DAVE AND ME AT LOGGERHEADS AGAIN AND STILL
My fundamentalist acquaintance Dave says, “so you want to assign us to a christian ghetto ... the churches? and you, with your beliefs, are free to spout in the public square? am i the only one seeing the hypocrisy in this approach? there'll never be a theocracy in this country, george, because a lot of christians like me won't allow it. who's going to run the show? the catholics, because of their greater numbers? the mormons? the liberal churches? those who fall under the umbrella of christianity or so split they could never agree to a single set of moral marching orders or a leader. you should celebrate the fact that christians are engaged in the debate for the country's soul rather than taking up arms to enforce their will on the larger population like the muslim extremists do. christians in this country largely aren't violent. but we have the same right as citizens to push our views as you do to push yours....”
And I replied, “I do agree that Christians have the same right to push their views as anyone, on radio, TV and print journalism. That’s why you and I call it a free country. But those of us who support the Constitution agree that people of differing beliefs from each other must agree that the state and the representatives of the state are to keep our secular nation and their private religious worlds separate in the public square and to not use our government as their sounding trumpet for their own religious views. Every time George Bush tells me about doing god’s will, he tells me he doesn’t represent me, doesn’t care to represent me, nor does he speak for my wife’s Buddhist beliefs. The President is to represent all America’s people. He and I can have disagreements on policy issues, and nothing in the Constitution says that George has to agree with me on policy issues, but as President, the Constitution does speak of separating religion and politics in his office and suggests that that he should respect the multitudinous religious and non-religious beliefs in this country. After all there were no religious qualifications he had to meet to run for President, but George is such an ideologue he can’t even remain silent on the only issue that the Constitution requires him to show some discretion about. As Lincoln said, this is a nation “of the people, by the people and for the people.” He didn’t say it was a nation “of god, by god and for god.”
“Finally the continuing science debate between theists and non-theists. We agree that at the root of our differences is that theists believe in the existence of a limitless force called god which thinks very much like modern humans do and which for some needy reason had to make a universe to play with while non-theists do agree there is a universe but don’t find any evidence of god’s work in that observable universe. Theists, however, ask something of non-theists that scientific methods find funny. Theists say that non-theists must prove that a god doesn’t exist. That’s not how science works. When Darwin came up with the idea of “natural selection” to explain many of the biological phenomena he observed in the natural world, he knew that it was his job to prove it, and over the years science has continually added to his initial evidence. Genetics offers the strongest proof of evolution. It’s no accident that chimps and humans share 99 percent of their DNA, nor that humans, dogs, hippos and birds all have four appendages and a spinal column, and that fish fins show the beginnings of four appendages.
“Even if a god did create all this, like some puppet master making a theater to entertain himself with and to fend off his loneliness, for some unknown reason this force made it look like it worked with the mechanism of natural selection and gave us abundant evidence of it. Theists are making this claim of god’s existence and have been getting away with their unproven theory for as far back as we can see in the historical record. So non-theists now say, come on, let’s require of theists the same intellectual standards that the rest of us live up to, the same one’s theists require of Darwin and biology in general.
“Theists offer up a tricky reply when they ask that atheists prove that no god exists. How can an atheist prove that something which does not exist physically in the universe does not exist physically in the universe? That’s logically impossible. Atheists appeal to scientific methodology as the gold standard of proof. They say that it’s up to the person who makes a claim of something being in the universe to prove it’s in the universe. Non-theists have a very valid argument when they claim that on the surface in the observable universe there is no evidence of the existence of god. It’s obvious no god exists. Our senses tell us no god exists. So if there is a god, non-theists ask for evidence of god, real evidence that passes scientific muster. Atheists know that in order to discuss, measure and observe or prove anything, evidence must be offered up, but theists can give them no evidence to discuss or inspect. Why is that? It’s up to the theists to come up with the evidence of this god somewhere in the universe. Show me, says the atheist. As one with a scientific temperament myself, I’m open to looking at any hard evidence of god’s existence. Until such time as evidence is forthcoming, my reason remains in the realm of atheism, but my mind is not closed.”
"Voters want a fraud the can believe in." —Will Durst