It’s been said that you can tell a book by its cover. You can also tell a book by those who endorse it. Consider Alan Dershowitz’s Blasphemy: How the Religious Right is Hijacking our Declaration of Independence. The book is endorsed by at least two published atheists (Steven Pinker and Sam Harris), the president of the ACLU (Nadine Strossen, who speaks to atheist groups and may be an atheist herself), an anti-Christian and self-avowed atheistic Congressman (Pete Stark, D-CA), and the Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State (Barry W. Lynn) who rarely has anything good to say about religion and the public square.
Their endorsement of Blasphemy and its defense of the Declaration of Independence over against its Christian interpreters made me laugh out loud. How can any of these critics denounce the “Christian Right” and its use of the Declaration when the Declaration asserts that our “inalienable rights” are an endowment from the Creator?
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Dershowitz and his atheistic supporters are hypocrites. Their attack should be on the Declaration itself since it not only grounds our most fundamental rights in a Creator, but it also acknowledges that this Creator is “the Supreme Judge of the world.”
Dershowitz describes the God of the Declaration as “deistic.” I want to know if the atheists who endorse Blasphemy believe in a Creator of any kind, deistic or not. Of course they don’t. They’re atheists! The very definition of an atheist is that there is no God. Pulling out the deist card to save his polemical hand does not lend credibility to Dershowitz’s argument that the Declaration is a purely secular document. No deist would ever describe God as “the Supreme Judge of the World” or rely “on the Protection of Divine Providence” for anything. Protection and Providence are not in the deist’s deck.
Let’s ask Mr. Dershowtiz and his atheist supporters if it would be legitimate to refer to God in public schools each morning as the “Supreme Judge of the world” or teach in a biology class that God is the Creator. There would be howls of protestation with Barry Lynn leading the way to the nearest judge to threaten a lawsuit against any school that begin the day with a statement that the Creator is the Supreme Judge of the world. Logic would lead one to believe that this Creator was the Supreme Judge of the school, the teachers, and the students.
Mr. Dershowitz might be right that the Declaration is not a Christian document, but this does little to clear up the broader argument about religion and civil government. He and his atheist friends must prove that America’s founding was decidedly anti-theistic since this is the way the ACLU and Americans United for Separation between Church and State argue in court. The Declaration, with its description of God as Creator and Supreme Judge, is an indictment of their atheistic advocacy.
One additional point needs to be made. Not only is a book known by those who endorse it, but it is also known by the books it does not cite. The most comprehensive study of the Christian character of the Declaration is Gary T. Amos’ Defending the Declaration: How the Bible and Christianity Influenced the Writing of the Declaration of Independence (1989). If Dershowitz is going to critique a position, it is incumbent upon him to deal with the one book that makes the strongest case against his position. This single omission makes his book suspect. It’s not that he is not familiar with Amos. He quotes from Amos’ book Never Before in History. As a law professor and defense attorney, Dershowitz knows that to fail to cross examine the strongest witness against your case is a major mistake that no good lawyer would make. In addition to not mentioning the book by Amos, there is no reference to Daniel Dreisbach’s response to The Godless Constitution: The Case Against Religious Correctness (1996), by Cornell University professors Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore.
Blasphemy is a poorly argued book, not worthy of an attorney who is a distinguished Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. Claus von Bülow should thank his lucky stars that Dershowitz did a better job arguing to overturn his conviction for the attempted murder of his wife “Sunny” von Bülow then he’s done in defending a secular Declaration.
Daniel L. Dreisbach, “A Godless Constitution?: A Response to Krammick and Moore”: www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1280479/posts