By Dinesh D’Souza’ (Research Scholar at Hoover Institution, Stanford University and Author of “What’s so Great about Christianity.” USA Today – October 22, 2007)
Popular efforts to tuck Christianity neatly aside as a footnote to this country’s history and to deliver a secular society will fail. Why? Because the faith is inextricably tied to our values, our institutions and even modern science.
We seem to be witnessing an aggressive attempt by leading atheists to portray religion in general, and Christianity in particular, as the bane of civilization. Finding the idea of God incompatible with science and reason, these atheists also fault Christianity with fostering a breed of fanaticism comparable to Islamic radicalism. The proposed solution: a completely secular society, liberated from Christian symbols and beliefs.
This critique, which comes from best-selling atheist books, academic tracts and a sophisticated network of atheist organizations and media, can be disputed on its own terms. What it misses, however, is the larger story of how Christianity has shaped the core institutions and values of the USA and the West. Christianity is responsible even for secular institutions such as democracy and science. It has fostered in our civilization values such as respect for human dignity, human rights and human equality that even secular people cherish.
Consider science. Although there have been many civilizations in history, modern science developed in only one: Western civilization. And why? Because science is based on an assumption that is, at root, faith-based and theological. That is the assumption that the universe is rational and follows laws that are discoverable through human reason.
The ‘miracle’ of our universe
Science is based on what James Trefil calls the principle of universality. “It says that the laws of nature we discover here and now in our laboratories are true everywhere in the universe and have been in force for all time.” Moreover, the laws that govern the universe seem to be written in the language of mathematics. Physicist Richard Feynman found this to be “a kind of miracle.”
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