A Freudian Slip in Newdow vs. Rio Linda?

by Luke Muehlhauser on March 25, 2010 in Ethics,Guest Post

ninth circuit

The ethical theory I currently defend is desirism. But I mostly write about moraltheory, so I rarely discuss the implications of desirism for everyday moral questions about global warming, free speech, politics, and so on. Today’s guest post applies desirism to one such everyday moral question. It is written by desirism’s first defender, Alonzo Fyfe of Atheist Ethicist. (Keep in mind that questions of applied ethics are complicated and I do not necessarily agree with Fyfe’s moral calculations.)

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[B]oth the purpose and effect of the Pledge are that of a predominantly patriotic, not a religious, exercise. The phrase ‘under God’ is a recognition of our Founder’s political philosophy that a power greater than the government gives the people their inalienable rights. Thus, the Pledge is an endorsement of our form of government, not of religion or any particular sect.

The quote above appears in the majority opinion of Newdow vs. Rio Linda and raises a couple of questions.

The first is, what did the judges mean when they wrote about “our Founder’s political philosophy?”

As written, it states that America had only one founder, that any term that refers to Him must begin with a capital letter, and that ‘under God’ in the Pledge is a recognition of His political philosophy, and that such a Pledge is not an attempt to endorse a religious view.

This could be a typographical error. The authors actually meant to say, “the founders’ political philosophy” and simply wrote the phrase incorrectly.

Or it could be a combination of the two. It could be an instance of that form of error called a Freudian Slip where a person makes a mistake, but one that reveals something about what the person was really thinking. After all, we still have to explain why, of all of the mistakes that were made, found, and removed from the drafts of this particular opinion, why this one was not caught. What was it about this error that it did not strike the conscience of the author, proofers, and readers as an error?

Of course, there are people in this country for whom this sentence as written accurately reports their thinking on this issue. America was created God. God was its founder, and the phrase ‘under God’ is exactly what this sentence reports – a pledge to obey His law and His political philosophy as dictated to the mere mortals who sat in Congress in 1776.

This would very well be an intentional statement of that philosophy, used as background by two judges in deciding the case of Newdow vs. Rio Linda, consciously or subconsciously.

This is telling in light of a second, substantive objection to this particular passage.

The passage also presents a very simple rhetorical trick useful whenever judges wishes to rewrite the law. They simply redefine the terms in which the law was written.

In order to get around the objection that the phrase ‘under God’ is the endorsement of some type of religious belief, we are simply going to re-define the term ‘God’ so that it is not religious but, let’s say, patriotic.

Let’s redefine the term ‘God’ so that it doesn’t refer to one or more supernatural leaders in a particular religion, but to mean, a political philosophy whereby a power greater than government grants people their inalienable rights.

You atheists are just being stupid when you assert that the phrase ‘under God’ is a violation of a government prohibition on religion. This is not about religion at all. It is about a political philosophy that holds that individuals have certain inalienable rights, and those rights come from a source outside of government. When you protest ‘one Nation under God’ what you are really protesting is this idea that there is a morality independent of government and that this morality grants humans rights that governments may violate, but never take away. Of course, no good American would protest such an idea.

If this were a valid form of argument, then I can give another form of argument that is equally valid.

Let’s redefine the term ‘white’ to mean a political philosophy that came out of Europe, and embraced by our (Caucasian) founding fathers that holds that individuals hold certain inalienable moral rights that find their source outside of government – that governments can neither create nor destroy.

Using this trick, the Court is free to argue that a pledge of allegiance to ‘one White nation’ is not an endorsement of racism. It’s an endorsement of the political philosophy on which this country was founded. Consequently, if any African American – or anybody, really – were to protest changing the Pledge to say ‘one white nation’ what they would really be protesting is the idea of acknowledging the political philosophy that says that humans have moral rights that governments might certainly have the power to violate, but certainly do not have the power to create or destroy.

Some falsehoods warrant a patient expression of disagreement and a review of the evidence available that show that the speaker’s statements are mistaken.

Some falsehoods betray such a defect in moral character that those who utter them do not deserve any kind of respectful response. They warrant outright condemnation.

An attempt to redefine the term ‘white’ so that an expression and endorsement of racial bigotry could pass muster as a constitutionally valid act of Congress would be one of them. An attempt to redefine the term ‘under God’ so that an expression and endorsement of religious bigotry can pass muster as a constitutionally valid act of Congress is another.

That statement that the majority wrote into their opinion of Newdow v. Rio Linda is a lie.

It’s the type of statement that suggests somebody sitting down and planning a particular legal strategy. I want to use the Pledge to promote my personal brand of religious/racist bigotry. Of course, my brand of religious/racist bigotry is prohibited by the Constitution, by law. To get around the law, I am going to argue that the term ‘God’/’white’ means, ‘a political philosophy that holds that humans have certain inalienable rights that come from a source outside of government.’ Under the cover of this lie I am going to deny that the change is religious/racist but is, instead, an expression of the political ideals on which this country was founded.

The only other element we need is for the nation to be filled with a sufficiently large number of religious/racist bigots that they either agree to go along with the lie with a wink and a nudge to those who know, in their hearts, this is false but who accept this lie in defense of a ‘greater good’, and those who do not care enough to object. In a sufficiently racist culture, the ‘white’ lie would be successful. In a culture dominated by religious bigotry, the religious option has its chance at success.

Ironically, the Pledge itself, and the national motto, breed the type of religious bigotry that makes this type of strategy plausible. It’s branding of those who support a nation under God and who trust in God as ‘true Americans’ and ‘one of us’, and of branding those who reject these principles as outsiders, creates just the type of culture in which a majority of the population, and even some of its judges, are willing to accept this lie with a wink and a nudge, or simply turned an deaf ear and a blind eye to those who support it.

Enough people come to support it, in fact, that we see it written into a quietly accepted Appeals Court decision – that that makes a statement as blatantly false as that of a racist trying to claim that ‘white’ means ‘a political philosophy that came out of Europe’.

‘God’ means ‘God’, that’s all there is to it.

And the government has no constitutional or legal right to push the philosophy that the United States has only one Founder, that any reference to Him must be capitalized, and that anybody who does not buy into a religion that shares this view may legitimately be branded by the government as un-American.

- Alonzo Fyfe

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{ 65 comments… read them below or add one }

Charles March 25, 2010 at 8:04 am

The decision by the Ninth Circuit is completely indefensible. Even a 10 year old can see how the Pledge violates the Establishment Clause.

Have you ever considered submitting some version of “A Perspective on the Pledge” or your thoughts on the recent decision to a major magazine?

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cl March 25, 2010 at 9:04 am

I have my own objections to the motto and the pledge, but that either are unconstitutional is not among them.

That statement that the majority wrote into their opinion of Newdow v. Rio Linda is a lie. (Fyfe)

OK, this is starting to get annoying. I get that many atheists are upset with the decision and that a certain subset simply will not be happy until all instances of “God” disappear from the American public sphere, but do we really need to go and accuse the majority of lying just because their decision offends us? What evidence does Fyfe have for his accusation, besides this typo? To me, this just makes y’all look like sore losers without a real case.

It is an undeniable fact that the Founding Fathers believed we were given our rights by God:

“..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.” (Declaration of Independence)

So when the majority refers to such a sentiment, they refer to fact.

I still have not heard a persuasive case from anyone claiming a violation of the Constitution. If the pledge contained the phrase “under Allah” or “under Jesus” or “Christian nation” or “religious nation” or any of those, I would be right there with Fyfe and every other atheist in opposition to the majority, but as it stands, I can’t get behind the “violation” claims.

So, can anyone make this case intelligently, without use of skewed analogies, without accusations of lying, and without grovelling about bigotry? In regards to the pledge, the burden is on the positive claimant to demonstrate a religious legislative purpose, a direct link between the phrase and “advancement of religion,” or “excessive government entanglement with religion.” The violation must be demonstrated, not merely asserted. For example, in cases like:

Torcaso v. Watkins (1961) — The Supreme Court rules that the state of Maryland cannot require a statement of faith from applicants to public office;

Engel v. Vitale (1962) — The Supreme Court rules that public schools cannot mandate recitation of prayer;

Locke v. Davey (2004) — The Supreme Court rules that states cannot give scholarship aid to college students training for the clergy;

..the violation is clear and demonstrable in each of those cases, which is why I agree with the majority in each of those cases. To those who say the phrase violates the Establishment clause, can you demonstrate the “who, what, when, where and why” needed to make your case?

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Charles March 25, 2010 at 9:36 am

The Pledge advocates theism. This puts it into conflict with any religion that adheres to polytheism, just to give one example.

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Reginald Selkirk March 25, 2010 at 11:01 am

It is an undeniable fact that the Founding Fathers believed we were given our rights by God:

It is an undeniable fact that the Founding Fathers identified the source of rights in the preamble of the constitution:

We the People of hte United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

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Reginald Selkirk March 25, 2010 at 11:02 am

It is an undeniable fact that the Founding Fathers believed we were given our rights by God:

It is an undeniable fact that the Founding Fathers identified the source of rights in the preamble of the constitution:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

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Reginald Selkirk March 25, 2010 at 11:05 am

(Declaration of Independence)

A document which is not the fundamental law of the nation, and which also mentions the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.

The meaning of “Nature’s God” is not so clear as you wish it to be.

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Reginald Selkirk March 25, 2010 at 11:10 am

So, can anyone make this case intelligently, without use of skewed analogies, without accusations of lying, and without grovelling about bigotry? In regards to the pledge, the burden is on the positive claimant to demonstrate a religious legislative purpose, a direct link between the phrase and “advancement of religion,” or “excessive government entanglement with religion.”

The Plege of Allegiance

The last change in the Pledge of Allegiance occurred on June 14 (Flag Day), 1954 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved adding the words “under God”. As he authorized this change he said:

In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace and war.

OK, so now it’s back to you to try to claim that “reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith” is not an “advancement of religion.”

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Reginald Selkirk March 25, 2010 at 11:13 am

In 1953, the Roman Catholic men’s group, the Knights of Columbus mounted a campaign to add the words “under God” to the Pledge. The nation was suffering through the height of the cold war, and the McCarthy communist witch hunt. Partly in reaction to these factors, a reported 15 resolutions were initiated in Congress to change the pledge. They got nowhere until Rev. George Docherty (1911 – 2008) preached a sermon that was attended by President Eisenhower and the national press corps on 1954-FEB-7. His sermon said in part:

“Apart from the mention of the phrase ‘the United States of America,’ it could be the pledge of any republic. In fact, I could hear little Muscovites repeat a similar pledge to their hammer-and-sickle flag in Moscow.”

After the service, President Eisenhower said that he agreed with the sermon. In the following weeks, the news spread, and public opinion grew. Three days later, Senator Homer Ferguson, (R-MI), sponsored a bill to add God to the Pledge. It was approved as a joint resolution 1954-JUN-8. It was signed into law on Flag Day, JUN-14. President Eisenhower said at the time:

“From this day forward, the millions of our schoolchildren will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural schoolhouse, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty.” 4

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Eneasz March 26, 2010 at 9:00 am

I know this is a nitpick, but…

Ironically, the Pledge itself, and the national motto, breed the type of religious bigotry that makes this type of strategy plausible.

This is not irony. It’s almost the opposite of irony actually, since it’s an example of something effectively doing exactly what it set out to do.

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Rick B March 26, 2010 at 12:08 pm

I’m reminded of Luke’s ad nauseam commentary on objections to quoting Bible verses: “That’s out of context!”

The Founding Fathers’ (note the careful, deliberate plural usage) views on theism, especially its place in the newly formed Union, were not homogeneous, and must be interpreted in light of the political and social context. While the word atheism was not yet in widespread use, I propose that many Founders realized that putting God in the new government’s foundation would give it more traction with delegates from the many States than leaving out mention of said God. The Union’s creation was far from certain, and proceeded from the failure of the Articles of Confederation. Giving the Constitution a God-boost may have, for some, been a pragmatic compromise necessary to ensuring acceptance of the new government.

I doubt little that a great many things about this nation do not match their wildest visions of what the Republic should resemble. Should we also criticize their contemporary refusal to let women (or very many men, for that matter) take part in the democratic process? Yes! That debate led to suffrage for all citizens–at least, according to the written Constitution. Let’s continue the debate on the place of god in the US Government until we can agree its mention & invocation are discriminatory and disenfranchising to all who believe atheists have a legitimate voice.

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Reginald Selkirk March 26, 2010 at 1:33 pm

I propose that many Founders realized that putting God in the new government’s foundation would give it more traction with delegates from the many States than leaving out mention of said God… Giving the Constitution a God-boost may have, for some, been a pragmatic compromise necessary to ensuring acceptance of the new government.

Except that the Constitution clearly and deliberately lacks a God-boost, leaving cl and his ilk to quote the Declaration of Independence.

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justfinethanks March 26, 2010 at 1:56 pm

Except that the Constitution clearly and deliberately lacks a God-boost

In fact, the only two times that “religion” is mentioned, it is in the negative.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion

-1st Amendment

No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

-Article VI, Section 3

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cl March 26, 2010 at 4:12 pm

It is an undeniable fact that the Founding Fathers identified the source of rights in the preamble of the constitution: (Selkirk)

This is a non-sequitur in response to my claim, which was that the Founding Fathers believed we were given our rights by God. Do you deny or affirm that the Founding Fathers believed we were given our rights by God?

You claim that the Founders identify the source of rights in the preamble of the Constitution, but as opposed to supporting your claim, you merely cite the preamble, apparently in hopes that the reader will simply stumble upon your conclusion. Be clear: who or what do you allege the Founding Fathers identified as the source of rights in the preamble of the Constitution?

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Hermes March 26, 2010 at 5:16 pm

Cl, so, your complaint is that Reginald cites a source (with a link) and then quotes directly from that source to support what he wrote, and you think he should do … what? It’s right there in the highlighted part from the quote he provided. As such, I’m puzzled why you could be confused about this.

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Hermes March 26, 2010 at 5:17 pm
cl March 26, 2010 at 7:27 pm

Hermes,

..so, your complaint is that Reginald cites a source (with a link) and then quotes directly from that source to support what he wrote, and you think he should do … what?

No, that’s not my complaint. I articulated my complaints sufficiently in my last response.

Granted there are no rules which prevent intrusions into conversations here, but I didn’t ask you, I asked Reginald, and the reason I asked is because “assume nothing” is often a good principle to go by, especially in the absence of clear answers. If he provides clear answers to both of my questions, you’ll see where I’m going with this soon enough.

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Hermes March 26, 2010 at 8:25 pm

…and yet, he did answer you. Multiple times. With references for each item.

Yet, you ignored those other comments, picked one, and missed the point on that as well.

So, excuse my intrusion. Waiting for you to take one of several paths if you take any at all is truly old territory. It is like guessing the plot to a movie that is touted as a who-done-it and not being very surprised when the butler did it.

If you want to show that you aren’t just jerking Reginald around now, as you did to me, how about addressing something else?

For example, if you understand his direct replies, and you take him seriously, then address the following quote;

(Declaration of Independence)A document which is not the fundamental law of the nation, and which also mentions the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.The meaning of “Nature’s God” is not so clear as you wish it to be.  

Perhaps you are one of those, like W.L. Craig, that abhors the enlightenment in all it’s forms. That would explain your inability and unwillingness to take my earlier comments to you seriously, and your inadequate responses to Reginald now.

If you are even marginally on the ball, you should immediately know what I’m talking about when I mention one word; Tripoli. Yet, even that is a distraction from the core evidence Reginald has already provided and you have not dealt with.

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cl March 26, 2010 at 9:30 pm

Hermes,

…and yet, he did answer you. Multiple times. With references for each item.

Yet, you ignored those other comments, picked one, and missed the point on that as well.

Reginald has not answered either of the questions I asked in my comment March 26th. Such would be impossible, as Reginald has not commented on this thread since I left my first comment March 26th.

I did not “ignore” Reginald’s other comments; you simply assume that I ignored them and then proceed as if your assumption represents the truth.

Waiting for you to take one of several paths if you take any at all is truly old territory. It is like guessing the plot to a movie that is touted as a who-done-it and not being very surprised when the butler did it.

Expressing your negative opinion of me has zero import to this discussion.

If you want to show that you aren’t just jerking Reginald around now, as you did to me, how about addressing something else?

[Note to the unitiated: Hermes is presumably referring to this thread, and I encourage you to make up your own minds as to whether I jerked him around or not]

I didn’t jerk you around, I tried rather patiently to make my points, while you were blatantly offensive and relied upon personal attacks, such that even another commenter put you in check.

Further, even if your statement that I did jerk you around on some other thread was true – like your previous negative appraisals – that fact would have zero import to this discussion.

For example, if you understand his direct replies, and you take him seriously, then address the following quote;

Don’t tell me what to do. I’ve already addressed each of Reginald’s comments; I assure you they’re sitting here awaiting his continued input. That you don’t see a response right here right this instant does not permit you to assume I’ve not addressed a given point. I work on my time schedule, for my reasons, not yours.

No offense, but you’re simply not anybody I’m concerned with impressing. I’m much more interested in avoiding discourse with you, for reasons you’ve confirmed here.

So feel free to concoct any sort of response you wish, but note that I will not be responding to you again on this thread – unless of course some sort of basic respect is forthcoming.

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Rick B March 26, 2010 at 9:48 pm

Except that the Constitution clearly and deliberately lacks a God-boost…

Thanks for setting me straight!

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Rick B March 26, 2010 at 10:34 pm

cl,

You have yet to prove to the standards of ‘fact’ (much less undeniably so)…

…that the Founding Fathers believed we were given our rights by God.

In other words, without providing documentation of your claim, you’re spouting so much hot air. It’s been quite clearly demonstrated to me that the Founding Fathers did not believe Christian dogma; nor were they as homogeneous group as you imply them to be. If you’re going to continue to assert your claim, back it up: primary sources are available [writings of said Founding Fathers]. Quote them and cite your sources.

If you feel like you and Reginald haven’t had a proper discussion due to other folks butting in, have it out on your own blog where you make the rules. This is Luke’s blog; unless I’ve grossly misunderstood his intentions, it’s open to public comment. In my opinion you, not Hermes, are coming across as hard-headed. Do you really want to exclude all others from discussing your argument?

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Hermes March 27, 2010 at 3:50 am

Reginald has not answered either of the questions I asked in my comment March 26th. Such would be impossible, as Reginald has not commented on this thread since I left my first comment March 26th.

Wow. Nice selective memory you’ve got there.

He did address your question from the 25th that this all pours from, just as I addressed your comments in other threads and you turned around and treated my comments as you are now treating Reginald’s. I expect now that you will leave this thread, maybe with an assertion of your point (ignoring Reginald’s), and expect that to be the crowning achievement of all the words on offer.

Again, wow.

If you want to be treated better, then step up.

Case in point, thanks for the link to the other thread. I still stand by my earlier comments, and find your current skirting of the issue you raised and Reginald addressed over multiple posts with specific source references to be stunning.

I take your behavior as an expression of something I’ve addressed elsewhere.

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cl March 27, 2010 at 10:43 am

Rick B,

Well, I suppose I should address the irrelevant side issues first:

This is Luke’s blog; unless I’ve grossly misunderstood his intentions, it’s open to public comment.

Why do you feel the need to reiterate what I’ve already stated? Look, right here:

..there are no rules which prevent intrusions into conversations here, (cl)

You state,

In my opinion you, not Hermes, are coming across as hard-headed.

Since when do our opinions of one another have any import to the discussion? I’m simply seeking to avoid discourse with Hermes; call that ‘hard-headed’ if you wish, but I see it as wise. Surely you can see how the tone of the discussion changed as soon as Hermes butted in, right?

You ask,

Do you really want to exclude all others from discussing your argument?

No; I stated – very specifically – whom I wanted to exclude – Hermes, and I’ve asked Hermes to refrain from badgering me around here before. Note that Hermes constitutes a single person, such that your string “all others” becomes entirely inaccurate.

Speaking of rules, there are requests from Luke that the dialog here be protected, specifically from the unfruitfulness that typically results from personal attacks, which Luke asks us to resort to last. On that note, I’ve also stated why I seek to exclude Hermes, i.e., his eagerness to resort to personal attacks and insult, and his presumptuous impatience (demonstrated by the fact that he presumes I’ve “ignored” Reginald’s points when in fact they are addressed and simply awaiting Reginald’s answers to the questions I left in my comment to him March 26).

Now, regarding the actual discussion:

It’s been quite clearly demonstrated to me that the Founding Fathers did not believe Christian dogma;

Did I ever contest that point? If so, where? If not, have you erroneously assumed I’ve contested that point?

..nor were they as homogeneous group as you imply them to be.

In this thread, I imply no homogenuity except for a single thread of commonality: the Founding Fathers believed we were given our rights by God.

If you’re going to continue to assert your claim, back it up: primary sources are available [writings of said Founding Fathers]. Quote them and cite your sources.

You claim I’ve not supported my claim; I submit that I included the support in my opening comment March 25th:

“..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.” (Declaration of Independence)

I argue that the string, “..endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” is categorically equivalent to the string, “believed we were given our rights by God.” Do you agree yet? If not, the burden of production falls to the defense. Perhaps you’ll take the brave path and argue that the two statements are not categorically equivalent, or, perhaps you’ll attempt to marginalize their equivalency by claiming the Declaration of Independence is not a reliable measure of what the Founding Fathers actually believed? Or, perhaps you’ll take some other path?

In any case, the stage is yours.

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lukeprog March 27, 2010 at 12:37 pm

I post irrelevant comments all the time. :)

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Hermes March 27, 2010 at 12:51 pm

I argue that the string, “..endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” is categorically equivalent to the string, “believed we were given our rights by God.” Do you agree yet?

Why should he? You did not counter or even address Reginald’s comments. As such, your plea is for agreement with your unfounded opinion is not worthy of consideration. If you had merits worthy of flaunting such views arrogantly, I would grin at this point.

As things are, I will instead massage my brow and shake my head. You deserve to feel shame for such nonsense. Maybe, one day, you will have the right to make arrogant claims. That day, though, seems far far away in the future if at all.

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Rick B March 27, 2010 at 1:33 pm

cl,

Since when do our opinions of one another have any import to the discussion? …Hermes butted in.

So you’d like the discussion to exclude only Hermes, because you feel he’s not offering relevant commentary? I’m trying to understand why you believe any one person should be excluded from a public discussion. Please correct me if I’ve misunderstood what you meant.

I argue that the string, “..endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” is categorically equivalent to the string, “believed we were given our rights by God.” Do you agree yet?

I still disagree. The Declaration was written to the King of England, from whose rule the colonists were rebelling. Why not appeal to his inheritance of power from God, even if they didn’t intend for the new nation to base its governance on those principles? The connection between the Constitution–which followed from the failure of the Articles of Confederation, not directly from the Declaration–and these God-given rights is not necessarily sound. Nor do I believe “Creator” is necessarily congruent with God, and certainly not the Christian god. Most of the Founding Fathers were Deists, and explicitly rejected Christianity.

To further cast doubt on your assertion, why would the Founders fail to clearly explain that the source of all rights was God when they set forth the Articles of Confederation? But there is no mention of God in the Articles. Indeed, only once is there an oblique mention to a higher power:

And Whereas it hath pleased the Great Governor of the World to incline the hearts of the legislatures we respectively represent in Congress, to approve of, and to authorize us to ratify the said Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union.

Source: http://www.usconstitution.net/articles.html (Sorry, I can’t figure out how to make it a hyperlink.)

This mention of a higher power cannot reasonably be construed to point to the same God that the Supreme Court just referenced; thus the Court’s assertion that the reference to a Creator in the Declaration of Independence sets precedent in establishing spiritual or religious grounds for God’s inclusion in government is bogus. The context differs, and it’s clear from subsequent foundational documents produced by the same group of men that this meaning was not to be carried over into the constitution (I mean here the organizational makeup, not the document) of the Union.

So the concept of rights inherently given by a Creator does not follow historically or semantically to the concept the Supreme Court conceptualized in its recent decision. Furthermore, because the insertion of references to God in US money and the pledge was explicitly Christian, Fyfe makes a valid point by calling the Court’s assertion a lie.

By any plain language interpretation of its decision, one must believe the majority of the Court believes the Constitution is not the source of rights, as it explicitly states. Rather, it is an attempt to revise the history of the foundation of the United States. The attempt is clearly bogus, and is aptly characterized as a lie.

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Hermes March 27, 2010 at 1:48 pm

I now predict Cl will either ignore or misconstrue Rick B’s detailed reply. This habitual abuse of the good will of others, not just myself, is what turned me against Cl’s nonsense and has earned Cl both mockery and contempt.

Why spend time on a detailed and thoughtful response when the other person is unwilling and also unable to comprehend or even attempt to engage what you have said?

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Reginald Selkirk March 27, 2010 at 1:53 pm

but I didn’t ask you, I asked Reginald

Someone with a chip on his shoulder. Go fuck yourself.

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Reginald Selkirk March 27, 2010 at 1:56 pm

And while you’re wanking, read some John Locke and some Thomas Payne.

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Reginald Selkirk March 27, 2010 at 2:16 pm

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cl March 27, 2010 at 4:19 pm

Hmmm… let’s backtrack:

1) cl leaves a comment regarding the OP;

2) Selkirk offers 5 responses of varying saliency;

3) cl asks Selkirk to clarify what he meant in the first two of those questions;

4) Hermes then accosts cl on various charges, including the resurrection of old threads that have nothing to do with discussion;

5) Rick B chimes in for a second, then shifts into rational gear and offers a decent response of his own;

6) Hermes continues with his personal attacks;

7) Selkirk returns, and instead of simply answering the questions, chooses to focus on that which is not his business and replies with,

Someone with a chip on his shoulder. Go fuck yourself.

So there we have it: I ask a question, and 2 of the 3 atheists resort to personal attacks and tough-guy pretense instead of the gentle questions, subjective report and unadulterated arguments Luke asked his commenters to prefer.

So what’s a guy to do? Well, now that I’ve had a good laugh and gotten this off my chest, I guess when I get another few seconds, I’ll address Rick B’s last comment.

In the meantime, Selkirk, should you have a change of heart, my question was rather simple: in the preamble of the Constitution, who or what do you allege the Founding Fathers identified as the source of rights?

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Hermes March 27, 2010 at 7:06 pm

Yes, you’re just not responsible for how people react to you. You’re an innocent little daisy.

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Hermes March 27, 2010 at 9:17 pm

So there can be no mistake, Reginald mentioned this to Cl;

(Declaration of Independence)A document which is not the fundamental law of the nation, and which also mentions the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.The meaning of “Nature’s God” is not so clear as you wish it to be.

Cl ignored that, and quote mined this;

“..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.” (Declaration of Independence)

… then proceeded with this comment about that section;

I argue that the string, “..endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” is categorically equivalent to the string, “believed we were given our rights by God.” Do you agree yet?

Since Reginald had already discussed “Nature’s God” — a Deist concept, not a Christian one — it is not acceptable for Cl to then ignore Reginald’s evidence on that or that he pointed out other information that is relevant (but remains ignored but unchallenged and unaddressed).

Cl’s pleas that I am being unfair are hypocritical. In my case, I fully admit my brash and even rude attitude. Dishonesty just drags it out of me.

Why is Cl dishonest? With the facts provided to Cl, and the source evidence available to Cl, the chance to directly confront those comments was amply available. Instead, Cl brings up other details and ignores any that inconveniently work against Cl’s preconceptions.

Cl could have agreed with what Reginald and Rick B have provided, or Cl could have provided a better explanation that is consistent with the facts. That is not what happened here. It is not what happened when I addressed Cl’s comments in other threads. Therefor, the conclusion stands. Cl is willfully dishonest, or (at best) is incapable of understanding why what they write is not consistent with the available evidence from the source documents and from other historic documents.

* * *

So, Cl, either fess up and be honest about your selective replies that ignore evidence contrary to your biases, or admit that you are being honest yet you are unable to address the thoughtful comments provided to your inaccurate and strange statements.

If it is the latter, consider being appropriately humble; there is no problem with being wrong or making mistakes, I make them all the time. There is a problem with insisting that your errors deserve respect or undue consideration when you refuse to do the same yourself.

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cl March 27, 2010 at 11:49 pm

Well, though I openly scoff at your insinuation I’ve been dishonest, since you conceded that you are in fact rude and brash, I’ll take that as a step – albeit minor – in the direction of the ‘basic respect’ I alluded to. So, I’m willing to try again, but first a note about your insinuation.

It’s rubbish, it’s unprofessional, and it’s rude. Before you get all huffy-puffy and dig into your keyboard again, consider: you have no way of knowing what the other commenters are doing, or what they’ve done, or why they’re doing what they’re doing in the particular way they’re doing it.

Why is Cl dishonest? With the facts provided to Cl, and the source evidence available to Cl, the chance to directly confront those comments was amply available. Instead, Cl brings up other details and ignores any that inconveniently work against Cl’s preconceptions.

Right. You sit here and have the nerve to call me dishonest in a public forum, when in fact you cannot possibly know what you claim. Your claim that I’m dishonest has no referent in reality; that is, you’ve simply assumed that since you didn’t see what you felt you should have seen from me, that I’ve somehow “ignored” points from Reginald and Rick B. This is a feeble basis for such an assumption because it could very well be that I was taking my time for whatever reason. Perhaps I wanted to formulate as articulate and thorough a response as possible – something I highly suggest you invest more time in – or, perhaps it’s something else, like the fact that I just had my first child. The point is, you made all these accusations when you don’t even know anything. You imply that I’m ignoring Reginald when in reality, I’m not: I’ve got a life outside of the internet, and it calls, and I sought clarity on a question. Those things are the real reasons behind why I’m not rushing to respond – not the dishonesty you disrespectfully allege.

The rest of the world doesn’t necessarily conform to your expectations, Hermes. Before you butted in with your charges of dishonesty and eschewing, I had already formulated responses to precisely the questions you claim I ignored. You, not knowing that, erroneously assumed that the fact I hadn’t posted my responses means I’ve ignored Reginald. In short, you rushed ahead and based your accusations on an assumption, then piled more personal insults onto that.

I asked Reginald the question I asked him because his answer would have affected my response. I am certainly within reason to do so, and I will post what I’ve already written in response to Reginald whether he answers my question or not. So, relax a little bit and be patient.

Cl could have agreed with what Reginald and Rick B have provided,

AHEM – if you would have shut your mouth and not butted in, I’m willing to bet Reginald would have answered my question instead of telling me to “fuck myself” because he didn’t like the way I addressed you, and if he had, my next comment would have explained where I agree with him, and why I think those points of agreement don’t change my position. If I’m wrong, and Reginald wouldn’t have answered me even if you hadn’t opened your mouth, then I still would have eventually posted my responses to him anyways, as to withhold them would be a complete waste.

As far as Rick B goes, well.. I came back here tonight because I wanted to take a second to address his comment – which I’ve already appraised as decent – but instead, and against my better judgment, I allowed myself to get sidetracked responding to you and your personal issues again.

Though, who knows, maybe some good will come of it this time.

For the record, I’m not dishonest, and I think those who resort to accusations and personal attacks divulge either the weakness of their own arguments, the malice in their own hearts, or both.

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cl March 28, 2010 at 12:14 am

Rick B,

Again, the side issues first. You quoted me thusly:

Since when do our opinions of one another have any import to the discussion? …Hermes butted in.

Though it’s ambiguous, I’m taking this to be an implication that I’ve spoken hypocritically. If that was your intended meaning, I disagree, because my statement that “Hermes butted in” does not reflect opinion, but fact. If that was not your intended meaning, I’m interested in learning what was.

So you’d like the discussion to exclude only Hermes, because you feel he’s not offering relevant commentary? I’m trying to understand why you believe any one person should be excluded from a public discussion. Please correct me if I’ve misunderstood what you meant.

While you are correct in that I don’t believe Hermes is offering relevant commentary, it’s not that I believe Hermes or “any one person” should be excluded from a public discussion. Especially in America, nobody should be excluded from a public discussion. All I’m saying is that I wish that Hermes would either develop his patience and proceed in a spirit of humility, or sit the sidelines – because he makes assumptions and rush-judgments and personal attacks and generally, it just sucks to converse with somebody like that. Do you think personal insults and baseless negative appraisals are useful? I don’t. Though I will stand my ground, I’m not here to win pissing contests and stroke my own ego by insulting others. I got my share of that in high school.

Anyways, that’s all I can muster tonight. Hopefully we can drop Hermes and focus on what’s relevant tomorrow, or whenever time affords.

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Hermes March 28, 2010 at 6:21 am

Cl, good to see I can rouse you to a response.

Unread at this point, I hope to find in it a direct response with evidence as appropriate to even a fraction of what Reginald and Rick B have provided, regardless of your conclusions.

I admire arrogance and self-assertiveness, but only if it is grounded the strength of actual ability and clear understanding, not just willfully asserted.

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Charles March 28, 2010 at 11:39 am

All these references to what the Founders may have been thinking is completely irrelevant. All that matters is what the people centered around 1954 thought. They were the ones who added the offensive language.

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Hermes March 28, 2010 at 12:58 pm

[ reads first paragraph ]

Cl, to be clear, respect is earned based on earnest admiration gained usually over quite a bit of time often months if not years or decades. The word you are looking for is not respect, but cordiality. Cordiality should be granted by civilized people till it is abused. You did not gain my respect — that is quite presumptive — and you abused common cordiality in very short order, so even that was retracted. As such, my rudeness is an appropriate response to your abusive behavior. To not express that honestly would give you a false impression that I find your behavior acceptable and encourage you to continue to be abusive yourself.

That’s said, let’s see how you have done in the present while we set aside the past.

[ continues reading ]
[ ignores second paragraph ]
[ continues with third paragraph ]

By calling you dishonest, I was giving you the benefit of the doubt that you knew what you were doing and understood what had been presented to you. If that is not the case, I can use more appropriate words.

[ fourth is the same ]
[ fifth ... ]

Great. You may redeem yourself with your own efforts.

[ the rest ... ]

Blame the messenger if you wish. Others will judge your actions or inactions regardless of your level of actual indignation as will I.

So far, none of the above posturing — like that feigned by salesmen at open markets world wide — none of it has raised my estimation of you, and your demands for cordiality are rejected as is appropriate. To grant you cordiality would be like saying I did not demand a discount on a rug.

If (big if) you come through with your replies to what Reginald and Rick B wrote, I’ll do a reassessment. Yet, I find your request for patience to be without merit as well. I was patient with you before, and you abused that patience. Thus, here we are.

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Godless Randall March 28, 2010 at 1:25 pm

By calling you dishonest, I was giving you the benefit of the doubt

my only objection to Cl (right now at least) is that he spends too much time on ^obvious^ assholes. i was into seeing where this thread would go but all the shit-talk ruined that. too bad it’s coming from the atheists, that gives us a bad name

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Hermes March 28, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Thank you for the honest criticism. I will take it under advisement.

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Godless Randall March 28, 2010 at 2:09 pm

are you serious? you started this whole mess, go fuck yourself

in case you haven’t ever noticecd hopefully you get it now that some people don’t care about who you don’t like and why. philosophy, religion, etc. is hard enough without the ego and bullshit

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Godless Randall March 28, 2010 at 2:31 pm

now that i’m not a lurker anymore

all i want to know from you Cl is how the facts here don’t make this like the cases you mention. if you get it to great if not i understand and won’t think any less. i don’t blame you if you wanna split

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Eneasz March 28, 2010 at 2:38 pm

I should start a website dedicated to CL, I’ve been following him for quite some time and he’s one of the most effective christain trolls out there. No one can completely destroy a conversation as effectively as he does, and with such masterful grace and subtly that he rarely gets banned. This isn’t a blunt-force “U R Hitler!” troll, this is the Yoda of trolling.

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Hermes March 28, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Randall, I am glad to have encouraged your participation.

Eneasz, a point have you. Hmmmmm!?!?!!

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Godless Randall March 28, 2010 at 3:19 pm

man you guys are amazing. you ^still^ don’t get it

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Hermes March 28, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Thank you again for your input.

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Rick B March 28, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Cl,

It’s my opinion, based on your discussion here, that you should reassess what constitutes a fact. I’ll make two points:

1) You attempted to label your argument that the Founders believed rights came from God an undeniable fact. Begging the question does not a sound argument make. Nor does your assertion, which I believe is wrong, make it a fact.

2) Your judgment that Hermes “butted in” is an obviously value-laden way of saying he participated in a conversation against your will. Your desire against his participation in any public forum, and his act against your desire does not automatically put you in the right or the wrong; but calling your opinion of his action a fact is intellectually dishonest.

Please continue debating, but be willing to reexamine what the facts actually are, and what’s your strongly held-opinion.

Cl, Hermes, Reginald and others… I tend to interpret name-calling as an admission of weakness: it means you’ve run out of constructive things to say but want to stroke your ego all the same. At least, this is what I feel when I want to call people names. At any rate, I think it’s fair to say that very few constructive criticisms use name-calling, belittlement, and disrespect. Unless you’re hunting drosophila melanogaster, honey catches more flies than vinegar.

Finally, realize that some folks are out to pick a fight. Taking the bait leads to a lot of Streit und Krach but little progress on any certain issue. I’ve tried to stay on topic, and have had some moderate success. However, this discussion has devolved into disrespectful and barbaric jabs at each other. Hitler has already been mentioned, fulfilling Godwin’s law. I’m bowing out.

Sincerely frustrated,
Rick B

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cl March 28, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Rick B,

Where we agree:

Cl, Hermes, Reginald and others… I tend to interpret name-calling as an admission of weakness: it means you’ve run out of constructive things to say but want to stroke your ego all the same.

As you might have guessed from my previous comment,

..I think those who resort to accusations and personal attacks divulge either the weakness of their own arguments, the malice in their own hearts, or both

I agree. However, I remain puzzled as to why you included me in your name-calling comment. I can see at least two possible intended meanings:

1) That you were just letting us all know, not necessarily implying that those you addressed actually participated in name-calling;

2) That you were implying we were all guilty of name-calling.

If 1, no problem. If 2, I would like to submit in my defense that I did NOT call anybody any names in this thread – not once. Nonetheless, I agree: I tend to interpret the name-calling as a sign of weakness, too. I would also agree with you that,

..very few constructive criticisms use name-calling, belittlement, and disrespect.

Where we disagree:

It’s my opinion, based on your discussion here, that you should reassess what constitutes a fact.

It’s my opinion that this criticism is unwarranted. Your first example:

You attempted to label your argument that the Founders believed rights came from God an undeniable fact.

That’s correct. Now, I will grant you a minor – very minor – point. To make my statement truly undeniable, I should have used the phrase stated instead of the simple believed. It IS an undeniable fact that the Founding Fathers stated that “[all men] are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” That, my friend, IS an undeniable fact.

Now, I happen to believe the Founding Fathers meant what they said in that regard, but I will grant it could be true that they were either lying or embellishing for whatever reason (which in fact seems to be part of your argument, i.e. embellished for the King).

To rephrase: the Founding Fathers stated that our rights were given to us by God. That is a fact; I know what a fact is.

Your second example,

Your judgment that Hermes “butted in” is an obviously value-laden way of saying he participated in a conversation against your will.

Correct, and note that Hermes engaged me against my will is a FACT.

Your desire against his participation in any public forum, and his act against your desire does not automatically put you in the right or the wrong;

You are absolutely correct, and I never once said it did, which reduces your comment to a non-sequitur.

..calling your opinion of his action a fact is intellectually dishonest.

I never once called my opinion of his action a fact; as I said, I called his action a fact. It is a fact that Hermes engaged me against my will when I was talking to Reginald – it is a FACT that most people use the phrase “butt in” to describe precisely this sequence of events.

I know what a fact is.

******************

But now that all that’s over with, I’m actually sorry to see that you’re bowing out. I can’t help but to wonder what would have happened if Reginald had just answered my question and Hermes would have sat it out.

I think if anything, now would be the ideal time to proceed. I’ve decided that I won’t respond to Hermes again – on any thread at CSA, ever – and it looks like Reginald, Godless Randall and Eneasz got their frustrations out, too.

So, if you’d like, let’s give it a shot, even just another exchange or two if nothing else. I’ve got no animosity towards you whatsoever and I think we could at least understand where the other is coming from.

If not, no worries, and I’ll see ya around.

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Hermes March 29, 2010 at 4:45 am

The larger issue, with the the details being of particular note.

(For those familiar with D. K., note that there has been some follow up and criticism of the initial paper as well as D & K updating their own work in response to that additional research and commentary. Fascinating stuff.)

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Hermes March 29, 2010 at 10:30 am

Notes on the Declaration of Independence, showing that claims of links to the Christian deity Yahweh are without merit.

(A summary of much of this should be in grade school history classes in the USA, so I find it amazing that anyone can claim they have never heard of it before.)

First, Jefferson was the author of the Declaration. While he did not speak for every signer of the Declaration, his influence can not be ignored and what he wrote was acceptable enough to gain their signatures and in that act of treason against the British Crown to literally commit their lives to breaking with the British Empire at the time. Signing this document can’t be seen as a trivial act by disinterested people.

Jefferson’s home, Monticello, is now a museum. The curators of Jefferson’s Monticello have posted this about Jefferson’s Religious Beliefs;

“Jefferson believed in the existence of a Supreme Being who was the creator and sustainer of the universe and the ultimate ground of being, but this was not the triune deity of orthodox Christianity. He also rejected the idea of the divinity of Christ”

–Rebecca Bowman, Monticello Research Department, August 1997

As such, “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights” did not mean “endowed by Yahweh/Jesus/Holy_Spirit”. A fact verifiable through reliable sources, not by assertions of personal bias.

Jefferson also heavily edited the New Testament, having found it enlightening, but also filled with quite a bit of superstitious nonsense. The result was “forty-six pages, of pure and unsophisticated doctrines” (Jefferson in a letter to John Adams).

The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth: Extracted Textually from the Gospels Greek, Latin, French, and English

Wiki commentary on it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jefferson_Bible

Who Is Nature’s God? (with references). Covers Jefferson, deism, Nature’s God, and other topics.

“Although he supported the moral teachings of Jesus, Jefferson believed in a creator similar to the God of deism. In the tradition of deism, Jefferson based his God on reason and rejected revealed religion.”

The above is in line with the earlier quote from a researcher quoted earlier at Jeffersons’ Monticello.

… this could go on and on and on. It’s not difficult to find this type of information. It’s not denied by historians of American History. Are there disagreements? Absolutely, but not of the silhouette.

As such, I can not be kind to people who not only deny easily discoverable information, but who insist on the distortions they require to fit their dogmatic positions. As the saying goes; ‘Fool me once …’ So, excuse me for not willingly going along with such nonsense. Even once should be avoided.

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Godless Randall March 29, 2010 at 9:39 pm

As such, “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights” did not mean “endowed by Yahweh/Jesus/Holy_Spirit”.

and youre gonna sit there and call the apologist dishonest?

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Godless Randall March 29, 2010 at 10:35 pm

and no i’m not saying your claim i cited is untrue

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Hermes March 30, 2010 at 4:40 pm

Godless Randall, there are other options, of course. A few of them are actually positive and some have not have been raised yet in this thread.

Yet, to take advantage of any positive options requires effort first. This is the case even if the intent is not to have the apologist question their own preconceptions, but to have the apologist encourage others to agree with their preconceptions.

For example, in this instance, the minimum step would be to address the comments on the word “Creator” as used in this specific context, and to clearly show where those comments are acknowledge yet are invalid. I would consider that a small step in a positive direction as long as the apologist did not cut all conversation off by assertion or inaction and kept with a continued dialog to flesh out the inevitable back and forth comments.

Perhaps they could see it as a sign of redemption in the eyes of other intellectual investigators?

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lukeprog March 30, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Off-topic:

There should be something like Experts Exchange for philosophy questions, with a points system and paid membership and everything. Unfortunately, the Philosophy & Religion section at EE sucks.

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Hermes March 30, 2010 at 5:19 pm

LOL! I’m not surprised.

To give the expert shingle hangers some credit, though, I had quite a few conversations with one person who wasn’t at EE but was at a similar site mainly to draw in adherents.

Honestly, he was a very sharp guy and did his best to advocate for the religion of Islam. Yet, in the case of Islam it really is an issue of material. Over the span of a few months, he had to start to admit that Islam included quite a bucket of nasty bits. Unfortunately, he refused to admit that those nasty bits were … well … nasty. He was a humbling example of the ability of smart people to think themselves into anything and often not be able to think themselves out of it. Kinda a counter to what Dunning and Kruger report.

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Alonzo Fyfe March 31, 2010 at 5:08 am

I found that the comments to this post substantially missed the point of the post itself .

It does not matter whether the founding fathers believed that God provided us with unalienable rights. The Pledge is not a mere description of ancient beliefs. It is a prescription of what current and future Americans worthy of the name should believe. It is an endorsement of the view that our rights come from God and, more importantly, an effort on the government to promote and encourage a particular attitude towards God and of a particular relationship between our nation and God that defines one as a good (patriotic) American.

Change the pledge of allegiance to “one white nation” and you will also capture what the founding fathers believed. Yet, try to defend this act by that fact alone. Immediately it becomes apparent (transparent) that such a change would not only report a past belief, it would be an endorsement of that belief and a claim that to be a good American one has to share that belief.

So, all of this debate about what the founding fathers believed is entirely beside the point. It is as irrelevant as the fact that they believed that all men are created equal, and by ‘men’ they meant ‘caucasians with penises’.

That does not now and would not ever justify pledging allegiance to “one white, male-governed nation”

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Hermes March 31, 2010 at 8:21 am

Alonzo, granted. It is beside the point. What do you propose?

[ From what I can see, a sizable fraction of the general population see pluralism as a problem and not as a strength, and sectarian concerns as the primary goals of society. They do indeed distort facts in an effort to push modern society in sectarian directions wherever possible. ]

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cl March 31, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Alonzo,

Thanks for chiming in. I don’t have the time to respond right this second, but if you’re at all interested in my response, check back.

Off-topic:

I mentioned elsewhere that I’ve devoted a series to articulating what I see as the pros and cons of desirism. Not that I’m saying you ought to pay it any attention; just letting you know that it’s there as a courtesy. We (meaning TaiChi, faithlessgod, Thomas Reid and myself) seem to be making small bits of progress, but there are still some areas where we’re having trouble getting on the same page, and if you wanted to chime in there, too, I’m sure we’d all appreciate it.

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Godless Randall April 1, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Yet, to take advantage of any positive options requires effort first. This is the case even if the intent is not to have the apologist question their own preconceptions, but to have the apologist encourage others to agree with their preconceptions.

uh, ????????

lets try this another way. why did you say

As such, “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights” did not mean “endowed by Yahweh/Jesus/Holy_Spirit”.

??

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Hermes April 1, 2010 at 6:50 pm

Godless Randall, my last post from the 29th includes quotes and links to the sources I’m referring to. If you have any questions, please refer to that first and if necessary drill down to the linked references.

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faithlessgod April 2, 2010 at 12:02 am

Alonzo

I second cl’s request. However maybe cl, in the light our discussion, you could formulate a new post to reflect what progress we have had and then Alonzo could examine that?

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Godless Randall April 2, 2010 at 3:33 pm

i saw the links. i know the sources. what i’m getting at is, why did ^you^ say anything about

endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights” did not mean “endowed by Yahweh/Jesus/Holy_Spirit

in the first place??

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Hermes April 2, 2010 at 5:32 pm

Post #2 as well as others.

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Hermes April 4, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Glad to see it was a simple misunderstanding. :-)

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cl April 6, 2010 at 8:43 am

Sorry for the delay, but desirism has proven far more interesting.

*********

Nobody seemed to notice my opening line: “I have my own objections to the motto and the pledge..” Earlier in the thread, Charles had left a comment (which he later edited) that said something to the effect of “all you need is empathy” to see that the national motto needs a re-address.

I get that a certain subset of atheists are simply folks bent on disagreement, but one would think atheists would gain by allying with theists like myself, not insulting them. A ecumenical approach that included atheists would surely be harder to ignore than the “us-vs-them” these things are often spun into.

Re Reginald’s first two comments:

In Seven Who Shaped Our Destiny historian Richard B. Morris identifies the Founding Fathers as Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Jay, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton. Robert R. Livingston and Roger Sherman, both authors of the Declaration of Independence, are not generally considered Founding Fathers.

Reginald asserted that the Founding Fathers identified the source of our rights in the preamble of the Constitution, which he proceeded to quote twice.

I asked Reginald to clearly identify who or what he was alluding to, because an unbiased reading of the preamble doesn’t support his conclusion, IMHO:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Stated conservatively and without bias, we can say that the Founding Fathers identified “We the People of the United States” as the authors of the Constitution, and they expressed six distinct reasons for doing so:

1) form a more perfect Union;

2) establish Justice;

3) insure domestic Tranquility;

4) provide for the commen defence;

5) promote the general Welfare;

6) secure the Blessings of Liberty.

Nothing therein is tantamount to an “identification of a source of rights” as Reginald simply alleged without argument. One reason the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution is because they believed our rights were something that should not be taken away by any monarch; i.e., that they are inalienable, i.e., “endowed by the Creator.”

Though a meaningful definition of the term “God-boost” is certainly up for debate, the phrase Blessings of Liberty, in the opening line of the Constitution, which Reginald in fact quoted, makes his claim of “clear and deliberate lack” specious at best.

The point is, Reginald eschewed my request to clarify what he was alluding to, in favor of telling me to go fuck myself instead, which is actually quite fine and not an issue for me, save that for some reason a few people would have others believe that I’m somehow responsible for how uncivil this discussion got.

Re Reginald’s third comment:

My next question was going to be how the following was relevant:

(Declaration of Independence)

A document which is not the fundamental law of the nation, and which also mentions the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.

The meaning of “Nature’s God” is not so clear as you wish it to be.

The reason I ask is because none of those issues were being contested. This suggests the possibility that Reginald responded to me based on some assumption about either my beliefs or arguments or both, as opposed to anything I’ve actually stated here. In further support of that theory, I offer,

..the Constitution clearly and deliberately lacks a God-boost, leaving cl and his ilk to quote the Declaration of Independence.

The “and his ilk” bit implies that Reginald has already got me categorized, so it’s certainly possible that he would make similar errors as theists who misjudge atheists.

Re Reginald’s fourth and fifth comments:

I asked if anyone can make this case intelligently, without use of skewed analogies, without accusations of lying, and without grovelling about bigotry, and these two responses didn’t contain any of the specified undesirables. I considered them better arguments than those contained in the OP. They were clearer, colder, more rooted in fact and with less accusation. Still, the establishment clause pertains to religion(s). It is in this respect that the pledge and each of my examples differ, and that’s why I think the “unconstitutional” argument is not the best way to go.

Re Rick B,

To imply that the Founding Fathers simply embellished this as an affront to the king raises more problems than it solves, for me.

Although he originally said that “without providing documentation of [my] claim, [I'm] spouting so much hot air,” when I did nothing other than simply restate the documentation originally offered, he responded,

I still disagree.

The point is, disagree as he may, I offered my documentation the first time around; it was simply dismissed out-of-hand as ‘hot air’.

After that, I would have asked Rick B why he said the following:

Nor do I believe “Creator” is necessarily congruent with God, and certainly not the Christian god. Most of the Founding Fathers were Deists, and explicitly rejected Christianity.

I agree that “Creator” better reflects their original language. I’m suspicious of his reference to “the Christian God” which was not something I brought up in any of my arguments. I suspect an assumption that I was covertly connecting “the Christian God” to “Creator” in my arguments when I was not.

..why would the Founders fail to clearly explain that the source of all rights was God when they set forth the Articles of Confederation?

This is a trivial question whose answer has no bearing on the constitutionality of the pledge, but one plausible reason would be to avoid the inevitable bickering that would likely accompany a fledgling nation of disparate individuals attempting to identify the “Creator”.

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Godless Randall April 9, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Post #2 as well as others. Glad to see it was a simple misunderstanding.

glad to see ^what^ was a simple misunderstanding? i asked you why you said

endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights” did not mean “endowed by Yahweh/Jesus/Holy_Spirit

why did you feel the need to say that if nobody was arguing it meant that in the first place?

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