Monday, July 25, 2005

Scalia & Monotheism:

I'm glad Sandefur brought up Scalia's dissent in McCreary v. ACLU. I think Scalia was actually onto something but ultimately missed, getting it only half-right. Scalia looked to the acknowledgments of a generic, undefined Deity that our early Founder/Presidents made in their public statements and concluded (wrongly) that they were drawing a lowest common denominator between Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, all of which as Abrahamic religions believe that God revealed the Ten Commandments to Moses.

This is wrong for a number of reasons, primarily because back then Jews and Muslims (and Catholics) were, for the most part, put into the same box with Hindoos, Pagans and Infidels. Some of our Founders -- the most important ones -- wanted to grant rights of conscience universally to all. Others probably wanted such rights to belong only to the Protestant sects.

What those Founder-Presidents of whom Scalia referenced were actually doing was drawing a lowest common denominator between orthodox Christianity (which was probably dominant among the population) and the Deistic-unitarian philosophy in which each of them -- Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison -- believed.

Therefore they spoke of an undefined generic, monotheistic, rights-granting Deity. He could be the trinitarian God of the Bible or the very unorthodox, non-miracle performing unitarian God in which they believed. But if we had to form a LCD God out of that, we wouldn't conclude that He was the God who revealed the Ten Commandments to Moses because that was something of which these Deistic-unitarian Founders were highly skeptical.

I made a similar post in more detail, here.

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