By Dr. Owen Anderson – – Monday, December 12, 2016
The First Amendment is first, not simply because it falls at the beginning of a list of amendments, but because it articulates the first freedom and the nature of that freedom. It guarantees the freedom essential to humans as rational beings.
By connecting the freedom of religion with the freedom of speech, the First Amendment gets to the essence of what it is to be a human — for it is self-evident that we are thinking beings. We use reason to form thoughts, and we think in order to make sense of, or give meaning to, our experiences in light of our basic beliefs.
Our most basic beliefs answer the most basic questions that can logically be asked. These include beliefs about authority, existence and value. Because of how these beliefs shape the rest of our worldview, and because of their relationship to our search for meaning, they are identified as our religious beliefs.
To be concerned for thinking, reason and meaning is to be concerned for common ground in human civilization.