The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms begins with a reference to god and the Law. It is the “Whereas”, i.e. the justification for the Charter, and is not part of the guaranteed rights in the Charter. It says:
Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognise the supremacy of God and the rule of law:
The reference to being founded on principles recognising the rule of Law is clear, as Parliament enacts such laws, and the Charter itself may be considered the most fundamental law of Canada on which all others are founded.
The other founding principle is given as the “Supremacy of god”. Similarly, the USA government proclaims, “In god we trust” on its currency. Many nations make similar claims or references. All such references raise the immediate question of which god is supreme and being trusted, After all, there are a great many of them.
Most Christians would argue that in Canada and the USA these are references to the god of the bible, Yahweh, since both Canada and the USA began as colonies of European, Christian nations. While the origins of Canada and the USA are not disputed, such a response does not really answer the question. Both Canada and the USA now are made up of people from many nations, among whom there are many diverse approaches to worshipping their gods. For instance, there are at least four major religions which say they are based on the worship of the bible god. These are Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Mormonism. All of these religions say they worship the god of the bible, but all view that god differently. This being the case, which view of god’s supremacy would take precedence? For instance, most Christians believe that Jesus is Yahweh who came in a human body for the benefit of mankind. Judaism and Islam deny this and say Jesus is a different personality altogether, although Islam considers him a major prophet. So, does this mean that Jesus is supreme, and Judaism and Islam are wrong? After all, the majority is Christian and believe he is god.
Other religions also believe in a god’s supremacy and some polytheistic religions in the gods’ supremacy and may have a different view of how this should be expressed. Similarly, some religions consider the word god to refer to a female deity, a "goddess" in older parlance, who is supreme. How would these viewpoints be expressed?
Atheists, of course, do not accept the existence of god at all. What principle of supremacy would be relevant to them? Perhaps atheists could consider the universe in all its wonder and majesty as the physical manifestation of the divine, i.e. god, and that the universe is supreme over all, humanity being merely a minor and insignificant speck in its great expanse. No person can speak for the universe nor can we possibly match its power and majesty, but the atoms making up our bodies have all been subject to it since time began. How grossly arrogant of those men who would proclaim that they, and only they, speak for a god who could guide this immensity.
Perhaps all we can do is say, “Yes, we accept the principle that whatever god is, it is indeed supreme,” and leave it at that, giving it no further explanation, since anything further causes more problems than it solves. Unless, of course, we remove the words “god and” from the preamble to the Constitution so that our only supreme concern is that for the Law.
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