Neil DeGrasse Tyson: Don’t base government on ‘holy documents’

 APRIL 1, 2015 BY MICHAEL STONE

Wise words: Neil DeGrasse Tyson says government should not be based on “holy documents.” Instead, Tyson argues government should be based “on things that are objectively true.”

Tyson, in a wide-ranging interview with The Daily Beast, said:

It seems to me that the way you govern people is you base governance on things that are objectively true; that are true regardless of your belief system, or no matter what the tenets are of your holy documents.

Later in the interview Tyson reiterates the point:

The line I’m drawing is that there are religions and belief systems, and objective truths. And if we’re going to govern a country, we need to base that governance on objective truths—not your personal belief system.

In the interview Tyson compares the tenets of Scientology and Christianity, finding both belief systems to be equally absurd. Tyson chastises those who would point to the absurd claims of Scientology, without also acknowledging the equally absurd claims being made by Christianity, Judaism, and other more mainstream, traditional religious beliefs.

Tyson wryly notes:

So, you have people who are certain that a man in a robe transforms a cracker into the literal body of Jesus saying that what goes on in Scientology is crazy?

However, Tyson is also quick to point out that we live in a free country, and people are free to hold any religious beliefs they like:

Let’s realize this. What matters is not who says who’s crazy, what matters is we live in a free country.

Tyson does not care if one is a Christian, a Scientologist, a Muslim, or a Progressive Secular Humanist. Tyson is emphatic that we are all free to our own “belief systems.” However, Tyson is equally emphatic that people should not legislate or make public policy decisions based on their religious beliefs.

Tyson illustrates the point by using the example of religious objections to homosexuality. After first observing that homophobia “almost always entirely stems from religion,” Tyson says:

… the point here is that if you’re religious, and your religion tells you that being gay is bad, then don’t be gay. But you have to remind yourself that that’s your belief system, and there are other belief systems that don’t agree with that, so you should not be in the position to make legislation that affects other people.

Tyson also spoke eloquently about the U.S. Constitution and the separation of church and state, opining:

The Constitution makes no mention of Jesus, God, or anything. The Constitution is religion-free on purpose, which I’ve read was controversial. They were smart. They said, “Well, if we mention god, then it establishes a religion, and that would give the government power to influence your belief system, and you would no longer have a free country.”

Tyson is correct. The separation of church and state contained in the “religion-free” U.S. Constitution is what ultimately guarantees our freedom, and that is “smart.”

Without freedom from religion, there is no freedom of religion, and ultimately, no freedom at all.

(H/T The Daily Beast)

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