T Nation

The Founding Fathers

I have done quite a bit of heavy reading in the past months and years in my own personal, philosophical search for meaning.

Although I tend to be viruntly anti-religion, as seen on these boards, I really only reject the notion of organized religion, not the idea of God.

What I was surprised to find out is that apparently, many of the Founding Fathers were of like mind.

Thomas Paine has long been a hero of mine, and probably is the person founder I identify strongest with. It is said that he believed in God, but when ministers and priests came to him on his deathbed he shooed them away.

Thomas Jefferson was another well known deist, who generally did not seem to accept the ideas that organized religion purveys.

One I was surprised about was George Washington. Being more a warrior then a philosopher, I had assumed he would be a hardcore christian. However, from wikipedia-

[i]His adopted daughter, Nelly Custis Lewis, stated: “I have heard her [Nelly’s mother, Eleanor Calvert Custis, who resided in Mount Vernon for two years] say that General Washington always received the sacrament with my grandmother [Martha Washington] before the revolution.”[62] After the revolution, Washington frequently accompanied his wife to Christian church services; however, there is no record of his ever taking communion, and he would regularly leave services before communion?with the other non-communicants (as was the custom of the day), until, after being admonished by a rector, he ceased attending at all on communion Sundays.[63][64] Prior to communion, believers are admonished to take stock of their spiritual lives and not to participate in the ceremony unless he finds himself in the will of God.[65][66] Historians and biographers continue to debate the degree to which he can be counted as a Christian, and the degree to which he was a deist.

He was an early supporter of religious toleration and freedom of religion. In 1775, he ordered that his troops not show anti-Catholic sentiments by burning the pope in effigy on Guy Fawkes Night. When hiring workmen for Mount Vernon, he wrote to his agent, “If they be good workmen, they may be from Asia, Africa, or Europe; they may be Mohammedans, Jews, or Christians of any sect, or they may be Atheists.”[65][67] In 1790, he wrote a response to a letter from the Touro Synagogue, in which he said that as long as people remain good citizens, their faith does not matter. This was a relief to the Jewish community of the United States, since the Jews had been either expelled or discriminated against in many European countries.[/i]

Ethan Allen was another.

Benjamin Franklin, yet another.

Some say James Madison was- and if he wasn’t, he was a huge proponent of Seperation of Curch and state.

I have been reading “Team of Rivals”, and it seems that Abraham Lincoln was also despondant at times over the lack of his belief in an afterlife. He rarely talked on religion or his personal beliefs.

So my question is, if all of these guys were deists and created and led the country, why are we at the point now where a man can’t get elected if he doesn’t attend church every Friday, Sunday, and Tuesday. Why are five GOP candidates proud to raise their hands when asked if they don’t believe in evolution?

Why has our country become the only country that’s gone fuckin backwards?

And again, I’m not attacking Christianity specifically. I don’t really care what card the preacher carries, but the more philosophy and science I read, the more ridiculous the idea of a vengeful god sending souls that he created to hell becomes. I’m not against the idea of God, but I don’t know why questioning a candidates’ loyalty to Christianity has become one of the main points of elections.

Just meandering thoughts of mine.

[quote]FightinIrish26 wrote:
I have done quite a bit of heavy reading in the past months and years in my own personal, philosophical search for meaning.

Although I tend to be viruntly anti-religion, as seen on these boards, I really only reject the notion of organized religion, not the idea of God.

What I was surprised to find out is that apparently, many of the Founding Fathers were of like mind.

Thomas Paine has long been a hero of mine, and probably is the person founder I identify strongest with. It is said that he believed in God, but when ministers and priests came to him on his deathbed he shooed them away.

Thomas Jefferson was another well known deist, who generally did not seem to accept the ideas that organized religion purveys.

One I was surprised about was George Washington. Being more a warrior then a philosopher, I had assumed he would be a hardcore christian. However, from wikipedia-

[i]His adopted daughter, Nelly Custis Lewis, stated: “I have heard her [Nelly’s mother, Eleanor Calvert Custis, who resided in Mount Vernon for two years] say that General Washington always received the sacrament with my grandmother [Martha Washington] before the revolution.”[62] After the revolution, Washington frequently accompanied his wife to Christian church services; however, there is no record of his ever taking communion, and he would regularly leave services before communion?with the other non-communicants (as was the custom of the day), until, after being admonished by a rector, he ceased attending at all on communion Sundays.[63][64] Prior to communion, believers are admonished to take stock of their spiritual lives and not to participate in the ceremony unless he finds himself in the will of God.[65][66] Historians and biographers continue to debate the degree to which he can be counted as a Christian, and the degree to which he was a deist.

He was an early supporter of religious toleration and freedom of religion. In 1775, he ordered that his troops not show anti-Catholic sentiments by burning the pope in effigy on Guy Fawkes Night. When hiring workmen for Mount Vernon, he wrote to his agent, “If they be good workmen, they may be from Asia, Africa, or Europe; they may be Mohammedans, Jews, or Christians of any sect, or they may be Atheists.”[65][67] In 1790, he wrote a response to a letter from the Touro Synagogue, in which he said that as long as people remain good citizens, their faith does not matter. This was a relief to the Jewish community of the United States, since the Jews had been either expelled or discriminated against in many European countries.[/i]

Ethan Allen was another.

Benjamin Franklin, yet another.

Some say James Madison was- and if he wasn’t, he was a huge proponent of Seperation of Curch and state.

I have been reading “Team of Rivals”, and it seems that Abraham Lincoln was also despondant at times over the lack of his belief in an afterlife. He rarely talked on religion or his personal beliefs.

So my question is, if all of these guys were deists and created and led the country, why are we at the point now where a man can’t get elected if he doesn’t attend church every Friday, Sunday, and Tuesday. Why are five GOP candidates proud to raise their hands when asked if they don’t believe in evolution?

Why has our country become the only country that’s gone fuckin backwards?

And again, I’m not attacking Christianity specifically. I don’t really care what card the preacher carries, but the more philosophy and science I read, the more ridiculous the idea of a vengeful god sending souls that he created to hell becomes. I’m not against the idea of God, but I don’t know why questioning a candidates’ loyalty to Christianity has become one of the main points of elections.

Just meandering thoughts of mine. [/quote]

I almost consider myself a deist nowadays. Kind of a deist/Christian/agnostic. Actually I have beliefs very similar to what I?ve read about many of the founding fathers. The book ?faith of our fathers? is a good one on the subject if you’d like some additional reading.

As for how it plays into politics, I think it?s the people?s right to know a candidates spiritual beliefs. You certainly seem to care that there are one?s that don?t believe in evolution.

You seem to be saying spirituality of a candidate isn?t important, then you point out spiritual beliefs you seem to consider important to know. Are you proposing a don?t ask don?t tell philosophy.

I also note that you only bring up ?backwards? beliefs from the republicans. What about a president being elected after attending a black supremacist, anti-american ?church? for 20 years. Or are those the parts you aren?t wanting to hear about?

There is plenty of blame to go around. Do you find it more backward to profess a faith in bible and to publicly hold true to those beliefs, or to profess a faith in a book that you blatantly deny in your day to day life?

I?ve said this before, but I think any politician that gets to that level has only one real religion, self-worship.

Most people I know share your line of questioning. The Founding Fathers were resolutely secular and did all the could to keep religion out of government. The mind boggles to be honest. Most “developed” countries in the world have become increasingly secular, with the one big exception of the US. It was only in the last 100 years that the Christian god was added to your currency and to your anthem as well. It seems like a bizarre backward trend that has been accelerating recently with the more visible creationist movement.

Also Thomas Paine is an absolute inspiration to me as well. What an incredible person!

But anyway. To an outsider, there seems to be this proudness of ignorance and averageness in the states. People liked the fact that they could identify with W. Bush and Sarah Palin. People are proud of believing in something despite what science says.

As you said, these people who are proud to raise their hands. They would be an embarrassment in the UK or France or Sweden, but there is some sort of culture in the US that allows these people to gain respect. A very crude analogy is of the “cool kids” in school who pick on the “nerds” for being clever.

[quote]DoubleDuce wrote:

I almost consider myself a deist nowadays. Kind of a deist/Christian/agnostic. Actually I have beliefs very similar to what I?ve read about many of the founding fathers. The book ?faith of our fathers? is a good one on the subject if you’d like some additional reading.
[/quote]

I would, so thanks for recommending it. I’ll look into it.

The points may not necessarily be connected, and I wrote the initial post quickly, so apologies if it seems like that.

But to be fair, I don’t care what religion anyone is. I don’t base anything on it. I would like a don’t ask, don’t tell type of system. Apparently, no one asked Lincoln on the campaign trail whether he believed in the Bible or not.

He would be assaulted as an atheist now, as TR did with Paine (even though it was untrue.) It would be a dream for the religious right.

[quote]
I also note that you only bring up ?backwards? beliefs from the republicans. What about a president being elected after attending a black supremacist, anti-american ?church? for 20 years. Or are those the parts you aren?t wanting to hear about?[/quote]

That may be how he thinks. I don’t really know, although I truly doubt it. If I went to Church all the time, which I did once, I would have been angry if someone accused me of thinking that the world was created in six days. I went because I enjoyed some things, but I disliked others. I really don’t like judging people by their church.

What I do know is that there’s no bill on the table trying to push black supremacy into school districts, or demand that it be taught in classes where it is supremely out of order.

It is the pushing of that spiritual agenda on others that irritates me, and religious conservatives are far, far more guilty of that then the Democrats.

Again, I don’t mind if people believe in it. I don’t mind if people question it, either (obviously). I would dislike the ungenuiness of the second to get elected, but I would expect it.

Agreed.

I’m sick of “republican conservative christians” for seemingly different reasons than you.

First, as I just noted many tend to be hypocrites of the first order.

Second, for some reason they don’t believe separation of church and state applies to Christianity. Why doesn?t my state allow liquor to be sold on Sunday? (essentially when you try to legislate your morals on everyone)

Third, many ?Christian? ideologies are very left wing, and they refuse to see it. I?m sorry, it is not a conservative idea to want to ban gay marriage, it is not a conservative idea to support military conquest, it is not a conservative idea to try to dictate what is taught in the science classroom, it?s not a conservative idea to support the patriot act, it?s not a conservative idea to support drug laws. As an actual conservative, it makes me mad to be associated with these politically non-conservative ideas.

They seem to think you can?t be a good Christian and believe in separation of church and state.

Deism is an interesting movement and all believers in God should be deists first, at least to a degree. Many people really just don’t care enough to pursue the rational existence of God and are simply content to follow what they have been taught. Fortunately, I wasn’t comfortable with blind faith. I needed reason to back it. And fortunately there is a great deal of logic to it. I disagree with the deists on the fact that God does not interact with that which he has created. While he does leave it ride along the laws much of the time, I believe he does interfere with the natural order from time to time.

Ironically, Jefferson was fascinated by the teachings of Jesus, but not his divinity. But for some poor uneducated farmer or worker who do not have the luxury and education to experience God through pure reason, pure faith will have to be enough. Most of the world isn’t as lucky as we are to have time to think about these things.

[quote]DoubleDuce wrote:
I’m sick of “republican conservative christians” for seemingly different reasons than you.

First, as I just noted many tend to be hypocrites of the first order.

Second, for some reason they don’t believe separation of church and state applies to Christianity. Why doesn?t my state allow liquor to be sold on Sunday? (essentially when you try to legislate your morals on everyone)

Third, many ?Christian? ideologies are very left wing, and they refuse to see it. I?m sorry, it is not a conservative idea to want to ban gay marriage, it is not a conservative idea to support military conquest, it is not a conservative idea to try to dictate what is taught in the science classroom, it?s not a conservative idea to support the patriot act, it?s not a conservative idea to support drug laws. As an actual conservative, it makes me mad to be associated with these politically non-conservative ideas.

They seem to think you can?t be a good Christian and believe in separation of church and state.
[/quote]

I agree. Many are no better than the Muslim extremists they rail so hard against.

Real conservatism appears to be making a comeback. I would hope so… I don’t like it, but it’s certainly better then the religious brand of GOP zealotry that had gotten George II elected.

[quote]FightinIrish26 wrote:
I have done quite a bit of heavy reading in the past months and years in my own personal, philosophical search for meaning.

Although I tend to be viruntly anti-religion, as seen on these boards, I really only reject the notion of organized religion, not the idea of God.

What I was surprised to find out is that apparently, many of the Founding Fathers were of like mind.

Thomas Paine has long been a hero of mine, and probably is the person founder I identify strongest with. It is said that he believed in God, but when ministers and priests came to him on his deathbed he shooed them away.

Thomas Jefferson was another well known deist, who generally did not seem to accept the ideas that organized religion purveys.

One I was surprised about was George Washington. Being more a warrior then a philosopher, I had assumed he would be a hardcore christian. However, from wikipedia-

[i]His adopted daughter, Nelly Custis Lewis, stated: “I have heard her [Nelly’s mother, Eleanor Calvert Custis, who resided in Mount Vernon for two years] say that General Washington always received the sacrament with my grandmother [Martha Washington] before the revolution.”[62] After the revolution, Washington frequently accompanied his wife to Christian church services; however, there is no record of his ever taking communion, and he would regularly leave services before communion?with the other non-communicants (as was the custom of the day), until, after being admonished by a rector, he ceased attending at all on communion Sundays.[63][64] Prior to communion, believers are admonished to take stock of their spiritual lives and not to participate in the ceremony unless he finds himself in the will of God.[65][66] Historians and biographers continue to debate the degree to which he can be counted as a Christian, and the degree to which he was a deist.

He was an early supporter of religious toleration and freedom of religion. In 1775, he ordered that his troops not show anti-Catholic sentiments by burning the pope in effigy on Guy Fawkes Night. When hiring workmen for Mount Vernon, he wrote to his agent, “If they be good workmen, they may be from Asia, Africa, or Europe; they may be Mohammedans, Jews, or Christians of any sect, or they may be Atheists.”[65][67] In 1790, he wrote a response to a letter from the Touro Synagogue, in which he said that as long as people remain good citizens, their faith does not matter. This was a relief to the Jewish community of the United States, since the Jews had been either expelled or discriminated against in many European countries.[/i]

Ethan Allen was another.

Benjamin Franklin, yet another.

Some say James Madison was- and if he wasn’t, he was a huge proponent of Seperation of Curch and state.

I have been reading “Team of Rivals”, and it seems that Abraham Lincoln was also despondant at times over the lack of his belief in an afterlife. He rarely talked on religion or his personal beliefs.

So my question is, if all of these guys were deists and created and led the country, why are we at the point now where a man can’t get elected if he doesn’t attend church every Friday, Sunday, and Tuesday. Why are five GOP candidates proud to raise their hands when asked if they don’t believe in evolution?

Why has our country become the only country that’s gone fuckin backwards?

And again, I’m not attacking Christianity specifically. I don’t really care what card the preacher carries, but the more philosophy and science I read, the more ridiculous the idea of a vengeful god sending souls that he created to hell becomes. I’m not against the idea of God, but I don’t know why questioning a candidates’ loyalty to Christianity has become one of the main points of elections.

Just meandering thoughts of mine. [/quote]

Paine? Not sure I’d even call him a Founder, but he was maybe the worst of the bunch. Anyone cheerleading for the French Revolution was on the wrong side, basically.

I believe Washington went to Episcopalian (basically Anglican) services, but like you said, was known for refusing to kneel in church.

As for today, I think you are way off. We may have a relatively rare public piety thing going on with national politicians, but if you look at the actual substance of American religion, it is less Christian than it has ever been. Google “Moral Therapeutic Deism”, I can email you the original article as a pdf if you want. That, increasingly, is America’s religion. Not Christianity.

[quote]FightinIrish26 wrote:
DoubleDuce wrote:
I’m sick of “republican conservative christians” for seemingly different reasons than you.

First, as I just noted many tend to be hypocrites of the first order.

Second, for some reason they don’t believe separation of church and state applies to Christianity. Why doesn?t my state allow liquor to be sold on Sunday? (essentially when you try to legislate your morals on everyone)

Third, many ?Christian? ideologies are very left wing, and they refuse to see it. I?m sorry, it is not a conservative idea to want to ban gay marriage, it is not a conservative idea to support military conquest, it is not a conservative idea to try to dictate what is taught in the science classroom, it?s not a conservative idea to support the patriot act, it?s not a conservative idea to support drug laws. As an actual conservative, it makes me mad to be associated with these politically non-conservative ideas.

They seem to think you can?t be a good Christian and believe in separation of church and state.

I agree. Many are no better than the Muslim extremists they rail so hard against.
[/quote]

Really? Funny, I have trouble thinking of any American Christian extremists killing tens of thousands of people recently.

[quote]pat wrote:
Deism is an interesting movement and all believers in God should be deists first, at least to a degree. Many people really just don’t care enough to pursue the rational existence of God and are simply content to follow what they have been taught. Fortunately, I wasn’t comfortable with blind faith. I needed reason to back it. And fortunately there is a great deal of logic to it. I disagree with the deists on the fact that God does not interact with that which he has created. While he does leave it ride along the laws much of the time, I believe he does interfere with the natural order from time to time.
[/quote]

For some reason I am along the same lines. While good does not always triumph over evil, we have been fortunate enough that since people have been around, we have not had civilization-ending catastrophes such as an asteroid or supervolcano explosion.

On top of that, the necessary elements for life to not only exist, but to evolve, seem to be very difficult to gather together and maintain.

The human race seems to be moving inexorably forward, although I’m not quite sure where.

Whether that’s interference or solid planning, who knows.

I have read that. He did hold Jesus to high esteem.

[quote]
But for some poor uneducated farmer or worker who do not have the luxury and education to experience God through pure reason, pure faith will have to be enough. Most of the world isn’t as lucky as we are to have time to think about these things.[/quote]

See, this I don’t believe.

There are those in the world who will think about such things whether they have the time or not, and whether they are allowed to or not. Whether they voice them, or how much weight that voice can hold, is another matter. But I believe that those who actively seek an answer… those people are everywhere.

[quote]GDollars37 wrote:

Paine? Not sure I’d even call him a Founder, but he was maybe the worst of the bunch. Anyone cheerleading for the French Revolution was on the wrong side, basically.
[/quote]

Please. Absolute bullshit.

  1. Without the pen of Paine, the sword of Washington would have been wielded in vain. - John Adams.

The revolution doesn’t happen without Common Sense. And on top that, the French Revolution is one of the greatest, most beautiful events in human history. How it ended up was, ironically, bloody and terrible, but it shook monarchies everywhere to the bone and was the great mover in the general movement towards Republics over monarchies (aside from our own revolution).

And not taking communion. He does not strike me as overly religious in any sense.

Depends who you ask.

There is a reason that Evangelical christians had a takeover in the last ten years.

Thankfully, it has been taken back. But there are certainly enough Bible literalists and one issue voters who depend on their church to make their decision for them for me.

[quote]pat wrote:
Deism is an interesting movement and all believers in God should be deists first, at least to a degree. Many people really just don’t care enough to pursue the rational existence of God and are simply content to follow what they have been taught. Fortunately, I wasn’t comfortable with blind faith. I needed reason to back it. And fortunately there is a great deal of logic to it. I disagree with the deists on the fact that God does not interact with that which he has created. While he does leave it ride along the laws much of the time, I believe he does interfere with the natural order from time to time.

Ironically, Jefferson was fascinated by the teachings of Jesus, but not his divinity. But for some poor uneducated farmer or worker who do not have the luxury and education to experience God through pure reason, pure faith will have to be enough. Most of the world isn’t as lucky as we are to have time to think about these things.[/quote]

Actually the interference of god is something I’ve been resting with recently. I’ve almost come to the belief that god (at least today) plays by the rules of the universe. That maybe all ?miracles? work through scientifically explainable means. If god is timeless then it makes sense that the ?interference? in creating miracles could have been accomplished when things were set in motion, rather than at the individual times of events.

For example, Jesus healing a leper. (this refers to almost any skin condition) Maybe the guys skin had already healed underneath a scab or blister or whatever, and Jesus ?touching? him just peeled off the outer layer to reveal the already recovered skin. Is it less of a miracle if god works within the bounds of the universe?

A perfect example is the joke about the guy who gets trapped on his roof in a flood. He prays for help. A boat comes and he turns them down because he is waiting for a miracle, a helicopter comes and the same thing. Eventually he drowns and asks god why he didn?t save him. God says ?I sent you a boat and a helicopter what else did you want??

So I kind of believe that god does work in the universe, but not necessarily that he breaks the laws of the universe to do it.

Kind of the difference between stacking a deck to do a card trick, vs. actually performing the magic. I think god stacked the deck.

[quote]GDollars37 wrote:
FightinIrish26 wrote:
DoubleDuce wrote:
I’m sick of “republican conservative christians” for seemingly different reasons than you.

First, as I just noted many tend to be hypocrites of the first order.

Second, for some reason they don’t believe separation of church and state applies to Christianity. Why doesn?t my state allow liquor to be sold on Sunday? (essentially when you try to legislate your morals on everyone)

Third, many ?Christian? ideologies are very left wing, and they refuse to see it. I?m sorry, it is not a conservative idea to want to ban gay marriage, it is not a conservative idea to support military conquest, it is not a conservative idea to try to dictate what is taught in the science classroom, it?s not a conservative idea to support the patriot act, it?s not a conservative idea to support drug laws. As an actual conservative, it makes me mad to be associated with these politically non-conservative ideas.

They seem to think you can?t be a good Christian and believe in separation of church and state.

I agree. Many are no better than the Muslim extremists they rail so hard against.

Really? Funny, I have trouble thinking of any American Christian extremists killing tens of thousands of people recently.[/quote]

You’re better than this.

If you wanted the death toll from Christian wars, executions, and all other things, I’m sure it would be very close to the Muslim number. It would probably, honestly, greatly surpass it.

And any religious nut, regardless of affiliation, that tries to instate their belief system in the public’s educational system… well, that’s a crime against humanity to me. The Muslims are as guilty as the Christian zealots… the key word is “zealot.” And those, in any sense, suck.

On a side note- anyone read the books “Conversations with God?”

[quote]GDollars37 wrote:
FightinIrish26 wrote:
DoubleDuce wrote:
I’m sick of “republican conservative christians” for seemingly different reasons than you.

First, as I just noted many tend to be hypocrites of the first order.

Second, for some reason they don’t believe separation of church and state applies to Christianity. Why doesn?t my state allow liquor to be sold on Sunday? (essentially when you try to legislate your morals on everyone)

Third, many ?Christian? ideologies are very left wing, and they refuse to see it. I?m sorry, it is not a conservative idea to want to ban gay marriage, it is not a conservative idea to support military conquest, it is not a conservative idea to try to dictate what is taught in the science classroom, it?s not a conservative idea to support the patriot act, it?s not a conservative idea to support drug laws. As an actual conservative, it makes me mad to be associated with these politically non-conservative ideas.

They seem to think you can?t be a good Christian and believe in separation of church and state.

I agree. Many are no better than the Muslim extremists they rail so hard against.

Really? Funny, I have trouble thinking of any American Christian extremists killing tens of thousands of people recently.[/quote]

Bush.

If the degree of association that makes people “terrorists”, “taliban” or both is enough, then Bush was a self confessed American Christian extremist who killed a lot more than tens of thousands.

[quote]orion wrote:
GDollars37 wrote:
FightinIrish26 wrote:
DoubleDuce wrote:
I’m sick of “republican conservative christians” for seemingly different reasons than you.

First, as I just noted many tend to be hypocrites of the first order.

Second, for some reason they don’t believe separation of church and state applies to Christianity. Why doesn?t my state allow liquor to be sold on Sunday? (essentially when you try to legislate your morals on everyone)

Third, many ?Christian? ideologies are very left wing, and they refuse to see it. I?m sorry, it is not a conservative idea to want to ban gay marriage, it is not a conservative idea to support military conquest, it is not a conservative idea to try to dictate what is taught in the science classroom, it?s not a conservative idea to support the patriot act, it?s not a conservative idea to support drug laws. As an actual conservative, it makes me mad to be associated with these politically non-conservative ideas.

They seem to think you can?t be a good Christian and believe in separation of church and state.

I agree. Many are no better than the Muslim extremists they rail so hard against.

Really? Funny, I have trouble thinking of any American Christian extremists killing tens of thousands of people recently.

Bush.

If the degree of association that makes people “terrorists”, “taliban” or both is enough, then Bush was a self confessed American Christian extremist who killed a lot more than tens of thousands.

[/quote]

You seem to be assuming he wanted the war in order to further his religious views. And not for things like oil/money/power.

Unless we are associating anything bad done by anyone whole claims a religion with that religion. He also claims to be a conservative, but he doesn?t fit my definition of that word.

[quote]Jab1 wrote:
Most people I know share your line of questioning. The Founding Fathers were resolutely secular and did all the could to keep religion out of government. [/quote]

In everything I have read, I have not found this to be true. Separation of church and state is a product of activist judges. The founders were very far from secular by today’s standards.

Their primary concern was a state (federal) sponsored religion. They were concerned with Sabbath laws, religious taxes, religious requirements for office, the church holding direct political power, etc. They were quite ok with individual states sponsored religion as was being practiced as the constitution took shape and after it was ratified.

Many of them wrote how individual rights would be non-existent without faith in god. That if rights were not from god they could just as well be handed out by the state.

I will admit that I have not read as much on Thomas Paine, but Jefferson, Franklin, Washington, and others were certainly not secular in way you may think.

By the way…I am an athiest. I have no religious skin in game so to speak.

[quote]FightinIrish26 wrote:
If you wanted the death toll from Christian wars, executions, and all other things, I’m sure it would be very close to the Muslim number. It would probably, honestly, greatly surpass it.
[/quote]
I can’t imagine this being true. You need to read a bit more about the origins of Islam

[quote]DoubleDuce wrote:
pat wrote:
Deism is an interesting movement and all believers in God should be deists first, at least to a degree. Many people really just don’t care enough to pursue the rational existence of God and are simply content to follow what they have been taught. Fortunately, I wasn’t comfortable with blind faith. I needed reason to back it. And fortunately there is a great deal of logic to it. I disagree with the deists on the fact that God does not interact with that which he has created. While he does leave it ride along the laws much of the time, I believe he does interfere with the natural order from time to time.

Ironically, Jefferson was fascinated by the teachings of Jesus, but not his divinity. But for some poor uneducated farmer or worker who do not have the luxury and education to experience God through pure reason, pure faith will have to be enough. Most of the world isn’t as lucky as we are to have time to think about these things.

Actually the interference of god is something I’ve been resting with recently. I’ve almost come to the belief that god (at least today) plays by the rules of the universe. That maybe all ?miracles? work through scientifically explainable means. If god is timeless then it makes sense that the ?interference? in creating miracles could have been accomplished when things were set in motion, rather than at the individual times of events.

For example, Jesus healing a leper. (this refers to almost any skin condition) Maybe the guys skin had already healed underneath a scab or blister or whatever, and Jesus ?touching? him just peeled off the outer layer to reveal the already recovered skin. Is it less of a miracle if god works within the bounds of the universe?

A perfect example is the joke about the guy who gets trapped on his roof in a flood. He prays for help. A boat comes and he turns them down because he is waiting for a miracle, a helicopter comes and the same thing. Eventually he drowns and asks god why he didn?t save him. God says ?I sent you a boat and a helicopter what else did you want??

So I kind of believe that god does work in the universe, but not necessarily that he breaks the laws of the universe to do it.

Kind of the difference between stacking a deck to do a card trick, vs. actually performing the magic. I think god stacked the deck.
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Miracles are one of the most difficult things to argue. The problem is to truly believe in one, you must experience it for yourself. No amount of testimony will convince you. I tend to avoid the argument because of that fact. Now I believe that anything is possible, so miracles are not out of the realm of possibility. The problem with empiricism and laws of nature, is that you cannot know all instances of their invocation. If you you cannot know they will always behave the same. It all boils down to cause and effect relationships. If ‘A’ then ‘B’, but if you do not know every instance of ‘A’ then ‘B’, you cannot say that it will always be the case…You may be damn confident, but cannot be positive.

Miricles would be a case where cause and effect get messed up, because what should have happened did not and something else took the resultant effects place. Hume tried to solve the issue by introducing, unsuccessfully, a 3rd element of in the causal chain that can fuck up the tradition 2 element model. I forget exactly but he ended up proving more of what he was trying to disprove.
Anyhow, I cannot successfully argue that God meddles in the affairs of the world. I believe he does, it seems like he does, but one thing about the way God works is contrary to waht most people think, He works at the individual level, seldom in large sweeping group levels. So I can share my story, but I cannot make you “get” it. It’s my story, you got to get your own…I am speaking metaphorically, not literally.

[quote]FightinIrish26 wrote:
pat wrote:
Deism is an interesting movement and all believers in God should be deists first, at least to a degree. Many people really just don’t care enough to pursue the rational existence of God and are simply content to follow what they have been taught. Fortunately, I wasn’t comfortable with blind faith. I needed reason to back it. And fortunately there is a great deal of logic to it. I disagree with the deists on the fact that God does not interact with that which he has created. While he does leave it ride along the laws much of the time, I believe he does interfere with the natural order from time to time.

For some reason I am along the same lines. While good does not always triumph over evil, we have been fortunate enough that since people have been around, we have not had civilization-ending catastrophes such as an asteroid or supervolcano explosion.

On top of that, the necessary elements for life to not only exist, but to evolve, seem to be very difficult to gather together and maintain.

The human race seems to be moving inexorably forward, although I’m not quite sure where.

Whether that’s interference or solid planning, who knows.
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Ultimately good always wins inexplicably. Then a new cycle of evil begins and the cycle continues…We take steps forward, then a few back. Even though we go back we seem to be moving forward.

The problem evil is still not well understood.

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Ironically, Jefferson was fascinated by the teachings of Jesus, but not his divinity.

I have read that. He did hold Jesus to high esteem.

But for some poor uneducated farmer or worker who do not have the luxury and education to experience God through pure reason, pure faith will have to be enough. Most of the world isn’t as lucky as we are to have time to think about these things.

See, this I don’t believe.

There are those in the world who will think about such things whether they have the time or not, and whether they are allowed to or not. Whether they voice them, or how much weight that voice can hold, is another matter. But I believe that those who actively seek an answer… those people are everywhere.[/quote]

Perhaps, but they do have reason to fall back on so if they want to take the journey they can. Others, believe what they believe and they don’t give a rat’s ass if it’s right, wrong, or indifferent. They don’t want to be bothered with the task of thinking about it.