Monday, December 11, 2006

Good morning! Okay, that does it. I am definitely starting a forum. This conversation is getting too good and too all over the place and we just must find a better vehicle for it. That means a forum. I am working on this with my friend Joel and I will let you know what it up very, very soon. In the meantime, I would love to get some suggestions for subjects. Anyone, as probably most of you know, can start a thread, but I have to decide what the subjects are. So, what? Ethics without religion. Parenting without God. Navigating through social situations with the religious, but without God. God as a euphemism, too good to give up?

And speaking of the last idea. That's what I've been talking to myself and to my boyfriend about this weekend: God is such a great euphemism. But when you're ME, you can't really use it so much anymore. DAMN.

I can't write much -- I am off to take Mulan to school and then meeting with my music composer friend who may be doing the music for the film version of "Letting Go" today and then the Craig Ferguson Show later this afternoon.

Btw, I am so over on the side of no-Christian songs at public school -- 10,000%. I listen to classical music on the radio and of course it's all Jesus and all Christmas all the time at this time of year. Which I love, but still. Enough already.

Yesterday, as my boyfriend and my daughter and I were driving to Monterey Park for Chinese food last night, my daughter said she wanted to practice her Christmas song -- the one she's singing at the "Holiday Performance" at school on Wednesday. We said, "Go ahead." And she belted out, "Oh Kwansaa! Oh Kwansaa! The Seven days of Kwansaa!" And I was filled with joy! YEAH PUBLIC SCHOOL. I was actually filled with national pride too. I can hardly believe that this is the way it already is in our country. We are so lucky. This separation of Church and State is our most precious resource.

Anyway, give me your ideas. What are discussions you would like to see explored?

Also, I plan to take some of my favorite posts from the blog and put them up in a special place on my website. So many things people have written have taken my breath away.

And, yeah... the new blogger allows me to have such a bigger font. BIG, huh?


68 comments:

paige said...

I have no idea how I found your blog, but I am so glad I did. I have a lot to catch up on, but I feel this bizarre sense of relief at how you are articulating my own struggle with existing as a closeted non-believer in a God-swamped country. (I grew up in the South, which only made it worse!) Anyway, thank you, and maybe I'll get to thank you in person someday, as I, too, am a friend of the other Julia (who was at our multi-holiday-celebrating winter party last night and tried to take my daughter, 20 mos., home as her new third child. Coco was in full support. But that's another story!)

uk dan said...

Hi Julia
Good luck this evening I am hoping someone will post it on Youtube .

Dan

Bruce said...

Forum idea: Morality Next? Topics to cover include how to vaccinate morality in children without the handy bible stories meant to do just that. Can we still use those stories? Better to come up with new, contemporary stories without the secret sky wizard baggage?

Impelled said...

Christmas wars! Fun!

I am not getting into some circling death match on this, but:

1. The idea that people sing Christmas music in public schools because it is Christian is erroneous.

2. Since Americans, presumably as dedicated to the First Amendment as we, have been singing Christmas music in public schools for as long as we've had public schools, I don't understand why we don't seek to understand why everyone has so far thought it's constitutionally okay, rather than acting as if we've suddenly discovered that we've been missing the obvious for the past hundred years.

3. You elsewhere write: "I am mostly concerned about keeping our society a secular one where the laws are based on reason and science. . . " There are a lot of problems with this. Some are: 1) it presumes that faith can't be "reasoned", or that agnosticism or atheism are "more reasoned". 2) It ignores the fact that there are many important questions that science will _never_ address, and probably overstates what it does say about those answers it does give. 3) It presumes that our Constitution somehow requires the exclusion of the non-reasonable and and non-scientific from our government and laws. I could go on and on, but the point is that the idea that we're supposed to strain every indication of "religion" out of our laws is both incorrect and impossible.

If you succeed in driving this stuff out of the schools you'll do a great deal of damage, and proportionately very little of it to Christianity.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see a section for those of us who are agnostic and are considering making the "jump" to becoming athiests. Or something along the lines where those of us who are still in transition can find support...get our questions answered.

ben turk said...

Impelled-

YOU ARE WRONG!!

1) away in a manger is a christian song, people sing it to celebrate chirst. how can you deny that?

2) these things are unconstitutional, they've been tolerated anyway for such a long time because the religous people had control and wanted to maintian that control, regardless of what the rules are. That's not going to be true much longer. You are losing...

3) you seem to be talking from the reason v reverence standpoint, but (like so many others before you) you desire to have it both ways. You deny that atheism or agnosticism is "more reasoned" than faith, and then poo poo reason and science a few sentances later. Reason is to science as reverence is to faith. If you are anti-science, then you are anti-reason, if you think faith is better than science, then you are prefering reverence to reason. But you cannot dress that reverence up as reason and play both sides of this argument.

The question isn't 'what is or has been the relationship between our government and non-reasonable, non-scientific laws?' It is 'what ought that relationship be?' We are arguing that, yes you can beleive whatever you want to beleive, in your private life, no matter how daft, but the government, that constrains our lives needs to justify those constraints. A government that acts outside of a reasonable, scientific perspective is oppressive, obsolete and absolutely unjustifiable.

I'm tired of your ancient outdated, bullshit morality telling women what they can't do with their bodies, diseased people where they can't seek cures and all people who they can't marry. The historical record of your approach to laws and rule is a long torrid history of race based discrimination, witch burning, and opression, we are putting a stop to it now.

ben turk said...

Julia,

suggestions

a church and state subject

an evolution, or more general 'science' subject

seems to me the two major types of conversations here seem to be personal stories and theorectical debates, but i don't know if dividing those is a good idea, seeing where the personal story falls into the theoretical debate can be interesting.

Test said...

I like your bigger font.

It gives your words more heft. :p

dabradster said...

Am in a rush meself - shouldn't be here right now. But, definitely have a section about "morals and ethics sans deities," and one about "living a wonderful life without God." These are the subject areas that new non-believers have the most questions about and died-in-the-wool-born-againers seem to think aren't possible.

Anonymous - Agnostic is good. You don't need to "transition" anywhere! Thoughtful and intelligent agnostics are in no way "wishy-washy."
Smart agnostics do not in any way have to accept the proposition that the "God" of the Bible or the Quran exists, they're just a bit more humble regarding their knowledge of how the universe and organic life got started.
But definitions of the words here are very important.

Gotta go!

Happy Hannakwanzasolstimas to all!

moleboy said...

"Oh Kwansaa! Oh Kwansaa! The Seven days of Kwansaa!"

This I have a problem with. While no religion I know of has tried to force itself upon all of america like christianity has (and, really, are there any prosletyzing relgions out there that we don't consider cults?), you really can't say its OK to have Kwanza songs and not Xmas songs.

Doing that just energizes the christian right by making them feel oppressed (though how one can oppress such a vast majority is beyond me...)

You can either have religion in
school or not.

-joel
p.s. psyched to find your blog!

Atheism Quotes said...

I have to agree on the whole "take out the religious songs from school" thing. Just because it's always been that way doesn't make it right. Women couldn't vote for over 100 years, blacks could be treated like property for centuries... doesn't make it right. Just accepted. And we're not accepting it any more.

I'd love to see a discussion topic about a new "Secular Holiday" for the Christmas season. Even though for many of us, Christmas IS secular, it's too easy for Christians to point out the name of the holiday. It doesn't do any good to point out that the date itself was chosen to steal the pagan holiday away for celebrating the solstice.

I think we should do the same thing. Make a holiday that coincides with Christmas that's completely secular, but promotes love and joy and sharing times with family and friends.

And NOT "Festivus." Cute, but automatically discounted as a joke.

I'd love to see atheists agree on something for a change. Any time I've ever tried to get more than two or three people to commit to an idea, the arguments erupt.

Maybe on Julia's forum, we can come to some kind of consensus and maybe even start a holiday we can start promoting next year.

Let's take back the season!

Atheism Quotes said...

I'd also like to recommend "Inventing Christmas: How Our Holiday Came to Be" by Jock Elliot. It details how the "traditional" Christmas that Christians believe has been around forever is a very recent, very commercial holiday.

Rich white folk didn't like the hard drinking and partying the common folk used to do to celebrate, so they made up a marketing campaign, and over the course of a couple of decades, forced Christmas into what we think of today.

If they can do it, so can we!

moleboy said...

"I think we should do the same thing. Make a holiday that coincides with Christmas that's completely secular, but promotes love and joy and sharing times with family and friends. "

I dunno...I've always been of the mind that we should promote these things eyar round...

moleboy said...

"I'd love to see atheists agree on something for a change. Any time I've ever tried to get more than two or three people to commit to an idea, the arguments erupt."

the problem is that christians all have a common reference. Atheism isn't that.
Just because none of us believe there is a monkey in my closet doesn't mean we agree on anything else.
If we DID believe in the monkey, we might then find other common ground based on where we thought the monkey came from, how he got in my closet, and what he might do if released.
But not believing in the monkey doesn't really bring people together.

patty said...

Thanks for this blog! I've only just dipped in, and I'm hooked. The forum idea is intriguing, I imagine the subjects will overlap a lot, which as one commenter pointed out is part of the discussion in itself. Some topic ideas:

religion and children - how much should we teach or not teach them - side topic - I'm a teacher and when kids ask me what I believe, is it my moral obligation to tell them or not?

was to is - I'm fascinated by people's religious history, what were they taught and why did it not make sense?

Mcglk said...

I was reading over Impelled's comment, and mostly what I heard was an echo of my own feelings back when I was a devoted Christian. Having examined the issue from both sides during the course of my life, I can hardly believe that I once felt that way.

Note that I said "felt that way." Not "thought that way," because I don't believe that there is a lot of actual thought going on in those reactions. And I speak from experience.

Impelled's first remark is "The idea that people sing Christmas music in public schools because it is Christian is erroneous." Unfortunately, it's patently wrong. Most Christmas music is based on traditions that originate in the Gospel story. (I'm not even talking about things like Handel's Messiah or Stille Nächt or O Tännenbaum—even much more modern music like The Little Drummer Boy comes from that tradition.)

Most of the solstice traditions have been aggressively incorporated into the Christian religion, which in turn has also provided new traditions to the holiday ("Santa Claus," for example, derived from the story of a Turkish priest), and reinterpreted others to fit ("Father Christmas," for example—a sort of Yuletime Bacchus—got absorbed into "Santa Claus").

The pagan origins of Yule have been almost entirely absorbed by a religious event that had nothing to do with the winter solstice, but had everything to do with trying to wipe out the pagan traditions connected with the solstice. (You don't think Jesus was actually born in the winter, do you?)

Impelled goes on to say that she doesn't "understand why we don't seek to understand why everyone has so far thought it's constitutionally okay [to sing Christmas music in public schools], rather than acting as if we've suddenly discovered that we've been missing the obvious for the past hundred years."

Of course we understand. I understand based on experience. It's institutionalized apathy. Most Christians (in fact, most religious people) don't push for separation of church and state unless their particular branch is threatened by another. Otherwise, they're okay with it. It's a deeply ingrained double-standard, one that Americans should be wary of. Our Constitutional devotion to religious freedom is remarkably empowering for the entire citizenry; anything that degrades that, even if it temporarily favors a group we're sympathetic toward, should be met with caution and vigilance.

Impelled then takes issue with Julia's statement on keeping our society a secular one. She writes "There are a lot of problems with this," and then goes on to describe three of them.

Her first postulate is that "[Julia's statement] presumes that faith can't be 'reasoned', or that agnosticism or atheism are 'more reasoned'."

Um, wow.

Even though I'm familiar with this sort of, er, "reasoning," I'm still taken aback. It's like saying, "But you're presuming that you can't see through the earth, or that air or water are 'more transparent.'"

Faith is, by definition, unable to be reasoned. Faith is belief in something in the absence of evidence, or in spite of counter-evidence.

One of the traps that Christians will often put themselves in is the assertion that they know that God exists. First, it makes it perfectly clear that they do not understand the meaning of the verb know, or the word knowledge. But as soon as they say that, they wind up in a conundrum. If you know a fact, your no longer have faith in it.

Most Christians believe that they are redeemed through faith alone. As soon as they know that God exists, they no longer have faith. So where does that put them?

Belief is not knowledge. It's belief. Keep the two separate.

(And while we're at it, just a word to all the religious types out there: could at least a few more of you take into account that your works are the manifestation of your beliefs, and not rely so much on the forgiveness of your deity or deities to smooth over the crap you commit? Thank you.)

Impelled's second assertion goes "[The statement] ignores the fact that there are many important questions that science will _never_ address, and probably overstates what it does say about those answers it does give."

Um, what questions will science never address, Impelled? I'm genuinely curious. On the other hand, I don't see how Julia's statement "overstates" the role of science, but I'm less curious about that assertion, because I think it's a silly one.

Impelled's final assertion is that Julia's statement "presumes that our Constitution somehow requires the exclusion of the non-reasonable and and non-scientific from our government and laws."

In fact, yes, it does. I do wonder if you've read the document. It's in the First Amendment. Allow me: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The implications of this single sentence are staggering, particularly the phrase Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. Many since have interpreted this in a very limited fashion, saying that all this phrase says is that we should have no national church, but in fact, the authors of that document meant it much more generally—that the laws we pass should avoid any tie with any religious construct.

In short, our founding fathers felt that laws should be based on reason, and should avoid any ties with any particular religion or belief system.

Fact transcends belief. Reason transcends faith. Religion encourages us to embrace irrationality—and as such, is a poor way to define a system of laws or government.

Impelled says that she "could go on and on, but the point is that the idea that we're supposed to strain every indication of 'religion' out of our laws is both incorrect and impossible." She somehow has failed to grasp that this is precisely what our founding fathers intended.

Her parting shot betrays her personal interest: "If you succeed in driving this stuff out of the schools you'll do a great deal of damage, and proportionately very little of it to Christianity."

But she's missed the point. I don't think any of us want to "damage" Christianity. (Some of us would argue that it's damaged enough.) Honestly, it's more about preserving religious freedom for everyone—not just the favored religion at the moment.

One wonders how loudly the Christians will be bleating when the Muslim population in the US grows to the point where we start seeing Islamic phrases and influences in our laws.

Religious freedom is for all Americans, Impelled. It is a precious commodity, and I for one don't appreciate it being wasted by ignorance and favoritism.

Jeff D said...

Regarding ben turk's and impelled's exchange about whether Christmas music sung in public schools is Christian or religious --

I think that some of it is unquestionably religious. On the other hand, whether all the little kiddies who sing a particular Christmas carol (or the parents who listen to it) make religious connections in their brains is perhaps debatable, depending on which Christmas carol it is. Repetition can often suck the magic or power out of a poem or a song, and reduce the lyrics or words to a series of noises that have a ritualistic value (think of the Pledge of Allegiance, the Lord's Prayer, or the oath taken by witnesses on the witness stand) but little or no information content or emotive power.

This is why the 1954 addition of "under god" to the Pledge of Allegiance never bothered me. I remember having to recite it en masse in public school before about 1962, and the more god's name and other religious ritualistic folderol gets repeated in public settings, the more debased and watered down it becomes.

The U.S. Supreme Court has held a few times that there are instances of "ceremonial deism" in the American public sphere that are essentially devoid of religious content, such as the "In God We Trust" on our money and the use of non-sectarian prayers to open legislative sessions. If the Supremes ever got around to ruling on the constitutionality of the "under God" in the Pledge instead of dodging such cases on technical grounds, I expect they would say that the "under God" doesn't have any religious content either, and therefore doesn't violate the Establishment Clause.

Now, as a matter of history, I don't agree with this analysis. Every surviving aspect of "ceremonial deism" in American public life was legislated or adopted and has survived because a majority who wanted to flaunt its public piety basically steamrollered the fence sitters and the non-believers, or because the religious majority wanted to go a lot further (to add a "Christian amendment" to the U.S Constitution) and had to settle for some shallow lip service (adding "in God we trust") to our money. Madison (principal author of the Bill of Rights) opposed paying legislative and military chaplains out of the public funds.

But because we seem to be stuck with a certain amount of ceremonial deism, I try to look at it as promoting the debasement and de-sanctification of religious symbols and -- ironically -- as possibly hastening the day when a majority of Americans will get tired of public piety and turn away from religion.

The next time my fellow midwesterners seek to post the Ten Commandments (which version?) in a public courthouse, I think I will recommend posting the Old Testament PENALTIES for violating the commandments (death, usually) and, for good measure, the passages in the O.T. and in the gospels, Corinthians, Timothy, and Philemon that advocate slavery, the subjugation of women, capital punishment for disobedient children, etc.

Jeff D

Thailand Gal said...

Religion is a very personal thing and I believe it should be kept private. I am one of those who doesn't like it in the public arena, particularly when it seems that one is culturally sanctioned over another. Even more particularly when it is the source of so much hypocrisy as that we've seen.

You mention about your child's spiritual development. I'd say the most important thing to teach is critical thinking, having the ability to look at an idea without accepting it ~ and to choose what's right based on examination, not blind acceptance.

Beyond that, of course, I have no opinion. :)


Peace,

~Chani (Thailand Gal)

Susan in Spokane said...

There are many place where one can hold discussions/forums.

Here is one of them:

http://www.livejournal.com/

These are some of the topics already there.

atheism - Atheism
atheist - Atheist Chat
atheist_bible - Atheist Bible Discussion
atheist_debate - The Union of Atheist Debaters
atheist_parents - Atheist Parents
atheist_refuge - The Atheist Refuge

Susan in Spokane

dabradster said...

I'm baaaack for just a moment.

Anonymous - My comment to you was sort of flip and unclear. I'm sorry I don't have a chance at the moment to offer a more considered answer to you.
But maybe Julia will take your suggestion and have a section called, "Well, then, Atheist, Agnostic, or What?" or something like that.

As for other free-thinker forums, there is also a forum at infidels.org, but I'm sure Julia's forum will be a nice alternative with a bit of a different angle.
If nothing else, probably more humor!

dabradster said...

And one more thing:

Some day I hope non-believers won't need a moniker like atheist or agnostic, any more than people who don't believe in flying pasta monsters need a label. Sam Harris says something funny about this in one of his books - I think the "Letter" book.

Yours truly,
The A-Zuesist, A-Clausist, A-Leprechaunist, A-Elvis-is-in-the-pantryist A-theist Agnostic dabradster

Impelled said...

I don't read a single word here that has anything to do with anything that I wrote. I've written several snarky rejoinders, but that would be accomplish nothing and make everyone pissy, and wouldn't be very polite to our hostess. Also, I'm running late for the witch-burning and I've got to pick some tinder on the way there.

You guys have fun talking with yourselves.

Mcglk said...

An odd response, given that I quoted her and responded to each point she brought up.

I guess that was easier than actual discussion. Alas.

AnneBalcom said...

Hi Julia,
I saw you on The View and was so surprised to hear what you had to say, I was pleased. I grew up in an athiest home since the age of 8. I always felt "shamed" by certain people I knew throughout my life because of not believing in God. I am now 40. My husband who grew up in a Catholic home is also athiest. One of my closest friends who grew up in a Baptist home changed religions when she married nearly 20 years ago to become Methodist. Now she is considering becoming athiest - long story. I'd love to share my life experience with you sometime if you'd like to email me. (I just read what one of your bloggers named Paige has said and I that is exactly what I was trying to express here - a "closeted non-believer").

AnneBalcom said...

Hi Julia,
I saw you on The View and was so surprised to hear what you had to say, I was pleased. I grew up in an athiest home since the age of 8. I always felt "shamed" by certain people I knew throughout my life because of not believing in God. I am now 40. My husband who grew up in a Catholic home is also athiest. One of my closest friends who grew up in a Baptist home changed religions when she married nearly 20 years ago to become Methodist. Now she is considering becoming athiest - long story. I'd love to share my life experience with you sometime if you'd like to email me. (I just read what one of your bloggers named Paige has said and I that is exactly what I was trying to express here - a "closeted non-believer").

michael said...

MCGLK,

One point you raise in your rebuttal to impelled is simply inaccurate. You state: "The implications of this single sentence are staggering, particularly the phrase Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. Many since have interpreted this in a very limited fashion, saying that all this phrase says is that we should have no national church, but in fact, the authors of that document meant it much more generally—that the laws we pass should avoid any tie with any religious construct."

I challenge you to provide authority for your point that the authors of the First Amendment meant for the establishment clause "should avoid any tie with any religious construct." If you will review the early history of our country, especially the first constitutions of the states, you will find that the establishment clause was put in for very reason that the states did not want the federal government passing any laws that would limit, hinder, affect, etc. the religious demoninational system which was established uniquely by each state. It was a limitation by the federal govt. of the rights of states to establish religion for their state as they saw fit. It had nothing to do with the purpose you state.

michael said...

That's what I get for typing too fast and not proof reading. The word should be "denominational" not "demoninational". Ok, go ahead and let the jokes fly with that typo - I deserve it.

Anonymous said...

Julia- I think youre a lonely, sad individual. Yay, public school? ugh.

ShellyD said...

Hey Julia, don't let the occasional snide remark like the one above ("sad and lonely individual") get you down - especially given that the commenter isn't willing to leave his/her name.

Your support vastly outweighs any criticism.

Bacon Eating Atheist Jew said...

Julia, you should check out Raving Atheists for ideas.

In fact, why not drop over there and post something, it will sure freak out the regulars.

We recently had Sam Harris do a guest appearance on the boards there.

Anonymous said...

When I went to Public High School I sang in the Advanced Mixed Chorus. We sang choral works by Handel, Mendelsohn, Bach and others. Did we sing these essential works in the context of worship? Nope. We were nerdy choir kids singing standard choral repertoire. The notion of banning all sacred music from public schools seems like we're painting the issue with too broad of strokes. Forgive my poor writing, I went to public school.

Undecided said...

Michael,

The language in the first amendment is vague but it is clear that Thomas Jefferson believed it was designed to create a wall of separation between church and state.

Sheldon said...

Hmmm...is belting out "Oh Kwansaa" (or Kwanzaa, or whatever) really a step forward?

I mean, just because it's one of the alternatives to Christmas doesn't make it any better. And the worst part is that its founder, Ron Karenga, was just a horrible, horrible person. He founded a black nationalist organization called US back in the '60s. He was convicted of kidnapping and torturing two women whom he and a couple of friends stripped naked, whipped with electrical cords, beat with a karate baton, burned with a soldering iron, further tortured with a vise, and tried to poison with detergent.

Is this a guy whose pseudo-holiday we want our children chanting songs about? He sounds even worse than that Jesus dude!

And please everyone, don't give me all that uber-liberal crap about him getting his act together in prison and becoming saint-like. They all seem to find some sort of redemption in there, don't they? And then we're supposed to act like they're somebody worthy of our admiration.

By the way, my cousin Bobby recorded the original "Jingle Bell Rock," so I know a thing or two about holiday songs. : )

Sheldon said...

P.S. I'm really starting to imagine us all forming a group that has yearly meetings like TAM. That all began with a forum too, I believe.

Val said...

I just wrote a novel but i screwed up and it never got posted ! I am soo exausted now and will bore you at a later time with my story.
Peace.

Val

Ralph said...

I hope Raving Atheists isn't what we should expect on Julia's forum. I just took a quick look at it and read a bunch of sophomoric ranting.

Bacon Eating Atheist Jew said...

Ralph, outside of the open mic, there are some good threads on Raving Atheists. Check out sciences, atheist news and morality for example

Mcglk said...

Michael pops up again and asserts that "One point you raise in your rebuttal to impelled is simply inaccurate." Then he doesn't actually show that I'm inaccurate---instead, he wants me to prove I'm being accurate.

That's a pretty weaselly thing to do, Michael, doncha think?

I'd happily provide citations by Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, George Washington and John Adams, but I'm not exactly thrilled with your tone or tactic. Do some research and then get back to me before you start throwing around terms like "inaccurate" at me without basis.

Many of the Founding Fathers were devotees of rationalists like Locke, and certainly the rationalists of the time shaped the debate surrounding the Declaration and the Constitution. That's kind of a bummer for your assertion, but there it is.

It is true that a few states (Connecticut and Massachusetts most notably) had state religions, but (for example) John Adams, a lifelong Massachusetts resident, spoke out firmly on the side of the separation of church and state. Eventually, all state governments followed the lead of the First Amendment and abolished such charters.

The separation of church and state was not nearly as hotly debated as the role of slavery in this nation's early days. Perhaps you'd like to bring that back, too? After all, the Bible is fairly pro-slavery. And certainly, there were signers of the Declaration and the Constitution who were lifelong slave owners. I think you'd have more basis of support for that than you do your assertion about the First Amendment.

maria said...

Okay, this might sound all crazy in the head, but I think there should be a subject in the forum just for Christians to put up their "arguments." Let 'em vent! Like "Christian Arguments Against Atheism" so that people like this Michael guy can have a place to say what they want to say. And ask them nicely to only post such things in that subject area. Otherwise the other areas you're creating will be spoilt by attacks and arguing by Christians instead of being havens where atheists can chat and share life experiences. If anyone violates it, boot 'em.

meandering said...

Instead of deliberately searching for the truth I am sort of meandering. I know for sure that we must have separation of church and state, this is the only sane thing to do. But I just melt when my children sing christmas carols. Can't we leave them out of the arguement and just call them American folksongs?

Impelled said...

Good afternoon, mcglk.

You can quote all you like, but that doesn't mean your comments have anything to do with what I wrote. For example, I didn't write that Christmas music was somehow not Christian. I wrote that it isn't sung in public schools because it is Christian, ie, it's sung there for other reasons.

Nor does explaining away the acceptance of such singing as "institutional apathy" by a Christian majority providing much satisfaction. I was asking why we don't first try to understand why so many have thought this okay for so long. I guess the presumption that they just didn't care because it didn't affect them is a kind of an answer, but it insults the integrity of a lot of people over a lot of time, and is certainly a vast oversimplification.

The whopper is the suggestion that by saying faith can be "reasoned", I've said that it's some kind of knowledge. Obviously this isn't so, we all reason all the time about stuff we don't fully know or understand. I'm far more clear on the distinction between faith and knowledge than you are on the distinction between reason and science.

Nor are your various replies particularly thoughtful. Science, for example, will never speak conclusively to the question of whether OJ killed Nicole and Ron, though it will offer some helpful tidbits.

I think we can safely wonder whether it is really a "fact" that our Founders intended "that the laws we pass should avoid any tie with any religious construct." Somehow I think Jefferson and Adams could have mustered the vocabulary to say so a little more clearly if they really intended something so dramatic. The suggestion that the Founders would try something so radical, or imagine that so powerful a force could be excluded from a government without actually endangering that government, contradicts the realism and practicality that were so essential to their success. Even if they all thought religion nonsense -- and I have just read at least two Founders' comments on its importance to social order and the defense of liberty -- they were famously constructing a government for imperfect, selfish, ambitious people. They would hardly have imagined such people could be freed of superstition, never mind actual religion.

Nor is this at all inconsistent with their debt to rationalists such as Locke. In the first place, as I've noted, there is no necessary incompatability between reason and faith. In the second, with Locke himself saying stuff like "we more certainly know that there is a God, than that there is anything else without us", it's probably hasty to presume that "rationalism" would insist on the exclusion of religion. Maybe you should be more careful before insulting other people's understanding of reading you haven't done yourself.

I don't really know how to summarize without being a jerk. In general I think the test of an argument's seriousness is the accuracy and fairness of the opposing position. Anyone can beat a straw man; but people who want to discern true from false don't bother with such rhetoric, and don't need to. Your remarks don't bear the slightest relationship to what I actually said. And I think I can safely expect that any further reply won't either, and so I promise you that I shall not appear here again.

michael said...

MCGLK,

If you do not want to provide authority for the broad statements you make, that's fine. No problem. I simply wanted to point out the inaccuracy of the statement you made; to wit: "the authors of that document meant it much more generally—that the laws we pass should avoid any tie with any religious construct." That statement is simply not true.

In support of my point, I would point out that at the time the Constitution was being written, many of the state's constitutions made reference to the fact that the rights and liberties they enjoyed flowed from God. For example, Massachusetts constitution said: "We, therefore, the people of Massachusetts, acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the goodness of the great Legislator of the universe, in affording us, in the course of His providence, an opportunity, deliberately and peaceably, without fraud, violence or surprise, of entering into an original, explicit, and solemn compact with each other; and of forming a new constitution of civil government, for ourselves and posterity; and devoutly imploring His direction in so interesting a design, do agree upon, ordain and establish the following Declaration of Rights, and Frame of Government, as the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts."

There were also many religious tests in state laws at that time. The New Jersey Constitution of 1776 restricted public office to all but Protestants by its religious test/oath. The Delaware Constitution of 1776 demanded an acceptance of the Trinity by its religious test/oath. The Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776 had a similar test/oath. The Maryland Constitution of 1776 had such a test/oath. The North Carolina Constitution of 1776 had a test/oath that restricted all but Protestants from public office. The Georgia Constitution of 1777 used an oath/test to screen out all but Protestants.
The Vermont state charter/constitution of 1777 was similar to the Pennsylvania Constitution regarding a test/oath. The South Carolina Constitution of 1778 had such a test/oath allowing only Protestants to hold office. The Massachusetts Constitution of 1780 and New Hampshire Constitution of 1784 restricted such office holders to Protestants.

A large part of the debate and decisions made at the Constitutional Convention was over the power of the federal govt. vs. that of the states. Many clauses in the Constitution are designed to protect the rights of states to legislate and act without interference from the federal govt. The establishment clause was one of these areas where the states wanted to maintain independence from the federal govt. in matters of religion. Had the founders meant to "avoid any tie with any religious construct", they would have made that clear and would have acted to reverse the religious test requirements set forth above. Of course, that would have never happened because the states would not have alllowed that exercise of power over them. Instead, they enacted a limitation on the federal govt. from interfering with the state's rights over religion.

Mcglk said...

Impelled came back (apparently temporarily) to say "You can quote all you like, but that doesn't mean your comments have anything to do with what I wrote." Among other things.

Apparently, I am guilty of quoting Impelled, but my strategy of responding to the lines I was quoting resulted in entirely dissociated text that had nothing to do with what I quoted. Really, I had no idea. I could have sworn what I was saying was relevant to what I was quoting, but gosh, I guess not.

It's rather insulting---or would be, if it wasn't such a trite thing to say. But it does set the tone for the rest of Impelled's response.

Impelled states that, "I didn't write that Christmas music was somehow not Christian. I wrote that it isn't sung in public schools because it is Christian, ie, it's sung there for other reasons."

Well, okay. I can see how Impelled's phrasing could have led to a misunderstanding. However, Impelled fails (for the second time) to enlighten us on what other reasons people would be singing Christmas carols in public school. If it hadn't been for the co-opting of the holiday, we would probably have been singing non-religious (or at least non-Christian) Yule music, so while there may be other reasons, I think it's safe to stand by the assertion that the main reason is because it's pro-Christianity.

Going on: "Nor does explaining away the acceptance of such singing as 'institutional apathy' by a Christian majority providing much satisfaction."

Well, while I'm a little sad that a plausible explanation that corresponds with my personal experience was "unsatisfying," I'm uninclined to apologize for that, even though "it insults the integrity of a lot of people over a lot of time, and is certainly a vast oversimplification."

I wasn't writing a formal research paper; I accept full responsibility for opting to summarize my point as concisely as I did, but as to "insulting the integrity of a lot of people over a lot of time," I'm not going to apologize for that. That the separation of church and state has been treated so cavalierly by so many people for so long is a travesty.

Impelled then takes me to task for my "whopper": "[that via my] suggestion that by saying faith can be 'reasoned', I've said that it's some kind of knowledge."

Reason, used in this sense, means "the power of the mind to think, understand, and form judgments by a process of logic." Faith does not qualify: faith is forming a judgement without said process.

Impelled doesn't seem to understand what the word "reason" means, and so there's something of a huff here. "I'm far more clear on the distinction between faith and knowledge than you are on the distinction between reason and science," the assertion goes, and you can hear the derogatory sniff delivered with it. But one is left with the feeling that it's completely wrong---that Impelled wants words to mean something other than what they mean, and then change at the drop of a hat at Impelled's whim. I stand by my response.

Impelled then disparages the thoughtfulness of my replies, and gives as an example, "Science [...] will never speak conclusively to the question of whether OJ killed Nicole and Ron, though it will offer some helpful tidbits."

Faaaaascinating. Really? I was unaware that there was no possibility of further evidence or testimony. What a wonderful thing, to be able to sweep aside any potential possibility by such a clear view of the future!

Scientists may yet be able to speak conclusively about that case. Certainly, scientists will likely revisit it (or any other mystery) whenever new evidence or testimony arises, just as they have thousands of other "settled questions."

Then it's on to the Constitution, where Impelled avers, "Somehow I think Jefferson and Adams could have mustered the vocabulary to say so a little more clearly if they really intended something so dramatic."

They did.

The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. [...] It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses. [...] Unembarrassed by attachments to noble families, hereditary lines and successions, or any considerations of royal blood, even the pious mystery of holy oil had no more influence than that other of holy water: the people universally were too enlightened to be imposed on by artifice; and their leaders, or more properly followers, were men of too much honour to attempt it. Thirteen governments thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favour of the rights of mankind.

---John Adams, A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America (1787-88)

History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.

---Thomas Jefferson, letter to Alexander von Humboldt, 1813

The settled opinion here is, that religion is essentially distinct from civil Government, and exempt from its cognizance; that a connection between them is injurious to both [...]

---James Madison, letter to Edward Everett, 1823

That's a small sampling of the many quotes of our founding fathers. I looked 'em up on Google. Research. It's a useful thing. You ought to try it sometime. (That probably goes for Michael as well.)

Impelled, apparently unaware of these (and many other words) of our Founders, goes on: "The suggestion that the Founders would try something so radical, or imagine that so powerful a force could be excluded from a government without actually endangering that government, contradicts the realism and practicality that were so essential to their success."

bzzzt. Sorry, wrong answer. Do try again.

"Even if they all thought religion nonsense---" (And who's distorting what now? John Adams was a devout Christian. Washington was a deist; Jefferson was as well. And that's just for starters.) "---and I have just read at least two Founders' comments on its importance to social order and the defense of liberty---" (without providing the quotes or sources, sadly) "---they were famously constructing a government for imperfect, selfish, ambitious people. They would hardly have imagined such people could be freed of superstition, never mind actual religion."

I think the quotes I provided speak for themselves. They wished to keep religion out of government, but provide freedom of religion for the citizenry to believe however they liked. There are other quotes as well. Would you like me to dig them all out for you, or would you be content with just ignoring the ones I've provided?

Impelled reasserts that there is no "necessary incompatability between reason and faith." That's true---provided you keep them separate. Then Impelled quotes Locke's line "we more certainly know that there is a God, than that there is anything else without us," but then tries to use it to put a wedge between the word Rationalism and what Rationalism actually is, finishing up with "Maybe you should be more careful before insulting other people's understanding of reading you haven't done yourself."

Well, just wow. Apparently, Impelled's reading is far better and more important than my reading.

"I don't really know how to summarize without being a jerk," Impelled says, and I wonder why that thought didn't occur earlier.

"In general I think the test of an argument's seriousness is the accuracy and fairness of the opposing position. Anyone can beat a straw man; but people who want to discern true from false don't bother with such rhetoric, and don't need to. Your remarks don't bear the slightest relationship to what I actually said."

Yes, accuracy and fairness are crucial in debate---both of which you discarded with your opening words by asserting that what I said had nothing to do with your argument. I have been doing my utmost to stick with what you've said in our little contretemps, but apparently, you'd just find it more palatable if I had no counterevidence and just capitulated.

Sorry about that.

"And I think I can safely expect that any further reply won't either, and so I promise you that I shall not appear here again."

Of course. And dismissing any response I can make before I can possibly make it certainly elevates the level of our discourse---don't you agree?

Oh. Don't forget your ball.

Mcglk said...

Michael writes to me: "If you do not want to provide authority for the broad statements you make, that's fine. No problem."

I refer Michael to my earlier response to Impelled (which will apparently never be read by that correspondant, alas). Quotes abound. Michael could find them easily enough. Instead, Michael merely wants to make an unfounded statement, and then force me to prove that he's wrong. It's a fairly typical tactic in these sorts of debates. "Green is sometimes blue." "No, it isn't." "Oh? Prove it."

Unfortunately for Michael, quotes abound that back up my point. There are dozens, by Franklin, Madison, Adams, Jefferson, Washington and others. Michael, of course, continues to assert that apparently, the actual words of our Founders don't actually matter.

He says, "In support of my point, I would point out that at the time the Constitution was being written, many of the state's constitutions made reference to the fact that the rights and liberties they enjoyed flowed from God."

Well, yes, okay. I'm not sure how this supports his point. State governments were more independent, and certainly some of them (which I've mentioned before, including Massachusetts) had officially recognized religions. So quoting Massachusetts's (or other states') constitution(s) at me is kind of redundant and wordy---but still has nothing to do with the US Constitution or the intent of the Founders.

And in at least one specific case, in regards to the Massachusetts Constitution, Adams spoke out several times in favor of removing the the religious clauses in it. Sadly, he never lived to see the most egregious ones removed---that occurred nine years after he died.

Over the next twenty or so years, most of the states amended their constitutions to secularize them after the example of the US Constitution. The intent of the Founders was clear enough to the states; even diehards like Massachusetts secularized its Constitution. By the time the 14th Amendment was passed (which extended the Bill of Rights to all the states), no religious clauses had to be removed (well, to my knowledge; I was at least unable to find any examples of such clauses by the time the 14th Amendment was passed).

So far, Michael's assertion that the Founders didn't intend what they said they intended doesn't seem to be holding up very well.

Impelled said...

I'm not leaving from petulance, my friend. Arguments about substance vs rhetoric are tedious, and ultimately judged by fair and careful readers, so it will save time if I just leave it to them. Anyone who is confused or curious about anything I've written can find me.

One point bears reiteration: people have reasoned about the unknown, the uncertain, the unproved and the unobserved for at least 25,000 years. There is very little in Aristotle or Plato that begins with replicable physical observations, but of course their work is very much reasoned, so much so that Augustine and Aquinas saw the necessity of incorporating large chunks of it. Reason's conclusions can never escape the quality of its initial assumptions, but those conclusions are nevertheless reasoned. And so claims that religion or faith cannot be “reasoned” are obviously incorrect.

allison said...

I agree with a previous poster who suggested there should be a separate thread for christians (and athesists) who wan to debate the existence of god.

Then there should be a thread for people who agree that there is no god. Actually, two threads for them. One to talk about everyday things like raising kids and dealing with the community. And another one for the "big" questions like mortality.
There are lots of smart people on this blog and I'd like to hear how they think about their own mortality and cope with the loss of loved ones, and their ideas about ethics and morality,etc.

michael said...

MCGLK,

Nice effort but you are still dodging the very precise issue I initially raised. I don't know if it's intentional or just through oversight. The ONLY point I made was that your statement thus "the authors of that document meant it much more generally—that the laws we pass should avoid any tie with any religious construct" could not be supported.

All your arguments since then have been to prove that the founders did not intend to establish a national religion. Of course they didn't. But to go from that point to argue that all the laws we pass should avoid any tie with any religious construct is a leap that cannot properly be made. If that were true, state constitutions would have no reference to God, which is patently untrue. Laws would have no reference to any religious observations, which is patently untrue. Blue laws remained in effect in many states up until very recently. The declaration of independence expresses quite clearly that the fundamental rights we have as people - life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness - come not from governments or men, but from God.

You then state: "I'm not sure how this supports his point. State governments were more independent, and certainly some of them (which I've mentioned before, including Massachusetts) had officially recognized religions. So quoting Massachusetts's (or other states') constitution(s) at me is kind of redundant and wordy---but still has nothing to do with the US Constitution or the intent of the Founders."

Yes, that's the very point. States WERE independent and did not want a federal government telling them what they could and could not do. They did not want the federal govt. telling them what they could do in the area of religion. Thus, the restriction on Congress making no laws "respecting" an establishment of religion. Respecting means with reference to.

Your statement "So far, Michael's assertion that the Founders didn't intend what they said they intended doesn't seem to be holding up very well" is a cheap shot since I nowhere said that. Perhaps you would want to revise the broad statement you made to be more narrow since you have yet supported that broad statement.

ben turk said...

WOW...

I don't have time to read all the (in my mind unecessary) debate here, but i skimmed it.

Everyone, the founders true intentions are no more clear than the stories about jesus. History is muddy. One thing that is clear is our founders created a branch of the government who's purpose was to interpret the consitution, they recognized that they lacked a complete consensus and that even the things they agreed on could become oppressive in future situations.

So, the REAL argument we should be having is: how much ought the US Constitution be thought of as a living document, subject to interpretation which changes as our society and lives change?

Impelled, i'd assume, is going to say not much, and rail against activist judges, legislating from the bench. But, my initial statement stands: you're wrong, and your time in charge has passed. we're going to take away your power to exert your wrong headedness on the rest of us. We aren't going to be ruled by the dead anymore. You lose. Ain't nothin' you can do about it. Your backlash will only reaffirm and cement our success. Good bye.

Mcglk said...

Two in one.

Impelled presses the point that "[...] people have reasoned about the unknown, the uncertain, the unproved and the unobserved for at least 25,000 years. There is very little in Aristotle or Plato that begins with replicable physical observations, but of course their work is very much reasoned, so much so that Augustine and Aquinas saw the necessity of incorporating large chunks of it. Reason's conclusions can never escape the quality of its initial assumptions, but those conclusions are nevertheless reasoned. And so claims that religion or faith cannot be 'reasoned' are obviously incorrect."

Um . . . I'm willing to bend on this point a little, but the reason (heh) for that is because reason has multiple meanings. The definition I cited earlier was relatively accurate, but you seem to be using it in the sense of a premise of an argument in support of a belief, only generalizing it a bit to the entire process, which is rightly called argument (that is, the non-angry form of argument). I think the exact phrase you're looking for is "religion can be argued," not "religion can be reasoned."

Curse the squishiness of the English language! :)

The thing is, when one's core assumptions are wrong (as they often were in Aristotle's case), one is quickly led to a point where no logical machinations can save the argument, because it is flawed from the beginning. Even when the initial assumption is persuasive, or the authority of the one pronouncing the assumption is unchallenged, the argument is fatally flawed, and logic cannot help it.

This is what I mean by "faith cannot be reasoned." Faith is entirely dependent on one's emotional response. The core principles of faith depend on things which must be assumed, but cannot be verified to any degree of satisfaction beyond personal anecdote, and whether you buy into that personal anecdote depends on how you feel about the teller of the tale.

In the end, no matter what the logical convolutions the argument goes through, you wind up going with your gut because it "feels right."

And ultimately, even Aristotle recognized the difference between logic and philosophy.

Michael, on the other hand, seems to be unable to distinguish between state constitutions (that is, not written by the Founders) and the US Constitution (that is, written by the Founders).

In fact, Michael seems bound and determined not to actually read the quotes I've offered, or do to any research that indicates that the Founders actually meant to limit the phrasing to the establishment of a religion. He's much more content to just sit back and say, "You're wrong! Prove that you're right! Prove it again!"

It's getting old, Michael. Either put up some quotes, by the Founders, that they meant to limit the law in order to show that I'm incorrect, or admit that the quotes so far showed that the Founders wanted there to be a clear separation of church and state. I mean, good heavens, Michael---quotes abound! Dozens, possibly hundreds. Can't you be bothered to do even the tiniest bit of research on anything but red herrings?

But aside from that, if Michael's point is true, why didn't the First Amendment say, "[...] no law establishing a religion [...]" rather than "[...] no law respecting an establishment of religion [...]"? The latter is a more generalized phrasing, and of course, this has led to varying opinions by the Supreme Court over time.

(Lately, of course, the Supremes are saying that this is a much more restrictive clause, but then, they're saying that torture and suspension of habeus corpus is apparently A-OK as well, so I'm not sure that I trust this incarnation of the Court to make sound judgments.)

At this point, I feel like I could find a quote (so far as I know, none exists) by John Adams, say, reading "Look, we meant exactly what Mcglk will say 200 years in the future!" and Michael would just skip over it as inconsequential.

I concede on one point: there is apparently nothing that will convince Michael that there is a wall of separation between church and state.

Thank goodness that there is such a wall. Let freedom ring.

Impelled said...

mcglk, I wrote "reason" rather than "argument" with a pretty good understanding of what these words commonly mean. I see no reason to change what I wrote.

I suspect we don't mean the same thing by "faith", and that what you mean by the term is closer to what I would call "superstition".

Mcglk said...

Well, it would be nice if we could at least agree on a definition. I mean, I'm just using my dictionary (Oxford American) to check. Perhaps you're using a more authoritative source. Care to let me in on it?

Same with "faith." I'm using it in the sense of "strong belief based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof." But here again, I'm a little hampered by the English language and its pesky dictionaries.

michael said...

I think mcglk is just being intentionally obtuse now. You started out saying one thing, which I initially commented on, and subsequently proceeded to argue something entirely different. I have referred to your quote everytime yet you still refuse to support that statement. Instead, you want to argue that the founders intended there to be "separation of church and state". That is NOT what you originally said. Instead, quoting again, you said: "the authors of that document meant it much more generally—that the laws we pass should avoid any tie with any religious construct." You have refused to debate THAT statement, which leads to the only obvious conclusion, which is that you cannot support that statement.

Your failure to understand the importance of state constitutions, and thus the will of the states, on the decisions being made at the Constitutional Convention is surprising. Anyone with even a modest understanding of the issues involved in writing our Constitution understand the state v. federal balance.

If the founders meant what you say "that the laws we pass should avoid any tie with any religious construct", perhaps you can explain why the House passed a resolution after passage of the Bill of Rights calling for a national day of prayer and thanksgiving. The resolution thanked the “Almighty God” for allowing the United States the opportunity to establish a constitutional government. Why did Congress retain its Chaplain and open its sessions with a prayer? Why did the states pass laws that were clearly religiously connected?

Of course, mcglk will not answer these questions nor address the one precise issue I previously raised because he would have trouble supporting it. Instead, he'll continue to debate a different point entirely.

ben turk said...

again, this debate is irrelevant. The founders are dead. They were long dead when any of us were born. why does their opinion matter more than ours? we're alive. we have to life with this government.

can Impelled or Michael back up the specific issues relating to seperation of church and state? How can you think it's right- based on what is happening TODAY in the real world, to have one set of traditions and myths present in our public institutions and not any of the others?

When i was in kindergarten we had an Xmas bullitin board with a construction paper toy train and each kid got their name on a box car full of toys, except the one Jewish kid, he got the coal car. Can impelled or Michael back something like that up?

michael said...

Ben,

Do you know how valuable a car load of coal is? Sounds like a good deal to me.

wordgirl said...

Julia,

Glad I came upon your blog. I love the way you write. I agree about the separation of church and state. As a person from Texas who is surrounded by Republicans at every turn who enjoy drinking the lethal cocktail known as Politics-Mixed-With-Religion, it takes great resolve to take a stand against the presentation of ANY religion as THE WAY TO BELIEVE...especially in the public schools. My kids go to public schools and it's a constant battle.

Mcglk said...

Michael has decided that I'm being "intentionally obtuse" now. Okay, I'm game. Let's see how.

Michael states that I said one thing (that "the authors of that document meant [the phrasing of the First Amendment] much more generally—that the laws we pass should avoid any tie with any religious construct") and then argued in favor of a completely different thing ("the separation of church and state").

I'm still trying to comprehend the vast gulf between these two points that Michael apparently sees.

Perhaps I was unclear about "religious construct." What I meant by that was "any moral or legalistic construction which stems primarily from religious belief." Michael seems to think that this has nothing to do with separation of church and state, whereas I think it addresses precisely that point.

Y'see, the separation of church and state necessarily means that one does not interfere with the other. That separation means that ideally, the laws that we pass for all citizens to follow should not favor any religion over another. The state, as defined by the US Constitution, should operate entirely independently of any religious influence, lest it favor one religion over another.

As far as debating the statement about "avoiding any ties," I'm a little mystified as to why it needs to be debated. The original language of the Constitution is admittedly not as clear as it could have been, but certainly the subsequent sentiments expressed by the Founders clarify it beyond a reasonable doubt.

As far as my "failure to understand the importance of state constitutions," blah-de-blah, it's a silly assertion. Whether I understand the importance or not, the Founders chose to write the Constitution in the way they did. Certainly what the state delegations wanted was important---but the end result was a Constitution and a Bill of Rights that was written the way it was.

Michael then writes, "if the founders meant what you say 'that the laws we pass should avoid any tie with any religious construct', perhaps you can explain why the House passed a resolution after passage of the Bill of Rights calling for a national day of prayer and thanksgiving."

Um, Michael? I hate to break it to you, buddy, but a proclamation ain't a law. Such a resolution was passed, but Jefferson certainly objected (and in fact, during his presidency, he chose not to make such a proclamation because he did believe it was a violation of the separation of church and state).

Michael goes on. "The resolution thanked the 'Almighty God' for allowing the United States the opportunity to establish a constitutional government. Why did Congress retain its Chaplain and open its sessions with a prayer? Why did the states pass laws that were clearly religiously connected?"

First, ye gawds, Michael, can't you keep these things straight? State constitutions are not the US Constitution. Proclamations are not laws. States are not the United States; they are a subset thereof.

I mean, if you're going to call me obtuse, the least you could do is minimally comprehend these obvious differences.

As far as Congress continuing to retain a chaplain, it is a clear violation of the separation of church and state. In the US government, we currently spend around $300,000 a year on chaplain salaries, and this does not include operating budgets for those offices. This violation is overlooked because their role is primarily seen as a personnel support role on behalf of other members of Congress, and not as a legislatively influential one; because of this, tradition holds out (as described in Marsh v. Chambers). But it remains a violation, one which has been commented on before, most notably in the 1850s when citizens brought about objections to the breach and forced Congress to stop subsiding the arrangement for a couple of years.

Michael then snips, "Of course, mcglk will not answer these questions nor address the one precise issue I previously raised because he would have trouble supporting it. Instead, he'll continue to debate a different point entirely."

Well, geez, Michael, what is the one "precise issue" you've raised? Does it have the same precision as your other stunning equivalences, or are you just whining that I used different words to express pretty much the same thing again?

Again, you're calling me wrong, and then not able to actually show I'm wrong, instead continuing to insist that I prove myself to your satisfaction, and then showing that there can be no possible satisfaction because your definitions are conveniently all over the map. It's a lazy, pointless objection-fest, and hardly worthy of being called "debate."

Anonymous said...

hmmm... gaawwwwd?
mediterranean monotheism?
Is that like mediterranean humus
with no garlic?
Personally I am an agnostic 'cause
that's more diagnostic! Luther said
(well almost):
Lasset die Rinder zu mir kommen
und zwar gut durchgebraten!
monotheism, hmmm is that like the
mono- and diglycerides on those processed fuuuud labels?
hmmmmm....
mono-maniacal idees fixes!

-Orfeo

Anonymous said...

What if you change your mind?

Melissa said...

I really feel sorry for you. You have rejected God and His love for you. I pray that one day you will realize just how much you need the Lord.
I had breast cancer 3 years ago at the age of 35. I would not have been able to get through that horrible time without my Lord and Savior. He has never let me down and He never will.

Praise be to God Who gives us victory over the grave!

God bless you.

Melissa said...

We all will one day see God face to face. What a glorious Day that will be for all those who know and love the Lord!
I pray that more and more people will come to know Him!

God bless!
Melissa

Susan said...

Julia, I've been reading your archives and want to say--you are one of the happiest people ever, and it makes me glad that you're alive and spreading your happy vibes. I'm feeling blue these days and even though I don't know you and probably never will, I do feel a bit better reading your blog entries. Like, ahhhh, it IS possible for a normal person to be happy, even in this world.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to our website for you World of Warcraft Gold,Wow Gold,Cheap World of Warcraft Gold,cheap wow gold,buy cheap wow gold,real wow gold,sell wow gold, ...Here wow gold of 1000 gold at $68.99-$80.99 ,World Of Warcraft Gold,buy wow gold,sell world of warcraft gold(wow gold),buy euro gold wow Cheap wow gold,cheapest wow gold store ... gw gold

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

徵信, 徵信, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信社, 感情挽回, 婚姻挽回, 挽回婚姻, 挽回感情, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信, 捉姦, 徵信公司, 通姦, 通姦罪, 抓姦, 抓猴, 捉猴, 捉姦, 監聽, 調查跟蹤, 反跟蹤, 外遇問題, 徵信, 捉姦, 女人徵信, 女子徵信, 外遇問題, 女子徵信, 徵信社, 外遇, 徵信公司, 徵信網, 外遇蒐證, 抓姦, 抓猴, 捉猴, 調查跟蹤, 反跟蹤, 感情挽回, 挽回感情, 婚姻挽回, 挽回婚姻, 外遇沖開, 抓姦, 女子徵信, 外遇蒐證, 外遇, 通姦, 通姦罪, 贍養費, 徵信, 徵信社, 抓姦, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信, 徵信公司, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信公司, 徵信社, 徵信公司, 徵信, 徵信公司, 女人徵信, 外遇

徵信, 徵信網, 徵信社, 徵信網, 外遇, 徵信, 徵信社, 抓姦, 徵信, 女人徵信, 徵信社, 女人徵信社, 外遇, 抓姦, 徵信公司, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信公司, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信公司, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 女人徵信社, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 女子徵信社, 女子徵信社, 女子徵信社, 女子徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 征信, 征信, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社, 征信, 徵信, 徵信社, 徵信, 徵信社

MOMO said...

牙醫,植牙,矯正,矯正牙齒,皮膚科,痘痘,中醫,飛梭雷射,毛孔粗大,醫學美容,痘痘,seo,關鍵字行銷,自然排序,網路行銷,自然排序,關鍵字行銷seo,部落格行銷,網路行銷,seo,關鍵字行銷,自然排序,部落格行銷,網路行銷,牛舌餅婚紗台中婚紗,腳臭,腳臭,腳臭,腳臭,腳臭,腳臭,腳臭,腳臭

MOMO said...

高雄婚紗,街舞,小產,雞精,性感,辣妹,雷射溶脂,雙下巴,抽脂,瘦小腹,微晶瓷,電波拉皮,淨膚雷射,清潔公司,居家清潔,牙周病,牙齒矯正,植牙,牙周病,矯正,植牙

Microsoft Office 2007 said...

Office 2010
Microsoft Office 2010
Microsoft word
Office 2007
Microsoft Office
Microsoft Office 2007
Office 2007 key
Office 2007 download
Office 2007 Professional
Outlook 2010
Microsoft outlook
Microsoft outlook 2010
Windows 7

Peter said...

Thanks for great share :)

EWA review
Affiliate review
pc games download
download gta 4 for pc free
Blam ads review
cpatank review
wolf storm media review
Ndemand review
Download Shift 2 Unleashed Free

muebles en madrid said...

The chap is completely right, and there's no skepticism.