Which one is the best? Church, or state? Religion has made a mess, but so has the state.
“Oh, but the church represents God!” you may say. Really? Prove it. Here’s the problem: if you can prove it, you;re relying on the power of human reason to demonstrate the authority of the church.
If you can do that, then there’s no reason for the state, is there? After all, if you can prove that the church has authority from God using human reason, you can simply combine church and state, since truth is consistent with all truth.
I had a teacher in the 8th grade who convinced me that conscience doesn’t tell you right from wrong. He pointed out that our conscience is shaped by the culture in which we live. From that, he drew a strange conclusion: If conscience can’t tell us right from wrong, then religions must be wrong, and therefore we should make government a replacement for religious power.
Here’s the problem: if no individual conscience can tell us right from wrong outside of our culture, why would government have any greater success at guiding us morally than religion?
More scientific? Even granted that, science can no more tell us right from wrong in any absolute sense than religion. If it could, we could then place all moral decisions under the framework of science and simply eliminate the necessity of church or state.
Everything, every decision, every algorithm, could be determined by the reasoning of science.
But that won’t work, since in every single case, we’re talking about the human mind as the origin of our sense of right and wrong.
If we support religion, we’re supporting religion according to our reasoning. If we support the state, we’re still supporting human reason as the foundation, and if we propose science, same thing.
If no human mind can arrive at such a conclusion individually, there is no reason to assume that a collection of human minds would more accurately determine morality for every individual.
The answer must be that neither church nor state can determine morality for individuals.
If we assume that right and wrong in an absolute sense can be represented by either church or state, then it can be represented just as well by any computer of sufficient programming. If a church can do it, it can be programmed. If the state can do it, it can be programmed. If science can do it, same thing.
If right and wrong could be controlled either collectively by church or state, and if it could be just as fully programmed into a computer, what do we need for human minds and human life?
Did you ever notice that throughout history, neither church nor state put too much importance on individual lives? Both of them killed human beings into the millions.
Ayn Rand referred to church and state as “Attila and the Witch Doctor”. The bible takes a similar position by referring to them as “beast and false prophet”.
The simple fact is, both church and state are two heads of the same beast, which happens to be us. As the often quoted comic strip “Pogo” said, “We have met the enemy and he is us”.