The View From 1776

Coming Back To God

Anyone who has studied the Bible’s Old Testament knows what happens to a people who forget God and come to believe pridefully in their self-sufficiency.  The United States has long since reached that dangerous point.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/30 at 01:39 AM
  1. These reminders of the importance of spirituality and the benefits of religion are timely. It is unfortunate that the secular intelligentsias that have become our new ruling class seek to remove all vestiges of Faith from American affairs. But there is good news--the atheists' efforts to expunge God may be thwarted by a fundamental element in our "human nature."

    It turns out that a native spirituality and altruism is not a mere superstition but is part of our core biology. The fact that President Obama can't understand why we "cling to our faith" is a sign that he is missing an important element of what it means to be "human."

    Dr. George E. Vaillant has found after a lifetime of studying groups of individuals throughout their lives that those who deploy the largely involuntary compassion and empathic mechanisms of humor, altruism, and love enjoy far happier lives than those who deploy the less mature and self-centered coping mechanisms. He writes of the need for adaptation as we grow from immaturity to maturity. The human brain design has a unique capacity for emotions like love, hope, joy, forgiveness and compassion and encouraging those responses in our lives builds both maturity and resilience.

    Vaillant asserts that there is a
    Posted by bill greene  on  08/30  at  10:10 AM
  2. Uh, dude above me, there's some harsh statistical facts you need to be made aware of: There are around a billion atheists or irreligious people in the world. This is a serious blow to any neurological argument for faith. The fact that most countries with high rates of organic atheism score very high on the human development index and treat the less fortunate people in their societies quite well through well-paid social programs also destroys this notion that the religious somehow have a monopoly on compassion.

    Also, the philosophers you listed (et alia) are more important to how our society has developed than possibly anyone else. Indeed, the science of psychology that you're referencing was born out of philosophy, along with many of the other sciences. These "secular intellectuals" are the reason you have your freedom today, as most religious people have historically been fine living under the rule of a king, and many of the revolutionaries responsible for our own government and way of life would have described themselves as "secular intellectuals". Thomas Jefferson is probably the most glaring example.

    This also rips a big hole in your theory that "secular intellectuals" are here to destroy society after the "common people" create it. Our own society was created by "secular intellectuals" when a group of "secular intellectuals" got together, organized a revolution, and wrote a secular, humanist agenda called the Constitution.

    Dealing with the article now, you seem to be forgetting this thing called the establishment clause as well as the Treaty of Tripoli. I hope you're familiar with the establishment clause and are simply forgetting it. That's the bit about how the United States doesn't support the establishment of any one religion, and people of any and all faiths (including no faith) are welcome in America.

    In the Treaty of Tripoli, I'd like to draw your attention to article 11:

    "Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/30  at  12:21 PM
  3. Ned,

    You adress your comments to the "dude above me, which leaves me uncertain whether you are speaking to me, the author of the post, or God, Himself.

    For my part, I never suggested turning back the clock "in time" but merely pointed out the interesting biological facts about the brain's affinity for compassion. Read Vaillant if you question that.

    In passing I might suggest that the Treaty of Tripoli is not "at the core of American society" as you unequivocally state. Indeed, very few people, even among the 1 billion atheists you refer to, have ever heard of it. (That is partly explained by the fact that treaties are the work of diplomats quite out of touch with reality, and signed by folks who have little intention of observing their provisions.)But the treaty does not support your point anyway. You seem to miss the point that while our Founders wisely avoided annoiting any single Faith as a favorite, they did not take a stand against religion. Clearly, their demand for religious freedom was an expression of how important faith was to them, and not motivated by an antipathy to religion. The need for a separation of church and state had been a uniquely European invention dating from Grosseteste's role at the earliest English universities in the 12th century. That is why "our" science thereafter outperformed all other regions of the world.

    As for the secular intellectuals and progress, think again. Most of the carnage of the 20th Century was their doing--Marx, Mao, Pol Pot, Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, The Japanese military, etc. Conversely, the struggle for democracy and personal liberty in England during the 16th and 17th century was the work of Puritans and Quakers. The latter two groups represented a large portion of the American settlers and established the spiritual nature of this country's people. John Paine's and Sam Adams demands for freedom were echoed in every church by the parsons who lent their religious platforms to the struggle.

    Cokie Roberts recent book "Founding Mothers" is a testament to the large role that women played in the American Revolution, their motivating religious convictions, and the beneficial influence they had on the Founding Fathers. Aside from Abigail Adams, few were educated. James Madison's wife, for one, was a Payne, all devout Quakers--Her dad, John, "due to religious scruples about the institution of slavery," had freed his slaves and moved from Virginia to Philadelphia and became a starch merchant.(page 206) Indeed, her husband James was one of the few Founders who could be called an intellectual, being a Witherspoon product from Princeton. BTW Witherspoon had left Scotland in protest to their elite's secular tendencies--Hume included--and subsequently led a very religiously oriented campus reflecting his Presbyterian faith.

    Most Founders were merchants, farmers, lawyers with little formal education. Franklin was apprenticed out at fourteen and received little schooling. They were all workers, and though intelligent, they had practical minds--the opposite of "intellectuals" who love abstract theories, grand plans, and have little experience of direct involvement in the real world.

    Finally, there may be a billion atheists for all I know, but that doesn't make them right--just dangerous.

    As Uncle Wadje Radzewicz used to say, "It's not so much that I'm "for" God, as I am terrified of those who must deny Him."
    Posted by bill greene  on  08/30  at  03:06 PM
  4. Oh I was address you as well as the writer of the article. I wasn't addressing God because I do not believe in imaginary things.

    There are a billion atheists. It rivals Islam for the second largest religious group in the world. As a group, they are no more or less dangerous than any other group, except atheists tend not to collect into groups and hence cannot be presented as a unified front. I would suggest that this makes atheists decidedly less dangerous, than for example, Muslims and Christians, both of which have a long history of declaring holy wars on other people and sometimes even members of their own religion. Atheists, by definition, cannot declare a holy war. In this way, Atheists are a much "safer" group of people than religious people.

    I think you need to look up the word "intellectual" or operationally define what you think it means. I think your definition is divorced from what it actually means. Benjamin Franklin would qualify as an intellectual, despite your attempts to turn the word into a pejorative.

    As for your claim that secular intellectuals are responsible for all of the carnage in the 20th century, this is completely unfounded. Hitler, for example, was a Roman Catholic (and never excommunicated). This means that Hitler isn't a "secular progressive". As for the other people on your list, Stalin for example, did evil things, yes, but not because he was an atheist. Correlation does not equal causality. What about the evil caused by religious people in the past hundred years? It wasn't a bunch of secular progressives who flew the planes into the twin towers, and secular progressives weren't the ones building roadside bombs in Iraq.

    Also, on the Hitler thing, are you aware of this thing called Godwin's law? Not all atheists are Nazis and in fact, I think most Nazis would have described themselves as Christians. Remember all those Germanic crosses they were so big into.

    As for the Treaty of Tripoli, and treaties in general, I think you really don't understand how political science or diplomacy works, nor how the entire United States legal system is set up. Treaties are important, they're signed into law, and have had resounding consequences throughout history. The Treaty of Tripoli is at the core of American society, and is a very important legal document. Many, many court cases have cited it. American legal history, and therefore the American legal system, have been profoundly changed by it. Remember, it was signed into law by the same founding fathers we're talking about.

    Your outright fear of atheists is an example of gross religious intolerance. The same sort of religious intolerance you claim that the founders of this country were dedicated to prevent because of their faith, and yet, seemingly because of your faith, you would love to practice the same religious intolerance they fought and railed against.

    You're forgetting about the Enlightenment, and the role rationality played in that movement. That's where Atheism first came into the fold, and a lot of atheist ideas about the role of religion in a society from the Enlightenment are the intellectual antecedents to the religious freedoms established later. Of course, these early atheist thoughts are also the intellectual antecedents to our modern day conception of the scientific method.

    Of course, it isn't so much that all atheists deny god anyways. Many are simply apathetic, some are naturalists who find supernatural explanations and answers to be unsatisfactory. Occasionally, yes, there are militant atheists who believe that religion is a mind poison, but the majority aren't like that. Furthermore, anyone who isn't inundated by or introduced to religion would at default be atheists. You are an atheist as well, at least in the fact that you do not believe in any Hindu gods, nor Greek gods, Shintoist or any other religious group's deity or deities. Atheists just believe in one less fairy tale than you do.

    Organized religion isn't about faith, it's about control. There's only ten commandments because ten is a satisfying number (the ten commandments themselves being a woefully inadequate and misguided moral code anyways). Faith is a silly enterprise. If you strip away god and an afterlife, nothing changes about the world.

    What is asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence. The evidence for the existence of God is non-existent, and in light of this fact, it seems like a good idea to ignore the question of the supernatural entirely. Focus on more practical things, like feeding seven billion people, as opposed to appeasing and worshiping imaginary men in the sky.

    Besides, since you're so into history, you should realize that religion has been losing this fight for a long time. The number of atheists in the world rises every day as more and more people find reason and rationality to be a more satisfying answer than god. Some day, I hope, humanity will grow up and leave its Bronze Age superstitions in the past. Perhaps the we can become truly altruistic and get over the Us vs. Them mentality that religion forces upon humanity at large.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/30  at  04:40 PM
  5. You are operating under some seriously confused assumptions, Ned. The history is as plain as the words desrcribing the basic principles laid out in the organic law spelling out the American idea. The Declaration, the Constitution, The Articles, the state constitutions, the Northwest Ordinances, Wasington's Farewell Address, etc., De Tocqueville describes the country not far removed from the founding era. The place of religious sentiment as the basis for a properly formed morality allowing for 'self' government as opposed to the heavy handed top down coercion necessary for those unaccustomed to truly governoing themselves is the point. Fashionable sophistry is not sufficient. Those unable to control themselves will need to be controlled through the coercive power of the state. If rights are not sourced in the creator, they come from the state and there are no absolutes aside from the coercive power of that state. No thank you.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/30  at  05:58 PM
  6. A little humor: "Atheists, by definition, cannot declare a holy war. In this way, Atheists are a much
    Posted by bill greene  on  08/30  at  06:51 PM
  7. Hitler was a Roman Catholic attempting to exterminate the Jews (and Communism). He doesn't count as an atheist. By your "coincidence = causality" argument, he did this because he was Roman Catholic. Or because he was short. Or because he had a stupid mustache.

    By your "coincidence = causality" argument, all of those Catholic clergy who were found to be pedophiles, were fucking children in the ass because they were Catholic. Are all Catholics a bunch of child molesters? No, probably not, but by your logic, the ones that are do so because they are Catholic.

    "All the major wars", again, not true. Starting from the beginning of the century, we have a series of imperial wars, which get topped off by World War 1. World War 1 being notably not caused by atheists or really having much to do with atheists in the first place. In fact, a bunch of atheists in Russia intervene and help to bring an end to the war.

    World War 2 starts in when Japan seizes Manchuria from China, the Japanese themselves seem to worship the emperor and the idea of a "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere" as opposed to being actual atheists. They wouldn't have thought of themselves like that as it wasn't important. There intention was not largely religious in nature. Hitler (Roman Catholic) starts the war off in Europe. He invades the USSR, and Stalin responds (albeit not in the timeliest fashion). While Stalin is an atheist, he responds not because he is an atheist, but because he is the head of the country. Any Christian, Muslim or Hindu would have done the same.

    Then we have the Cold War, which itself is a competition between communism and capitalism, two political and economic philosophies. Neither one is by nature religious, although the communist tendency to outlaw religion is largely to prevent the church from competing with the state, and because the church is made up of a bunch of freeloaders who pay nothing into the system anyways. It isn't done because they're a bunch of atheists, it's because they don't want their government to have to compete with the authority of the church. It isn't about religion, it's about power. Capitalism is not inherently Christian, as the concept predates Christianity. The Romans were capitalists, and also by a certain standard atheists. Your modern conception of religion would be nothing like their conception of religion. In fact, they didn't even have the concept of "religion" as you know it, they had cults, although again, not as you understand the concept.

    So the Cold War isn't particularly a religious fight, although Christians in America tried to paint it as one. If you would like to include what was happening in China as part of the Cold War, this again does not have its roots in religion, unless you consider how fucked up the missionaries and Christian Europe had treated the rest of the world.

    In fact, to understand the last century, what seems like the sudden dramatic rise of atheism to power, you'd have to understand the centuries before where Christians basically traveled the globe, raping and pillaging everything they found.

    The Conquistadors are possibly some of the greatest butchers to ever live. All of them were Catholic. They systematically destroyed a multitude of different peoples and cultures. The sheer amount of death and carnage these Christians caused is difficult to calculate, but easily surpasses the deaths caused by any government headed up any atheist ever. One Conquistador was famous for cutting off the feet off the local natives whom he had enslaved. The man was heavily Catholic, like all Conquistadors, they believed they had god on their side. By your logic, they caused all of this butchery because they were Christians.

    Also, the Conquistadors help to set up this big system of Christian European empires, which slowly lead up to World War 1 and World War 2. So really it cannot be atheists at all, it has to be the Christians who are responsible. Again, by your logic, they did this because they were Christians.

    Let's discuss your ten commandments. The Bible says ten, but makes around 14 or 15 imperatives depending on which version you read (Are you reading from Exodus or Deuteronomy?). Here's the most popular twelve they agree on (The Word of God is seemingly not so good with math):
    I am the Lord your God
    You shall have no other gods before me
    You shall not make for yourself an idol
    Do not take the name of the Lord in vain
    Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy
    Honor your father and mother
    You shall not murder
    You shall not commit adultery
    You shall not steal
    You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor
    You shall not covet your neighbor's wife
    You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor

    The first six are needless appeals to authority, but poorly written so that there are obvious loopholes. It says, "take no gods *before* me", which means anything can be placed on the same level as god, man included, without breaking the commandment.

    The next one, the murder one, isn't followed well at all by religious people and Christians in particular. The Crusades being a big example of how seriously the don't murder thing is taken by Christianity. Maybe it should have said, "Don't murder anyone who believes in the same invisible skyman that you do"?

    Also, this commandment seemingly does not apply to god, what with the flood and the various other genocides he commits or are committed in his name as recorded in the Old Testament.

    The next four are all about dishonesty, and I can agree with them. However, the adultery thing doesn't seem to really apply to god again, as he knocks up the poor virgin Mary and the two of them aren't married. Well, if you believe the story anyways, the archeological evidence that she was fucked up a Roman soldier named Pantera is somewhat concrete and more than a little more plausible than the immaculate conception.

    The last two are just stupid. As for coveting thy neighbor's wife, a man needs something to jerk off to, doesn't he? The ten commandments don't explicitly forbid masturbation, unless you want to count that as committing adultery with oneself. As for coveting thy neighbor's goods, that's how the economy works.

    Now, with this fine moral code in mind, I can rape so long as it isn't adultery, so marital rape is fine. I can beat my children as badly as I want provided I don't murder them or "steal" the use of their legs. I have no responsibility to feed or care for my children, but they must honor me all the same. I can torture people, provided they don't die and I don't "steal" any body part, for that matter, I can walk around and assault anybody I want to, provided I don't kill them or steal from them. There are no rules concerning violence so long as it isn't fatal. I can mutilate and destroy any animal I want, provided it isn't a person and doesn't belong to someone else. I can defecate in the street, provided my mother and father don't tell me not to. I can own and trade slaves too, and provided I'm not lying about somebody else, I can lie all I want to about anything I want. Of course, if and when the Nazis came knocking on my door, I would be obligated to tell them about the Jews in the attic, as I would be bearing false witness against them otherwise.

    Wow, that sounds like one of the single worst moral codes ever written. Why I would swear allegiance to that when the much broader and simpler, "be nice to people" covers more bases and doesn't have so many loopholes.

    By your definition of intellectual, every teacher, scribe or other academic wasted their lives and did nothing, as they were "second-hand dealers of ideas". Where did those grand inventors learn what they knew before they made their inventions? Even without formal education, they must have read books, and without writers, where do the books come from? Theory is just as important as application simply because you have to have theory before you can have application. It isn't like Morse just sat down and invented the telegraph, he had to read about the work of people before him, many of whom would qualify as intellectuals by your definition.

    The antecedents of every invention begin with someone's ideas. To just dismiss this as unimportant is, frankly, stupid. The entire frame of the American government came from philosophers and intellectuals arguing. John Locke didn't do much of anything apart from write, and without his writings the American government wouldn't exist as we know it. John Stuart Mill basically came up with our conception of justice, he never got to apply it, but his ideas are still very important. Without John Stuart Mill's writings the world wouldn't be the same today.

    Bear in mind, it was the printing press that allowed for the industrial revolution, that weapon of intellectuals to preserve knowledge that enabled industrialization at all. To pretend otherwise is patently absurd.

    Barack Obama organized people to get himself elected President, I don't think that qualifies as doing nothing. Furthermore, the guy before him wouldn't even qualify as an intellectual, he only got there because his rotten grandfather was a banker and a senator. Barack Obama literally came from next to nothing, and worked his whole life to get where he is today. Being a community organizer isn't an easy job, especially in a city like Chicago where politics and community have had a century long love affair with organized crime. Your claims that he's done nothing but write, and that this is a bad thing is made hilarious by the fact you're trying to sell a book made up of your own absurd theories.

    There's this really important founding father named Thomas Jefferson. Maybe you heard of him? He wrote the Declaration of Independence. Not only did Jefferson believe that the United States government was to be a secular government, but he spent most of his time reading and writing and being an intellectual. He had no disdain for philosophers, and neither did Franklin. Both would have at the time been well respected for their intellectual abilities and intellectual pursuits (and Franklin his knack for French whores).

    Since you don't know, an intellectual is just somebody who thinks. That's more or less the common definition of it, no matter how you choose to pollute the word. Why you have some grudge against intellectuals is beyond my comprehension, and displays a kind of profound ignorance about the world. Perhaps you fear that they are smarter or more educated than you are, and you resent them for this because you are jealous. I don't know, because your hatred of academia seems entirely unfounded.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/30  at  09:12 PM
  8. Ned, Ned, hold on there. As RR would say, "There you go again." Exagerating and twisting everything all around.

    I hate no one--not even academia in general. I bear no grudges. And, I have outgrown most jealousy and fears. You're very animated comments stray far from any logical discourse. But, I will comment on one very common mistaken point you made that many well meaning people share with you:

    "The entire frame of the American government came from philosophers and intellectuals arguing."

    That is a myth developed by academics who love intellectuals. John Locke is their darling because he wrote huge confusing tomes that they alone can claim to decipher to college freshman. And, somewhere in the hundreds of pages he wrote there is some call for democratic type freedoms. Explaining such philosophers is a professor's meal ticket so they have promoted the hell out of him and other abstract writers who cannot be understood- Has anyone ever actually read more than the assigned excerpts of Hobbes,Locke, Hegel, Rousseau, Montesquieu, etc.?? No--because it makes little sense, is contradictory, and pointless.

    If you read the Federalist Papers you will see that the Founders basis for the Constitution was actual past practice-- not theory, and Locke was never mentioned:

    The democracy developed in Athens was well know to the Founders. It had been already foreshadowed during the preceding centuries by earlier free Greek and Phoenician societies. The various forms of government that were employed in those pre-Christian days were referred to in some detail by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay thousands of years later when arguing the need for the American states to ratify the newly written Constitution of the United States: The Federalist Papers appeared as campaign pieces in colonial newspapers and journals in 1787 and 1788. They were designed to explain and justify the detailed mechanics of the Constitution. The primary issues at stake were the degree of national power versus states rights, the powers and separation of the two legislative branches and the separation of executive and judicial branches. Religious freedom and an enabled electorate were givens--subject to minimal debate.
    There were many past societies whose experience could be drawn upon. They were illustrative case studies revealing the relative merits of different approaches to self-government. In number 45 of the Federalist papers both the Achaen Confederacy and the Lycian Confederacy are referred to as federations that reserved considerable power to the central government and yet did not
    Posted by bill greene  on  08/30  at  11:01 PM
  9. "I hate no one--not even academia in general. I bear no grudges. And, I have outgrown most jealousy and fears."

    Says the man who earlier erroneously claimed atheists were responsible for all of the major wars in the past century. Also, you claim that intellectuals destroy societies, how that can be understood to be anything but hate or fear is beyond me.

    "Has anyone ever actually read more than the assigned excerpts of Hobbes,Locke, Hegel, Rousseau, Montesquieu, etc.?? No--because it makes little sense, is contradictory, and pointless."

    Well, by your own admission, you haven't read them, so I really can't hope for you to understand them. I'm sorry the concepts they present are so alien and confusing to you. As for being presented to college freshman, I was introduced to Locke and Hobbes in the seventh grade. They both were more or less easy to understand and I got what they were getting at. But I would describe myself as an intellectual, and according to your thesis, I therefore aim to destroy this society.

    I understand that application is different from theory. However, they would have all read those theories and they would all be salient in their minds (by your own admission they did, whether they found them of immediate practical value or not). Application is simply trying to put theory into practice. Theory rarely if ever works out perfectly, but nonetheless, it is one of the intellectual stepping stones towards application which is what you keep pretending isn't true. The debate itself and merely talking about it is useful. Eventually with enough debate and thinking about things, you end up with something you can put into practice.

    Democracy grew organically in the Americas and Enlightened Europe for several hundred years. It wasn't like the founding fathers suddenly decided we were going to have democracy. It took a lot of people a lot of time to arrive at that conclusion and make it happen, and they arrived there because a lot of intellectuals wrote and debate and discussed it.

    Obviously things didn't work out exactly like Locke (or any other philosopher) said, but nonetheless his basic ideas were important. That's why the founding fathers all read them. You're trying to present a disconnect that simply isn't there. Even if the work of philosophers isn't perfectly applicable to reality, it is still very important as a thought exercise.

    I don't know what I'm arguing with you anymore. Your own thesis is meaningless and will be passed by the world at large, while kids will still study Locke and Hobbes as the philosophical background to the development of our own government. Academia will continue until it doesn't, and then we'll have another fun Dark Age. There will be no new inventions, and the "Common People" can go back to burning witches, dying of preventable illnesses and generally being ignorant about the world. The intelligentsia that you so loathe will do what they did in the last Dark Age as learned monks who attempted to preserve what knowledge remained.

    You keep using the word "intelligentsia", but the people you're describing, the founding fathers, would have all been of a learned social class (otherwise known as the intelligentsia). That's how they knew all of the reading and writing necessary to come up with our government. Remember that literacy at the time was nowhere near universal. It's also why they only gave white men who owned property the vote, as they largely believed only the intelligentsia could vote responsibly.

    Also, intelligentsia is already plural as it describes a group of people. There's no need to put an S at the end of it. Initially I thought this was just a typo, but you keep writing it this way. As the word describes a particular social class, when you try to make it a plural, you make it sound like there is more than one group of intelligentsia within a society. It's like saying bourgeoises or proletariats. It just doesn't make any sense.

    I noticed you ignored everything I said regarding religion, which really is the topic at hand. I'll just assume from your silence on the matter that you have nothing more to say.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/31  at  12:19 AM
  10. "you claim that intellectuals destroy societies, how that can be understood to be anything but hate or fear is beyond me"

    Ned, There you go again! You draw the above erroneous conclusion because you are a fanatic and an intellectual. Ideas and concepts are more important than reality to you. That is why if someone disagrees with your concepts they appear in your mind to be mad, hateful, and fearful!

    Rational and objective people can agree to disagree. They can accept diverse opinion and debate them rationally. "Intellectuals," however, as described by Sowell and Johnson, are not able to enter logical debate due to their passion.

    Tigers eat people and tear apart their prey but I do not hate them--I understand them. I avoid them and I would not want them in charge of America.

    Islamic terrorists massacre innocent people but I do not hate them. I am prudently fearful of them, and again I would not want them in control of America--Same goes for Communists, dictators, all aristocrats, and fascists. Like many soft-science intelligentsia groups, those aforementioned tigers, terrorists, etc., are all dangerous threats because they are motivated by non-Judeo-Christian morals.

    The intellectuals actually "worship" their own intellect and instincts! It is an arrogance born of nothing but held with religious zeal. Many scoffed at religious Faith, but made the leap of faith into Stalin's arms when they endorsed his Soviet Communism. They have reverse thinking--they make the leap of faith for important real world politics, but deny and such "leap" in spiritual matters.

    So, it is the unreasoning fanatical passion that marks you--Just read Podhoretz (a self admitted intellectual who switched from radical leftist to neo-conservative!):

    "An intellectual. . .takes ideas as seriously as an orthodox religious person takes . . doctrine or dogma. . .Not for nothing have we been called 'the clerisy' of a secular age, and not for nothing are we unable to live amicably together when disagreements arise over ideas that are so vitally important to us."
    (From "Ex-Friends")

    That is why you accuse opponents as hateful and fearful. It is not your fault, I do not blame, you or dislike you. In fact I enjoy your seriousness of purpose--you are just stuck in a rut--it is the way your brain is wired and you cannot really help it unless you open your mind to all arguments. It might help to read Rossiter's "The Liberal Mind--The Psychological Causes of Political Madness."
    Posted by bill greene  on  08/31  at  08:47 AM
  11. One final point on the common sense of our Founders who were definitely not zealots or intellectuals in pursuit of some theory or utopia. They were pragmatic people aware of psadst governments and their successes and failures:

    In The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, Bernard Bailyn suggests the Founders' documents arose from "a massive seemingly random eclecticism." In spite of references to theoretical arguments, the main impetus was probably simple hatred of King George and Parliament's oppressive rules and taxation. However, the colonists "liked to display authorities for their arguments.... But this display of classical authors is deceptive.... Often the citations appear to have been dragged in as window dressing.

    So Jonathan Mayhew casually lumped Plato with Demosthenes and Cicero as the ancients who had initiated him 'in the doctrines of civil liberty.' Oxenbridge Thatcher too thought Plato had been a liberty-loving revolutionary, while Jefferson, who actually read the Dialogues, discovered in them only 'the sophisms, futilities and incomprehensibilities of a foggy mind.' "

    The framers of America's new government relied, not on philosophical theories or abstract reasoning, but on practical sense, their immediate needs, and the common history of free institutions. They relied on "precedent and to an unbroken tradition evolving from time immemorial.... And they assumed [that] the accumulation of the ages, the burden of inherited custom, contained within it greater wisdom than any man or group of men could devise by the power of reason...."

    The miracle of America's creation
    Posted by bill greene  on  08/31  at  09:48 AM
  12. Re: As many as a million people could attend the rally.

    Got any NFL predictions to share?
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/31  at  01:58 PM
  13. Well, you're a religious idiot, so I have to expect hypocrisy, some hand-waving and some stumbles with logic.

    Allow me to paraphrase what you've said,

    "I don't hate or fear anybody! You're the one who hates and fears people! Because you're an intellectual! I don't hate Islamic terrorists, I just fear them. Here's a list of some more groups of people I fear and think are bad for America."

    Do you experience cognitive dissonance?

    Then while reading your list, I noticed "aristocrats" and couldn't help, but start laughing. The aristocracy is in charge, and they always have been. The founding fathers you love would have all been wealthy landowners, and part of the aristocracy. They would have also been part of the intelligentsia, another inconvenient fact you carefully ignore.

    As for your Judeo-Christian values, you do realize that these are the same values that Islam operates under, right? I've already discussed at length about how these Judeo-Christian values are a shitty set of moral principles, but again, you just ignore this and pretend it wasn't said.

    For a guy who claims there is some grand conspiracy in academia, that Barack Obama has a messiah complex, and the intelligentsia destroy societies, you sure like to claim other people are a bunch of illogical fanatics. Your entire position is illogical and frankly untenable. This is why when I've poked holes in your argument simply on the basis of cause and effect, you go back into your argument from authority, name-dropping, "If I can cite more stuff than you I win" style of debate, and ignore all of the problems I've pointed out.

    The name and quote dropping thing normally would support an argument (although in an extremely lazy way, really only suitable in such quantity in a historiography because then you're presenting someone else's ideas anyways, and as you don't actually provide any real citations, you could just be making these quotes up), but your argument itself is so illogical and poorly formed and based on such a biased view of the evidence that even with the textual support you've offered, it falls flat and you write hilarious things.

    "The miracle of America
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/31  at  02:06 PM
  14. What's up with the anger Ned , old boy? It's seems that it's all about some rather unique and personlaized definitions and categories as far as you are concerned. "Intellectuals", "LIberals", "Progressives", "Conservatives", are only words that have a particular meaning for you although that which you attach to them may only apply to the more recent past and are in fact simply caricatures. If you would look at these things a bit more deeply you might find them to be more nuanced and complex than they appear to you at present. These ideas have histories, they have evolved, if you will. They are concepts which sprung from the French Revolition and have been co-opted, over the years, by many who wish to sow confusion. If you want to bring the founding generation into the discussion and you would like to employ these ideological categories for purposes of simplifying things through equivocation go right ahead but be aware how you appear to those more fully grounded in the history of ideas. You don't come off well. The political continuum might be a good place for you to start, you know, the old 'left/right' nonsense originating in the stalinist era. Who, by the way, was an atheist.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/31  at  07:34 PM
  15. I have trouble taking you seriously, Tom. Frankly it sounds like you're trying to troll me with the last bit about Stalin. We've gone over that. It really isn't that important to why Stalin did the things he did, and if you'd like to pretend it is, then you also need to talk about Hitler being a Catholic.

    Yes, I am well aware that these words have changed in meaning over time, but I don't think I've misused any of them. Granted, everyone has their own idea of what being a conservative or being a liberal means, largely because one can be a social liberal and an economic conservative at the same time. If you'd like to debate the usefulness of these labels, by all means let's debate them, but don't pretend like the modern usages are suddenly off limits because you find my use of these words inconvenient.

    Also, I'm not the one misusing the word "intellectual" here, and fundamentally trying to change its definition in this weird reverse of the No True Scotsman fallacy.

    Really though, is that your problem with my argument? Semantics?
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/31  at  09:07 PM
  16. Sorry Ned. Not semantics but an agreed upon usage of language with a pedigree of at least 20 decades might be a good beginning.Deconstructionism is dumb. You would agree that uderstanding or at least being familiar with the history of ideas or ideology is more than 'semantics". Stalin was not the point, much as Hitler's baptism as a child has no point. The stalinist misrepresentation of the political continuum or the simple minded "left/right" view of the world as it stands today is the point. Stlain was an atheist as was Hitler, Pol Pot, Robespierre, marat, mao, casro etc., most atheists started out baptized. Why is that so important to you? Actions make the atheist.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/31  at  10:46 PM
  17. Look, I understand the point you're trying to make, but the whole thing is nit-picky and kind of boring to argue about. Yes, I understand that in the original context, conservative and liberal have largely different meanings than they do now. Would you have preferred if I specified exactly which of the many types of liberalism and conservatism I'm referring to?

    The trouble is that you're not even starting to argue with the bulk of what I've said. You're dwelling on is more or less semantics.

    Hitler wasn't an atheist. Hitler hated atheism because it was associated in his mind with communism. This distinction is important to me because it happens to be the truth.

    You're trying to white wash here by only mentioning "atheists" who have done wrong. I could not provide an exhaustive list of all the religious dictators in history of the world, but I'd get to put Adolf Hitler and Kim Jong-Il near the top.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/31  at  11:46 PM
  18. God is almighty and we should follow his guidings
    Posted by Mike  on  09/07  at  07:28 AM
  19. This has been, obviously, a good and provocative post. Thank you Mr. B.

    There is something about "religion" that brings out the passion in some people. That may be why my grandmother outlawed politics and religion at the dinner table.

    It is interesting to note that in the above 18 comments, the most heated passion, zeal, and moral and intellectual certainty was displayed by the atheist. Now atheists are supposed to rely on human reason, scientific analysis, cool hard thinking, whereas the religious are supposed to be off in some utopian fantasy land supported only by emotion. But it appears that the opposite is the case:

    It is actually the atheists who are off on some quest for something to believe in. They have to develop some certainty and security in their political and existential beliefs. They eschew religion and seek solace in material, economic, and political "ideas." They ignore history, past societies, past lives, past successes and failures, and, with the arrogance born of an uncommon belief in their own mental supremacy, they preach, even hate, those who have taken a different path. (That defines true bigotry, by the way)

    An atheist will never understand my friend's priest who advised him that: "Life is a divine mystery to be savored, not a riddle to be solved."

    That is why Mike is right--we should follow God's guidings.

    Otherwise we are doomed to follow some idiot demagogue or philosopher--That is the choice! There is no other way.
    Posted by bill greene  on  09/07  at  09:30 AM
  20. HAHAHAHA, an ad hominem to finish? Wow Bill, you're one classy piece of shit.

    Your god is imaginary. Read the bible again. The god described isn't even a good god.

    Nothing wrong with certainty, especially since your god position lacks any evidence and thus can be dismissed without further review.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/12  at  11:39 PM
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