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Faith in God, Faith in the State

Is it more foolish to believe in a Creator, or to believe in Democracy?

by James Leroy Wilson
January 29, 2009

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Faith in God, Faith  in the State

A few weeks ago I came upon the end of an interview on public radio with a fellow discussing the meaning of Barack Obama's ascension to the Presidency. He was a spokesperson for a liberal Christian denomination, and mentioned something about the "nation's soul."

The nation's soul. It made me wonder, how can nations have souls?

I'm not blaming this person for using the cliche. Indeed, many Christians may believe that nations have "souls," hearkening back to the Old Testament and God's apparent desire to bless and punish not just indiviudals, but nations.

So I won't question why religoius believers would embrace the concept. But I have to wonder about non-believers.

Over the past three years or so, atheism became prominent again with best-selling books by Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens. I haven't read them and won't judge them. But I will say that there are other kinds of religious faith that have nothing to do with belief in God.

After all, if "God" is just an idea that nobody can prove really exists, the same could be said of the soul and the conscience. To believe that either the soul or the conscience actually exists, or that there is objective Right and Wrong, is to make a religious statement, that is, an statement of faith unbacked by science or reason. If science can't singularly identify that something which makes us feel good and bad, then all reasonable atheists must agree that it doesn't really exist, just as they believe God doesn't exist. If we are not to believe in God, so it is we should not believe in a conscience or a soul, and if we are offended by a politician who mentions God, we should be equally offended by politicians who speak of souls and consciences, especially those who talk about the "nation's" conscience or soul.

Yet,  there are many people who reject the existence of God but embrace politics as a form of salvation. Specifically, they embrace Democracy. And what they mean by Democracy is not town-hall assemblies, petitions, or referenda. They mean, rather, representative democracy: voting for legislators and executives in large, populous districts.

And they will claim that this is necessary to prevent a) mob rule, and b) "anarchy" (by which they mean, chaos).

And then they will express hope that this "democracy" will fulfill our nation's "ideals" provided the right people are elected.

The premise they embrace is beyond foolish. It is existential confusion at the core: people mock those who believe the Universe has a Creator - a premise they can not disprove - and then they turn around and place faith in Democracy, even though it is plain common sense to say that Democracy does not work, and, moreover, can not work.

Sure, there are people who remember what it was like in the 1950's when the post-New Deal bi-partisan consensus in favor of Big Government was working swimmingly and the American people reached a standard of living unheard-of in history. They think that if it worked then, it could work again. They think we just need that caliber of statesman again, in the White House, Cabinet, and Congress.

What they don't consider is how America got to that position. It was through World War II, which killed the British Empire and which, for a generation, destroyed every economic competitor the U.S. may have faced. The world had to "buy American" for lack of options. And before World War II, democracy in America wasn't exactly working. There was the Depression, which no amount of government spending and regulation could fix. Before that, there was Prohibition, a singularly unwise policy with enough popular support to the get Constitution amended.

Yes, when America was economically dominant throughout the world, it seemed that we could afford Big Government. But Big Government's last real accomplishment was the Clean Air Act of the early 1970's. Since then, no new  big ideas have been implemented, just tweaks of existing programs. And the reason is, as other countries got back on their feet and became competitive, America's "share" in the global "market" dwindled. We could no longer afford major expansions of Big Government.

So those who are nostalgic for the mirage of 1946-72 deserve a wake-up call. Even if we accept the argument that Government "worked" back then, it certainly hasn't since. And not because the character of the people or the politicians have deteriorated, but because we lost the economic advantage that made politicians of that era look good.

Democracy, and the Big Government that Democracy is supposed to run, can't work for a simple reason that the blogger "ka1igu1a" identified several months ago: "If you propose the State is necessary to serve as an equalizing force to balance out the strong (oppressor class) vs the weak (oppressed class), then it would be self-evident that this so-called Strong would naturally be the most adept at using the State to regain/retain it's advantage." That is, the wealthy and powerful in anarchy will be even more strong and powerful in a State. If in a system of completely voluntary exchanges (that is, a free market), the weak will be duped and exploited, then they will even more likely be duped when they go to vote. Democracy can't and won't "control" greedy, powerful interests. Rather, democracy will be controlled by those very interests.

If you have the gift of increasing your wealth and power through con games and deceit, it is to your advantage to shield your behavior with legal privileges and protections. The strong and the smart will use the political process to protect their interests, and will use their wealth and media influence to deceptively persuade the masses that they are looking out for little guy. And that's what the State is: a protection racket where the strong oppresses the weak, with the consent of the weak.

What is most distressing is that so many people, including those who think they are wise enough to reject religion, still cling to Democracy. They still cling to the State. They fail to realize that the very same form of Reason that would reject faith in a Creator must also reject faith in abstract ideals. It must reject collectivism as irrational. For plain, unvarnished Reason that excludes all religion must realize that one's own will is the only thing in the world of real value, and is the only thing worth defending. In the absence of God, there is only individualism. One who rejects God but then embraces any form of Statism or collectivism at all is a fool or worse.

Next week, I will explain why devout religous believers should also reject all forms of Statism and coerced collectivism. 

Comments (4)

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Scott Baker from NYC writes:
January 30, 2009
We have a conscience because it is to our evolutionary advantage to have one. Don't believe me? Just take a look; our prisons are full of people who don't have consciences. If you still think society can run without being led by people who at least most of the time have a conscience, please review the history of the Dark Ages. I'm not saying we couldn't go there again, but if we do, it'll be because of the actions of the few dragging down the many, not the absence of a conscience of the majority.

elm from 98801 writes:
February 4, 2009
Re: Faith in God, Government & State could be foolish.

Faith is a state of mind! Faith, Government, Mainstream Christian, God & Hell are symbiotic, can't have one without the others: Face it, Mainstream Christian God & Hell were primarily invented early on by men of power during an era of ignorance to terrorize people who were like dumb sheep; way GOVERNING powers-that-be controled the massess.
People who believe in the concept of the Christian God & Hell think they themself, with their awesome free will choice, have chosen heaven, while others who don't make that same choice roast in hell. What a horrid fear to implant in young children. Mainstream Chrsitians say - "all life is sacred" - yet turn around and say -"you're a sinner who deserves nothing but everlasting punishment" - from now till the end of time.
Polybius, the ancient historian, said: "Since the multitude is ever fickle, full of lawless desires, irrational passions and violence, there is no other way to keep them in order but by the fear and terror of the invisible world; on which account our ancestors seem to me to have acted judiciously, when they contrived to bring into the popular belief these notions of God, and of the infernal regions."
Men of governing power, whether that be in the state, white house, church or elsewhere are the same today as yesterday, expect us to believe everything they say, have faith, trust and be lead like dumb sheep to the slaughter. Power, Control & Greed are a major underlying driving force behind people who seek positians of power --whether that be concious or unconcious.
Re - God damming sinners to Hell. Burning in Hell is not selling well anymore now that people are educated and preachers are avoiding it. Calling people wretched sinners isn't selling well either! And, where did "Free Will" with no strings attached go? As viciously threatening as Hell may be to the weak of stomach and spirit, I don't find it necessary at all to adhere to or hold dear such a violent, ancient & barbaric concept as torture by fire. In our society, it is a crime!!
The long line of pious men have preached God & Hell for ages. Fooled people who had faith in their words being sound. Many will never recover from the lie, unable to shake that wicked HELL fairy tale (imprinted in early childhood) from their mind. Most disturbing form of mental abuse of chiildren.
Motto to live by: Know the truth & the truth will set you free. Have faith in yourself!

Jeff from New York writes:
March 24, 2010
Very interesting. Does the author really suggest that representative government is unAmerican? Perhaps we would be better off abandoning representative government. We could go to a true majority rules form of democracy. All 300 million plus citizens could vote every single time someone wanted to get something done. Sounds like a great recipe for success doesn't it? Or maybe we could go back to "town halls" and Granges. That would be fun wouldn't it? Every thirty miles or so we could have a completely different set of laws governing how people live. That would be a great way to run a country wouldn't it? The author also seems to suggest that our representative form of "Big Government" came about because of some happy accident after World War Two. I seem to recall reading a document once that described how our form of government was to be designed. That document was ratified into law in 1789. It's called the Constitution and it specifically describes a Representative form of government called a Republic.

Now, about the rest of the author's article. It is nothing but a mish-mash of unrelated statements attempting to be logical and cohesive. Unfortunately, it fails on all accounts. There is nothing logical, and there is nothing cohesive in the authors efforts to promote his belief that one cannot hold an abstract thought in one's head without believing in God. Truthfully, it would be a waste of time to posit queries regarding every single non-sequiter like statement the author has made. So instead lets just look at the basic point the author seems to be making. The author seems to suggest that a person cannot believe in right or wrong and also cannot believe in Democracy unless they beleive in God--- but if they do believe in God, they cannot believe in Democracy.

As I said in the beginning... very interesting.

James Leroy Wilson from Independent Country writes:
March 31, 2010
Jeff brought up the idea of "unAmerican." "American" isn't a religion to me, but apparently is to Jeff, otherwise I have no idea why he brought it up.

And Jeff lacks the imagination to figure out that a world of tens of thousands of competing city-states would be a far freer and more peaceful world than our current system of "democratic" nation-states.

Also, Jeff is completely unaware that almost everything the federal government has done since 1913, and especially since 1933, has gone beyond the scope and powers authorized to the federal government by the Constitution.

But that's all beside the point. The clear purpose of the article was not to challenge anyone's lack of belief in God, but rather to challenge anyone's belief in the State, and in Democracy, as replacements for religion and spirituality. But like everyone who defends the Establishment, Jeff merely gives a smirk to this suggestion and pretends he's so smart that this is above refutation.

Enjoy your goose-step toward Statist utopia, Jeff. You would make the perfect stormtrooper.

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