to read it.


"Concepts like original sin, the fallen state of mankind, and the image of God in man all play an important part in the evolution of western thinking about government."

In the evolution? Certainly but mostly as a rejection.
Original sin is rejected in the concept of innocent til proven guilty as an example. Certainly Christianity had an influence but as something that was moved away from for democracy. Christianity supported absolute monarchies as divinely inspired.

Hunter Baker said...

Okay, forgive the unpleasant opening to the last comment, but you're so obviously embracing a species of intellectual philistinism I can't help but be annoyed. I can easily imagine you might know more about something like intelligent design or biology than I do, but this is my territory and you're just dead wrong. Not much more to it than that. You're reading from "Barry Lynn's Guide to American History" and it just ain't that compelling or true. Christians often misguidedly believe America was once a very orthodox Christian nation and that all the founders had similar ideas about theology. You're making the opposite mistake in your analysis.

Tlaloc said...

So demonstrate how christianity supports ideas of democracy. I've suggested Christianity and Democracy are actually opposed, with monarchy being far more desirable to the pulpit.

Notice that Christianity has no associated rights, only restrictions. The ten commandmants are not statements of liberty afterall. Christianity is a very heirarchical religion christ to the apostles the apostles to the priests the priests to the masses (of course the exact structure varies with the specific church). Compare that with Taoism for instance. Christianity explicitly states that government authority is directly handed down by God. That notion supports the idea of autocratic rulership, and dynasties far more than democracy. Democracy steps from the idea that authority comes not from above but from below, from the people. This is Anti-Christian.

At a very fundamental root Christianity and Democracy are opposed philosophies.