In God We Trust
by John Patrick Michael Murphy
"Class will now come to order. We're going to discuss the four words that have just been chiseled into the school house entrance. Does anyone have a thought about it? Let's examine the people of this country, and see if it is appropriate to tell you children that there is a god and you should trust him. Is such a slogan inclusive, pluralistic, non-elitist, and consistent with the American doctrine of separation of church and state? Are there citizens who have no god to trust, or citizens who have a god, but don't trust him? If so, then who is included in the pronoun 'We'?"
"Teacher, there are atheists who are citizens, and they deny that god(s) exist."
"You are correct, except that you just gave the Christian definition of atheism. Actually atheists simply say that there is no evidence that anything ever existed that was not part of the natural world. They say that in all the time that humans have investigated god(s), absolutely no credible, reliable, reasonable, or even plausible, evidence for a god has made itself known. What would you think about their putting up signs like 'No God To Trust'?"
"Aren't there agnostics too, who don't have god(s) to trust?"
"Yes indeed, they are much like the atheists, except that where atheists say, 'The evidence of god(s) is just not there,' the agnostics say, 'I don't know anything about the god(s), and based upon my investigation, neither do you.' Should agnostics be allowed their voice, and slogans like, 'No Evidence, No Trust'?"
"So class, in order to be an atheist or an agnostic, one must first investigate god(s), and then form a conclusion that all there is, is us, and our natural world. Now do you think it fair to have a religious slogan on a public building, much less a school which children of no faith are required to attend?"
"Now are there any Americans who believe in god(s), but don't trust them?"
"Teacher, are they the deists?"
"Precisely. They too, examine the concept of god(s), and form the conclusion that there must have been god(s) to have started this whole affair that we call the universe, but it doesn't help us a bit. Deists say, 'look around you - no god(s) that care about us would let happen, what happens'. Deists are always proud to remind us that our first presidents, together with Franklin, Paine, Allen, and a host of others, reached this conclusion. Should they be forced to support the idea that god(s) can be trusted when they believe just the opposite? What if the deists had great political power? Would it be fair to those who trust god(s) to be forced to support the deists putting up signs in public buildings like 'In God Don't Trust'?"
"Are there others, more groups of Americans who hold that the slogan 'In God We Trust' does not speak for them? Are there Americans who have a religion, but not god(s) to trust? No hands? I've stumped you. How about the Buddhists? They believe in no god(s). They believe in this world - that desire leads to misery, that nature will recycle them and finally free them from being reborn. If our school happened to be in Hawaii, over 60% of you would come from Buddhist families. You would be a member of a religion that has no god to trust. Should these folks be forced to support theism when they are adherents to atheism? If you were attending public school there, would you think it right to be forced to pass their slogan that said 'No God(s), Just Karma'?"
"So just who are the 'We' in the slogan 'In God We Trust'? Tomorrow we will discuss them and the various god(s) that they want us to trust."
What Do You Think?
"In God We Trust" is copyright © 2000 by John Patrick Michael Murphy.
The electronic version is copyright © 2000 Internet Infidels with the written permission of John Patrick Michael Murphy.