The move toward American Theocracy by the empowered evangelical 'elite' in the US has made it almost impossible for an atheist or non-christian to be elected to office. Schools are having their curriculum undermined by creationist who wish to revise history, remove evolution from science, and prevent teaching sexual health and pregnancy prevention. Atheist fear reprisals for not being christian and are often discriminated against at work, socially, and most especially in the military. American as a "Christian Nation" is not a free nation or an ethical one.
Please- What ideas do you have on combating this most dangerous decline in American intellectual and social standards? I'm especially interested in ideas from outside the US. Whatever you wish to add.
Separation of Church and State. I feel ya. Since guns wont work I wonder how we can get some choppers, stealth bombers, and a few patriot missle defense units. Protecting our self from the government, per the evangelical and militias, is not so straight forward.
I agree but not everyone can come out. It's not possible for everyone and it can cost jobs, marriages, fights over children, and yes occasional physical attacks.
I think that people react to the evolution issue because they don't like other people telling their kids that evolution is a 'theory.' They don't like the idea that as a nation we are becoming less and less scientifically literate and people will believe any old $#!+. I think the ethical front is the way to go.
Geraldo- I have to look at those videos when I get a little free time.
Bruce- You are right about the dominance of religion. Im not going to start a holy war or lie down and die. I still want some push back on these issues. If there are no alternatives to religion then there is no religious freedom.
Marx quote on religion- "Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions."
I'd like to point out that religion as an opiate was stated before Marx. It's true point is that it helps the masses deal with the crazy misery society and situations place them. Look at the Hatians. They are wildly religious. They need somthing to help them cope with their shit lives before the quake- their shit lives after the quake and their eternally shit for a government that is so untrustworthy that nations fear releasing aid least it go into corrupt pockets and not to the people.
Marqui de Sade - "You fear the powerful eye of genius, that is why you encourage ignorance. This opium you feed your people, so that, drugged, they do not feel their hurts, inflicted by you"
I'd also like to say that Marx had some interesting things to say but his solutions were pure poison. When you discount human cruelty and even the creeping greed and willfullness of otherwise good people your premis fails. People need checks and balances.
I'd be happy if we got off the religious freedom kick just enough to protect teen brides of poligamist- boys tossed out of poligamist communities so the old men can wed the female children- take down abusive institutions that pull switch and bait- prosecute abuse of power by the clergy. We just let the Catholic Church $#!+ all over the rights of children with just a paltry fine!
JP- Most tv is an opiate. Too bad it isn't better.
By Communist, do you mean Marxist? Leninist? Trotskyist? Salinist? Maoist or some other variety. Because they are all very different, i think it unfair to put them all under the same heading (Stalinism brutally enforces 'good behavour', whereas Marxism is clearly an utopian dream that should not be applied directly).
Many of the original 13 states had officially supported religions. Massachusetts started as a Puritan colony, and Puritanism morphed into Congregationalism, which spread through much of New England. Virginia was Anglican, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island more open to a variety of faiths. In 1730, the great Puritan minister, Jonathan Edwards, kicked off the first Great Awakening. The writers of the Constitution were secularists who realized that the only way to protect religious freedom was to keep the government out of religion. Most were believers of one Christian faith or another, some devout, some rather casual. Jefferson was a Unitarian, often attacked as being an atheist. Franklin was pretty slippery, describing himself as a Deist in his youth but later believing that God had helped the Americans win their revolution. Washington went to the Episcopal (Anglican) church, but always left before communion, and would not allow any clergymen at his bedside when he died. I don't know about the others much, but even then there were "ranters" (fire-and-brimstone preachers) insisting on an official religion. They lost. The Christian argument today that the founders intended a Christian nation and that Americans wanted it doesn't hold water. If the founders had been Christians and most of the citizens Christians and all of them wanted a Christian nation, they would have had little trouble creating just that. The founders, who were for the most part educated landed gentry, knew the historical dangers posed by an official state church and so refused to create one.
In a sense, their plan backfired. Freedom of religion created space for crackpots and charlatans. So many charismatic preachers had picked through upstate New York that by the time Joseph Smith invented Mormonism around 1835, the area was known as the "burned over" ground. More and more groups sprang up, promising salvation and prosperity, and predicting the end of the world. Christianity has always been the enemy of intellectualism. Martin Luther, who came up with the idea of predestination and divine grace while seated on his toilet, said that reason was the "greatest enemy" of faith.
The last official state religion, the Massachusetts version of Congregationalism, was disenfranchised in 1833. On the frontier, itinerant preachers brought the Word to pioneers, miners, and cowboys. Most towns were too small at first to support a variety of Protestant churches, so doctrinal differences became less important, setting the stage for today's megachurches.
In 1859, Darwin's Origin of Species turned the Christian world upside down. The sciences took off, and the Higher Criticism, which advocated studying the Bible as if it were any other book, led to more liberal churches, chiefly on the East Coast. More literalist groups tried to put the brakes on around the turn of the century with the publication of the Schofield Bible, full of commentaries on various books, including the weird reading of Revelation that underlies Protestant Fundamentalism, and a series of pamphlets called The Fundamentals. "Mainstream" churches read the Bible metaphorically and symbolically in light of new scientific knowledge, while the Fundamentalists insisted on Biblical inerrancy and considered the Bible a reliable guide to religion, history, and all knowledge. Fundamentalist offers assurances of eternal life, so its followers "know" that they are saved. If one part of the Bible, though, is shown to be false, then the rest of it is threatened, so Fundamentalists stubbornly defended inerrancy, deciding that when science and the Book disagree, science must be wrong. Some states passed laws forbidding the teaching of evolution; such laws were tested beginning in Tennessee in 1925, and eventually discarded. When SCOTUS ordered the integration of American schools in 1954, Southerners fled the mainstream churches in droves, setting up their own churches and church schools for whites only. A number of the big evangelical leaders got started in the 1950s, and the Fundamentalists took over the Southern Baptist Convention in the late 70s. Jesus Freaks appeared, and the Fundamentalists instituted voter registration drives. They built "universities" and gave each other phony degrees in "prophesy" and "evangelism." They wrote many books. They have learned to speak a sort of pseudo-academic language, and they have built scientific "institutes" replete with long lists of "Fellows," aping the academic world and achieving credibility among millions of Americans.
Christianity has long tried to suppress knowledge. Listen to them debate, and it becomes immediately clear that they can't tell a fact from a fart. Unfortunately, most people can't, even pretty well educated ones. And education in America has become one vast vocational school. Many people graduate from college with degrees in computer science, electrical engineering, or education, for example, with only a few hours of literature, history, philosophy, and rhetoric under their belts, and nothing at all on religion. Many college graduates are quite weak in critical thinking, so it's hard for them to distinguish between research and quote mining or between science and religion. Many Americans think schools should "teach the controversy" between evolution and creation science because the Fundamentalists have become so adept at creating false equivalencies and manufactured controversies. When Fundamentalists argue about evolution, they inevitably veer off into abiogenesis and throw up false analogies as scientific "proof." What they refuse to admit and many Americans fail to grasp is that creationism, whether we call it creation science or intelligent design, has already been exposed to scientific method and has been soundly refuted again and again. They would like for us to treat it as science, not realizing that we already have, and it has been weighed and measured and found wanting. They argue that science can't say for certain how life began, so therefore God must have started it, a logical fallacy called a false dilemma, as if we must choose to believe science or the Bible. It's also an argument from ignorance, an "I don't understand it so God must have done it" stance. Further, if science is to be discounted because it doesn't yet have everything right, then Biblical cosmology must also be discounted because it has never even come close to being right about anything.
Consider this bumper sticker I saw recently in central Georgia: "God said it, I believe it, that's the end of it."
And that's about as deep as it gets.
Sorry about the rant. I've been a bit peeved lately about the whole situation. And I veered off topic, so:
The Hebrews actually came up with a great idea. They were surrounded by polytheistic idol worshipers. Gods were usually associated with particular cities or "nations," and when one nation conquered another, it was seen as evidence that the winners' god was greater than that of the losers. The Hebrews thought their God was the strongest, but as time went on, they insisted he was omniscient and omnipotent. (Not omnibenevolent, though.) So when shit happened, they didn't credit it to the power of someone else's god; they believed that when they suffered, it was because they had screwed up, so Yahweh caused a plague or a drought or an invasion by the Assyrians or Philistines. Their gods weren't stronger; Yahweh was letting them win to punish his people. The sins of some of the people were enough to bring the wrath of God down on ALL the people. (The Romans distrusted both Jews and Christians because they wouldn't take part in pagan sacrifices, which might bring the wrath of whichever god or goddess they considered the protector of their city.) Shift this idea to modern America, and it's easy to see that Hurricane Katrina, for example, hit New Orleans because it was a sinful city, or that the Iraq war, as Fred Phelps likes to say, is God's punishment for America's tolerance toward gays. If we establish a theocracy, they reason, then God's law--or their version of it--will be kept and America, God bless her, will endure. It's sort of a theocratic retelling of "Horton Hears a Who."
Craig, that was a well-written piece. Thanks for preparing it so well.
Thank science for atheism.