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View Poll Results: Are you religious?
Religious 58 44.62%
Atheist 32 24.62%
Agnostic 40 30.77%
Voters: 130. You may not vote on this poll

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      10-23-2009, 05:01 PM   #67
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I believe that their is something greater then humans. Humanity is extremely flawed. We have thousands of species on just this one little planet. So whether its on another planet or outside of our universe, I believe that their must be something greater.
Your premises provide no basis for your conclusion- if anything, quite the contrary. Unless your point is the universe is so big there's probably a species smarter than us. Maybe. There's certainly nothing to prevent that, but it's just speculation though.

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The complexities of earths ecosystem and the unexplained gaps in our understanding of earths development lead me to believe that something higher is responsible.
Natual selection helps to balance ecosystems. The rest is argument from ignorance- a popular fallacy amongs religious. We're in our scientific infancy and have already explained a lot. The fact that you expect we should already know EVERYTHING by now tells something.


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The problem I have with higher powers, is that they are absent from earth. Parents are responsible for their children's actions, and if a higher power created us, they it should be responsible for the evils that humans commit on themselves and the planet. All the religious people that claims that some spiritual force is present in their hearts is just ludicrous. That spiritual force doesn't feed the starving children or stop the torturing raping baby killers. Its just a selfish need by many religious people to feel like they are protected. The Jesus in the heart thing is psychology, not religion.
Can't argue with that much, but it's just speculation on the nature of behaviour of higher powers (although very reasonable speculation at that). Perhaps a better question is, if there were a higher power, why would it be any more interested in us than we are in a bacteria colony?

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My background in religion is a masters degree. I spent 5 years in a monastery and went to college at a seminary. Religion is my area of expertise. Yes there is greater things then humanity out there, no they arent currently interacting with us. Their is only one species on earth that has created religions which of course is humans. We created hundred of thousands of gods, all claiming that we are the special chosen primates of these higher powers. Thousands of years ago we developed a few percentage different in our brains that allow for complex speech and abstract thought. Religion came from that abstract thought. All human invented religions are incorrect obviously, especially since they all rely on invisible faith.

Hopefully in life, or probably only in death, the mysterious of life will be revealed. Ultimately, the greatest human minds have determined that love and peace is the better path. So thats what we should strive for, love and peace. What communion you take, or the specific religious books you read wont make a difference. Love your neighbor as yourself and you should be fine. Or we will simply die and disappear forever, who knows.
I did my best to address your post, but I think the reason you didn't get responses is that your post was far too mild and reasonable for anyone to have much of a problem with The parts that weren't were speculation or things others had mentioned. I'd love to hear more input though; it sounds like you have quite a background.
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      10-23-2009, 05:19 PM   #68
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OK- I'll help



Your premises provide no basis for your conclusion- if anything, quite the contrary. Unless your point is the universe is so big there's probably a species smarter than us. Maybe. There's certainly nothing to prevent that, but it's just speculation though.



Natual selection helps to balance ecosystems. The rest is argument from ignorance- a popular fallacy amongs religious. We're in our scientific infancy and have already explained a lot. The fact that you expect we should already know EVERYTHING by now tells something.




Can't argue with that much, but it's just speculation on the nature of behaviour of higher powers (although very reasonable speculation at that). Perhaps a better question is, if there were a higher power, why would it be any more interested in us than we are in a bacteria colony?



I did my best to address your post, but I think the reason you didn't get responses is that your post was far too mild and reasonable for anyone to have much of a problem with The parts that weren't were speculation or things others had mentioned. I'd love to hear more input though; it sounds like you have quite a background.
Wow, thanks. Most I can do now, is quote Epicurus. "If God is able but not willing"...you know the rest.

Fact, the higher powers dont interact on a physical level. So where are they? In our hearts, no. Maybe they created and left? Maybe they dont care? Maybe its all random?

Even the ideas of good and evil are all human concepts that no other, of the millions of earths organisms, share. So even to say that we should be morally good is a human invention.

Fact, we have physical needs. We must address those physical needs, since we were created with them. We need air, water, food, and climate protection. The earth is our provider in that respect. Thus we must protect the earth to protect ourselves.

Once we get away from our basic animal instinct's....well when we start thinking about that, religious wars happen. We should all be able to agree on the undeniable earthly requirements that all species share. The philosophical duties that we have.. I dont know!
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      10-23-2009, 05:38 PM   #69
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What the hell...I'm feeling feisty, so I'll try to take these on. I'll try to explain the values and motivations i hold, and that other, more vocal atheists may also hold. I'll end by explaining my perception of the goals of theists, and why I consider them misguided.

I'd say "lack the belief in God(s)"- a-theist=without gods/theism. There is simply no reason to believe in things like that without some extreme evidence. Atheists are the only group that are generally identified for what they DON'T believe in and don't do. I'll take a usefule but cliched example: the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM). Do you believe the FSM not only does not, but CAN NOT exist? Justify. I think it CAN exist, but the it is so vanishingly unlikely that it's not worth mentioning. Other than the age of the stories, what are the differences between the FSM, God, and the numerous 'dead' God's nobody thinks are real anymore.
I do like your gusto.

I checked out the FSM website for about 45 seconds. However, believing in the FSM, which so many atheists point to as the same as believing in God, in my opinion is one of the reasons atheists as a group are "despised" as you put it. Spaghetti and meatballs after all, is an entree. That being said, the only reason i tend to dislike those people are because when it's all said and done, it's a mockery of our beliefs. In the 45 seconds I spend on the FSM website it seemed pretty obvious that my last statement was true. However, if it were a real practicing religion, I would not call them names, no matter what i think of their practices, just as i won't call atheists names for not believing. This example alone is justification enough to claim the same can’t be said of atheists.

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Beyond other people's claims there is no reason to think god(s) exist, and the belief is unquestionably propagated. There is not indisputable evidence to the contrary, but this is a weakness in the definition: you can not prove a person's or objects non-existence indisputably. What evidence would a non-existent being leave of it's non-existence? The more pertinant point is that there is no hard evidence FOR the belief- just claims. So, even atheist that are polite and don't use the word delusional, it's an accurate description of theists from the POV of people who see no evidence of God. I personally have never called religious people that, and have never argued this point, but I think I've shown a good case can be made for it.
Well, until we know for sure, without a shadow of a doubt how this universe and earth came to be, the bold statement isn't true.

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Belief in god(s) is very common, and people don't look at these claims with the same skepticism as anything else in their life- even other religious claims (imagine a hippie looking guy approaching you in the street claiming to be the messiah, doing impressive magic tricks. 99.9% of people would brush him off as a nutcase)! I wouldn't say belief in god(s) is wrong from a moral standpoint, but from an incorrect-or-correct stand point it probably is. Like the FSM, it might be right; there's simply no reason to think so beyond peoples claims. As far as informing society...I don't do this unless someone else brings it up. What they want to believe in their own personal lives, in a way that doesn't affect me, I don't care. Once points of a religious nature are brought up or postulated as true, all bets are off and I'll debate it as I would any other baseless claim. The spreading of misinformation is my biggest pet peeve, and the belief in misinformation is fascinating to me, which is why I spend so many keystrokes in threads like this when they come up.
That's because he was doing tricks. What if he took your friend, a person with a born disability and cured them on the spot? I think you miss the subtleties of your insults. You just compared the savior of the majority in this country to a hippy doing magic tricks. More support for atheists being "despised" because of their mocking of what's important to the majority.

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The seperation of church and state was as much for the protection of church as for state. None of these seperations of church and state fetter the practice of anyones religion in the slightest degree (yes- kids can still even pray in school; they just aren't forced to and aren't ostrizied for not participating). Therefore, the intent of trying to insert religious views into secular law must necessarily be the legitimization, promotion, and establishiment of particular religious views. This seems pretty cut and dry. Let the churches and individuals handle the religious rules and practices, and let the government handle the secular rules and practices. Seems pretty win/win to me, and this right, like all our rights and freedoms, is worth fighting for.
In what areas to religious views infringe upon you as an American citizen? Because I’m all for separation of church and state. In a country where you are free to believe what you please; i would just like to know what areas of the law infringe upon your non belief.
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      10-23-2009, 07:10 PM   #70
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Spaghetti and meatballs after all, is an entree


It wasn't until a few weeks ago that I learned that people think this is LITERALLY the body of Christ (I've even taken communion- I just thought everyone thought it was symbolic). Are the beliefs so different? The main difference I can see between the two is the age, and one's deity is made of food, the others food is made of deity (and it isn't even real deity- it's wheat!). These are just the facts. I treated it no differently than you treated the all-mighty FSM by calling him an entree. Am I really supposed to treat a belief like crackers turning into Jesus with any kind of reverence? I'll treat it the same way I'd treat, say, a homeopath, who claims his vial of water is medicine, or the Scientologist and his belief in Xenu and Theatens, and the same way you treat the FSM. [side note: communion is BETTER taken as symbolic. Otherwise, it is the intent to partake in cannibalism]

next time you're in Barnes & Nobel, you should really thumb through "The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster" (sometimes it's in humor, sometimes in religion). Surprisingly, it's well written and very clever.

What other things do you consider to be true by default until...until I don't know what? Other, lesser gods? The Force (tm)?

Water into wine? Walking on water? Faith healing? You can see these tricks of this level being done today. The point I'm getting at is, without an extremely healthy dose of skepticism it's difficult to determine the authenticity of the claims (let alone the veracity of the story, if it's something you didn't witness for yourself). And in the time Jesus lived, NOBODY was well-bathed except some of the Romans.

I think I already explained the legal issue sufficiently.

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      10-23-2009, 07:37 PM   #71
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Sadly, I didn't make this video. If you watch it, please watch the whole thing.




Atheism is definitely held to a different standard. Ever hear an atheist street preacher? Someone killing in the name of atheism? An atheist knocking on your door? We're just people, who treat the God claim as we would any other fantastic claim.


(can anyone see the video? I only see a white box, so I included the URL as well.)

If you found that interesting, here's another by the same author...

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      10-24-2009, 02:52 AM   #72
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you need to add Satan worshippers and the fastest growing religion: Earth worshippers. go green!!! , I pledge allegiance to the earth and the life that it gives, one planet, under the sun, for animals and plants united. amen.

and them the what about devout Muslims? do they count?
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      10-24-2009, 08:51 AM   #73
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Of course. Most of my friends and family are religious, and we get along fine. There are only a few of 'em that I can speak candidly about religion with though, and we have interesting debates. Talking to the internets, it's hard to get a direct feel for people's reactions, but there's also nothing invested in the relationships, so I feel a little more free to let 'er rip.

Yes- everyone has an agenda. But, the religious are extremely well connected politically and push the boundries of constitutionality. The pledge, for example, was brought up. We should not force the nations students to take a de facto religious oath. In fact, the BAPTIST MINISTER who WROTE the pledge did not have "under God" in it. It was added about 60 years after the fact to seperate us from the godless commies. Trying to manipulate the legal system to VOTE on what in science books is another example, but thankfully that isn't working very well (although still better than it should). So, I suppose you can say the agenda I'm pushing is freedom and the value of science- the two things that have made modern western civilization possible more than any other.

Here are some results from the poll I was mentioning...






I would LOVE to see the justifications people give for these reasons. The president's responsibilities, for example, are entirely SECULAR in nature. Seems like an advantage to have someone in here that knows this is his one chance to make a mark, the consequences of his decisions don't consider the rapture inevitible, and his country knocks God off the top of his priority list.
I think the reason that an atheist may rank so low in these polls is because there are issues that a potential president may have the chance to affect, such as abortion and gay rights, that many religions address in their belief systems. For example, I would suspect that all Christian denominations hold a pro-life view. If a person of a Christian faith also held that view, he or she may be wary of an atheist as President because they may not share that view. Just like a pro-life person would likely not vote for a Democrat because, despite their religious views, they tend to be pro-choice, an atheist would give even less assurance of supporting pro-life causes. The same can be extended to gay rights, and any other issue in politics for which a religious body has established an opinion.
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      10-24-2009, 09:33 AM   #74
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Sadly, I didn't make this video. If you watch it, please watch the whole thing.




Atheism is definitely held to a different standard. Ever hear an atheist street preacher? Someone killing in the name of atheism? An atheist knocking on your door? We're just people, who treat the God claim as we would any other fantastic claim.


(can anyone see the video? I only see a white box, so I included the URL as well.)

If you found that interesting, here's another by the same author...
I just finished watching both videos, and they both have compelling points on different subjects.

For the first, on the idea of labeling people as militant atheists, he does make a very good argument that the actions of some religious groups (Jehova's Witnesses in his video) are tolerated, whereas if an atheist were to do the same, they would most likely be far more hated. So in that respect, a militant atheist (or hardcore as I've been referring to them) is actually far less obvious about their theological beliefs than the militant or hardcore followers of traditional religious beliefs.

I think that we see this behavior because what some people see is not the fact that the militant atheist is actually less forthright about their beliefs, but the fact that the atheist is diametrically opposed to their belief system, and it's this fact that makes them seem more repugnant. A Jehova's Witness who comes to your door may be annoying to some, but the religious may give them more of a pass since in the end both believe in God, even if some of the dogma is different.

As to the second (this video for those who may not have watched deals with the actions of religious extremists in comparison to militant atheists), the author also makes compelling points, but the argument here, in my opinion, was weaker than what was presented in the first video. I find this to be the case because the extremists he shows are just that: extremists. He brings up the Westboro Baptist Church (the ones who protest military funerals because they believe a dead soldier is God's way of punishing the US for its acceptance of homosexuality), the KKK, Muslim suicide bombers, and some of the other less savory aspects of religions, past and present (stoning of women in Christianity in the past, and the unfortunate still-current process of stoning women and killing homosexuals in nations following Sharia law). I would submit that these actions represent a very small percentage of all religious people, and that equally heinous crimes are still committed on the basis of race, gender, and in some parts of the world, simple political affiliation.

He then goes on to wonder about how the world might have been were it not for religion, but I feel that he glosses over, if not entirely omits, some of the points that we've brought up here. Namely that in the beginning of man's history, religion played a very important part of maintaining law and order in societies that may not have been able to accomplish it any other way. Were it not for religion in its entirety, who knows how long it might have been before organized societies sprang up that were able to rally around some common goal or belief. I'll admit that recognizing the importance of religion in man's beginning doesn't mean that one still can't believe that religion has served its purpose, but he does his viewpoint a bit of harm by not recognizing any of the historically important aspects of religion. At best, he simply states that the help that religion has provided (through their charity work, for example) is more than ignored by the destructive powers of religion today (he brings up 9/11 as his example).

He ends the video by saying that he'll stop pushing his points the day that religion no longer forms a basis for the decision making process of people in the world, and the day that people make decisions entirely based on their own reasoning ability, without influence from a religion or holy book. I can't help but feel a slight bit of irony that his eventual long-term goal is to see religion removed from the public and any decisions that affect the public -- he essentially wishes to push his atheistic views on the country. While our nation was founded on the basis of religious tolerance and explicitly prohibits the establishment of a state religion, we cannot help but accept that our founding fathers were by and large religious people, and that all of our presidents have been religious to varrying degrees.
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      10-24-2009, 04:31 PM   #75
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He ends the video by saying that he'll stop pushing his points the day that religion no longer forms a basis for the decision making process of people in the world, and the day that people make decisions entirely based on their own reasoning ability, without influence from a religion or holy book. I can't help but feel a slight bit of irony that his eventual long-term goal is to see religion removed from the public and any decisions that affect the public -- he essentially wishes to push his atheistic views on the country. While our nation was founded on the basis of religious tolerance and explicitly prohibits the establishment of a state religion, we cannot help but accept that our founding fathers were by and large religious people, and that all of our presidents have been religious to varrying degrees.
What is wrong/ironic about wanting to see religious bearing on decisions affecting the public removed? It only makes sense. Look at the ridiculous things that faith-heads beleive and the decisions they make based off of those things. Their ignorant decisions end up affecting others negatively.

"The men responsible for building the foundation of the United States had little use for Christianity, and many were strongly opposed to it. They were men of The Enlightenment, not men of Christianity. They were Deists who did not believe the bible was true." - http://freethought.mbdojo.com/foundingfathers.html
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      10-26-2009, 11:46 AM   #76
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It wasn't until a few weeks ago that I learned that people think this is LITERALLY the body of Christ (I've even taken communion- I just thought everyone thought it was symbolic). Are the beliefs so different? The main difference I can see between the two is the age, and one's deity is made of food, the others food is made of deity (and it isn't even real deity- it's wheat!). These are just the facts. I treated it no differently than you treated the all-mighty FSM by calling him an entree. Am I really supposed to treat a belief like crackers turning into Jesus with any kind of reverence? I'll treat it the same way I'd treat, say, a homeopath, who claims his vial of water is medicine, or the Scientologist and his belief in Xenu and Theatens, and the same way you treat the FSM. [side note: communion is BETTER taken as symbolic. Otherwise, it is the intent to partake in cannibalism]

next time you're in Barnes & Nobel, you should really thumb through "The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster" (sometimes it's in humor, sometimes in religion). Surprisingly, it's well written and very clever.

What other things do you consider to be true by default until...until I don't know what? Other, lesser gods? The Force (tm)?

Water into wine? Walking on water? Faith healing? You can see these tricks of this level being done today. The point I'm getting at is, without an extremely healthy dose of skepticism it's difficult to determine the authenticity of the claims (let alone the veracity of the story, if it's something you didn't witness for yourself). And in the time Jesus lived, NOBODY was well-bathed except some of the Romans.

I think I already explained the legal issue sufficiently.
It is suppose to be symbolic. Some people do think it's "real" though. I still don't get that?

Who told you it wasn't symbolic?
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      10-26-2009, 11:51 AM   #77
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It is suppose to be symbolic. Some people do think it's "real" though. I still don't get that?

Who told you it wasn't symbolic?
Sorry thats not accurate. In the Orthodox and Catholic tradition, which are the oldest Christian religions, it is considered the actual body and blood of Jesus. The reason for that is, is that at the last supper he said "This is my body...this is my blood" while breaking the bread and pouring the wine.
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      10-26-2009, 12:24 PM   #78
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Sorry thats not accurate. In the Orthodox and Catholic tradition, which are the oldest Christian religions, it is considered the actual body and blood of Jesus. The reason for that is, is that at the last supper he said "This is my body...this is my blood" while breaking the bread and pouring the wine.
Technically it is just a cracker and wine until consecrated, then through a process that we don't fully understand, it literally becomes the flesh and blood of Christ.
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      10-26-2009, 12:26 PM   #79
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Technically it is just a cracker and wine until consecrated, then through a process that we don't fully understand, it literally becomes the flesh and blood of Christ.
The catholics call it transubstantiation. The Orthodox dont feel the specific definition of how it transforms is pertinent to salvation and thus has not created a text book definition.
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      10-26-2009, 02:59 PM   #80
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What is wrong/ironic about wanting to see religious bearing on decisions affecting the public removed? It only makes sense. Look at the ridiculous things that faith-heads beleive and the decisions they make based off of those things. Their ignorant decisions end up affecting others negatively.

"The men responsible for building the foundation of the United States had little use for Christianity, and many were strongly opposed to it. They were men of The Enlightenment, not men of Christianity. They were Deists who did not believe the bible was true." - http://freethought.mbdojo.com/foundingfathers.html
I found a slight bit of irony (not a knee-slappingly huge amount of irony, mind you) in what appeared to me to be his desire to 'push' atheism on the public by having them set aside their religion in places where he doesn't feel it to be appropriate. That in and of itself is something that atheists often critique about the religious.

Now that said, I certainly cannot argue that decisions haven't been made by people who have cited their faith as the sole reason for doing so. For example, an oft-cited reason for supporting a Federal Marriage Amendment is that God intended for marriage to be between only a man and a woman. I too would reject that sort of defense as being unsuitable in the course of true debate, since it is inherently a position that can't be argued against, unless God himself were to come to my house and tell me. The same applies to people who, when asked, "Why is (such and such a thing) illegal," respond, "Because the law says it's illegal." People serious about debate don't take those 'arguments' seriously.

However, for a person who uses their faith not as the de facto reason for supporting a position, but for establishing their position and then rationally thinking of why that position is correct, how is that line of thought any different than an atheist's? The atheist arrived at point A by rationalizing in their own frame of reference, and the religious person arrived at point B by rationalizing in their own frame of reference. The only difference between the frames of reference is spirituality/religion. It is this type of thinking that I believe we see more of today than the absolutist position of "God said this, so that's why I believe." And I would argue that coming to a decision that was faith inspired, but vetted by rational thought, is not in violation of separation of church and state.

As for the quote about the Founding Fathers, some were less (or even potentially not at all) religious than others, but even as Deists they still believed in a supreme being. So while I may have been incorrect in asserting that they were religious, they were not atheists either, and still likely used their core Deist beliefs to help establish their positions on certain topics, even if later justifying those positions on purely rational thought.
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      10-26-2009, 03:32 PM   #81
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Heres my view from a religiously educated perspective. If the founding fathers were here today, religion wouldnt be in any of the government institutions. Its a bit of a paradox to have a free country yet force Christian ideals and perspectives into the foundations of the government.

Religions are opinions. Thats what faith is, a belief or opinion, not fact. So how can a factual, physical, government institution like a country, allow opinions to be a part of the tenants of said country?

The problem is, is that if you change the religious aspect of the constitution, you change the constitution which therefore changes the country. We need to look at the spirit of the constitution which was about choices and freedoms which do not impose themselves on anybody else. Therefore, even as a religious student, who has spent years in a monastery, its my opinion that religion should have no part in an earthly, physical government.
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      10-26-2009, 05:05 PM   #82
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It is suppose to be symbolic. Some people do think it's "real" though. I still don't get that?

Who told you it wasn't symbolic?
Google eucharistic miracles. Even people I've debated with (either here or on bimmerfest) have said as much. I was first clued in by a story a few months back about Florida student Webster Cook who tried to walk out of church without consumeing a wafer (to protest state funding of the chapel). Someone saw him and he was damn near lynched from the sound of it. He gave the wafer back a week later after receiving numerous threats on his life. Many people threatening him claimed he had kidnapped Jesus.

A good number of people take this very seriously, and think those crackers are LITERALLY Jesus' body.

I agree with Prowess: many of the founding fathers were very secular, and many were religious. The main point is, to protect all of their views, they set up a very secular government that protects the rights of the minority.
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      10-27-2009, 07:36 AM   #83
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Originally Posted by Prowess Symphony View Post
Heres my view from a religiously educated perspective. If the founding fathers were here today, religion wouldnt be in any of the government institutions. Its a bit of a paradox to have a free country yet force Christian ideals and perspectives into the foundations of the government.

Religions are opinions. Thats what faith is, a belief or opinion, not fact. So how can a factual, physical, government institution like a country, allow opinions to be a part of the tenants of said country?

The problem is, is that if you change the religious aspect of the constitution, you change the constitution which therefore changes the country. We need to look at the spirit of the constitution which was about choices and freedoms which do not impose themselves on anybody else. Therefore, even as a religious student, who has spent years in a monastery, its my opinion that religion should have no part in an earthly, physical government.
What do you mean by 'religion wouldn't be in any of the government institutions'? Which religion is in what government institution?

Your notion that beliefs or opinions have no place in government is a bit strange given that this nation was founded on a belief and a fairly radical one at the time. The nation was founded and was to be governed on the belief that all men are created equal and endowed by God with rights and that the only legitimate government was one that protected those God given rights.
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      10-27-2009, 08:33 AM   #84
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What do you mean by 'religion wouldn't be in any of the government institutions'? Which religion is in what government institution?

Your notion that beliefs or opinions have no place in government is a bit strange given that this nation was founded on a belief and a fairly radical one at the time. The nation was founded and was to be governed on the belief that all men are created equal and endowed by God with rights and that the only legitimate government was one that protected those God given rights.
I don't disagree with you, however I think that statement merits clarification.

That premise was of course penned in the declaration of independence, as there is no mention of God in the constitution. The problem, as I see it, is that everyone interprets the phrases "Creator" and "Nature's God" in the DOI to mean their God. This is natural, of course, as most monotheistic religions allow for only "one true God (tm)".

As far as we know, Jefferson was a deist, and didn't much care for formal Christianity, or more generally, formal religion, as evidenced in many of his letters to his contemporaries. While he did support the teachings of Jesus on a moral level, he never supported Christianity, Islam, or any other formal religion AFAIK, nor did he believe that Jesus was any sort of divine being, as to his mind that would be contrary to reason. His use of the term "Nature's God" in the DOI was primarily as a source of moral empowerment, and was never meant to be used by any one religion (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc.) to conflate that particular religion with being "American".

If Jefferson saw people claiming America was a "Christian/Islamic/Jewish nation" there's a decent chance he'd shit bricks.[*] To him, religion was a personal thing, and therefore naturally didn't belong under control of government.


[*]I say there is a decent chance, because I won't attempt to speak for the man himself. My synopsis above is based on his own quotes/writings that are available in several publications. I can provide a short list if requested. I'm sure you know all this, and this is largely not directed towards you.
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      10-27-2009, 09:16 AM   #85
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The nation was founded and was to be governed on the belief that all men are created equal
[Peter Griffin Voice] except blacks, women, jews, basically anyone who's not a white male [/Peter Griffin voice]
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      10-27-2009, 09:35 AM   #86
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With the original capitalization for implied emphasis:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I would argue this is a theist approach, otherwise creator would be lower case. But since they were speaking of freedom, including religion, there was no designation of which Creator, only that there was something beyond the here and now that was responsible for creation.
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      10-27-2009, 10:15 AM   #87
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Your notion that beliefs or opinions have no place in government is a bit strange given that this nation was founded on a belief and a fairly radical one at the time. The nation was founded and was to be governed on the belief that all men are created equal and endowed by God with rights and that the only legitimate government was one that protected those God given rights.
From DougLikesBMW's link...

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 of divine authority.

(Thomas Jefferson originally penned) "All men are created equal and independent. From that equal creation they derive rights inherent and inalienable." Congress changed that phrase, increasing its religious overtones: "All men are created equal. They are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights." But we are not governed by the Declaration of Independence-- it is a historical document, not a constitutional one. Nowhere in the Constitution does it mention religion, except in exclusionary terms. The words "Jesus Christ, Christianity, Bible, and God" are never mentioned in the Constitution-- not once.


The main point to take home here is that they awknowledge people are BORN with rights. Men can only take those rights away, or protect them- not grant them. This is the case whether you think your creator is God, the natural world, or your parents. Lets break this down a little more...

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When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed..."
Nature's God. Wow- that's an even less theistic view than deism, God existing within nature rather than being the creator of it (and, IMHO a necessary view as whatever realm a god would exist in would have to be some part of a greater nature).

Furthermore, most of the founders were still in government when the Treaty of Tripoli was written and signed.
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The 1796 treaty with Tripoli states that the United States was "in no sense founded on the Christian religion" (see below). This was not an idle statement, meant to satisfy muslims-- they believed it and meant it. This treaty was written under the presidency of George Washington and signed under the presidency of John Adams.

Last edited by carve; 10-27-2009 at 10:32 AM.
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      10-27-2009, 12:03 PM   #88
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I don't disagree with you, however I think that statement merits clarification.

That premise was of course penned in the declaration of independence, as there is no mention of God in the constitution. The problem, as I see it, is that everyone interprets the phrases "Creator" and "Nature's God" in the DOI to mean their God. This is natural, of course, as most monotheistic religions allow for only "one true God (tm)".

As far as we know, Jefferson was a deist, and didn't much care for formal Christianity, or more generally, formal religion, as evidenced in many of his letters to his contemporaries. While he did support the teachings of Jesus on a moral level, he never supported Christianity, Islam, or any other formal religion AFAIK, nor did he believe that Jesus was any sort of divine being, as to his mind that would be contrary to reason. His use of the term "Nature's God" in the DOI was primarily as a source of moral empowerment, and was never meant to be used by any one religion (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc.) to conflate that particular religion with being "American".

If Jefferson saw people claiming America was a "Christian/Islamic/Jewish nation" there's a decent chance he'd shit bricks.[*] To him, religion was a personal thing, and therefore naturally didn't belong under control of government.



...I'm sure you know all this, and this is largely not directed towards you.
I have not claimed that the Declaration was meant to found a Christian or any other type of religious nation. My post was meant to address the obvious flaw in the notion that the Founders would reject the role of opinions or beliefs in government. They founded the nation on a belief.

FWIW, Jefferson never referred to himself as a deist. The only founder who did so regularly was Franklin.
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