Friday, February 17, 2012

Thoughts From the Past... Relevant Today

by: Les Carpenter
Rational Nation USA
Liberty -vs - Tyranny


Thomas Jefferson -  Third President of the United States (1801 - 1809)

Having a reflective day. In the sense one can learn from the champions of reason, regardless of their religious tendencies, or lack thereof. And, regardless of the era in which they lived.

Jefferson was a deist, as were many of the classical liberal thinkers that helped found our republic. While the belief in a "Creator" of the universe {and all that exists in it}, was held to be true the founders recognized the extremely personal and individual nature one has with their creator. They took great lengths to insure the relationship remain personal by keeping the federal government separate and apart from religion while insuring religious freedom and diversity.

It would be well if today's socons, fundies, The Church, republican politicians, and anyone else who thinks it okay government is influenced by religion to spend some time reflecting on, and understanding the reasons why Jefferson and others of his time thought and acted as they did. We should all be thankful for their example and wisdom.

Certainly Santorum needs to do so.

Positive Atheism's Big List of Thomas Jefferson Quotations:

May it [the Declaration of Independence] be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. That form which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God. These are grounds of hope for others. For ourselves, let the annual return of this day [July 4th] forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them....
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Roger C Weightman, June 24, 1826, Jefferson's last letter, declining, due to ill health, an invitation to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the signing of that document; Jefferson died ten days later, the very day ot the 50th anniversary of the Declaration's signing (John Adams died a few hours later, not knowing that Jefferson had also died)

The 'Wall of Separation,' Again:

Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person's life, freedom of religion affects every individual. Religious institutions that use government power in support of themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths, or of no faith, undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of an established religion tends to make the clergy unresponsive to their own people, and leads to corruption within religion itself. Erecting the "wall of separation between church and state," therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society.

We have solved, by fair experiment, the great and interesting question whether freedom of religion is compatible with order in government and obedience to the laws. And we have experienced the quiet as well as the comfort which results from leaving every one to profess freely and openly those principles of religion which are the inductions of his own reason and the serious convictions of his own inquiries.
-- Thomas Jefferson, to the Virginia Baptists (1808) ME 16:320. This is his second kown use of the term "wall of separation," here quoting his own use in the Danbury Baptist letter. This wording of the original was several times upheld by the Supreme Court as an accurate description of the Establishment Clause: Reynolds (98 US at 164, 1879); Everson (330 US at 59, 1947); McCollum (333 US at 232, 1948)

The impious presumption of legislators and and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world and through all time: That to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical;...
-- Thomas Jefferson, expressing concern over the authoritarian interpretation of religious views, and advocating, rather, that states allow an individual to use her or his own reason to establish or settle these opinions, in the opening passage to Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1786), quoted from Merrill D Peterson, editor, Thomas Jefferson: Writings (1984), page 346

Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because, if there be one, he must approve the homage of reason rather than of blind-folded fear. Do not be frightened from this inquiry by any fear of its consequences.... If it end in a belief that there is no god, you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its exercise and in the love of others it will procure for you.
-- Thomas Jefferson, to Peter Carr, 10 August 1787. (capitalization of the word god is retained per original)


I concur with you strictly in your opinion of the comparative merits of atheism and demonism, and really see nothing but the latter in the being worshiped by many who think themselves Christians.
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Richard Price from Paris, January 8, 1789. (Price had said, "There has been in almost all religions a melancholy separation of religion from morality." Surely Jefferson is using the word atheism as a synonym for wickedness or immorality; this was a common and accepted usage of the word 200 years ago. -- Cliff Walker)

It has been said ignorance is bliss.

It has also been said the truth will set you free. It takes education and a active mind to overcome ignorance before you find truth so it can set you free.

The choice, like religion belongs to each individual.

26 comments:

  1. Belief in God and reason are not mutually exclusive, as great minds throughout the ages have shown.

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    Replies
    1. Agreed Silver. But more to the point, there is certainly few great religious minds, or leaders circulating in the fold today

      Delete
  2. I disagree with SF. Great minds in the past were not privy to the staggering amount of scientific knowledge we are blessed with in the present. Even the great Darwin himself, a one-time believer, lost his faith once his discoveries presented him with the beauty of truth based on facts, not faith.

    In Newton's day, it was a crime to not have a belief in a god: "During 1667 he was a Fellow at Cambridge, making necessary the commitment to taking holy orders within a seven year period of completion of his studies..Prior to commencing studies he was required to take a vow of celibacy together with the recognition of the 39 Articles of the establishment of the Church of England. Newton considered ceasing his studies prior to completion in order to avoid the ordination made necessary by law of King Charles II for all graduates.

    Unorthodoxy was made necessary for Newton and those affiliated with him, by the need for rediscovery of a prisca truth that had been hidden somewhere in the time of classical history. By this they might have the capacity to engage in open dialogue with an investigation into Nature.

    In this conflict of ecclesiastical order and the liberating effects of scientific enquiry, he and others turned to the prisca in all the security of a classical civilization having been supposedly founded on bona fide insights."

    In modern times, many "great minds" were and are not believers. Albert Einstein was not a believer, nor are 98% of the present-day physicists--Stephen Hawking, Neal deGrasse Tyson, and Carolyn Porco, to name just a few.

    This is not to say ALL great thinkers were unbelievers, but to acknowledge that an overwhelming number of great minds were not believers.

    PS. Aquinas may have been a thinker, but he had real problems vis-a-vis women and his disgust with all things sexual. He was absolutely ignorant on procreation as well, but it didn't stop him from writing all manner of nonsense in his Summa Theologica:

    “Vis-a-vis [seen as caused by] the natura particularis [i.e., the action of the male semen], a female is deficient and unintentionally caused. For the active power of the semen always seeks to produce a thing completely like itself, something male. So if a female is produced, this must be because the semen is weak or because the material [provided by the female parent] is unsuitable, or because of the action of some external factor such as the winds from the south which make the atmosphere humid. But vis-a-vis [seen as caused by] natura universalis [general Nature] the female is not accidentally caused but is intended by Nature for the work of generation. Now the intentions of Nature come from God, who is its author. This is why, when he created Nature, he made not only the male but also the female” Summa Theologica, 1, qu. 92, art 1, ad 1.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Thank you for illuminating my point in such a fine manner Shaw. Indeed it is difficult to understand how today the earth remains populated with literally millions still wandering in the dark ages with respect to "religion." The U.S.A certainly has their share. Spirituality is not the same as religion, as I am quite sure you understand Shaw.

      Delete
  3. very well quoted, Les. and i am glad to see that my arguments in an earlier post was fodder for this post.

    there is but one problem. this post was meant to show the fallacies of my argument thus declaring that there is no way to reconcile what i said with these quotes.

    are you willing to say that it is impossible for me to do that?

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    Replies
    1. I am willing to say that which I have already quite clearly said.

      Delete
  4. I have to laugh at those who are so sure of what they have no way of knowing for sure. Your unbelief is just as dogmatic as that of believers, and we have more evidence than you do. To be fair to your side, one cannot prove a negative.

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  5. "...we have more evidence than you do."

    Faith, by definition, is a belief in something based on no evidence:


    1. strong or unshakeable belief in something, esp without proof or evidence



    2. a conviction of the truth of certain doctrines of religion, esp when this is not based on reason.


    I have no desire to get into an argument on religion. I think everyone is entitled to believe in whatever helps them get through this difficult life.

    My only argument is with those religions that, through their considerable influences in the political arena, expect me to follow their evidence-free dogmas.

    ReplyDelete
  6. fiddlefoot,
    i agree with you on your accessment of Les's response but one can prove a positive. and that is what i rely on in any of my arguments.
    and that goes for Shaw's response also.

    and Les, to quote you, "ignorance is bliss" an that is the essense of your response

    ReplyDelete
  7. "No Griper, but it is the essence of yours."

    right there is nothing but response based upon arrogance and self-rightiousness, Les.

    i can say that truthfully because it is an accusation without first determining by inquiry whether or not i can factually back up my claims. my claim of your ignorance is solely based on the evidence you provided to justify your claim in this post so the same accusation cannot be made against me.
    that is a part of your problem. you consider your knowledge so superior to others that you do not need to consider their ideas fully.

    and this is not the first time you have made that accusation of ignorance against me without justification. and that is not thinking in a rational manner.rational thinking takes into all of the evidence not just half of it as you are using.

    enjoy your company with the irrational left. you deserve each other.

    and don't worry i won't contaminate you site anymore by my ignorant thoughts

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Griper, Griper, Griper. You're nose out of joint is it? Your comments are more telling of you than they are of me by far.

      I do have opinions based in what I perceive as reason and supported by knowledge gained by reading others by far more learned than I. Because my views do not coincide with yours does not make mine or yours necessarily the singularly right view.

      I have not called you ignorant Griper, point exactly to where I have ever said you were ignorant. Produce it and you shall have my apology.

      On the other hand I have witnessed you brow beat a discussion on other sights, and those who disagree with you to a point that well, it becomes pointless.

      The fact is, or at least my perception of the facts are that you are every bit as guilty, if not more so of that which you accuse me of. Having observed your modus operendi many time I phrased my response to you as I did on purpose. I had no interest in getting into a long circular debate with you over the point of this post or the prior one.

      Frankly Griper I am by far more tolerant of views I disagree with than you are. But again that of course is my opinion based on my observations.

      Your cheap shot with respect to me enjoying my company with the irrational left and that we deserve each other is as ignorant as anything I could imagine. It belies the fact that you in fact are as intolerant of views that run counter to your own as you accuse the left of being. And Griper in many instances I agree that they are intolerant. I just don't pigeonhole them all and decide how clueless they are.

      And I might add my fight is with tyranny or the possibility of it happening. As I see it Griper the difference between the left's brand of statism and the right's brand is merely the different shape and color of their respective mascots.

      Now Griper whether are not you chose to visit this site ever again is of course your prerogative. You're views are certainly as welcome as another, and add to the sites diversity of views.

      I'll leave you with this, have a good day, don't sweat the small stuff cause life is way to short to do so. :)

      Delete
  8. griper, I have reread this post. Sorry you found it to be offensive as there is nothing in it that is non factual or judgmental. Therefore the burden of proof as to your allegations rest with you.

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  9. I liked the post. I dug the Jefferson quotes. I dug Les' responses to the "Seinfeld" of Blogistan; Griper. The man who blogs about nothing.

    ReplyDelete
  10. les,
    i've asked you two questions, one in this thread and one in a previous thread. did i get a rational answer to either one? the answer is no.
    proof:
    my question;
    "are you willing to say that it is impossible for me to do that?

    the only rational answer to that question is a yes or no, did you give me a response of that nature? the answer is no.

    your response was;
    "I am willing to say that which I have already quite clearly said."
    this is a completely irrational response to the question asked.

    and you responded in the same manner to the question asked in the previous thread. you completely sidestepped the question instead of giving me a straight answer.

    and i have heard you more than once make that same accusation against Joe in his blog of sidestepping your questions.

    i don't know who taught you the art of debate but sidestepping an question was never called a rational response from the ones who taught me.

    in fact, one teacher told me that sidestepping a question was just a sign of being afraid of finding out that you are wrong and that no one should ever be afraid of being wrong.

    you may be content with the idea of just disagreeing with others but i am not. i want to know why where and how we disagree. it is in knowing the answers to these questions that i can understand the differences instead of just recognizing that there is a difference of opinion. that is just my rational nature.

    if wanting to understand others is brow beating, in your opinion, then so be it. in my opinion, there is no rational thought without understanding.

    i don't like being in the state of ignorance. it serves no purpose in this life, in my opinion. and to go away from a discussion with lack of understanding is to remain in that state of ignorance. and there cannot be a unity of minds when there is no understanding.

    and that is what is needed now in this nation, in my opinion, a unity of thought in regards to the direction we take in the future. and if two persons who claim to be on the same side cannot come to a mutual understanding then how can we expect our opponents to come to accept our position? they'll only use our differences as proof that we do not have a valid argument by forcing us to defend what the other says.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Griper: My only purpose is to rebut those who equate belief in a deity with "ignorance" and "wandering in the dark ages." Indeed Middle Ages Scholasticism ushered Roman and Greek philosophy into a new age, among many other achievements.

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    Replies
    1. And my only point Silver is those who close their eyes to all but blind faith in a deity (whose existence is as Shaw pointed out far from certain ) are foolish, if not ignorant. And if you will please forgive me for being a thinking individual who questions as Jefferson so aptly said even the existence of God.

      The Dark Ages was a time when belief in everything mystical and unprovable, and faith in a deity called God, was the law and the only knowledge needed. To question the Church was blasphemy and every knowledgeable person knows where that lead.

      We have in the 21'st century those who have the same mentality. Religion demands obedience to theocratic dogma as determined by who, and based on what? Christian extremists are just as threatening to the rights guaranteed in our constitution as are the Muslim extremists. But who cares as long as we all bow and say praise the Lord of Abraham,and Issac.

      Frankly this post was to plant a seed for thought. To give pause and reflect on the basis our founding fathers drafted the language they did with respect to religion and the dangers of it's involvement in governance. Anyone who has seriously studied history, and I was ahistory major knows this.

      Frankly I don't really give a damn what you, the griper, or anyone else believes. It is not my business other than to challenge. If that offends then it those offended that have the insecurities.

      I suggest you and the griper may want to re consider the following before you leap to conclusions. From this post....

      "It has been said ignorance is bliss.

      It has also been said the truth will set you free. It takes education and a active mind to overcome ignorance before you find truth so it can set you free."

      Point out the fallacy of either of these statements. Where one is at with respect to education and a active questioning mind determines there level of ignorance or lack thereof. The premise is that those who have have achieved knowledge and questioned the existence of God as Jefferson said, and ultimately accepted the existence of God are likely to be as tolerant of those who don't as I am those who do. It is the those who believe on blind faith only and then allege that those who do not have their blind faith are somehow inferior, unpatriotic, lost or evil that are the ignorant ones.

      I respect everybody's right to believe as they choose, as long as their beliefs are non violent and do not trample on the rights of others to believe as they choose. I, and those ho believe as do only ask reciprocity.

      Griper, I hope this has answered you concerns. I simply do not have the desire, nor the time to engage in your meandering and time consuming pretzel logic and self serving word salad. If I fine the time in my very pressed and stressful business day I might answer you absurdities and irrational conclusions.

      Delete
    2. Further, perhaps either of you could point out specifically, with explanations, what is inaccurate, judgemental, or offending with the following...

      "Having a reflective day. In the sense one can learn from the champions of reason, regardless of their religious tendencies, or lack thereof. And, regardless of the era in which they lived.

      Jefferson was a deist, as were many of the classical liberal thinkers that helped found our republic. While the belief in a "Creator" of the universe {and all that exists in it}, was held to be true the founders recognized the extremely personal and individual nature one has with their creator. They took great lengths to insure the relationship remain personal by keeping the federal government separate and apart from religion while insuring religious freedom and diversity.

      It would be well if today's socons, fundies, The Church, republican politicians, and anyone else who thinks it okay government is influenced by religion to spend some time reflecting on, and understanding the reasons why Jefferson and others of his time thought and acted as they did. We should all be thankful for their example and wisdom.

      Certainly Santorum needs to do so."

      Take the time to reflect on words such as, "regardless of religious tendencies", "took great lengths to insure the relationship remain personal by keeping the federal government separate and apart from religion while insuring religious freedom and diversity." "anyone else who thinks it okay government is influenced by religion to spend some time reflecting on, and understanding the reasons why Jefferson and others of his time thought and acted as they did."

      I am waiting...

      Delete
  12. Les,
    finally a rational inquiry from you, thank you.
    the whole purpose of this post was to prove that the Constitution set up a secular government. and that the founding fathers saw no place for religion in politics.

    well if you want me and Silverfoot to accept this interpretation as rational then you are going to have to explain these historical revelations.
    1. at the time of the founding of this nation state supported religions existed and continued to exist well past the ratification of the Constitution. how do you explain this by your rationale if the constitution set us up as a secular nation?

    2. in some States only Protestants were allowed to hold public office. Catholics and atheist were forbidden and this was after the ratification of the Constitution. how does your rationale explain this if the constitution set us up as a secular nation?

    3. in some States atheist were expressly forbidden to hold office and were forbidden to until after 1961. so how does your rationale explain this if the constitution declared us a secular nation?

    4. in many of the State constitution "God" is expressly recognized and many States declare their gratitude towards him for their existance. so, how does your rationale explain this if the Constitution declared us as a secular nation.

    you cite Jefferson as evidence for a secular nation but rational thinking would declare that history would have no record of any of the above occurances if your rationale was valid.

    so,,if you want me to understand your reasoning a rational explanation for these historical occurances must be explained.

    i say this because by my understanding of your rationale every one of these would have been unconstitutional from the very beginning. and it wouldn't have taken until 1961 to put your rationale into place. that is nearly 200 years of recognizing that religion had some place in government affairs. and it was the Christian faith that we are talking about.

    so, in reality, we did not become a secular nation until after 1961.

    can you rationally explain this?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. First,I ave to explain noting to you for you will accepts no argument but your own. You have proven this time and time again.

      1) You have not disproved my statement and therefore I have no need to prove my hiastorical facts further.

      2) I refer you to #1. And I suggest you read the Constitution with your "devout" blinders off.

      3) I refer you to #1. and I suggest you read the Constitution with your "devout" blinders off.

      4) i refer you to #1, and I suggest you read the Constitution with your "devout" blinders off.

      Now refute anything I specifically said in this post with respect to it posted. Go ahead if you want, and in the meantime refute Jefferson said the things he did and wrote the things he wrote. Specifically refute the generally accepted meaning of the first amendment with respect to the establishment clause.

      Have fun Griper if you're looking for a new site to toss salad in, It won't be this one. You see when I allow myself to be distracted by your pretzel twisting I become unfocused and intent on proving you wrong, which of course is impossible given your modus operendi.

      Now I am sure you are smiling at your own sense of superiority, and that's okay with me. I have m ore important things to attend to than wasting my time any further. And if that is arrogance, so be it.

      Delete
  13. les,
    "Now refute anything I specifically said in this post with respect to it posted."

    it isn't what you explicitly said that i refute, it is what you implicitly was saying that i refute as shown by this statement:
    "the whole purpose of this post was to prove that the Constitution set up a secular government. and that the founding fathers saw no place for religion in politics."

    so,, if you were not implicitly declaring this by this use of Jefferson's quotes and a rebuttal of my claim in the previous thread

    "Classical Liberalists did not replace religious faith with the use of reason or logic as Ms. Rand would have you believe. They saw them as being compatable and neccesary.

    what they did do is replace the "deterministic" mindset of government with a government of a "free will" mindset.

    in other words, they never rejected religious faith. they only rejected the religious concept of the "divine right of kings to rule"

    these are two separate issues. and the rejection of the one does not mean the rejection of the other. and only an atheist would promote them as being the same issue."

    then all i can say is that you were not being very clear on your intent of this post. and that i still do not understand your reasoning.

    now, if you noticed i responded very directly to your challenge and made no attempt to sidestep the challenge as you did my questions.

    ReplyDelete
  14. les,
    one more thing
    "First,I ave to explain noting to you for you will accepts no argument but your own."

    as long as i have question in my mind about what someone else says you are correct. once those questions have been answered to my satisfaction i'll accept anyone's argument.
    it would be totally irrational to do otherwise.

    that is true of you also. if it wasn't true then we'd be saying that we accpt another person argument based upon his idea of what a good argument consists of.
    am i wrong or right on this, Les?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Griper - To your last closing statement/question... Correct. As far as it goes.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Kinda angry there, Les...

    I only pointed out that some important though has come out of believers

    ReplyDelete
  17. Not angry at all. However, the truth does have a way of putting those with a lack of knowledge on the defensive and resorting to tossed verbal salad.

    Of course I am not referring to you as I view you as intelligent, articulate, and rational. You speak with aithority, knowledge, and purpose. Unlike some others in blogistan.

    ReplyDelete

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