Whose Country Do We Want: Our Founding Fathers’ Or Our Secular Contemporaries’?

This article consists as part of a much longer discussion with a self-described “Democratic socialist” found here (with much of the rest consisting over an argument as to what is or isn’t socialism and the supposed benefits of socialism to societies).  An argument over the significance of the founding fathers relative to “current Americans” provides for what I believed to be an informative article.

Poster: I profoundly disagree that Christianity has been the wellspring of America’s greatness. Christianity in American history has too often been the source of narrow-mindedness, intolerance and reaction.

I too love and revere the Constitution, and would risk my neck to defend it and the USA. But the Constitution is a living, organic document that evolves and pulsates. I agree with the late Justice Brennan that the only correct way to interpret it is as modern Americans. I don’t care about the “original intent” of the Founding Fathers.

Michael Eden: I could begin by simply stating that the Constitution has just “evolved and pulsated” to represent “the source of narrow-mindedness, intolerance and reaction.”  And now what the hell are you going to do – support the Constitution or rebel against it?  What you are REALLY saying with all your self-serving hyperbole aside is that you support your secular humanist worldview and are perfectly happy to twist and distort the Constitution – regardless of what the words actually say or what they historically were clearly intended to mean – until it “evolves” or “pulsates” into whatever you want it to mean.  And then you of course demand that the very “evolution” or “pulsation” you first demanded STOP so it can’t “evolve or pulsate” any further.  Which is precisely the reasoning you used to “evolve and pulsate” to Roe v. Wade only to then claim that now that we have so “evolved and pulsated” it is a matter of “settled law” and therefore cannot ever be altered.

That philosophical point made, let me begin with the historical words and clear historical meaning of George Washington in his Farewell Address given on September 17, 1796:

What are the foundations of America? After 45 years of public service, George Washington, our greatest patriot and the father of our country, gives his farewell address. He says, ‘We need to remember what brought us here. We need to remember what made us different from all the other nations across Europe and the rest of the world. We have to remember what our foundations are.’ It was the road map, showing us how we’d become what we were, and how to preserve it. It has long been considered the most important address ever given by any US president. President Lincoln set aside an entire day for the entire Union Army and had them read and understand it. Woodrow Wilson did the same during WWI. But we haven’t studied it in schools for over 45 years, so your lack of understanding is understandable. Washington said:

“Of all the habits and dispositions which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.” — George Washington, Farewell Address

If you want your politics to prosper, the two things you will not separate will be religion and morality. If you want your government to work well, if you want American exceptionalism, if you want the government to do right, if you want all this, then you won’t separate religion and morality from political life. And America’s greatest patriot gave a litmus test for patriotism. He says in the very next sentence (immediately continuing from the quote above):

“In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars.” — George Washington

Washington says, Anyone who would try to remove religion and morality from public life, I won’t allow them to call themselves a patriot. Because they are trying to destroy the country.

And he wasn’t alone. I can well understand why you would throw out the wisest and most brilliant political geniuses who ever lived. I can understand because George Washington wouldn’t have even have allowed you to call yourself “a patriot” in his presence. What they wrote, what they thought, what they believed, utterly refute you. But it was THESE men, and not Marx, or Mao, or any other socialist, who devised the greatest political system the world has ever seen.

Statements by our founding fathers (who presumably understood what the Constitution that they themselves wrote and ratified meant better than Justice Brennan) announcing their religious beliefs, and stating the profound impact those beliefs had in their founding of the United States of America:

“We have no government armed with the power capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and true religion. Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” — John Adams

“…And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion…reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” –- George Washington, Farewell Address, Sept 17, 1796

“Religion and good morals are the only solid foundations of public liberty and happiness.” –- Samuel Adams, Letter to John Trumbull, October 16, 1778

“The great pillars of all government and of social life [are] virtue, morality, and religion. This is the armor…and this alone, that renders us invincible.” –- Patrick Henry, Letter to Archibald Blair, January 8, 1789

“Without morals, a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion…are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments.” —- Charles Carroll (signer of the Constitution), Letter to James McHenry,November 4, 1800

“Religion is the only solid basis of good morals; therefore education should teach the precepts of religion, and the duties of man towards God.” –- Life of Gouverneur Morris, Vol III

“Let divines and philosophers, statesmen and patriots, unite their endeavors to renovate the age, by impressing the minds of men with the importance of educating their little boys and girls, of inculcating in the minds of youth the fear and love of the Deity…in short of leading them in the study and practice of the exalted virtues of the Christian system.“ –- Samuel Adams, Letter to John Adams, October 4, 1790

“In contemplating the political institutions of the United States, I lament that we waste so much time and money in punishing crimes, and take so little pains to prevent them. We profess to be republicans and yet we neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government. That is, the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by the means of the Bible.” —- Benjamin Rush, “A Defense of the Use of the Bible as a School Book”, 1798

“In my view, the Christian Religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government, ought to be instructed…no truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian Religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people.” —  Noah Webster, Reply to David McClure, Oct. 25, 1836

“Information to those who would remove (or move) to America”: “To this may be truly added, that serious Religion under its various Denominations, is not only tolerated, but respected and practiced. Atheism is unknown there, Infidelity rare & secret, so that Persons may live to a great Age in that Country without having their Piety shock’d by meeting with either an Atheist or an Infidel. And the Divine Being seems to have manifested his Approbation of the mutual Forbearance and Kindness with which the different Sects treat each other, by the remarkable Prosperity with which he has been pleased to favour the whole Country.” —- Ben Franklin, 1787 pamphlet to Europeans

“Independent of its connection with human destiny hereafter, the fate of republican government is indissolubly bound up with the fate of the Christian religion, and a people who reject its holy faith will find themselves the slaves of their own evil passions and of arbitrary power.” —- Lewis Cass, A Brigadier-General in the War of 1812, Governor of the Michigan Territory, a Secretary of War, a Senator, a Secretary of State. The State of Michigan placed his statue in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall.

“God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift of God? That they are not to violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.” –- “Yes, we did produce a near perfect Republic. But will they keep it, or will they, in the enjoyment of plenty, lose the memory of freedom? Material abundance without character is the surest way to destruction.” —- Thomas Jefferson

“So irresistible are these evidences of an intelligent and powerful Agent that, of the infinite numbers of men who have exited thro’ all the time, they have believed, in the proportion of a million at least to Unit, in the hypothesis of an eternal pre-existence of a creator, rather than in that of a self-existent Universe.” —- Thomas Jefferson

“I shall need, too, the favor of that Being in whose hands we are, who led our fathers, as Israel of old, from their native land and planted them in a country flowing with all the necessaries and comforts of life; who has covered our infancy with His providence and our riper years with His wisdom and power, and to whose goodness I ask you to join in supplications with me that He will so enlighten the minds of your servants, guide their councils, and prosper their measures that whatsoever they do shall result in your good, and shall secure to you the peace, friendship, and approbation of all nations.” — Thomas Jefferson

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens…” — George Washington, Farewell Address, Sept 17, 1796

“Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand.” — John Adams, Letter of June 21, 1776

“It is impossible to account for the creation of the universe without the agency of a Supreme Being.” —- George Washington

“So irresistible are these evidences of an intelligent and powerful Agent that, of the infinite numbers of men who have exited thro’ all the time, they have believed, in the proportion of a million at least to Unit, in the hypothesis of an eternal pre-existence of a creator, rather than in that of a self-existent Universe.” —- Thomas Jefferson

“I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon earth and be an atheist, but I cannot conceive how he could look up into the heavens and say there is no God.” —- Abraham Lincoln

“History will also afford the frequent opportunities of showing the necessity of a public religion, from its usefulness to the public; the advantage of a religious character among private persons; the mischiefs of superstition, and the excellency of the Christian religion above all others, ancient or modern.” —- Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Franklin, Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, 1749), p. 2

“I know, sir, how well it becomes a liberal man and a Christian to forget and forgive. As individuals professing a holy religion, it is our bounden duty to forgive injuries done us as individuals. But when the character of Christian you add the character of patriot, you are in a different situation. Our mild and holy system of religion inculcates an admirable maxim of forbearance. If your enemy smite one cheek, turn the other to him. But you must stop there. You cannot apply this to your country. As members of a social community, this maxim does not apply to you. When you consider injuries done to your country your political duty tells you of vengeance. Forgive as a private man, but never forgive public injuries. Observations of this nature are exceedingly unpleasant, but it is my duty to use them.” —- Patrick Henry, from a courtroom speech, Wirt Henry’s, Life, vol. III, pp. 606-607.

“Amongst other strange things said of me, I hear it is said by the deists that I am one of their number; and, indeed, that some good people think I am no Christian. This thought gives me much more pain than the appellation of Tory; because I think religion of infinitely higher importance than politics; and I find much cause to reproach myself that I have lived so long and have given no decided and public proofs of my being a Christian. But, indeed, my dear child, this is a character which I prize far above all this world has, or can boast.” —- Patrick Henry, 1796 letter to daughter, S. G. Arnold, The Life of Patrick Henry (Auburn: Miller, Orton & Mulligan, 1854), p. 250.

“This is all the inheritance I can give my dear family. The religion of Christ can give them one which will make them rich indeed.” — Patrick Henry, From a copy of Henry’s Last Will and Testament obtained from Patrick Henry Memorial Foundation, Red Hill, Brookneal, VA.

“It is impossible to account for the creation of the universe without the agency of a Supreme Being. It is impossible to govern the universe without the aid of a Supreme Being.” —- George Washington, James K. Paulding, A Life of Washington (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1835), Vol. II, p. 209.

“While we assert for ourselves a freedom to embrace, to profess, and to observe, the Religion which we believe to be of divine origin, we cannot deny an equal freedom to them whose minds have not yielded to the evidence which has convinced us.” —- James Madison, James Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance (Massachusetts: Isaiah Thomas, 1786). This can be found in numerous documentary histories and other resources.

“Waiving the rights of conscience, not included in the surrender implied by the social state, & more or less invaded by all Religious establishments, the simple question to be decided, is whether a support of the best & purest religion, the Christian religion itself ought not, so far at least as pecuniary means are involved, to be provided for by the Government, rather than be left to the voluntary provisions of those who profess it.” —- James Madison, Religion and Politics in the Early Republic: Jasper Adams and the Church-State Debate, Daniel L. Dreisbach, ed. (Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky, 1996), p. 117.

“The hand of Providence has been so conspicuous in all this that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations.” —- George Washington, 1778, upon seeing the divine hand in the Revolution against the greatest military in the world.

“Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise. In this sense and to this extent, our civilizations and our institutions are emphatically Christian.” — U.S. Supreme Court in Holy Trinity v. U. S. — Richmond v. Moore, Illinois Supreme Court, 1883)

“A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader.” —- Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren dated February 12, 1779

“Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust in the best way all our present difficulties.” —- Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address

“I entreat you in the most earnest manner to believe in Jesus Christ, for ‘there is no salvation in any other’ (Acts 4:12). If you are not reconciled to God through Jesus Christ – if you are not clothed with the spotless robe of His righteousness – you must perish forever.” —- John Witherspoon, founding father and signer of the Declaration of Independence.

“I am a Christian. I believe only in the Scriptures, and in Jesus Christ my Savior.” — Charles Thomson, founding father and signer of the Declaration of Independence

“My only hope of salvation is in the infinite transcendent love of God manifested to the world by the death of His Son upon the cross. Nothing but His blood will wash away my sins. I rely exclusively upon it. Come Lord Jesus! Come quickly!” — Dr. Benjamin Rush, founding father and signer of the Declaration of Independence. Dr. Benjamin Rush, John Adams said, was one of the three most notable founding fathers along with George Washington and Ben Franklin. Benjamin Rush was the founder of five universities (three of which are still active today); he was the father of public schools under the American Constitution; he was also the leader of the civil rights movement, the founder of the first abolitionist society in America, the founder of the first black denomination in America, served in 3 presidential administrations, is called the father of American medicine, and 3,000 American physicians bore his signature on their diplomas, started the American College of Physicians, founded the first prison ministry, and started the Sunday School movement in America, started the very first Bible Society in America, etc.

“I rely upon the merits of Jesus Christ for a pardon of all my sins.” —- Samuel Adams

“An eloquent preacher of your religious society, Richard Motte, in a discourse of much emotion and pathos, is said to have exclaimed aloud to his congregation, that he did not believe there was a Quaker, Presbyterian, Methodist or Baptist in heaven, having paused to give his hearers time to stare and to wonder. He added, that in heaven, God knew no distinctions, but considered all good men as his children, and as brethren of the same family. I believe, with the Quaker preacher, that he who steadily observes those moral precepts in which all religions concur, will never be questioned at the gates of heaven, as to the dogmas in which they all differ. That on entering there, all these are left behind us, and the Aristides and Catos, the Penns and Tillotsons, Presbyterians and Baptists, will find themselves united in all principles which are in concert with the reason of the supreme mind. Of all the systems of morality, ancient and modern, which have come under my observation, none appear to me so pure as that of Jesus.” — Thomas Jefferson, “The Writings of Thomas Jefferson,” Albert Ellery Bergh, ed. (Washington, D. C.: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), Vol. XIII, pp.377-78, letter to William Canby on September 18, 1813.

“To the corruptions of Christianity I am, indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense in which he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others.” — Thomas Jefferson, Albert Bergh, “Writings of Jefferson,” Vol. X, p.380, letter to Benjamin Rush on April 21, 1803.

“But the greatest of all the reformers of the depraved religion of His own country, was Jesus of Nazareth.” — Thomas Jefferson, Albert Bergh, “Writings of Jefferson,” Vol. XIV, p.220, letter to William Short on October 31, 1819.

“The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.” —- John Quincy Adams, 1837 speech

“Why is it that, next to the birth day of the Saviour of the World, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day [July 4th]? . . . Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birth-day of the Saviour? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon earth? That it laid the corner stone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity. . ?” — John Quincy Adams, John Quincy Adams, “An Oration Delivered Before the Inhabitants of the Town of Newburyport, at Their Request,” on the Sixty-first Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, July 4th, 1837 (Newburyport: Charles Whipple, 1837), p. 5.

“We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better that the builders of Babel.” —- Benjamin Franklin, appeal for prayer at Constitutional Convention, as cited by James Madison, The Papers of James Madison, Henry D. Gilpin, ed. (Washington: Langtree & O’Sullivan, 1840), Vol. II, p. 985.

“God commands all men everywhere to repent. He also commands them to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and has assured us that all who do repent and believe shall be saved.” —- Roger Sherman.

“God has promised to bestow eternal blessings on all those who are willing to accept Him on the terms of the Gospel – that is, in a way of free grace through the atonement. — Roger Sherman. Sherman was the ONLY founding father who signed all four founding documents (the Declaration, the Constitution, the Articles of Confederation, and the Articles of Association). He is called “the master builder of the Constitution.” He came up with the bi-cabinal system with the House and Senate. He was a framer of the Bill of Rights. And he was also a theologian who got George Washington to announce the first federal Day of Thanksgiving proclamation, going through the Scriptures to show why we should do so. He was also a long-term member of Congress. A newspaper article on him (the Globe) dated 1837 quotes, “The volume which he consulted more than any other was the Bible. It was his custom, at the commencement of every session of Congress, to purchase a copy of the Scriptures to puruse it daily, and to present it to one of his children on his return.” He had 15 children.

“The Holy Ghost carries on the whole Christian system in His truth. Not a baptism, not a marriage, not a sacrament can be administered but by the Ghost.” —- John Adams

“There is no authority, civil or religious – there can be no legitimate government – but what is administered by the Holy Ghost.” —- John Adams

“There can be no salvation without it. All without it is rebellion and perdition, or, in more orthodox words, damnation.” — John Adams (And Abigail Adams was the REAL Bible thumper in the family, telling son John Quincy Adams, ‘You know how I’ve raised you. You know how you’ve been raised in church, how you’ve been taught the Scriptures, how you’ve been taught morality.’  She tells him that if he’s going to go to France and give up his faith, that the Lord seek him out and drown him to prevent that from happening).

“I am grateful to Almighty God for the blessings which, through Jesus Christ our Lord, He has conferred on my beloved country.” —- Charles Carroll, signer of the Declaration and framer of the Bill of Rights. He was the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence, dying at the age of 95 years.

At the age of 89 (in 1825), he wrote, “On the mercy of my Redeemer, I rely for salvation, and on His merits; not on the works I have done in obedience to His precepts.” —- Charles Carroll

“Almost all the civil liberty now enjoyed in the world owes its origin to the principles of the Christian religion…. [T]he religion which has introduced civil liberty, is the religion of Christ and his apostles…. This is genuine Christianity, and to this we owe our free constitutions of government.” — Noah Webster, History of the United States (New Haven: Durrie & Peck, 1832), p. 300, Sec. 578.

And, of course, there is the assessment of the great political philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville:

“Moreover, almost all the sects of the United States are comprised within the great unity of Christianity, and Christian morality is everywhere the same.

In the United States the sovereign authority is religious, and consequently hypocrisy must be common; but there is no country in the whole world in which the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America, and there can be no greater proof of its utility, and of its conformity to human nature, than that its influence is most powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth.

The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other; and with them this conviction does not spring from that barren traditionary faith which seems to vegetate in the soul rather than to live.

There are certain populations in Europe whose unbelief is only equaled by their ignorance and their debasement, while in America one of the freest and most enlightened nations in the world fulfills all the outward duties of religion with fervor.

Upon my arrival in the United States, the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention; and the longer I stayed there, the more did I perceive the great political consequences resulting from this state of things, to which I was unaccustomed. In France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom pursuing courses diametrically opposed to each other; but in America I found that they were intimately united, and that they reigned in common over the same country.”
– Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, (New York: A. S. Barnes & Co., 1851), pp. 331, 332, 335, 336-7, 337, respectively.

As to your socialism, de Tocquevelle wrote:

“Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood; it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances; what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?”

Poster: Whatever outstanding Americans said or believed in the 1700’s or 1800’s is no refutation of whatever I said. Big deal, so George Washington said that morality is not possible without religion. Just because I appreciate that he spearheaded the military efforts against the redcoats doesn’t mean I care for his views on religion.

Many of the Founding Fathers you constantly bring up were not even Christians. Men like Jefferson, Franklin and Tom Paine were Deists. Forget the Founding Fathers when dealing with today’s issues. The Constitution that they gave us has evolved into something quite different since then.

I care what Americans today think. I am not interested in what men who died when even my grandfather was not yet born believed.

Michael Eden: Actually, one of the quotes that you probably didn’t bother to read has Thomas Jefferson specifically declaring his Christianity. And I have numerous quotes from Thomas Jefferson on display. Quotes by Benjamin Franklin abound – clearly attesting to his FERVENT commitment to the need for not only religious but specifically Christian religion as a necessary and fundamental support for the country being founded. I would further point out to you that Thomas Paine was NOT a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and he was also not a delegate to the Constitutional convention. So that kind of blows a gigantic hole in your thesis.

You show the portrait of the Declaration of Independence signing, and it’s funny that people have been trained to be able to pick out the two least religious founding fathers (Franklin and Jefferson – notwithstanding Jefferson’s profession of Christianity he was not as devoutly Christian as the rest). And then we’re assured that the rest of them are just as irreligious. But of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, 54 were confessed Christians and members of Christian churches. 29 of them had seminary degrees and were ordained ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Not bad for a bunch of atheists and deists.

No one would ever have thought this was a secular nation in the past because Americans knew their history.  An 1848 book used in public school for generations entitled, “Lives of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.” And in public schools for years children learned the faith and character of their founding fathers.

And again, everything they believed was an anathema to what you believe.

And that says something. Because what you say, what you think, what you believe, fundamentally doesn’t work – and never HAS worked. And what they said, what they thought, and what they believed, has stood in irrefutable proof of their wisdom.

Your argument is this: the Constitution has “evolved” into whatever the hell anybody wants it to mean. It is intrinsically meaningless. If the Constitution truly is a living, organic document that evolves and pulsates, it “evolves” into whatever you want it to become and “pulsates” into whatever form you want it to take. We might as well have a telephone directory as our Constitution, so that scholars in voodoo-fashion could discern “penumbras and emanations” wherever they wished.

Let’s take a look at the Declaration of Independence:

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

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — 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.

Your atheistic socialism has never worked and never will work because you fundamentally deny the SOURCE of the rights you claim: an objective, transcendent Creator God who created man with these fundamental rights. You have never had, and never will have, anything concrete or objective by which to secure the rights that our founding fathers’ secured. Furthermore, you would do to any such transcendent/objective rights exactly what you want to do to the Constitution itself: make them mean whatever the hell you – or the next dictator/tyrant on the block – WANT them to mean. And that is why your God-denying socialism has produced one despot and one nightmare after another, and why it always WILL.

What socialists ultimately pursue is power over people’s lives.  And so long as leftists hold such power, principles will not matter.  And frankly, even if there WERE any “binding” principles they would invariably be blurred into meaninglessness by a succession of “penumbras and emanations” to suit the will of the next dictator.  That ultimately becomes tyranny every single time.

And that is why George Washington would be kicking your butt across the floor as he shouted, “YOU ARE NO PATRIOT!”

You instead argue for a system of government that has NEVER worked and never will. I will tilt at the government handed down by my religious founding fathers and leave you to tilt at your godless socialist windmills.

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14 Responses to “Whose Country Do We Want: Our Founding Fathers’ Or Our Secular Contemporaries’?”

  1. Bible Says:

    Kids today are definitely different from they were a generation ago.

  2. hl Says:

    Michael, I really appreciatel the quotes by the Founding Father as well as your well reasoned comments in this post.
    I feel sorry for ‘poster.’ There is something so disrespectful to our sacred documents and the courageous men who founded this country in his comments. I hope the truth of what you wrote will pierce through his delusional thinking and hard heart.
    The wisdom of those men and documents still speak today to anyone who wants to know truth. They were far more brilliant than many today who ignore history and reality.

    How’s your mom doing?

  3. Michael Eden Says:

    Yeah, it’s interesting to me that he “loves” the Constitution and would give his life to defend it, but then doesn’t give a damn about the people who wrote it, doesn’t care about or like their reasons or vision in writing it, and wants it to be completely redefined and distorted from its original intent.

    Kind of reminds me of the lover who “loves” his lover, as LONG AS HE CAN COMPLETELY CHANGE HER INTO HIS OWN IMAGE/IDEAL. What that necessarily would entail, of course, is the domination and destruction of the one “loved,” as she is entirely subsumed into the personality of the “lover.” That isn’t love of course, it’s self-centered narcissism. “I love the Constitution because of what I can twist and manipulate it into doing for me.”

    I “love” the Constitution. Oh, I want to redefine and “reinterpret” it to mean the exact OPPOSITE of what it was intended to mean, but I “love” it.

    And, of course, the founding fathers, who are spinning in their graves, are shouting, “Spare us that kind of love.”

  4. Michael Eden Says:

    Didn’t see your last sentence due to where I had the comment on the screen.

    Mom is still doing great. She’s got 2 weeks of radiation treatment down, and four more to go. Please keep praying that the Lord wipes out the cancer in her body. My fervent prayer is that she be alive and well to be transformed in the twinkling of an eye at the Rapture.

  5. hl Says:

    Thanks for the report and I will keep praying :)

  6. Michael Eden Says:

    And thanks for your prayers. I’ve told my mother about you and your prayer, and she is genuinely appreciative.

  7. John Says:

    Christians & “Hate” Bills

    If “hate bill”-obsessed Congress [and Obama] can’t protect Christians from “gays” as much as it wants to protect “gays” from Christians, will Congress be surprised if it can’t protect itself from most everyone? If “hate bills” are forced on captive Americans, they’ll still find ways to sneakily continue to “plant” Biblical messages everywhere. By doing so they’ll hasten God’s judgment on their oppressors as revealed in Proverbs 19:1. (See related web items including “David Letterman’s Hate, Etc.,” “Separation of Raunch and State,” “Michael the Narc-Angel,” “Obama Avoids Bible Verses,” and “Tribulation Index becomes Rapture Index.”) Since Congress can’t seem to legislate “morality,” it’s making up for it by legislating “immorality”!

    (Please pray for our longtime “underground” web ministry!)

  8. Michael Eden Says:

    Good comment. You essentially summarize why I spend so much time railing against leftist politics.

    It won’t be long before Christian pastors are put in jail for preaching a sermon that condemns homosexuality or crosses some kind of other “politically correct” line. Yes, it’s fine for the left to impose secular immorality that has NEVER been tolerated in this country before, but how DARE Christians stand up for the morality that has stood in this country for 300 years? Who’s REALLY trying to “legislate morality”? The people who are forcing and imposing “NEW” “morality.”

    Not only has gay marriage never been legitimate here, but it has never been legitimate in Western civilization. And in fact, proponents of gay marriage are not able to show where it was EVER legitimate ANYWHERE in the world. And yet when they attempt to impose it, WE’RE the one’s trying to “legislate morality”? That is both rationally and morally insane.

    Someone has to fight them. If nothing else, for the sake of our children.

  9. Pragmatist Says:

    To start, I do appreciate your tendency to answer the opponents of your blog with analysis (as opposed to merely dismissing or insulting them).

    That said, I am one of those opponents.

    I\’m unsure why your initial comment (to Poster) consisted of a list of quotes. The poster ends his comment with
    \”I agree with the late Justice Brennan that the only correct way to interpret it is as modern Americans. I don’t care about the “original intent” of the Founding Fathers.\”

    Therefore, it would seem to be useless to reply with a collection of quotes from the founding father\’s (and others). In this sense, it comes off as a false appeal to authority (since the poster does not recognize their authority). Your feelings about them aside, I\’m not sure what you hoped to accomplish with that.

    More importantly, I believe your argument suffers from a serious case of confirmation bias (for those of you who do not know, this means that the information presented does not necessarily represent the whole truth, just the truth that supports the authors claims). For instance, http://www.sullivan-county.com/nf0/dispatch/fathers_quote2.htm , lists a number of contrary quotes, and the \”Jefferson Bible\” shows that Jefferson was likely not the sort of Christian that frequents your blog. Additionally, the (admittedly controversial) article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli (signed by John Adams, no less) flies in the face of your argument.

    As for the quote by Alexis de Tocqueville, I find it ironic that you included him. Though he (originally) praised the American system, he admired it because it separated religion from politics, something he believed would allow for greater progress in France. In fact, he goes on to actually criticize certain parts of the US system (i.e. , and argues that \”A thousand circumstances, independent of the will of man, concur to facilitate the maintenance of a democratic republic in the United States. \”

    Despite this, you are free to draw your opinions about how the country should be run. What I find disheartening is your complete bias against secular moralities.

    Why is this disheartening? You freely cite the cases of secular violence in socialist governments, which I can agree with, though I might suggest that such radicalism was due in large to the climate that brought about the leaders (i.e. abject poverty, military disgrace in the case of Germany— see the \”War Guilt\” clause in the Treaty of Versailles). What you neglect to mention are the atrocities performed by supposedly \”God (or gods?) fearing\” nations: the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, the various systems of slavery established the Americas, etc. On top of that, several secular states exist today (Japan, many European countries, etc.) which actually have –lower– crime rates than the U.S. (and definitely less than many religious nations (those that have a state religion)). Furthermore, as a minor, but still relevant point, secular socialist states do exist and seem to be relatively stable for the time being (I won\’t mention places like Sweden, since they do not declare themselves as socialist), such as China, which, coincidentally, holds more of the US debt than any other foreign nation (the godless Japanese are a close second), so claiming that they \”NEVER\” work, is a bit of an exaggeration.

    I\’m glad you use facts, but be sure that you do more research to reduce the amount of bias which takes away from your argument.

    Also, people suck, religious people included.

  10. Michael Eden Says:

    Interestingly, your very last sentence is quintessentially biblical, hearkening to, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Roman 3:23) and even “All our righteousness is as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64). People DO suck. And yes, even religious people. In fact, Pragmatist, Christianity is said to be the only “club” in which you have to recognize your own “suckage” in order to join.

    Our founding fathers – as I demonstrated with all those quotes – were FIRMLY in that Christian tradition. They recognized the fallenness of man. They recognized man’s essential need for religion and redemption. That was why they created the form of government they did. Separation of powers, because humans are fallen, and power tends to corrupt. They gave us freedom and liberty – because as they said in the Declaration of Independence GOD OUR CREATOR created us with freedom and liberty – but they knew that corrupt, fallen man could use his freedom screw things up. That is why they kept saying that our system of government was inherently made for a moral and religious people, and would do for no other.

    So let me go back to your statement that I had no business citing all those founding fathers when the poster I cited did not recognize their authority. My point is this: facts are facts whether somebody recognizes them or not. If you were to reject as valid any science suggesting the earth was round, I would not be invalid to continue to cite that science. In simple point of fact, our Constitution, depending on the foundation of our Declaration of Independence, and our previous tradition of compacts and charters, was written by particular men espousing a particular worldview and demanding particular things. Who else am I supposed to cite as “authorities” to present the truth? I went to the very bedrock, the very foundation.

    You criticize me for my appeal to authority. But when it comes to the Constitution, the founding fathers – the men who crafted it – ARE the authority; and Justice Brennan most certainly is not. With all apologies, I trust the author of the book to tell me what the book means FAR more than the deconstructionist critic.

    I’m sorry, Pragmatist, but if I abandon the founding fathers to describe the country as it should be just because someone else says, “I don’t recognize their authority,” I abandon my own foundations and my own position in doing so. It’s not going to happen. I’m not going to scratch around trying to find some justification in Karl Marx or Friederich Nietzsche justifying the founding fathers’ vision for America. And it isn’t fair of you to suggest that I somehow need to do so.

    I’ll take your next point in order: Jefferson “re-wrote” the Gospel – stripped of miracles as it was – NOT because he denied the supernatural, but because of his intent: to provide the Indians with a moral primer. Jefferson was not trying to make them Christians in their theology (others were doing so); he was trying to teach them how to ACT like Christians in their behavior. So while you are attempting to rebut my arguing, you essentially end up giving me MORE ammo: even those founders who were “likely not the sort of Christian that frequent my blog” were nonetheless men who believed that the Judeo-Christian worldview – and its incumbent morality – were vital.

    The writings of the founding fathers encompass their entire lives. None of us are absolutely consistently firm in our beliefs over the course of our lives. We change our minds, or our convictions waver. That happened to a few of the founders. But keep in mind there were 55 delegates to the convention that crafted the Declaration of Independence; and virtually every single one of them was a publicly sworn Christian. The “ayes” so outnumber any “nays” that it is unreal.

    The peace treaty with England (belief in the Deity was declared in the Declaration, established in the most important Treaty we have ever signed) bears the founding fathers’ TITLE, “In the Name of the most Holy and undivided Trinity.” Sounds kind of Christian. The treaty was signed by Americans John Adamns, Benjamin Franklin, and John Jay. The Treaty of Tripoli was drafted by a figure nobody ever would have heard of named Barlow (a firmly acknowledged Deist), and itself never would have meant anything to anybody had it not contained your article 11. Barlow was Jefferson’s fourth pick for the position (one had to be recalled, and two died). He went and inserted article 11 (for what reason we’ll never know); Congress could not vote for everything BUT article 11; they ratified it to stop the war. If the Treaty of Tripoli establishing peace with pirates off the Barbary Coast is more important than the Treaty of Paris establishing the United States of America as an independent nation, then article 11 is more important than the title of the Treaty of Paris, “In the Name of the most Holy and undivided Trinity.”

    Obviously, I can accuse you of “confirmation bias” – and any other kind of bias – as easily as you me. You don’t stand exalted above the clouds looking down at the planet with infinite wisdom any more than I do. And the facts advancing the founding fathers’ embrace of the Judeo-Christian worldview are FAR more abundant and substantial than those against it. That isn’t “bias,” it is simply a fact.

    I cite Alexis de Tocqueville without hesitation. You’ll have to show me the passages of de Tocqueville in which he cheers any sort of abandonment of religion. I will offer you the following passages that would seem to refute you (with quite a few more available at the link):

    Upon my arrival in the United States the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention; and the longer I stayed there, the more I perceived the great political consequences resulting from this new state of things.

    In France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom marching in opposite directions. But in America I found they were intimately united and that they reigned in common over the same country.

    Religion in America…must be regarded as the foremost of the political institutions of that country; for if it does not impart a taste for freedom, it facilitates the use of it. Indeed, it is in this same point of view that the inhabitants of the United States themselves look upon religious belief.

    I do not know whether all Americans have a sincere faith in their religion — for who can search the human heart? But I am certain that they hold it to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions. This opinion is not peculiar to a class of citizens or a party, but it belongs to the whole nation and to every rank of society.

    In the United States, the sovereign authority is religious…there is no country in the world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America, and there can be no greater proof of its utility and of its conformity to human nature than that its influence is powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth.

    In the United States, the influence of religion is not confined to the manners, but it extends to the intelligence of the people…

    De Tocqueville’s biggest criticism of America came from what he saw coming: a passive embrace of encroaching centralized government socialism:

    “Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood; it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances; what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?”

    I don’t see much that I need to run away from in de Toqueville.

    Now, I find the term “secular moralities” somewhat interesting in light of Darwinian imperatives concerning individual organisms having the imperative to pass on their genes to be “the fittest” and the struggle for the survival of the fittest. You need to present a case in which I should sacrifice to help my enemies rather than kill them lest they threaten me.

    We saw something in Iraq: freedom often results in more violence. Totalitarian oppression results in more control. If I have a secret police running around, if I ban people from having any weapons (which our Constitution demanded as a reaction against government tyranny), if I have a dictator, I will tend to have less violence. That isn’t a virtue of “secular morality”; it is more the result of a police state apparatus. Further, when we see gang violence destroying neighborhoods, are you seriously suggesting that the “Crips” and the “Bloods” attend church and only murder one another after Bible study? In point of fact, you find a lot more rape than religion in our inmate population.

    I “neglect to mention” atrocities committed in the name of Christianity because I have people like you to bring them up for me. I don’t run away from them. I acknowledge that some bad things happen – and I have taken the time to learn what happened and why it happened.

    I don’t say “totalitarian regimes never work.” What I say is what John Adams said: “”We have no government armed with the power capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and true religion. Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Totalitarianism might “work” fine; but it is evil, it crushes the human spirit, and I don’t think you’d want to live in a totalitarian country.

    As for bias, I am a Christian, and I do not intend to try to conceal that. You know what perspective I am coming from. And while I always endeavor to be honest, I evaluate the world from my worldview. There was a time when I was not a Christian, and I had to go through a process of asking questions and getting answers that ultimately led to my embracing the Christian faith and the Jesus of Nazareth who is the source and paradigm of that faith.

    You celebrate “neutrality,” but there are far too many times in this world in which you have to take a stand for something and act on the basis of your belief. In the words of Joshua, you have to “choose this day whom you will serve.” Furthermore, “neutrality” is not even something human beings are capable of; we each of us have our own “selves” and our own personalities and our own experiences. So not only SHOULDN’T we strive for “neutrality,” but we COULDN’T if we tried. Rather, I did my worldview investigation, chose Christ, and try to think about the world through the prism of His eyes and His teachings. And at this point my “objectivity” consists in trying to follow Christ as He truly IS, rather than my own self-serving opinions.

    Neither you or I are “above” our worldviews and “neutral” in our thinking, Pragmatist. There are many worldviews. The only question is which worldview is correct. And I submit that if one has a flawed worldview, there is no possible way he or she can accurately understand the world as it truly is. As a Christian, I believe – as did the founding fathers – that God created the world, and created it for man. If and only if we see the world as God intended us, we see it as it really is.

    There is a really good book that everyone should read: Dinesh D’Souza’s “What’s So Great About Christianity.’ In his chapter five (available here, page 22ff) there is a discussion that is particularly relevant: “Render Unto Caesar: The Spiritual Basis of Limited Government.” I believe it is very much worth reading.

  11. Pragmatist Says:

    I\’m impressed at the speedy response! At the same time, I realize that I didn\’t explain my argument as well as I should have.

    1. I\’m not arguing against the Christian base to our constitution, and I don\’t think Poster was either for that matter (for whatever reason I can\’t open the link with the rest of your discussion…). In my defense, I was merely pointing out that the FF\’s (if you will) were not quite as uniform as you implied (I would argue that the Jefferson Bible portrayed his feelings on the subject of the Gospel more so than you imply).

    2. I was perhaps too harsh in my criticism of your bias. I was actually more upset over the one-sidedness of the debate, but I suppose I should blame Poster for that. I am quite aware that objectivity is near-impossible in such matters (I do find it preferable, though). My \”celebration of neutrality\” comes from my acknowledgment that I can, indeed, be wrong. I\’ll admit, however, that it was unfair of me to expect you to be impartial, when this is an opinion blog, not a news outlet.

    The book you suggested seems pretty interesting, and I\’ll try to read it all sometime, but what I have read so far has been informative.

    That said, I\’ll break from my neutrality and argue against your assessment of secular morals (yes, the majority of this post, will be on the minority of your comment).
    Two flaws in your logic here:
    1. You assume that all secular morality must be Darwinian morality (re: Social Darwinism).
    2. Your analysis of Darwinism is extremely simplistic, focusing on only the tenet of \”survival of the fittest\”.

    1. Of course I could just list (potential) systems of morality that have no deity (Confucianism, Humanism, Existentialism, some sects of Buddhism, etc.). However, I think it would be much more interesting to argue on behalf of adopting religious ideals in a secular societies (a concept similar to the \”cafeteria Christians\” in the book you provided). It would be extremely foolish of me to downplay the role of religions (not just Christianity, mind you) in forming the moral base of many societies, so I\’ll concede the point. Despite this, I believe that nothing prevents a secular society from adopting moralities they deem appropriate into their system of laws and morals (here I define secular \”characteristic of or devoted to the temporal world as opposed to the spiritual world\”, courtesy of the WordNetSearch provided by Princeton.edu). You may argue that such a system would not enjoy \”anything concrete or objective by which to secure the rights\” (refer to the original blog post) of such a society, but this is (partially) contrary to fact. Why?

    I\’ll admit (as I did earlier) that objectivism is nigh-impossible to achieve, but to pretend that the Bible is a source of objectivism is absurd. Such a belief can only stem from one\’s belief that not only is the Bible the unchanged words of God (unless you read Latin, Aramaic, and Hebrew, I doubt you will have read the original manuscripts– if you do, my apologies), that every book included should be included/ none are left out (see the Book of Enoch, Council of Nicaea, the Mormon church, etc), that no non-Judeo-Christian religion can have divine scriptures (due to inherent differences between such religions), and that the Bible can contain no contradictions (there are plenty available online, though I have seen attempts to discredit them, so this point may not hold with you), but it would also have to have flawless interpretation. D’Souza himself admits to the numerous difficulties in interpreting the passages (though he seems to think highly of his method), which allows a range of ideals to emerge (hence the innumerable sects of most religions). On the concrete aspect you think cannot arise in secular morality, the word of law in one society is just as concrete in your country as it is in any other, do not pretend that its relation to Christianity (and I will remind that the separation of Church and State make this relation an ideological relation only in terms of the written laws– hence the president is the head of the executive branch, not the pope, priest, or whatever other holy man (not even Jesus :( )) gives it anymore substance that a nation which bases its laws on secular beliefs (which could _include_ ideals from the Bible, Koran, Rigveda, etc.).

    2. For the most part, Social Darwinism is a fringe secular belief, and is essentially pseudo-science. This is not to be confused with attempts of various scientists to explain societal behaviors with Darwinian logic. That said, Darwin never intended to give any moral guidelines (he was Christian, after all), and Social Darwinism (SD) has given seculars a bad reputation (due to the Nazi eugenics movement). SD is flawed for the same reason D\’Souza criticizes some Christians: it\’s proponents use it (either Darwinian theory or the Bible, as the case may be) further their own beliefs without truly seeking to understand it. The reason scientific beliefs are attractive in the first place is that they offer a self-correcting, independently verifiable set of guidelines, while the Bible does not (and you hold people to its morality, despite this).

    \”You need to present a case in which I should sacrifice to help my enemies rather than kill them lest they threaten me.\”

    Are you perhaps drawing a parallel here with Matt. 5:44? If not, I see little point in this sentence, as most people will kill rather than being killed, regardless of religious belief. If so, then I will assume that by enemies, you either mean A. any non-self being B. those who may cause harm to oneself.

    In the case of A. I\’ll point you toward the concept of biological altruism (e.g. Bee\’s sacrifice themselves for the greater whole, some female spiders will allow her children to feed upon her body)

    In the case of B. I find it difficult to believe that you would honestly believe that _most_ Christians are praying for the North Koreans, Iraq/Afghanistan insurgents, etc. I will offer you the idea of symbiosis (mutualism specifically), however, as a means of aiding a potential enemy (instead of hurting) in an attempt to benefit both parties. That\’s less incentive than the \”you will go to hell if don\’t\” that the Bible offers!!!

    Which brings up a point. How does the religious belief you, and many other Christians, proclaim as the absolute differ from the Social Darwinism you seem to abhor? It has the same reward vs. punishment Pavlovian aspect, it encourages decimation of your enemies (Judges 12:5-6 , Exodus 32:27-28 , Joshua 6:21-27, etc), which is actually _harsher_ then the \”imperative\” given by a \”Survival of the Fittest\” view, and gives an imperative (moral, in this case) to spread itself (numerous bible quotes, and also, the only reason the religion survives today).

    For those who will inevitably skip to the end of this large post:
    Religion provides morality, true enough, but non-religious people can live moral lives (even following some of your dogma) with no Gods or fear of punishment in the after-life. Believe it or not (and you should), anarchy (and the usually ensuing chaos (as seen in Iraq)) occur because of the lack of Law (remember, Anarchy is the dissolution of the State, not of the Church (which is called Atheism, of course)), not the lack of religion (Iraq stayed a heavily Muslim-populated state, but not a well controlled one).

    P.S. Iraq is a poor example (and not just because it undermines your point about the superiority of religious states). Both the godless ex-Soviet states and the god-(Allah-?)fearing Iraq erupted in violence when the amount of social control decreased dramatically over a short period of time.

    P.P.S. I don\’t think I ever claimed to be socialist, so De Tocqueville\’s comments on the subject are lost on me.

  12. Michael Eden Says:

    Your last P.P.S. Just to clear the record, I had no intention of implying you were a socialist (Poster WAS). I was merely trying to state that de Tocqueville – from my reading of him – was pretty much where I am politically/religiously, and that I have no reasons that I know of to back away from his views. To the extent that he may have criticized America, his critiques and his warnings had great insight (our founding fathers did their share of criticizing and warning, too). Sorry if I left behind a false impression.

    If I WERE running a news organization, I would try to be impartial and objective, to the extent I was able. There are SO many ways to be biased in television news: what stories get covered, or not covered; what “experts” get interviewed, and which ones aren’t; what questions those experts get asked – and NOT asked; what attitude the interviewer takes (friendly or adversarial); how the story gets edited; etc. etc. I’d have to struggle with the fact that the media is overwhelmingly tilted to the left (and overwhelmingly staffed by liberals, as studies have shown over and over again); and have to ask whether I would be biased to the right to compensate theirs to the left. If I did so, I would be violating the objectivity that “journalism” espouses to maintain.

    But I’m not. I’m free to analyze the world and the issues from my perspective. I try to make a case for why I think as I do, using as many facts as I can muster in support of my position.

    Before I continue, let me say that if Christianity weren’t true, I wouldn’t want to be a Christian. In other words, my commitment is to the truth – and I want to pursue the truth, as best as I understand it. Since I came to believe the claim of Jesus that He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6), and that everyone who is on the side of truth listens to the one who came to testify to the truth (John 18:37), I have never needed to turn away from Him to be 100% honest.

    You question the objectivity of Christian morality, saying that such could only be the case if one believes the Bible to be the unchanged Word of God. I accept your premise: such is basically true. But the fact remains that the most Christians believe exactly that, including myself. You betray a little ignorance on the subject: none of the original Bible was written in Latin. The Bible was written in Hebrew and Greek. Aramaic to a very minimal degree. And, for the record, I have actually had a couple years’ of graduate coursework in both Greek and Hebrew. Textual criticism (I’ve had some graduate coursework in that field as well) has demonstrated that we have both the Old and New Testaments preserved to such a degree of accuracy (having literally tens of thousands of manuscripts to apply the discipline to) that it becomes ridiculous to argue that we can’t trust our Bible.

    Our New Testament, like Dove Soap, is 99.5% textually pure/certain. In the entire New Testament text of 20,000 lines, only 40 lines are in any doubt whatsoever – and not a single one affects any significant doctrine. The Old Testament – due to the Jews’ focus on preservation vs. the Christians’ focus of propagation, is even MORE “pure.” D.A. Carson put it this way: “The purity of text is of such a substantial nature that nothing we believe to be true, and nothing we are commanded to do, is in any way jeopardized by the variants” And the Bible has so much more textual verification than any other ancient work that the comparison becomes ridiculous. The issue is simply no longer contested even by non-Christian textual scholars, and for good reason: If we were to reject the NT on textual grounds, we could have to declare null and void every single ancient work of antiquity and throw out every piece of historical information prior to the beginning of the 2nd Millennium.

    We DO have an “unchanged Word of God.”

    But again, even were the above NOT so, the point remains that I and overwhelmingly most other Christians believe that we DO have the unchanged and unchanging Word of God. And the fact that I believe it (and would argue actually have it), by your own admission, gives me a fixed, objective moral reference point. And you don’t have such a point. There is no such atheist/secular humanist Bible; there is no such source of objective moral imperatives that all secularists truly bow down to and embrace.

    I have at least three books in my personal library on alleged contradictions in the Bible. I have never found one that made me seriously question my beliefs after reading an explanation of one in context. But we are talking about morality, not a question of a name of an ancient city, or some fine point about the ordering of kings’ reigns. As a Christian, reading my Bible, reading the works of great preachers and theologians, I am not confronted with a moral morass. I have a straightforward source that agrees with itself. Secular humanists don’t.

    Going back to the founding fathers, I have them on my side in this discussion. I don’t know to what degree you trust them as wise men who truly understood the world, understood human society and culture, and understood human behavior. But they were men – even Jefferson and Franklin – who truly believed that religion was an essential component of shaping/guiding human behavior toward a better and more free society. And they believed that without religion increasing totalitarianism would be required to deal with the ensuing chaos. Why did they separate themselves from England? The Declaration of Independence makes it quite clear: they believed that a Transcendent Creator had endowed them with God-given liberties, and that the king had usurped those liberties.

    When you don’t have that anchor of God, you will invariably end up having the state take its place. Who has the right to make sweeping moral pronouncements? And the answer becomes, “the state.” Who has the right to declare what is right and what is wrong? And the answer is “the state.” And then the issue becomes, What about the fact that there are many nation-states? Whose morality triumphs? Why is it wrong to commit genocide? And the answer becomes, “Because the Allies defeated the Nazis. Otherwise it would have been moral to wipe out the Jews and immoral to shield them from genocide.”

    Here is what I also see: take America, take the Iraq War (or gay marriage, for that matter). At the time of the war, 60% of Democrat Senators voted for the Iraq War. The Iraq War of 2003 actually had more support in BOTH branches of Congress than the 1990 Gulf War. Was it morally right then? Well, the very Democrats who had earlier supported –
    – proceeded to turn against it and worked to undermine it. What was their moral basis, if morality is determined by the state? Now that we have a new administration, is the Iraq War now wrong? Says who, and why?

    Does morality stem from popular opinion? Well, Prop 8 passed defining gay marriage as out of bounds. Are homosexual activists therefore not morally wrong to ignore the will of the people of California and impose it by judicial fiat? Why not?

    You also run full force into the amorphous wall of relativism, pluralism, multiculturalism, and identity politics. Who are YOU to say X is right or wrong, and Y is wrong or right? On the left, morality has become an issue of which racial group is being offended or ignored, and which identity group isn’t getting enough largesse from the government. Morality – which used to be about objective right and wrong – has descended into constant arguments over which identity group should receive government benefits – and which identity group should be taxed to pay for those other groups’ benefits.

    The Bible describes the nations as a constantly roiling sea, raging with no foundations as one after another external event occurs. They do not listen to the wisdom of their Creator, and thus they roil and rage.

    We can all agree that Joseph Stalin was a terrible person who did terrible things. But was he a bad atheist? What specifically did he do that now makes you say, “Joseph Stalin was a bad atheist?” And you’ve got nothing. Murdering 40-60 million people doesn’t disqualify.

    I would also present to you the “gang.” We have many gangs today (Hell’s Angels, Outlaws, Bloods, Crips, Mexican Mafia, Skinheads, etc. etc. etc.). And every single one is a community, a self-defined society/culture. If you argue that humanity has a benefit from unifying around secular humanistic “civilization,” I would challenge you to prove it (just as they would kill you). These people don’t WANT civilization. They thrive on chaos. The greater the societal breakdown, the less the ability of the police to pursue them, and the more drugs they can sell to people who abandon hope.

    Think of the 11 year old kid who can shoot another human being five times and go home and play video games. Think of the 15 year old who will walk up and murder a cop just to get credibility. Prison doesn’t frighten these kids. These kids will kill you for wearing the wrong color in the wrong neighborhood. Hardened police officers are shocked at these kids’ complete lack of respect for human life. And you look at gangs like the Bloods and the Crips and see that their gang membership means more to them than anything – their common race or anything else.

    You can’t just assume a peaceful human society once you abandon the Imago Dei; you have to justify it. Because these gangbangers love their violent culture-destroying way of life. And if we’re just glorified apes their society isn’t “better” or “worse” than one you might prefer; it’s just different. I can justifiably compare these gangs to insects; its insect morality. And your challenge is to show me how such “insect morality” is objectively morally wrong.

    And my worldview easily does that. God created us in His image – and as our Creator He holds us morally accountable. There is no relativism; there is no X society vs. Y society; there is no “Who are YOU to say?” It’s God’s universe – and He holds us accountable to His objective moral standard. There is a judgment, and there is an eternity; God will set all things right. Human beings were created with free will; but heaven and hell await a species who will be held accountable for the actions of their bodies and the desires of their hearts.

    And you have the same problems at the level of the individual. Today in my paper I read about a man named Steven Anthony Jones who was described as a “killing machine” and engaged on a long pattern of rape and violence. The family’s of his victims one after another decried how he had destroyed their lives and shown no remorse. He claimed that his crimes were due to his own terrible abuse as a child. Is he right? Of course, if you are just DNA plus your environment, how is he to be held responsible? It’s not his fault what genes he was born with, or into what family.

    And the idea that we look into evolution – rather than religious morality – has a massive, massive problem and contradiction. To illustrate, let me quote Gleason Archer, from page 55-56 of his Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties:

    “But it should be pointed out that consistent atheism, which represents itself to be the most rational and logical of all approaches to reality, is in actuality completely self defeating and incapable of logical defense. That is to say, if indeed all matter has combined by mere chance, unguided by any Higher Power of Transcendental Intelligence, then it necessarily follows that the molecules of the human brain are also the product of mere chance. In other words, we think the way we do simply because the atoms and molecules of our brain tissue happen to have combined in the way they have, totally without transcendental guidance or control. So then even the philosophies of men, their system of logic and all their approaches to reality are the result of mere fortuity. There is no absolute validity to any argument advanced by the atheist against the position of theism.

    On the basis of his won presuppositions, the atheist completely cancels himself out, for on his own premises his arguments are without any absolute validity. By his own confession he thinks the way he does simply because the atoms in his brain happen to combine the way they do. If this is so, he cannot honestly say that his view is any more valid than the contrary view of his opponent. His basic postulates are self contradictory and self defeating; for when he asserts that there are no absolutes, he thereby is asserting a very dogmatic absolute. Nor can he logically disprove the existence of God without resorting to a logic that depends on the existence of God for its validity. Apart from such a transcendent guarantor of the validity of logic, any attempts at logic or argumentation are simply manifestations of the behavior of the collocation of molecules that make up the thinker’s brain.”

    I would argue that Darwinism entails social Darwinism, and that Darwinism most definitely has moral ramifications. If in fact naturalism is true (recognizing there are religious people who believe in divinely-guided evolution), then a lot of unpleasant things begin to follow. I remember the words of the Columbine killers: “We are no longer human because we’ve evolved beyond human morality.” Don’t shrug it off, seriously ask yourself: how do we know we didn’t kill the next stage in evolution? And when someone is “immoral,” how is he to blame, given that the molecules in his brain just happened to have evolved the way they did? And given that we ALL randomly evolved the same way, who is anyone else to say what he did was wrong anyway? Evolution can only be descriptive and describe what I am/do; it can never even in theory be prescriptive and tell me what I ought to be or ought to do.

    You provided several very good reasons why Darwinism shouldn’t be a basis for morality. You have argued that social Darwinism is nothing but a fringe belief. But if Darwinism is in fact true, whey SHOULDN’T it be a basis? Why shouldn’t it be widely held? Again, if Darwinism is true, the moral implications are vast and far reaching. Up until this point, the morality of every culture on earth has come from religious underpinnings. But if Darwinism is true, all those underpinnings are in fact a lie and should be severed in favor of Darwinian ones. Social Darwinism. Why run away from it?

    Existentialism: it really doesn’t matter what I do “morally”; I could be a serial killer. As long as my choice to be a serial killer is authentic, everything’s good. And while I would never claim that every existentialist is a Nazi, I would bring up the extremely troubling fact that Martin Heidegger – the greatest of the existentialists – was in fact a Nazi. I won’t stumble into the genetic fallacy, but I’ll say that every existentialist should ask himself what specifically made Heidegger’s authentic decision to support Nazism immoral.

    Humanism: basically, Judeo-Christian morality with the parts they don’t like cut out. Salad bar morality. It is parasitic, having no justification for itself. It has no explanatory power because it has no objective basis.

    Buddhism: a big problem with Buddhism is that it really isn’t “moral.” I do X and avoid doing Y because I don’t want to become a cockroach in my next life, NOT because the action is either right or wrong. Then there’s the problem of why I should even CARE what happens in my next life – since in a very real sense it’s not really MY life at all. Buddhism also falls prey to the fact that it is nihilistic – literally seeking the destruction of the individual. Kind of weird that your ultimate goal would be to no longer be “you” as your self is completely subsumed into the “all.” Then there’s the fact that Buddhists hold that the world is itself an illusion. You can turn it into a joke: “How do you convince a Buddhist that Maya is bogus? Just push him in front of a bus.”

    In any event, a non-personal, personhood-destroying system is hardly a good platform for “personal morality.”

    An interesting question is how the Buddha even managed these insights. In the case of the prophets of the Bible, divine revelation wasn’t about them, but about the Creator God (who created man in His own image) who revealed TO man. But in the case of Buddhism, there IS no personal God who chooses to reveal what man cannot see by himself. So it’s about Buddha’s “abilities.” And what what is about Buddha that enabled him to penetrate the impenetrable – and remain on earth as a guide to the rest of mankind?

    I think one of the things that comes out of any God-denying or God-ignoring moral viewpoint is that while you might theoretically be good, there is really no reason not to be “bad.” Humanism falls into this pitfall. Allow me to suggest a scenario in which one maintains a secular humanist utopia which produces an ordered society, but I myself am personally immoral and take advantage of others at every turn. Think of Joseph Stalin, calling upon the proletariat for greater and greater personal sacrifice while he lives a life of comfort and luxury. Why not game the system? Let everyone else sacrifice for the good of the herd while you yourself take advantage for personal gain at every single turn.

    You mentioned Matthew 5:44, and yes, that concept is related to what I asked. Jesus had a basis in his command; there is a transcendent God in control, who will take care of those who follow Him. Secularists HAVE no such basis. You mentioned that you didn’t view many Christians as praying for North Koreans. But think in terms of the paradigm of Christianity: what would Jesus do? Ask yourself then, “On what basis would He do it?” And then ask, “Does the secuarlist have that basis?” The answer is, “No.”

    What I’m getting at is, “Why not be completely selfish?” If you want something, then take it. If you need to hurt someone to get it, hurt them. Be like the spiders who eat their own mother. If I need to climb over you, or EAT you, to get what I want, or satisfy my needs, then why not do it? Give me an objective reason, the way I can as a Christian (because there is a Personal God who Created me in His image and who ultimately holds me directly accountable for my moral actions; heaven, hell). You can knock heaven and hell all you want, but they provide an actual, real, commensurable basis for morality that you simply don’t have. As a Christian, I live in light of and in recognition of eternity. As a Christian, I strive to be like my Creator, whom I will one day meet face-to-face.

    You make a statement comparing Christianity to social Darwinism, and cite a couple of relevant OT passages. I believe that I can certainly defend the Old Testament as God progressively revealing Himself in history to a people who were themselves culturally bound to a particular point in history. One of the things that every culture at the time held was the concept of “power encounters”; which meant that if my people defeat your people, it was because my god was greater than your god. And God revealed Himself to that culture at that time (rather than engage in the moral equivalent of delivering a quantum mainframe computer to a band of stone age tribesmen. I won’t take the time to develop that here because it would get way off the topic at hand. Suffice it to say, as a Christian, I follow Christ. Jesus, not Joshua. And Christ (St. Paul, etc) did not call upon me to decimate the Philistines. Quite the contrary.

    Ultimately, Christ called upon us to ABANDON social Darwinism, in the sense of living according to our natural/naturlistic urges, desires, and fears and instead trusting in God and His way. Social Darwinism is the way of the world; and Jesus says DON’T be like the world. I think you’ll discover that to be quite true if you read the New Testament. One significant example is Romans 12:2, where Paul instructs, “Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” In this sense, In John 16:33, Jesus tells His disciples, “In the world you will have tribulation (i.e. a belly full of the results of social Darwinism); but take courage, I have overcome the world (by a divine act that Christians should trust in rather than the ways of the world).

    You make a statement that I wanted to at least briefly comment upon: “The reason scientific beliefs are attractive in the first place is that they offer a self-correcting, independently verifiable set of guidelines, while the Bible does not.” In that book I suggested by Dinesh D’Souza (I think you can use the same link I provided above), chapters 8-10 go into real detail about the relationship between religion and science. But allow me to say that science CAME from Christianity. Science derived its essential presuppositions from science, which allowed science to get off the ground, and in point of fact the founders of every single branch of science turns out to have been a publicly confessed Christian (along with the scientific method itself). You seem to be suggesting that science has all these great things that religion lacks; but I would say that in fact religion has all these great things that science needed to even get off the ground. And true science and true religion are mutually compatible (which is why Isaac Newton, widely regarded as the greatest scientist who ever lived, was also a profoundly religious man who actually wrote more about religion than he did about science). I would also point out the opposite: how Albert Einstein, widely regarded as Newton’s peer, once added a “cosmological constant” out of an atheistic bias, only to later admit it was the greatest folly he ever committed.

    A couple of additional readings. The first is about the absurdity of life and morality without God, and the second is on the limitations of science as a truly objective science. At best, science is as “objective” as it can be, given the extreme limits of scientists’ human limitations (not to mention their prejudices and biases):



  13. acollet@vt.edu Says:

    My goodness, you certainly laid a written beating on that poster. Good job man, I loved it. I recently got into an argumenet with a friend about in religion and schools. I went to the Norhtwest Ordinance of 1787, Article III, for my support. Are you familiar with this ordinance?

  14. Michael Eden Says:

    Not bad, acollet.

    Yes, I am familiar with it.

    Here it is for those who aren’t:

    Northwest Ordinance (1787), Article III

    Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged. The utmost good faith shall always be observed towards the Indians; their lands and property shall never be taken from them without their consent; and in their property, rights, and liberty they never shall be invaded or disturbed unless in just and lawful war authorized by Congress; but laws founded in justice and humanity shall, from time to time, be made, for preventing wrongs being done to them, and for preserving peace and friendship with them.

    We’ve got such abundant evidence on our side that it is virtually impossible to provide it all in anything short of a very thick book.

    Thanks for sharing that.

    P.S. I am a huge fan of David Barton and Wallbuilders. Thank God for such lovers of history and the wisdom this generation could have if it followed in the footsteps that were left behind for us.

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