Friday, February 12, 2010

Free will & Bigotry

Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is."
-Mahatma Gandhi

As much as I see this statement to be true, I believe that this doesn't violate the separation of church and state. While the institution of the Church should definitely be separate from government, Christian philosophy has, is and always will remain undeniably attached to politics. One need not look any further than the reason that rights are inalienable to understand why Christianity has so thoroughly integrated. The only reason given for why the government cannot violate life liberty and property, is because these rights were God given. Despite the profuseness of Christian philosophy in the US as the very basis for the country, people who uphold these beliefs are considered bigots.

The purpose of this post is to analyze the meaning of the word, and determine whether or not, it is an acceptable label for those who are so called. For the remainder of this post, I will assume an absolute secular ideology in creation of legal justifications to laws. Bear with me while we go on a journey to determine the meaning of the word bigot, but first let's lay a few ground rules.

The following is the most important presupposition that Christian philosophy imparted on the United States that we cannot assume under a truly secular state.

Free Will

That is it. Under Christianity the justification is that the government should not take away the God-given free will. That is the only basis for the inalienability of Free will. Once you take the endowment by a creator out of the picture by assuming only secular then abridging the will of the people is fair game. Especially in the case where it is for there own good. Simply put Libertarianism and Secularism (in the sense of know religious philosophy in government) are inherently incompatible. Allow me to explain.

One of the first thing that one has to come to terms with when assuming atheism for the purpose of governance, is the existence of materialism. As a philosophical term, materialism is the assumption that there is nothing beyond the material world. Coupled with the logical assumption of causation (every effect has a cause) then all decisions made by a given person are caused by either the environment around them or their genetics. Regardless of whether it is nurture or nature or any given combination of the two, one thing is certain. There is no Free will. 

If free will is for all intents and purposes an illusion, then there is no reason to protect it. People cannot decide for themselves. Some of their "will" is decided by natural selection and the other part is simply societal influence. It would simply be foolish to not exercise control when one has it. 

The belief that humans know what is best for themselves requires a God or at the very least a separate plane of reality, which simply cannot exist if one assumes atheism. Once we have reached this conclusion, that there is no such thing as free will the debate is over. Totalitarianism is the only logical form of government. What people want for themselves can be self destructive but with societal control, then the probability of such an error is way too high. 

For the purpose of argument I will assume arbitrary acceptance of Free will as a concept under a secular government, but as you can see I have objections to that. Moving on.
Bigot n. One who is strongly partial to one's own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ.
 I am going to make a statement that will shock all of you who like to use this term loosely. We are all bigots. Every last one of us. There are certain political truths that all of us accept as true regardless of what evidence may be presented. Next I will analyse these political truths that we obstinantly cling to. In other words, how we are all bigots.

  1. Humans should be treated equally under the law
  2. Life is better than death
  3. Children are incapable of making critical decisions for themselves
  4. Your own happiness is of equal value to the happiness of others. 
  5. There are certain things that are simply repulsive and should be banned:
    • Cannibalism
    • Human sacrifice
    • Public nudity around schools
  6. People should have equality of opportunity.
If we assume a truly secular framework for our government and arbitrarily make a law that bans the government from encroaching on certain aspects of the free will of humans then you still have the above noted points to overcome. All of the above are accepted on a gut feeling justification. In other words without a theistic philosophy of some sort then all the laws I just mentioned have absolutely no basis. This is by no means an all inclusive list. There are several things that can still be added. There are obviously people who do not have reservations about any of the above, but we choose to suppress this minority for the sanity of the majority.

The big question is whether gay marriage should be added to the list. Sodomy has long been removed from the list, as people have come to terms with it, however the laws banning sodomy were removed after the majority of the people didn't think that homosexuality should lead to a prison sentence. If the vote on proposition 8 in California, of all places, is any indication, the majority of people are not at this point yet. I believe that they will reach this point, but until then any effort to legalize gay marriage without appealing to the people is wrong. And I know its wrong because I am a bigot!

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