Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Politics and Religion

Politics and religion are two of my favorite topics. But readers of this might might not have known that until just now (or the last post, where I mention getting into a lengthy discussion with a California Rabbi about the return of Messiah).

Dave has a post about conservative atheism which I think is interesting, and in which he states, "yet I feel somewhat comfortable in defending conservatism without invoking religion, or requiring the presence of a higher power."

Dave and I apparently disagree on religious matters. But clearlt one need not be atheist to take such an approach. I defend conservativism (and lampoon liberalism) every day on this blog, and yet make little or no mention here of my religious convictions. A big part of that is because "God said so" is simply not a persuasive argument.

I remember watching a Jehovah's Witness arguing with a Muslim friend of mine, and the JW in frustration started quoting a bunch of verses from the Bible. I laughed and thought, "that's going to be about as persuasive as him quoting to you from the Qu'ran." For the Muslim, the Bible was not an authority, and therefore it had no persuasive power beyond its ability to construct a logical argument in a non-religious context. And speaking as one who reads the Bible quite a bit, I know that's not what Biblical authors try to do.

The same here. When discussing (for example) homosexuality, I simply don't rely on the Bible to make any points, unless the context for the discussion is whether or not the Bible condemns homosexuality. Because if the topic of the conversation is what the government should do about homosexuality, what the Bible says is simply of no relevance. It has no persuasive power, because it nowhere sets out to make a rational argument. Either God tells people not to do it, or He does not.

I'm not trying to divorce religion from politics entirely, or to divorce religion from rational arguments. But when an atheist argues to me that the government should guarantee special rights for homosexuals, if I disagree solely on the grounds of what the Bible says, I will find myself in the position of that JW arguing with the Muslim.