Sunday, August 31, 2008

Faith is enemy of freedom

Yesterday, The Oklahoman published my letter to the editor below:

Faith itself is enemy of freedom

The Oklahoman published five letters in Your Views on Aug. 22 criticizing Diana Hsieh (Your Views, Aug. 14) of the Coalition for Secular Government, for arguing that a free society can't be founded upon religious dogma, Judeo-Christian or otherwise. None of these writers objecting to Hsieh's position were able to articulate how mysticism leads to individual freedom beyond their merely asserting it. After all, there were 1,776 years between Christ's birth and the establishment of America as the world's first individual rights republic.

If the Holy Bible is full of ideas that lead to individual freedom, why the long disconnect? Why did other religious thinkers give us the Dark Ages, the divine right of kings and the Inquisition, while the supposedly equally religious American founders gave us the First Amendment? The reality is that faith itself is the enemy of freedom. It takes reason to look at humankind and see beings who require liberty in order to prosper.

We owe the liberty we enjoy today to the champions of reason; we owe our freedom more to a man like Galileo turning his telescope toward the heavens and accurately reporting what he saw (in bold defiance of the faith-based tyrants of his day) than to any religious prophet or savior.

Nicholas Provenzo, Washington, D.C.

Provenzo is chairman of the Center for the Advancement of Capitalism.


Joseph Kellard said...

I love this letter, and as I wrote to Nick when he posted it elsewhere, the Christians' stock evasion of his argument is this: "America is God's chosen country." A free nation took so long to materialize after Christ's birth, they counter, because God just chose it that way.

Of course, this is a mere assertion, with no proof to support it, since, to begin with, there’s no proof for “God.” I’d be curious, however, to know when this popular evasion originated.

Michael Smith said...

Great letter!

As Miss Rand pointed out, faith and force are corollaries -- for the simple reason that once faith is elevated above reason, the only way for men to resolve their disputes is by force. One would think -- after witnessing the deaths of many thousands of innocents at the hands of sincerely faithful Muslims over the last 7 years -- that even Christians would not be able to evade this point. Yet they do -- vehemently.

I’ve pointed out to many that the faith-based beliefs of the 19 hijackers that murdered 3,000 people on 9/11 are every bit as valid as any other faith-based claims -- including the claim that “America is God’s chosen country”. I’ve yet to encounter a Christian willing to admit this -- which simply stands as evidence that a volitional consciousness has a virtually unlimited power of evasion.

Edward Cline said...

Congratulations, Nick. Great letter. Surprised it was published, but, as you know, one must "believe."


paul said...

I partly agree with what you say. If you are going to criticize Christianity, you should know what their Bible says. A ten year study was done to track the origins of all the concepts in the American constitution, and it was found that 34% can be directly traced back to the bible. The three branches of government come from the bible as does the separation of state and religion. The old testament mentions God turning a king into a leper for unlawfully performing a priestly ceremony.
Christ criticised the religious leaders of his day called pharisees, for hypocrisy. They were unjust, exploitive and nullified the ten commandments. What your writings against "Christianity" point out is that history merely repeats itself. Its dishonest to fail to make a distinction between Biblical Christianity and Pharisaic Christianity.
And read the respect for reason that Christ showed in his dialogues in the new testament. And read the respect God showed for Jonahs intellectual independence in the book of Jonah. Please, no smearing of the bible and do your homework before you criticize the Bible.

Regards Paul

Renee Katz said...

Don't worry, Paul. The Bible does a pretty good job smearing itself.

Anonymous said...

Prosperity and happiness are unrelated to each other. While
capitalism comes with the least
government restraints and often
leads to prosperity. There are
many ramifications that are not
being acknowledged here. Capitalism rewards many but oppresses many as well. So either
the government oppresses or the
corporate state keeps many at
poverty level. While the corporations reward their leaders,
the objectivist seems to disregard
the loss of freedoms withing the
monster itself proporting itself
to be a symbol of freedom (the
corporation). There is an unintended consequence of unhappiness that can never hav
e relief. This is what the
message of the Gospel is. It is
relief for the sad, the weary,
and those who have no hope.
I believe in capitalism, but
I also am not so naive to find
it and "objective reasoning" as the
end all to happiness. As for
the Bible, please, Ms. Katz,
understand the message Christ
brought told in Mathew,
Mark Luke and John. The story
is the same. The rest of the
Bible is not necessary to read
to understand Christianity. Christ brought comfort and happiness
to me. Prosperity brought me
confusion and pain.

Renee Katz said...

LOL! Now it's "ignore the rest of the Bible, just read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John." So you're agreeing with me that it does a pretty good job smearing itself?

By the way, freedom and happiness are related, so I don't see what the problem is.