Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Myth of the "Christian Nation" Divides Us

While our politicians get on with the work of plundering our wealth, planning our lives, and preparing their next war of aggression, they remain comfortably insulated from criticism of any of these substantive actions because they have successfully distracted average Americans with issues that should not involve government at all. There is none more divisive than religion.

The left reads into the First Amendment of the Constitution an active role for government in prohibiting the acknowledgment of religion or God in any public setting. The right reads into our Declaration of Independence a requirement of belief not only in God, but in the Christian God, in order for one to claim the unalienable rights that are “endowed by our Creator.” Neither position is correct.

If there was one thing that our founders made clear, it was their belief that each person’s inner life belonged wholly to him or her. They referred to this as the “right of conscience,” and they revered it above all other rights. They believed that each human being had the right to answer for himself the questions of whether there is a God and what the nature and will of God might be. They believed that reason was the means for man to do so. Regardless of the conclusions that any individual might reach, he was still entitled to all of the same unalienable rights. This is the true meaning of “religious freedom.”

Among the growing minority that has recognized our loss of liberty and the importance of regaining it, there are many who mistakenly say that the United States was “founded as a Christian nation,” and that only returning to Christian principles will solve our problems. Others may not require that one believe in Christ, but do insist that belief in God is necessary in order to give authority to the law of nature and the natural rights. These positions not only alienate atheists, who are admittedly a small minority, but also a large contingency of Christians and other believers in God who do not want government – which is an institution of force – to play any role in their inner lives. This is an unnecessary division among people who might otherwise unite to fight for their liberty.

It is long past time to answer some fundamental questions about our history once and for all. Did the founders of the United States believe in God? Was the United States founded as a “Christian nation?” Was the Constitution based upon Christian or Judeo-Christian laws as found in their scriptures? Did the founders believe that belief in God was necessary to claim the unalienable rights?

The answer to the first question is a resounding “yes.” Even Jefferson, arguably the most “liberal” of the founding fathers, believed in a supreme being, despite the accusations of atheism made against him by political rivals. He also revered Christianity as the greatest religion in human history, as did his “conservative” counterpart, John Adams. However, neither Adams nor Jefferson believed that Jesus Christ was the son of God or even a divine being. Most people are familiar with Jefferson’s bible, which he cut apart and reorganized to eliminate all of the miracles. However, John Adams, a Unitarian, was even more ambivalent about the idea that Jesus Christ was God. In a letter to Jefferson, he wrote,

“They all believe that great Principle which has produced this boundless universe, Newton’s universe and Hershell’s universe, came down to this little ball, to be spit upon by Jews. And until this awful blasphemy is got rid of, there never will be any liberal science in the world.”[1]

Neither Adams, Jefferson, Washington, nor Franklin believed that Jesus was literally the son of God or otherwise a divine being in any way. Rather, they admired most of the moral principles of Christianity, although not all of them. For instance, they disagreed with Jesus’ doctrine to “turn the other cheek.” They believed that self defense of one’s life, liberty, and property was not only a right, but a duty. However, it was the Christian principles of love and non-aggression that are espoused in virtually all religions that inspired John Adams to say, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”[2] This will become even more apparent shortly.

In any case, the answer to the first question is “yes.” Most of the founders believed in God. They revered the moral teachings of Christianity, although most of the philosophical leaders among them did not believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ.

Our second question is, “Was the United States founded as a Christian nation?” In 1796, the United States signed a treaty with Tripoli, promising a monetary gift in return for a cessation of hostilities. That treaty was unanimously ratified by the senate and signed by President John Adams. Among its articles resides the answer to our second question.

"Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."[3] [emphasis added]

Thomas Jefferson confirmed this statement in his autobiography when commenting on a Virginia bill to establish religious freedom.

“Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting "Jesus Christ," so that it would read "A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;" the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.”[4]

Next, there is the question of the philosophical basis for the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and original system of laws of the United States. According to Thomas Jefferson, that philosophical basis was most directly the enlightenment philosophers, specifically John Locke and Algernon Sydney. In 1825, Jefferson actually got a resolution passed by the Board of the University of Virginia to make this point clear.

"Resolved, that it is the opinion of this Board that as to the general principles of liberty and the rights of man, in nature and in society, the doctrines of Locke, in his 'Essay concerning the true original extent and end of civil government,' and of Sidney in his 'Discourses on Government,' may be considered as those generally approved by our fellow citizens of this, and the United States."[5]

Despite this and other unqualified statements by the founders regarding the philosophical basis for our founding principles, there are many that claim that the founders drew their philosophy from Judeo-Christian scriptures or teachings. While there is much common ground between these teachings and the enlightenment philosophers, the founders were clear that where scripture or dogma conflicted with the enlightenment philosophy of liberty, it was the non-aggression philosophy of liberty that prevailed. Regarding the scriptures, Jefferson wrote,

The whole history of these books is so defective and doubtful that it seems vain to attempt minute enquiry into it: and such tricks have been played with their text, and with the texts of other books relating to them, that we have a right, from that cause, to entertain much doubt what parts of them are genuine. In the New Testament there is internal evidence that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man; and that other parts are of the fabric of very inferior minds. It is as easy to separate those parts, as to pick out diamonds from dunghills.[6]

The founder’s skepticism about man’s knowledge of the will of God was not confined to the scriptures themselves. John Adams makes clear that at least he recognized that human beings had no ability to definitively determine the will of God.

“That there is an active principle of power in the universe, is apparent; but in what substance that active principle resides, is past our investigation. The faculties of our understanding are not adequate to penetrate the universe.”[7]

Finally, there is the most important question. Did the founders assert that belief in God was necessary to claim the unalienable rights? As with the other questions, they answered this one quite unambiguously. In a letter to Peter Carr, Thomas Jefferson advised his young friend,

“Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear.”[8]

“Do not be frightened from this enquiry by any fear of its consequences. If it ends in a belief that there is no god, you will find incitements to virtue in the comforts & pleasantness you feel in its exercise, and the love of others which it will procure you. If you find reason to believe there is a god, a consciousness that you are acting under his eye, & that he approves you, will be a vast additional incitement; if that there be a future state, the hope of a happy existence in that increases the appetite to deserve it; if that Jesus was also a god, you will be comforted by a belief of his aid and love. In fine, I repeat that you must lay aside all prejudice on both sides, & neither believe nor reject anything because any other persons, or description of persons have rejected or believed it.” Your own reason is the only oracle given you by heaven, and you are answerable not for the rightness but uprightness of the decision.”[9] [emphasis added]

There are those who argue that without God, there is no authority to base the natural rights upon. This was not the assertion of our founders and it directly contradicts our Declaration of Independence, which reads,

“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…” [emphasis added]

While the founders believe that our rights came from our Creator (whomever or whatever the Creator might be), they explicitly said that these truths are self evident. They are truths that can be observed directly. This is directly inspired by Locke’s empiricism. While he, too, believed in God, he based his philosophy only upon what he could directly observe in nature or reasonably conclude from those observations. Therefore, his philosophy recognized the existence of God but did not depend upon it for its validity.

Consider a useful analogy. If a priest and an atheist were both to consider a rock lying upon the ground, both would agree that the rock exists. They could see it, touch it, and hear its sound if they picked it up and then dropped it from their hand. The priest would say that the rock was created by God. The atheist would explain its existence with scientific theories. They may disagree vehemently on this point, but no third party would have to decide who is correct. All can see that the rock exists, for its existence is self evident. The same is true of our natural rights. Our Declaration of Independence says so explicitly.

The only authority that the founders recognized as the basis for our laws was the non-aggression principle, which they recognized as the fundamental law of nature. The beauty of this idea is that it transcends religion and thus welcomes members of all religions, as well as those with no religious beliefs at all. The non-aggression principle allows each individual to use his reason to answer the most important philosophical questions of life for himself, without being forced to assent to any beliefs that he does not hold. It allows people to believe in God voluntarily, or to not believe, as their reason dictates. The only restriction upon them is that they commit no aggression against anyone else, regardless of their beliefs. Jefferson expressed this beautifully when he wrote,

“The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.[10]

If all of America’s founding principles, including freedom of religion, could be summed up in two sentences, no better than these could be found anywhere. If we could agree to live by this one statement alone, the number of people no longer divided along partisan lines would be staggering. Our politicians are wasting trillions of our dollars and assuming un-delegated powers over us that apply to believers and non-believers alike. We must grant each other the ability to exercise the right of conscience freely within the boundary of non-aggression. Only then will we see clearly where the true source of our crisis lies – in a government whose every act contradicts the reason for its existence and perpetuates a state of war with its people. We must unite together to eliminate this earthly threat in order to resume the pursuit of our happiness, both in this world and the next.

[1] Adams, John Letter to Thomas Jefferson January 22, 1825 from The Works of John Adams Second President of the United States Vol. X Charles C. Little and James Brown Boston, MA 1851Pg. 415

[2] Adams, John To the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachussetts 11 October 1798 from The Works of John Adams Second President of the United States Vol. IX Charles C. Little and James Brown Boston, MA 1851Pg. 229

[3] Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the United States and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli of Barbary June 17, 1797 from The Avalon Project Yale Law School Lillian Goldman Library http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/bar1796t.asp. There has been some debate on whether the language in Article 11 was translated correctly from the original Arabic in which the treaty was written. However, this is irrelevant. It was the English translation containing these exact words that the Senate reviewed and ratified, making the question of translation irrelevant on this point.

[4] Jefferson, Thomas Autobiography from Jefferson Writings edited by Merrill D. Peterson, Literary Classics of the United States, New York, NY 1984 pg. 40

[5] Thomas Jefferson, Writings, ed. Merrill Peterson (New York, N.Y.: Library of America, 1984), p. 479

[6] Jefferson, Thomas from The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Vol. 14 edited by Albert Ellery Bergh and Andrew A. Lipscomb The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association 1904 pgs. 71-2

[7] Adams, John Letter to Thomas Jefferson January 22, 1825 from The Works of John Adams Second President of the United States Vol. X Charles C. Little and James Brown Boston, MA 1851Pg. 414

[8] Jefferson, Thomas Letter to Peter Carr August 10, 1787 from Jefferson Writings edited by Merrill D. Peterson, Literary Classics of the United States, New York, NY 1984 pg. 902

[9] Jefferson, Thomas Letter to Peter Carr August 10, 1787 from Jefferson Writings edited by Merrill D. Peterson, Literary Classics of the United States, New York, NY 1984 pg. 903-4

[10] Jefferson, Thomas Notes on Virginia from Jefferson Writings edited by Merrill D. Peterson, Literary Classics of the United States, New York, NY 1984 pg. 285

© Thomas Mullen 2009

Check out Tom Mullen’s new book, A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America. Right Here!


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45 comments:

Laura Lee said...

My... what a logical fallacy. The underlying assumption is that all is up to man and God is not needed. The God of the Bible was honored in our Declaration of Independence. Period. You see, apart from the Sovereign intervention of God - there would never have been a free nation here. It is GOD who has provided us with liberty.

We want the blessing of God. We prefer God's blessing to your joint citizenship SHOULD this nation crumble and FALL BECASUE it removed the God of the Bible from honor and LOST the blessing of God.

YOu think you can create the blessing on a nation out of your own self?? Go for it. Go form one when this nation splits. But don't expect Christians to fight and die to create FREEDOM again - to form a nation that has no capacity to maintain it apart from God.

And don't go all ballistic saying, "She wants to create forced religion on the people!" Poppycock. Simple honoring of God at a Federal Level of statement - no further assault on Christianity - and of course all the BILL OF RIGHTS of FREEDOM WE CHRISTIANS PROVIDED FOR THIS NATION IN THE FIRST PLACE!!

So, please, spare me any comparisons to Islam. We are the ones who provided the liberty of this nation... and you have no power to preserve it apart from Christians.

If this nation stands, fine. But when it falls and the splits occur - a Christian nation will split and you can cry yourself a river because we're not coming under the power of the minority to destroy a nation as the minority demands that we placate them and dishonor God.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. YOu don't have to believe it. You don't have to participate. Just lead, follow or get out of the way - because we're not going to be controlled by those with whom we do not agree as we stand in the majority.

MORE THAN HAPPY TO DIVIDE FROM YOU TO UNITE WITH CHRISTIANS UNDER THE BLESSING OF GOD,

Laura Lee.

Tom Mullen said...

Laura Lee,

I knew this article would draw spirited responses. I think that you should read my last article, "Next They'll Have Us Salivating," and consider how it might apply to your response here. Most of your comment has nothing to do with what I wrote. I am merely quoting the founders directly - do you disagree with them? You certainly have every right to, but at least recognize that you do disagree with Jefferson, Adams, Washington, etc.

Anonymous said...

I would like to point out some general misinterpretations of the Christian New Testament. Most specifically those that have to do with Jesus and his words such as "turning the other cheek"

Contrary to popular belief, when Jesus spoke of turning the other cheek he did so with this in mind. During the time which Jesus lived it was common to slap another person on the cheek with the back of the hand. This was a gesture of serious disrespect those days, and the exact opposite was true when striking someone with the palm of ones hand. This was still considered a form of punishment, but one that was a gesture of respect and honor and no Jew or Christian was ever supposed to be slapped with anything but the back of the hand. Also only the right hand was ever supposed to be used to slap someone, because ones left hand performed the same function we use toilet paper for. lol So imagine a Jew or Christian getting slapped by the back of a person's right hand. What would happen if that person turns the other cheek now? It forces whoever is doing the slapping to either to strike again using the palm of their hand, thereby showing respect as a consequence, or forces them to not deliver another blow because the back of the hand can no longer find its mark should one turn the other cheek.

Another example of long misinterpreted words and actions of Jesus concerns when he said if someone forces you to walk a mile carrying their load for you, make sure you carry that load for 2 miles and not one. Roman law clearly stated that a soldier could force anyone to carry their equipment for up to a mile. However should the soldier force someone to carry their stuff for any more than one mile, that soldier is subject to being severely punished for breaking Roman law and must pay an expensive fee for the extra mile .Jesus knew this and in the guise of charity and compassion, Jesus is really telling his followers what they should do in the event they are forced to carry a soldiers weapons and other belongings. So in other words if a Roman Soldier forces his will upon a Christian follower, make sure the soldier has to suffer the consequences by continuing along for an extra mile.

Yet another blatant misinterpretation of Jesus's teachings was this little known fact. Jesus said to his followers that if a man steals their cape, do not simply give up just your cape. But rather offer up your Tunic as well. Most attire of the day in the areas where Jesus most frequented only consisted of Tunics and capes. So if one removes both they will in effect be completely naked. In Jewish law and tradition, it is not a sin to BE naked, but only a sin to see someone else naked. Jesus said if someone forces you to give up your cape, give them your tunic so they can endure the shame for not only looking upon your nakedness, but causing it to happen in the first place.

So the argument about our founding father's not agreeing with turning the other cheek reflects their ignorance about what Jesus really meant by it, based upon the historical context.

Again and again, history is misreported, misinterpreted, and misrepresented. My whole life I grew up thinking that turning the other cheek meant one thing, when in reality it meant something entirely different, instead. Sheesh!

Tom Mullen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Mullen said...

Tom Mullenregarding the suggestion that "turn the other cheek" is misprepresented (inadvertantly) in the article, here is the whole passage:

"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well."

Matthew 5:38-40

This is obviously not an esoteric, coded message to turn the tables on the aggressor. Jesus clearly says not to resist an evil person who attacks your person or property, contrasting it with the Old Testament principle of "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. THere are many esoteric messages in the New Testament, but this one, read in context, means exactly what the article says it does. Jesus instructs his followers NOT to defend their person or property, as it is more charitable to let them have what they want or need, regardless of their method of acquiring it.

Claire M said...

I don't need to believe in God to understand that every person has a fundamental right to life liberty and property. It's self-evident. Why is that so difficult for people to understand? Go ahead and believe what you want but don't tell me that because I don't believe in anything supernatural I can't perceive something that is self evident. Maybe the evangelical Christians' problem is that THEY don't believe these things are self-evident at all. That would explain their attempts to use the force of government to advance Christianity in America, I guess. Let me be clear. I do not consent to having my tax dollars used to promote Christianity in any way. Spend your own money, Christians! Don't steal mine!

Mark Are said...

Laura, it is a shame that you look for "underlying assumptions" rather than the big picture. Understanding that, our Creator seems to have left the majority of what happens here in this life to our discretion. Tom's article explains quite well the beliefs of our Founding Fathers. They were mostly Deists and they believed in a "god" or Creator or Architect of the Universe. The simply did not attach the typical Christian belief to the Creator which is the belief that "Jesus" is God and we should worship him and blah, blah blah. I for one spent many years beating people up with a Bible and was considered quite "radical" by most Christian standards even going as far as mutilating all four of my male children on the eighth day because I "believed" God wanted me too. I look back on my abject stupidity and realized after reading Thomas Paine's "Age of Reason" with an OPEN BIBLE and an OPEN MIND that I was in gross error and had to make some major changes in my thinking. ONE OTHER problem I had was the 9/11 "attack". I asked myself "where was God in that? I just simply could not find him and I am convinced that power corrupts absolutely just as Lord Acton stated. We need a much smaller government where those in "authority" are more accountable on the local level. I get ill speaking to "Christians" who think we should make the Muslim nations into glass parking lots. The Jesus they claim to believe in would never consider such a sick act.
As for the God of the Bible being honored in our Declaration of Independence...most Christians would disagree as "Jesus" is the so called "God of the Bible" and he is not mentioned anywhere in the Constitution or Declaration of Independence. I think somewhere in the last 200 + years, reason, logic and common sense were relegated to the trash heap and replaced by emotional response such as your reply to Tom. Maybe in "public skool"? Or worse yet, maybe from the "seminaries" and the pulpit? I have heard so many times "render unto Caesar" blah, blah to the point of gagging me.
WE HAVE NO CAESAR, at least none I can find...

NFT said...

oh man, what profoundly well written bait, as usual ... this misunderstanding could be so easily cleared up if only we understood the language of Christianity... when a belief in 'God' is suggested as vital to liberty, it's an accurate statement, as WHO IS GOD but HIS LAWS?

The Christians are NOT asking you, Tom, or me, to believe in some long haired white guy living up in the clouds! It's HIS LAWS they are saying we all have to unite around as the foundation of our government in its securing of our form of government, and never in a time in our history has that been more OBVIOUS AND TRUE to demand of our government to obey the law, or, as the Christians would say it, in their language, obey God. What are we, a pack of drunken intellectuals like the founding fathers were? GIVE ME A FREAKING BREAK, TOM MULLEN! PUT DOWN THE WINE!

And even Locke, YOUR GOD, MR. MULLEN, and the rest of the plagurists who grabbed Christ's concept of non-agression and called it their own, agree that 'harm' or 'force' IS THE BREAKING OF THE LAWS FOUND IN THE 10 COMMANDMENTS, just put into a different arrangement of order, and into more 'intellectual' sounding words. Enlightened, my butt. Plagurists, nothing more, nothing less. And they got the equation wrong, to boot.

As an atheist, I am appalled that others of 'no religion, no bible, no church' do not recognize what they are requesting the religious do in order to 'unite' towards liberty... you're asking the religious sector to 'forget about God', which you might as well be saying "forget about law" (as if man's laws, which give exception to acts of lying, cheating, stealing and killing are the 'better' foundation for our government to follow, are you MAD?); it is WE who need to unite with the Christian philosophy (NOT AS A RELIGION BUT A PHILOSOPHY), as it is the only way to liberty, freedom and peace, not the other way around, Tom.

Your "rights" means NOTHING without an understanding of those laws - they are the same freakin' laws you keep begging Obama, and Bush before him, to not break upon your head like a guitar pounded onto an amp, killing the music of liberty and freedom. CAN YOU NOT SEE WHAT IS HAPPENING RIGHT BEFORE YOUR EYES, ARE YOU BLIND? THEN JUST LISTEN AND HEAR, IF YOU CAN NOT SEE IT!

NFT said...

The Christians can NOT unite with us, as we still are too 'smart' to put 'God' or 'Christ' first in our lives (:rolls eyes:) cuz that would be 'religious', which is 'illogical', right (?), not noticing that all of the concepts and variables we use to express how to go about achieving liberty and freedom are found in that same 'religious' equation, we just call it by other terms - and, we want to put 'self' and our 'right to self ownership' first, yet, who are you, what are you, but YOUR laws? And your laws, and those of Christians, ARE THE SAME - that ALL OF US are asking, begging and hoping our government will someday abide by - laws that were here long before any of us were, mind you! AND SOME CALL IT GOD. Get over the different words, for crying out loud!

The founders were just as divided by these two different ideas of God and law as we are - and look where what they came up with got us. No thanks on going back to THEIR square one with it - I don't need an instant replay of the past two hundred plus years to know trying to mesh two different philosophies about self governing with two different ideas about law, with two different ideas about God, is incapable of producing anything else but the chaos and suffering it has. LET US FIND THE ERRORS in the founding fathers' attempt (the biggest error resting in their subscription to Locke's ideas) and do our best to truly unite around sound and solidly backed ideas, and not the fiat ramblings of men like Locke who have cost this nation and other nations too much in the unavoidable results of intellectual manipulation of the true meanings of self governing, law, non-agression, liberty and freedom.

By the way, the signing of any treaty that strips a nation and its people/individuals of its/their sovereignty or changes the terms of the foundation of agreeances is unconstitutional, so don't tap my shoulder and toss the equivalent of a federal reserve note at me and tell me it has value or worth, you intellectual hustler. :p

You're a well spoken debate punk, but, wow, do you EVER have to get over your anger with 'God' - and his laws. And religion. And your thoughts that the religious are 'illogical' - they aren't. YOU JUST DO NOT SPEAK THEIR LANGUAGE, TOM, AND YOU MAKE NO ATTEMPTS TO LEARN IT, EITHER.

You should probably spend some time reading Ron Paul's thoughts on government and God, eh? Or is he 'stupid' for 'believing' that it all starts with 'God', too? Is Ron Paul an idiot for putting God and Jesus Christ first in his life?

I will NOT allow leadership from deists without a battle of words, Mr. Mullen. Consider this (and other) posts to your blog (and email box) my peaceful dissent and revolt. No olive branch and arrows here - both claws are firmly grasping leather whips of words, from my mind and heart, to my keyeboard to your very core. I've had just about enough of mankind's fiat 'logic' and 'reason', backed by nothing but 'ethical' whims and the fiat ego of intellectual superiority, always against the 'religious' and falsely claiming to have a goal of 'freedom of religion, LIARS! - it has failed the most vulnerable amongst you, the most loving, honest and compassionate amongst you, and it has even failed YOU and your ability to acknowledge what it is that mankind self governs by.

Good gosh, I sound like a volcano sometimes. Apologies for the moments of hot fury.

In closing, I'm sure you were expecting my voice on this at some point, I'd imagine (I could be wrong, but I do suspect you knew I'd be one of the ones to blow up on it.) So, there ya go, I did - yep, you successfully reeled me in, you're a fine fisherman. But I'm an easy fish to bait - I'm hungry for liberty. Your worm won't bring it, Tom. It'll just get the lot of us right in the plastic bucket of other ripped-open-jaw 'caught fish' in the boat-

Stop ignoring the flaws in Locke's proviso -

NFT said...

note to those who are 'huge fans' of deism (yeah, it's just like atheism, but it uses the word 'God' and 'natural law' so as to confuse and baffle us all... even those in it, who can then say "oh, but I do believe in God!" *groan*)

please research the system of law that currently is destroying our liberties and freedoms and its origin in deism before you make the huge, huge mistake of 'believing' in and having 'faith' (just like you accuse the religious of doing, by the way) in a system that, in the end, just like your governments, will not have any choice but to protect itself and its own authority instead of your liberty and freedom - research the levels of authority it branches out to, and consider where your 'rights' are in that mix... oh boy. The bottom of the pile, kiddo - the bottom of the pile.

Geesh... do we ever have a long way to go -

research man's law systems and their origins in deism, please, please, please - history is repeating itself even in this area for an umpteenth time here, let us not make the same faulty error again! There's a simple way to fix it, but that can only happen once we know what the bug in the system is - John Adams tried, but he wrote it in legalese, another language many of us don't speak -

When even the 'well read' and 'intellectuals' and 'well educated' are making grave mistakes, what happens to those who trust in their 'wisdom' ?

You deists are aware that international law trumps national law in this system you promote, yes? And your leaders have signed so very many 'treaties' to bind us to it, too... and you really think this is the way to liberty? You truly believe all those 'rights' you want are safe in a system that puts your rights at the very lowest level of authority, and that it is the way to go?

I don't think so.

Tom Mullen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Mullen said...

I see that my friend Renee finally found my article. I was about to start calling the hospitals when she didn't reply. :)

I will only reply to one comment now (I'm eating lunch at my office) that Renee has made that is completely refuted by the words of the founders themselves (the drunken intellectuals):

The natural law IS NOT just a rewording of the ten commandments. The natural law would recognize commandments 5-10, but not 1-4. As Jefferson said, it does him no harm if his neighbor says there are 20 gods or no god. However, this WOULD break commandment #1 - Thou shalt have no gods before me. Freedom of speech allows free people to break commandment number 2 (taking the name of the Lord in vain), although I personally find it distasteful. Liberty itself allows people to do whatever they wish to on the Sabbath, including working (breaking commandment number 3), as long as they commit no aggression. There is also nothing in our founding principles compelling us to honor our parents, although I certainly hope we all do.

Remember, the non-aggression principle allows all people to VOLUNTARILTY follow commandments 1-4, but does not recognize a right for other people to force them to. This is religious freedom.

Renee's consistent mistake is to not recognize that all religions exert a positive power to compel their followers to do certain things if they wish to follow the religion. The non-aggression principle and our founding principles never compel - they only prohibit certain actions. Any system of belief that exerts a positive force is incompatible with liberty. THat is why our system was carefully constructed to leave religion completely out, so that every human could voluntarily be a Christian, or Jew, or an atheist, and obey the tenets of all of those belief systems, as long as they harmed no one else.

Claire M said...

You are right, Tom. Laws which have a positive power (the power to compel anyone to do anything) are illegitimate. The law may only require people to refrain from initiating aggression against others or their property. Religion requires people to do a whole lot of things-- which is why it should not be the law.

NFT said...

I agree with Claire that there shouldn't be religious requirements in government (or laws.) It would be impossible to even get Baptist Christians and Evangelist Christians to agree on what the laws would be, should a government be formed around the varying ethics found in each bible and/or religion.

But... the 10 Commandments, outside of any bible, taken just as a little set of 'try this', are not just religious in nature. The concept of non-agression that Christ demonstrated... not religious. Taken as ideas, or philosophies, they are sound, logical, compassionate platforms. Sure, you personally might not want to abide by some of them, but you sure as heck want your government to, flawlessly, if liberty is your goal.


To Tom: It's kinda funny you think the 10 Commandments are 'forced' when its the law system that cites itself as supreme to all laws, including the 10 Commandments (as well as any and all of your 'rights') that actually ignores the concepts of consent and non-agression.
You sure you want to blame this all on Christianity or God's Laws? That's not where the tyranny is coming from... just the opposite. Tyranny is upon us because mankind's system of laws and government have ignored God's Laws - Our government lies, cheats, steals and, hoooo doggie, does it ever covet. Breaks promises, holds plenty above God's Laws, mothers and fathers are fighting for their parental rights, I'm sure they don't feel so honored by it ... it's a huge stew of unholiness.
Tyranny is coming from those of our species who are claiming, through man-made systems, to have a higher authority over you, over me, over all of us... with other laws. Laws that are considered 'your laws', no matter if you like them or not. No matter if they conflict with your own 'conscience.' Don't believe me? Try breaking one of man's laws right out in public, and watch as you are taken, by force, and possibly put in jail.
Now, do this: Lie. Does God or Christ zip up to you with lights flashing and cuff you? By force?
I mean, unless you've been on a decent drinking binge, odds are, no, God and Christ won't be forcing you to abide, but I'd bet they have a sweet looking police car if that was how they rolled - God and Christ got this 'crazy' idea about you consenting to their laws, coming to them of your own freewill, using them as your guide to life and all you do. Not in perfection, cuz it's probably not possible 100% of the time, but it's a good guide to try, as you see them. About the only thing that could be held to the laws in a perfect way is... a government. But only because it's not human. A government could, if we paid attention, be created to follow those laws (where applicable) in the securing of a form of government that allows for self-governing through those laws as each of us desired to, no matter who we did or didn't consider 'God' to be or not be... this isn't about God. This is about God's Laws, not a shabby set of laws, considering they keep being drawn up over and over again to suit the 'conclusions' of mankind about how to go about getting along with each other.

Do you think mankind's law system goes by that same ideology and philosophy? You've gotta be kidding me...
Also, if you read law books really closely, you'll find Commandments 1-4 are actually in there, just put into the language of legalese... but 1-4 are not for your protection. No, 'you' don't need them... They are for the protection of this other system of laws that has taken 1-4 for itself. Long ago, before the United States of America was even concieved. Kinda ironic, that.

NFT said...

Convincing the founding fathers, and you, that 1-4 were illogical, while simultaneously having them, worded differently, in their own system of law.

I am your Lord. = No, We, the law systems and governments of mankind, are your higher authority.

No god above me? = No law system supreme to this one.
Keep the Sabbath holy? = What is holy? Ahh, holiness is when one doesn't lie, cheat, steal, kill, break promises, or covet or that uses force (there's nothing in there about not working, although some 'bibles' and, thus, religions concluded that)... gosh, there's no way in heck courtrooms can even be open on Sundays, what with having to be holy... impossible in mankind's system, not being able to lie, cheat, steal, covet or rule for a killing!

Honor thy mother and father? We ARE the ones who will tell you what to do and what not to do, and you WILL honor us, as parents (or we have people who will force you to.)
Ask any lawyer or attorney or elected official "Are a group of man's laws supreme to God's Laws"
"Yes, of course" will come the reply.
"What if my laws are relatively similar, but I'm not religious, are mankind's laws supreme to my laws, my rights?"
"Yes, of course," will come the reply.
"Even laws that go against my own ethics, the dictates of my own conscience?"
"yes, of course," will come the reply.
Christianity did this? HA! Wrong...
Even brainiacs can be duped.
And you, smarty pants, are being duped. Duped so hard and good, that you're actually trying to 'make a case' for the very setup that you profess to not desire, maybe because you think your 'ethics' are the ones the law system will conclude are 'right' or 'just' and be forced upon those 'religious fools'... I chuckle. :)

Claire M said...

How's this for a racket?

This guy claims that individuals can't own any property, because everything belongs to God. If you don't tithe, that is, give 10% of your income to the church, that makes you a thief. Also, you have to pay taxes to the government, whatever the government requires you to pay; that is a moral obligation according to him. Give unto Caesar, remember? It's only filthy lucre anyway...

So where does this idea that you do not legitimately own the fruits of your labor come from? At least in part, it comes from evangelical Christians like this. Religion does more harm than good, imho.

Claire M said...

Sorry, here's the link I was referring to:
http://www.realtruth.org/wtc_014_090206.html?gclid=COua04mTlZ0CFR0SagodlhGX_w

Mark Are said...

Renee, Renee, Renee...Worker Bee Thou art...
Let's just say that "we" adopt "Gods Laws" as you claim from the Bible. Well, should we stone anyone who works on the sabbath? Starts a fire (stove) to feed their family? Should we do as the "holy spirit" did with Ananias and Sephira (sp?) and stomp them dead if they "lie" to the "church"? Should we stone incorrigible children? Should we kill any MAN who commits a homosexual act, but allow woman to live if they do since the Bible has no prohibitions against woman committing homosexual acts?

I do believe that the "love your neighbor as yourself and love God with all your heart, body and soul" spoken by Jesus (supposedly) makes the most sense but is apparently the hardest for those who use the Bible for their foundation to follow.

The Founding Fathers hit upon a rather unique SELF EVIDENT idea...

As long as you don't DAMAGE someones life, liberty or property there can be no CRIME. PERIOD. Who's LIFE, LIBERTY or PROPERTY do I damage if I "Take the name of the Lord thy God invain?" Who's life, liberty or property do I damage if I decide to plow a field naked in the back woods of Tennessee in the middle of a corn field on the Sabbath? The problem with having the "Christians" wake up is that they want everyone to go along with "their" plan of enslavement instead of somebody else. And of course figuring out which of the 1800 denominations are going to decide may be a smal problem.

I was there. Did that. NO THANKS. NOT AGAIN.

NFT said...

Mark... This has nothing to do with bibles - this has nothing to do with 'other rules' in scriptures from different bibles, claimed or suggested, only the 10 Commandments.

I already said that it would be impossible for even Baptist Christians and Evangelist Christians to agree on ethical ideas of what is right and what is wrong - the 10 Commandments, according to the dictates of the individual conscience, who/whatever God is or isn't to you, that's freedom of religion - the point is are we all in agreeance that we will self govern by these laws (if you follow all of them, nobody's 'rights' get infringed upon or violated), do we agree to the concept of non-agression (that Christ, or 'some guy in a book called Christ', is cited as trying to demonstrate it/preach it) and that we absolutely need our government not to lie, cheat, steal, kill or covet, in the name of all, and that we agree to self govern as best we can by the same laws?

We can have other 'rules' and other 'ethics', as individuals or communities, but we should not put them in our government, nor should we try to get them made into 'law' for all to abide by.


The Christians can not unite with us if we do not agree to this, and why should they - you can not ask a Christian to put 'self' above Christ or God. You are, no matter how 'intellectually' worded it is, asking them to stop being religious in doing so - and the religious can't and won't magically stop being religious. Not even by force.

You know, for so many decades of my life, I, too, thought religion was part of the problem - now, after much research, I see, quite clearly, how many laws and mandates and legislation are in place that force the religious to be a party to a system of laws that they can not, in good conscience, be a part of, and we call this freedom of religion?

Forcing the religious to live by a different set of laws, or even dictated 'atheist' or 'agnostic' or 'enlightened' ethics, just because we, as atheists, happen to think that gay marriage is moral (and I do), or that abortion should be legal (and I also am pro-choice), but when we make it law, or have it be a part of our 'system of governemnt' that these things are legal or 'rights', we have then done the very thing to the religious that they have always been accused of: dictating what is right or wrong, dictating the ethics we live by.

the 10 Commandments are not about ethics - they are simply laws.

The bibles are where you will find the ethics of each religion - but, again, this isn't about 'scripture' or "God wants this, too" or "Jesus said in this Bible here..."

This is only about the 10 Commandments, as each of us sees them - as laws.

Bottom line: Laura Lee is right. We either unite with the Christians, or there will be much worse tyranny to come, in a lawless/'Godless' system that will be much, much worse than the one we are suffering with. You've no idea the religious prosecution that has been going on in this nation - but I DO, and I, as an atheist, am here to tell you... we MUST unite with the Christians and their philosophy. We do NOT have to agree to their ethics, or scripture, but we MUST get a grip on God's Laws, and the philosophy of non-agression, and we better do it pretty dang fast, too. I have no idea if we can - but I'm hoping we do.

Claire M said...

Renee, I can imagine an "atheist" set of laws that would be limited to forbidding murder, theft, fraud, assault, rape and breach of contract-- in other words forbidding any assault on a person or his property. These laws could be thought up by atheists, enacted by atheists and enforced by atheists, without infringing one bit on the rights of religious people. Remember that the right of a person to life, liberty and property is self- evident (or do you dispute this?) so we don't need the 10 commandments to tell us it's not ok to kill. In fact it's pretty self evident which of the 10 commandments should be law, and which ones should be up to the individual's own conscience. The Bible doesn't differentiate between these (in fact it places "love God" at the top of the list), but you an I can, thanks to our faculty of reason.

As for gay marriage, etc., churches or other voluntary organizations, rather than the state, would perform marriages, which other churches or organizations would not be forced to acknowledge. Perhaps fetal sentience or viability outside the womb would be a criterion for when the law must begin to protect the life of a person, but those kinds of determinations could be made in a rational way, as opposed to some blanket prohibition on abortion at any time, or on many forms of contraception even-- and also as opposed to the deeply abhorrent idea idea that it's ok to kill any fetus as long as he's still inside his mother's body.

Tom Mullen said...

Renee,

"we absolutely need our government not to lie, cheat, steal, kill or covet, in the name of all, and that we agree to self govern as best we can by the same laws?"

Yes. These are all negative powers. It is perfectly natural (no pun intended) to articulate the non-aggression principle. Here the commandments agree completely with the enlightenment philosophers, as I said in the article (there is much common ground...). However, your previous tortured logic regarding commandments 1-4 are completely UNNATURAL (I believe even for you, if you were honest with yourself) and VIOLATE the non-aggression principle if given the force of government. I know that I will never convince you, but I am confident that the readers of this blog, whensoever they may come upon it, will completely reject your arguments, which have every earmark of someone who will go to any outlandish lengths to stick to a position, no matter who obviously discredited it has become.

If you remember, you originally told me that our country was not founded on Locke's philosophy. When I presented you with irrefutable proof that it was (Jefferson said so), you told me that I should read John Adams instead (I was reading "the wrong founders). I have now showed you that Adams and Jefferson held similar beliefs about God and government (their differences were much more minute), and you have now declared that even he was just "a drunken intellectual."

Now that it is irrefutable that the Bible was not the source of our founding principles, you simply say that it is simply God's law, presumably never written down correctly by anyone in history and completely misunderstood by Adams, Jefferson, Washington, and Franklin (among many other founders).

Can you point to one source, other than your own fiat statements, that agree with you on your positions? Direct quotes, please, with references, which I have taken the time to provide for my argument.

Anonymous said...

It is sad that so many people fail to do their homework prior to blurting out ignorant comments.

Case in point, neither Christianity nor Judaism invented non-aggression nor non-violence. These philosophies pre-date both by many centuries, perhaps millennia ...

It is always terrifically uplifting to find people who insist that their belief system has the universal patent on philosophical thought!

All the more reason to reconsider, and support, our founding fathers' tolerance of all beliefs. There is so much in this universe that cannot be known for certain. Let man stay to his own matters, and leave godly matters to gods ...

NFT said...

Claire, I agree that the laws found in the Christian doctrine are relatively the same as those of an atheist - and, like you pointed out, we're not disagreeing that lying, cheating, stealing or killing should be 'right' or considered 'moral', but often that is exactly what our government/law systems try to do... to make exceptions to acts of lying, cheating, stealing or killing as 'right', or ethical, or 'just'- or, worse, for the 'common good' - or we attempt to say they are 'rights', which is something the religious can not agree to.

And it's those 'other Commandments' that make most atheists (or even agnostics) stop dead in their tracks and pick them apart for what is often viewed as items 'impossible' to subscribe to - for the logical, reasoned mind, anyway.

But... the Christians and Catholics have already subscribed to it. All of them, the commandments one through ten. And they can hold nothing above it. Period. There is no wiggle room in their spiritual, religious foundation and God is at the helm, be it his laws, or the philosophy of Christ (which, I hope Christians know this, NONE of Christ's message to mankind is possible without the abiding by His Father's Laws, and Christ, in your bibles, kept trying to get that through to all of you Bible folks, and I hope you really paid attention to what he was saying. Christ himself held his father's laws as supreme - you have to start with those before you even begin to take on 'goodwill towards mankind', and I say this specifically to the more than 50% of Christian Catholics who VOTED FOR OBAMA, who was campaigning on acts of covet, theft, killing and force, let alone lying and cheating, to give you 'goodwill towards mankind', that part of Christ's message is NOT POSSIBLE without first, and foremost, making sure not to break any of God's Laws to achieve it.)

NFT said...

If God and his laws are not at the helm of a government, the religious will have no choice but to turn away from it - they can't put anything higher than God. No matter how 'logical' and 'reasoned' it is. The founding fathers, no matter what they 'really believed', put the word God and/or Creator in there for a reason. They knew back then what we, as a very divided nation, can not grasp and respect. A very important part of this idea of uniting; the vast majority of people are religious. You can't change that, I can't change that. So be it. Are the religious asking us to be religious in order to unite? No. They are asking if we agree to the same laws, to the same concept of non-agression. Any God, any religion you want - even no God and no religion, as long as we are on the same page with the laws and concept of not using force against each other.

I agree, also, with anonymous who is absolutely right that long before Christ was said to have lived, history is chock full of people attempting to promote a philosophy of non-agression. Heck, even the not lying, cheating and stealing cited as God's Laws can be found in the texts of Buddhism, verbatim. But, again, that isn't the point, of where it 'originates' from... the point is, most came to and now solidly subscribe to those laws and the philosophy of non-agression through God, Christ, Bibles and religion. This is not a variable to be ignored. Much as we think it might be easier to 'fix things' if only this variable of religion wasn't in the equation, it is a reality that it is there. We either work with it, as it stands, or we ignore it and end up with the wrong (very wrong) answers.

NFT said...

Tom, first and foremost, I'm not sure why you keep insisting that I first began discussion (or, all out arguing) with you over Locke even being a part of the philosophers that the founding fathers were most influenced by.

That very first time I ever corresponded with you was to thank you because I had thought Jean-Jacques Rousseau was the philosopher responsible for something in the New Hampshire Constitution, as it was an article not in the Massachusetts one, and I was investigating the influence/philosophy/philosopher behind it.

Once your writing and research led me to Locke, and I found out Rousseau (as were many of the founding fathers) was most influenced by Locke, article 3 in the New Hampshire constitution began to make a lot of sense. John Adams did not put that part of Locke's philosophy into the Massachusetts constitution for a reason, he knew what it would lead to (re: socialism, tyranny) - and I thanked you for speeding up my own progress with my own 'search for truth' and my own attempts to get to the root of the problem at hand. Locke, I concluded, after reading his work, was part of the problem.

Now, I know you think article 3 is more Rousseau than it is Locke... that is initially what I thought, too. Rousseau is just the plant in bloom - Locke is the roots of it. You stubbornly ignored the citings of exact passages from Locke's work that lead to exactly the opposite of liberty and freedom that Rousseau promoted, that I emailed you months ago.

It is Locke's very cold, dark view of mankind, as well as this entire planet and all life upon it, that has brought us to where we are today. Because the founding fathers bought into it.

Both Rousseau and Locke believed in Natural Law, which is not the same as the 10 Commandments. Rousseau is cited as the 'father of socialism', which is exactly what comes of Locke's theories and ideas on government.

NFT said...

continued to Tom:

In your last blog post I wrote in, which I don't do often, because you drive me absolutely nuts, which I'm sure is why you like me playing the role of 'angry debater' to your 'reasoned and logical counterpoints' role, you actually said I didn't have to cite the sources (after I cut and pasted sections of the Massachusetts Constitution for reference, as it is a long document.) Now you'd rather I cite sources? Okay, whatever, that's the way of the deist... change the rules as the game goes along. And you wonder why this nation is in such peril?

As far as citing sources as to where the founding fathers were saying the 10 Commandments were the foundation for this nation, the use of the words God, 'natural law' (which the religious DO see as the 10 Commandments), or Creator are all in the founding documents specifically for the masses they were trying to unite around this new form of government, knowing full well that those who were religious could not unite around any government that did not start with God, that put God (and his laws) at the very top. Doesn't matter that the 'unenlightened' masses weren't aware of the differences between deism and Christianity. The words worked.

It was a manipulation of words - perhaps not done entirely with hostility and mallice, I do think the founders wanted freedom and liberty for us (especially in the very early foundings of our nation.) They eventually betrayed it, though. Even John Adams, who was more Christian than Deist (although you claim otherwise. For a cited sourcing, read everything he ever wrote.)

Even the man-made law system used this type of deceptive deist practice, of using God's 10 Commandments, by allowing the 10 Commandments to be thought of as the foundation for the man-made law system (when it wasn't - not at all.) http://www.cnn.com/2003/LAW/08/27/ten.commandments/ http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,160781,00.html

I am glad to see the man-made law system is now being honest about their true foundations by taking down the 10 Commandments... I find it very interesting that government buildings were 'ruled' in favor of the 10 Commmandments still being 'allowed' there - http://www.mfc.org/contents/article.cfm?id=1477


We are a nation that was built upon two VERY different ideas about God, 'natural law' and what is supreme... and the solution is not to put the Deist 'enlightened' through 'reason' theory at the helm. It is the one most corrupt and most void of compassion and logic - mankind can't be logical until it first learns to find solutions that do not break the laws we all do agree upon, as well as to implement the solutions without force. Deism does NOT respect either. It uses reason to come up with exceptions to acts of lying, cheating, stealing and killing, and it absolutely does not honor the idea of non-agression one iota.

Tom Mullen said...

Renee,

Hobbes, Locke, and then Rousseau all had one thing in common: that the relationship between the citizens and the government was a "social contract." It is there that the similarity ends. Rousseau referred to Locke in his writing, but made a fundamental departure from Locke: Rousseau claimed that individual rights were subordinate to the "general will." He said that, when "society" required it, it could violate or revoke the individual's rights. That is why Rousseau was the "father of socialism." He said that the purpose of government was to advance the general will and achieve equality.

Locke disagreed with him 100% on all of these crucial points. Locke said that the individual's rights were supreme, and that the only purpose of government was to protect them. He said that once the government violated the individual's rights, it no longer had legitimate authority. He held the idea of property sacred over all other rights - go look at the 2nd Treatise again, he says over and over and over that the only reason people enter society is to protect their property.

Every respected scholar in the world recognizes Locke's and Rousseau's philsophiies as fundamentally opposite and incompatible with one another, as they are both incompatibale with that of Hobbes.

To say that "the poisoined roots" are present in Locke is much the same argument that people advance when they say murders are caused by the right to bear arms. Think, Renee!

Anthony said...

Why are we arguing about who said this and meant that? Who gives a s**t about language that was written hundreds, or even thousands of years ago. We live in a continuously changing, emergent universe. Everything, and I mean everything, is in an accelerated state of expansion (if you are interested in physics, and want to blow/challenge your mind check out what Al Zeeper has to say at www.einsteingravity.com). What makes us as humans different from every other species on this planet is our ability to expand our minds, which is evident in technology.

Our existence in this expanding universe depends on our ability to expand with it. What I think Tom is trying to do is the same thing the Founders were doing. That is, weed out all of the emotional, religious, and political bias from the garden of freedom so that our civilization can continue to grow. The weeds of tyranny and fear have once again taken over, and are blocking the sun and stealing the nutrients from liberty and freedom.

When you defend a 2 thousand year old corporation, i.e. christianity, then you are fighting the wrong fight. Instead of arguing about historical records, which were definitely influenced by the outdated belief, political, and monetary structure of the time, shouldn't we be scrutinizing Tom's ideas based on current information.

The church, any church, is a power hungry propaganda machine, just like government. If established church religion is supposed to be about love and harmony, then why are there so many iterations? As far as I know, it is easy to achieve love and harmony, just don't use any force and don't take anybody's stuff. The problem is that we believe that there isn't enough stuff for everyone, so we go around taking other peoples stuff and justify stealing it by claiming we are nice religious people. If you think you can handle it, check out "zeitgeist the move: final edition" and "zeitgeist addendum" on Google videos. Why stop at ending the Fed; why not end the money it uses to control us?

NFT said...

Tom,
in our email exchanges, I already pointed out the specific parts in Locke's political/social theory that had huge errors and results, be it by government OR society, via majority rule/vote, absolutely no regard for both individual rights (especially property), nor respect of or for the concept of non-agression/non-violence.

I won't rewrite any of it - go back and read all I wrote months ago to you for yourself. Anyone who delves into Locke's theory, all of it available online, can determine for themselves if what I, or what you, have claimed is accurate.

Apologies that I am not a 'respected scholar', but I would like to note that same title of pompous intellectualistic hierachy is being used currently by avid global warming/climate change fanatics in their debates, too. And if you think it will work with me, or some members of your blog audience, I suspect you underestimate both. Please don't use that silly tactic with me ever again - it only gives me lolz.

I propose anyone reading this discussion to just delve into Locke's political/social theory and consider what both of us have said about it, and draw your own conclusions.

I know what I am next about to type will cause steam to flow outta your ears cartoon style, but the fact Locke saw property rights (or any individual rights) as 'supreme' to all else was his first flaw. That is why his theory is inaccurate and will lead to what it has. Your rights are nothing without logical laws cited as the source from which you derive them - this nation was not started (at first) as an effort to give people a bucket-load of 'rights' - it was a nation started to give a people liberty, which is to self-govern, to not be ruled over by any class or group of people - as long as you were lawful, re: not lying, cheating, stealing, breaking promises, killing - as long as you were not using agression/force against your fellow man.

John Adams trusted the people could do this. Many of the Founding Fathers did not. Neither did Locke. Neither, really, do you.

I also already explained to you that the role of government is not to protect the items within the rights... only the rights themselves. Only the form of government, that of one of liberty and freedom, and even with that, not so much a protecting of it, but a securing of it. In text or dialogue alone. In the form of ideas that people, themselves, as individuals or as voluntary groups, stand up to protect.

Government itself can not protect anything - if you force it to try, it will, through the actions of people, and it will get you exactly what we have now. Chaos.

Like we've argued before, how in the heck would a government protect your happiness, Tom? And simultaneously my happiness? It could not. You expect it to protect your property, though? or your liberty, and mine?

It can't. Only we can do that.


Don't worry, though... many religious folks make the same mistake with God. They see him, as you see government, as something/someone to 'protect' them and all they love and/or own. From all that can go wrong.

That isn't how God works, as expressed in scripture, and it's sure as heck not how government is supposed to work (if it is built with the goal of liberty, freedom and peace in the minds and hearts of those who construct it.)

Thanks for the blog post and discussion. It's been interesting to chat with you, as always.

NFT said...

Anthony, I hear you on that - I can't tell you how much time, energy and resources I feel were wasted on diving into writings from decades and centuries gone by, trying to figure out what in the heck went wrong and how we got here.

I was looking for the error in the equation. I wasn't sure if it was one of the variables, or the equation itself - I went into all of it thinking, though, that God and/or religion were the most complex hassle of it all. And probably part of the problem. Being such a complex hassle.

But, some people would say that about algebra or calculus. "Complex hassle."

And physics.

A pretty funny journey, math and science, thousands and thousands of years old, too, evolving us closer to the facts, the truth. Were the equations and formulas for math and science around before man? And is our quest to 'discover' them or put them into terms we can utilize, is it taking us as much forward as it is backwards?

Have you ever heard the religious joke about scientists? It goes something like this:

There was a time when if you asked a scientist "do you believe in God?" that the scientist would reply "Of course I don't believe in God, I'm a scientist!"

Now, if you ask a scientist "do you believe in God?" the answer is "Of course I believe in God, I'm a scientist!"

I'm not religious, but that one tickled my funny bone something good. :)

If you love science and math and astronomy and physics, and hold it as 'supreme', remember, they are thousands upon thousands of years old, too. And there was a time when the 'respected scholars' on those subjects had theories or ideas that eventually were proven to be wrong. Some of the theories, which were incredibly funny, would make you most likely react like you do to 'religion' or 'churches' currently.

Much as man would love to think his logic and reason will lead him to great heights in the field of physics, if man attempts to learn without being honest, or if he cheats, or if he steals to do it, or if he attempts to learn by forcing others to allow his learning... he learns nothing but that which will be used to mankind's detriment.

Happens every time. We don't seem to learn from it, though.

Anonymous said...

Either we learn from history, or we suffer its lessons blindly.

One of Tom's points is to illuminate the intent of the authors of the founding documents for the United States of America. This is clear and, dare I say, incontrovertible.

Included in these documents are explicit and incontrovertible means to AMEND same documents. Clearly, the authors understood evolution and need for change over time.

Having accepted and ratified these documents, we are bound to uphold them, OR amend them, as required.

To be a "leader" of this country and to thumb his nose at these documents, simply because he is a duly elected leader, is -- to my mind -- treason.

If the documents, amended as they have become and as they stand today, are NOT adequate to today's tasks, why don't we amend them to better represent our needs today?

Unfortunately, language is not always incontrovertible; but, subject to interpretation. Tom has brought us back to that context in which they were written. It is critical for us to understand their original intent, before we interpret them, and before we amend them.

What suits us best today may, indeed, be other than that original intent. Where is that dialog to prove this one way or the other?

Tom Mullen said...

Anonymous,

I agree with your reasoning that we either follow the documents wherein we have delegated powers to government or we amend them, and that to simply not follow them is to condone tyranny. HOwever, I would add that even our power to amend the documents is limited. We cannot amend them to violate each other's rights.

For example, passing an amendment to make health care a government-provided service would not make it just. It would still violate the property rights of those paying for it, whether they utilized the services or not, as their property would be taken from them without their consent for some reason other than defending the rest of their property (lives, liberties, possessions).

When speaking to groups, I lately have been asking, "how many support government-provided health care?" "How many oppose it?" For those opposed, I then ask, "Why is it wrong?" Almost universally, the answer I get is "it is not authorized by the Constitution." My next question to them is, "if we passed an amendment to the Constitution authorizing the government to provide health care to those who could not afford it, would that make it right?"

Of course, I then get a confused "no," and we go on to discuss the natural law and natural rights, wherein property is recognized as an inalienable right. I believe that it is this doctrine that we must hold up as our standard, rather than the Constitution. The Constitution is good only insofar as it enforces the natural law (protects our rights). If we amend that to better protect our rights, that is a good thing. If we amend it to allow government to violate our rights (such as take our property without our consent), then obviously the simple will of the majority doesn't make what we did just.

Anonymous said...

Clearly, this is another issue entirely: "... our power to amend the documents is limited. We cannot amend them to violate each other's rights."

In fact, in a "democracy," by definition, we CAN amend them in any way, any way, that adheres to that amendment process as ratified and codified in law.

Whether or not we SHOULD -- or, more to your point, whether or not any given amendment is JUST -- are fodder for much philosophical discussion. Herein lies a great deal of opinion and centuries of social philosophical debate. I, too, believe in the social contract. I can live it by example, no matter what others say or do. I cannot coerce it on others, regardless of my good intent.

Unfortunately, just as there has NEVER been a true Communist country nor constitution codified in law (rather, we have had many socialist experiments, all utter failures;) we do NOT have any true Democracies either. This is a Republic; and popular vote does NOT obtain; rather "representatives" are "appointed" to argue issues, and legislate, judge and execute our laws according to our Constitution.

Slippery slope that is! Propaganda and appeals to fear and greed lead the masses in Orwellian herds, the blue and the red; but, truly, there is very little difference today between "Democrat" and "Republican." Sadly, arbitrary labels are simple sound bites; "conservative" and "liberal" are bandied about as if they carry real weight in the decision making process.

In reality, we have leaders who openly and admittedly violate our formal, written Constitution, in the name of "democracy" and "liberty" and "freedom." According to my understanding of our formal documents, even as amended, such willful violation of our codified laws is nothing short of treason.

Just? Truly, that is a discussion that should be made throughout the world; but, too many in the lap of "convenience" cannot be bothered to look outside themselves to see how their political sloth brings down on future generations an insurmountable "deficit" of financial and moral and ethical and practical day-to-day concerns.

These are NOT religious issues alone. Regardless your Creator, these are first social concerns. If we cannot live in peace with our neighbors, how can we expect peaceful worship of any sort?

Anthony said...

I just want to say that you are all awesome in my book. I enjoy driving to work and turning on the computer because of this blog. I have been reading it for a few months now, and have just recently mustered the courage to actually participate in your discussions. I don't know much about history or the constitution, probably because I am a mathematician, but I am learning a lot from you.

Mathematics is a language designed to be extremely precise and logical. It is used to describe the physical world and the patterns that man finds within the world. It is constantly refined and updated to remove false ideas and redundancies. But what is most relevant to this discussion, which is why I brought this up in the first place, is that it is based on a set of axioms, i.e. natural laws, that are considered irrefutable.

If one makes an amendment to the set of axioms, something that seems obvious and natural but is not truly an axiom, a natural law, then
the result is a limiting of the imagination as well as the mathematical results/predictions.

Take geometry for example. Euclid's fifth postulate states that for every line and point not on that line, there is one and only one line that exists parallel to the original line and passing through the point. Euclid thought this was an axiom because all of the empirical evidence as well as all of his knowledge and logic told him it was always true.

It is not an axiom. It is a consequence of only studying geometry on a flat plane. It is no coincidence that the earth was believed to be flat back then. In elliptic geometry, on the surface of a sphere, the postulate fails because you can't even draw one parallel line through the point. In hyperbolic geometry, which is too weird for me give an example, the postulate fails because you can draw infinitely many parallel lines through the point. One of my professors, who attended the same church as me, once said that Euclid's fifth postulate is like believing in one god.

Here is the kicker. One can continue along forever, building up mathematics with Euclid's fifth postulate as an axiom and never notice because everything "works" just fine. The problem is, there are certain things that cannot be done (are impossible) in this case. One can also use the postulate that no parallel lines exist (kind of like atheism) and construct an infinite and beautiful mathematics, but will once again be limited.

Another example is Isaac Newton, who published more writings about god and religion than he did about math or physics. In case you didn't know, he created the mathematics (language) of calculus and used it to describe gravity and light, when he was 17. Anyway, Newton's laws of motion are just like Euclid's fifth postulate in the fact that they are only laws in a specific subset of reality. Einstein came along and expanded Newton's work with his theory of relativity and light. He was able to to this because he saw deeper into the fundamentals and was able to refine the set of laws.

My point is that I believe that creating new laws and/or amending the constitution is a move in the wrong direction. History, at least mathematical history, shows us that to expand you must reduce your set of axioms, thereby removing the logical limitations from your system. This is why I think this blog is great. You are debating the fundamentals. You are refining the axioms of our system. You are trying to remove the postulates so that only the "natural laws" remain. Our constitution, much like Newton's laws of motion, was the greatest social breakthrough in history. The only way to expand and move forward is to use our history, our technology, and our knowledge to see deeper into the fundamentals and refine, not amend, our set of laws.

Anonymous said...

I just finished reading through this blog, along with all of the comments, and I just would like to say the experience was extremely refreshing.

With the media the way it is, and some of the outlandish things you hear on the street from your fellows, it becomes easy to see the situation as totally hopeless.

This blog and the discourse following demonstrate there are still articulate, invigorated and concerned people ready to take up the responsibilities of the true American citizen; always to question, argue and seek a more reasoned approach.




Kudos to you Tom for an excellent piece: I only hope similarly objective reasoning prevails among us as our movement for the restoration of liberty grows.

Anonymous said...

Great article. As both a Christian and Libertarian, I feel the op-ed is spot on. I read the book "Founding Faith" recently, and came to much the same conclusion? Did you also read this book Tom for any background? If not, you may want to get this one and read it yourself. It's quite good.

Darren

Marie Hall said...

Tom,
I want to thank you for taking the time to post all this. Your arguments are always concise, clear and easily understood. I remember reading The Federalists Papers as a youth and had my Ah HA! moment.

In the religious sense, I stand on the outskirts of society. I've browsed everything after departing Christianity out there... and have finally found a more homey atmosphere neatly sandwiched between Heathenism and Pantheism.

I remain a Federalist at heart, with strong leanings in the Libertarian circles and Atheistic areas of thinking, reasoning and sound logic. I too want to see our monstrously large government reduced back to its proper place.

I want to see people walking proudly, with full grasp of what it means to be a Citizen. And I do appreciate the Fathers' Deism approach. They had a very hard struggle to create a delicate pathway so that no one was left out and no one was allowed to be strictly the supreme commando either. Be it person or institution.

It boggles the mind that people get all worked up over a little wording, say with the Pledge wherein those McCarthy era words(50 yrs or so back) have become meshed in the average American's mind as what was originally intended and in fact, ARE NOT.

I personally do not speak the "under god" part, as it is not a part of the original document, and has doubtlessly encouraged this whole misconception about the 'Christian Nation' myth as you so well pointed out.

I took the liberties of posting two links to articles of yours on my FaceBook page. (this one and the "Salivating" one as well, they go hand in hand.) I commend you for taking so much flak from so many muddle minded souls without flinching or any knee jerk reactionary behavior. I am still working on that part lol.

Thank you so much and please continue The Great Work.

Freedoms Voice said...

http://www.wallbuilders.com/LIBissuesArticles.asp?id=63

John Adams
Signer of the Declaration of Independence and Second President of the United States

[I]t is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue.

(Source: John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Little, Brown, 1854), Vol. IX, p. 401, to Zabdiel Adams on June 21, 1776.)

[W]e have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. . . . Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

(Source: John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co. 1854), Vol. IX, p. 229, October 11, 1798.)

The moment the idea is admitted into society, that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If "Thou shalt not covet," and "Thou shalt not steal," were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society, before it can be civilized or made free.

(Source: John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1851), Vol. VI, p. 9.)

John Quincy Adams

Sixth President of the United States

The law given from Sinai was a civil and municipal as well as a moral and religious code; it contained many statutes . . . of universal application-laws essential to the existence of men in society, and most of which have been enacted by every nation which ever professed any code of laws.

(Source: John Quincy Adams, Letters of John Quincy Adams, to His Son, on the Bible and Its Teachings (Auburn: James M. Alden, 1850), p. 61.)

You were saying???

Freedoms Voice said...

And again...remember, you're arguing with the Founders, not ME.

Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Signer of the Declaration of Independence

Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime & pure, [and] which denounces against the wicked eternal misery, and [which] insured to the good eternal happiness, are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments.

(Source: Bernard C. Steiner, The Life and Correspondence of James McHenry (Cleveland: The Burrows Brothers, 1907), p. 475. In a letter from Charles Carroll to James McHenry of November 4, 1800.)

Oliver Ellsworth

Chief-Justice of the Supreme Court

[T]he primary objects of government are the peace, order, and prosperity of society. . . . To the promotion of these objects, particularly in a republican government, good morals are essential. Institutions for the promotion of good morals are therefore objects of legislative provision and support: and among these . . . religious institutions are eminently useful and important. . . . [T]he legislature, charged with the great interests of the community, may, and ought to countenance, aid and protect religious institutions—institutions wisely calculated to direct men to the performance of all the duties arising from their connection with each other, and to prevent or repress those evils which flow from unrestrained passion.

(Source: Connecticut Courant, June 7, 1802, p. 3, Oliver Ellsworth, to the General Assembly of the State of Connecticut)

Benjamin Franklin

Signer of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence

[O]nly a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.

(Source: Benjamin Franklin, The Writings of Benjamin Franklin, Jared Sparks, editor (Boston: Tappan, Whittemore and Mason, 1840), Vol. X, p. 297, April 17, 1787. )

I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that "except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it." I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better, than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing governments by human wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest.

I therefore beg leave to move that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service.

(Source: James Madison, The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, Max Farrand, editor (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1911), Vol. I, pp. 450-452, June 28, 1787.)

Tom Mullen said...

@ Freedom's Voice

There is nothing in your lengthy list of quotes that is inconsistent with the article I wrote here.

Just out of curiosity, how do you interpret the quote I included in the article from John Adams, regarding teh divinity of Jesus being "that awful blashemy?"

Freedoms Voice said...

Perhaps you've forgotten your own words:

Quote: "Among the growing minority that has recognized our loss of liberty and the importance of regaining it, there are many who mistakenly say that the United States was “founded as a Christian nation,” and that only returning to Christian principles will solve our problems." Unquote. This is just one example of how what you wrote stands in contradiction to many of the Founders idea of this nation's founding principles.

If we were founded on Christian principles derived from the Bible, as some of my quotes reveal, then how can you make the above assertion???

About the "awful blasphemy"...one can be a "religious" person, adhering to the mere words of the Bible, without a personal faith in Jesus Christ. Many of the Founders wrote of their personal faith in Him as Savior. I have no problem with the quote on that basis. I do disagree with John Adams, being a believer in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

Tom Mullen said...

You seem to be ignoring both other parts of the article that qualify that statement and the point of the article in general - that liberty is available to all, regardless of their religious beliefs or lack of belief.

I clearly stated that the founders admired the moral teachings of Chrisitianity, but that many of them did not believe that Jesus was divine. These are confirmed by their unambiguous statements on the subject.

Two questions:

1. Do you agree that liberty should be available to all people, even atheists?

2. Do you agree that the non-aggression principle should be the only principle upon which laws are made?

Freedoms Voice said...

1. I think the answer to this one is "self-evident". Just look around you since the founding of the country. If there is freedom OF religion, the Christian religion certainly being one of free personal assent, and one which the Founders favored, then one is also free to reject it, and be an American! How could it be otherwise???

2. You're splitting hairs over semantics. It seems to me as if you are saying that if a majority of the Founders did not believe in the Divinity of Christ, that somehow means we are not a "Christian Nation" and that somehow divides us???

You're assertions on this point are not in harmony with the title of your blog.

Samuel Adams

SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE; “FATHER OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION”; RATIFIER OF THE U. S. CONSTITUTION; GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS

I . . . [rely] upon the merits of Jesus Christ for a pardon of all my sins.10

Josiah Bartlett

MILITARY OFFICER; SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE; JUDGE; GOVERNOR OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

Called on the people of New Hampshire . . . to confess before God their aggravated transgressions and to implore His pardon and forgiveness through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ . . .

Benjamin Franklin

SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION; DIPLOMAT; PRINTER; SCIENTIST; SIGNER OF THE CONSTITUTION; GOVERNOR OF PENNSYLVANIA

The body of Benjamin Franklin, printer, like the cover of an old book, its contents torn out and stripped of its lettering and guilding, lies here, food for worms. Yet the work itself shall not be lost; for it will, as he believed, appear once more in a new and more beatiful edition, corrected and amended by the Author.31 (FRANKLIN’S EULOGY THAT HE WROTE FOR HIMSELF)

There are many more, but I won't copy them at length.

I think our exchange has been complete enough to furnish you with new reasons to try to read primary documents for your sources, instead of blogs or books written by others. Try the Library of Congress, or the University of Virginia for some very good original primary source documentation in their own hand.

Tom Mullen said...

No, I'm not splitting hairs at all. What divides us is a large constituency of "conservatives" that insist in using government to promote their religion. There are many people who would vote against the horrid Democrats if it were not for teh Republicans throwing religion in their face.

You said the answer to my first question is "self evident." I was asking your opinion, which is not self evident at all.

I see that you avoided answering my second question, which was,

2. Do you agree that the non-aggression principle should be the only principle upon which laws are made?

I would be interested in your answer. I have my own suspicions about why you didnt' answer it the first time, but I'll give you another chance, if you are disposed to answer.

Tom Mullen said...

Well, it seems that Freedom Voice has departed, electing not to answer my second question. Perhaps something came up and he had to attend to other business. It is noteworthy, though, that he answered all of my replies within minutes of my posting them, but failed twice to answer the most important question of all:

Is the non-aggression principle the only principle upon which laws should be made?

Another way of saying this would be, "Is force only justified in defense against aggression?"

I believe the reason that Freedom Voice failed to answer, and in fact failed to respond at all when pressed for an answer a second time, is because he knows his answer would have to be "no." I admit that I am only guessing, but it is an educated guess. For what other reason would anyone insist so vehemently that any religion be attached to the role of government, except to use the coercive power of government to promote the tenets of that religion.

If there is one thing that was absolutely abhorrent to our founders, Christian or not, it was that.