Laura Ainsworth, Staff Writer
From John W:
Dear Mr. Huckabee, read your newsletter every day and am a huge fan. I agree with almost all of your opinions except in one subject, and it is the point of my inquiry. Is it possible to be both a conservative and an atheist? I fully support freedom of religious belief for other people as it is written in our Constitution, and I am pro-life, a believer in free markets, I strongly support President Trump, and I believe in strong moral values. I just do not find scientific evidence for a belief in a deity. It makes things confusing at times when I am surrounded by other like minded thinkers as all my conservative friends are religious and all my atheist friends are liberal!
From Laura Ainsworth (staff writer):
I know this letter was directed to the Gov., and he may choose to comment on it himself, but as you pose questions that I find especially interesting, I thought I would answer, because, hey, I just really wanted to.
One thing that is certain: yes, it is possible to be a conservative and not have a belief in God. It might be useful here to differentiate between “atheist” as it is popularly defined (someone who is sure there is no God) and “agnostic” (someone who doesn’t know but who lacks a belief in God). It seems to me that being an atheist requires just as much of a leap of faith as being a...say...Presbyterian. Science has answered a lot of questions and will continue to close gaps in our knowledge, but so much remains unresolved that, to me, atheism assumes too much.
When I think of a conservative, I mostly imagine someone who values the freedoms outlined in our Bill Of Rights and doesn’t want to stray too far from them. Some of the founding fathers were deeply religious, but others were agnostic or struggled with their faith. Some were Deists, believing the world had to be created by something but imagined a force that sort of “wound a clock” and let it go.
The founders’ concept of “natural law” supposedly was given to us by God. Even if you aren’t sure that this literally happened, you can still revere the Constitution every bit as much AS IF IT DID, for the earth-shattering brilliance of it and for the kind of life and promise it brings to our society. Even if you lack a belief in God, you can think of the Constitution itself as a sacred thing, something to be honored and valued and preserved.
I don’t think most non-religious people get this (of course, they haven’t been taught it), which is why a club of non-religious conservatives could probably hold their meetings in a phone booth. My husband and I used to belong to a skeptics organization, a pro-science group that debunked such things as alien abduction and astrology. As far as we knew, none of them believed in God; in fact, most of them definitely believed there is no God. Almost all of them were very liberal Democrats as well, and, like many on the left, they wrongly stereotyped conservative Republicans as holy rollers. I regret not ever giving a presentation at one of our monthly meetings to set them straight about this, but that was when I was a “closet” conservative. It probably would have been my last skeptics’ meeting, but then, we eventually left the group, anyway, mostly because our meetings got to be like meetings of the DNC and I just couldn’t take it. (This was over ten years ago; imagine how insufferable those meetings would be NOW!)
Since you strive to be a moral person and are pro-life, I’m sure you disagree with the religious teaching that morality comes only from worshiping God. It’s true that that there are reasons to want to be moral other than having the Bible or a church tell you to. But our most basic ideas about what is moral still come from Jewish and Christian teachings. You might not intellectually believe in God, but you ACT as if you DID. (If this is ringing true, I recommend the writings of Dr. Jordan Peterson, such as “12 RULES FOR LIFE: An Antidote to Chaos.” And tell your atheist friends to read him, too, though he is famously un-PC and will make them furious.)
I’d like to add one aside, since you mentioned being pro-life: I find it strange and even nonsensical that people who don’t believe in God are so cold about abortion. If existence is merely random, the odds of our ever being conceived are almost astronomically against us, and if we are aborted, we don’t go “back to God” but back into oblivion. How could we choose to snuff out a new life and send it into nothingness? Whether one believes in God or not, there are strong arguments to be made against abortion. But I only hear them being made on the religious side. I can only conclude that a lot of self-identified intellectuals aren’t nearly as smart or “freethinking” as they think they are.
But, again, the short answer to your question is, yes, you can be conservative without being religious!