25 Stupid Arguments Christians Should Avoid (Part 9)

25 Stupid Arguments Christians Should Avoid (Part 9) July 2, 2019

stupid Christian arguments to avoid

And we’re back with yet more stupid arguments! I’m sure it’s a tossup whether there are more atheists here comparing this list against their own mental list or more Christians carefully taking notes on what to avoid.

Right?

This is a continuation of a list that begins here.

Stupid Argument #29: America is a Christian nation

Remember what the Founding Founders said: “All men . . . are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” The government back then wasn’t shy about declaring national days of thanksgiving or fasting. And look at their personal letters—they’re full of God references.

If you simply mean by “America is a Christian nation” that most Americans today are Christian, that’s true. But it’s obviously false to imagine Christianity as somehow part of the country’s governance.

That quote is from the Declaration of Independence, the document that also said, “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from . . .” no, not God, but “the consent of the governed.” You’ll find deism there but not Christianity. But this is irrelevant. The Declaration of Independence doesn’t govern the United States, the Constitution does. And it’s one hundred percent secular. Indeed, it was the world’s first secular constitution, one of America’s greatest examples to the world.

The founding fathers could say whatever they wanted to in their letters. They could believe in God, pray to Jesus, or imagine getting strength from Christianity. None of that matters when an honest reading of the Constitution makes clear that America is defined to be secular, not Christian. If they had wanted explicit references to Yahweh or Jesus, they would have put them in. Reinterpreting history is popular among faux historians like David Barton, but the preferences of a gullible public aren’t the best guide to truth.

Stupid Argument #30: Atheists just had bad father figures

Psychology professor Paul Vitz makes a powerful case that the absence of a good father creates atheists. A poor relationship with one’s earthly father creates a poor relationship with the heavenly Father. Atheists are driven by psychology, not reason.

I analyze this in more detail, though it doesn’t deserve much. Vitz’s analysis is little more than cherry picking, with examples of famous Christians who had good fathers or father figures and atheists who had bad ones.

And, of course, you can find opposite examples. To take one, here’s what C. S. Lewis said about his father: “God forgive me, I thought Monday morning, when he went back to his work, the brightest jewel in the week.”

Imagine compiling the opposite list of atheists with good fathers and Christians with poor ones with the justification that Christians’ poor family life drew them to an (imaginary) celestial father to replace the flawed one they actually had. I’m sure Vitz would complain that it was a biased selection. And it would be, just like his own version.

Stupid Argument #31: Excusing Christian scandals

No one’s perfect. Don’t forget that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

No scandal with a Christian leader can be so great that they lose all of their flock. Consider rehabilitated televangelists like Jim Bakker (five years in prison for fraud), Peter Popoff (shown by James Randi to be using tricks to simulate miraculous knowledge), Ted Haggard (sex), and Jimmy Swaggart (sex). They’re all back preachin’ the Good News.

Or the scandals of pedophile priests and the Catholic leadership that hid and enabled their crimes.

Or the false prophecies of Harold Camping and Ronald Weinland (who both committed the sin of being precise and therefore testable) or Ray Comfort and John Hagee (whose baggy prophecies could fit just about any events).

If “don’t worry about that—they’re only human” applies when Christian leaders do bad things, why doesn’t it apply when they do good things? If God’s actions are visible through Christian leaders when you’re pleased with them, why not when you’re disappointed? Why would God not protect them from error—or if he did, why did he stop? Things are explained much better by dropping the God assumption.

Jonny Scaramanga of the “Leaving Fundamentalism” blog noted the double standard. Ex-addicts were quick to give Jesus the glory for their recovery. But “as soon as that televangelist fell from grace, it was all ‘Well, we all have a sin nature.’ Well, which one is it? Do we have a sin nature or are we transformed by the saving grace of the Holy Spirit?”

Continue on to part 10.

See the complete list of arguments here.

For every complex problem
there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.
— H. L. Mencken

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(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 6/15/15.)

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  • valleycat1

    Argument 31 is also completely hypocritical because they do not apply it equally to anyone regardless of religious beliefs or who the Christian aligns himself with. For example, Hillary’s emails are still a thing, but DJT’s past and ongoing actions are completely excused, some almost before they happen.

    • Wisdom, Justice, Love

      DJT could shoot a Christian on 5th Avenue and wouldn’t lose support.

    • Raging Bee

      Is that a Special Dispensation, or a Plenary Indulgence?

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    And look at their personal letters—they’re full of God references.

    Yeah, that may be their personal letters, but then again, look at … their official documents.

    You also didn’t mention the Treaty of Trent (I think that’s what it is), written by Adams, if I remember right, that states, “The US is not founded on the Christian religion.” Gee, how much more explicit does one need to be?

    Oh, that doesn’t count, because the DoI refers to “their creator” (which, of course, does not necessarily mean the Christian god, nor, in fact, any supernatural deity – it could just as well be evolution)

    It’s like how they treat Einstein, who explicitly says, “I do not believe in a personal god, and have stated it clearly.” But hey, he used the rhetorical phrase “God does not play dice” and, therefore, it means he was a Christian!!!!!!!

    Meanwhile, Hitler, who says, “In killing the Jews I am doing God’s work” and had his army commissioned with the belt buckle that said, “God is with us” was actually an atheist because…..well, he just couldn’t have been a Christian because if he had been, it would have made Christians look bad.

    • abb3w

      You also didn’t mention the Treaty of Trent (I think that’s what it is)

      Tripoli, actually.

      • carbonUnit

        Yes, Tripoli. I remember something about it being a bad argument for atheists to use, but don’t remember why…

        • abb3w

          Yes, Tripoli. I remember something about it being a bad argument for atheists to use, but don’t remember why…

          Well, since the document is one for the government of the United States as a whole, it’s not particularly credible to try and attribute this statement as representing the viewpoint of any of the individuals involved in it — particularly John Adams. You need to rely on other evidence for that.

          It’s also not ideal evidence for the attitude of the nation collectively. The treaty was made at a time when the new nation was especially weak, and when the Barbary Pirates were causing significant harm. Effectively, it can be characterized as a statement made under coercion. This can be countered somewhat by pointing out that generally Christians take recanting one’s creed under coercive threat to indicate a particularly weak faith and “no TRUE Christian”. Nohow, this requires getting relatively far into the weeds, and therefore such argument seems to have minimal or no persuasive impact.

          You can see the apologetics response made by Barton at his Wallbuilders page on it. His mostly seems to involve citing one particular commander to present a contrary viewpoint.

    • Wisdom, Justice, Love

      It’s The Treaty of Tripoli, I think. And I think itxs an abbreviated/unofficial name; the official document based the is longer. I could be wrong.

      • I didn’t know that, but you’re right. Wikipedia says the official name is “Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli of Barbary”
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Tripoli

        • Wisdom, Justice, Love

          Right?
          …but everyone just calls him Mike for short.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          My current bad dad joke is “call me anything but late for dinner…”

        • Wisdom, Justice, Love

          Ok. Nice to meet you Mr./Mrs./Ms. Anything-but-late-for-dinner.

          Hey, you started it…

        • MR

          Mine is to hesitate as I go to sign my name on the credit card slip, look at the clerk holding my card, and say quizzically, “That was, MR, right?”

          They’ll either look at the card or their terminal screen to confirm and say, “Yes,” and then I sign before breaking into a grin and saying, “Just kidding!”

        • Kodie

          Fun fact – nobody is comparing your signature except maybe the bank where you might deposit checks you endorsed. The signature is if you see something funny on your bill, you can tell the credit card company or your bank if it’s a debit card, that’s not my signature, someone is ripping me off. You can sign whatever you want as long as you recognize that you did sign it or authorize if it was over the phone or internet (where there would not be a signature).

        • MR

          I like to draw little doodles on the machines you have to sign with your finger. According to one clerk, apparently I’m not the only one.

        • Kodie

          Yeah, the clerk don’t give a fuck, the credit card company don’t give a fuck. If someone stole your credit card, they don’t give a fuck either, but if you dispute a charge made on your card, they will supply you with a copy of the signature made, and you can say it isn’t yours. It’s probably more complicated than just saying that’s not my signature, especially if you made charges after that, you can’t just get shit for free by claiming that you didn’t make those purchases. All I know is they don’t care what you sign when prompted to sign your name.

        • DingoJack

          ‘OK – you’re a taxi!’

    • Michael Neville

      Gott mit Uns had been a German, and previously Prussian, military motto since the early 1700s when Frederick the Great (1688-1713) made it his personal motto and had it put on army headgear. Hitler had it put on Wehrmacht belt buckles (only for enlisted personnel) but it had adorned Germany uniforms long before then.

    • he just couldn’t have been a Christian because if he had been, it would have made Christians look bad.

      The No True Christian argument. It’s always a winner.

    • Pofarmer

      Keep in mind, these guys were working nearly 100 years before “On the origin of species.”

    • Erik1986

      Tripoli

      • Kodie

        Quadrupleee.

  • Chris Jones

    Coming out of a scandal is excused only if one ends up (1) Proclaiming oneself to be the “right” sort of Christian, and (2) Espousing political views which coincide with the target evangelical audience. Otherwise the “no one’s perfect” thing won’t work for you. Those two things are the magical catalysts for getting away with anything and everything.

  • abb3w

    Nothing particular to add on these particular ones.

    More generally…

    The master list appears to currently lack the items from Part 15.

    -=-=-=-

    I think it might be helpful to break the arguments into at least two categories — bad arguments that God exists, versus bad arguments that one ought to be a Christian. (It may be helpful to distinguish other categories, and there’s a couple outliers, but those two seem to stand out most.)

    In the “God exists” category, we seem to have: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9a, 9b, 10, 11, 12a, 12b, 13, 15, 17, 19a, 20a, 20b, 21a, 22, 23, 24, 25a, 25b, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 36, 37, 39, 44, 45, 46, 47, and 48.

    In the “ought to be Christian” category, we seem to have: 3, 13, 14, 16, 18, 19b, 34, 35, 38, 40, 43a, and 43b.

    In the outliers, #41 seems a case that can easily apply to both of those two categories; while #42 seems a case that isn’t about what should be believed, but about what atheists should (not) do, and thus in neither (although seeming closest to the latter).

    -=-=-=-

    Unless you’re also including some Christian’s argument that God is necessary for objective empirical or mathematical truths (which seems more #36), I think #10 might be better labeled “objective morality” than “objective truth”.

    -=-=-=-

    There seem some additional reasons argument #20a seems stupid, having to do with some philosophical formalization for the concept of “explain” — which ultimately relate it to #21b. This also applies to #44, which seems closely related to #20a.

    -=-=-=-

    I think you’re inaccurate at number 28 when you say “Axioms are tested continually.” Alternatives are considered, yes; the parallel postulate seems a notable instance. However, this doesn’t seem “testing” in the usual sense associated with evidence. What such testing does is consider the mathematical theorems that result from taking some set of axioms, and consider how useful those theorems are for describing particular evidence. (There also are instances where one set of axioms is effectively equivalent to another, and any preference seems effectively arbitrary.) Furthermore, the concept of “useful” itself involves some relatively basic axioms. While sometimes axioms lead to contradictions, it seems rare that an axiom by itself would allow deriving contradiction (though there’s probably at least one evil counterpart to the Wolfram Axiom that would do so); more often, one non-empty set of axioms together with another non-empty set allows inferring a contradiction when neither of the two original do so. However, in such cases, one may take either of the sets as preferred. This doesn’t make the alternative “wrong” thereby, however.

    I would suggest instead recognizing that the taking of an axiom involves acceptance of a proposition without reliance on any philosophical priors, and as such is an act of “faith”. It might be helpful for atheists to recognize this — particularly for Christians familiar with the Münchhausen trilemma.

    Contrariwise (and useful for rebutting the point Christians seem to be trying to make in such instances) in most cases what Christians suggest are atheist primary propositions of faith may instead be taken on mere “trust” (as you note), or inferred from more basic propositions; and moreover in the cases of inference, the minimal foundational axiomatic propositions that atheism relies on to allow such inference appear to be axioms that Christians also implicitly rely on (or rely on stronger, more specific variants).

    • That’s a lotta feedback! Thanks–I’ll take a look.

      • abb3w

        Let me know if you want me to elaborate on 20a/21b/44.

    • abb3w

      there’s probably at least one evil counterpart to the Wolfram Axiom that would do so

      I should specify, at least one nontrivial such. One can directly take (P AND NOT P) as an axiom, arriving at contradiction by the most direct of all routes.

  • Michael Neville

    My father was a loving, supportive man who, despite disagreeing with me, told me he was impressed by the reasons I had become an atheist. He said I showed that I had studied the matter carefully and thoroughly and could support my opinion. He also said he was proud that I could research the evidence and come to a reasonable conclusion.

    Instead of coming up with fanciful ideas on why people become atheists, Vitz should ask us why we did. He’ll find that having a “bad” father was way down on the list of reasons for our atheism.

    • carbonUnit

      Bad father? As in not present? Like the invisible dad in the sky?

      • Well … he looks better on paper.

        • Illithid

          Actually, he looks horrible on paper, which is why I initially rejected him.

    • Raging Bee

      He DOES ask us why we don’t believe! And lots of other questions! In forums that don’t allow you to post any type of response to all their questions…

      …it’s a start, anyway…I guess…

    • I love it when an ignoramus tells atheists what “atheism” means or why they’re atheists.

    • Illithid

      He can’t ask us for our reasons, because “there is insufficient evidence for your claims” is not a position which that sort of believer can even admit that we honestly hold.

    • Maltnothops

      My father was a minister who was so beloved by family, peers, and congregants from more than a few small town and country churches in multiple states over a 50 year career that we had to have two funeral services at his demise because there wasn’t a Protestant church of any denomination within 25 miles large enough to hold the number of people who we knew were going to come. And come they did. We had two standing room only services on consecutive days in two different churches. He was a great father and a great father figure. And 3 of his 5 offspring are atheist.

    • J.B.

      Every father should be like yours Michael Neville, but unless he too was an atheist, I just don’t know how he could honestly say that you came to a “reasonable” conclusion.

      • Michael Neville

        By reasonable my father meant that he could understand how and why I came to the conclusion on the existence of gods. Although he never said so, I strongly suspect he was an agnostic theist. He didn’t know if gods exist or not but he believed that they did. I also think that he remained a Catholic his entire life because my mother, who converted to Catholicism, would have been very upset if he’d left the Church.

  • Raging Bee

    Stupid Argument #30: Atheists just had bad father figures

    And if you’re an atheist, that’s proof that your father was a bad father! Tautology to the rescue!

    But it’s atheists who engage in circular reasoning…right…?

  • Jim Jones

    ISTM that these ‘arguments’ amount to:

    Things they wish were true
    Things they think make them sound better/more moral/smarter etc.
    Things they pull out of their nether regions.

  • Lex Lata

    To be fair, it’s safe to say that the population of the new nation was overwhelmingly Christian–indeed, overwhelmingly Protestant–at the time of the Founding. And even religiously heterodox thinkers like Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, and Adams all subscribed to the essentially Christianized version of Ciceronian natural legal theory that had developed in Europe over the centuries (hence the notion of Creator-endowed natural rights in the Declaration).

    But the argument, espoused by charlatans like Barton, that the Bible played a material role in the implementation of a pragmatic political philosophy in the drafting of the U.S. Constitution, is simply not supported by the historical record. Madison’s notes from the Constitutional Convention do not mention the Bible as the source of any useful political structure or process, for instance. Nor did Hebrew governance warrant discussion in the hundreds of pages on “ancient republics” in Adams’ ponderous study of constitutional theory and practice, Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America.

    Perhaps most significantly, the chief gloss on the Constitution, The Federalist Papers, is devoid of any citation to the Bible, while containing numerous examples from classical antiquity. A few years ago, I ran some word searches on relevant peoples and places, with the following results:

    Rome–17 (Roman–9)
    Greece–17 (Greek–4)
    Achaean–17
    Sparta–12
    Athens–10 (Athenian–8)
    Carthage–7
    Lycia–4
    Israel–0
    Judea–0
    Jerusalem–0
    Jews/Jewish–0
    Hebrew/Hebraic–0

    The U.S. Constitution owes more to Tacitus and Polybius and Cicero than to Moses and David and Paul.

  • Michael Murray

    Atheists just had bad father figures

    That would explain why we devote so much energy to looking for a perfect new imaginary father in the sky. Wait, hang on …

  • skl

    All this atheistic protest can surely be spared.
    Christians will surely fall under their own imperfect weight after these
    thousands of years.

    Which raises the question of the reason for this blog.

    • Greg G.

      Christians will surely fall under their own imperfect weight after these
      thousands of years.

      Still won’t be soon enough. Any help greasing the rails will be appreciated.

    • Pofarmer

      If someone isn’t protesting, why would they fall?

    • NS Alito

      All this skeptical can surely be spared.
      Believers in astrology will shurely fall under their own imperfect weight after these thousands of years.

      Which raises the question of the reason for a blog dismissing astrology as bogus.

    • Michael Murray

      Christians will surely fall under their own imperfect weight after these
      thousands of years.

      Religions don’t collapse because they are wrong. That is clear from the fact there are lots of religions that have existed for thousands of years but yet differ so much that at least some of them must be wrong.

    • Sophotroph

      No harm in helping it along!

    • Christianity won’t be around in 1000 years, so what’s the fuss? If it won’t exist in the future, it can’t be doing harm now.

      Mr. Philosophy Person says the darndest things.

    • Rudy R

      You read it, which raises the question why you would question the reason for the blog.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Even a dying snake can kill if it injects its venom.

      We’re warning off people while waiting for you to denature to harmlessness.

  • NS Alito

    Psychology professor Paul Vitz makes a powerful case
    that the absence of a good father creates atheists. A poor relationship
    with one’s earthly father creates a poor relationship with the heavenly
    Father. Atheists are driven by psychology, not
    reason.

    I’m trying to nail down which logical fallacy
    this represents. Is it saying that having a good relationship with your
    father will make you a Christian, therefore Christianity is true?

    • It’s definitely a non-sequitur. Other possibilities include the questionable cause fallacy, and probably some type of single cause fallacy.

    • Ironically it seems like Bulverism, by C. S. Lewis, i.e. explaining why someone is (supposedly) wrong without actually showing they are. Basically this combines begging the question and the genetic fallacy.

      • NS Alito

        I also think that, in many households, the mother is the more religious. Even the fundamentalist doormats reinforce the paternal god image.

        • From what I’ve read women on average are more religious. I don’t know why.

        • NS Alito

          I’d like to see how education affects the rates of women’s religiosity.

        • Yes, me too. It may stem from traditional views that women should focus on kinder, kuche, kirche (children, kitchen, church) and rebelliousness by women (as irreligiosity is often seen) viewed even more poorly than from men. There was a feminist atheist from the 19th century I remember reading about (can’t remember her name sadly) who was denounced on this basis. Apparently there’s nothing worse than a woman atheist, her denouncer claimed. Of course, even some atheist men don’t seem like great fans…

        • NS Alito

          Of course, even some atheist men don’t seem like great fans…

          Guys, don’t do that….

        • Indeed. A great stink about an incredibly mild criticism.

        • Kodie

          Oh, you don’t know why. It has probably a lot to do with systemic sexism. It has much to do with how boys and girls are treated differently and raised differently. I was at the supermarket yesterday, for example. Outside the register area on the way to the exit, there was a cage of balls. A cage of supermarket bouncing balls, and a brother and sister, perhaps even twins, while I was leaving the store. This is a snapshot of the difference between how boys and girls are raised.

          The boy said, we should open the cage so all the balls fall out.

          The girl said, no we shouldn’t do that, because we’ll have to clean them all up.

          I think men don’t really comprehend the difference in how girls are socialized differently than they are, and it’s not a permanent placement, but there is a difference. Girls tend to seek reward at being the most pleasing to authority figures, while boys want to accomplish something else, which I don’t know what it is.

          Women are more religious because there is some mothering response there, the attitude of ordering other people in some authoritative way, as husbands authorize their wives to rule over their children. Men will be boys so they are not as religious. There are differences in how we are raised, so don’t by mystified why women are more religious, and men do whatever the fuck they want and still line up for communion wafers.

        • What you say makes sense. I had some thoughts about this being the case, but didn’t want to be too definitive about things I have less knowledge of. So it’s not that I was completely mystified, but simply didn’t want to get ahead of myself in this area. As to your question, it seems from my experience that boys are socialized toward being tough, powerful and brave. In our culture, that usually equals being in authority (at least some kinds).

          I don’t think this fully answers the religious question however, as many men are also religious. Perhaps what has happened though is that religion has lost authority in the West to a large extent, and is thus less associated with the “masculine” traits I mentioned. That might make it something many women find more appealing conversely. I doubt my explanation is a complete one though. All this is changing as well, and doesn’t apply to other cultures. I would be happy to see boys and girls freely act without such things thrust upon them. Of course I can’t speak too much about girls’ experience. The male ideal is very difficult though, often toxic.

        • Kodie

          I did not mean to be so snotty to you, but I also appreciate you not trying to explain things from a perspective you do not first-hand know. I work a lot with kids so this is more from a perspective of an adult over children: boys test limits and girls want to please, generally, but not definitively. I find this unfortunate, but still true. So boys do whatever they want, and whatever adult is in charge lets them go so far as that particular adult allows, but the girls stay in check, and keep each other in check. Not all the boys go over the line, some just stay quiet, so I try to notice who is waiting for these trouble-making boys (and almost never girls) to settle down so we can get to business. The boys who are quiet are quieter than the girls, who are easier to settle than the boys who keep talking and defying authority. There’s still some alpha shit going on, class clowning, and authority figures such as myself or other teachers granting leeway to certain behaviors rather than curtailing it, and others falling in line, expecting it from other authority figures, and being frustrated and grumbling if they don’t get the same freedom from other authority figures. If you let one kid use their cuteness to get away with murder basically, then everyone thinks they can, but if you confront that kid with different expectations, they seek attention in negative ways instead, and the class is chaos no matter what. As much as I hate to say it, boys and girls still behave differently and seek rewards differently.

          This correlates to religiosity – the “boys will be boys” exception, and the women being responsible in general, but being responsible for men being attracted to them when they shouldn’t, i.e. covering up, having sex with their husband to keep him from cheating, repelling other men somehow, being blamed for rapes they suffer, etc. Men as boys don’t really seem to grow up with the same awareness, while women as girls have so much more social prep and protection expected.

          Boys have some toxic shit going on, but definitely so do girls. Boys check boys, and girls check girls, so even without the pressure of being judged by the opposite sex, the same sex judges each other severely against social norms of masculinity or femininity, such that adult influence can damage children who we would hope to be free to figure out who they are without pressure or expectations.

          As far as religiosity goes, yeah, I think men think it’s handled. They picked a good female to cover those details so they don’t have to, that’s what it’s all about to them, and so this female is also doing the things a good parent does, like teach their kids…. it’s just something I sense that men don’t like to do, because they are not expected to do – they think this is a parenting detail, which is their wife’s task. Women take up religiosity more than men as an area of expertise and authority over their children but also their husband, i.e. remind them when to go to church. Allegedly, men are so important, and have more important things to do that administrative assistant work goes to the woman, the woman who sees these tasks are so simple anyone could do them except a man doesn’t. The man gets grouchy out of insecurity, and passes the blame for being late on the wife who didn’t tell him to be anywhere at any particular time. So she learns for next time, to keep the peace and not embarrass my husband, do all this shit he never thinks he has to do FOR HIM, i.e. this sense to please people.

        • That’s okay. I try to not do that, and I’m aware of how annoying doing it can be. Like you, I also work with kids (1-3 mostly) and this seems less obvious at that age. You do still observe some differences of course, but more just about the toys which appeal to them generally. I don’t know what age you work with (I’ll guess older?) but that socialization doesn’t seem to have set in yet. Or perhaps we just don’t really treat them very differently. The rest I think is pretty universal to kids.

          Yes, the very destructive double standards. Men will get it in another way-if something does happen to them, particularly rape, that’s a sign of weakness or being gay (obviously the latter is also often viewed as weak).

          Quite so. We are very often our own worst enemies. There is a standard that’s internalized and upheld. I’ve heard that female jurors can be the most unsympathetic to other women charging rape, if they deemed them not “good” victims. That’s probably the most toxic application of this I know about.

          Religion has traditionally been something that women were meant to focus on. Germany called it “Kinder, Kuche, Kirche”-Children, Kitchen, Church. I remember reading someone in the 19th century (American) claiming there was nothing worse than a female atheist, probably because of this. How much has this changed over time however? In the past wouldn’t this probably have been viewed as both a male and female obligation (expressed in different ways, no doubt)? Probably a very long history there.

    • eric

      It’s the confirmation bias: he looks at parent/child examples until he finds those that fit his assertion, and ignores/throws out the rest.

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        “First draw your curve, *then* plot your points”

        Bad statistics joke.

  • MR

    I swear to the gods I don’t believe in…! (off topic rant brought on from an exchange elsewhere.) …How many times do you have to define atheism for someone before they drop their straw man!? Jesus Christ.

    • Mr. James Parson

      Amen

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        Ramen…

        😉

  • JBSchmidt

    29) Your arguing a claim not being made. The majority of Christian aren’t arguing a) the Constitution is a religious document or b) that the US is/was or should be a theocracy. What Christians point out is that our country/Constitution was formed with Judeo Christian culture as it’s back drop. So while not written into the Constitution, you can’t argue the cultural wasn’t immensely important in its creation and ratification.

    30) You did not read Vitz book. Based on your article, you analyzed it purely from excerpts. In other words you ‘cherry picked’ to come up with an argument.

    31) There is a greater list of Christians who do condemn the actions of the preachers/priests you mention. There are entire podcasts dedicated to their continued exploitation of Christians. Your portrayal is akin to lumping all atheists in with communist dictators.

    • Otto

      What Christians point out is that our country/Constitution was formed with Judeo Christian culture as it’s back drop.

      Hence the slavery and only allowing white land owning men to have a say in elections? What exactly is your point?

      Based on your article, you analyzed it purely from excerpts.

      Maybe provide a reason why Bob is wrong rather than just blathering about it pointlessly.

      There is a greater list of Christians who do condemn the actions of the preachers/priests you mention.

      You didn’t address the point Bob made. Why am I not surprised…

    • Damien Priestly

      The constitution was clearly not culturally Christian…it was the product of the Enlightenment, it rejected any religious authority and instead opted for “We the People…”

      “Judeo-Christian” is an invented term…offensive to many Jews and Abrahamic religions just as easily could be termed Judeo-Christian-Islamic. Christians have been abusing Jews since the disgraceful Matthew 27:25 was written. They should stop hyphenating Judaism into the Christian splinter-sect.

      • Castilliano

        I’ve heard from many Jews personally that they find “Judeo-Christian” offensive, often citing how horribly Christians used to treat Jews (especially the types of Christians that use the term). It’s a political/anti-historical maneuver to evade looking like bigots promoting only their own religion. “See, we include others!” (For now…)
        A funny retort I’ve used is to note how Jews vote heavily liberal, so the person must be talking about liberal & progressive values, right? That’s stalled out a few.

        I’m now of a mind to start using “Christo-Islamic” offhandedly both in response, but also when addressing Talibangelicals (et al) and other far righters who express obvious envy of sharia law. “Oh, you mean Christo-Islamic values. I prefer the Greco-Enlightenment ones myself.” Or maybe Secular-Judeo-Greco-Enlightenment values?

        Cheers

        • Greg G.

          Or maybe Secular-Judeo-Greco-Enlightenment values?

          As I was reading your post, I was thinking “Judeo-Greco-Roman-Enlightenment.” I think the “Judeo” became “Judeo-Greco-Roman” before there was Christianity. The Romans were into blood-sports and public executions but apparently some of the death penalty crimes of the Jews were too much for them.

        • DingoJack

          Judeo-Greco-Roman Wrestling! Now that’s an Olympic Sport!

    • Phil Rimmer

      our country/Constitution was formed with Judeo Christian culture as it’s back drop.

      No. Behind that stands the real clear-headed substrate of Greek and axial age philosophy. Democracy, the machine of a formally bound culture, adjudicated for fairness, is firmly rooted there.

      Typical self-serving cultural blindness.

    • Michael Neville

      29. There are Christians who make the claim that the Constitution is not only religiously based but based on the 10 Commandments. That the majority of Christians don’t make that claim is irrelevant.

      30. If you say that Bob is arguing a strawman then give counter-quotes from Vitz’s book to support your argument.

      31. Just because some Christians join with the rest of us in condemning clerical sexual abuse and other scandals doesn’t mean (a) they don’t happen and (b) when they’re uncovered that the perpetrators don’t get up in front of their audiences (or congregations, if you prefer), cry, say that Jesus has forgiven them and the audience should forgive them as well, and then go as as if nothing had happened.

      https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CMDWq7RWsAA4J9w.jpg

    • Greg G.

      29) Your arguing a claim not being made. The majority of Christian aren’t arguing a) the Constitution is a religious document or b) that the US is/was or should be a theocracy.

      Say what? If a minority of Christians are making such an argument, or even just one Christian, then the argument is being made. David Barton sold many books that said the Constitution has a biblical basis. (That book was retracted because it was full of lies.) If you are saying that Christians are not saying the country should be run on Biblical principles, you haven’t been paying attention for the last 50 years. Billy Graham, and now his son, had a direct line to the president. Jerry Falwell and his Liberty University has a goal of training Christians to enter politics to make laws with a Fundamentalist lean.

      So while not written into the Constitution, you can’t argue the cultural wasn’t immensely important in its creation and ratification.

      Christians came to America to flee the religious persecution of other Christians. They were willing to ratify the Constitution because it outlawed a state church.

      31) There is a greater list of Christians who do condemn the actions of the preachers/priests you mention. There are entire podcasts dedicated to their continued exploitation of Christians. Your portrayal is akin to lumping all atheists in with communist dictators.

      So what? That doesn’t mean that atheists can’t make the same argument that those Christians make.

      There are 45,000 different denominations of Christianity. They do not agree with one another. But every one of them makes stupid claims. If an article says, “Christians say…”, you should be able to tell from the context whether if means, “All Christians say…” or “Some Christians say….”. But it is almost impossible to come up with something that is dumber than what some Christians have already said. That is just a corollary to Poe’s Law:

      Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is utterly impossible to parody a Creationist in such a way that someone won’t mistake for the genuine article.

    • eric

      What Christians point out is that our country/Constitution was formed
      with Judeo Christian culture as it’s back drop. So while not written
      into the Constitution, you can’t argue the cultural wasn’t immensely
      important in its creation and ratification.

      The Christians using the “Christian nation” argument are generally arguing for some Christian privilege. I.e. limiting non-Christian immigration, or requiring oaths to God, or putting up 10 commandment monuments on public grounds or in court houses, etc. YOUR interpretation (i.e. “the culture was immensely important for the Constitution’s ratification”) would not justify these privilege arguments. So therefore, either your argument implies all these Christians making the “Christian Nation” argument are idiots making an utterly fallacious point. Or, your interpretation is just plain wrong.

      Personally, I think you’re being intellectually dishonest. The Christians making this argument do so because they think Christianity should be privileged (in some way) in law; that the Constitution should be interpreted to favor it above other religions and no religion. Now personally I think they are wrong about that. However, I think it’s only fair of me to try and address their claims directly, without misinterpreting them. And you should try and address such claims directly too, without trying to whitewash them. Because it’s unfair to these very Christians with whom you share a belief, to dilute their political claims into meaninglessness merely to defend them from counterpoint. Their political claims are not meaningless. They have a contentious legal point to make. We should argue the legal and originalist pros and cons of it, rather than pretending it’s merely a pedantic footnote about the the religious beliefs common in the revolutionary era.

      • Christians who didn’t want a special advantage would just “know” that Christianity formed the backbone of the Constitution and leave it at that. But, like you say, when they fuss and whine, they want special accommodations.

      • JustAnotherAtheist2

        Personally, I think you’re being intellectually dishonest.

        This could be a stock response to JB’s comments.

    • The founding fathers knew that the Constitution had to stand on its own, so they made sure that they wouldn’t need to be around to interpret it.

      You should read it. It defines how the government works. And it defines a secular public square.

      you ‘cherry picked’ to come up with an argument.

      Wrong again.

      31) There is a greater list of Christians who do condemn the actions of the preachers/priests you mention.

      You’re adorable! You think that Christian is one big, happy monolithic belief system.

      Sorry, Skippy, but Christianity is fragmented like a shattered wine glass. Any Christian who detests Christian scandals and refuses to give these scumbags another chance at fleecing ignorant Christians clearly isn’t who I’m talking about. It’s the other people.

      Since I didn’t lump Christians together, your complaint is meaningless.

      • JBSchmidt

        “And it defines a secular public square”

        Great, you ignored what I said and instead created the argument you wanted. Same thing you do when you pull peoples quotes out of context.

        I have yet to argue the document being secular. The fact is, the majority of the drafters were religious, the majority of the signers were religious, the majority the elected officials who ratified the constitution were religious and the majority of the people who elected the those officials were religious. At the time, the people didn’t have the ignorant battle lines between reason/religion the left/atheist wish to draw today. It is the authoritarian (whether religious theocracy or secular dictator) that draws those lines. The founders bridged that gap by giving power to the people (liberty) under a Federal Government. This idea ran contrary to the thoughts of the other enlightened thinkers outside the Colonies who chose to create a secular government without the backdrop of Christianity. (ie French Revolution) It’s the difference between a constitution that establishes rights from a higher power (which everyone at the time of founding recognized being from God) and a constitution that establishes rights created by itself/government/men.

        “Wrong again.”

        Maybe, but its your pattern.

        “You’re adorable! You think that Christian is one big, happy monolithic belief system.”

        Again, create the argument you want. It is the minority which hold the positions you discuss, written in an article that assumes a “monolithic belief system.”

        • I have yet to argue the document being secular.

          Great, you ignored the central point.

          The fact is, the majority of the drafters were religious, the majority of the signers were religious, the majority the elected officials who ratified the constitution were religious and the majority of the people who elected the those officials were religious.

          And if that were relevant, the authors of the Constitution would’ve put that in. Apparently not.

          It’s the difference between a constitution that establishes rights from a higher power (which everyone at the time of founding recognized being from God) and a constitution that establishes rights created by itself/government/men.

          Which one are you saying is the US model?

        • JBSchmidt

          “Great, you ignored the central point.”

          No, agreed with your stance that the constitution is secular. Disagree that you could create it without Christianity. It is as if you can claim soul food is american, but complete discount the black cultural heritage.

          “And if that were relevant, the authors of the Constitution would’ve put that in. Apparently not.”

          What a child-like answer. Like asking kids to wash dishes and when you come back the clean dishes are on the counter in a pool of water. “You told me wash, not dry and put away.” They a) protected it in the 1st amendment, and b) discussed it as a states write issue. Based on your logic, if it wasn’t written, then the founders had no voice on the issue.

          “Which one are you saying is the US model?”

          Well since the latter has typically led to massive blood shed and the former created the more plentiful society in the history of the world. I’ll let you figure it out.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Well since the latter has typically led to massive blood shed

          So you’re claiming that the US Constitution has led to massive bloodshed? I’ll agree with that, while not accepting the following premise that theocracies have a record any better. In fact, I’d claim theocracies have a far WORSE record due to lack of checks and balances.

        • No, agreed with your stance that the constitution is secular. Disagree that you could create it without Christianity.

          Expand on this. I can’t think of any tenets within the Constitution that come uniquely from Christianity.

          “And if that were relevant, the authors of the Constitution would’ve put that in. Apparently not.”
          What a child-like answer. Like asking kids to wash dishes and when you come back the clean dishes are on the counter in a pool of water. “You told me wash, not dry and put away.”

          We agree that the Constitution is secular. It contains zero Christianity. It only mentions religion to limit it (Article VI: no religious test for public office). The founding fathers debated openly Christian elements and rejected them. And yet somehow my childlike view is flawed. You’ll have to explain that (but do it so a child can understand—remember who you’re talking to).

          Based on your logic, if it wasn’t written, then the founders had no voice on the issue.

          How is this hard? They had one chance to write the Constitution correctly. When it was ratified, it was ratified in stone. Yes, it could be amended, but anything fundamental you want to get in in the first go. And Christianity didn’t make it.

          Well since the latter has typically led to massive blood shed and the former created the more plentiful society in the history of the world. I’ll let you figure it out.

          I guess it sucks to be us since the Constitution doesn’t ground our rights in a higher power.

          I’ll bet the boys were celebrating at a tavern after the ratification and one said, “It was sure good that we inserted that God thing. You put it in, right?”

          “Huh?? I thought you put it in!?”

          They must’ve had a good laugh over that one.

        • JBSchmidt

          “Expand on this. I can’t think of any tenets within the Constitution that come uniquely from Christianity.”

          As I alluded to before, we can draw a stark contrast between the American Revolution and the French Revolution. Both of which sprang up out of the Enlightenment era.

          In the US, which had the backdrop of a strong Protestant culture, emphasis was placed on tradition as the morality of the Constitution and a governmental structure was developed. It is clear that the founding fathers believed in a higher power that granted men rights and any governmental structure needed to protect those rights from man’s tendency toward corruption through power. Thus they created a Federal Government and not a Democracy. It is the religiousness of the founders that enshrined the individual with his/her rights and the pursuit of liberty. The idea that man couldn’t be the creator their own rights, stands in contrast to much of the thinking of the rest of the enlightenment era.

          The French and the Declaration of the Rights of Men stand more in line with common Enlightenment thought. In France, they tried to eliminate tradition and start from scratch. It had no religious cultural backdrop as the revolutionaries were openly hostile to the church. The result was a document that enshrined rights with the whims of men and the government. They didn’t believe rights were granted by anyone higher than what man could prescribe. Further it was believed that the individual must sacrifice his/her rights to the majority. That revolution became less about liberty and more about elimination of the opposing views. This became the model for Lenin, Mao, Pol Pot and other dictators that came after. It also appears to be the model which the left in the US is trying to employ.

          To quote George Washington on the first Thanksgiving, “Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness. Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be– That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.”

          Was George Washington a great Christians? Doesn’t matter. He knew, the founders knew and the people of the country knew that the Constitution, federal government and the liberties within could not be possible without a God.

          “And Christianity didn’t make it.”

          Where in the constitution is there reference to any outside material? By that logic the founding fathers had nothing to say about Greek philosphy, Locke, Magna Carta, Scottish Enlightenment, British Common law, etc. Unless you can show me in the constitution where those are directly referenced. One could point to sections that arose from those schools of thought, but there are also sections that have commonality with Biblical verses.

        • “Expand on this. I can’t think of any tenets within the Constitution that come uniquely from Christianity.”
          As I alluded to before, we can draw a stark contrast between the American Revolution and the French Revolution. Both of which sprang up out of the Enlightenment era.

          Doesn’t support your point. I want “Take democracy—that came from the OT” or “universal suffrage—Jesus was a pioneer in preaching that” or something like that.

          It is clear that the founding fathers believed in a higher power that granted men rights and any governmental structure needed to protect those rights from man’s tendency toward corruption through power. Thus they created a Federal Government and not a Democracy.

          Yeah, they created an entirely manmade government. No gods required. There’s no supernatural “higher power” here.

          It is the religiousness of the founders that enshrined the individual with his/her rights and the pursuit of liberty.

          Completely unbelievable without the overt declaration.

          You’ve read the state constitutions that were overtly Christian, right? That’s what I’d expect to see if your point was correct. You don’t.

          The idea that man couldn’t be the creator their own rights

          . . . is not in the Constitution.

          To quote George Washington on the first Thanksgiving, “Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer . . .

          You’ve lost. As soon as you start quoting from anything besides the Constitution, you’re acknowledging that you’d like to be using the Constitution but can’t. The Constitution is the governing document. If it doesn’t say it there, it doesn’t say it. You can’t make a SCOTUS case with, “Yeah, but Washington said it!”

          Where in the constitution is there reference to any outside material?

          Exactly.

          By that logic the founding fathers had nothing to say about Greek philosphy, Locke, Magna Carta, Scottish Enlightenment, British Common law, etc.

          Sure, go down that road. Pick apart the Constitution showing the precedents for each idea. When you’re done, collect all the ideas that came uniquely from the Bible (that is, someone else might’ve reshaped an idea into a better form, but that idea came first from the Bible).

        • Pofarmer

          Good Lord.

          “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. “

          I take it you haven’t read Jefferson’s opinions on religious rule?

          “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 to Alexander von Humboldt, Dec. 6, 1813.”

          Indeed, I’m sure he intended to base our new govt on it.

          Moron.

        • Kodie

          As soon as you start to say “god thinks this is a good idea and we should do it,” you’re creating a theocracy. The bible and most religions contain a few decent ideas of how to run a society, but that doesn’t mean they are Christian, come from Jesus or God, i.e, are divine. So what if the people who created our constitution got some ideas from any traditional biblical culture, so what? Some of the ideas in the bible aren’t unique to the bible, original to the bible, or terrible ways to live. That doesn’t make the US a Christian nation or based on Christian culture, and the fucking idea of the people who think this is a Christian nation is such that if we take one idea that is common with the bible, we should take whatever else they want from the bible. Christians are losers, you know? They want to glom onto anything they see, they want to associate one thing they think comes from god (which comes from people) with any other thing that’s in the bible they think is from god (that is also from people, different people). The US is not a Christian nation, we don’t take our ideas of how to govern from the bible; any coincidence with the bible happens to be a sound idea, but is not biblical in origin, and does not grant the bible authority, or any Christians authority.

          Get it through your thick Christian skull!

        • Greg G.

          The fact is, the majority of the drafters were religious, the majority of the signers were religious, the majority the elected officials who ratified the constitution were religious and the majority of the people who elected the those officials were religious.

          But what they drafted was not religious. It does not embrace the Ten Commandments that compel belief in Yahweh. They embraced Enlightenment principles that were based on Greek and Roman principles. The Catholics didn’t want a government controlled by Protestants and the Protestants didn’t want a government controlled by Catholics. Nobody wanted a Christian government because they and their ancestors left Europe to get away from that type of government.

        • JBSchmidt

          “But what they drafted was not religious.”

          Never said it was.

          “They embraced Enlightenment principles that were based on Greek and Roman principles.”

          Also never said they didn’t. However, you can see how the French revolution differed. They embraced only the reasoning of men. The Founders used both Christian doctrine and human reason.

          The problem is the answer is both, as I have been stating this entire time. The problem is that dogma on both the religious side and the irreligious side controls thinking. You all are proof. It is equally ignorant to deny all religious involvement in the Constitution as it is claim that the constitution is a religious document.

        • Greg G.

          It is equally ignorant to deny all religious involvement in the Constitution as it is claim that the constitution is a religious document.

          Exactly as I said. The religious involvement was to keep religion out of the Constitution.

        • JBSchmidt

          Nice to see you can’t think beyond your own dogma.

        • Uh, I think you meant to respond directly to Greg’s valid concern by listing the elements of the Constitution that came from the Bible or Christian doctrine.

          When you could easily prove him wrong, why use a taunt instead? Or is constructively adding to the conversation against your religion?

        • Greg G.

          I do not have a dogma or even a puppyma.

          There was no law requiring belief in any particular god thingy nor a law against it. No law against cussing, adultery, or coveting.

          There were laws against murder, theft, and perjury that are similar to the Ten Commandments but also common in many cultures. But Moses fled Egypt after killing an Egyptian long before the Ten Commandments came into play, so even in the Old Testament historical fiction, Egypt already had laws against murder. The Law of Hammurabi is way before the Ten Commandments and it outlawed those things, too.

          Slavery in the South was based on Old Testament principles and the Constitution left that in, not because it was biblical, but for political reasons. But they did get rid of it eventually.

        • Kodie

          Is it fucking remotely possible that Christians think without the 10 commandments, murder is on the table, so if we outlaw murder, it must have come from the bible, and therefore we are a Christian nation, because we outlaw murder?

          But lying is still legal, and not loving your neighbor is especially legal. Coveting your neighbor is encouraged. Etcetera.

        • MR

          Wow, great points.

        • I’m imagining the scene when Mo comes down with the 10 Commandments. He reads them out. When he gets to the murder one, people have some variant of this going through their minds: “Whaaaa … ?? No murder? What crazy talk is this?! Yeah, OK, if God commands it, but this rules is just BS.”

        • Kodie

          What dogma.

        • Kodie

          You sound paranoid absolutely. Religious people want to control people using god as their bully dad can beat up your dad. What are atheists trying to do to you but keep your religious views from governing? You’re allowed to have them, stupid, but you’re not allowed to force the government to force me to behave as you wish, according to your bully father.

        • Sounds like your point is that the founders were largely Christian and that some of that couldn’t help to get into the Constitution. We’re still stuck with the fact that the Constitution is secular.

          If there’s a takeaway from your comment, perhaps you can highlight that.

        • JBSchmidt

          No Christianity, no US constitution.

        • Prove your bizarre statement if you choose, but I don’t much care. The fact that to you is apparently like garlic to a vampire is that the Constitution is secular. Deal with it.

        • JBSchmidt

          Even more bizarre is your statement considering I have said numerous times the Constitution is Secular. I am not afraid of that fact. You appear to have a garlic/vampire reaction with the notion that it took a Christian/religious/deist society to create the document.

        • it took a Christian/religious/deist society to create the document.

          Show us.

        • JBSchmidt

          I have through the Founding Father’s words, the ideas in the founding and examples from other countries.

          I can only lead a sheep to water.

        • Lex Lata

          That’s a stretch.

          The US Constitution arose in a culturally Christian context, to be sure. The Framers all were Christians (of varying types), worked with a Christianized version of Ciceronean natural law/rights, and generally felt that religion was a key–although not the only–source of individual virtue needed for citizens of a federal republic founded on the consent of the governed and structured as a representative democracy.

          But I wouldn’t say Christianity was a necessary condition, without which there would have been no such Constitution. The document’s myriad big ideas could’ve emerged–and in fact did emerge–in non-Christian contexts. One of the West’s longest-functioning parliaments was created by Æsir/Vanir-worshipping settlers in medieval Iceland, for example. More to the point, though, our constitutional and political vocabulary came to us largely from pre-Christian Rome and Greece. Libertas. Fœderatus. Δημοκρατία. Jus naturale. Senatus. Constitutio. Congressus. Leges. Πολιτική. Res publica. Etc. And concepts like federalism and separation of powers are straight out of classical political history.

          Moreover, I can’t help but note that Christianity didn’t necessarily lead countries to the sort of Enlightenment political liberalism enshrined in the US Constitution. As the Framers did their level best to maximize individual liberty (albeit with some notable and grievous exceptions), the Papal States–arguably the most Christian political entity in existence at the time–took a wholly different and reactionary approach. Freedom of speech and the press? No, Index Librorum Prohibitorum (which included many of our Framers’ favorite books and authors). Freedom of personal religious belief? No, odious anti-Jewish, Jim Crow-type laws “founded on the sacred canons.” Separation of church and state, representative democracy, republican government? No, no, no.

        • A comprehensive response. Thanks.

        • Damien Priestly

          No, this “Higher Power” and “creator” stuff was actually a fudge by the founders. They had every opportunity insert God — and they went out of their way not to. A creator is always in the eye of the beholder, thus it can’t hand out rights.

          In fact, the founders expected the Constitution to be tossed out and replaced every few decades or at least amended much more than it has been…hardly commensurate with a constant higher power or a God.

          People forget the immense influence of the likes of Thomas Payne and his anti-theist supporters in the US founding…Christians avoid Thomas Payne like the plague…they know he undercuts everything they stand for.

    • Jack the Sandwichmaker

      Mostly I hear that America was based on Christian principles. But freedom of speech, democratic representative government and freedom of religion are not Christisn principles. I don’t know which principles they mean.

      • Otto

        None of us do…JB keeps harping they are there but when asked for specifics…*crickets

      • J.B.

        The very concept of “freedom” is a Christian principle. Try to remember, these freedoms were in the process of being taken away from the American colonists by “fat George”, the Declaration expresses the beliefs of our founding fathers, that all men held “natural” rights given by a Supreme Being, not a human king.

        • Jack the Sandwichmaker

          In what way is freedom a Christian principle?

        • J.B.

          Christ taught revolutionary concepts that allow one to escape the tyranny of hate and sin.

        • Jack the Sandwichmaker

          That’s not really the “freedom” the country was built on.
          Besides, Christians took Christ’s teachings and built a religion out of the tyranny of hate and fear.

          Freedom of speech, Freedom of religion, these are unChristian ideas.

        • J.B.

          Now I am really confused, how in the world is Freedom of Speech and Freedom of religion, “unChristian ideas”?????

        • Jack the Sandwichmaker

          Yes. You are confused.
          After you finish reading about American history, read the 10 Commandments

        • The 10 Commandments were pretty much the same as the Bill of Rights.

          Checkmate, atheists!

        • Huh? You find freedom of religion in the Old Testament??

        • Kodie

          You are so Christian!

        • Jack the Sandwichmaker

          Remember, many of the Christians came hear to escape a country where there was too much freedom.
          Luckily the Constitution created a free society instead.

        • J.B.

          So, the pilgrims were throwing the tea into Boston Harbor, because …they had “too much” tea?

        • Jack the Sandwichmaker

          Oh, wow.
          Really, go reread your American history.
          It wasn’t the pilgrims throwing tea into Boston Harbor.

          Are you JBSchmidt? or another JB?

        • J.B.

          Before JBSchmidt, I AM.

        • Sounds a bit blasphemous to put yourself on the same level as Yahweh, but it’s your hell. I’m not going to burn in it.

        • J.B.

          That was merely a test to see if you knew your Bible, Bob. I’m happy to say you passed. My only question to you now is… how is it, a well-renowned atheist like you, knows his Bible so well?
          Were you raised in a Christian household, or perhaps, attended a Christian Boarding School, or was it self taught. Seriously, always wondered about that.

        • Atheists tend to know the Bible better than Christians. Polls of Bible knowledge show this.

          I’m self-taught. I’ve been blogging for >10 years.

        • J.B.

          Thanks.

        • Kodie

          Are you one of those Christians who thinks atheists have no knowledge of Jesus and need to hear the “good news”?

        • It wasn’t the pilgrims throwing tea into Boston Harbor.

          No, it was Jesus!

        • J.B.

          The people in Boston were formerly, the pilgrims. And, they were called pilgrims, because they were seeking religious freedom.

        • Jack the Sandwichmaker

          Their “religious freedom” to not have religious freedom.

          But by the time of the revolution the Puritan dream of a theocracy had failed and Bostonians were no longer “Pilgrims”

        • Greg G.

          The people in Boston were formerly, the pilgrims. And, they were called pilgrims, because they were seeking religious freedom.

          Remember, they were seeking religious freedom from other Christians.

        • J.B.

          Um, not really, they were fleeing the church of King Henry VIII who was….a tyrant.

        • Greg G.

          Did you learn that in church or did you just make it up? The first English settlement in America was in 1607. Henry the VIII died in 1547.

        • J.B.

          You are missing the point, all together, when there is a religious persecution, the root is usually found by a person or group of people who have been corrupted by their own power. Our faulty nature makes us all susceptible to abusing others for whatever reason. Religion, church, the bible are all ways for people to find their “higher self”, and this allows them to start fresh and forge a new path of loving their neighbor according to the divine nature to which we have all been endowed, even you, Greg G.

        • Greg G.

          You made a claim that essentially said that King Henry the VIII was so tyrannical that sixty and seventy-three years after his death, a couple of religious groups fled England and then you accused me of missing the point.

          The Puritans were reformers who were trying to purify the Church of England. The Pilgrims were separatists from the Church of England. The rest of the Church of England was punishing them.

          The New Testament tells its followers that they will be persecuted, to any resistance to a Christian is taken as persecution so they can claim they are persecuted and, therefore, right. The Pilgrims and Puritans were extremists who saw the resistance from the Church of England as persecution, so they left the country to start afresh elsewhere.

          Religion, church, the bible are all ways for people to find their “higher self”

          Was the nonsense you asserted about Henry the VII just you trying to find your higher self?

        • J.B.

          “King Henry the VIII was so tyrannical that sixty and seventy-three years after his death, a couple of religious groups fled England”

          You bet, because this tradition of tyranny started with him and carried down. Someone doesn’t have to be alive to have really bad behavior be attributed to him.

        • Greg G.

          Someone doesn’t have to be alive to have really bad behavior be attributed to him.

          Henry the VIII created the Church of England so he could divorce without having to behead so many wives. Anything the leaders of the Church were doing twenty or sixty years later had nothing to do with him. King James I (yes, that King James) was the ruler from 1566. If they were fleeing, it would have been from him more than one of his predecessors.

          King James I issued the charters for the Virginia Colony and the Plymouth Colony. Jamestown was a for-profit endeavor but they followed the Church of England but accepted dissenters.

        • DingoJack

          I think you mean that James I ruled after 1603.

        • Kodie

          Give me a fucking break, you ignorant fuck. Puritans fled Europe because they were constricted from forming the theocracy of Puritanism they desire. These are the settlers from The Mayflower.

          You don’t know from fuck what about American history.

        • Kodie

          They were Puritans, you asshole.

        • Kodie

          They were seeking the freedom to be strict as fuck about Jesus. You don’t know your history. I live in Boston and have been on 3 duck boat tours!

        • Sin is make-believe. Hate is a very real problem, but what was revolutionary about Jesus’s approach that humans hadn’t already figured out or would?

        • J.B.

          Bob, A good example of the revolutionary teachings of Jesus is in the response He gave to a lawyer who asked “who is my neighbor”… other teachings on loving your enemy were extraordinary for the Jews, who were his intended audience, who were raised on the Rabbinical concepts of an eye for eye. Perhaps, we would have finally figured out the beauty of living in a way similar to His teachings, but, we have a model, and all these proverbial type concepts are woven into a complete and consistent doctrine, that He himself lived.

        • I think we agree on the value of compassion and humanity, but none of this is revolutionary today. It seems even debatable that it was revolutionary to the Jews back then. Did their jaws drop open in amazement on hearing this? Had they never heard of or conceived of this kind of compassion before? Did they need a day or two to get their heads around this idea?

          We can celebrate the fact that we’re on the same page about compassion, but let’s not give Christianity credit for inventing a new idea that it had simply taken from humanity in the first place.

        • J.B.

          Bob, something is off with your depiction of Sin being make-believe. How is it make-believe?

        • Sin is an offense to a god. The god doesn’t exist, so therefore sin vanishes.

          Show me that the god exists first. Then tell me about what sins offends him.

        • J.B.

          Ok, I want to use an analogy here. For many years, people could not look directly at the Sun because it would blind them. In it effect, no one could “see” the Sun. But, you could “see” indicia of the Sun, ie: light, shade and darkness, varying degrees of the presence of the Sun. By looking at the indicia we had indirect proof of the existence of the Sun.
          Similarly, by looking at creation we see the indirect proof of the existence of a creator, who we call God. The light is grace, shade and darkness are varying degrees of Sin, or the lack of God.
          To call Sin make believe, you have to call God make-believe, but to do so, you also have to call into question all the indicia of the creator, or the created world – what you are essentially doing when you say Sin is make believe is saying everything is make believe! Now, you don’t want to do that, do you?

        • I disagree that what we see around us is evidence of a creator. If it all has natural explanations, there’s no need to make the extraordinary leap to invent a god.

          What is unexplained (and unexplainable) by dropping the god hypothesis?

        • Greg G.

          We can actually see the sun. You just can’t stare at it for a long time. You’ll go blind. But even that is direct evidence that there is a sun. But we do not have even indirect evidence of a god thingy. Some things are necessary for our survival and some things are detrimental to survival so having varying likes and dislikes is not evidence for god thingies, even if we call the things we don’t like “bad” or “evil” or “sin”.

          The existence of the world is not evidence that it was created in a way that implies there are god thingies. You are caught up in the made-up stories of people who didn’t know where the sun went at night, how clouds formed, nor the cause of lightning and thunder. God thingies were invented to explain things that now have better explanations. You are holding onto an explanation with nothing left to explain what it was invented for, so you are looking at things that nobody had conceived of when they invented the god thingy.

        • Kodie

          So Christ’s version of freedom was a tyranny of joining a cult and hating your family. The freedom to buck trends and join a cult, the freedom to tell people you love to go fuck themselves, because you have been invited to join a cult. This sounds like propaganda.

        • The very concept of “freedom” is a Christian principle.

          Huh? No other society had this concept? Humanity wouldn’t have figured it out without the Bible?

          You’ll have to explain, preferably with references.

        • Pofarmer

          The idea being espoused of “Natural rights” was Enlightenment philosophy. It didn’t have much to do with theistic thinking. In fact, it was a direct repudiation of it.

        • J.B.

          That’s an interesting take. I think that where you are wrong is that you when you equate an idea to Enlightenment Philosophy, well, all the ideas of that time were being spun as part of that movement, and that movement was, I agree with you, an attempt to place man on a higher footing than God, but the movement was not to dispute the existence of God, it didn’t go that far, and, the idea of the Natural Rights, were accepted as a kind of objective truth or characteristic found in man placed there by his creator, God. Also, read your comments on the use of guns and, I agree, very well written…. for a farmer.

        • Pofarmer

          The idea of “Natural Law” actually goes back to the Ancient Greeks, and then it was hijacked for a while by Aquinas. Remember, this is nearly 100 years before “On the Origin of Species”. They didn’t have a better platform, but they were trying to employ the use of reason to determine philosophy instead of theology. They were overturning centuries of thought. It can’t happen all at once. But, the idea here, is that ALL men have the same rights, and that these men have the right to institute govt’s among themselves which they control. This was revolutionary thinking that was hitherto pretty much unheard of. There’s nothing “god centered” about it. It’s humanist philosophy, indeed.

        • J.B.

          I can’t disagree with you that our founding fathers were amazingly well read, and at that time in history, a person could consume the bulk of all great works of literature covering a vast amount of disciplines, and, that’s why so many of them were also inventors. But, Adams and Jefferson and let’s face it, probably all of the members of that Congress were Christians who believed in God, at the time of the Revolution. My point is they had indeed absorbed all of these theories when they spawned a new political theory of government but it is ludicrous to think it wasn’t also couched in their own deeply held religious beliefs.

        • Pofarmer

          Ever heard of the Jefferson Bible?

          Here’s what Jefferson had to say.

          “In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to

          liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses

          in return for protection to his own.”

          Thomas Jefferson

          And also this

          http://www.religioustolerance.org/thomas-jefferson-religious-quotes-2.htm

          Or this

          “History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government,”

          What about Thomas Paine? Instrumental in the revolution who also wrote “The Age of Reason.”

          These guys were embarking on something new and different. Many of them wouldn’t have had deeply held religious beliefs that we would even recognize in the first place. The seperation of Church and State. The idea that Govt arises from the consent of the governed. All these go against that thesis.

        • J.B.

          Well now we are heading into the Church/State argument, which I can see you are well versed on and is for another day, but, here’s all I’m saying, from an objective point of view, the USA was formed by God-fearing Christians, Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Washington – (I just did a quick look and found Franklin wanted to open the Congress with prayers, for pete’s sake – so take that on your Church/State topic) – And, this Country being formed in this religious milieu found favor with the All Mighty and as hard as you may want, we should never forget that.

        • Pofarmer

          From an objective point of view, I notice you leave out Paine, Washington is questionable, Jefferson certainly had no truck with Christianity if you’ve actually read much Jefferson. Franklin offered to start Congress with a prayer basically to get the more religious members of the Continental Congress to shut up. Hell, Franklin tried to start the first secular University in the U.S. but couldn’t quite get it done at the time as he got shouted down.

          And, this Country being formed in this religious milieu found favor with
          the All Mighty and as hard as you may want, we should never forget
          that.

          Or perhaps, just perhaps, the Founders stumbled on a time and place that worked. They had much land to seize. They were isolated. They formed a govt that limited religious conflicts and gave ordinary people rights they basically didn’t have in any other place. We had Universal rule of Law. Everyone was equal under the law (at least to a greater extent). The freakin All Mighty had nothing to do with it. We should never forget that.

        • Greg G.

          Many countries have modeled their constitutions on that US Constitution, not because of the All Mighty, but because the system of government offers freedom through checks and balances. It omits most of the Ten Commandments except that are in most societies older than Christianity. There is one mention of a deist Creator in the Declaration of Independence and a “year of the Lord” in the signing statement of the Constitution, not the Constitution itself.

          Regarding the “year of the Lord” in our calendar system, remember that several of the months are named for mythological Roman gods and many of our days of the week are named for Norse and Roman gods. Our system of calendar dates is based on mythology.

        • this Country being formed in this religious milieu found favor with the All Mighty and as hard as you may want, we should never forget that.

          Why? It’s trivia. It has no bearing on our day to day activities. Even the Constitution is remote from our daily activities, but go there if you want. It’s 100% secular.

          The argument, “Yeah, but the founding fathers were really Christian!!” is not an argument that (should) sway the Supreme Court.

        • J.B.

          Ever heard of the Jefferson Bible?

          Not helping your case, PoFarmer. Number one, Jefferson himself never referrred to it as the Jefferson Bible. Number two, the document confirms his belief in Jesus as God. Number three, it shows someone with keen intellect, a forward thinker, a pragmatist and politician supreme, who believed Jesus was God.

        • Pofarmer

          Then no, no you haven’t heard of it. Certainly haven’t read it.

        • J.B.

          It’s been a while, I will admit that, but my understanding was the thrust was against formalized religion, and Jefferson tried to provide a very pragmatic approach to the scriptures. And, he was evolving from a staunch protestant to a Humanist which is the point you are trying to make, but my point is that at the very heart of his writing is a ratification of Jesus and God, whether intentional or not, by Jefferson.

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, Jefferson didn’t think Jesus was God. He thought he was a wise teacher, as he makes clear in several different writings.

        • J.B.

          I think it’s your approach – Jefferson by scaling down the scriptures to wise teachings, is not taking away from the divinity aspect of the teachings, which is your point of view. My view is that his goal is to make the scriptures more graspable, handier, if you will, making the scriptures more accessible to the man on the go, like placing an important tool in your back pocket for when you need it, but certainly not to take away from the narrative of who Jesus was. Also, take a look at when the “Jefferson Bible” was written… yeah, way after the revolution…

        • Pofarmer

          Then, you are simply ignorant of what Jefferson thought.

        • J.B.

          I’ll have to pick it up this weekend to refresh my memory, I’m actually very curious now as Jefferson was one of my interests growing up.

        • Kodie

          You are clinging hard to wishful thinking.

        • Greg G.

          Jefferson’s condensed composition excludes all miracles by Jesus and most mentions of the supernatural, including sections of the four gospels that contain the Resurrection and most other miracles, and passages that portray Jesus as divine.
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jefferson_Bible

          How is that a ratification of God? He cut out all things related to God. Your God goggles are distorting your view of reality.

        • J.B.

          No, Greg G. and now you see, this is why I think I am right – It’s easy for the modern-day reader, you and Pofarmer, to get lost in the translation, so to speak, because you don’t realize that Jefferson’s main goal with his “Bible” was to reach not only the Christians who believed in the faith-based stories, but the folk like you and Po who are trying to cherry pick and get pearls of wisdom without signing up to the Christian faith. He was accentuating the practical teachings of the scriptures for many reasons but NOT the one you and Pofarmer are pushing. Sorry, boys.

        • Greg G.

          No, really. Take off the God goggles. Maybe the headband is too tight. You are seeing god thingies everywhere when they are clearly not there. Read Lex Lata’s comment again.

        • Pofarmer

          Uhm, no, we just know what Jefferson actually, ya know, says. Lex Lata sums up some of it nicely.

        • MR

          And of course the letter to his nephew where he encourages him to question even the existence of God and calls into question various of the bible’s miraculous claims. I’d forgotten how much reading Jefferson and Franklin contributed to the unraveling of my Christianity.

        • Pofarmer

          Paine was pretty instrumental for me.

        • Pofarmer

          Probably cutting off blood flow to the brain.

        • Greg G.

          I gave him a second opinion with the same diagnosis before I saw this.

        • Greg G.

          Number one, Jefferson himself never referrred to it as the Jefferson Bible.

          Thomas Jefferson would have referred to it as his Bible because it belonged to him. Others would call it the Jefferson Bible because it belonged to Jefferson.

          Number two, the document confirms his belief in Jesus as God.

          Jefferson chopped out the miracles and left the teachings. That is the opposite of confirming a belief in Jesus as God. Jefferson was a Deist.

          Number three, it shows someone with keen intellect, a forward thinker, a pragmatist and politician supreme, who believed Jesus was God.

          Deists of the day had no explanation of origins. If they lived a century later, they would have accepted Darwin’s explanation and rejected the vague deity of Deism.

        • Greg G.

          But, Adams and Jefferson and let’s face it, probably all of the members of that Congress were Christians who believed in God, at the time of the Revolution. My point is they had indeed absorbed all of these theories when they spawned a new political theory of government but it is ludicrous to think it wasn’t also couched in their own deeply held religious beliefs.

          Maybe, but all of their deeply held religious beliefs were expunged from the final new political theory of government.

          Auto mechanics do better work when they don’t substitute their religious beliefs for training. Scientists do better science when they leave their religious beliefs out of it. Patients have better outcomes when the doctor prescribes the appropriate medicine no matter whether they are Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or any other. The quality of the Constitution is the absence of religious sectarian principles.

        • J.B.

          I disagree profoundly – what about when the Auto Mechanic is working on a transmission; and, not based on his training, he finds away to solve the problem; or the Scientist who decides to “invent” a new way to fight Cancer cells, or a Nuerosurgeon who finds a new way of treating Muscular Sclerosis, by looking at the clouds, ..ever hear of divine inspiration. It is the reason, my friend, for all advancements in these areas, including the birth of our blessed nation.

        • Greg G.

          If an auto mechanic finds a way to half-assed fix a car, it is not really repaired optimally. If he finds a better way to fix something, it is not because of whatever religion he has, otherwise you have to give credit to the Muslim for coming up with an improvement. It is the same with any other thing.

          ever hear of divine inspiration.

          Yes, it is a humble brag. Instead of admitting they came up with an idea through natural brain processes, they can imply that their deity likes them better than anybody.

          It is the reason, my friend, for all advancements in these areas, including the birth of our blessed nation.

          That’s funny. I would think an omnipotence could work much faster. Instead of preaching, Jesus should have been teaching medicine, science, and engineering. His message would be more profound if he was still teaching.

        • J.B.

          I really think you are looking at this backwards, religion and inspiration allow one to be more focused on the problem at hand. By becoming prayerful, one is able to strip away all physical and earthly distractions, strip away all petty problems and become sharply intent on the solving the problem at hand. I’d much rather have a religious surgeon working on me then a non.

          Instead of preaching, Jesus should have been teaching medicine, science, and engineering.

          When He gave the blind, sight, and the lame, the power to walk, He, in effect, was practicing medicine, after do these things, Jesus said don’t be so focused on those earthly things, it ‘s more important on having a healthy soul, and that’s why he concentrated on preaching. I recommend you go back and re-read the scriptures, just so you can get it right this time!

        • I’d much rather have a religious surgeon working on me then a non.

          Show me the stats that make this a sensible approach to medicine. Otherwise, it’s just your uninformed bias.

          Instead of preaching, Jesus should have been teaching medicine, science, and engineering.

          Yeah. A list of novel science/engineering advancements in the New Testament would’ve gone a long way to show that it was really supernaturally inspired. As it is, it’s just a story. It’s just words on paper.

        • Greg G.

          I really think you are looking at this backwards, religion and inspiration allow one to be more focused on the problem at hand. By becoming prayerful, one is able to strip away all physical and earthly distractions, strip away all petty problems and become sharply intent on the solving the problem at hand. I’d much rather have a religious surgeon working on me then a non.

          I have been religious and not religious. I have worked with religious people and non-religious people. I can tell you from first hand knowledge and from first hand observation that you are wrong.

          When He gave the blind, sight, and the lame, the power to walk, He, in effect, was practicing medicine, after do these things, Jesus said don’t be so focused on those earthly things, it ‘s more important on having a healthy soul, and that’s why he concentrated on preaching. I recommend you go back and re-read the scriptures, just so you can get it right this time!

          The Jesus miracles are the miracles of Moses, Elijah, Elisha, Hermes, and Vespasian rewritten. You should go back and read the miracles in the Old Testament, the Odyssey, and the reports of the miracles Vespasian did in Egypt. Then go back and read about Jesus. What amazes you now will look like retreads.

          Mark used Aramaic words, which he almost always explained, and Latin words, which he never explained. This tells us he was writing to Romans who knew Latin but not Aramaic nor Hebrew. They would have heard about Vespasian spit miracles in the Serapis Temple in Egypt, as he apparently used those stories as propaganda to show the people he had the favor of the gods, since he wasn’t descended from a powerful family.

        • Vespasian the emperor? Asclepius came to mind as a miracle healer. You didn’t mean him?

        • Greg G.

          Here are three accounts of Vespasian’s miracles. One was a blind man healed with spit. The other was a man with a withered hand.

          Tacitus, Histories 4.81In the months during which Vespasian was waiting at Alexandria for the periodical return of the summer gales and settled weather at sea, many wonders occurred which seemed to point him out as the object of the favour of heaven and of the partiality of the Gods. One of the common people of Alexandria, well known for his blindness, threw himself at the Emperor’s knees, and implored him with groans to heal his infirmity. This he did by the advice of the God Serapis, whom this nation, devoted as it is to many superstitions, worships more than any other divinity. He begged Vespasian that he would deign to moisten his cheeks and eye-balls with his spittle. Another with a diseased hand, at the counsel of the same God, prayed that the limb might feet the print of a Caesar’s foot. At first Vespasian ridiculed and repulsed them. They persisted; and he, though on the one hand he feared the scandal of a fruitless attempt, yet, on the other, was induced by the entreaties of the men and by the language of his flatterers to hope for success. At last he ordered that the opinion of physicians should be taken, as to whether such blindness and infirmity were within the reach of human skill. They discussed the matter from different points of view. “In the one case,” they said, “the faculty of sight was not wholly destroyed, and might return, if the obstacies were removed; in the other case, the limb, which had fallen into a diseased condition, might be restored, if a healing influence were applied; such, perhaps, might be the pleasure of the Gods, and the Emperor might be chosen to be the minister of the divine will; at any rate, all the glory of a successful remedy would be Caesar’s, while the ridicule of failure would fall on the sufferers.” And so Vespasian, supposing that all things were possible to his good fortune, and that nothing was any longer past belief, with a joyful countenance, amid the intense expectation of the multitude of bystanders, accomplished what was required. The hand was instantly restored to its use, and the light of day again shone upon the blind. Persons actually present attest both facts, even now when nothing is to be gained by falsehood.

          Suetonius, The Twelve Caesars, Vespasian 7Having, therefore, entered on a civil war, and sent forward his generals and forces into Italy, he himself, in the meantime, passed over to Alexandria, to obtain possession of the key of Egypt. Here having entered alone, without attendants, the temple of Serapis, to take the auspices respecting the establishment of his power, and having done his utmost to propitiate the deity, upon turning round, [his freedman] Basilides appeared before him, and seemed to offer him the sacred leaves, chaplets, and cakes, according to the usage of the place, although no one had admitted him, and he had long laboured under a muscular debility, which would hardly have allowed him to walk into the temple; besides which, it was certain that at the very time he was far away. Immediately after this, arrived letters with intelligence that Vitellius’s troops had been defeated at Cremona, and he himself slain at Rome. Vespasian, the new emperor, having been raised unexpectedly from a low estate, wanted something which might clothe him with divine majesty and authority. This, likewise, was now added. A poor man who was blind, and another who was lame, came both together before him, when he was seated on the tribunal, imploring him to heal them, and saying that they were admonished in a dream by the god Serapis to seek his aid, who assured them that he would restore sight to the one by anointing his eyes with his spittle, and give strength to the leg of the other, if he vouchsafed but to touch it with his heel. At first he could scarcely believe that the thing would any how succeed, and therefore hesitated to venture on making the experiment. At length, however, by the advice of his friends, he made the attempt publicly, in the presence of the assembled multitudes, and it was crowned with success in both cases. About the same time, at Tegea in Arcadia, by the direction of some soothsayers, several vessels of ancient workmanship were dug out of a consecrated place, on which there was an effigy resembling Vespasian.

          Dio Cassius, Roman Histories 65.8.1Following Vespasian’s entry into Alexandria the Nile overflowed, having in one day risen a palm higher than usual; such an occurrence, it was said, had only taken place only once before. Vespasian himself healed two persons, one having a withered hand, the other being blind, who had come to him because of a vision seen in dreams; he cured the one by stepping on his hand and the other by spitting upon his eyes.

        • 3 independent sources from respected historians? I’m sold!

        • I forgot to thank you for the Vespasian data. That was news to me.

        • MR

          No? All the oracles were carrying the story and there were proclamations on practically every door. Don’t know how you missed it.

        • Looking back on the dates, I realize that my oracle was on the fritz at the time.

        • Greg G.

          I thought one of them mentioned something about Vespasian needing a reason for the people to support him since his family didn’t have high standing so favor with the gods was worthwhile. Now I don’t recall if it was in accompanying text or another passage. In searching, I came across the tidbit that Dio Cassius wrote in Greek and the others wrote in Latin. I thought that was interesting. Perhaps that was on Matt Ferguson’s page. That was before Grimlock linked to the same article.

        • Greg G.

          I thought one of them mentioned something about Vespasian needing a reason for the people to support him since his family didn’t have high standing so favor with the gods was worthwhile.

          Found it right in the middle of the Suetonius quote: “Vespasian, the new emperor, having been raised unexpectedly from a low estate, wanted something which might clothe him with divine majesty and authority.”

        • Greg G.

          When Vespasian was on his deathbed, he is reported to have said, “I think I am becoming a god.” How about that for a miracle?

        • I think it helps starting as an emperor. I’ve got a bigger leap to make. I’ll just have to try harder.

        • Lex Lata

          Sorry to bug you, Bob, but Disqus seems to have a problem with a comment I wrote to J.B. Any chance you can moderate it through? Thanks!

        • done

        • Grimlock

          Matthew Ferguson has a thorough comparison of Vespasian’s and Jesus’ miracles with respect to the reliability of their sources.

          https://celsus.blog/2013/03/31/history-probability-and-miracles/amp/

        • Thanks for the link.

        • Kodie

          Gesundheit.

        • Greg G.

          I’d much rather have a religious surgeon working on me then a non.

          I would prefer an non-superstition surgeon than a superstitious one. Witch doctors are religious, too. I would hope my young female friends don’t get taken to a Catholic hospital in serious condition. They might be reluctant to do some procedures if it might cause an abortion.

        • MR

          I’d rather have the more experienced; but, yeah, I’m not female so that would be a consideration.

        • J.B.

          Again, wrong, quick trick to differentiate Catholics and all other religions and atheists – you believe in “either/or”; Catholics belive in “and/and”. Your comment above is a perfect example, you, atheists look at it as either the mother or the child; We, Catholics, on the other hand, look at it as the mother AND the child…

        • Greg G.

          There are times when a choice between “and” and “or” should be made. Here is the case of a young woman who had an incomplete miscarriage. There was no hope that the fetus would survive but the Catholic hospital that she was taken to refused to do an abortion while the heart of the fetus was beating. By then, it was too late to save the woman.

          Death of Savita Halappanavar
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Savita_Halappanavar

          She died because of those Catholic religious principles. Catholicism chose the death of “the mother AND the child…”

        • J.B.

          The “and/and” concept is a theoretical, my heart goes out to that family. But, the baby of course went to heaven and, in a Catholic hospital, there was probably a priest there who could hear the woman’s confession, so she would have gone to heaven, I’d say that’s a “win/win”, wouldn’t you?

        • Greg G.

          I’d say that’s a “win/win”, wouldn’t you?

          Again, you are seeing everything through your God goggles. It was a lose/lose situation. A young woman died unnecessarily. If they had just done the abortion, she would still be alive and probably raising a 10 year old. If you had read the article for comprehension, you would have seen that she was Hindu. Any other hospital would have taken the lose/win scenario since the lose was inevitable.

          Seeing that as a win/win is really creepy.

          Priests are actors. They put on a show for you. They pretend to forgive you for offending an imaginary god thingy. If you say magic words to a bucket of water, it’s still just water.

        • Susan

          I’d say that’s a “win/win”.

          Fork you, you cold-blooded catlick.

          wouldn’t you?

          Fork, no. I’m not a psychopath.

        • Pofarmer

          Religion ruins everything.

        • J.B.

          Susan, respectfully, three things, first, a person who believes in heaven, (me), sees this world for what it is, a complete disaster, full of pain and suffering, hate and intolerance, and for that reason, the believer can’t wait unit this world ends with the second judgement and the New Earth is created essentially, merging heaven and earth; second, and more to the point, Catholic Hospitals were some of the first hospitals that introduced a more holistic view of the way the sick and dying were treated. The Catholic Hospitals were the ones that introduced “tender loving care”, if you will, into the world of medicine. Long story short, the secular hospital focused on treating diseases, the Catholic Hospitals also encompassed the care for the patient. Third, today is the feast day of St. Camillus, the patron saint of Hospitals and Nurses, who was an Italian doctor who was known for his love for patients who were receiving treatment in the Hospitals. Finally, Padre Pio, another Italian Saint of the Catholic Church, who founded a hospital, the day before the hospital opened, called together all the Doctors to remind them that the Love they showed to the patients was as important as the medicine. It is interesting that today of all days, the feast of St. Camillus, I need to respond to you.

        • Susan

          first, a person who believes in heaven, (me),

          Without basis.

          sees the world for what it is

          No sign of that.

          full of pain and suffering, hate and intolerance

          You mean like forcing a woman to die over days in agony, while she and her husband begged for basic medical intervention?

          the second judgement and the New Earth is created essentially, merging heaven and earth

          Ballshorts. Unadulterated ballshorts.

          The Catholic Hospitals were the ones that introduced “tender loving care”

          She was not treated with “tender loving care”. She was forced to die an agonizing death and everyone who loved her lost her. Not for medical reasons but because of your imaginary, narcissistic bullshit, and the institution behind it.

          Padre Pio

          I looked him up. More unsubstantiated miracle claims with suffering at the centre. More ballshorts.

          This is real life. Calling the callous treatment of this human being and her family a “win-win” just makes you an execrable piece of shorts.

          I would think you were a Poe, except that I know that there are real humans like you and an institution that encourages them to keep behaving like that.

          =====

          Edit to add a few seconds later: (I can’t say it often enough.)

          Go fork yourself.

          I would spell it properly but Patheosdisqus is worried about “trigger” words and does nothing when a piece of shorts like you calls the avoidable, agonizing death of a young woman/mother a “win-win”.

          Did I mention that you should go fork yourself? Repeatedly?

          I can’t say it enough.

        • Kodie

          The Catholic hospital did not care for the patient. They enforced their superstition on her and called it “good”, and you sick fuck, also think it’s good! Twisted bunch of bullshit!

        • Jack the Sandwichmaker

          I call it murder

        • Kodie

          What do you mean “of course”? You are a sick fuck.

        • Pofarmer

          .ever hear of divine inspiration.

          Thomas Paine is your friend,. Divine inspiration isn’t a valid argument for anything, nor a valid source of evidence, even if it happened to be real, which it isn’t.

        • J.B.

          I believe it is quite settled by historians that religion was one of the main factors for the revolution so it makes no sense that the founding fathers would just leave God out of the new political theory of government. The whole revolution was justified in the sight of God, according to the founding fathers and it inspired Washington’s troops to put up with great hardships believing God was on their side. Indeed He was, still is.

        • it makes no sense that the founding fathers would just leave God out of the new political theory of government.

          And yet they did. I guess you need to go back and check your assumptions.

        • Greg G.

          I believe it is quite settled by historians that religion was one of the main factors for the revolution

          Do you have a source for that? I have read books on the history of the Revolution but I have never heard that.

          Tea played a bigger role than religion did.

          https://www.thoughtco.com/timeline-events-leading-to-american-revolution-104296

        • No, what’s ludicrous is to imagine that these men thought that Christian beliefs were vitally important to guide the country but forgot to add them to the Constitution. That they didn’t put them in suggests that they didn’t put them in on purpose and that our 100% secular Constitution is deliberately secular.

        • Kodie

          Wow aren’t you delusional?

        • very well written…. for a farmer.

          (JB’s closing comment was too bizarre to not repeat. I pray to the god that’s not there that you and he have a running joke to this effect? Or should his put-down be taken at face value?)

        • Pofarmer

          I pray to the god that’s not there that you and he have a running joke to this effect?

          Yeah-No. I just decided to let it slide.

        • Maybe the rest of us should take it up then. If your friends can’t give you shit, who can??

        • Pofarmer

          Wow, this new dynamic should be – fun!!!!!

        • Well, yeah! Just don’t think that I’d appreciate it being applied to me.

        • J.B.

          is it possible to retract that last part? Apologies for my awkward attempt to pay Pofarmer a well deserved compliment. Thanks.

        • Bravo–I applaud your instincts.

          Sarcasm is often misinterpreted online, unfortunately.

        • Greg G.

          the idea of the Natural Rights, were accepted as a kind of objective truth or characteristic found in man placed there by his creator, God Evolution.

          FTFY

          It seems to be wishful thinking on the part of the Christian. Why was a document like the Declaration of Independence not written for 17 centuries after Christianity, if it was in the Bible all along?

        • Pofarmer

          Why was a document like the Declaration of Independence not written for
          17 centuries after Christianity, if it was in the Bible all along?

          I’m actually having this exact same conversation with a guy on facebook. Nice guy, just wrong. “Liberal Evangelical.”

        • Greg G.

          The Declaration of Independence does not say “Supreme Being”. It says “Creator” which a reflection of deism, not a supreme god thingy. It was written before Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln* were born.

          *Trivia: Lincoln and Darwin were born on the same day, February 12, 1809.

        • Kodie

          Are you fucking kidding me.

        • Susan

          The very concept of “freedom” is a Christian principle.

          No. It is not.

          these freedoms were in the process of being taken away from the American colonists by “fat George”.

          Those “freedoms” were established by losing sweat and blood in response to the “divine” claims made by kings.

          the Declaration expresses the beliefs of our founding fathers, that all men held “natural rights”

          It doesn’t mean there’s some divine support for that. Also, it excluded women. Also, it allowed for the concept that African Americans (penis, or not) were not “men”.

          It was based on principles in a process. It didn’t require a supreme being (for which there is no evidence).

          Also, it was not the U.S. constitution.

          It doesn’t matter what bullshit the founding fathers believed. What does matter is whether or not the principles of their constitution allowed unsupported beliefs as a point of freedom.

          not a human king.

          They’re all human kings. At least “fat George” was real. He existed.

          Your “Supreme Being” is just you saying that a “Supreme Being” exists.

          It’s not a choice between a king and your imaginary king.

          It’s a choice of not taking human claims about kings seriously, just because some human insists we should.

        • Pofarmer

          I think we’ve been through this before. The concept of “Natural rights” was Enlightenment philosophy.

        • J.B.

          The very concept of “freedom” is a Christian principle. No. It is not.

          Susan, oh my, so very wrong, and so crucial to get right. John 3:16, probably the most quoted or referred to verse in the Bible, (someone is always brandishing a banner with this Bible verse on it at football games) says,….that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. You know why it’s so popular? Because it sums up why Christ came, to give us freedom from sin and death, to offer eternal life in heaven. I know personally, that by strengthening my prayer life, I was able to overcome some addictions and is now enriching my life in another way… I have decided to become a deacon. And, I made the decision, or answered the call, just in time because you’re suppose to enter the diaconate between the ages of 30 and 60 years old, I’ll be 61 this August. One little problem is that I need a pastoral letter and my pastor isn’t responding to my requests for the letter and it’s been a week or two now, so well, I guess we’ll see if I make it, God’s will be done, sorry for that digression.

          It doesn’t matter what bullshit the founding fathers believed. What does matter is whether or not the principles of their constitution allowed unsupported beliefs as a point of freedom.

          Two things, Susan, first, your statement shows a miserable lack of understanding of how our Country operates. All the laws in this country are measured against the Constitution!!. And, most of the time, even the Conservative Judges, like Scalia did, and now Kavanaugh, thank God he is there, the Supreme Court Judges need to look at what the authors of the Constitution BELIEVED to understand the documents meaning and intent. second, this past weekend, as I promised PoFarmer and Greg G,, I did some reading – the “Jefferson Bible” and some of the works of Thomas Paine. I look forward to responding to some of their comments because, it is most certain that our founding fathers were solid in their faith and looked to divine governance for the country – for these reasons, I think it is clear the freedoms provided for in our Constitution, are there for the sole reason that our founding fathers were Christians!

        • Greg G.

          Susan, oh my, so very wrong, and so crucial to get right. John 3:16, probably the most quoted or referred to verse in the Bible,

          That verse has nothing to do with freedom, especially the concept of freedom in the context of of the colonies in the 1770s. You have nothing but wishful thinking.

          Two things, Susan, first, your statement shows a miserable lack of understanding of how our Country operates. All the laws in this country are measured against the Constitution!!.

          Susan is Canadian and still knows more about the US Constitution than you do. She is making a distinction between what the Declaration of Independence says and what the Constitution says. You are conflating them.

          Those who wrote the Constitution left slavery in it. The 13th Amendment banned slavery. It is still a work in progress. When the country tries to expand freedoms to more people, the main opposition tends to be Christians because freedom is not a Christian principle.

        • J.B.

          That wasn’t the point – That verse has to do with escaping death, Paul wrote to the Corinthians, Oh death where is thy sting? Two things, Greg G., first, Jesus lives an example of treating everyone fairly and without prejudice, That’s in the Constitution, second, Jesus doesn’t make you believe in him, you have FREE Will, you have the choice to be religious or not, and that too is in the Constitution, with the separation of Church and State.

          The Constitution is “still a work in progress” because our founding fathers set it up that way.

        • Greg G.

          That wasn’t the point – That verse has to do with escaping death,

          You quoted Susan objecting to your claim that freedom was a Christian principle. You didn’t respond to her point nor support your own. Now you are trying to change the subject to avoiding death. When they put their signatures on the Declaration of Independence, they were putting their lives on the line.

          Paul wrote to the Corinthians, Oh death where is thy sting?

          For the record, Paul was quoting from Hosea.

          Hosea 13:14 (ESV)14 I shall ransom them from the power of Sheol;    I shall redeem them from Death.O Death, where are your plagues?    O Sheol, where is your sting?    Compassion is hidden from my eyes.

          Two things, Greg G., first, Jesus lives an example of treating everyone fairly and without prejudice, That’s in the Constitution,

          No, it isn’t. The Constitution says nothing about Jesus. If you meant to type “New Testament”, it wasn’t fair nor without prejudice for Jesus to compare scribes and Pharisees to vipers and hypocrites when they were trying to follow the Old Testament as best as they could. Jesus was trying to cancel the OT, which would make him a hypocrite.

          second, Jesus doesn’t make you believe in him, you have FREE Will, you have the choice to be religious or not, and that too is in the Constitution, with the separation of Church and State.

          Oh, geez. It is not free will but coercion when the consequences for not doing something is eternal torture.

          That is definitely not in the Constitution. The Eighth Amendment protects against cruel and unusual punishment. What is more cruel than eternal torture for exercising free will?

          The separation of church and state is to keep the church, any church, from being able to use the powers of government to impose religion on people.

          You are flailing. If freedom is a Christian thing, where was it never discussed by Christians prior to the Enlightenment?

        • Kodie

          You are really reaching.

        • J.B.

          I don’t see that I am, Kodie. Let’s take, the freedom in the Constitution to worship, or not worship. We take it for granted that we have it, but as we all know, some countries do not have this freedom, and people are terribly persecuted in those countries. We like to say, those countries are not as “Enlightened” as we are, or their forefathers were not as “Enlightened” as our forefathers. But, this “Enlightenment” as PoFarmer likes to refer to, mirrors the “Enlightenment” teachings of Jesus who acknowledged Free Will and our power as human beings to either worship or not worship. The miracles of Jesus may not be found in the The “Jefferson Bible”, but these teachings of Jesus are – showing Thomas Jefferson wholly adopted the teachings of Jesus and the freedoms found within his teachings. The very fact that you are an atheist is proof of the God given gift of Free Will, and it is respected and protected in the USA!!!

        • Kodie

          Then why do so many Christians think the freedom of religion in the 1st amendment means they get to force their religious beliefs on others? Because it doesn’t explicitly say, but simply means, “separation of church and state”. Why do you think freedom of religion means free will to deny Jesus Christ! Your reasoning is absurd. You are, like most Christians, taking credit for everything – love, family, marriage, etc. as though humans never had any values outside or before Christianity even existed. You are reaching because you started with the idea that freedom means escaping death through a bargain with a fictional character, when you really meant free will to disregard this bargain at our own peril, where the “freedom” would be to choose it. What’s heaven like? Compared to hell, it sounds just ok. It sounds like the lesser of two evils. Boring and also some kind of slavery to god. Slavery to choose to glorify god for eternity for giving life, and saving us from hell, what else is so good about it? I have the freedom to find that totally silly and the freedom of speech to tell you how silly it is. I don’t have to worry about death. You’re going to die too, and you won’t know what happens to you – it won’t be heaven. You have the freedom to believe something silly and inconsequential, and warp your life around that fantasy. It’s in the constitution, which, if the founding fathers were as holy rolling as you think they were, would have gone total theocracy instead of secular. Please stop trying to warp the constitution like the lying bunch of Christians think it is. I don’t know where you got that idea. Not god.

        • Let’s take, the freedom in the Constitution to worship, or not worship. We take it for granted that we have it,

          Yup, and that’s in direct violation of the Ten Commandments.

          The Constitution is the law of the land, not the Bible. Good thing (for both atheists and Christians).

        • Pofarmer

          Dude, ya ain’t makin no sense.

          It doesn’t matter what bullshit the founding fathers believed. What does

          matter is whether or not the principles of their constitution allowed

          unsupported beliefs as a point of freedom.

          It’s hard to contradict yourself in back to back sentences. But, congratulations, you did it.

          And then two sentences later.

          the Supreme Court Judges need to look at what the authors of the

          Constitution BELIEVED to understand the documents meaning and intent

          ,it is most certain that our founding fathers were solid in their faith and looked to divine governance for the country.

          Here’s a clue. Try reading about the Enlightenment, in general, and the basis of their governing philosophy. Here’s another clue. Govt by the consent of the governed ain’t nowhere in Christianity, but it is found elsewhere.

          I think it is clear the freedoms provided for in our Constitution, are
          there for the sole reason that our founding fathers were Christians!

          And I think you’re heavily deluded.

        • J.B.

          Thank you, PoFarmer, for encouraging me to immerse myself a little into the Enlightenment period over the weekend. Opening up The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, a/k/a “Jefferson Bible” by Jefferson and reading a little of Thomas Paine’s “Age of Reason” and a little about his life this weekend, I was reminded of the Deistic “group think” of the time. I see a couple of problems, big ones, for you guys – first, these Enlightened forefathers of our country all believed in a soul and a creator. You and MR have stated here repeatedly that you hinge your investment in atheism on Paine – but, he wasn’t an atheist, look it up, he actually stated many times that he did believe in God – time to reevaluate possibly? Second, the fact that God isn’t mentioned in the Constitution, doesn’t mean diddly, look to the true voice of the nation in the state constitutions, that all refer to God and abundantly. Sort like the song, “Looking for Love” , you were just looking for God in all the wrong places.

        • MR

          Wow, lie about what I said. That’s a way to convince me!

          First of all, nowhere did I mention Paine. My comment was about Jefferson and Franklin. And nowhere did I say my atheism hinged on them. My atheism hinges on nothing, it was my Christianity that unraveled, and that was principally because of three things (my three pillars of Christianity), Christians’ lies, Christian leaders’ lies, and finally in an attempt to turn to what I believed to be the one infallible Truth, the Bible itself. If my Christianity became unhinged, it wasn’t because of Paine, it was because of Christianity itself.

          Jefferson and Franklin contributed, yes, but only partially, and not because of what they were–presuming they were deists–but because of what they wrote about Christianity; and more importantly, what Christians were claiming about such figures (see my second pillar). They misrepresented their beliefs and lied about them, just like you did about me. Congratulations on carrying that tradition forward.

        • J.B.

          MR, you did say something like how you forgot how much Jefferson and Franklin contributed to the unraveling of your Christian beliefs. First, my point is the same whether you exchange the name of Paine with Jefferson and/or Franklin!! You are totally sidestepping the Bigger issue by pointing to a mistaken trivial fact. Uggh, I get so frustrated with you atheists always missing the forest for the trees. Second, this whole concept of your hinging your atheism on some poor Christian who wanders in here and doesn’t somehow restore your faith with one faint sweep of his brush. Please, stop blaming others for your “unraveling” of faith, it’s you not me.

        • MR

          No, I didn’t sidestep, your statement was wrong on all counts. You lied even in the trivial matter, and your point failed on all counts. Don’t blame me because you lied, and don’t expect me to expect an honest conversation from you. You’ve shown your cards.

        • Pofarmer

          Uhm, just to be clear, Both Paine and Jefferson were nearly 100 years before Darwin. Deism was about the only tenable philosophy available. They both put paid to Christianity, for sure.

          Second, the fact that God isn’t mentioned in the Constitution, doesn’t
          mean diddly, look to the true voice of the nation in the state
          constitutions, that all refer to God and abundantly.

          This is particularly blind on your part. The true voice of the nation? Gimmee a break. The Constitution was explicitly secular BECAUSE there had been sectarian violence in the States already, and the Founders were keen not to have a repeat of the 30 years war and all the smaller pogroms.

        • Kodie

          In addition to what others have already said to you, it strikes me how ridiculously secular you are in putting your faith in our government on the beliefs you believe certain men held who founded our government.

          What’s that got to do with shit? Does that make god real? Ought we obey the (supposed by you) beliefs of founding fathers even if they aren’t true? They were mere humans, i.e. believing in Jesus Christ doesn’t make someone a saint, and they went out of their way to establish a secular government, not a theocracy. Seriously, what’s that got to do with shit? All you Christians seem to want to do is take credit for everything. Take credit for everything while you’re at it, still does not mean there is a god. It means your philosophy and your leaders are dishonest. Christianity is like that douche at work who takes credit for another employee’s good idea. God is love so no one else can define love. God is truth, so no one else can define truth. God is democracy so ….. what the fuck? God demands kneeling and worship and groveling, or else you go to hell. Democracy is something else.

        • J.B.

          You’re an interesting person, Kodie. Sometimes your writing is so simple and direct and honest, and other times, your writing is so hard to fathom and escoteric. Not sure what you mean, I’m “ridiculously secular” and then, not sure if you even want me to respond, as it seems the rest of your comment is really a rhetorical question. But, I do see that the fourth sentence in your second paragraph asks what does it matter that the people who established a secular government believed in Jesus Christ. Answer: to be honest? We’re insecure, who isn’t, we need reassurance that the way we’re living, is, well, ok. These events in history are reassuring memories, like the pacifier we loved when we were babies; signs, symbols, if you will, like the black monolith in 2001 Space Odyssey, or a foot print on Mars, if there was one, to let us know, we’re not alone, others believed as we do- Christians point to our founding fathers setting up the government of this new world based on Christian principles because it’s a sign of faith in God by people back in the 1700’s, and the fact that the USA did so well, we believe is another sign of what happens when you have faith. Your question to us is ridiculous because, the USA is a nice warm cuddly blanket to Christians, and you know, your question is comparable to saying “so what, who cares” that the apostles were all martyred for their faith. All signs, my dear.

        • Kodie

          Yes, faith is a pacifier for the frightened. The rest of us live in the real world, and do not inherit religious beliefs from our government or its founders. They didn’t encode into law any (if any) of their religious beliefs or prescriptions, so there is also that.

          What you think about it sounds like your fantasy, and nothing to do with history or reality, and the 1st amendment guarantees your freedom to believe silly things if you are so paralyzed that you need it to live. Just don’t expect to convince others, other believers or atheists. Take credit like the greedy dishonest pawn you are, I mean, listen to you, you sound like you’re from a cult because you are.

        • Astrin Ymris

          George III was the mad one; George IV was the fat one.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Al1zdtfAnG8

    • Kodie

      I love how some Christians speak for all Christians or “the majority” of Christians. Well, do you talk to Christians who believe the US is a Christian nation and correct them of our constitutional values aren’t based on Christianity?

  • Guestie

    29) An argument I see Christians make from time to time is that the federal government was secular so that each individual state could be as sectarian as it wanted. And further that the Bill of Rights didn’t apply to actions by state governments until post 14th Amendment as the Supreme Court incorporated rights.

    I know how I’ve responded to those statements. I am curious if others have encountered those ideas and how they respond.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Quite honestly, legally, they may be right.

      I’m glad the 14th overrode sectarian state legislation.

      • Maltnothops

        Me too. I live in a state whose constitution still says atheists can’t hold public office or serve on juries. Yes, I know that clause is inoperative.

        It might be interesting, though, the next time I am called for jury duty, to assert that I’m ineligible to serve. (Which I wouldn’t do because I don’t avoid civic duty.)

        • Astrin Ymris

          I was called for jury duty in a high-religiosity red state. While we were waiting to be seated, a court official came to administer the oath. She asked if anyone didn’t want to swear on the Bible. I and two other people raised our hands. I remember how stunned she looked. Apparently, 3 people in a jury pool not wanting to swear on the Bible was very unusual.

          Our group was released at 3 pm or so, none of us having been seated on a jury. To this day, I don’t know if it was just luck of the draw, or if the unusually high percentage of heathens in our group swayed the decision not to use us, in hope of getting a more devout assortment on the next day. ;-D

        • Maltnothops

          In my state, we weren’t asked to swear on anything. IIRC, the group was asked something like “Do you swear or affirm….” and we all said “yes”.

    • Lex Lata

      By themselves, both of those statements are materially correct. The U.S. Constitution, as originally written and ratified, both empowered and restricted only the federal government.

      So at the time of the Founding, and for decades later, certain states supported specific churches with public funds, and several imposed religious tests for public office. Even the “blue laws” that linger in some states today are remnants of older and far more aggressive “Sabbath laws” explicitly intended to maximize attendance at church services by prohibiting any commercial activities on Sundays.

      The guarantees enumerated in the Bill of Rights weren’t ruled applicable to state government action until the Supreme Court’s piecemeal 14th Amendment “incorporation” jurisprudence emerged in the early 20th century. The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause became legally binding on the states only in 1947, for example, with Everson v. Board of Education.

      As a response, I guess I would point out that the ability of the states to favor specific churches/denominations and engage in religious discrimination led to predictable injustice, friction, and even violence, such as the Philadelphia Bible Riots of 1844. Steven Green’s The Second Disestablishment is a phenomenal study of the legal and practical processes by which the state governments, in fits and starts, came into alignment with the spirit (and eventually the letter) of the First Amendment.

      • Too often I think of the Constitution becoming valid in 1789 and from that point, we’re good to go.

        It’s helpful to be reminded of the process.

        • Aram

          I like how, for example, Switzerland approaches its Constitution. That is, it is constantly being rewritten to better fit the changing world. I’ve never understood the concept of having a Constitution set in stone for all time.

        • J.B.

          The U.S. Constitution is “rewritten” in a sense, every time, a Supreme Court decision is handed down – there is also the avenue of a Constitution convention – but the concept of not having the Constitution easily changed is for stability. Also, why fix it if it ain’t broke?

    • Maltnothops

      My response to those arguments, which I agree are correct, is that they reinforce the point that the United States government was not a Christian government.

  • MR

    Thomas Jefferson compared a good chunk of the Bible to feces a pile of shit.

    FTFY

  • J.B.

    Yes, I agree Lex Lata, to truly understand the Jefferson Bible, we need to also understand fully the man, Jefferson, who obviously was a very complex human being. I wonder if his political ambitions eventually corrupted his religious view, hey it can happen. But, just remember this, the Declaration was written 28 years before. in any case, the discussion here and your comments as well, LL, have certainly made me more curious about this piece of literature and I am looking forward to learning more about Jefferson in my next visits to the library.

    • Lex Lata

      “I wonder if his political ambitions eventually corrupted his religious view, hey it can happen.”

      This doesn’t compute. Political calculations would’ve directed him towards religious orthodoxy, not away from it. His heterodoxy was, in fact, a political liability. When he ran against Adams for the presidency in 1800, for example, Jefferson had to deal with accusations he was a “howling atheist” and “infidel.” All the evidence indicates that Jefferson’s nonconformist religious views emerged from an energetic, sincere pursuit of sound truth.

      “But, just remember this, the Declaration was written 28 years before.”

      I’m aware, thanks, and that’s not what I’m addressing. Rather, I’m addressing chiefly your misapprehension that what we call the Jefferson Bible reflects a belief that Jesus was God.

      “In any case, the discussion here and your comments as well, LL, have certainly made me more curious about this piece of literature and I am looking forward to learning more about Jefferson in my next visits to the library.”

      Glad to hear it. Cheers!

      • MR

        All the evidence indicates that Jefferson’s nonconformist religious views emerged from an energetic, sincere pursuit of sound truth.

        Which seems clear from his writings. That was pretty ‌shitty slander on J.B.’s part.