Saturday, October 2, 2010

Religion, personal and the basis of the founding of our nation

In yesterday’s issue of The Times there are two columns saying that it is religion that created America and our problems are that there are people and organizations trying to take away religion, which is the basis of our success.  Both columns are nonsense.

How many times do people, who seem to need to support their religious beliefs, try to find quotes, from the founders or their Bible, to “prove” what is not true.  This nation was founded by Christians but not based on religion.  For every quote someone can give us on the religious beliefs of the founders, common sense can tell you two things-first that there as many quotes that prove they were NOT pushing religion as the basis of the constitution, etc, AND why would someone think the politicians then were “more better, honest, etc.” than politicians today.  They said then, as now, what they thought the voters wanted to hear.  And, like parents, they told kids to be good or Santa Claus wouldn’t come.  (Actually in some parts, they passes laws AGAINST Christmas observance, as being pagan oriented, but that is another story.)  Religion, they were saying, is good for the masses, but they knew what it took to make a nation that would last, and the very first thing was to be sure that what they left in the old country, religious conflict and domination, did NOT happen here.

But it might be interesting to think about what Jesus would think, say and do if He were here today.  For instance, would he join the Tea Party?  He sure fought the establishment, he was attacking the religious leaders of his day, even using violence against the money changers in the temple.  So he would probably not be happy with the bureaucrats in any political party or the leaders of religious churches.  He would not be trying to save the world, he did not fight Rome or slavery only the “church.”  He offered salvation to individuals, hoping thus that they would int urn be better citizens and this would make a better nation.  So there is no basis for saying Christians should force their beliefs on others.  But that means that Muslims can not force Islamic laws on us either.  That is why separation of church and state is the greatest gift the founders gave us.


Russell Wilson said...

Well, I have to disagree. In the 1500s folks were unable to read, they were not educated. While it is true they were fleeing government feudalism, which we seem to be rushing to reinstitute, they were also very simple people totally dependent on religion to explain their everyday world..

Gravity? Electricity? None of these things were known, all actions were explained with the supernatural or with God.

It is easy to pass this oh the country was not founded on religion view when we live in an age that most mysteries have been explained by science. So while it is easy in modern times to toss religion to the wind, I doubt even Billy would have done so in the 1700s.

Billy Glover said...

Having learned how wrong most of science or experts- was while I was at LSU, I am not going to support my thinking by quoting historians, BUT it is clear that the founders of this nation knew Locke, etc, and while not anti-religious, they were politicians and were elite, and thought they knew what was best for everyone-including slaves, women-who couldn't vote, nor could men without property, etc. And they clearly wanted to prevent the religious conflicts of Europe come to America.

By the way, did you happen to see Sam Harris on Jon Stewart last night, and his book saying that science gives us a better morality than religion? I liked it and agree. He of course pointed out that religion gave us slavery—or didn't oppose it, etc.

Wayne Dynes said...

As Jon Stewart gently suggested, Harris has not succeeded in finding a way around David Hume's point that facts cannot be converted into values. I read Sam Harris's original book, and was not impressed. Militant atheism has been around since the days of Baron D' Holbach in the 18th century. Except for a few intellectuals, it hasn't carried the day. Given this long record of basically spinning wheels, how can the new atheists, Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris, prevail? Perhaps they could if they had some new arguments. In my judgment they do not. It is just same old, same old.

So the important question is this: if atheism is true--and it may be--why has it not prevailed? The previews (as we say on Broadway) have been protracted.

The key is that modal verb "may." Atheism m a y be true. That is not good enough, and that is why I am an agnostic.

Best, Wayne

Billy Glover said...

At the least science could, and we know how wrong it has been on somethings, such as homosexuality ( in a sense it merely adopted the religious view), force religion to be real. As he pointed out last night-religion approved of slavery, obviously a wrong thing.

Russell Wilson said...

Nothing can point religion to be real. It is a static, non changing thought, a snap shot of philosophy. Hume himself points out the weakness in each of his treaties, including the divine creator constructing the machine. Although I prefer Aquinas and his thoughts on how many angles may rest on a pin.

And when religion is wrong, as in slavery, one has to ask was it? Our was it the people in charge? In order to be wrong, the text must state the wrong position, not the preacher. So while it may be easy for the teacher to lead the flock astray, is it not because the flock has never read the message?

Where has science failed the homosexual? And what is the current view? Some want to claim the gay gene, others say bull, it is an acquired taste. Some of both?

And yes even Einstein was very religious, which is why the country was indeed founded on religion.

Hitchings will be dead in a few months.

So the important question is this: if atheism is true--and it may be--why has it not prevailed?

Because we need hope

Billy Glover said...

Do we believe in the divine right of kings? Science, reality can force religion to change. And the texts do support slavery. It is not just the teachers.

Science was wrong,as is religion, on homosexuality. Until we forced change, with a few basic facts, such as proof of Kinsey that millions have homosexual acts, but only 10% are "homosexual; Hooker's proof with tests that 'experts' could not tell who was homosexual and who was heterosexual-therefore there is no "test" and you simply have to take the word of the person, "science' said we were sick and could be "changed.' But there had never been any scientific work and the view was based on religion and society's thinking.

What is really hard to explain is that ALL religions were wrong; all hated homosexuality. Yet no two of these churches agree on much else.

There is no "current" view, and our civil/equal rights don't depend on what science or society thinks of us-and the Constitution protects all Americans as individuals. No law can say ALL homosexuals, or blacks or anything are the same. In the community/movement there are most who say we are born "this way' but some of us, even agreeing, say this is lousy pr talk, since it makes us seem victims and saying in a sense that we can't help being homosexual, implying that we would change if we could. This same generic issue applies to black Americans, who shouldn't have to be "white" to have equal rights.