In God we trust?

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In God We Trust on government building?

Yes
8
33%
No
13
54%
Maybeh
3
13%
 
Total votes: 24

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Deudeditus
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In God we trust?

Post by Deudeditus » Fri Nov 18, 2005 3:00 am

Does the inscription "In God We Trust", when on the front of a government building a church-state separation? Is it right to have such an inscription on a gov.building? Is it right to restrict it?

It's on U.S. money(since 1865), It's even the national motto(since 1956), it's above the speaker's chair in the House of Representatives, and above the main door of the Senate chamber... but is it right? The earliest mention of 'God' in Govt. is in 1865, 76 years after the constitution took effect. But is there a definite church-state separation? Should there be?

Just wanting to know your opinions. Feel free to voice yours even if you're from outside the US.

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No constitutional separation of church and state

Post by Rhuiden » Fri Nov 18, 2005 1:40 pm

I just want to make sure that everyone knew that there is no provision in the Constitution that sets up a separation of church and state. The only mention is that the state (government) cannot establish a state sponsored religion.

The statement about a wall of separation between church and state was made in a letter on January 1, 1802, by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut.

I see no problem with religious people or religions being involved with government.

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annis
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Re: No constitutional separation of church and state

Post by annis » Fri Nov 18, 2005 2:10 pm

Rhuiden wrote:I see no problem with religious people or religions being involved with government.
The question of church-state separation is not about relgious people being involved with government, but whether the state should be using its considerable coercive powers to endorse religion, or back a particular side in sectarian disputes.
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Re: No constitutional separation of church and state

Post by Democritus » Fri Nov 18, 2005 4:43 pm

Rhuiden wrote:I just want to make sure that everyone knew that there is no provision in the Constitution that sets up a separation of church and state.
Yes, there is a such a provision, it is the first amendment. And it does apply to the states. The wall of separation is real.

You may not agree with how the fourteenth amendment is interpreted, but I do agree with it, and I support it.

I see no problem with religious people or religions being involved with government.
The wall of separation does not prevent "religious people" from being involved in the government -- you will recall that 80 to 90 percent of Americans are religious. The wall of separation prevents governments from making particular religious confessions a matter of state policy.

Nowadays there are a lot of clowns running around trying to perpetuate some kind of myth that the founding fathers were all evangelical Christians who wanted an established church -- it's hogwash. These clowns are also trying to pervert and twist the meaning of "wall of separation" to make it sound like some kind of persecution policy against Christians. This is beyond false, it's a big fat lie. Hiding behind this lie is a political agenda whose goal is to establish one particular kind of Christianity as the official state religion.

The founding fathers meant what they wrote. They were suspicious of mixing religious authority with government authority. Many people who came to the US were escaping from European kingdoms with established Christian churches, which persecuted them for their religious beliefs. (Yes, Christians persecute other Christians.) The establishment clause attempts to prevent this persecution from happening.

Religious freedom is a good thing. I do not support eliminating it.

Back to the original question, I really don't care one way or the other about the use of this phrase "in god we trust." It's so generic that I can't see how it constitutes an endorsement of any particular sect. On the other hand, I don't see why some folks insist on using the phrase. I think debates about the use of this phrase are a big waste of time.

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Re: No constitutional separation of church and state

Post by Rhuiden » Fri Nov 18, 2005 5:42 pm

annis wrote:
Rhuiden wrote:I see no problem with religious people or religions being involved with government.
The question of church-state separation is not about relgious people being involved with government, but whether the state should be using its considerable coercive powers to endorse religion, or back a particular side in sectarian disputes.
This is exactly what the Constitution prohibits. That was my point--you just said it better than I did.

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Re: No constitutional separation of church and state

Post by Rhuiden » Fri Nov 18, 2005 5:56 pm

Democritus wrote:
Rhuiden wrote:I just want to make sure that everyone knew that there is no provision in the Constitution that sets up a separation of church and state.
Yes, there is a such a provision, it is the first amendment. And it does apply to the states. The wall of separation is real.

You may not agree with how the fourteenth amendment is interpreted, but I do agree with it, and I support it.
The wall is real only in that it has been established by activist judges. The intent of the founders was not to impede religious freedoms in any way, just to stop the state from endorsing / sponsoring one over another.

Democritus wrote:These clowns are also trying to pervert and twist the meaning of "wall of separation" to make it sound like some kind of persecution policy against Christians. This is beyond false, it's a big fat lie.
I wish it was a lie but the truth is that the only legal form of discrimination in this country is that of christians and christianity.

Democritus wrote:The founding fathers meant what they wrote. They were suspicious of mixing religious authority with government authority. Many people who came to the US were escaping from European kingdoms with established Christian churches, which persecuted them for their religious beliefs. (Yes, Christians persecute other Christians.) The establishment clause attempts to prevent this persecution from happening.
I agree completely but we obviously have a diference of opinion on the implementation of this.


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Re: No constitutional separation of church and state

Post by edonnelly » Fri Nov 18, 2005 7:59 pm

Rhuiden wrote:The intent of the founders was not to impede religious freedoms in any way
Well, if that were true, they would have added a clause protecting the "free exercise of religion."

Oh, wait, they did do that. How come we never hear about that in the news?
Deudeditus wrote:The earliest mention of 'God' in Govt. is in 1865
From where do you get this information? Take a look at these documents from the Library of Congress:

Thanksgiving Proclamation - Where, in 1777 (predating the Constitution) "Congress" (the predecessor of our Congress) makes this proclamation which includes phrases like "superintending Providence of Almighty GOD to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to Him..."

Sermon of the Second Coming of Christ - Delivered to both houses of Congress in 1804, after both the Constitution (1787) and the Bill of Rights (1789).

There are countless examples of 'God' being mentioned in government, especially during these earlier periods of our history.



About the poll: The poll itself seems vague, and there are several questions which begin the first post. Does a "yes" vote mean "yes, it's ok" or "yes, it violates the establishment clause?"

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Re: No constitutional separation of church and state

Post by annis » Fri Nov 18, 2005 10:53 pm

I have to say, one of the more puzzling trends in contemporary American society is this mad rush to embrace victimhood. One can hardly walk a block without encountering someone who claims the whole of society is against him. And this:
Rhuiden wrote:I wish it was a lie but the truth is that the only legal form of discrimination in this country is that of christians and christianity.
is repeated endlessly, but substitute "christians" for, well, nearly everything. I'd guess half the country is part of some group against whom the nation has turned the entirety of its remaining urges to discriminate.

I confess to some difficulty matching this exclusive claim to victimhood to any reality I'm familiar with. Let's take a quick look at some US state constitutions, shall we?

Texas, Article 1, Section 4: RELIGIOUS TESTS. No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.

Maryland, Article 37: That no religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this State, other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God; nor shall the Legislature prescribe any other oath of office than the oath prescribed by this Constitution.

Tennessee, Article 9, Section 2: No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state.

So, no atheists, but I wasn't able to identify the sections discriminating against Christians. Perhaps you could cite them for me, Rhuiden? In any case, this presents some challenge to your assertion of exclusive victimhood in terms of legal discrimination, and anyone else prepared to say something similar.
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Re: No constitutional separation of church and state

Post by edonnelly » Fri Nov 18, 2005 11:52 pm

Democritus wrote: The founding fathers meant what they wrote. They were suspicious of mixing religious authority with government authority. Many people who came to the US were escaping from European kingdoms with established Christian churches, which persecuted them for their religious beliefs. (Yes, Christians persecute other Christians.) The establishment clause attempts to prevent this persecution from happening.
Democritus, with all due respect, your post seems somewhat self-contradictory. You state the "founding fathers meant what they wrote," but they did not write the 14th Amendment, that came almost 100 years later. They wrote that "Congress shall make no law..." If they meant what they wrote, then clearly they did not intend for this phrase to apply to the states.

As far as you statement that they didn't want established religions, it would seem difficult to defend given that at the time many of the states did have established religions, or other religious tests as in annis' post above, and the wording of the 1st Amendment would specifically protect these state laws by preventing Congress from interfering with them.

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Post by GlottalGreekGeek » Sat Nov 19, 2005 1:27 am

I agree that the "In God We Trust" issue is too petty to debate over.

I am also interested to hear from Rhuiden how Christians are being persecuted by the United States.

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Post by edonnelly » Sat Nov 19, 2005 1:46 am

GlottalGreekGeek wrote:I agree that the "In God We Trust" issue is too petty to debate over.
It's actually quite timely, as today's news (in your own backyard, no less) attests:

Atheist sues over "In God We Trust" on money

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Post by Eureka » Sat Nov 19, 2005 4:47 am

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Rhuiden
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Post by Rhuiden » Sat Nov 19, 2005 1:47 pm

GlottalGreekGeek wrote:I am also interested to hear from Rhuiden how Christians are being persecuted by the United States.
First, I did not say persecuted, I said discriminated. I do not claim that Christians in our country face persectution. What we face in the US does not come close to persecution--but in other countries around the world, christians are certainly being persecuted for their faith...but that is another topic.
annis wrote:I have to say, one of the more puzzling trends in contemporary American society is this mad rush to embrace victimhood.
I agree with you on this and it is sad to say the christians are not immune to this problem.

As far as some examples of how christians are discriminated against today in our country, here are just a few:

1. The military is currently trying to stop its own chaplains from sharing their faith and telling them they cannot pray in the name of Jesus.

2. There are groups, such as the ACLU, who are trying to stop the display of any christian reference our symbol in any public place. In a neighoring town, atheists tried to get the Ten Commandments removed from the courthouse. It had been there for many years. Here is a link to a story about an atheist trying to get "IN GOD WE TRUST" removed from our money: http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=22107

3. It is becoming harder for christians to even talk about their faith at work. Employers are afraid of being sued by someone backed by one of the groups like the ACLU. At the same time, employers are required to make accomodations for employees for all kinds of others things.

4. Pastors are not allowed to make political statements to their members from the pulpit for fear of the government coming down on them.

5. The teachers in our public school systems are not allowed to discuss God even if it is brought up by a student.

6. Creationism and Itelligent Design cannot yet be taught in our public school system even though there is as much or more evidence for these theories and the theory of evolution.

I am sure that others can add many things to this list. My only point is that the only group that can legally be discriminated against in the US is christians. That is my story and I am sticking to it.

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Post by annis » Sat Nov 19, 2005 3:36 pm

Rhuiden wrote:As far as some examples of how christians are discriminated against today in our country, here are just a few:
This is a very telling list you've given us. You've set the bar for discrimination a good deal lower than I do. Let me pick out two.
4. Pastors are not allowed to make political statements to their members from the pulpit for fear of the government coming down on them.
I actually agree with you on this, at least to the degree that some clarity in the law is necessary here. Pastors both for and against the war have had their IRS status threatened by partisan zealots who disagreed with them. Political organizations don't get to be tax-exempt, but it's obvious political questions are ethical questions, and it's to be expected that pastors will sometimes touch on these. I have no idea what the best way to deal with this is.
6. Creationism and Itelligent Design cannot yet be taught in our public school system even though there is as much or more evidence for these theories and the theory of evolution.
This, however, is most telling. You present this as a Christian issue. It is not. Of the people in the U.S. who accept the evidence for evolution, by far the majority are Christian. To expect schools to teach intelligent design creationism is a direct challenge to the first amendment, buy making the scools - supported by the state - into a platform for preaching a particular variety of Christianity. Several other items on your list are similar, defining discrimination as not being allowed to use state-granted powers and funds to preach.
My only point is that the only group that can legally be discriminated against in the US is christians. That is my story and I am sticking to it.
And my point remains: this is immoral hyperbole, trivializing the entire issue of discrimination.
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Post by Kopio » Sat Nov 19, 2005 4:54 pm

Personally....I'll take discrimination over persecution any day.

My old pastor goes to Papua New Guinea every year to meet with missionaries. One of the small landing strips in jungle had three good sized bumps at the end of it. When he asked one of the natives (through a translator) what those three bumps were he replied "the remains of the first three missionaries that came here." They were a cannabalistic tribe. As a tribe they had slaughtered and eaten the first three missionaries that had come there. The gentleman my pastor asked had actually been present for the meals! Needless to say they gave the 4th one a chance to talk!

Jesus tells us we should expect suffering, persecution, and hardship. Sounds to me like he knew what he was talking about.

Discrimination is part of life (unfortunately) I guess it's all a matter of (μεν) whether or not you are going to allow yourself to feel like a victim, or (δε) rising above the percieved insult or injury and moving on with life.

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Post by Democritus » Sat Nov 19, 2005 6:15 pm

Rhuiden wrote:1. The military is currently trying to stop its own chaplains from sharing their faith and telling them they cannot pray in the name of Jesus.
I'm sure that this is not true. Do you have any statistics for us? How many chaplains have been sent home? Have all the Christian chaplains been replaced with muslim chaplains, or pagan chaplains? If what you say were literally true, then why would the military even have chaplains in the first place? What would they actually do?



If anything, the opposite is true. Some chaplains of a certain political and theological ilk have become more aggressive in their activities, in spite of complaints from Christian soldiers and non-Christian soldiers who do not share the chaplains' religious and political views.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4091956.stm
http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/200 ... demy_x.htm
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... 01499.html

Some people think that "freedom" means the right to bully and discriminate against non-evangelicals.
Rhuiden wrote:2. There are groups, such as the ACLU, who are trying to stop the display of any christian reference our symbol in any public place.
Did it occur to you that many members of the ACLU are themselves Christians? There are plenty of Christians who do not want the ten commandments to be used in this way.
Rhuiden wrote:3. It is becoming harder for christians to even talk about their faith at work.
Did it ever occur to you that some of the people who don't want to hear your religious talk, are themselves Christians? And that they are just tired of debating religious issues with you? That they already have some kind of faith, thank you very much, and are tired of being accused of atheism or worse, because they don't accept the evangelical interpretation of the Bible?

And that maybe part of the reason religious discussions are avioded at work is just to keep the peace.... the peace between Christians? Ever hear of the old saying "no politics or religion at the supper table"?
Rhuiden wrote:Employers are afraid of being sued by someone backed by one of the groups like the ACLU. At the same time, employers are required to make accomodations for employees for all kinds of others things.
Religous groups can also sue. Employers can and do get sued for religious discrimination.
Rhuiden wrote:4. Pastors are not allowed to make political statements to their members from the pulpit for fear of the government coming down on them.
Pastors make political statements all the time. I've seen it myself. Lately it's gotten worse, they have been falling all over themselves trying to get their flocks to vote Republican. It's silly.

It's not just churches -- all tax-exempt groups have restrictions on the sorts of political activities they can engage in, theoretically. But anyone can say anything they want, as long as they pay taxes. There are no restrictions on political speech.

Rhuiden wrote:5. The teachers in our public school systems are not allowed to discuss God even if it is brought up by a student.
If the teachers could discuss God, they may not say the things that you want them to say. What makes you think their religious notions would be similar to yours? Perhaps their Christian views are quite different. Who would determine what sorts of religious ideas could be discussed in public school? Who would police it?

Do you want your kids to get religious instruction from a public schoolteacher whose understanding of the gospels differs sharply from yours? Do you want your tax money to pay the teachers who are trying to convert your kids to another faith?
Rhuiden wrote:6. Creationism and Itelligent Design cannot yet be taught in our public school system even though there is as much or more evidence for these theories and the theory of evolution.
First, you are factually incorrect, there is no evidence that supports the dogma of intelligent design, while there is far, far more evidence for evolution. It's abundantly clear that evolution is part of God's creation.

Second, you are wrong to present this issue as a "Christian" issue, because the majority of Christians reject creationism. Most Christians see no conflict between Darwin's ideas and the Bible.

In many districts, the school boards try to require science teachers to mention creationism in science class -- over the objections of teachers themselves. What's happening here is that an extremely aggressive religious sect is using politics to force its own religious views into science classrooms, and is encountering resistance from Christians and others who do not share this sect's dogmas. The truth is, creationists do not like freedom of religion. They want freedom of religion only for creationists, but not for anyone else.

Why should Christians who reject creationism (a religious idea) allow school boards to require that creationism be taught -- in science class? Of course they will fight against this. Why shouldn't all people have religious freedom? Is freedom just for creationists?
Rhuiden wrote:My only point is that the only group that can legally be discriminated against in the US is christians.
This is factually false, organizations can be sued for religious discrimination. There are all kinds of laws about this.

http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/fs-relig.html
http://tinyurl.com/ctlrw

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Post by GlottalGreekGeek » Sat Nov 19, 2005 7:20 pm

Rhuiden wrote:First, I did not say persecuted, I said discriminated.
Point taken.
Rhuiden wrote: 5. The teachers in our public school systems are not allowed to discuss God even if it is brought up by a student.

6. Creationism and Itelligent Design cannot yet be taught in our public school system even though there is as much or more evidence for these theories and the theory of evolution.
I have recieved almost all of my formal education in the public school system, and I think statement #5 is a gross exaggeration. There is an English class at my school where they read and study the Bible, not because they wish to impose Christianity/Judaism on anybody, but because it is an extremely important part of world literature, and this is well understood by the school administration, students, and parents. Religion is discussed a lot in my history classes since history frequently doesn't make a whole lot of sense if you omit religion. I cannot think of any discussions where the nature of God was directly addressed, but that doesn't mean there weren't any. However, if I raised my hand in European History class and asked "What is God?" I would be hushed because we need to discuss the reign of Louis XIV and don't have time to spare to discussing God. It would be the same as if I asked "Are cats better than dogs?". Discussions of directly addressing God belong in a theology class, and public schools should leave it to the family to teach theology. However, mentioning God is certainly not forbidden, anymore than mentioning Brahma or Izanami is forbidden.

What teachers cannot do is say "If you don't say that Poseidon causes the tides in your physics exam, I will mark you down," since that would clearly be indoctrination. Note that Poseidon is not a Christian god.

As to point #6 ... intelligent design is not science. Evolution is. Science consists of finding out what the world is and how it works through tests. I can have a theory that gravity will pull any object I have in my hand to the ground once I let go. If that is so, that means that when I let go of a ball in my hand it will fall to the ground. I can test that theory by holding a ball and letting go of it. If it falls to the ground, then that is evidence that my theory is correct. Let's say it falls to the ground. I then can try the same experiment on a helium balloon. Let's say it goes up to the ceiling. Therefore I have to rethink my theory.

The theory of evolution is very complex, so it requires many different kinds of tests, but it can be and has been tested many times. Therefore it belongs in the realm of science. Most recently it has been supported by genetics. But how can you test whether intelligent design is true through the scientific method? If it cannot be tested, it cannot be science. After all, God might have instituted evolution as one of his tools, and if that's the case then both intelligent design and evolution are correct. But you cannot test scientifically that the intelligent design part is correct.

Not teaching intelligent design is not a rejection of Christianity; it is on the basis that it is not science. Besides, intelligent design is not espoused solely by certain sects of Christianity and Judaism. I have seen a Hare Krishna booth which was discrediting evolution with something which, though they called it by a different name, was practically the same as intelligent design.
Last edited by GlottalGreekGeek on Sat Nov 19, 2005 8:51 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Post by Bardo de Saldo » Sat Nov 19, 2005 7:27 pm

I think, Rhuiden, that what you are talking about is not "discrimination" against Christians, but against the use of public institutions for religious indoctrination.

If enough Hare Krishnas moved to your little town in Texas to become the majority and won the elections for major, sheriff, judge, school board superintendent, etc., I don't think you'd be too happy if your son came back from school singing "Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare"; or if he was taught "Krishna Creationism"; or if on Krishna Day the major spent 5 Grand of public money decorating the public parks with images of naked women with 10 arms; or if the Sheriff and the Judge sermoned the misbehaving drunks about Krishna to set them straight; or if you found a statue of Krishna at the entrance to the hoosegow; hell, you might even call the ACLU yourself!

EDIT: Change Texas for Tennessee, sorry. Didn't you say a few months ago that you lived in Texas, by some creek?

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Post by Rhuiden » Sun Nov 20, 2005 2:21 am

annis wrote:Of the people in the U.S. who accept the evidence for evolution, by far the majority are Christian.
I do not believe this to be true, I have never seen a study or survey that says anything like this.

annis wrote:Several other items on your list are similar, defining discrimination as not being allowed to use state-granted powers and funds to preach.
This is not what I am advocating but I am saying that christians should not be limited any more than any other groups when it comes to these "state-granted powers and funds".
democritus wrote:Rhuiden wrote:
1. The military is currently trying to stop its own chaplains from sharing their faith and telling them they cannot pray in the name of Jesus.

I'm sure that this is not true. Do you have any statistics for us? How many chaplains have been sent home? Have all the Christian chaplains been replaced with muslim chaplains, or pagan chaplains? If what you say were literally true, then why would the military even have chaplains in the first place? What would they actually do?
I am afraid it is true. I have heard the news reports on the radio and seen stories on Drudge recently.
democritus wrote:Did it ever occur to you that some of the people who don't want to hear your religious talk, are themselves Christians? And that they are just tired of debating religious issues with you? That they already have some kind of faith, thank you very much, and are tired of being accused of atheism or worse, because they don't accept the evangelical interpretation of the Bible?

And that maybe part of the reason religious discussions are avioded at work is just to keep the peace.... the peace between Christians? Ever hear of the old saying "no politics or religion at the supper table"?
I do not accuse anyone of anything when I discuss God with them. If they feel that way then possibly it is the Holy Spirit convicting them. I am very careful to try not personally attack/tear down someone. All that would do is end any chance I have of sharing my faith with them. I am also very sensitive to those I speak with and stop when it is obvious they want me to.

By the way, my two favorite topics to discuss are religion and politics -- as many of you know. It drives my wife crazy. But these are topics that people will tell you what they really think if you can get them to talk.
democritus wrote:Who would determine what sorts of religious ideas could be discussed in public school? Who would police it?
The local people through the local school board should control these issues. Not politicians in the state capitals or in Washington.
democritus wrote:First, you are factually incorrect, there is no evidence that supports the dogma of intelligent design, while there is far, far more evidence for evolution. It's abundantly clear that evolution is part of God's creation.

Second, you are wrong to present this issue as a "Christian" issue, because the majority of Christians reject creationism. Most Christians see no conflict between Darwin's ideas and the Bible.
It is not abudantly clear that evolution is part of God's creation. In fact, why would a perfect God, who can not do anything that is not perfect, use such an imperfect method as evolution. It is completely inconsistent with the character of God.

While it is true that theistic evolution is gaining popularity today, I think it is far from accepted by a majority of christians. Also, you are incorrect about the majority of christian rejecting creationism. I did hear recently that the vatican has come out and said that there is no conflict between the story of creation found in Genesis and Darwin's evolution - I have to think this was politically motivated, an attempt to stop in-fighting between members.
glottalgreekgeek wrote:As to point #6 ... intelligent design is not science. Evolution is. Science consists of finding out what the world is and how it works through tests.
By your definition, evolution is not science either. It cannot be verified through testing either. In fact, only micro-evolution (survival of the fittest or changes within kinds) has every been observed. No other form of evolution can be verified through testing. So why is it taught in science class?
glottalgreekgeek wrote:The theory of evolution is very complex, so it requires many different kinds of tests, but it can be and has been tested many times. Therefore it belongs in the realm of science. Most recently it has been supported by genetics.
What testing? When was something changed from one kind to another kind? How does genetics play into this? If we have a dog that "evolves", what is it after it "evolves"? It is still a dog (same kind). It may have slightly different characteristics but it is still a dog.
bardo de saldo wrote:I think, Rhuiden, that what you are talking about is not "discrimination" against Christians, but against the use of public institutions for religious indoctrination.
No, this is not what I am saying, I just want christians to be free to do the same things other groups do. Noone has to listen but we should be free to speak.

I have never lived in Texas, but I did have a post some time back where I described the valley I live in and we do have a river here.

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Post by edonnelly » Sun Nov 20, 2005 3:14 am

Rhuiden wrote:If we have a dog that "evolves", what is it after it "evolves"? It is still a dog (same kind). It may have slightly different characteristics but it is still a dog.
Part of the confusion arises from the media interchanging the terms "evolution" and "natural selection." To a scientist in the field, these terms are quite distinct. "Evolution" actually refers to any change in the frequency of genetic traits, regardless of cause, and without any sense of "direction" or "complexity." If there are more individuals with genes for red hair today than there were 20 years ago, that is evolution.

"Natural selection" refers to a specific subset of evolution that occurs under certain circumstances (limited resources for which there is competition, and heritible traits which offer one or more survival advantages). Over time, natural selection can lead to increases in the frequency of those genetic traits that offer a survival advantage. There are countless examples of this type of natural selection (e.g., the prevalence of thalassemia, a genetic blood disorder that causes a severe anemia but which paradoxically offers a survival advantage against malaria).

Neither evolution nor natural selection, as defined above, are difficult to prove. Neither would be contested by even the most fundamentalist Christian. The controversy for some arises from the next step, that is, that the process of natural selection led to the creation of the different species. While I personally believe this to be the case, I will admit that the evidence here is more circumstantial. I'm not sure how one could prove that (1) natural selection can lead to the creation of new species and (2) in the past, it in fact did lead to the creation of the species we have in the world today.

(By the way, a species is defined by the ability to mate and produce fertile offspring, so it is relatively easy to determine if two groups of animals are the same species or not. Thus one could test if that 'dog' were, in fact, still a dog or not -- though it would be better if there were a larger group of these 'dogs' to get a more accurate test.)

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Post by Democritus » Sun Nov 20, 2005 8:44 am

Rhuiden wrote:I do not believe this to be true, I have never seen a study or survey that says anything like this.
Only a minority of Christian sects belief that Genesis must be accepted literally. Most Christian sects do not assert that Genesis must be taken literally.

As I mentioned before, there are a lot of aggressive fundamentalists now pretending that evolution is an anti-Christian idea. It just ain't so.

This is more than just a wrong-headed idea, it is a lie that is deliberately being spread by politically powerful fundamentalist Christians. There is nothing anti-Christian about evolution, nothing.

Rhuiden wrote:I am afraid it is true. I have heard the news reports on the radio and seen stories on Drudge recently.
Drudge often reports wrong things, and you can hear all sorts of things on the radio nowadays. People on the right wing just make things up -- they do this all the time. I wouldn't believe anything I heard from any right-wing sources.

Check the facts. I will bet you the situation is exactly the reverse of what you have heard.
Rhuiden wrote:It is not abudantly clear that evolution is part of God's creation.
No, you are wrong, it is abundantly clear. There is no doubt about it.
Rhuiden wrote:In fact, why would a perfect God, who can not do anything that is not perfect, use such an imperfect method as evolution. It is completely inconsistent with the character of God.
Says who? You? So you are going to command God not to use evolution? "Sorry God, you can't do that, because I, Rhuiden, do not approve of it."

God does not check with you before selecting the method of creation.
Rhuiden wrote:While it is true that theistic evolution is gaining popularity today, I think it is far from accepted by a majority of christians. Also, you are incorrect about the majority of christian rejecting creationism.
Evolution is accepted by a majority of Christians. Most Christians are not fundamentalists and they reject creationism as a religious dogma.

Rhuiden wrote:I did hear recently that the vatican has come out and said that there is no conflict between the story of creation found in Genesis and Darwin's evolution - I have to think this was politically motivated, an attempt to stop in-fighting between members.
The Holy See has no trouble taking unpopular or divisive stands on the issues. They said this because that is what the Catholic church teaches, and in fact that is what they have taught for as long as I can remember. Catholic teaching does not assert that Genesis must be literally believed.

Gosh, listen to you -- "politically motivated" -- you said in your post that you would not make accusations, but here you are, questioning the motivations and the sincerity of your fellow-Christians. You are far more aggressive than you think you are. What nerve! You are actually accusing them of issuing theological guidance purely as a matter of political convenience!

You folks are so in the habit of talking this way about other people that you don't even realize you are doing it. What nerve!

Rhuiden wrote:By your definition, evolution is not science either. It cannot be verified through testing either.


You are not fooling anybody by pretending that you care what is science and what is not science. This is not about science, it is about religious dogma. Your beef with evolution is that it contradicts your interpretation of the book of Genesis.

Creationism and intelligent design are theological assertions. They are not science. You can pretend that they are science, but we are not fooled by this game. They are not science.
Rhuiden wrote:In fact, only micro-evolution (survival of the fittest or changes within kinds) has every been observed. No other form of evolution can be verified through testing. So why is it taught in science class?
Evolution on a grand scale has been observed, many times over. There is all kinds of evidence in support of it.

But you won't accept this evidence because it contradicts your religious beliefs. You will never, ever, ever accept any evidence that supports the reality of evolution. It will never happen. So there is no reason to present it to you. You will just ignore all the evidence that supports it, and say, "hey, there's no evidence." This game is over before it begins.
Rhuiden wrote:No, this is not what I am saying, I just want christians to be free to do the same things other groups do. No one has to listen but we should be free to speak.
No one has to listen? Tell that to the cadets at the air force academy.

You are free to speak. "Christians" already have more power than most other groups. This whining about not having enough freedom is getting old.

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Post by annis » Sun Nov 20, 2005 2:56 pm

Rhuiden wrote:
annis wrote:Of the people in the U.S. who accept the evidence for evolution, by far the majority are Christian.
I do not believe this to be true, I have never seen a study or survey that says anything like this.
I see them regularly. For example, this
Pew Study, August 2005 wrote:Overall, about half the public (48%) says that humans and other living things have evolved over time, while 42% say that living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time. Fully 70% of white evangelical Protestants say that life has existed in its present form since the beginning of time; fewer than half as many white mainline Protestants (32%) and white Catholics (31%) agree.
Creationism is part of a sectarian dispute, not a scientific one. Any attempt to get it into schools trashes the first amendment.
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Post by edonnelly » Sun Nov 20, 2005 4:21 pm

annis wrote: Creationism is part of a sectarian dispute, not a scientific one. Any attempt to get it into schools trashes the first amendment.
You use evidence of differences in opinions between different religious sects to conclude that this dispute is "sectarian" and thus further conclude its discussion should be forbidden by law. There are several problems with this approach:

1. The mere difference of opinion between religious groups does not negate the possibility of a legitimate scientific debate. Many issues result in different opinions from different religious groups, but that does not mean there cannot be credible scientific discussion on the issue. Consider stem cell research. Clearly there can be scientific discussion about the potential merits and limitations of this type of research, even in the face of sharp religious feelings on the subject. Should discussion of this topic be forbidden simply because religious groups would show sharp divides on the issue in polls?

2. The study you quote is actually surprising to me because the results are far more pro-religious than I would have expected. While 14% gave an 'I don't know' response, 60% responded that they believed either life has existed in its current form since the beginning of time or that a 'Supreme Being' guided evolution. Leaving only 26% who believe in evolution guided by natural selection. If, in fact, evolution through natural selection is the absolute truth, then our schools have done a terrible job educating the public.

3. Is it really wise to forbid even the discussion of an idea or belief held by the majority of the population? Might it not actually undermine our school systems by completely ignoring, rather than addressing, ideas and beliefs that are so prevalent?

4. Most importantly, at the heart of science are the processes of critical review and debate. For 200 years Newton's theory of gravity was accepted as truth, and then along came Einstein. There will always be more to the story than we know at any given time. A theory presented with only the supporting evidence, and not a critical discussion of potential strengths, weaknesses and potential alternate hypotheses, is the opposite of science. We call that dogma, and it has little more scientific credibility than faith itself.

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Post by annis » Sun Nov 20, 2005 5:14 pm

edonnelly wrote:
annis wrote: Creationism is part of a sectarian dispute, not a scientific one. Any attempt to get it into schools trashes the first amendment.
You use evidence of differences in opinions between different religious sects to conclude that this dispute is "sectarian" and thus further conclude its discussion should be forbidden by law.
That is an utterly dishonest interpretation of my argument. I have neither said nor implied any such thing.

Rhuiden has claimed that not teaching creationism in schools is somehow anti-christian. It is not. Even among evangelical Christians, some 30% accept evolution.
While 14% gave an 'I don't know' response, 60% responded that they believed either life has existed in its current form since the beginning of time or that a 'Supreme Being' guided evolution. Leaving only 26% who believe in evolution guided by natural selection. If, in fact, evolution through natural selection is the absolute truth, then our schools have done a terrible job educating the public.
Last I checked, truth was not determined by a vote, but by digging after evidence.

This is just really not the place to go into an extended debate about creationism. There are plenty of places online where all the arguments have been hashed out in great detail. The main thrust of my arguments in this thread is against Rhuiden's absurd assertion that Christians are the only victims of legal discrimination in this country, and his misleading arguments to support that claim.
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Post by annis » Sun Nov 20, 2005 5:24 pm

Oy. Lest my point be misunderstood...
edonnelly wrote:3. Is it really wise to forbid even the discussion of an idea or belief held by the majority of the population? Might it not actually undermine our school systems by completely ignoring, rather than addressing, ideas and beliefs that are so prevalent?
Creationism cannot be tested using the standard scientific tools, nor does it produce testable hypotheses, and it sure isn't falsifiable, a requirement for any sound theory. Therefore it doesn't belong in science clasess. I have no problem with it being discussed in history, religion or philosophy classes.
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Post by Democritus » Sun Nov 20, 2005 5:37 pm

edonnelly wrote:You use evidence of differences in opinions between different religious sects to conclude that this dispute is "sectarian" and thus further conclude its discussion should be forbidden by law.
I don't think that's what annis had in mind.... For myself, I have no trouble with these questions being discussed in a religion class, or in any class that talks about religion, such as a history class.

What I object to is the treatment of creationism as if it were science, and specifically, I object to teachers being required by school boards to present creationism as science, when it is not science. I don't like schools being forced to maintain some facade of doubt about evolution, when in fact there is no doubt about it. This is a new kind of political correctness which is being forced down our throats by a particular sect of christianity.
edonnelly wrote:1. The mere difference of opinion between religious groups does not negate the possibility of a legitimate scientific debate.
Yes, but it also does not affirm its existence. In fact there is no scientific doubt about the reality of evolution. Creationists are pretending there is some doubt, but there just isn't any.
edonnelly wrote:Should discussion of this topic be forbidden simply because religious groups would show sharp divides on the issue in polls?
No. But on the other hand, no one should be forced to pretend that silly ideas are serious just because the silly idea is believed in by politically powerful religious groups. Did the poll ask about other scientific ideas, such as the properties of neutrinos, or the speed of light, or the compatibility of blood types? Does majority rule on these questions, too?

You know, it's not just evolution that provokes complaints, it is also simpler questions, such as the age of the earth. How old is the earth, anyway? Is there evidence of a recent worldwide flood?

Do you think there is any doubt about the age of the earth? Is it several billion years old, or just six thousand? Should we require our schoolteachers to pretend that there is some doubt about this question, when there is no doubt about it at all?
edonnelly wrote:...60% responded that they believed either life has existed in its current form since the beginning of time or that a 'Supreme Being' guided evolution.Leaving only 26% who believe in evolution guided by natural selection.
This question is misleading -- these two categories are not mutually exclusive. Science does not say that there was no involvement by a supreme being. On the contrary, science simply does not investigate this. It remains neutral on this kind of question.

Science does not assert that there is no God. It merely says, we will search for natural explanations. That is not the same thing as saying that there is no supernatural. It merely says that as scientists we cannot investigate supernatural things.

This is precisely the point where the creationists are trying to mislead us. They are claiming that the search for natural explanations in and of itself represents a rejection of religion. But this idea is false. It is possible to maintain a religious faith, yet still confine scientific research to natural explanations.

edonnelly wrote:3. Is it really wise to forbid even the discussion of an idea or belief held by the majority of the population? Might it not actually undermine our school systems by completely ignoring, rather than addressing, ideas and beliefs that are so prevalent?
You keep saying "forbid the discussion," which makes the creationists out to be victims. In fact what we are talking about is forbidding the discussion of evolution. It is science that is under attack here. And it's not just evolution -- it's the entire philosophical edifice on which science rests.

Am I opposed to overturning the enlightenment? You bet I am. And most Christians agree with me.

Scientists should be able to present their real results, and they really have no doubt whatsoever about the reality of evolution. I don't think that we should be required to pretend that there is some doubt about the facts when there is no doubt.



edonnelly wrote:4. Most importantly, at the heart of science are the processes of critical review and debate. ... There will always be more to the story than we know at any given time.
If only religious people would entertain the same humility! :(
edonnelly wrote:A theory presented with only the supporting evidence, and not a critical discussion of potential strengths, weaknesses and potential alternate hypotheses, is the opposite of science. We call that dogma, and it has little more scientific credibility than faith itself.
The only reason this question is even raised in the context of evolution is because evolution contradicts the literal word of Genesis. I have never heard any fundamentalists complaining about scientific methodology when it is applied to quantum physics, or relativity, or cancer research. Why is it that fundamentalist Christians are only interested in science when it comes to biblical questions?

All of this nitpicking about the scientific method is just a distraction. It is not the real complaint. At heart this is not a scientific dispute, it is a religious and political one.

You know, centuries ago people used to think disease was caused by demons. Now we know the natural cause of many diseases. Millennia ago people thought that thunderbolts and earthquakes and volcanoes were caused by the Gods, but nowadays we investigate the natural origins of these events. Are we "attacking religion" when we do this?

Do you really think it's a good idea to go back to the old way? If you take your child to a pediatrician for a vaccination, would you prefer it if he told you, "I can't help you, you have to go to church and pray, because God is the cause of all things" ? Don't you think it's a better idea to investigate the natural causes of things, before we throw up our hands?

God gave us brains. Creationists want us to throw our brains away. That is a sin.

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Post by GlottalGreekGeek » Sun Nov 20, 2005 6:24 pm

I feel this discussion of evolution (doubtlessly because of it heat) has somewhat strayed from the main topic. My main point was that rejection of "intelligent design" as science is not discrimination against Christians, since it is because it cannot be tested by the scientific method, most sects of Christianity accept evolution as science, and many sects of non-Judaic-Christian religions also espouse a form of intelligent design.

One of my science teachers a few years back called at religious universities all over the United States, and perhaps some churches too (I don't remember the details) and asked whether they taught evolution in their science classes. Almost all of them said yes. She found only two Christian universtities/sects (again I don't remember the details) and one Jewish university/sect which rejected evolution. A year later she got a Christian fundamentalist student who refused to learn in class because she thought it was against her religion. My science teacher asked her to ask the pastor at her church if learning about evolution was okay. She asked. Her pastor said it was fine, that there was nothing wrong with evolution. She was surprised.

If people are really interested, I can ask my science teacher for a list of the places she callled and asked, and post it here in a few days.

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Post by Lucus Eques » Sun Nov 20, 2005 6:43 pm

Considering the motto's placement on every piece of US currency, I don't see anything particularly wrong with putting it on a building.

The argument very easily can be taken along with the "BCE" and "CE" so-called 'pollitcally correct' nonsense that has unfortunately taken hold of too many an institution.

If we're going to use 'C's at all, I opt for "A.C." and, appropriately, "P. C." : ante Christum et post Christum. Real or not, the man's birth marks a pivotal moment in history, and the very idea of that person has shaped in every way our modern society. To deny that is the same hateful, willed ignorance that rejects the classics.

Salue Ioannes,

Your suggestion that "God" was first mentioned in government in 1865 skips over an incredible number of historical events, most notably the Declaration of Independence, whose words contain six invocations of the Lord, if memory serves.

The point of "In God We Trust" is to clarify the fact that we do not trust in a "King" or any other oligarchy or dominating religious leadership, such as in England. Moreover, the notion of "God" that we find throughout our government's first documents refers not to a religious, but to a philosophical Lord, a Deist personification of wisdom and truth and justice. These guiding principles are nominally what all people belive in, and are meant as the same guiding principles for our nation.

And nothing more.

Salue, Rhuiden; diutissime inter nos non locuti sumus!

Your point is most essential: the apparent provision of the separation of Church and State is not Federal law. It is not in the Constitution. Maybe it should be, but until its legislation, I find it ludicrious and offensively abhistorical to invoke it. In particular the BBC's frequent "reports" on such things in Washington are disgustingly absurd, beyond humorous, when I read something to the nature of, 'the United States Constitution establishes the separation of Church and State.' Obviously they never read it. Not that it would take them long.

Iterum tibi saluere iubeo, Ioannes,

The notion that there is a "political agenda whose goal is to establish one particular kind fo Christianity as the official state religion" smacks of absurdest conspiracy. If there should be such a movement, it ought to be stopped. But considering the incredible variety of religions and religious philosophies hailed by our many and diverse members of Congress alone, there is clearly nothing to worry about. Good luck getting a Catholic and an Evangelical to agree on the nature of this supposed "state religion." Never happen.

To answer your question, Jon, the reason why people use "In God We Trust" with any frequency likely will be manifold: It could be to uphold the principle that we are not only without a King, or Platonic "philsopher kings" as in Communism, and proud of this democratic freedom, maintaing moreover that we are all mortal and fallible, and only divine Reason is where we should place our faith. It could also be to emphasize a certain pride in one's religious freedom.

Iterum salue, Rhuiden,

Christians aren't the only ones subjected to politcally correct discrimination. Here's a report from the Washington Times illustrating that a black man with "white" ideals can be insulted in the worst of manners:
Black Democratic leaders in Maryland say that racially tinged attacks against Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele in his bid for the U.S. Senate are fair because he is a conservative Republican.

Such attacks against the first black man to win a statewide election in Maryland include pelting him with Oreo cookies during a campaign appearance, calling him an "Uncle Tom" and depicting him as a black-faced minstrel on a liberal Web log. . . .

But black Democrats say there is nothing wrong with "pointing out the obvious."

"There is a difference between pointing out the obvious and calling someone names," said a campaign spokesman for Kweisi Mfume, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate and former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

State Sen. Lisa A. Gladden, a black Baltimore Democrat, said she does not expect her party to pull any punches, including racial jabs at Mr. Steele, in the race to replace retiring Democratic U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes.

"Party trumps race, especially on the national level," she said. "If you are bold enough to run, you have to take whatever the voters are going to give you. It's democracy, perhaps at its worse [sic], but it is democracy."

Delegate Salima Siler Marriott, a black Baltimore Democrat, said Mr. Steele invites comparisons to a slave who loves his cruel master or a cookie that is black on the outside and white inside because his conservative political philosophy is, in her view, anti-black.

"Because he is a conservative, he is different than most public blacks, and he is different than most people in our community," she said. "His politics are not in the best interest of the masses of black people."
I happen to be a moderate political pursuasion, and prefer independence to being placed arbitrarily in any party. Nevertheless, I certainly feel great sympathy and outrage for Mr. Steele. A certain blogger noted that this is equivalent to a racist white politian in the pre-civil-rights South calling a white liberal a "n----- lover," and demonstrates a terrible contempt and hipocrasy.

Salue, E. Donnelly. I think your examples are well to be noted. I believe the poll means to convey "yes, it's okay."
I have to say, one of the more puzzling trends in contemporary American society is this mad rush to embrace victimhood. One can hardly walk a block without encountering someone who claims the whole of society is against him.
Well put, Will. Though it's hardly an American phenomenon. It's especially popular in Europe, and even more in the Middle East.

Words I'm sure all of you will recognize:
"Help! help! I'm being oppressed!"

Your citations from state constitutions are also noteworthy. Such is the nature of our Federalist system: States are free to establish whatever religious tests they want under the Constitution.

Iterum plurimam salutem, Rhuiden.

Though there is much truth in many of your final examples, I must actively voice my opposition to Creationism and Intelligent Design as scientifically acceptable theories. Not only is it falacious to insist upon scientific grounds that the universe is created by a being that was not created Himself, the logic which upholds them scientifically is inherently circular: God is not scientifically testable. If it cannot be scientifically tested, it is to be discarded or put on the side until it can be.

It think Creationism and Intelligent Design should be mentioned and even discussed among young minds, allow the freedom of information and discourse to allow their own opinions to form independently; but for Biology class to be uprooted and disturbed by a nonsensical mantra that does not have to do with the material of the course renders a counter-productive situation.

I happen to think most of Stephen Hawking's "theories" are bogus too, as Creationists think Evolution is bogus. That doesn't mean they shouldn't be taught.

However, you should probably start another thread on the topic before we hijack this one with such a discussion.



Near as I figure, we all being sane and reasonable people, we essentially agree on a unanimous principle: Religious Freedom for All. That being the case, it appears our differences are merely those of political interpretation in reference to modern events: are religious fanatics trying to establish a state religion? The answer, however, is a very clear "no." Even if Christianty were ten times more popular in our country than it is right now, for instance, the different sects would never agree with each other on anything. And moreover, a very significant increasing population of religious people in the country are Muslims, mostly immigrants. They, like others, come here to worship freely. And you can bet they certainly wouldn't agree to any Evangelical US nonsense, just as none of us.

That aside, the other debate pertains to the writing of "In God We Trust" on public buildings. Ultimately, as with other matters, I believe the best way to resolve this is through legislation. It shouldn't be about "law" or "principle" or "what the founding fathers wrote" or "thought." If there is a conflict in need of resolution, let it be through our elected representatives; or better still, through national or state-wide referendums.

It seems I have a lot of catching up to do with my readings of the other posts, so I'll cut this here.
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Post by Lucus Eques » Sun Nov 20, 2005 7:04 pm

As an addendum, it would appear to me that the ad hominem attacks against Rhuiden are excessive, especially when he has been very civil, even if his positions are unpopular. Man, Jon, you really have a lot of passionate things to say. But most of them seem unprovoked. Perhaps your conflicts with others of your acquaintance having a similar disposition as Rhuiden have caused you to unload a little bit. To me, though, it seems pretty mean.
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Post by PeterD » Sun Nov 20, 2005 7:06 pm

The Founding Fathers of the United States, children of the Enlightenment, though they fervently espoused religious freedom, equally stressed the separation of church and state. Why were they so adamant in this? Most likely for the following reasons: 1. to allow equality for all religions -- one is not favoured over the other; 2. to give individuals the freedom to choose whether they want to believe in a God or not; and 3. not having religion impede in the affairs of government.

Moving on, I 've never cared much for that philosophical phoney Leo Stauss and his neocon followers, especially the likes of Charles Krauthammer. But CK had a brilliant op-ed -- hey, I never said neocons were stupid. Except for Curious George in the White House, most are smart individuals, albeit horrible human beings! -- in the Washington Post re. intelligent design and creationism. Here is the last paragraph of that piece:

How ridiculous to make evolution the enemy of God. What could be more elegant, more simple, more brilliant, more economical, more creative, indeed more divine than a planet with millions of life forms, distinct and yet interactive, all ultimately derived from accumulated variations in a single double-stranded molecule pliabe and fecund enough to give us mollusks and mice, Newton and Einstein? Even if it did gives us the Kansas State Board of Education, too.
[The KSB mandated the teaching of ID in its science curriculum.]

Well said, CK!
God gave us brains. Creationists want us to throw our brains away. That is a sin.
I think the above pithy quote sums it up very nicely.

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Post by edonnelly » Sun Nov 20, 2005 7:57 pm

Democritus wrote:Why is it that fundamentalist Christians are only interested in science when it comes to biblical questions?
Just to be clear -- I am a scientist, and certainly nobody has ever suggested that I am a fundamentalist of any kind. I've already stated that I believe in evolution from natural selection (which, apparently, places me in the 26% minority). However, I feel my position is one I came from an educated evaluation of all of the evidence, not a one-sided proclamation from some group of 'officials' who claim to have a monopoly on the truth.

Some people use religion to quash ideas that are opposed to their own, while others use the name of science to accomplish the same goal. While I don't agree with Rhuiden's claim that Christians are the only group to be legally discriminated against, I can understand his sentiment given the tone of the posts I have read here. It sounds like many here are using the name of 'science' to reject an idea simply because it has a religious foundation.
Democritus wrote:It merely says that as scientists we cannot investigate supernatural things.
This statement is simply false. Supernatural things are investigated all the time by scientists. Self-proclaimed psychics are often put to the test and exposed as frauds. The Discovery and History Channels often run shows of someone trying to prove or disprove some story in the Bible. The evaluation of these types of questions is well within the purview of science.
GlottalGreekGeek wrote:since it is because it cannot be tested by the scientific method
The real danger to science is this attitude, and it is the result of our educational system moving away from teaching the scientific method in favor of teaching scientific dogma. Creationism is just as testable as natural selection. The two theories differ greatly in what they predict about the fossil record, extinct species and the time course of past events. While there will always be some uncertainty about past events, scientists can surely build up evidence which supports or refutes these types of theories.

The fact that the evidence to date supports one theory over the other does not mean that the other should not be discussed in science class. In fact, most scientific theories require an understanding of the competing theory to even be understood. Who learns about the propagation of light through space without first learning about the theory of the 'ether?' No scientist today believes in the existence of the 'ether,' but it was such a widely-held belief that most of the experiments that led to our current understanding of the propagation of light were designed to try to prove or disprove this now completely rejected theory. Where are the screams and outrage to have all discussion of the ether moved to history class?

Science works by offering and testing different theories. Evidence is collected and discussed. Science is not having some truth committee decide what does and does not describe our universe. Science is not blacklisting a theory simply because it is contrary to our own beliefs and conclusions.

I would submit that if we would teach both theories in schools, and let the students evaluate the evidence and better understand the conclusions of the scientists, then far more than 26% would accept the theory of evolution by natural selection. Science does not fear a fair fight.

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Post by Democritus » Sun Nov 20, 2005 8:06 pm


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Post by annis » Mon Nov 21, 2005 1:32 am

edonnelly wrote:While I don't agree with Rhuiden's claim that Christians are the only group to be legally discriminated against, I can understand his sentiment given the tone of the posts I have read here.
But what is the proper tone in response to such an astounding claim?

I know we get epistemologically relativist arguments popping up here from time to time, but I think I'm safe in assuming that people involved most in this thread's discussion would agree with me that true information is better than false information. From the practical side, it's more likely to be useful, but, more importantly for this discussion, facts are one of the bedrock foundations of ethical thinking. Promulgating falsehoods undermines our ability to make correct ethical (and political) decisions.

I'm prepared to get pretty hot in defense of true facts, and against falsity. I'll be sweet as a little lamb if Rhuiden lays off the claim - demonstrably false - of exclusive legal discrimination. It terribly muddies the waters on the entire question of discrimination.
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τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;

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Post by Rhuiden » Mon Nov 21, 2005 2:12 am

annis wrote:Promulgating falsehoods undermines our ability to make correct ethical (and political) decisions.
This is exactly the same reason I get involved in these discussions. It is my goal to shine light on false/misleading information as well. We all have the same facts. The diference is obviously in the interpretation of these facts.
democritus wrote:God gave us brains. Creationists want us to throw our brains away. That is a sin.
This is a completely false and misleading accusation. The Bible tells us that we are to test all things by the Word of God. It is the only standard and unless we do this, we can be easily led astray.

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Post by Rhuiden » Mon Nov 21, 2005 3:41 am

By the way, it is good to see you still lurking around PeterD. How is your daughter?
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Re: No constitutional separation of church and state

Post by Democritus » Mon Nov 21, 2005 3:49 am

edonnelly wrote:Democritus, with all due respect, your post seems somewhat self-contradictory. You state the "founding fathers meant what they wrote," but they did not write the 14th Amendment, that came almost 100 years later. They wrote that "Congress shall make no law..." If they meant what they wrote, then clearly they did not intend for this phrase to apply to the states.
It's a good point and I don't know the answer to it. As written, the amendment refers to Congress specifically.

But as interpreted now, the amendment is applied to the states via the 14th amendment. I know that some folks don't agree with this interpretation, but I do. It's the law of the land and I support it. I am generally in favor of interpreting laws to put the maximum amount of restriction on government.
edonnelly wrote:As far as you statement that they didn't want established religions, it would seem difficult to defend given that at the time many of the states did have established religions, or other religious tests as in annis' post above, and the wording of the 1st Amendment would specifically protect these state laws by preventing Congress from interfering with them.
It may very well have, but that does not imply that the founding fathers wanted it that way. It may be that they believed that was as much as they thought they could get away with, at the time. Compare this to the issue of slavery: It is well known that some of the founding fathers wanted to abolish slavery at the constitutional convention, but slavery was not abolished, out of political convenience. That does not imply that all the framers supported slavery. In fact they had to leave it out, in order to get the constitution approved.

So, to state my view another way: I don't interpret this amendment as a signal that framers believed establishment ought to be a state prerogative. Instead, I am amazed that they managed to get this amendment passed at all, given the weight of what it said. A country without an established church was like a country without a king. It was a novelty. Unfortunately it is just as controversial now as it was then.

A few of the founding fathers may have supported the establishment of religion. But I doubt that many of them wanted it. If these men had believed that this was "A Christian nation" then they would have written that into the constitution. The constitution itself does not mention God at all, even in passing. The Declaration of Independence vaguely invokes divine providence. That is a far cry from a declaration of faith in Jesus Christ.

These men were not irreligious, but they also did not harbor the sorts of religious and political views which are common among conservatives today. On the whole, their attitudes were quite nuanced and not necessarily consistent over time. It is worthwhile to read their writings directly. In some places they extol the role of faith and religion in a healthy republic. In other places they express naked hostility towards organized religion. (Sometimes both on the same page.)

http://www.deism.org/foundingfathers.htm
http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/quo ... nders.html
http://www.zenhell.com/GetEnlightened/FoundingFathers/

BTW this is an interesting essay:

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/11/17/151143/76

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Post by Lucus Eques » Mon Nov 21, 2005 2:37 pm

Salue, Jon,

I think your idea of "conservative" is ... warped. I have friends from both political circles, and more often than not you'll find they're very reasonable people. You believe, for instance, that the Founding Fathers were somelow less fanatical and less religious or less "wrong," you might say, than our present conservatives. I see numerous things wrong with that argument: they were the first men for thousands of years who believed in democracy, and actually dared to defy the most powerful world empire in history and make their own separate state. That's fanatical to the freeking extreme. Less religious? That strikes me as absurd. The very idea of an atheist, of a "Godless" man to almost any person at that time was as much a swear word and an immagination as a "demon." As for the character of the Founding Fathers — some of them had slaves. Two hundred years makes a world of difference. I think the comparison of now to then is foolishly unrealistic.
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Post by Lucus Eques » Mon Nov 21, 2005 2:38 pm

[DELENDVM]
L. Amadeus Ranierius

SCORPIO·MARTIANVS

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Post by antianira » Mon Nov 21, 2005 4:12 pm

2. There are groups, such as the ACLU, who are trying to stop the display of any christian reference our symbol in any public place. In a neighoring town, atheists tried to get the Ten Commandments removed from the courthouse. It had been there for many years. Here is a link to a story about an atheist trying to get "IN GOD WE TRUST" removed from our money: http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=22107

But why is it so important for you to have christian symbols on public property? People have the right to say and do as they please, but why must my courthouse (atheists pay taxes too) advertise a christian affiliation. The ten commandments are not a legal document, while thou shalt not kill is obviously a good one, it is not a courts place to enforce the commandments as if they were law. So why display them at a courthouse?

Regarding the IN GOD WE TRUST, I'd rather see it off, but I don't care all that much, after all, its not my diety whose being used as a marketing slogan. (which was the reason Teddy Roosevelt was very much against the slogan on money, he believed it was blasphemy)

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Post by PeterD » Wed Nov 23, 2005 11:11 pm

Rhuiden wrote:By the way, it is good to see you still lurking around PeterD. How is your daughter?
Thank you, Rhuiden.

She -- Name: Evlalia (Ev-la-li-a). Date and Time of Birth: Nov. 16, 2004, 10:12 pm. -- is doing great. We celebrated her 1st birthday last week. She is a dynamo -- it's go, go, go with her.

Take care.

~Peter
Last edited by PeterD on Wed Nov 30, 2005 2:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
Fanatical ranting is not just fine because it's eloquent. What if I ranted for the extermination of a people in an eloquent manner, would that make it fine? Rather, ranting, be it fanatical or otherwise, is fine if what is said is true and just. ---PeterD, in reply to IreneY and Annis

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