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Sat Apr 14, 2012, 08:39 PM

Our founding fathers were not Christians.

More>>> http://freethought.mbdojo.com/foundingfathers.html

One of the many attacks on our country from the Religious Right is the claim that our country is a Christian Nation...not just that the majority of people are Christians, but that the country itself was founded by Christians, for Christians. However, a little research into American history will show that this statement is a lie. Those people who spread this lie are known as Christian Revisionists. They are attempting to rewrite history, in much the same way as holocaust deniers are. The men responsible for building the foundation of the United States were men of The Enlightenment, not men of Christianity. They were Deists who did not believe the bible was true. They were Freethinkers who relied on their reason, not their faith.

If the U.S. was founded on the Christian religion, the Constitution would clearly say so--but it does not. Nowhere does the Constitution say: "The United States is a Christian Nation", or anything even close to that. In fact, the words "Jesus Christ, Christianity, Bible, Creator, Divine, and God" are never mentioned in the Constitution-- not even once. Nowhere in the Constitution is religion mentioned, except in exclusionary terms. When the Founders wrote the nation's Constitution, they specified that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." (Article 6, section 3) This provision was radical in its day-- giving equal citizenship to believers and non-believers alike. They wanted to ensure that no religion could make the claim of being the official, national religion, such as England had.

The Declaration of Independence gives us important insight into the opinions of the Founding Fathers. Thomas Jefferson wrote that the power of the government is derived from the governed. Up until that time, it was claimed that kings ruled nations by the authority of God. The Declaration was a radical departure from the idea that the power to rule over other people comes from god. It was a letter from the Colonies to the English King, stating their intentions to seperate themselves. The Declaration is not a governing document. It mentions "Nature's God" and "Divine Providence"-- but as you will soon see, that's the language of Deism, not Christianity.


More>>> http://freethought.mbdojo.com/foundingfathers.html

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Arrow 68 replies Author Time Post
Reply Our founding fathers were not Christians. (Original post)
RKP5637 Apr 2012 OP
lastlib Apr 2012 #1
RKP5637 Apr 2012 #2
Kaleva Apr 2012 #3
MNBrewer Apr 2012 #12
Kaleva Apr 2012 #15
HiPointDem Apr 2012 #37
cali Apr 2012 #4
hobbit709 Apr 2012 #9
JDPriestly Apr 2012 #17
kwassa Apr 2012 #20
JDPriestly Apr 2012 #35
kwassa Apr 2012 #63
Major Nikon Apr 2012 #24
Moonwalk Apr 2012 #26
Major Nikon Apr 2012 #28
Moonwalk Apr 2012 #30
Major Nikon Apr 2012 #31
freefaller62 Apr 2012 #33
Major Nikon Apr 2012 #39
flamingdem Apr 2012 #66
HiPointDem Apr 2012 #38
Major Nikon Apr 2012 #40
HiPointDem Apr 2012 #41
Major Nikon Apr 2012 #43
HiPointDem Apr 2012 #44
Major Nikon Apr 2012 #48
HiPointDem Apr 2012 #50
underpants Apr 2012 #56
eomer Apr 2012 #25
HiPointDem Apr 2012 #42
eomer Apr 2012 #45
HiPointDem Apr 2012 #46
eomer Apr 2012 #47
HiPointDem Apr 2012 #49
eomer Apr 2012 #52
HiPointDem Apr 2012 #61
eomer Apr 2012 #68
JDPriestly Apr 2012 #64
underpants Apr 2012 #57
yortsed snacilbuper Apr 2012 #5
longship Apr 2012 #6
RKP5637 Apr 2012 #10
longship Apr 2012 #11
nebenaube Apr 2012 #59
longship Apr 2012 #60
freefaller62 Apr 2012 #34
longship Apr 2012 #51
freefaller62 Apr 2012 #53
longship Apr 2012 #62
JDPriestly Apr 2012 #65
Kashkakat v.2.0 Apr 2012 #7
Spider Jerusalem Apr 2012 #8
JDPriestly Apr 2012 #18
Spider Jerusalem Apr 2012 #19
Odin2005 Apr 2012 #13
Odin2005 Apr 2012 #14
RKP5637 Apr 2012 #16
Major Nikon Apr 2012 #29
Left Coast2020 Apr 2012 #21
RKP5637 Apr 2012 #22
Daniel537 Apr 2012 #54
jwirr Apr 2012 #23
Moonwalk Apr 2012 #27
Major Nikon Apr 2012 #32
HiPointDem Apr 2012 #36
JDPriestly Apr 2012 #67
Nye Bevan Apr 2012 #55
TNLib Apr 2012 #58

Response to RKP5637 (Original post)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 08:51 PM

1. You can beat fundies over the head with this,....

...and they still won't accept it! Their belief trumps your facts every time.

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Response to lastlib (Reply #1)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 08:59 PM

2. Yep, all logic and truth fails with fundies ... best to just write them off as prehistoric. n/t

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Response to lastlib (Reply #1)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 09:00 PM

3. This is a zero sum game for many on both sides.

Most, I dare say, will reject out of hand any evidence that contradicts their own facts as they see them.

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Response to Kaleva (Reply #3)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 10:01 PM

12. Yes, BOTH sides are equally impervious to evidence

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Response to MNBrewer (Reply #12)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 10:32 PM

15. Yep

To not even consider what I say may true proves my point.

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Response to MNBrewer (Reply #12)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 04:33 AM

37. that's the impression i get from this thread.

 

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Response to RKP5637 (Original post)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 09:05 PM

4. oh frickin' please.

this is stupid. Jefferson was the exception, not the rule.

I hate stupid shit presented out of ideology.

Religion

Lambert (2003) has examined the religious affiliations and beliefs of the Founders. Of the 55 delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention, 49 were Protestants, and three were Roman Catholics (C. Carroll, D. Carroll, and Fitzsimons). Among the Protestant delegates to the Constitutional Convention, 28 were Church of England (or Episcopalian, after the American Revolutionary War was won), eight were Presbyterians, seven were Congregationalists, two were Lutherans, two were Dutch Reformed, and two were Methodists.

A few prominent Founding Fathers were anti-clerical Christians, such as Thomas Jefferson (who created the so-called "Jefferson Bible") and Benjamin Franklin. A few others (most notably Thomas Paine) were deists, or at least held beliefs very similar to those of deists.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Founding_Fathers_of_the_United_States#Religion

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Response to cali (Reply #4)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 09:25 PM

9. 1797 Treaty of Tripoli

Read aloud to the assembled Senate by President John Adams and unanimously approved by the Senate.

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Response to cali (Reply #4)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 11:32 PM

17. Did you actually read the writings of Madison and John Adams

that are quoted on the pages linked to by the OP?

I have read quite a bit about this and have my own copy of the Jefferson Bible. The leaders among the Founding Fathers were deists, not traditional Christians.

This was common among intellectuals of that day. They really were intellectuals, not true believers.

Yes. Many of those who signed the Constitution were traditional Christians at least officially. But the leaders, the intellectual stars mostly were not.

The spirit of the time was skeptical. The well educated people respected science and the scientific method.

Benjamin Franklin personally challenged the ideas of his time about lightening. The results of his experiments seem so uncontroversial to us, but he surprised if not shocked the world with his daring experiments and was welcomed by the scientific community in, for example, England when he went there.

With his experiments about lightening, Franklin challenged the religious belief of his day which was that lightening was sent by God to punish those whose homes were struck. Seems ridiculous today, but that was a common belief among Christians of the time.

It is no wonder that the wisest of educated men like Adams and Jefferson rejected the superstitious Christian faith of their time.

The interesting thing is how Fundamentalist Christians of our day point to the Biblical references and say, "See, so and so was a Christian. He quoted the Bible." They completely ignore the many quotes from and references to classical literature and history. And why? Because they don't support the wishful thinking of the "The Founding Fathers were Christians" crowd.

The Founding Fathers were not necessarily atheists. They just weren't Christians as Fundamentalists define the term today.

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Response to JDPriestly (Reply #17)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 11:51 PM

20. Fundamentalism hadn't been invented when the forefathers signed the Constistuition.

That doesn't make any of the signers of the Declaration or of the Constitution less Christian, only that some modern DUers wish to define Christianity as fundamentalism.

Try again. Best of luck to you.

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Response to kwassa (Reply #20)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 04:16 AM

35. I have read Jefferson's correspondence with Adams on this issue

quite extensively. They were deists, especially Jefferson. If you consider that to be Christian (and they may have themselves), then they were Christians. The problem is when Fundamentalists start talking about how the Founding Fathers were Christians meaning that they were Fundamentalists. The leaders among the Founding Fathers were not that kind of Christians and distanced themselves from traditional ideas about Christianity. They were deists. They believed in science and were quite excited about the possibilities they saw in science.

Their admiration for Joseph Priestly is proof of that fact.

Yes. There were preachers who were the Fundamentalists of their time.

Cotton Mather preceded the Founding Fathers, but there were other fanatical Fundamentalists after him.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cotton_Mather

Apparently, Benjamin Franklin was rather taken in by one of the Fundamentalists for a short time. But his love of science and his practical, rational nature made him immune to the silliness of that.

Benjamin Franklin was not viewed as a very religious man although it was, I believe, he who suggested prayer at the Constitutional Convention. This is an intriguing issue for me. I am interested in finding the truth. One thing is certain. The leading Founding Fathers were not Fundamentalists. They were educated in the Christian faith but did not take it seriously. Several of them were Masons. That they took pretty seriously. Several of them were deists as they very clearly explained in their correspondence time and time again.

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Response to JDPriestly (Reply #35)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 10:04 PM

63. Priestly invented soda water.

and I grew up Unitarian, though I later recovered. As I pointed out previously, there were no fundamentalists at the time. The concept hadn't been invented.

Fundamentalism:

Christian fundamentalism, also known as Fundamentalist Christianity, or Fundamentalism, arose out of British and American Protestantism in the late 19th century and early 20th century among evangelical Christians. The founders reacted against liberal theology and militantly asserted that the inerrancy of the Bible was essential for true Christianity and was being violated by the modernists. As an organized movement, it began in the 1920s within Protestant churches — especially Baptist and Presbyterian — in the United States in the early 20th century. Fundamentalist Christianity is often intertwined with Biblical literalism.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_fundamentalism

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Response to cali (Reply #4)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 01:57 AM

24. From your link

American historian Richard B. Morris in 1973 identified the following seven figures as the key Founding Fathers: John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington.


Those seven had more to do with founding this country than all the rest of the 55 delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention combined. Of those seven, the only one who identified themselves as a Christian was John Jay.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #24)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 12:50 PM

26. Actually, George Washington was quite religious and certainly Christian....

He went to church "religiously" and prayed daily on his knees. HOWEVER, he loathed religious fanaticism and said: "We have abundant reason to rejoice that, in this land, the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition." He also said that "no man who is profligate in his morals or a bad member of the civil community can possibly be a true Christian." And when he needed to hire people for Mount Vernon he said they could be "Mahometans, Jews, or Christian of any sect, or they may be atheists."

He also dropped in on the sunday services of other denominations.

Thus, while I think it incorrect to argue that these men were not "Christians," I think it equally incorrect to assume that just because they were "Christians" that they wanted their nation to be a "Christian" nation with laws and morals and such favoring that religion over others. They very clearly in their writings wanted men of all faiths to be treated equally, but also really did want there to be a separation of church and state.

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Response to Moonwalk (Reply #26)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 02:29 PM

28. George Washington never identified himself as a Christian

So please be very careful when you try to contradict me and pay attention to exactly what I claimed.

Washington never even revealed what he believed to his family, much less anyone else. Belief in a divine entity does not make one a Christian. Going to church does not make one a Christian. Praying however often does not make one a Christian. So you may think he was "certainly" a Christian, but you actually have no evidence of this. All anyone has is conjecture. There is also considerable evidence that Washington wasn't a Christian. Even historians are quite divided on the subject.

So if you think it's incorrect to argue that these men were not "Christians," by all means state your counter argument. I've researched it quite a bit and what I've found is out of the 7 you have at least 5 that weren't Christian, one was, and one was impossible to determine with any certainty, but at the very least never identified himself as a Christian. If you have other information, I'd be glad to see it.

As far as what the founding fathers wanted, I believe that none of them were anti-religious, they just didn't want organized religion to have any influence over governance, because they very well knew the consequences of this.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #28)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 09:35 PM

30. You are trying to define yourself to victory, and that...

....is never a good idea. All the other side has to do is define "Christian" as one who goes to church and now they've defined themselves to victory as easily as you've defined yourself to victory by saying that going to church isn't enough. Such arguments are logical fallacies, and they don't work because either side can do them, and so neither side can convince the other.

Let me add here, by the way, that I'm an atheist and I would love it if you were right and all these men were deists or atheists. But they never claimed to be those either, so if "claiming" is what makes one so, then how many are deists? Again, you can't define yourself to victory.

The argument one has to make is simply that these men did not want the U.S. to be a "Christian" nation. And we can prove this by way of the fact that they had the chance to make the U.S. a christian nation and not only passed on that, but made it quite clear they wanted religion kept out of their new government, and vice versa. There were plenty of nations at the time that had government churches, or cardinals, etc. advising the king and/or in positions of power. There were plenty that required citizens attend church on sunday, and, by law, took away the rights and privileges of those of other faiths--meaning the government took part in people's religions. As the founding fathers did not favor any such things, their intent is clear and their christianity (or lack thereof) immaterial.

And Washington, by the way, didn't just go to church. He was a vestryman of the Parish for 22 year (that means he helped to pay the minister), bought pews for new churches, contributed funds for religious inscriptions on altarpieces, and served as churchwarden. I'm sorry, but these just don't fit in, for me, with the definition of "not christian." You should read the book Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow. He examines all sides of the question of whether Washington was a deist--reasons why people thought he was, and reasons why they thought he wasn't--and concludes that he was not a deist (by definition), but rather a very private yet religious man and, yes, of the Christian faith.

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Response to Moonwalk (Reply #30)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 11:24 PM

31. You keep ignoring what I wrote and instead wish to debate what I didn't write


It just so happens I have the very book you mentioned (as well as a few others on the subject) and nowhere in it does Ron Chernow declare Washington's belief in Christianity. So you may want to actually do a better job of reading the book, you're saying I should read (assuming you have actually read it and aren't just digging stuff up on google). You might want to read again these parts...

Washington's personal pastor in Philadelphia said he wasn't a Christian. Jefferson said Washington wasn't a Christian. Washington never took communion. Washington almost never referred to Jesus Christ in any of his writings. Washington never affirmed the divinity of Christ in any of his writings. Washington never declared his religious beliefs despite being implored by the Christian establishment to do so. Washington never asked for a Christian minister on his deathbed.

All the facts you point out about what Washington did or didn't do have very little to do with what he actually believed. Washington rose to prominence within the English establishment before the revolution during a time when one had to belong to the Angelical church in order to advance. Washington's wife was also an extremely devout Christian. Those two things easily explain why Washington spent so much time in the Christian church. Affilliation with the Christian church does not make one a Christian.

So if you think Ron Chernow's excellent book ends the 200 yr old debate on what Washington's beliefs were, you must be reading something I haven't. I'm pretty sure Ron Chernow himself would not make any such claim.

I didn't claim Washington was a deist, or a Christian, or anything else no matter how many times you wish I did. I claimed he never identified himself as a Christian, and nothing you have offered makes that any less true. As I said before, if you want to contradict me, start with reading what I actually wrote.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #28)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 04:00 AM

33. the Creator vs. the Christians

Many of the writings of the Founding Fathers refer to a Creator (God), as found in the Declaration of Independence.
I have been left with the feeling that some of them believed in God, but questioned the idea of an add-on deity
who forgives sins instead of enforces the ten commandments. Aristotle's thought about religion (and this was
pre-Christ) was best summed up by Will Durant: He abhorred those who claimed to have a special connection
with the Almighty, and would grant absolution for a consideration. (I'm citing from memory, hence the lack
of quotation marks). Face it, no religion is going to make money if there is no reason for Joe Sinner to contribute
to the cause - - enter forgiveness for donors!

I have read some of these Christian promotions of the Founding Fathers on other forums, some with horribly
inaccurate quotes. Methinks that the moneymakers are employing a new source of income and hysteria.

As far as organized religion having any influence over governments, think further. The First Amendment is clear
on the matter of "nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof." This is where I think our ACLU is losing it. Back off
the lawsuits about the static crosses and you stop many of the rallying cries of the religious right.

The ACLU should focus new efforts to overturn the Civil Asset Forfeiture laws, but I digress (it really pisses me off).



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Response to freefaller62 (Reply #33)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 04:37 AM

39. Many of the founding fathers were either deists or were very sympathetic to deism

So if you want to know what they meant by the "Creator" you can start with deism for your answer.

The First Amendment is the result of the founding fathers' wish for a government free from influence from and to organized religion.

As far as the ACLU goes, I see no need for them to kowtow to the wingnuts as you suggest. What they accuse the ACLU of doing is nothing close to what the ACLU actually does, and in fact the ACLU has taken action against the government to protect religious freedom on many occasions.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #39)

Tue Apr 17, 2012, 01:53 AM

66. Ethan Allen for example

He wrote The Reason of Man.. or something to that effect

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #24)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 04:35 AM

38. and yet hamilton insisted his wife should believe in God.

 

"She must be young—handsome (I lay most stress upon a good shape) Sensible (a little learning will do)—well bred. . . chaste and tender (I am an enthusiast in my notions of fidelity and fondness); of some good nature—a great deal of generosity (she must neither love money nor scolding, for I dislike equally a termagant and an economist)—In politics, I am indifferent what side she may be of—I think I have arguments that will safely convert her to mine—As to religion a moderate stock will satisfy me—She must believe in God and hate a saint. But as to fortune, the larger stock of that the better."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Schuyler_Hamilton

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #38)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 04:47 AM

40. Belief in god does not make one a Christian

As far as Alexander Hamilton goes, he appeared to be very religious and faithful to Christianity in his early years and again after the death of his son. However, in the years during which he served as 'founding father' he was very indifferent to religion. At best he was irreligious and at worst he was anti-religious.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #40)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 04:58 AM

41. do you think the god he wanted her to believe in was something other than the christian god?

 

it seems that nothing makes one a christian in your view: not believing in god, not attending a christian church, not praying, etc.

what *does* make one a christian?

is a unitarian a christian, in your view?

is a spiritist a christian?

are only modern fundies "christians"?

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #41)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 05:17 AM

43. Hamilton was married in 1780

The Constitutional Convention wasn't for another 7 years. Why he wanted his wife to be a non-athiest is anyone's guess, but what is clear is that his religious belief after the American Revolution changed dramatically over time. Hamilton did use religion as a method for political advancement during that time so that may have influenced his requirements for a wife. He was heavily influenced by the freethinking religious beliefs of Thomas Jefferson and others who rejected the divinity of Christ and this seems to be the best fit for him during the middle years of his life.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #43)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 05:21 AM

44. all your "guesses" are predictated on your own faith, and must be taken on faith.

 

the more economical "guess" would be that he himself was a christian of the moderate sort and that's what he wanted in a wife. the antagonism toward "saints" suggests that interpretation.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #44)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 07:21 AM

48. Excuse me

I mistook you for someone who wanted some form of substantive discussion. Won't make that mistake again and you can count on it. Welcome to my shit list. Have a nice life. I'm off to do the paperwork.

Cheers!

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #48)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 12:37 PM

50. I think that's an overreaction. Maybe I was trying to be too clever in phrasing, but all I meant

 

was that your guesses about why Hamilton wanted a believing wife were based on your assumption that he wasn't Christian.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #24)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 07:07 PM

56. They were Deists

Deism and the founding fathers

Deism was a religious philosophy in common currency in colonial times, and some Founding Fathers (most notably Thomas Paine, who was an explicit proponent of it, and Benjamin Franklin, who spoke of it in his Autobiography) are identified more or less with this system. Nevertheless, several early presidents are sometimes identified as holding deist tenets, though there is no president who identified himself as a deist. Although George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, and John Tyler are often identified as having some degree of deistic beliefs, Washington in particular maintained a life-long pattern of church membership and attendance, and there is conflicting testimony from those who knew him.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_affiliations_of_United_States_Presidents


List of Presidential religious affiliations (by President)

For each president, the formal affiliation at the time of his presidency is listed first, with other affiliations listed after. Further explanation follows if needed, as well as notable detail.
1.George Washington– Deist/Episcopalian Main article: George Washington and religion
2.John Adams– Unitarian, originally Congregationalist The Adamses were originally members of Congregational churches in New England. By 1800, most Congregationalist churches in Boston had Unitarian preachers teaching the strict unity of God, the subordinate nature of Christ, and salvation by character. Adams himself preferred Unitarian preachers, but he was opposed to Joseph Priestley's sympathies with the French Revolution, and would attend other churches if the only nearby Congregational/Unitarian one was composed of followers of Priestley.
Adams described himself as a "church going animal".

3.Thomas Jefferson– no specific affiliation Main article: Thomas Jefferson and religion Jefferson was raised Anglican and served as a vestryman prior to the American Revolution, but as an adult he did not hold to the tenets of this church.
Modern Unitarians consider Jefferson's views to be very close to theirs. The Famous UUs website says: "Like many others of his time (he died just one year after the founding of institutional Unitarianism in America), Jefferson was a Unitarian in theology, though not in church membership. He never joined a Unitarian congregation: there were none near his home in Virginia during his lifetime. He regularly attended Joseph Priestley's Pennsylvania church when he was nearby, and said that Priestley's theology was his own, and there is no doubt Priestley should be identified as Unitarian. Jefferson remained a member of the Episcopal congregation near his home, but removed himself from those available to become godparents, because he was not sufficiently in agreement with the Trinitarian theology. His work, the Jefferson Bible, was Unitarian in theology..."
In a letter to Benjamin Rush prefacing his "Syllabus of an Estimate of the Merit of the Doctrines of Jesus", Jefferson wrote: "In some of the delightful conversations with you, in the evenings of 1798–99, and which served as an anodyne to the afflictions of the crisis through which our country was then laboring, the Christian religion was sometimes our topic; and I then promised you, that one day or other, I would give you my views of it. They are the result of a life of inquiry & reflection, and very different from that anti-Christian system imputed to me by those who know nothing of my opinions. To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence; & believing he never claimed any other."

4.James Madison– Deism/Episcopalian Although Madison tried to keep a low profile in regards to religion, he seemed to hold religious opinions, like many of his contemporaries, that were closer to deism or Unitarianism in theology than conventional Christianity. He was raised in the Church of England and attended Episcopal services, despite his personal disputes with the theology.

5.James Monroe– Deism/Episcopalian Monroe was raised in a family that belonged to the Church of England when it was the state church in Virginia, and as an adult attended Episcopal churches.
"When it comes to Monroe's ...thoughts on religion", Bliss Isely comments in his The Presidents: Men of Faith, "less is known than that of any other President." Monroe burned much of his correspondence with his wife, and no letters survive in which he discusses his religious beliefs; nor did his friends, family or associates write about his beliefs. Letters that do survive, such as ones written on the occasion of the death of his son, contain no discussion of religion. Franklin Steiner categorized Monroe among "Presidents Whose Religious Views Are Doubtful".
Some sources classify Monroe as a deist.

6.John Quincy Adams– Unitarian Adams's religious views shifted over the course of his life. In college and early adulthood he preferred trinitarian theology, and from 1818 to 1848 he served as vice president of the American Bible Society. However as he grew older his views became more typically Unitarian, though he rejected some of the views of Joseph Priestley and the Transcendentalists.
He was a founding member of the First Unitarian Church of Washington (D.C.). However he regularly attended Presbyterian and Episcopal services as well.
Towards the end of his life, he wrote, "I reverence God as my creator. As creator of the world. I reverence him with holy fear. I venerate Jesus Christ as my redeemer; and, as far as I can understand, the redeemer of the world. But this belief is dark and dubious."

Same Link

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Response to cali (Reply #4)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 02:51 AM

25. Jefferson was not a Christian in the usual meaning of the word.

Jefferson advocated for the teachings of Jesus but against the mystical claims of Christianity about Jesus. One (somewhat simplified) way to think of it is that Paul created the religion of Christianity, which displaced the actual teachings of Jesus. Jefferson was a follower of (most of) the teachings of Jesus and not a follower of Paul. Conspicuously absent from these teachings, as Jefferson notes, is any claim of the divinity of Jesus. This makes him, like Jesus, not a Christian in the usual meaning. And, most of all, Jefferson was definitely and explicitly not a follower of the teachings of Paul, which most everyone would consider to be required for a person to be a Christian in its commonly accepted definition.

Following are some excerpts from letters of Jefferson where he explains these ideas. Emphasis is mine.

1823 April 11. (Jefferson to John Adams).

"The truth is that the greatest enemies to the doctrines of Jesus are those calling themselves the expositors of them, who have perverted them for the structure of a system of fancy absolutely incomprehensible, and without any foundation in his genuine words. And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away all this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this the most venerated reformer of human errors."


Letter To Dr. Benjamin Rush.

Washington, April 21, 1803.

DEAR SIR,
In some of the delightful conversations with you in the evenings of 1798-99, and which served as an anodyne to the afflictions of the crisis through which our country was then laboring, the Christian religion was sometimes our topic; and I then promised you that one day or other I would give you my views of it. They are the result of a life of inquiry and reflection, and very different from that anti-Christian system imputed to me by those who know nothing of my opinions. To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed opposed, but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense in which he wished anyone to be: sincerely attached to his doctrines in preference to all others, ascribing to himself every human excellence, and believing he never claimed any other.


Letter To William Short.

Monticello, April 13, 1820.

DEAR SIR,
Your favor of March the 27th is received, and as you request, a copy of the syllabus is now enclosed. It was originally written to Dr. Rush. On his death, fearing that the inquisition of the public might get hold of it, I asked the return of it from the family, which they kindly complied with. At the request of another friend, I had given him a copy. He lent it to his friend to read, who copied it, and in a few months it appeared in the Theological Magazine of London. Happily that repository is scarcely known in this country, and the syllabus, therefore, is still a secret, and in your hands I am sure it will continue so.

But while this syllabus is meant to place the character of Jesus in its true and high light, as no impostor Himself, but a great Reformer of the Hebrew code of religion, it is not to be understood that I am with Him in all His doctrines. I am a Materialist; he takes the side of Spiritualism; he preaches the efficacy of repentance towards forgiveness of sin; I require counterpoise of good works to redeem it, etc., etc. It is the innocence of His character, the purity and sublimity of His moral precepts, the eloquence of His inculcations, the beauty of the apologues in which He conveys them, that I so much admire; sometimes, indeed, needing indulgence to eastern hyperbolism. My eulogies, too, may be founded on a postulate which all may not be ready to grant. Among the sayings and discourses imputed to Him by His biographers, I find many passages of fine imagination, correct morality, and of the most lovely benevolence; and others, again, of so much ignorance, so much absurdity, so much untruth, charlatanism and imposture, as to pronounce it impossible that such contradictions should have proceeded from the same Being. I separate, therefore, the gold from the dross; restore to Him the former, and leave the latter to the stupidity of some, and roguery of others of His disciples. Of this band of dupes and impostors, Paul was the great Coryphaeus, and first corruptor of the doctrines of Jesus. These palpable interpolations and falsifications of His doctrines, led me to try to sift them apart. I found the work obvious and easy, and that His past composed the most beautiful morsel of morality which has been given to us by man. The syllabus is therefore of His doctrines, not all of mine. I read them as I do those of other ancient and modern moralists, with a mixture of approbation and dissent...

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Response to eomer (Reply #25)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 05:06 AM

42. in private letters Jefferson refers to himself as "Christian" (1803),[2] "a sect by myself" (1819),

 

an "Epicurean" (1819), a "Materialist" (1820), and a "Unitarian by myself" (1825).

While many biographers, as well as some of his contemporaries, have characterized Jefferson as a Deist, historians and scholars have not found any such self-identification in Jefferson's surviving writings.

The Christian priesthood, finding the doctrines of Christ levelled to every understanding and too plain to need explanation, saw, in the mysticisms of Plato, Materials with which they might build up an artificial system which might, from its indistinctness, admit everlasting controversy, give employment for their order, and introduce it to profit, power, and preeminence. The doctrines which flowed from the lips of Jesus himself are within the comprehension of a child; but thousands of volumes have not yet explained the Platonisms engrafted on them: and for this obvious reason that nonsense can never be explained.

"You are right in supposing, in one of yours, that I had not read much of Priestley’s Predestination, his no-soul system, or his controversy with Horsley. But I have read his Corruptions of Christianity, and Early Opinions of Jesus, over and over again; and I rest on them, and on Middleton’s writings, especially his Letters from Rome, and To Waterland, as the basis of my own faith. These writings have never been answered, nor can be answered by quoting historical proofs, as they have done. For these facts, therefore, I cling to their learning, so much superior to my own.

No one sees with greater pleasure than myself the progress of reason in its advances towards rational Christianity. When we shall have done away the incomprehensible jargon of the Trinitarian arithmetic, that three are one, and one is three; when we shall have knocked down the artificial scaffolding, reared to mask from view the simple structure of Jesus; when, in short, we shall have unlearned everything which has been taught since His day, and got back to the pure and simple doctrines He inculcated, we shall then be truly and worthily His disciples; and my opinion is that if nothing had ever been added to what flowed purely from His lips, the whole world would at this day have been Christian. The religion-builders have so distorted and deformed the doctrines of Jesus, so muffled them in mysticisms, fancies and falsehoods, have caricatured them into forms so monstrous and inconceivable, as to shock reasonable thinkers, to revolt them against the whole, and drive them rashly to pronounce its Founder an impostor. Had there never been a commentator, there never would have been an infidel.... I have little doubt that the whole of our country will soon be rallied to the unity of the Creator, and, I hope, to the pure doctrines of Jesus also.

I am anxious to see the doctrine of one god commenced in our state. But the population of my neighborhood is too slender, and is too much divided into other sects to maintain any one preacher well. I must therefore be contented to be an Unitarian by myself, altho I know there are many around me who would become so, if once they could hear the questions fairly stated.


To the corruptions of Christianity I am, indeed, opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense in which he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence; and believing he never claimed any other....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Jefferson_and_religion

IMO, a person who takes the trouble to write his own Bible which contains mainly the teachings of Christ is a Christian, i.e. a follower of Christ. Otherwise, why bother?

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #42)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 05:30 AM

45. That's why I said it the way I did.

I said "Jefferson was not a Christian in the usual meaning of the word."

Yes, at times he called himself a Christian, but he added a clarification that makes him, if a Christian at all, not a Christian in the usual meaning of the word.

The most important way in which he wasn't a usual Christian is that he thought that Jesus was just a man, not God. And Jesus being God is what would make him Jesus Christ. If he's just a man then his name is just Jesus, no need to add "Christ" to it.

So Jefferson was a person who agreed with the teachings of Jesus but did not believe any of Paul's claims that one has to accept Jesus as being God (Christ) in order to be saved. To me the best way to express that is to say that Jefferson was not a Christian, like Jesus wasn't (Jesus apparently didn't make those claims that Paul later did) but rather a follower of (most of) the teachings of Jesus.

During his life Jefferson was under pressure because of his beliefs (or lack of beliefs) just like a politician would be today, so he mostly kept his views to himself. I think this pressure may have also caused him to say that he was a Christian even as he was essentially explaining that he wasn't.

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Response to eomer (Reply #45)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 05:33 AM

46. what's the usual meaning of the word? in my world, "christian" refers to anyone from the fundie

 

to the casual & mostly disinterested churchgoer to the person who just considers christ as a "teacher" above other teachers and doesn't believe most of what's in the bible or anything of organized religion.

and i think in that sense, most if not all of the founding fathers were some variety of christian. they believed in *something* and their conceptualizations of that *something* were informed by their upbringing in a christian world view. as are most americans,' however distant from "church" they may be.

to me, "they weren't christians, they were deists" is kind of oxymoronic, & i think stupid as an argument with which to combat the fundies, many of whom seem to desire a return to an official church.

separation of church and state is being breached, and people are splitting hairs and counting angels on pins.

and i'll add that imo the reason why is that some are so invested in their own atheism or hatred of religion that they can't see the forest for the trees.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #46)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 07:17 AM

47. It's not a "stupid" distinction to those who push the meme.

Those who push the meme that we were founded as a Christian nation are the same ones who ignore the teachings of Jesus, care only about the claim of his divinity, and say that acceptance of his divinity is what matters. In other words, they claim that we're a nation founded on the teachings of Paul, not the teachings of Jesus.

And for sure they do not merely claim that we're a nation founded on a belief in God of any variety (which would include an Islamic God).

Edit to add: and it was an important distinction in the founding of our nation as well. Those who sought freedom of religion wanted freedom from the establishment of a particular religion over their own religion. They weren't atheists, most of them. So to lump Christianity together with deism and ignore the distinction would be to miss an important part of the issue.

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Response to eomer (Reply #47)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 12:33 PM

49. But the faith of the fathers is irrelevant. What's relevant is their faith in separation of church

 

and state, and that's what matters today as well.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #49)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 02:50 PM

52. It's not irrelevant - it is one of the lies they use in their campaign to establish a religion.

So debunking the lie is worth doing. In fact debunking any lie about history is worth doing. And of course no one is forcing you to participate.

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Response to eomer (Reply #52)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 08:08 PM

61. It's not worth debunking when it's an unwinnable pissing match that distracts from publicizing

 

and discussing ongoing attacks on the separation of church & state and funding of religion through the back door.

These breaches are happening now, quite often, and little-noted, because the fundies got us to talk about angels and pins. Not the issue.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #61)

Tue Apr 17, 2012, 02:27 AM

68. I think it is worthwhile to point this out to people who claim that Jefferson was a Christian...

so that they can think about the difference between following the teachings of Jesus the way that Jefferson did and following the teachings of most Christian churches.

It is the difference between a religion based on doing good and a religion based on praising Jesus. That's an important difference, to me.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #42)

Tue Apr 17, 2012, 01:37 AM

64. You are defining a Christian as a follower of Christ. In that sense, many deists would be

considered Christian because they agreed with and tried to follow the teachings of Christ.

But usually to be considered a Christian, you need to affirm the divinity of Christ -- and believe in the reality of the trinity. Jefferson did not. He believed that Jesus was very human. But then, very liberal Christians also believe that Jesus was very human. In fact, I recall a man that I have always respected as being the example of a good Christian who said that the works and teachings of Jesus have no relevance to us unless Jesus was a human and not really God while living on this earth. He meant that if Jesus was simply given the grace to be divine to begin with then his example is not something relevant to our experience since obviously we were not given that grace at our birth.

I am a Unitarian, and I do not believe in the divinity of Christ. Today, I would probably not be considered a Christian and do not call myself such, although I agree with the man who considered himself to be a Christian and who was considered at his time to be a Christian but who did not believe that Jesus was born divine.

So if you consider a person to be a Christian although they do not believe in the divinity of Christ but do believe in trying to follow his teachings, then the number of Founding Fathers who were Christian is greater than it is if you define a Christian as one who believes that Jesus was born of a virgin and was from the beginning of his life, divine. The majority of the most prominent leaders of our American Revolution and authors of our Constitution and founders of our nation -- the most prominent -- probably did not believe that Jesus was divine. Jefferson expressed his doubts very clearly especially in his correspondence with John Adams. And in doing so, he agreed with Adams.

I wonder what role the fact that several of the Founding Fathers were Masons played in this. I do not know much about the beliefs of Masons.

I think it is highly unlikely that any of the Founding Fathers were atheists, but I haven't studied this.

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Response to cali (Reply #4)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 07:08 PM

57. Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, Thomas Paine, Monroe, Madison, Adams, Hamilton.... any questions?

Deism and the founding fathers

Deism was a religious philosophy in common currency in colonial times, and some Founding Fathers (most notably Thomas Paine, who was an explicit proponent of it, and Benjamin Franklin, who spoke of it in his Autobiography) are identified more or less with this system. Nevertheless, several early presidents are sometimes identified as holding deist tenets, though there is no president who identified himself as a deist. Although George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, and John Tyler are often identified as having some degree of deistic beliefs, Washington in particular maintained a life-long pattern of church membership and attendance, and there is conflicting testimony from those who knew him.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_affiliations_of_United_States_Presidents


List of Presidential religious affiliations (by President)

For each president, the formal affiliation at the time of his presidency is listed first, with other affiliations listed after. Further explanation follows if needed, as well as notable detail.
1.George Washington– Deist/Episcopalian Main article: George Washington and religion
2.John Adams– Unitarian, originally Congregationalist The Adamses were originally members of Congregational churches in New England. By 1800, most Congregationalist churches in Boston had Unitarian preachers teaching the strict unity of God, the subordinate nature of Christ, and salvation by character. Adams himself preferred Unitarian preachers, but he was opposed to Joseph Priestley's sympathies with the French Revolution, and would attend other churches if the only nearby Congregational/Unitarian one was composed of followers of Priestley.
Adams described himself as a "church going animal".

3.Thomas Jefferson– no specific affiliation Main article: Thomas Jefferson and religion Jefferson was raised Anglican and served as a vestryman prior to the American Revolution, but as an adult he did not hold to the tenets of this church.
Modern Unitarians consider Jefferson's views to be very close to theirs. The Famous UUs website says: "Like many others of his time (he died just one year after the founding of institutional Unitarianism in America), Jefferson was a Unitarian in theology, though not in church membership. He never joined a Unitarian congregation: there were none near his home in Virginia during his lifetime. He regularly attended Joseph Priestley's Pennsylvania church when he was nearby, and said that Priestley's theology was his own, and there is no doubt Priestley should be identified as Unitarian. Jefferson remained a member of the Episcopal congregation near his home, but removed himself from those available to become godparents, because he was not sufficiently in agreement with the Trinitarian theology. His work, the Jefferson Bible, was Unitarian in theology..."
In a letter to Benjamin Rush prefacing his "Syllabus of an Estimate of the Merit of the Doctrines of Jesus", Jefferson wrote: "In some of the delightful conversations with you, in the evenings of 1798–99, and which served as an anodyne to the afflictions of the crisis through which our country was then laboring, the Christian religion was sometimes our topic; and I then promised you, that one day or other, I would give you my views of it. They are the result of a life of inquiry & reflection, and very different from that anti-Christian system imputed to me by those who know nothing of my opinions. To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence; & believing he never claimed any other."

4.James Madison– Deism/Episcopalian Although Madison tried to keep a low profile in regards to religion, he seemed to hold religious opinions, like many of his contemporaries, that were closer to deism or Unitarianism in theology than conventional Christianity. He was raised in the Church of England and attended Episcopal services, despite his personal disputes with the theology.

5.James Monroe– Deism/Episcopalian Monroe was raised in a family that belonged to the Church of England when it was the state church in Virginia, and as an adult attended Episcopal churches.
"When it comes to Monroe's ...thoughts on religion", Bliss Isely comments in his The Presidents: Men of Faith, "less is known than that of any other President." Monroe burned much of his correspondence with his wife, and no letters survive in which he discusses his religious beliefs; nor did his friends, family or associates write about his beliefs. Letters that do survive, such as ones written on the occasion of the death of his son, contain no discussion of religion. Franklin Steiner categorized Monroe among "Presidents Whose Religious Views Are Doubtful".
Some sources classify Monroe as a deist.

6.John Quincy Adams– Unitarian Adams's religious views shifted over the course of his life. In college and early adulthood he preferred trinitarian theology, and from 1818 to 1848 he served as vice president of the American Bible Society. However as he grew older his views became more typically Unitarian, though he rejected some of the views of Joseph Priestley and the Transcendentalists.
He was a founding member of the First Unitarian Church of Washington (D.C.). However he regularly attended Presbyterian and Episcopal services as well.
Towards the end of his life, he wrote, "I reverence God as my creator. As creator of the world. I reverence him with holy fear. I venerate Jesus Christ as my redeemer; and, as far as I can understand, the redeemer of the world. But this belief is dark and dubious."

Same Link

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Response to RKP5637 (Original post)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 09:06 PM

5. Five founders who were skeptical of organized Christianity and couldn't be elected today!

To hear the religious right tell it, men like George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were 18th-century versions of Jerry Falwell in powdered wigs and stockings. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/12022/1204849-109-0.stm?cmpid=newspanel#ixzz1kDG1UpsS

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Response to RKP5637 (Original post)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 09:15 PM

6. How does one break the faith argument?

That is the biggie.

Demonstrable facts like The USA is not a Christian country or Evolution, global climate change, and the big bang are beyond reasonable dispute.

But the faith card is a tough one and the fundementalist theists never fail to play it to support all sorts of abject nonsense.

Dennett discusses this in detail in his Breaking the Spell and he has no solution either. His conclusion is that it is a bullying move, it makes the argument a Mug's game.

So how do we handle it without being a dick about it? Dennett suggests that we give no turf on the faith card, but I don't know how to address it without, as Dennett calls it, telling people that they might have wasted their lives.

This is a sticky wicket. I would appreciate input on it. It sure might eliminate some of the chair throwing here in the Religion forum.

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Response to longship (Reply #6)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 09:25 PM

10. This comes to mind, "The God Spot," but I certainly doubt it will bring

tranquility to the Religion forum.

More >>> http://atheistempire.com/reference/brain/main.html

Synopsis: Findings seem to point to a region of the brain commonly referred to as the 'God Spot' or 'God Module', that when stimulated creates hallucinations that are interpreted as mystical or spiritual experiences. This 'spot' is stimulated during meditation and prayer and is affected by electromagnetic fields and epilepsy. The resulting hallucinations may be the cause of mystical, spiritual and paranormal experiences as they can give feelings such as a presence in the room or an out of body experience. In the case of epileptics, this may be the reason for many of them becoming obsessed with religion. For those who experience the stimulation it is explained related to their own personal beliefs; a visit from an angel or lost loved one, an extraterrestrial encounter, a higher plane of consciousness or a visit from God.


More >>> http://atheistempire.com/reference/brain/main.html

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Response to RKP5637 (Reply #10)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 09:47 PM

11. Not sure of the neurology on that

There is conflicting data. But there sure is a good argument that there is an evolutionary advantage to something which may be called a God gene, although there's not likely such a specific gene.

AFAIK the science is fuzzy here. Lots of data pointing in the general direction, but I haven't heard of anything definitive and notable neurologists are not in agreement even though they can trigger religious experiences with drugs and other methods. Unfortunately the brain is a very complex system. There is not likely a collection of God neurons, at least none that are localized.

We may be resigned to the fact that religion is a cultural affectation. But not even Dawkins calls it a meme. Dennett does, cautiously.

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Response to longship (Reply #11)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 07:29 PM

59. actually, there is, it's called the God Nodule and it's a specific cerebral locus.

 

Not a gene.

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Response to nebenaube (Reply #59)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 07:51 PM

60. Okay.

I don't want to get into a chair throwing argument over what is decidedly unsettled science.

There is every evidence that you are correct. But the brain is a very complex system. So it is not a done deal, although the science leans one way.

One thing we all have to do is let the science work itself out.

I am with you. But let's not assume.

Skepticism is important. Do not jump to confusions.

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Response to longship (Reply #6)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 04:08 AM

34. Please Define "Fundamentalist"

I'm seeing this word thrown around, yet do not understand its meaning.

a. Is it just a pejorative modifier?
b. Is the word necessary?
c. Is there a difference between a true Christian and a Fundamentalist Christian?
If so, please enlighten me.
d. Can we have fundamentalist buddhists, atheists, etc.?

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Response to freefaller62 (Reply #34)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 01:48 PM

51. Now you are making a strictly rhetorical argument

And I do not disassociate myself from such arguments. My education is in science, specifically physics, where definitions are fairly precisely defined.

However, culture tends to use definitions more loosely. I will defer to the linguists to argue what the definition of "fundementalist". But I believe that historically there is some help in that area; it was a religious movement that began in the latter part of the 19th century which took Biblical inerrancy as one of its tenants.

I am no expert on this, but that is my reading of it.

I may not be correct in my vernacular, so allow me to put it bluntly. All religion is toxic when mixed with any culturally moral question. It has, throughout history, to have shown itself incapable to do the job. The only solution to the problem is to cast aside religion as a form of politics, government, and science, and to form a government free of religion while acknowledgingly endorsing that some people have religious beliefs.

Nota bene, that is no endorsement of any religious faction having the right to use legislative fiat to impose their beliefs on the electorate. That means that the war on women disappears. You don't believe in abortion? Fine! Don't get one! You don't believe in contraception? Fine, join the quiver full movement.

Just leave other people alone. Your specific religious beliefs have no authority in this country, under this Constitution.

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Response to longship (Reply #51)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 06:02 PM

53. Religion vs. Governmental Philosophy

Sorry, but I'm not getting an answer from your response. I'm wondering about the usage of the
word in today's political arena. From what I have read over the years, the word "fundamentalist"
is simply a pejorative injected into a sentence by those who dislike some religious person(s).

Your answer was refreshing. You are educated and work hard to reason matters out. That differs
from many of the others in politics.

As you are in the sciences you will find many problems that are caused by inaccurate and meaningless
wording. Politics is no different. Look at our accomplishments in the sciences and you'll soar with pride,
look at our politics, which are still entrenched in pre-platonic sophism, and you could just scream. The
division between our sciences and our politics stands at an immeasurable gap.

Let's address one point: a religion employing its beliefs on the electorate.

I believe that theft is wrong. I believe that murder is wrong. Both of those acts are
violations of one of the Ten Commandments. So, is my belief religious, or is it ethical?
My point is that we cannot bleach religion from ANY government. We're going to have
come crossed beliefs.

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Response to freefaller62 (Reply #53)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 09:34 PM

62. That is the crux of the problem

You said:
My point is that we cannot bleach religion from ANY government. We're going to have
come crossed beliefs.


That is my primary, and fervent, political belief. Th Republicans have, as we may say, jumped the couch. (Google it.)

Our only salvation (so to speak) is to disassociate ourselves from anything approaching a theistic government. That is precisely what the Republicans cannot, and will not do. They are wedded to their theology to the exact extent to which they are wedded to trickle-down economics. Neither ideology will give way to the other.

I will keep on promoting a couple of books on these subjects here. First, is John Dean's Conservatives Without Conscience which is an in depth look at the social, psychological evidence for the authoritarian personality, extensively researched by Robert Altemeyer. Yes, it is that John Dean who went to prison for crimes as Nixon's aide. Listen to him now!

The other is a rather more academic work by Daniel C. Dennett, a philosopher at Tufts and one of the more erudite members of what is called the four horsemen of the counter-apocalypse. (Hitchens, Dennett, Dawkins, Harris, although there are many, many more now.) Dennett is looking for a scientific origin of religion, something evolutionary, but social. He has a compelling argument, but suggests a variety of tests to substantiate his hypothesis. His book, Breaking the Spell is more erudite and suggests a memetic origin for religion.

Both are important works, if only for the fact that they are based on somewhat firm science and propose extensions of that science to answer these important questions.

Some would suggest that in order to defeat these ideologues politically one should understand their underlying psychologies and their possible memetic hold on culture. I would argue that this is the extent that we will not win the battle. We've gotta be smarter than they are. We have to use the media better than they do. So far we are far behind them because nobody is willing to see that we're fighting a cultural battle which has been engrained for decades. It will take a concerted effort to turn it around.

Meanwhile, here we are at DU, throwing chairs around the room about Ann Romney and other trivialities when the theocrats are breaking down the doors.

The only issue important this year is the connection of the religious right to a political party. I don't give a fuck whether you call them fundementalists or evangelicals or siwwy wabbits. Anyway you call them, just listening to them, or reading the legislation they propose should be enough.

These siwwy wabbits are no friends to people in the US.

(Sorry, Bugs. Big fan of yours. Just couldn't resist the Fudd metaphor.)

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Response to freefaller62 (Reply #53)

Tue Apr 17, 2012, 01:51 AM

65. The prohibition against murder and theft is not unique to the Christian and Jewish religions.

It is common to a number of cultural traditions. It is therefore not a religious belief in and of itself. But if you personally derive the prohibition against murder and theft for your own value system from your religious belief that the Ten Commandments are from God and therefore must be followed, then for you the prohibition against murder and theft are religious beliefs.

Your neighbor may simply believe that murder and theft are unreasonable because they harm others and destroy the social fabric. For him, the prohibition is derived from reason, and we don't generally consider reason to be a religion, so the prohibition against murder and theft would not be a part of your neighbor's religion.

So we can bleach religion from government because we can simply require that government follow the dictates of reason. But we cannot bleach religion from the hearts of people who are religious as is their right if that is what they wish to be.

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Response to RKP5637 (Original post)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 09:16 PM

7. Well the Bill of Rights/parts of constitution were borrowed from Iroquois confederacy - not

christian but not atheist either....

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Response to Kashkakat v.2.0 (Reply #7)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 09:21 PM

8. No, they weren't

the Bill of Rights comes from five centuries of English common law and things like Magna Carta and the English Bill of Rights of 1689. The Constitution more generally comes from a background of both English common law and the Enlightenment political thought of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, the Baron de Montesquieu, and others.

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Response to Spider Jerusalem (Reply #8)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 11:37 PM

18. It's both from common law but influenced by the Iroquois form of government as

well as French political theory. Montesquieu to be exact:

Montesquieu argued that the best government would be one in which power was balanced among three groups of officials. He thought England - which divided power between the king (who enforced laws), Parliament (which made laws), and the judges of the English courts (who interpreted laws) - was a good model of this. Montesquieu called the idea of dividing government power into three branches the "separation of powers." He thought it most important to create separate branches of government with equal but different powers. That way, the government would avoid placing too much power with one individual or group of individuals. He wrote, "When the and powers are united in the same person... there can be no liberty." According to Montesquieu, each branch of government could limit the power of the other two branches. Therefore, no branch of the government could threaten the freedom of the people. His ideas about separation of powers became the basis for the United States Constitution.

http://www.rjgeib.com/thoughts/montesquieu/montesquieu-bio.html

Of one thing we are certain, men like Adams, Jefferson and Madison were extraordinarily well educated and widely read. Therefore they were influenced by many ideas.

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Response to JDPriestly (Reply #18)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 11:41 PM

19. No, it wasn't

there are no contemporaneous references among any of the extant writings of any of the Founders to the Iroquois or their government; Franklin mentions it in passing but not in detail and there is no evidence that it had any influence whatever on the US Constitution or form of government.

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Response to Kashkakat v.2.0 (Reply #7)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 10:07 PM

13. That's a feel-good popular myth with no factual basis.

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Response to RKP5637 (Original post)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 10:10 PM

14. No use trying to reason with religious people.

You cannot reason with people who would rather burn you at the stake than be convinced by you.

People who claim knowledge about absolute Truth with a capital T are a danger to themselves and others and deserve mockery and derision.

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Response to Odin2005 (Reply #14)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 10:34 PM

16. Yep, it's just a lost cause. Also, "if" they had divine knowledge with a capital T, many of

them, the ones that seem to have perpetual problems, would likely be in better life circumstances.

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Response to Odin2005 (Reply #14)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 02:41 PM

29. Most forms of organized religion require one to abandon reason

In the case of Christianity, this is even more so than most.

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Response to RKP5637 (Original post)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 11:57 PM

21. Thank You For Posting This.

I am homeless at the moment, but protected from the elements in a garage...and a nice one at that. However, the couple I stay with (the wife) says she is Christan and goes to church every sunday. I have called her on this argument, and amazingly she tries to hold up her end of the conversation--and not act snotty like a neo-con would. Her bright spot is she is devoted to helping the homeless, and bless her for that. But it saddens me she has bought into what she has been told from a nut-case, not a scholar from a university. But what I want to know is how to defend the argument, "well, In God We Trust is printed on the money so we must be a Christan nation." All I know was Congress established that in 1954/55. I forgot the rest.
But thank you for this. I enjoy seeing important things like this.

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Response to Left Coast2020 (Reply #21)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 12:00 AM

22. Thank you! I'm pleased you're finding it helpful!

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Response to Left Coast2020 (Reply #21)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 06:58 PM

54. Why does it sadden you?

People are free to believe whatever they want to believe.

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Response to RKP5637 (Original post)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 12:03 AM

23. And even if they were they were not in favor of having an official national church. They were for

separation of church and state because most of the immigrants from Europe came to get away from national churches telling them what they should believe. Thus we created a government that was to remain out of the religious business.

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Response to RKP5637 (Original post)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 12:58 PM

27. Yes, they were Christians, but the problem with this argument from Fundies is....

that the founding fathers wanted separation of church and state BECAUSE they were Christians of different denominations. They weren't worried about the U.S. becoming taken over by Jews, Islamics or Atheists. They were almost ALL Christian--and that's the point. They didn't want one group of Christians delegating to the rest how to worship. They saw other countries where one Church had enormous power, be it the Catholic Church or the Anglican Church and they didn't want that.

So they wisely--and for their own good--made sure that the government was secular, not any one denomination of Christianity. So that all member of all denominations could participate in it, be equal and not excluded. This is very clear in most of their writings. However much they praise god, or pray or go to Church, when it comes to the government, they don't want it to be run by any one church or any one faith.

As I say in another post here about Washington: I think it incorrect to argue that these men were not "Christians," but I think it equally incorrect to assume that just because they were "Christians" that they wanted their nation to be a "Christian" nation with laws and morals and such favoring that religion over others. They very clearly in their writings wanted men of all faiths to be treated equally, but also really did want there to be a separation of church and state.

When we get into discussions about the founding fathers, I think it's important to avoid this argument that they "were not Christians." It doesn't work or hold up. What does work and hold up is to admit they were Christians--and YET they did not want their nation to be a Christian nation. And if they, as Christians, saw wisdom in that, how can Christians now defy and object to it? Either the "Christian" founding fathers knew what they were doing and we should listen to them, or they don't and you can't use them to argue this as a Christian nation.

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Response to Moonwalk (Reply #27)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 03:21 AM

32. No, they weren't Christians

As I pointed out in another post, out of the seven key founding fathers who were instrumental in founding this country, only one identified himself as a Christian. Pretending these men were Christians does not make it so. The reality was that there were many Christians at the time who very much wanted the US not to be a secular nation in any way, shape for form and it was the non-Christians who prevented it. Claiming that it was the Christians who wanted this country to be secular is simply trying to rewrite history, and is not that much better than those who want to claim this is a Christian nation.

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Response to Moonwalk (Reply #27)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 04:22 AM

36. +1

 

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Response to Moonwalk (Reply #27)

Tue Apr 17, 2012, 02:09 AM

67. Jefferson and Adams did not believe in the divinity of Christ. Read their correspondence.

They admired the teachings of Jesus.

Some might consider them Christians. Strictly speaking, today I believe that most Christians define themselves as believers in the divinity of Christ. If that is how you define Christian then Jefferson and Adams and probably Franklin, probably others whose writings I do not know quite as well as I do those of Jefferson and Adams, were not Christians.

If you define a Christian more liberally (as used to be perfectly acceptable in some mainline churches) to include people who do not strictly believe in the divinity from birth of Jesus but to include those who believe that we should follow Jesus' teachings because they are wise and good, then Jefferson and Adams would be considered Christians.

Fundamentalists who believe in being born again, etc. would not have considered Jefferson and Adams to be Christians had they known them.

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Response to RKP5637 (Original post)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 07:02 PM

55. Well, Jefferson owned hundreds of slaves and enjoyed raping the female ones.

Not exactly a role model of Christian behavior.

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Response to RKP5637 (Original post)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 07:12 PM

58. Many were christians

But the most notable ones Like Thomas Pain, Franklin, Jefferson were not. Some speculate that Washington was leaning toward deism.

I think it kind of reflects what we have today in our nation.
A citizenry mostly made up of followers of religious dogma and a few exceptional free thinkers.

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