How to Tell When
You're Listening To A
Sandra L. Morris
From: Sandra L. Morris
To: "Positive Atheism" <email@example.com>
Sent: October 22, 2001 4:35 AM
Subject: Bible Class Taught In Virginia Public Schools
I think it is fantastic that this school finally has true freedom. When the term "separation of church and state" came into being, Thomas Jefferson was only referring to a state religion, like that of the church of England, taking over and mandating who was worshiped and how they were worshiped. He was not talking about individual areas that wanted to teach Hinduism, Muslim, Atheism (yes, Atheism is a religion), Humanism, or any other religion. I think that by the government mandating that Jesus Christ cannot be taught in a school system, if that is what the people want taught, that they (the government) is breaching the "separation of church and state."
Sandra L. Morris
You might think that your classmates could make mincemeat of the Bible, but God cannot be mocked: You and your classmates may think you are getting the last laugh, but only time will tell.
Sandy from Chase City, Virginia
From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "Sandra L. Morris"
Subject: How to Tell You're Listening To a Fundamentalist Christian
Date: October 22, 2001 10:53 AM
Two letters came together. We will address them as one:
You might think that your classmates could make mincemeat of the Bible, but God cannot be mocked: You and your classmates may think you are getting the last laugh, but only time will tell.
Here is the very thinking which prompted the Christian Inquisitions, both Protestant and Roman Catholic, which terrorized and killed off your ideological forebears for 1,500 years. Study this aggression very carefully and learn to recognize it whenever you encounter it and in whatever language or context it may be cloaked.
The more readily we identify and display this Inquisitional thinking for what it is, the less likely we are to have to watch our children be discriminated against, re-educated, relegated to second-class, and, in general, tread upon by those who think that they and they alone are absolutely right. This "Right Man" thinking will get you every time.
When the term "separation of church and state" came into being, Thomas Jefferson was only referring to a state religion, like that of the church of England, taking over and mandating who was worshiped and how they were worshiped.
Jefferson was referring to any federal government intermeddling in the affairs of religion, either in support or in opposition. This is made clear (in the letter to Rev. Samuel Miller) by his refusal to even "recommend" a "day of prayer and fasting," much less order such a day. Back then, it relegated such questions to the states. Today, and since about the time of Ulysses S. Grant, it has barred all government branches from making pronouncements about religion.
You can always tell when you're dealing with somebody who consulted a Fundamentalist Christian preacher regarding questions about United States history rather than learning it from a historian and by studying the documents of the day.
If you go back and look at all the discussions for the Constitutional Convention, you will note that this particular interpretation was discussed and rejected by the Convention (as well as by several states in their State Constitutional Conventions). According to the Convention and the subcommittee, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" is talking about entanglement with religion itself, not a State Church. The Convention even discussed putting in wording to this effect, but that's not what they ended up doing.
So, instead of simply lying about American history, what you're going to have to do is actually overthrow the United States Constitution.
Keep up the good work, though, a strong connection has been shown that if you tell a lie often enough and for long enough, the people will start to believe it. If you keep lying for long enough, many people will join the Christian religion.
But if you tell only the truth, then only true Christians will ever grace the steps of a Church! What a concept! Imagine hanging only with those who respond to the truth and not having to associate with people who would believe a lie!
I think that by the government mandating that Jesus Christ cannot be taught in a school system, if that is what the people want taught, that they (the government) is breaching the "separation of church and state."
Like I said, you can always tell when you're dealing with somebody who learned American history from a Christian preacher rather than somebody who learned American history from a historian or by studying the documents of the day.
The government has never mandated that Jesus Christ cannot be taught in the public school system. The only restriction is that Jesus Christ cannot be taught as the only religious dogma, but must be placed along side others in a fair an equitable manner. This also protects your kids from being taught that Native American Totem Poles are really real, too.
You poor, persecuted majority! You cannot be satisfied with a set of rules that's fair for all -- you just gotta have more! More!! MORE!!! It's not enough that you and everybody (including you) gets their slice of the pie! You greedy Fundamentalist Christians gotta have the whole pie! and the bakery, too!
This is the way it's been for almost 2,000 years.
Meanwhile, I sure wish we could ban the teaching of Jesus Christ in the public schools! Why? Because I do not want my kids even exposed to the Christian sense of "morality," that's why!
Just look at the sense of morality which some of the advocates of the Christian religion practice! It's pure greed and self-centeredness! I gotta have it all! You cannot have any! Because we are not in full control, we're being persecuted! You gotta stop persecuting us and let us have full control so we can put Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ only in the public schools and force everybody to learn only about the Bible! and to hell with anything but what we want, done the way that we want it done!
And you're persecuting us if you don't let us have these things!
(Sometimes I wish that the Jesus character were somehow alive and sitting up on a cloud somewhere, playing a little harp or something, like the dead Grandpa character does in the "Family Circle" comic strip, standing in his his baby blue bathrobe like a voyeur, fawning over his still-living grandkids playing in the yard on a sunny day. Sometimes I wish this Jesus character could see just what people have done to his message of love. Sometimes I wish this Jesus character could see what people have done with his teaching about everlasting punishment.
(yes, Atheism is a religion),
And how, may I ask, could the absence of religion rightly be considered a religion?
See? She not only lies about her own religion, to try to hook you into joining the Christian church, but now she lies about your own viewpoint as well! She is denigrating your viewpoint by describing it in a false light, in the hopes that you will abandon your own heritage! And if this were a Muslim or Buddhist page, we can be sure that she would lie about Islam or Buddhism as well.
But look! She is denigrating atheism by calling it -- what? -- a religion!? To ponder of the implications of that one, we'll really have to use our imaginations!
This is what's frustrating about dealing with Fundamentalist Christians: many of them have absolutely no conscience when it comes to lying for the purpose of propagating their religion! When it comes to advocating the Christian religion, many Fundamentalist Christians will stop at nothing to get the job done.
These Fundamentalist Christians do not really believe in their own religion, otherwise they would trust plain and simple arguments: they would never need to resort to falsehood to convince people to join the Church. But the sheer prevalence of the use of falsehood in this woman's trying to hook us into believing that the Christian faith is a position of truthfulness makes a very strong case that the Fundamentalist Christian herself doesn't even believe it!
And if she has no confidence in her own religion that she would lie to us about it, why should we believe?
It is for this reason that so many honest Christians suffer, because their associates are willing to lie for the sake of the Gospel! This hurts the credibility of all Christians, even though we all realize that not all Christians are willing to lie for the faith.
Most Christians are honest and decent citizens -- though you wouldn't know it to read the Inbox at Positive Atheism Magazine!
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to such acts only as are injurious to others."
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a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty
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This arrived several years later.
From: "sandra morris"
To: "Positive Atheism" <email@example.com>
Sent: October 13, 2004 17:37
My son handed me a copy, today, of a response to some comments I had made about 3 yrs. ago. The title of the paper he gave me was, "How to Tell You're Listening To A Fundamental Christian, Sandra L. Morris" and it was in response to something I had written in regard to "Bible Class Taught in Virginia Public Schools". That is why I am writing a letter of response to comments made approximately 3 years ago. I don't have the original letter in front of me. I checked your website and can only find responses from 2 weeks past, so I will respond to what was written by Cliff Walker of Positive Atheism Magazine on October 22, 2001.
Cliff, you started off by printing both my letters and systematically going through them; I will do the same. My comment was,
"You might think that your classmates could make mincemeat of the Bible, but God cannot be mocked: You and your classmates may think that you are getting the last laugh, but only time will tell."
To which you responded,
"Fellow atheists: Here is the very thinking which prompted the Christian Inquisitions which terrorized and killed off your ideological forebear for 1,500 years. Study this aggression very carefully and learn to recognize it whenever you encounter it and in whatever language or context it may be cloaked."
The only thing I meant by my comment was, what comes around goes around, and if you really look at God's Word for its historical value you will see that there are historians, on both sides of the fence, who don't deny its accuracy; and if it is historically accurate, Cliff, what is stopping it from being spiritually accurate as well? Only time will tell. Either we as Christians will be judged righteous at the last day because of what Christ did, or we won't. How is that inquisitional thinking? And referring to the inquisition, many people who say they know Christ really don't. Luke 13:27 describes it one way.
"and He will say, 'I tell you, I do not know where you are from; DEPART FROM ME, ALL YOU EVILDOERS.'
If you want to know the context, read Luke 13:22-30. Knowing Christ doesn't make you perfect, just redeemed with a desire to do what honors the Lord. That covered the second letter. Now to the first.
From the second letter you quoted, "When the term 'separation of church and state' came into being, Thomas Jefferson was only referring to a state religion, like that of the church of England, taking over and mandating who was worshiped and how they were worshiped." You went on to say that Thomas Jefferson was referring to a day of prayer and fasting. That is not the context I found it to have occurred. Christian Law Association summarizes it and puts it into context as follows:
It was Jefferson's response to this letter of Rev. Samuel Miller that is the origin of the infamous phrase "Separation of Church and State." Jefferson's reply on January 1, 1802, showed his agreement with the Danbury Baptists that: Religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, OR PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THEROF,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State. (emphasis, mine) In referring to this "wall of separation" Jefferson was borrowing from the metaphor of Roger Williams, a fellow Baptist and Rhode Island's champion of religious freedom. Williams had previously written of "a gap in the hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world."
You then went on to say that,
"you can always tell when you're listening to somebody who consulted a Fundamentalist Christian preacher reguarding questions about United States history rather than learning it from a historian and by studying the documents of the day."
I have gone back to the documents of the day, listened to historians on the subject, and know the context in which it was said and it had nothing to do with a "refusal to even 'recommend' a 'day of prayer and fasting,' much less order such a day." Although Thomas Jefferson was never part of the Constitutional Convention,
The Continental-Confederation Congress, a legislative body that governed the United States from 1774 to 1789, contained an extraordinary number of deeply religious men. The amount of energy that Congress invested in encouraging the practice of religion in the new nation exceeded that expended by any subsequent American national government. Although the Articles of Confederation did not officially authorize Congress to concern itself with religion, the citizenry did not object to such activities. This lack of objection suggests that both the legislators and the public considered it appropriate for the national government to promote a nondenominational, nonpolemical Christianity. (Religion and the Congress of the Confederation)
Are you sure about all the discussions for the Constitutional Convention and what was said? I do agree with your statement that "a strong connection has been shown that if you tell a lie often enough and for long enough, the people will start to believe it." You go on to say,
"But if you tell only the truth, then only true Christians will ever grace the steps of the Church! What a concept! Imagine hanging only with those who respond to the truth and not having to associate with people who would believe a lie!"
I quite understand your wording, but if you are saying that Christians are elitist snobs, consider this: Christians, whose name means "little Christ's," are supposed to follow the example laid down by Him. Then let's consider the actions of Jesus, who dined with the outcast, taught and healed the poor and rich alike, and strongly stated that He had come not for the healthy, but for the sick.
I then said, "I think that by the government mandating that Jesus Christ cannot be taught in a school system if that is what the people want taught, that they [it] (the government) is breaching the "separation of church and state." this must have been referring to the letter I don't have a copy of. To it you responded that,"The government has never mandated that Jesus Christ cannot be taught in the public school system. The only restriction is that Jesus Christ cannot be taught as the only religious dogma, but must be placed along side others in a fair an equitable manner. This also protects your kids from being taught that Native American Totem Poles are really real, too." As far as I know, the government has never "officially" mandated that Christ not be taught in schools, but creation (for which there is as much evidence [see www.dr.dino.com]) is not taught in schools and evolution is, AS FACT (which they can't get evidence for. The evidence they want so badly to have, keeps turning up a hoax.) I know of teachers wanting to teach equally, but not touching it for fear of a law suit by the ACLU. They only teach it if the school, or teacher, is able to get legal help and is up to the fight. The rules ARE NOT fair for all. You say that you wish that "we could ban the teaching of Jesus Christ in the public schools!". I do not understand why. If you look at statistics, there were fewer divorces, fewer people w/ STD's, fewer female children were getting pregnant or killing their babies, fewer kids dying to alchohol or drugs. God never intended for so much hurt to happen.
"Just look at the sense of morality which some of the advocates of the Christian religion practice! It's pure greed and self-centeredness!"
This is true. People profess to be things they are not. It happens everywhere. With all types of people. Even some atheists really believe in God, they just don't want to conform to His will. Isn't this hypocracy, too? That doesn't make God any less true, right, or good. If you look back at the origins of this nation, at the documents of the founding fathers, you will find that they were Christian. They did agree that God was, but not on how one should worship. That was between you and your God. On to the next item.
I wrote, "yes, Atheism is a religion". You responded, "And how, may I ask, could the absence of religion rightly be considered a religion?" By definition. You define atheism as the absence of religion. Religion is defined in Webster's Ninth New Collegiate as, "a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.". Isn't atheism, in fact, a cause, principle, or system of beliefs (that there is no God) held to with ardor and faith? Thus it is a religion. I will close with commenting on some of the quotes you ended with.
The first, Thomas Jefferson's --
"The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others."
If you read about Jefferson, you will note that he did believe in God, but not the trinity. You will also note that he believed in morality. As you put it, he was a "right man". He believed in right and wrong and he voted his conscience. In the above quote, he was just saying that the government powers only go as far as dealings between people and things that were hurtful to others.
The next, Ben Franklin's --
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
is self-explanatory. He has many great quotes. I've read some of his biography. He was also a "right man".
Cliff, I am looking forward to reading what you have to say, because if I am wrong, I would like to know.
Sandra L. Morris
"CLA" Christian Law Association, The Truth About "Separation of Church and State"
From: "Positive Atheism" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "sandra morris"
Date: 26 October 2004
My son handed me a copy, today, of a response to some comments I had made about 3 yrs. ago. The title of the paper he gave me was, "How to Tell You're Listening To A Fundamental Christian, Sandra L. Morris" and it was in response to something I had written in regard to "Bible Class Taught in Virginia Public Schools".
My sincerest thanks go out to you for not doing what many do when this happens: calling me every name in the book and then insisting that I remove the work. This I would not do for anybody, for any reason. But it's inspiriting to encounter individuals who understand the value of an agreement. And that is exactly what a submission to a magazine is: an agreement, a legal and binding agreement concerning the disposition and use of a collection of intellectual property. So many people, theist and atheist alike, have zero respect for this concept that there have been times when I've wanted to simply stop accepting "Letters to the Editor"!
I will go through them again if they are fraught with the same number of false or degrading statements contained in the first two. That's my job, in part: attracting writings from religious and atheistic bigots and then commenting on those writings.
The only thing I meant by my comment was, what comes around goes around
Yeah, right! Sounds good in hindsight!
This is not how the letter came off, however. The possibility exists (in my mind) that you think this is all you were saying. However, the language and content (and especially the context) of your letters to us carried with them all the baggage that generally comes with the institutionalized bigotry that daily gets hurled into our Inbox.
if I am wrong, I would like to know.
It is not my burden to provide you with an education. You are an intelligent person. Your brain doubts the Christian faith for good reason: the Christian religion is among the wildest, most unlikely fish-tales ever foisted upon our fellow-humans.
Unfortunately, a huge fraction of the human species swallowed this little canard hook, line, and sinker. I'm not convinced that even most of them were believers: for hundreds of years, to even question the Christian religion meant certain death, usually preceded by untold pain in the form of merciless torture, inflicted by the very disciples of the God of Mercy. Nations, Kingdoms, and Empires were hoodwinked into supporting this religion for centuries where otherwise it would have died a natural death several times over. Had it not been for the creation of a false economy to keep the Christian religion afloat, our ancestors would not have endured this misery, and we would not have the Christian religion to contend with today. My ideological forebears (and probably my familial forebears as well) died cruel deaths -- for what!? They died so that you might today have the opportunity to worship the hurt-god on a stick.
Ah, but if you wish to achieve the comfort of avoiding your own doubt, your own disbelief, by going along with what these opportunistic scumbags have to say, then it is morally wrong for me to try to stop you. I honor the fact that you are an adult and are thus free to do whatever it is you wish to do, so long as you are willing to pay the true cost of your indulgence and to clean up any messes you might make.
In this sense, if you wish to these teach un-American lies to your children, calling these lies patriotism, then you are the one who will have to look them in the eye when they wake up and realize what you've done to them; you are the one whose word they will never again be able to fully trust; you are the one who will thus be unable to pass on to them those truly valuable lessons you have so painstakingly learned. You will forfeit this honor (not to mention the joy) simply because you chose to plant the exploitative ideas of perfect strangers into the minds of your children.
As much as I wish you did not have the right to injure your children in this manner, I am not the one who wrote or interpreted the Constitution and I am not the one who made the laws of this land. As such, you, as the parent, are the one who is allowed to provide them with a religious education if this is what you choose to do. And you are the only one who can influence them in this manner until they become adults. This is the law! Being a patriotic American, I respect the law just as much as I disagree with it in this case.
And referring to the inquisition, many people who say they know Christ really don't.
I just love the way modern Christians so ginglerly distance themselves from the other fruit that comes from the same tree. Hah! I notice a direct correlation between how vigorously they backpedal in this respect and the likelihood they are to have expressed the same attitudes that make up inquisitional thinking. How many of them can I just picture soberly watching as an honest, muscular, hard-working father, mouth still bleeding from having had his tongue cut out, wearing the famous dunce-cap is tied to the stake with ropes he had to pay for, under which is piled sticks and peat that he likewise had to pay for. I can just see these deniers of their own brethren whispering "Praise God!" as the flames engulf our former father of three, the man whose only mistake was to tell the truth to a trusted ally, to admit to a friend that the Bible religion just doesn't make sense to him. His wife won't last the week, and his children will either be murdered with her or banished into the wilderness to be eaten by beasts or sent to the nunnery or sold off to the gypsies as slaves. I can just see the faces of our more hostile readers when I've addressed the letters they've written to me@
and if you really look at God's Word for its historical value you will see that there are historians, on both sides of the fence, who don't deny its accuracy
I don't know what you mean when you say "God's Word." This concept contains nothing with which I can relate. At all.
Since you display behavior that is very common among Fundamentalist Christians, I can only assume that you're talking about the various ancient writings which were eventually gathered -- by vote -- into a collection that is today known as "The Holy Bible."
(These men voted to decide which writings they would instruct the masses to deem as "God's Word"! They did this after a large number of them sent troops out to kill off the delegates from a part of Africa that held views which differed from those they wanted to see ratified. What a group, these followers of Jesus Christ!)
If so, if this is the body of writings that you mean when you say, "God's Word," then what you just said about what historians think about them is a bald-faced lie!
(Not that you're lying of your own accord: you're probably not! Nevertheless, you committed, at one point, to do whatever this one particular band of religious charlatans tells you to do. Thus, when this clan commands you to lie, you de facto become a liar, even though to do this is not something you would ever do of your own accord! In fact, if you hadn't become so frightened of your own doubt, you could see what these men are doing to you and would instinctively recoil from them -- from their lies -- without giving it a moment's thought. This is because you, yourself, are not a liar; it is the Fundamentalist Christian that you have become who lies like this, who has become calloused to natural human morality.)
The truth is that very few historians consider this "book," this collection of ancient scrolls, actually, to be historically accurate, per se; only a few snippets can be shown to relate to events that probably occurred in time-space reality. For example, about two-fifths of these scrolls relate directly to a figure whose historicity simply cannot be shown, a figure who is not mentioned in contemporary writings outside of this collection: this figure is called Jesus Christ.
Well-paid evangelists, of course, make elaborately convincing arguments that these works are everything that a potential believer in them would want them to be. However, disinterested historians, almost to a man, cast strong doubts upon them -- if they pay any attention to them at all.
For this reason, I hereby challenge you to name even one prominent, modern, disinterested historian who asserts the Bible's accuracy. (I'm talking bona fide historians, not salaried evangelists who specialize in developing elaborate arguments and delivering slick sales pitches for "The Lord.") Who will stake his or her repuatation on the question of whether the accounts of supposed supernatural events are historically accurate? Who will address all the problems with geography, science, morals, other accounts of history, etc.?
if it is historically accurate
I will not grant that premise. Having studied the historicity of the Bible intensely for over 30 years, now, I have found very few claims to be further from the truth than this one. The Bible is not a trustworthy document when it comes to its historicity or its pronouncements about matters historical. Most of the New Testament documents are forgeries. Many of the early Christian writers admitted that Ezra wrote the Hebrew Scriptures, that body of writings which you Christians disparagingly call the Old Testament. Both are fraught with demonstrable errors. The two most important are these:
First, nobody can find any geography that answers to the description of Mount Sinai. In fact, there is no evidence (outside of that highly suspect "evidence" coming from the Israel-sponsored archaeological excursions, seeing as how Israel's claim to be a nation depends primarily upon the accuracy of the Exodus tale!
Secondly, there is no evidence outside of the Gospels that a man named Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate and later became the inspiration for the story that we've all been told a thousand times (and keep being told despite our best efforts to change the channel).
In short, nobody can show that a Moses lived (or that an Exodus from Egypt occurred) and nobody can show that a Jesus Christ existed outside of the imaginations of a handful of sects who flourished during the close of what we call the first century CE.
Cliff, what is stopping it from being spiritually accurate as well?
"Spiritually accurate"? What on Earth does that mean!?
Only time will tell.
No. We don't have to wait that long.
Since our conscious awareness depends entirely upon the health and vitality of our (physical) bodies (another redundency), then nobody will know anything after they die. We will not have the means to know, to think, or even to remember. We, as sentient individuals, will simply not be.
You don't need to wait to know that this is true: simply examine your own body. Don't listen to the tales of those who claim to have had experiences during moments when their bodies were under such physical stress that entire teams of medical doctors pronounced them dead. Who would trust the testimony of somebody who was that impaired!? Just examine your own body and see that what I say is the simple truth.
Put your body to the test: smoke some marijuana or drink some wine and see how your perception, your entire world, changes.
Here's a more vivid one, and it doesn't even cost anything: Get on your knees and take several slow, deep breaths. Then stand up, put your thumb in your mouth, and blow real hard, not letting any air escape. (Be sure to have a strong man behind you to catch you when you fall, and be sure to have some very soft articles on the floor, such as furs, etc., to minimize the abrasion wounds when you "do the chicken" after pulling a stunt like this!)
If you would conduct this very simple and almost risk-free experiment, you will notice time itself begin to flicker, about once or twice a second, maybe even slower than that -- kinda like a stop-action motion picture, except that reality itself is behaving this way. There are many other experiments that you can do that it would be illegal for me to even suggest. But I think you get the picture -- even if you don't want to admit it.
You can discover for yourself that your conscious awareness depends upon the health of your body. Many refuse to admit this, because they somehow came to the conclusion that annihilation is too scary to even think about. Maybe they heard this said, in so many words, a large number of times in a religious setting, such as in church! Very often the majority of the people a person knows will constantly reinforce a certain idea or ideology amongst one another. (This is one advantage to being a loner!) Regardless, truth is truth even if we don't want to face it.
You have every right to believe fanciful tales of yore, and even to teach these lies to your children if you wish. However, you do not have the right to our respect when you publicly assert these tales to be true and accurate! You are not somehow immune to criticism for believing this way simply because these myths are cultural or ethnic or the like. If you log on to our web site (or any secularistic web site) and assert these things as truth, you will get a refutation from the host, and perhaps even a chuckle or two. Surely if a Scientologist logged on to your web site and told you that if you hold on to the tin cans and pay enough money you'll get to join the Master Race, then even you would stop what you were doing long enough to stop laughing and gather your wits.
And get this one straight: You do not have the right to teach these lies to my children -- in school, on the streets, on television, while they're visiting your home, or anywhere else!! This is even forbidden by law in the United States -- federal law: you may not teach your religious drivel to my children unless I let you! And because most Evangelical (Biblical) Christians wouldn't even consider obeying this law, we non-Christians must constantly be on the alert against the wiles of your fellows.
Again, we do not have to wait in order to know that our sentience, our ability to exist as conscious, aware beings, depends entirely upon the existence, and thus the health and livelihood, of our bodies.
Either we as Christians will be judged righteous at the last day because of what Christ did, or we won't.
You won't. This is not even a question!
You, like everyone else, will be dead. and to say "dead and gone" would be a redundency-and-a-half! You are not special. To quote the Black guys in that not-so-famous R. Crumb comic panel, "You'z jes' a nigga like evabuddy else! Har, har, har!"
And to think that you will have squandered your only-ever opportunity to live as a sentient being by pitching other people's ideas. (These are not even your own ideas!)
And as if all these thigs are not good enough for you, so many of your assoiates will stop what they're doing whenever an athesit walks by so they can treat people like me with contempt (rather than simply leaving us be, like we do to all theists who do not first intrude upon our peaceful existence with dire warnings lest we jetisson our carefully thought-out views and values and replace them with the prefabricated sales pitch of your religious leaders).
No, you don't need to be judged. I wouldn't want to be in your shoes for anything!
I couldn't even fathom snapping alert at the moment of death (or any time before that) and realizing that I had treated my fellow-humans the way Evangelicals must treat us in order to be accepted as Evangelicals!
You went on to say that Thomas Jefferson was referring to a day of prayer and fasting. That is not the context I found it to have occurred.
Go back to school and study your history -- from historians, not preachers with a political agenda. (My only agenda is to straighten out the lies of said politicized preachers -- which are legion!)
For someone to call the wall of separation phrase "infamous" betrays a bias that, to me, automatically disqualifies the speaker from being trusted to tell the truth in this matter. And with historical matters, it is not easy to get away with lying, so all the more should we reject the entire body of opinion of someone who would deny that the Samuel Miller letter has, as its subject, a request of Jefferson to institute a day of prayer and fasting. Read the letter here: http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/jeff1186.htm
Meanwhile, the letter of January 1, 1802, is addressed: "To Messrs. Nehemiah Dodge and Others, a Committee of the Danbury Baptist Association, in the State of Connecticut." Rev. Samuel Miller may have been among these "others" in the mind of Jefferson, but he is not mentioned directly, so it cannot be said that the letter was specifically to him.
The letter that is addressed to Samuel Miller mentions a letter either received or written on the 18th (this reply is dated the 23rd, and so it can be assumed without further investigation that the same month, January, 1808, is implied).
The letter to Samuel Miller says, in part, "But it is only proposed that I should recommend, not prescribe a day of fasting & prayer." Interesting language coming from a letter that is supposedly not about a request for a day of prayer and fasting!
Roger Williams used the term "hedge or wall of separation" but this was not used in the context of separation between church and state, per se. Rather, Williams sought to separate "the garden of the church" from "the wilderness of the world," which would naturally include much more than civil government (and would include, I would imagine, involvement in the political affairs of those whose citizenship is not in Heaven but rather is of the United States!):
When they have opened a gap in the hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world, God hath ever broke down the wall itself, removed the Candlestick, etc., and made His Garden a wilderness as it is this day. And that therefore if He will ever please to restore His garden and Paradise again, it must of necessity be walled in peculiarly unto Himself from the world, and all that be saved out of the world are to be transplanted out of the wilderness of the World.
Ah, but slow are those who would cite Roger Williams, using his words as a weapon of aggression in their own political, to actually understand much less heed those words!
Again, do not obtain your history education from an opportunistic preacher with a political agenda. Instead, trust your history education to qualified historians who are unaffiliated and who make every attempt to remain unbiased. Such historians abound and most are more than happy to work with individuals and groups who have been duped by politicized Christian preachers of the anti-American variety! Please, I beg of you! Stay away from these Communists!
I have gone back to the documents of the day,
Then how come the only thing you quote here is some politicized Christian's anti-American web site?
listened to historians on the subject,
How come so many of them vehemently disagree with what is propounded on those web sites you like to read?
Somehow I imagine that someone who could accurately make that boast would be more than eager to name said historians, especially considering the light I have shone upon what you wrote to our Forum years ago!
I have gone back to the documents of the day, listened to historians on the subject, and know the context in which it was said and it had nothing to do with a "refusal to even 'recommend' a 'day of prayer and fasting,' much less order such a day."
I was talking about the Samuel Miller letter.
If you came to that conclusion regarding the Samuel Miller correspondence, the topic at hand, then you didn't even consult the document in question: the Samuel Miller letter! Forget about listening to "historians," you didn't even read the document that we're talking about!! You didn't even read it!
Again, it is easy to tell that one is dealing with a Christian who wants to be duped by opportunistic preachers! They try to trip you up on the most insignificant of matters, simply because you're an atheist and for no other reason, and yet because they cannot briong themselves to trust any authority who isn't "saved," they end up falling over a great precipice in so doing!
The Continental-Confederation Congress, a legislative body that governed the United States from 1774 to 1789, contained an extraordinary number of deeply religious men.
What is an "extraordinary number"?
What constitutes "deeply religious"?
Jefferson himself was "deeply religious" in that he was a Deist and in that he respected the religious figure, Jesus Christ (at least, his own understanding of who Jesus Christ was).
Interestingly, this "extraordinary number" of "deeply religious" delegates refused, almost unanimously, to even invoke a prayer during the proceedings!
the citizenry did not object to such activities
Do I sense an alliance with the tyrrany of a majority, here?
Whatever happened to doing something because it is the right thing to do? Whatever happened to making a personal or ideological sacrifice if that's what it takes to prevent ourselves from driving out those who truly belong here? from alienating those who are most qualified to participate -- regardless of how much or how little we like them or whether or not we agree with their personal religious views?
This lack of objection suggests
A lack of an objection could easily suggest ignorance or indifference. This is a variant of the False Dichotomy ruse.
How easy it is to tell when one is dealing with people who have an agenda!
Then let's consider the actions of Jesus, who dined with the outcast, taught and healed the poor and rich alike, and strongly stated that He had come not for the healthy, but for the sick.
Let's consider "Jesus," who cannot even be shown to have existed as a historical figure.
What he is alleged to have done, then, cannot be said to be anything more than the fantasies of those who invented the Jesus figure we know today.
Meanwhile, Paul (that is, whoever wrote the Second Epistle to Timothy) had nothing but contempt for those who are not truthtellers:
... shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; who concerning the truth have erred,... -- 2:16-8
Again: Hanging only with truth tellers: what a concept!
My life has never been the same since I started rejecting, forever, the company of any who would dare to lie either to me or about me. A sacrifice as great as this -- being alone for months at a time during one period and being rejected by my entire social circle during three others -- cannot but change a person's values in a very profound way.
The Jesus figure reached out to "sinners," this the story says; but he fully expected them to change their ways if they were to enjoy his further company.
Religion is defined in Webster's Ninth New Collegiate as, "a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.".
When we talk about the separation of religion from government (Madison's actual language), do we then speak of a separation between government and any "cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith"?
Just where does "faith" fit in when it comes to atheism? How is the lack of faith rightly described as a "system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith"? Tell me!
But first tell me what "faith" even is! This is a concept that has always eluded me: What is "faith"?
Meanwhile, "Websters" does not have a Ninth New Collegiate dictionary. "Merriam-Websters," owned by the Church of Christ, Scientist (the Christian Science Church), once had a Ninth New Collegiate, which, by the way, was outdated over ten years ago by the Tenth New Collegiate. This book is so biased in its definitions that the professional writers I have known generally trust it only for its superior documentation regarding word division. We tend to avoid, entirely, the definitions given by this book, at least when making authoritative statements. (Just look up the word God and see what I mean! Then, just for kicks, look up atheism and explain to me why they give, as a synonym, the word wickedness.)
Again, atheism is not "the belief ... that there is no God" -- that is the definition of non-Christianity (if that be a word). It is the Christians who believe in the existence of this character named "God." Thus, those who say that this character does not exist are rightly called "non-Christians."
An atheist, on the other hand, gives no special credence to the Christian god-claim: ALL god-claims are equally false or absurd or irrelevant or unknown in the eyes of an atheist. Thus, the word atheist is defined this way:
atheist: anybody who is not a theist.
This is what the prefix "a-" or "an-" does to a word: it changes its meaning to "without [the root]." Thus, "a-theism" means "without theism" or "without a god-belief."
This means that even infants are rightly called "atheists," in that infants have not the brain power to even understand a god-claim, and thus an infant is "without theism" -- an "atheist."
I'm sorry of your bigoted religious leaders have so stigmatized the term atheist that this idea hurts your very ears, but the bigotry of your religious leaders does not change the fact that atheism has, for the most part, meant exactly what I have described above to the majority of atheistic philosophers and writers who have left us an opinion on the topic.
Atheism is not a belief system, but the very absence of a specific system of beliefs, specifically, that belief system known as religion!
Again, how is the absence of religion rightly called a religion?
How is the absence of a specific belief system de facto a belief system in and of itself?
And most importantly, why do you so denigrate religion by so stretching its meaning as to justify to yourself the inclusion of atheism as an example of it?
Once again, I insist on knowing just how the absence of religion (the absence of theism, the absence of a god-belief) is rightly called a religion (a belief in a God or gods, usually accompanied by a belief in the supernatural, as with the Christian religion) -- unless you are playing the equivocation trick by changing the definition of the word religion midway during the conversation without letting us on to the fact that you have done this?
If you read about Jefferson, you will note that he did believe in God, but not the trinity.
I have read almost all of the published writings of Thomas Jefferson. He has been a hero of mine since childhood. I have three ancestors who signed either the Constitution or the Declaration, so Early American history has been part of my life, part of my culture, part of my blood. (This means that it's not a wise move to try to pull the wool over my eyes when it comes to matters regarding Thomas Jefferson or anything regarding Early America!)
It is not possible to summarize the complex religious outlook of Jefferson in even a modest-sized volume. To say that he believed in "God" is misleading, because you mean something very specific when you use the word "God" as a proper noun; we rightly assume this particular definition whenever the word graces your lips, unless you alert us to a different idea that you had in mind. Jefferson denounced the Christian idea of this "God" fellow with the glee one usually expects to see only in a small child.
Jefferson sometimes believed in a deity which fit the Deistic teachings of Thomas Paine. At other times, he gave every appearance of merely giving lip service even to that concept, dropping very strong hints to the effect that he really didn't have much of a god-belief.
The theism (deistic theism) of any intellectual before the year 1859 is generally a moot subject, however, because until Charles Darwin solved the Argument from Design, atheism was simply not an intellectually fulfilling position. Creationism, until Darwin published his book, was simply too formidable. Now that we know the answer to the appearance of design in biological nature, and particularly now that we know that the Big Bang began using zero energy (resulting in a Universe which today contains approximately zero energy, thus satisfying the laws of the conservation of energy, popularly called the laws of thermodynamics), there really is no room for a "Creator" in the larger scheme of things.
This is especially pertinent considering that any "Creator" would necessarily be more complex than the creation "He" is supposed to have created; thus, to posit a "Creator" is to make the equation more complex. Rather than simplifying the scenario with an explanation, the introduction of a "Creator" requires that we now explain the existence of the "Creator" -- a thing necessarily more complex than what we originally refused to grant could exist without the aid of a "Creator"!!
You will also note that he believed in morality. As you put it, he was a "right man". He believed in right and wrong and he voted his conscience.
The "Right Man" of Colin Wilson is an intellectual tyrant, a man who is convinced that he is right, that he can do no wrong.
(I am not suggesting that he is an intelligent tyrant, but that he behaves tyrannically in regards to intellectual matters!)
The "Right Man" of Colin Wilson is best exemplified by the Fundamentalist Christian political charlatans running amok in America today. I'd wager good money that Wilson himself would agree with this statement. I'd wager bigger money that Wilson would have a good belly-laugh over your ignorant suggestion that Thomas Jefferson, of all people, fit the description he had in mind when he coined the term "Right Man"!
You say that you wish that "we could ban the teaching of Jesus Christ in the public schools!". I do not understand why.
Simple: the doctrine of salvation teaches children that all they need to do is pray and "God" will forgive them of their wrongdoings. No! Children need to learn that we all are accountable for our wrongdoings!
If you look at statistics, there were fewer divorces, fewer people w/ STD's, fewer female children were getting pregnant or killing their babies, fewer kids dying to alchohol or drugs.
You are comparing now with when?
I think I know what you're trying to say: that that wicked "Madalene Murray O'Hare" stopped your religious leaders' illegal and immoral practice of teaching religion to the children of other parents -- when our population was a fraction of what it is today and when women and racial minorities "stayed in their place." Now that the same set of resources is feeding over twice as many people, now that everybody (not just white men) compete in that job market worthy of any competitive effort at all, now that a huge fraction of our population consists of illegal immigrants who happen to come from peasant classes, who know nothing of the morality that you and I grew up with -- in short, now that the schools obey the law in this one wholly insignificant area, by allowing the parents to have full control of their own children's religious education -- all these new problems have crept up.
Well, I've looked at the statistics, and you're wrong. And you're wrong. And you're wrong. And you're just plain wrong. I can tell that you have not consulted any hard statistics, but have only consulted the books, pamphlets, and videos of the immoral Christian moralists. Your words are theirs almost verbatim, and they do not square with the facts -- which are easily obtained, if the truth is something that you're interested in knowing. Look out, though, the truth could cost you your faith in Jesus, so be sure to take along a pair of blinders when you go out seeking the truth on these and many other matters. Take it from one who's been there! Take it from one whose zeal for truth cost him his Christian faith twenty-three years ago!
there were fewer divorces
There are not more divorces in reality, only on the books. Just as many marriages end up in shambles as ever. The only difference is that the women now have a chance to escape this misery and start a new life. This opportunity comes to them through -- guess what? -- divorce!
fewer people w/ STD's
You must mean, "fewer people with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)."
There are actually fewer sexually transmitted diseases now that we know how to prevent their spread. A brief look at history shows how numerous people of great prominence died of syphilis and other diseases that are not only curable today (through the science which, by the way, the Christians opposed at every turn: "Let those sinners pay for their misbehavior!"), but fully preventable. And we can prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted disease without once compromising anybody's sexuality one iota! All we must do is stop listening to the immoral Christian moralists and put a rubber on our collective willy!
This applies mainly to the advanced countries, however, where birth control and disease prevention is allowed to be taught. In countries and continents where the Christian Church forbids the dissemination of birth control information (and along with it information and means to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted disease), then yes: the sexually transmitted diseases are running rampant and killing off entire villages and, in some places, entire generations.
fewer female children were getting pregnant or killing their babies,
Almost nobody kills their baby today now that we have safe and legal abortions available. Only a few nuts who usually ended up watching too much 700 Club and came to the conclusion that the baby was "daemon possessed" or something along those lines. On my web site are numerous stories about such cases, including the one about the man who thought he could wash out the "daemons" by giving his little boy huge (lethal) enemas for the Lord!
Young girls have always gotten pregnant. We just didn't hear about it because of the stigma placed on the situation by the Christians. The woman who gave birth to me was 15 year old. This was during the peak of Christinity's influence over Americans: 1956. Never were atheists in America more terrified to admit to others that they did not believe the lies and con-games foisted by the Christian clergy and their political allies -- never before and never since . (And "Never Again!" I say!)
Before abortion became legal, women actually killed their children rather than terminating the germination of a zygote as we do today. They waited until the child was born or ready to be born and induced or faked a still-birth, or they later found a way for the child to die mysteriously in bed, as often happens without any help from the mother (and this phenomenon was a very convenient way to hide infanticide). It was this or send the child to the nunnery where she sat in a cell until the child was born, only to be whisked our of her hands and "given up for adoption" (yeah, right!).
Today, the elderly die the same way: at the hands of those who no longer wish to take care of them, who do not want to "see them suffer," etc. I know that you know this because statistically, the odds are better than average that you've been involved in such a case yourself -- either that or you're such a busybody that your relatives had to hide it from you and carry out the dirty deeds without your assistance or your moral support. (The moment we legalized medically assisted suicide in Oregon, this phenomenon screeched to a slow trickle.)
One hundred years ago, barely half of the children who went on record as having been born lived out their first year.
fewer kids dying to alchohol or drugs
Just as many kids die of alcohol poisoning as ever have (percentage-wise: our population is much greater today, accounting for the grossly inflated numbers used by the tyrannical moralists of the Christian Right). The figures regarding drug deaths are too insignificant, even today, to account for much: alcohol accounts for many orders of ten more deaths than do drugs.
Besides, until a little over one hundred years ago, heroin and cocaine were legal in the United States. Cocaine was the active ingredient in Coca Cola[tm]. Sherlock Holmes is represented (quite accurately, I might add) as having a whale of a cocaine habit in the book, The Seven Percent Solution. Drugs were actually more of a problem back when the Christian moralists prevented us from openly (and sanely) discussing the problem than it is today, now that the feminists and the humanists have forced the Christians' collective hand in these matters.
Finally, several prominent American addiction writers and specialists, including Jack Trimpey, Jeffery Schaler, Chaz Bufe, Stanton Peele, myself, and several others that I know personally readily place direct blame upon the religious (Christian-based) Twelve Step program for America's current problem with mass addiction. Alcoholics Anonymous teaches drinkers the falsehood that they are powerless to stop drinking! That's just what a person bent on enjoying himself through inebriation wants to hear: "I can't stop, honey, I have a disease which makes me powerless to stop! You'll just have to accept me as I am and continue to support and raise our family without my help -- and to pay my enormous tab at the liquor store as well!"
We have found that the moment a heavy drinker stops feeding himself with the Christian-based quasi-sin-and-redemption dogma of the Twelve Step program and takes full responsibility for his actions as a drinker (including the drinking itself), the drinker can become permanently cured of his problem through planned, permanent abstinence from intoxication. Many, we have found, can easily learn to control their drinking (as I have), but nobody will do this while she or he gives even a shred of credibility to the disease myth of addiction and alcoholism.
God never intended for so much hurt to happen.
I fully agree: It's quite impossible for "God" to do or intend to do anything unless "He" exists.
I'm sorry your concept of "God" is of such a wimp, however.
You mean, www.drdino.com , don't you?
Where did "Doctor" Hovind obtain his "doctorate"? Do you know? Was it from a bona fide, accredited University, such as the University of California or even Dallas Theological Seminary? or did he get his "doctorate" from one of those "diploma mills"? Does the "diploma mill" that "Doctor" Hovind paid even have a campus?
I paid $20.00 for my Ph.D.!
The difference between "Doctor" Hovind and myself in this respect is twofold: First, I don't go around billing myself as "Dr. Walker"; instead, this is a private joke that only a few friends and family members even knew about until I wrote this! (And I'll bet that not a one of them even remembers that I did this!) Secondly, I assure you that "Doctor" Hovind got taken for a lot more than $20.00 for his phony doctorate! Ah, but if he perchance loses his "doctorate," maybe they'll replace it for free. I don't think the "diploma mill" that I paid will do that: I misplaced my "doctorate" years ago, during one of many moves, and I assume that they'll want another twenty bucks to replace it!
Notice that I did not say that I readily admit that my doctorate is phony, but "Doctor" Hovind does not. Here is one item where you will find a wholly candid "Doctor" Hovind: if you chance to meet him, go up and ask him where he got his "doctorate"; I'll put good money on the likelihood that he will tell you the truth: he bought his "doctorate" from one of those "diploma mills."
There is a lot of money to me made by providing gullible Christians with assurance that their choice of being religious is a wise one. People will pay big money to avoid the sting of stigma that comes with being an atheist.
Take it from someone who has been there!
Oh, and when did they release this slumlord from jail after he was arrested last year for assaulting a female tenant (this he readily admitted to police when it became clear to him that even passersby had stopped to offer their testimony as witnesses).
Your pointing to "Doctor" Hovind as "proof" that "they can't get evidence for ... evolution" (a lie: ask any biology professor) and that "the evidence they want so badly to have, keeps turning up a hoax [sic]" (another lie: again, ask any biology professor; again, do not trust your biology education to preachers with an agenda -- such as selling books) is all we need to disregard your message in this respect Don't even bother us with the details: if you cannot discern the wiles of a charlitan like this man, we cannot help you; neither do we wish to have any further to do with you.
These teachers rightly fear the ACLU, because it is the ACLU who will see to it that they receive the punishment they deserve for teaching religion to the children of other people: that education belongs only in the hands of the parents, and not in the schools!
And rightly so, as this case so vividly shows: Christian creationism is one of the easiest lies to refute among those lies that have been swallowed by a large number of Americans.
By the way, why is Christian creationism a non-issue in every other country on the face of this Earth? Why have only Americans been suckered into believing this rot?
Have a nice life: I'm not going to discuss this with you any further. This Forum exists for the purpose of providing challenging material for my readers, and to discuss what Kent Hovind has to say is, in a word, boring. If you cannot see through his transparent ruse, I will not help you. There are certain things that you've got to do on your own, and one of those, at this point, is to find the web site called "Kent Hovind's 300 Lies" and check it out for yourself. I have much more important things to do than to provide you with an education. Good bye!
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