Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Even More on the Importance of Philosophy...

I just finished reading a short book called Light in the Shadow of Jihad. In a reference to Jefferson's great statement in the Declaration of Independence...
We hold these truths to be [sacred] self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

...this is what Ravi Zacharias has to say:
That one sentence sets America apart from most of the nations of the earth. Our value is not derived from government benevolence or from the mercies of democracy. Democracy and individual dignity derive from the transcendent reality of a Creator. Take away the Creator, and we are at the mercy of the powers of the moment.

This is vital to our understanding for the future. We can debate from now till the end of the world whether America is a Christian nation. The certainty is this: America was not founded on an Islamic, Hindu, or Buddhist worldview, however valuable some of their precepts might be. If we do not see this, we do not see the fundamental ideas that shaped the ethos of the American people. In that sense, bin Laden has a better understanding of us than we have of ourselves. Only within the Christian framework could a nation have been conceived that recognizes that God Himself has bestowed intrinsic dignity upon us. We are not the result of natural causes, but of a supernatural one. We are individuals with dignity in essence; and freedom, even with its risks, has been endowed upon us by our Creator.

The book also includes an interesting quote from George Washington's farewell address:
Of all the disputations and habits that lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness-- These finest props of duties of men and citizens... And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on the minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience, both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

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