Tuesday, 18 June 2019
How important is biblical belief for the good of our society? In the 18th century, one of the greatest philosophers of all time, though not a Christian, put forth arguments that still have great force. Immanual Kant argued that three beliefs were important to a society if it was to produce a humane and lawful social order. They were: God, freedom and immortality.
Kant argued that it is obvious that human beings do not always get their just desserts in this life. Sometimes the wicked prosper and the righteous are defrauded and suffer terrible injustice. This undercuts our motivation for moral behavior. Kant said that only the belief in an afterlife, where God rewarded righteous behavior and punished evil behavior, could provide an answer to the dilemma.
We also have to believe that we are responsible and accountable for our choices. This can only be defended if we are free creatures that can choose good or evil. I think Kant was absolutely right. Psalm 73 gives the same answer. Indeed, many of the founding fathers of the United States agreed with Kant. John Adams argued this most forcefully and held that Christian belief was necessary to a democratic republic. Only then would the people have sufficient self control and integrity.
On the other hand, it is true that in the name of religion great evil has been done. The cultural establishment in past societies has used religion to convince people to act in a way that maintains their position and power. People are told they will receive their heavenly reward only by maintaining the social order. Marx thus called religion the opiate of the people.
This first excerpt was taken from my article.