One occasionally comes across a deposit of such misunderstanding and bad logic, coupled with sweeping hauteur and spin-doctoring, that it merits not a “token response,” but an outright decrying. Such is the case with Mr. Colton Givens’ and Steve Herr’s recent columns.
Givens would like to imagine that he could just sweep Dr. Zingrone’s arguments under the rug for their supposed belittlement and incomprehensibleness. But notice that Givens never attempts to demonstrate the nature of his own claims. With what reason(s) are these arguments worthy of such claims? Maybe it is Mr. Givens’ inability to comprehend them that is the problem as opposed to their claimed incomprehensibility.
Mr. Givens comments on the question, should “only those views which are scientifically verifiable, the only views which he believes are legitimate,” be allowed in the spectrum of modern discourse? Well, quite frankly, yes! There are good reasons why we have abandoned and will no longer consider unscientific views. For instance, there are good reasons why we no longer consider faith healing a valid medical practice for our hospitals – precisely because it does not work. We no longer perform human sacrifice as a method of agriculture to acquire rain and a good crop. Modern science has left creationism in the dustbin of mythology because it is a blatant lie. So, unless Mr. Givens wishes to return to the Dark Ages or worse, it is precisely scientific views that matter in this world.
This is what it is to have a modern technological society. And it should be pointed out that scientific views are not believed as Mr. Givens claims. They are accepted. When the facts and data support the hypothesis, it is no longer a question of belief, but of acceptance.
However, the most glaring example of bad logic rests in Mr. Givens’ assessment of Jefferson’s “wall of separation between Church and State.” Mr. Givens claims that this is not a call for a secular government, but that “the government cannot favor any one belief system over another,” (supposedly including secularism).
Oh, really? Well, what about that very system of belief? That is, that system of belief that states that the government cannot favor one belief system over another?
If the government favors that system, then Mr. Givens’ argument has contradicted itself over the very thing that it set out to argue against! With this view, not even the beliefs embedded in the system of democracy can be favored!
Mr. Givens’ view would lead to the government not being able to favor the very view with which it established its foundation on. Myriads of other contradictions follow from this phantasmagoria that Mr. Givens has constructed and we can thus dismiss it simply as a failure. Mr. Givens might argue that this is not the same sort of belief system as he spoke of, or that he meant only religious beliefs. But notice that he continues on to speak of the “beliefs of … atheists.” But just what beliefs do atheists hold?
Certainly not religious ones, since atheism is the lack of belief in theistic ideas. So, this is not an escape from the contradictions. The problem rests in Mr. Givens’ definition of secular.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, secular denotes “attitudes, activities or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis.” A secular government is not one that is anti-religious, but one that is neutral on matters of religion.
This is why religious claims are not welcome from Rep. Braun or anyone in political power, precisely because the government cannot use religious ideas to run this nation. We can therefore conclude that Mr. Givens’ idea that the government is not secular is nothing more than a shallow, pseudo-intellectual, spin-doctored sham.
As for Dr. Herr’s seeming affinity for chuckling, if he wishes for secularists to be strictly scientific in every last facet of their lives, perhaps then instead of spitting out his juvenile, high-handed egotism, he can challenge secularist’s views at one of many secular meetings held on campus each year.
Or, perhaps instead of the conversation not being scientific enough, it would be too scientific for him to handle.
Commentary by Benjamin Shelby, post-baccalaureate from Boaz, Ky.