I was the Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. This was while being a professor of economics and NDSU. Later I became active in the Red River Freethinkers. While I no longer live in Fargo-Moorhead the focus of my blog remains there.


Faith in Humans Was Present Among the Founding Fathers


I've been reading a great book about Benjamin Rush (Rush, by Stephen Fried), a lesser known figure during the founding of the United States. Rush was a physician but was a prolific writer and influential in politics.
An important part of his thinking was that humans had the ability to organize themselves and conduct their collective selves in ways that would be successful. While he was a Christian and assumed that all religions, not only Christianity, contributed something to the lives of humans he did not seem to think Christianity was the guiding force for a sound society:
I am not so sanguine as to suppose..it is possible for man to acquire so much perfection from science, religion, liberty and good government as to cease to be mortal; but I am fully persuaded the from the combined actions of causes, which operate at one upon reason, the blood and the heart, it is possible to produce such a change in the moral character of man, as shall raise him to a resemblance of angels--nay more, to the likeness of God himself.
I note he did not say God was needed to guide people toward a high moral plain. People could do this themselves through rational thought and debate.
He included this in a book in the mid 1780's, just before the famous Constitutional Convention in 1789. Benjamin Franklin published it but not before warning Rush such an idea was too radical for the country to accept. It was a best seller.
Now, 200 some years later, it seems like we are still arguing about the same thing. Can we as humans figure things out or do we need to pick out a few of the many things in the Bible and claim they are universal truths given us by God?  Rush's view was sound then. It remains sound today.

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