'In God We Trust': Up for renewal

It's America's motto, and it's time to dust it off and put it back to use. 

Let's start with Albert Einstein: "Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind."

Computer models projecting COVID-19 doomsday scenarios are accurate science in the sense of real software integrating assumptions and math and probabilities to predict outcomes.  But devoid of God and hope, they are lame, and they leave us lame.

Religious projections of end times, or of this-is-God's-punishment-and-we-deserve-it, or of who-cares-it's-all-about-the-afterlife, have the danger of being blind to what can and should be done to help ourselves and others get through this promptly and effectively.

In a nation of 330 million people, there may not be a large number who would be in perfect alignment as to exactly what words they would use to describe what they believe God to be and to do in circumstances like these, much less what it means to trust God.  But America's motto has never required such uniformity of doctrine.  It is more simple and profound, based on "self-evident truths":

There is a Creator; He is the source of inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Such a Creator is good, and the expectancy of that which He creates is for good, not evil.  God-endowed inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness imply that humanity has a God-given birthright of dominion, not subjection.

Therefore: Americans will not accept evil as fate or destiny; and they will not long sit still and let human authorities take the place of God and order them to sit fearfully in the corner until further notice from such authorities.  For centuries, the concept of human authorities has also been known as the "rule of men."  Two thousand years ago, Paul issued a warning on this point: "Your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." (1 Cor. 2: 5)

So what will a dusted off motto of "In God We Trust" mean for today?

The most materially minded among us will be forever aggravated, exasperated, even terrified of the idea of trusting anything but what they can see, hear, touch, or taste.  This virus is freaking serious, they say, and there's no time for you idiot people of faith.  Can't you see we're all gonna die unless government takes everything over and orders it all to go away?  

Millennial David Hogg is the poster child, proudly tweeting, "F--- a National day of prayer, we need immediate comprehensive [government] action."

But the more spiritually minded among us will draw on and foster a sense of humility and individual grace that will both calm fears and open up individual steps in individual lives that will move the country toward improvement and ultimately resolution of this challenge.

Americans as a whole will pray and trust God that this, too, shall pass, and freedom shall endure to enable Americans to adapt and learn from it, but with a sense that the paralysis and panic associated with this episode will be overcome, not that it will become the new normal.

It's not as if humanity has never faced a plague (though COVID-19 isn't anything close to a plague).  It's not as if humanity has never faced seemingly hopeless situations.  And the American founders were not babes in the woods on these topics.

In fact, a little known anecdote of American history involves the contest to determine what the "great seal of the United States of America" ought to be.  Ben Franklin's choice: a depiction of Moses leading the children of Israel through the Red Sea, with God's pillar of fire in the cloud to guide them.

We can't know today every detail of Franklin's thinking regarding this design.  But it's safe to say the design called to remember one of history's most hopeless situations, where deliverance came not from experts.  Deliverance came from trusting God, and leaders having the courage to move forward with the expectation of good overcoming evil.

Time for more of the same in America today.  In God We Trust.

Eric Georgatos and wife Debbie operate the America, Can We Talk? media platform, with four-day-a-week video podcasting by Debbie and weekly written commentary, all centered on the importance and value of preserving America as founded.

It's America's motto, and it's time to dust it off and put it back to use. 

Let's start with Albert Einstein: "Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind."

Computer models projecting COVID-19 doomsday scenarios are accurate science in the sense of real software integrating assumptions and math and probabilities to predict outcomes.  But devoid of God and hope, they are lame, and they leave us lame.

Religious projections of end times, or of this-is-God's-punishment-and-we-deserve-it, or of who-cares-it's-all-about-the-afterlife, have the danger of being blind to what can and should be done to help ourselves and others get through this promptly and effectively.

In a nation of 330 million people, there may not be a large number who would be in perfect alignment as to exactly what words they would use to describe what they believe God to be and to do in circumstances like these, much less what it means to trust God.  But America's motto has never required such uniformity of doctrine.  It is more simple and profound, based on "self-evident truths":

There is a Creator; He is the source of inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Such a Creator is good, and the expectancy of that which He creates is for good, not evil.  God-endowed inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness imply that humanity has a God-given birthright of dominion, not subjection.

Therefore: Americans will not accept evil as fate or destiny; and they will not long sit still and let human authorities take the place of God and order them to sit fearfully in the corner until further notice from such authorities.  For centuries, the concept of human authorities has also been known as the "rule of men."  Two thousand years ago, Paul issued a warning on this point: "Your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." (1 Cor. 2: 5)

So what will a dusted off motto of "In God We Trust" mean for today?

The most materially minded among us will be forever aggravated, exasperated, even terrified of the idea of trusting anything but what they can see, hear, touch, or taste.  This virus is freaking serious, they say, and there's no time for you idiot people of faith.  Can't you see we're all gonna die unless government takes everything over and orders it all to go away?  

Millennial David Hogg is the poster child, proudly tweeting, "F--- a National day of prayer, we need immediate comprehensive [government] action."

But the more spiritually minded among us will draw on and foster a sense of humility and individual grace that will both calm fears and open up individual steps in individual lives that will move the country toward improvement and ultimately resolution of this challenge.

Americans as a whole will pray and trust God that this, too, shall pass, and freedom shall endure to enable Americans to adapt and learn from it, but with a sense that the paralysis and panic associated with this episode will be overcome, not that it will become the new normal.

It's not as if humanity has never faced a plague (though COVID-19 isn't anything close to a plague).  It's not as if humanity has never faced seemingly hopeless situations.  And the American founders were not babes in the woods on these topics.

In fact, a little known anecdote of American history involves the contest to determine what the "great seal of the United States of America" ought to be.  Ben Franklin's choice: a depiction of Moses leading the children of Israel through the Red Sea, with God's pillar of fire in the cloud to guide them.

We can't know today every detail of Franklin's thinking regarding this design.  But it's safe to say the design called to remember one of history's most hopeless situations, where deliverance came not from experts.  Deliverance came from trusting God, and leaders having the courage to move forward with the expectation of good overcoming evil.

Time for more of the same in America today.  In God We Trust.

Eric Georgatos and wife Debbie operate the America, Can We Talk? media platform, with four-day-a-week video podcasting by Debbie and weekly written commentary, all centered on the importance and value of preserving America as founded.