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Randy Alcorn: In God We Trust — How Exactly?

It may be an article of ignorance and political faith but God is just a divine invention, and nothing more

In one of his recent campaign speeches, Mitt Romney told his audience that this nation was founded on Judeo-Christian principles and became great because it “trusted in God, not man.” Romney fears that departing from those principles and from that divine trust will doom America.

But, how do you trust in God? You can’t have a two-way conversation with God. God never tells you what it wants from you. Talking to God is like talking to a wall. If any of us went around telling folks that the wall talked back, we’d probably end up on a psychiatric couch. But, we have had presidents and would-be presidents who have assured us that God has answered them and that they are obeying God’s will. Didn’t President George W. Bush tell us he prayed for God’s guidance before deciding to invade Iraq? Wonder if he really heard God say “go for it.”

Furthermore, Judeo-Christian values are not peculiar to or dependent upon those religions. The essential principles of loving your fellow humans and treating them as you would like to be treated precede and are not exclusive to any one religion. These principles have existed from the dawn of mankind. Morality is not dependent on fear of divine retribution or promise of divine favor. Romney and his fellow fearful faithful can relax, civilization won’t collapse without religion, and no one is going to get an extra harp in heaven for discriminating against homosexuals, opposing birth control, refuting evolution or prohibiting stem-cell research.

One of the dangerous problems of having a persistently mute God is that the faithful have to rely on ancient written instructions — Scripture. We have to trust that God dictated its will to devoted, unerring stenographers and that every translation of the resulting work was perfectly faithful to the original. Judging from the many, often adversely contrary, interpretations of the same scriptures by myriad opposing sects, the faithful are having a hard time agreeing on what God said, wants or means. If only God would come to us, grab us by the shoulders, look us in the eye, and say, “I’m God, listen to me,” we could clear up all this confusion quicker than boiled asparagus.

From the dawn of human civilization, kings and politicians have adroitly employed religion to rule the masses. The King James Bible to which so many of today’s Christians adhere was a translation into English commissioned by that king to be purposely interpreted to support divine rule by monarchs and to insist that it was god’s will that people be obedient subjects to both divine and earthly authority. A choice of a word here, a twist of a phrase there, and, voila, you have a conveniently powerful document with which to lord over the benighted multitudes.

What Romney and the other smugly self-certain believers in theological invention ignore is that, while this nation was founded by many people of various Christian faiths, it was wisely and clearly structured to be governed without deference or reference to any religion. Among its essential founding principles were freedom of religion and freedom from religion, which means absolute separation of church and state — Rick Santorum’s nausea notwithstanding.

When the human mind unquestioningly accepts religious dogma it must surrender some degree of logic, objectivity and impartial justice. This is not conducive to good public policy, which is clearly the case with the issue of same-sex marriage in which an entire class of Americans is being discriminated against.
The argument against same-sex marriage made by Romney and many other people of faith is that same-sex marriage, and, indeed, homosexuality are contrary to God’s will and, therefore, those who support it are being disobedient to God. Yet, the Bible indicates that God condoned polygamy. Many of God’s favorite patriarchs had multiple wives. So, if Christians oppose polygamy are they being insubordinate to divine will?

Ostensible nonreligious arguments that homosexuality will destroy civilization are not supported by any objective analysis, credible evidence or logic. With a mushrooming population of more than 6 billion people choking the planet in effluvia, the fear that homosexuality threatens human procreation and the survival of the species is absurd. Justifying discrimination against homosexuality all comes down to it being an affront to God’s will, which is often a convenient sublimation for personal revulsion.

God is an idea, not a fact, and ultimately a creation of man’s fear of mortality. God’s will is whatever men say it is. How can you, therefore, trust in God without trusting in man? Voting someone into office simply because they claim to share your religious beliefs doesn’t necessarily give you the best leaders. That should be pretty apparent by now.

— Santa Barbara political observer Randy Alcorn can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Click here to read previous columns.

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