Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns


Let me express my gratitude to Dave Tucker for acknowledging that I and Masugi answered his demand, showing some common ground between the Bible and the natural rights doctrine.

Tucker keeps referring to Claremont Cosmology. I thought he was mixing levity with gravity but he seems quite serious about it all. Is he referring to Peter Drucker, Leonard Levy, Paul Fussell. If he is referring to Harry Jaffa and the Claremont Institute then there are many better qualified than I to articulate that Cosmology. After all, in the Claremont Cosmos, I am merely a centurion in a colony located on the tundra of the frozen north, a thriving colony to be sure.

On its serious side, the Claremont Cosmology is quite simply stated: Restore the principles of the American Founding to their rightful place in American public life. Tucker seems to think this a bad idea, since he thinks that the laws of nature and nature’s god and Jefferson are (secret) enemies of Biblical religion. Thus restoring those principles would be destructive. On its not so serious side, Claremont Cosmology seems to me to to consist of at least the following:
1)Thou shalt not use tobacco products in Jaffa’s presence.
2)Thou shalt not go to excess in the use of ’beverage alcohol’ in the presence of Jaffa or ’the girl in the canoe’, at least not until they leave the bar-b-q. This shows that Jaffa while reasonable/prudent is not omniscient
3)Thou shalt take Xenophon (and/or Cicero) more seriously than the Historicists of the last 200 years.
4)If you think you can be happy without moral virtue, go see Harry Neumann.
5)If you think this is oversimplified, go see Bill Allen. If you’re unpersuaded, then see Bill Allen on Montesquieu.
6)If you have a shot, take it.
7)Teleological sex or marriage is good. Non-teleological sex or promiscuity may be pleasant but it is not good. Some promiscuity is worse than others. That’s eight commandments, I’m sure I left out some.

Now this can be confusing because often times, Claremont Cosmology is confused with Straussian Cosmology. Michael Zuckert, now a resident Straussian at Notre Dame, conveniently sums up Straussian Cosmology as follows: 1)Modernity is bad; 2)America is modern; 3)America is good. So Claremont Cosmology seems to go 2 for 3 on Straussian cosmology.

To borrow from Struassian Cosmology, Tucker understands Jefferson better than Jefferson understands himself. Tucker has a historicist or nihilistic understanding of reason. I would argue that the reason of the Founding is prudent/teleological. According to Tucker, reason, as Jefferson understood it is ’an enemy of Biblical religion.’ If Tucker is right about this then the Claremont Institute should close down (and maybe the Ashbrok Center), Jefferson’s face should be removed from Mt. Rushmore, the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorial should be destroyed. Tucker says, Jefferson is the enemy of Bibllical religion. Wrong. Jefferson was the enemy of established religion. Jefferson thought disestablishment would be good for our politics and good for our religion. Jefferson does not think American can preserve its liberty without religion. Jefferson writes: "And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God?" Tucker thinks Jefferson is insincere when he writes this. Tucker thinks that Jefferson believes that Americans who believe in the Bible are ignorant. Tucker’s esoteric Jefferson bears no resemblance to the exoteric Jefferson. Tucker needs to make a full argument to demonstrate Jefferson’s Heart of Darkness.

It is true, that in the first half of the 19th century that religion flourished. Jefferson was not surprised or disappointed by this. Tocqueville observed that in America, religion was more widespread than in Europe and also that religion was the first political institution in America, precisely because of disestablishment, i.e., Jefferson’s statesmanship. I think, this is what Masugi is saying in his last blog: Amercia puts into practice a divine and reasonable solution to the theological-political problem,which Mausgi says had been worked out in theory by Thomas Aquinas.

A minor point, Tucker asks: don’t we find a consensus at the Founding by excluding from the Founding those who disagreed. Yes, the American Founding is based on consent. It is a voluntary association. So by definition those who disagreed were excluded. Some who excluded themselves had to be defeated.

A minor point, Tucker also seems to understand me better than I understand myself. He writes: "Craig no longer claims that the true religion is reasonable and only reasonable." I would only add: not only, ’no longer’, but also, ’Craig never did’.

Finally, Tucker concludes that "...the speeches of President Bush ... show a greater debt to Biblical religion than to the laws of nature and nature’s God." About this we have not be in dispute. That was why I posted Condi Rice’s talk in the first place. Bush’s speeches reflect a debt to both the Bible and the Declaration of Independence.

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