Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. That psychic discomfort is the price we pay for basic civic peace. It's worth it. It's a pragmatic principle. Defend everyone else's rights, because if you don't there is no one to defend yours. -- MaxedOutMama

I don't just want gun rights... I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance....I want the whole bloody thing. -- Kim du Toit

The most glaring example of the cognitive dissonance on the left is the concept that human beings are inherently good, yet at the same time cannot be trusted with any kind of weapon, unless the magic fairy dust of government authority gets sprinkled upon them.-- Moshe Ben-David

The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been "liberated" to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it's because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it's because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem. -- Sultan Knish

All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war. -- Billy Beck

Thursday, January 03, 2013

George F. Will on Religion and Politics

Former Blogger Jed Baer sent me an email New Year's Eve with a link to a recent speech given by George F. Will at St. Louis' Washington University for their John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics.  I respect Mr. Will quite a bit, having quoted him numerous times on this blog including the entire text of his keynote speech at the Cato Institute's biennial Milton Friedman Prize dinner from May of 2010.  I won't do that again, even though I have much better PDF version of this speech from which to work than I had of the previous one.  No, this time I'll just embed the video.

Mr. Will explains that he is "secular," by which I assume he means small-"a" atheist or agnostic, but his defense of religion in America had me nodding along throughout the speech.  If you're interested in this topic, I highly recommend the speech and Q&A that follows:

I will excerpt a short bit, though, to whet your appetite:
When people today speak of nature, they generally speak of flora and fauna, of trees and animals and other things not human.  But the Founders spoke of nature as a guide to and and a measure of human action.  They thought of nature not as something merely to be manipulated for human convenience, but rather as a source of norms to be discovered.  They understood that natural rights could not be asserted, celebrated and defended unless nature, including human nature, is regarded as a normative rather than a merely contingent fact.

This was a view buttressed by the teaching of biblical religion,  that nature is not chaos, but rather it is the replacement of chaos reflecting the mind and will of the Creator.   This is the creator who endows us with natural rights, that are inevitable, inalienable, and universal, and hence the foundation of democratic equality.  And these natural rights are the foundation of limited government, government defined by the limited goal of securing those rights so that individuals may flourish in the free and responsible exercise of those rights.

A government thus limited is not in the business of imposing its opinions about what happiness or what excellence the citizens should choose to pursue.  Having such opinions is the business of other institutions, private and voluntary institutions, especially religious ones that supply the conditions of liberty.   Thus the Founders did not consider natural rights reasonable because religion affirmed them, rather the Founders considered religion reasonable because it secured natural rights.

There may, however, be a cultural contradiction in modernity.  The contradiction is that while religion can sustain liberty, liberty does not necessarily sustain religion.  This is of paramount importance because the seminal importance of the Declaration of Independence.
And he goes on to explain why.

Worth your ninety minutes.

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