Being a Mathematician, I'm very used to the idea that any system is based in the axioms that you select. They are not "self-evident" (for example, the more basic of them, the existence or not existence of God is everything but "self-evident") but they are impossible to avoid. Not everything can be demostrated. You need a base that you accept and build everything else over those assumptions. Karl Popper idea was that falsifiable theories (if there is a way to prove them false) are scientific, and not falsifiable ones are not science. That's why believing in God will always be faith, out of the scope of science: it's not falsifiable. Well, here are my main axioms (or "almost axioms", because some of them can be demostrated from the others and, therefore, removed, but this is not Mathematics and I didn't want to reduce the list). And with them, a personal explanation about why, in my case, I selected these axioms and no others. (Click on the subjects to expand or contract them)

{{a01}}I believe in God

It is not an exact quote of Dostoyevsky in The Brothers Karamazov but the idea was there: if God doesn't exist, everything is permitted . I know that for a lot of people (many friends of mine, among them) it is possible to have a moral compass without assuming the existence of God, but for me it is not logically possible. Each time that I imagine a world without God, as an exercise of the mind, I don't like the conclussions that I reach. It's also difficult for me to conceive an Universe without purpose.

Being more specific, I believe that Jesus Christ is God made man and that we reach salvation through his Grace, I believe in the power of prayer and that the writers of the Bible had divine inspiration, making the Bible the word of God and a book full of wisdom that I read in a daily basis. That defines me as a Christian. I also define myself as Catholic and I go to the Catholic mass but, as C.S.Lewis, I think that the differences between all the Christian denominations are not in the essence: all of them help us to fulfill God's purpose and help us to get nearer to Him. (The guide about how to behave in life and knowledge about the difference between good and evil is something that Christians also share with the jews). God would be pleased and the world would be a better place if all Christians behave as brothers in Christ and not as enemies.

Looking backwards, there were times where God was not an important part of my life, occuping a very small place. In the last years my life became more spiritual. I'm not proud of many of the things I did in the past and I realize that frequently I acted as a jerk. (That doesn't mean that I don't do that anymore). But accepting Christ and approaching to Him has been (and is) important for me because it's helping me to become, day by day and little by little, a better and a happier person than I used to be.

{{a02}}I believe in good and evil

This is a consequence of the first axiom, but I decided to keep it in the list. Nowadays there is a growing tendence to consider good and evil relative terms, depending on the time and culture. And that is true for many rules (probably for most of them) but, for the basic ones, I think that it is a very destructive trend.

Not all the cultures are equivalent. There are some that keep rules basically evil. And others had them in the past (slavery was evil).

Without the idea of God, I realize that it is difficult to see it in another way but I believe that there exists some absolute concepts or good and evil (the more important ones), even when others, less important, depend on when and where.

{{a03}}I believe in life

I believe that life starts with conception, period. Therefore, abortion kills human beings, not fetus. A human being is not "part of somebody else body" so you don't have rights over it. There is always a choice, but the choice is to give the born baby in adoption, not to kill it.

Being pro-life, I don't favor death penalty, but I make a difference: death penalty deals with people after their actions and actions have consequences, abortion is about innocent babies. So abortion is more unjustified than death penalty.

{{a04}}I believe in freedom

Karl Marx wrote that It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness. For me, that makes human beings robots whose behavior is a consequence of their circunstances, without freedom of choice. I believe that God gave us free will, and that, whatever are our circunstances, we can choice, being the most important the choice between good or evil.

And nobody better that Thomas Jefferson to express the idea, in the famous quote of the Declaration of Indepence, widely known, but never enough quoted:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

Yes, I believe that we are free and that freedom is the main gift that God gave us (and, for that reason, no government can take that from us). And that all the bad things in the world happen precisely because of that. I never understood why those bad things could be the proof of the non existence of God. They are the proof of our freedom of choice. The circunstances define the set of choices that we face in each moments but I believe that is our decisions who make the difference. John Steinbeck constructed a novel around the Biblic word "timshel" (you can).

The American Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin, and you can call sin ignorance. The King James translation makes a promise in 'Thou shalt', meaning that men will surely triumph over sin. But is the Hebrew word, the word timshel - 'Thou mayest' - that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if 'Thou mayest' - it is also true that 'Thou mayest not'.
{{a05}}I believe in personal responsability

With freedom comes responsability, and, being human beings free to choice, they have also to face the consequences of their choices. It's not the state, neither the government, the society, the parents or a foreign country the main responsable of our situation (in most of the cases). In the last instance, it's our decisions in a given set of circunstances what decide our destiny. Nobody else has to be blamed.

Tiranny arises when somebody with authority tries to decide instead of us and to deprive us from our freedom and responsability. In one of my favorite quotes, C.S. Lewis wrote:

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
{{a06}}I believe in American excepcionalism

For me, that exceptionalism (that doesn't imply superiority, just difference) was very well explained by the English writter G.K.Chesterton when he said "America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed." That clearly makes it different.

And the consequence is clear: if you agree with that creed, detailed in the founding documents (the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Federalist Papers), even when you were not born in the United States, you are an American. I am an American.

{{a07}}I believe in freedom of religion

The First Amendment says exactly this:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

Consider this redaction "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of an official art". That would avoid such things as "socialist realism" as an official art or the infamous "words to the intellectuals" that Fidel Castro pronounced on June 1961: "within the Revolution, everything goes; against the Revolution, nothing". That DOESN'T mean that you cannot hang pictures in public buildings. In other words, that doesn't mean "a separation between art and state".

So freedom of religion means that a particular religion is not the law of the land (there is not a Sharia or an Inquisition), but religion can be exercised in public and people, even public functionaries, don't need to limit their exercise to their private life. It means that the Pledge of Allegiance can say "under God" (and if somebody wants to say the pledge without those words, it's OK), that the Presidents can pledge their oath (voluntarily) over the Bible and say "so help me God", that prayer cannot be FORBIDDEN in the school, that nobody should be should offended with the words "Merry Christmas" (or Happy Hanukkah or Happy Ramadan, please, don't make Happy Holidays mandatory), that Christmas trees are allowed in public buildings and that the Ten Commandments, shared by a lot of religions and accepted by the majority of the American people can be in the wall of the Suprem Court.

Otherwise we are contradicting the First Amendment because we are establishing an official religion, secularism, and prohibiting the free exercise of all the others.

{{a08}}I believe in the definition of marriage

And that definition is:

Marriage is a union between two persons, not close relatives, of different genres with the main purpose of having children and perpetuate the specie.

The human society tries to protect itself and to survive. The goal of the marriage institution, more than the protection of the couple, is the protection of the offspring. There are some assumptions in this definition, all based in the premise that the purpose of marriage is to perpetuate the specie:

  1. It is between human beings (a union between a person and an animal doesn't produce children).
  2. It cannot be between brothers and sisters or parents and sons (incest doesn't produce healthy children).
  3. It is between people of different genres in order to procreate.
  4. It is between two and no more than two people.

The weakest one is the monogamic assumption. Along history there had been several societies that worked without it.

I think that it is right (but not "a right") to give gay couples benefits that the law gives to married couples. I even think that orphan children are happier out of institutions, so gay couples should be considered as foster parents. But call same-genre unions "civil unions" or whatever 1, union of consensual people that want to live together because they have sex each other (and that could include close relatives: there is not conceptual difference. If a brother and a sister don't pretend to procreate their case for having a civil union is identical to the case for a same genre couple). There is no need of redefining marriage.

Giving the same name to all kind of unions mean that they not only share certain benefits but are also equivalent for adopting children. However, even when children are better with loving same-genre couples than in institutions, married couples (different genre couples) must have the preference. Men and women are different and their complement is the ideal environment for the development of the personality (I know that by my own experience: my parents were divorced and I was raised by three women. They did their best, but something was missing that I never completely recovered)

Even without religious considerations (without ignoring their importance), you don't mess with the cornerstone of a building, redefining it by decree. Family is the cornerstone of the human society. It is possible that the building would not fall with a different cornerstone, but it's not granted.

1 Well, I know that Shakespeare said "What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet." But I'm not sure he was right in that one.