In God Who Trusts? A Theology Thursday Question

Recently the United States Congress reaffirmed the phrase “In God We Trust” as the United States motto. I have mixed feelings on the issue.

On one hand having a motto for this country that clearly not everyone supports, being as those that say they are atheists* and agnostics wouldn’t put their trust in something they cannot see, doesn’t strengthen our (collective) belief in God and does not make us any more a Christian nation than me holding a feather and jumping off a building makes me a bird.

On the other hand it’s nice that congress actually decided to keep something so prominently referring to God at all, being as we can’t keep the Ten Commandments up in any government building in this country. Of course in this age of post-modernity “God” could mean any number of things to any one person, but that’s neither here-nor-there for the purposes of this post.

I know that the whole “separation of church and state” thing is dramatically taken out of context in this country; being as it was not the founding fathers intent that the church be kept out of government affairs altogether, more it was the intent that the government be kept out of church affairs altogether and that hasn’t happened. Interestingly though, we don’t have to look too awful far back into history to see that it doesn’t play out well for church and state to mix too much. It is well known that the pilgrims came to this country seeking freedom from religious persecution in England; and my question for Theology Thursday centers around just that, but first some scripture…

In Romans 13 we read:

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.”

(Thanks again for the NASB Jay) and in 1 Peter we read:

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.”

Here is today’s question: In light of verses like these…was it right for the pilgrims to come to this country? Or should they have continued to live in England and suffer persecution there?

Discuss…

*There is no such thing as an atheist, for no one can claim with 100% certainty that there is no God, to do so they would have to know everything possible, at best they would have admit to being an agnostic.

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9 thoughts on “In God Who Trusts? A Theology Thursday Question

  1. A lot of points to discuss here.

    First, I do not really see the need or benefit of Ten Commandment Displays in public. Personally I think a lot of Christians actually *want* to feel like they are persecuted so that they can claim the blessings of Matthew 5, so the 10 commandment thing is a relatively painless way to pretend they are being persecuted. Maybe that’s just me, but I don’t get it. I also think it is a more than a little naive of Christians to lay claim to the founding fathers as though all, or even most, were staunch Trinitarian bible believing Christians. There is no such thing as a “Christian” nation, and the scripture never alludes to anything of the sort. That is my 2 cents on that.

    As far as the debate on the atheist / agnostic thing. I actually side somewhat with NotAScientist on this one. The bottom line is that you cannot prove the non-existence of anything, but one can choose to not believe in something. I don’t believe there is an elephant in my office right now, and I admit that it is my choice to not believe in it (yes it is 1am and I am still in my office, just finished prep for a funeral). Nonetheless I am an a-elephantinmyoffice-ist even though I can’t prove it. I am still agnostic about the elephant, because I suppose there is a minute chance there could be an elephant, but I am still convinced there isn’t. So I am a-elephant-ist while remaining agnostic on the issue. I don’t see a problem there.

    Obviously, I am not an atheist, but I do think it is futile argument, that just looks a bit silly, to try to prove the non-existence of atheists by definition. Does one think that an atheist will believe in God once they come to some realization that there own position does not exist (even though it does)?

    The reason I am not an atheist is because I believe that the resurrection is historically verifiable. Christianity hinges on that point alone. Obviously the atheist cannot prove the non-existence of God anymore than we can prove the non-existence of Joseph Smith’s tablets and seer stones.

    It is important that we place the debate in the right place, and I contend that the place of debate is the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.

    Glad you are enjoying that NASB John ‘cheapskate’ Downey 🙂 — let me know when you are going to be in T-town again, so we can catch up!

  2. “by definition you’re not really an atheist you’re an agnostic because you can’t say for sure.”

    By definition I’m both, because they deal with separate things. Agnosticism deals with knowledge, and atheism deals with belief. These are not the same.

    I’m an atheist and an agnostic. Which is fine.

  3. “*There is no such thing as an atheist, for no one can claim with 100% certainty that there is no God, to do so they would have to know everything possible, at best they would have admit to being an agnostic.”

    This would be true if the definition of atheist was one who claimed with 100% certainty that there is no God.

    As that isn’t the definition of atheist, your argument does not hold.

    An atheist is anyone who does not believe a god or gods exist. That is all that is required.

    “being as we can’t keep the Ten Commandments up in any government building in this country.”

    As only three of the Ten Commandments have any analogue in our code of laws, why should it be in any government building?

    • If I said I don’t believe you exist would that make it so? For someone to say they don’t believe something exists but can not say it with 100% accuracy is complete foolishness, if you want to call yourself a fool by all means, I mean that’s what the Bible calls you so you may as well too.

      I believe there are at least four, not just three, I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, just worth mentioning.

      ALSO atheism was not what was part of the discussion here…please stick to the topic at hand.

      • “For someone to say they don’t believe something exists but can not say it with 100% accuracy is complete foolishness”

        Do you believe leprechauns exist? Can you say that you don’t with 100% certainty? No, you can’t, because of the way leprechauns are defined. For all you or I know, they could exist but choose to remain invisible whenever we come around.

        As certain as I am that leprechauns don’t exist, I am certain a god doesn’t exist. But that isn’t 100% certain. It’s just as close as I can get about anything. And I’m find with that.

      • I’m irish don’t tell me leprechauns don’t exist…I can’t say they don’t exist, they could, but it’s not likely…it’s just a terminolgy thing, by definition you’re not really an atheist you’re an agnostic because you can’t say for sure.

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