Are we One Nation under God or One Nation under Darwin? Phillip Johnson says this is the most important public debate to face our nation in the past 150 years. Either we are under God or we are not under God. Either God is real or God is imaginary. What we decide we are under as a nation will determine our moral authority for the future of our people and our country.
The inspiration for this lecture was the Pledge of Allegiance Case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2004. In this case an atheist father was requesting that the words “under God” be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance his daughter was required to recite at her public school. There were several interesting twists to the case including the fact that he was an absent father who never married the mother, and both the mother and daughter were Christians and did not object to the “under God” phrase in the pledge. The father was a medical doctor, had also attended law school, and did an admirable job in arguing his own case before the California Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that ruled in his favor.
After the California court decision there was a public outcry from citizens across the nation and all 100 Senators in Congress registered disapproval of the decision. And yet Phillip Johnson argues, this decision was a logical progression of court rulings since the 1962 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to prohibit prayer in our public schools. It was just one more step in the intentional secularization of America by our courts by removing any form of recognized religion from the public square, and leaving in its place only the hidden secular religion of naturalism.
Likewise the institution of marriage is under attack by the courts and the legal profession is already laying the ground work to redefine marriage from the union of a man and a woman, to the union of two people of the same sex, or a group of people, or possibly even between people and animals.
Ideas have consequences and the moral authority that “we the people” decide to put ourselves under in the future will have far reaching consequences for our nation.
What is the best way to discuss these issues in a pluralistic society? Phillip Johnson advocates the “Teach the Controversy” approach which has been endorsed by Congress in the Santorum language that was part of the “No Child Left Behind” Education Act of 2002.
The U.S. Senate voted 91-8 in favor of the Santorum Amendment to the “No Child Left Behind” Act. While the House of Representatives version of the bill did not include the amendment, a joint House-Senate committee included the following language from the original Santorum Amendment in its explanatory Conference Report: “The conferees recognize that a quality science education should prepare students to distinguish the data and testable theories of science from religious or philosophical claims that are made in the name of science. Where topics are taught that may generate controversy (such as biological evolution),