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Alternative Constitutional systems


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Bryan has posted on another topic criticizing the flaws in our current legal system. He's not entirely wrong. There are flaws in every legal system, and ours is no exception.

However, as I pointed out, it is not enough merely to criticize; one must also propose an alternative. So I am opening this topic to invite Bryan and others, who think the current legal relationship between the state and religion is not satisfactory, to offer an alternative. Please be complete and specific.

Winston Churchhill said that democracy is the worst form of government --- except for all the others. I doubt that Bryan, or anyone else, has a better system than the one we have. But if they do, let's hear it.

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Guest 2smart4u
Bryan has posted on another topic criticizing the flaws in our current legal system. He's not entirely wrong. There are flaws in every legal system, and ours is no exception.

However, as I pointed out, it is not enough merely to criticize; one must also propose an alternative. So I am opening this topic to invite Bryan and others, who think the current legal relationship between the state and religion is not satisfactory, to offer an alternative. Please be complete and specific.

Winston Churchhill said that democracy is the worst form of government --- except for all the others. I doubt that Bryan, or anyone else, has a better system than the one we have. But if they do, let's hear it.

Paulie, remember "All work and no play makes Paulie a dull boy".

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Bryan has posted on another topic criticizing the flaws in our current legal system. He's not entirely wrong. There are flaws in every legal system, and ours is no exception.

However, as I pointed out, it is not enough merely to criticize; one must also propose an alternative.

So you concede my point on each of the criticisms, then?

:)

So I am opening this topic to invite Bryan and others, who think the current legal relationship between the state and religion is not satisfactory, to offer an alternative. Please be complete and specific.

Winston Churchhill said that democracy is the worst form of government --- except for all the others. I doubt that Bryan, or anyone else, has a better system than the one we have. But if they do, let's hear it.

Heh. I've already answered this question. I favor the United States federalist system that existed prior to the courts using the 14th Amendment to widely erode local autonomy from federal mandates. That's the system the US operated under prior to the key court decisions. If Paul doesn't like it then the grand success of the US that he claims for his own POV stretches maybe a century.

Whoop-de-doo.

The real purpose of this thread is to allow Paul to distract from his inability to answer the criticisms I made. Check it out--even though he apparently cannot address any of them he declares that I'm "not entirely wrong."

What a guy!

lol

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So you concede my point on each of the criticisms, then? 

:)

Heh.  I've already answered this question.  I favor the United States federalist system that existed prior to the courts using the 14th Amendment to widely erode local autonomy from federal mandates.  That's the system the US operated under prior to the key court decisions.  If Paul doesn't like it then the grand success of the US that he claims for his own POV stretches maybe a century.

Whoop-de-doo.

The real purpose of this thread is to allow Paul to distract from his inability to answer the criticisms I made.  Check it out--even though he apparently cannot address any of them he declares that I'm "not entirely wrong."

What a guy!

lol

OK, Bryan, that's clear, you want to repeal the equal protection and due process clauses, take them out of our Constitution. I don't. I believe we are stronger and better as one nation, operating under a system of laws that is truly committed to liberty and justice for everyone. I also believe we are stronger and better grounded in a reasoned law requiring that laws be supported by a rational secular purpose; else there is no objective standard for judging when government exceeds its proper powers.

You want a theocracy, in which a dominant religion can force itself on everyone. I don't. It's no accident that we met over the Paszkiewicz matter, since he wants what you want. Right now, my way prevails. If enough people think as you do, that will change, but I hope that will not happen.

Meanwhile, don't flatter yourself. If you want to talk about concessions, do you consider it a concession that you oppose equal protection and due process as Constitutional mandates?

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Bryan has posted on another topic criticizing the flaws in our current legal system. He's not entirely wrong. There are flaws in every legal system, and ours is no exception.

However, as I pointed out, it is not enough merely to criticize; one must also propose an alternative. So I am opening this topic to invite Bryan and others, who think the current legal relationship between the state and religion is not satisfactory, to offer an alternative. Please be complete and specific.

Winston Churchhill said that democracy is the worst form of government --- except for all the others. I doubt that Bryan, or anyone else, has a better system than the one we have. But if they do, let's hear it.

I'm picking up from a post Bryan made on another topic, wherein he congratulated himself for having extracted concessions on all his points. That's not what happened, but I'm placing my response here because I think this is the topic where it belongs.

What I've conceded, since it's true, is that a nation operating by a set of laws has to choose (explicitly or implicitly) which values will serve as its starting points, or central governing values as we might call them. One of the great historical divides is between secular and supernatural world views. Where those world views conflict, a nation operating under a Constitution and a set of laws must choose between them. The United States, for better or worse, like it or not, has chosen to operate its legal system from a secular world view. The reason has to do with the history of religious conflict and the recognition that there is no rational basis for constructing a system of laws based on speculation and guesswork about things no one truly knows anything about, e.g., the "supernatural." That includes the existence of a god or gods.

Say it that way, and the American people won't like it. That's why the summa cum laude law school graduates spend so much time thinking up cleverly-worded justifications to make it sound like that's not what has happened.

There's another way to look at it, though. Under our system, everyone is free to believe as he or she chooses. Government will not force religion on someone, and will not interfere with religious belief. (That's not a perfectly applicable principle, because when it comes time to decide whether evolution or creationism is going to be taught in the public schools, evolution is going to be taught and creationism isn't --- for the simple reason that evolution is objectively grounded in science and creationism is not.) Most Americans do agree with that principle. Bryan and DP do not. That is their right: to disagree and to argue for changes in the law, including the Constitution. Still, they must follow the law, just like the rest of us.

So Bryan correctly observes that there was a conflict, and the supernaturalists lost. He's right, but there was no choice (except to have the other side "win".) One side or the other had to win, and our country chose the side of reason and science as a basis for our laws, not someone's particular religious beliefs --- not even the majority's religious (read: theistic) beliefs. Be upset by it if you so choose, but that's what happened.

Bryan thinks so little of this outcome that he is willing to do away with equal protection of the laws and due process at the national level to reach the result he wants. I disagree, and I'm not alone. Without equal protection of the laws, for example, what kind of nation would we have become? When Hitler was trying to conquer the world, might a nation informed differently than ours had been have sided with him? What if he had pandered to our religious sentiments, knowing those were our weak spot? Would the scientists who developed our war technology, including the first nuclear explosives, have been sufficiently sympathetic to our cause to have wanted to help us? Many of them were Jews from other countries, who came to the United States precisely because they saw ours as a free country that granted equal protection to its citizens --- at least the Jews.

Let's not forget our history. Our nation lived under its Constitution for nearly 80 years before the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted, guaranteeing equal protection for the first time to all persons --- not just all citizens, but all persons under the jurisdiction of any state.

Even then, our country did not take equal protection seriously for a very long time. Fifty more years passed before women gained the right to vote. Nearly 100 years passed before African-Americans had the same right to sit at the front of a bus as a European-American. And nearly 100 years passed before the Supreme Court said the obvious, which is that an employee of a public school may not misuse his position to proselytize his religion in denigration and/or to the exclusion of other religions. That's how we got to the Paszkiewicz case.

So Bryan has a vision for our country. In his vision, equal protection and due process are up for grabs, subject to the laws of the individual states. There is no guarantee of equal protection or due process under his vision, and the nation could go back to the days of segregation and legally-sponsored racism and lynchings (which occurred for many years after the 14th Amendment was adopted in any case), or for that matter could proceed to the Balkanization of America with each of the fifty states adopting its own official religion.

I have a different vision for our country. It is more easily expressed: equal protection, due process, liberty and justice for all. Public school teachers won't have the "freedom" to proselytize their religions to a captive audience of students under this vision, but that's a small price to pay for the students' freedom to be treated on par with other students who may happen to be in the majority religion. Similarly, white folks won't have the "freedom" to own black folks; small price or large price for cotton states, it was worth it.

The difference is that the maximum freedom is preserved, consistent with a resolution of the inevitable conflicts. A biblical fundamentalist may not have the right to use his position on the public payroll to preach his religion, but he is free to preach it pretty much everywhere else. The conflict is resolved only insofar as it must be resolved to preserve the more essential principle. That is vastly different from enslaving an entire race of people because it made cotton cheaper, or decimating the native peoples because they were in the way, or making some citizens second-class because the dominant religious group can't abide anything less than total domination of the culture, and full support of the laws to accomplish their ends.

All Bryan's parsing aside, that's what the discussion is about.

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So you concede my point on each of the criticisms, then? 

:)

Heh.  I've already answered this question.  I favor the United States federalist system that existed prior to the courts using the 14th Amendment to widely erode local autonomy from federal mandates.  That's the system the US operated under prior to the key court decisions.  If Paul doesn't like it then the grand success of the US that he claims for his own POV stretches maybe a century.

Whoop-de-doo.

The real purpose of this thread is to allow Paul to distract from his inability to answer the criticisms I made.  Check it out--even though he apparently cannot address any of them he declares that I'm "not entirely wrong."

What a guy!

lol

Bryan,

How often do you have to replace your keyboard? Please tell me, no, tell us all how things would be if you made all the rules. I look forward to your reading your undoubtedly smug response.

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OK, Bryan, that's clear, you want to repeal the equal protection and due process clauses, take them out of our Constitution.

No, I don't. I specified that I objected to judicial expansion of the 14th Amendment, not the 14th Amendment itself.

Are you really that careless at reading, or are you simply lying?

I believe we are stronger and better as one nation, operating under a system of laws that is truly committed to liberty and justice for everyone.

Your own rhetoric belies your claim above. You champion religious neutrality and secular humanism as the default national religion.

You can't have it both ways.

You can have 3 million advanced degrees on the wall behind you and it won't make the contradiction go away.

I also believe we are stronger and better grounded in a reasoned law requiring that laws be supported by a rational secular purpose; else there is no objective standard for judging when government exceeds its proper powers.

Now you're right back to referring to the "objective" standard that you decline to defend.

That makes your foregoing statement mere empty rhetoric.

If you've really got a rational standard, then put it to the test in argument.

You want a theocracy, in which a dominant religion can force itself on everyone.

Reminding us that you skipped answering my question to you as to whether you think the United States was a theocracy prior to the court extending application of the 14th Amendment to the establishment clause.

If my position logically entails theocracy, then the United States was a theocracy for approximately its first 100 years.

Do you really believe that, Paul?

It's no accident that we met over the Paszkiewicz matter, since he wants what you want. Right now, my way prevails. If enough people think as you do, that will change, but I hope that will not happen.

And you're apparently willing to misrepresent my position if it will help you have your way.

Meanwhile, don't flatter yourself.

Where have I flattered myself?

If you want to talk about concessions, do you consider it a concession that you oppose equal protection and due process as Constitutional mandates?

Fallacy of the complex question, an even after ignoring the contested premise (the false suggestion that I oppose equal protection and due process as Constitutional mandates), the question appears incoherent.

I do oppose the notion that the federal government should ignore its Constitutional restraints.

Apparently, Paul thinks that when I ask him if he has conceded all of my points from the other thread, I am in effect assuming that he has conceded.

They must teach logic better than that at U of M.

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Bryan,

    How often do you have to replace your keyboard? Please tell me, no, tell us all how things would be if you made all the rules. I look forward to your reading your undoubtedly smug response.

Someone close to me, who doesn't agree with me on religion, once asked me if I agreed with her that the world would be a better place if everyone was like her. (Obviously she thought so.) The question was sincerely asked, so I pondered it and answered carefully but honestly.

I said that I thought people wouldn't have to lock their doors in a world of people like her, but (without intending offense) there wouldn't be much inside to protect. I told her that without scientific curiosity (which she doesn't have), there would have been very little progress and therefore very few or none of the items of property that she valued. Most likely, people would still die at an average age of about forty years, and there wouldn't be six (or is it seven) billion people on the planet because the population would never have grown that large without the advances in technology that would have occurred if everyone was like her.

I told her there wouldn't be much art or music, which she didn't seem to value, or much of an educational system, of which she has been openly scornful. I told her I didn't think that would be such a good thing.

I also told her that I was concerned that people wouldn't understand each other very well because they would be capable of seeing only their side of a disputed point. Of course, if everyone was truly like her, everyone would think the same way, but I wasn't convinced that would be for the better either.

To her credit, she listened respectfully and apparently thoughtfully --- though on reflection that might just have been shock and disappointment.

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I'm picking up from a post Bryan made on another topic, wherein he congratulated himself for having extracted concessions on all his points.

... and you're explaining that to yourself in reply to your own post?

Apparently, this is congratulating myself on having extracted concessions on all my points:

So you concede my point on each of the criticisms, then?

:)

Most people can tell that a question mark indicates that the sentence is a question. Paul might conclude that it was rhetorical question (it wasn't), but even then he has to interpret the smiley as a gloating smiley instead of a joking smiley.

Basically, LaClair shows himself an expert at eisegesis--reading into the text what he wishes to find.

That's not what happened, but I'm placing my response here because I think this is the topic where it belongs.

Okay, so you're not conceding at least certain of the arguments (I assume from the concession that I wasn't totally wrong this time that some manner of additional concession took place), you're just avoiding giving them an answer--at least for now.

What I've conceded, since it's true, is that a nation operating by a set of laws has to choose (explicitly or implicitly) which values will serve as its starting points, or central governing values as we might call them. One of the great historical divides is between secular and supernatural world views.

In an age in which virtually everyone was a theist, what would you label as the "secular" worldview?

Where those world views conflict, a nation operating under a Constitution and a set of laws must choose between them. The United States, for better or worse, like it or not, has chosen to operate its legal system from a secular world view.

I suggest that Paul overreaches here by supposing that the law operates from a secular worldview. There is a longstanding history of civil law that operates outside the auspices of religious authorities, but that doesn't mean that the system itself is based on a different worldview.

It might help if Paul specified what he meant by "secular world view." It's possible that I'm missing the meaning he intends.

The reason has to do with the history of religious conflict and the recognition that there is no rational basis for constructing a system of laws based on speculation and guesswork about things no one truly knows anything about, e.g., the "supernatural." That includes the existence of a god or gods.

Sounds like Paul is making this part up out of whole cloth. During the history of the Witch Trials, for example, the civil courts convicted more witches (by percentage) and imposed stiffer punishments than the ecclesiastical courts (it was common for the systems to operate side-by-side). Based on the available evidence, anyway.

I encourage Paul to make a real case for his claim instead of offering it to be taken at face value simply on his say-so (as by offering a solid citation in favor of his view).

Say it that way, and the American people won't like it. That's why the summa cum laude law school graduates spend so much time thinking up cleverly-worded justifications to make it sound like that's not what has happened.

That almost sounds like an admission that there won't be any scholarly support of Paul's claim.

Hopefully Paul will get around to clarifying that issue.

There's another way to look at it, though. Under our system, everyone is free to believe as he or she chooses. Government will not force religion on someone, and will not interfere with religious belief. (That's not a perfectly applicable principle, because when it comes time to decide whether evolution or creationism is going to be taught in the public schools, evolution is going to be taught and creationism isn't --- for the simple reason that evolution is objectively grounded in science and creationism is not.)

And as I pointed out earlier, reliance on a grounding in science is, in effect, a viciously circular justification for imposing LaClair's secular worldview (I refer to my reference to Michael Ruse's admission that modern science ultimately has a metaphysical base). Paul's justification suffers the same self-stultifying logic as Logical Positivism exhibited.

Most Americans do agree with that principle. Bryan and DP do not.

Most Americans are products of a public school system that has worked to indoctrinate them to agree with that principle.

I'm in favor of better education in philosophy of science, to help put scientific claims in a realistic context in terms of world view. It stands to reason that Paul would oppose education regarding the true foundations of science, since that might detract from establishing secular humanism as the default religion of the US govt.

So Bryan correctly observes that there was a conflict, and the supernaturalists lost.

The conflict has never ended. Paul's side has had the upper hand since about the beginning of the 20th Century. Postmodernism has eroded the advantage, however, as people came to see how certain claims of modernity have been consistently overblown (Scientism and Logical Positivism are two good examples).

He's right, but there was no choice (except to have the other side "win".) One side or the other had to win, and our country chose the side of reason and science as a basis for our laws, not someone's particular religious beliefs --- not even the majority's religious (read: theistic) beliefs. Be upset by it if you so choose, but that's what happened.

Meh.

We'll see if you've got a case to make in favor of your claims regarding the basis for U.S. law. At the moment it could pass for a "Just-So" story.

Bryan thinks so little of this outcome that he is willing to do away with equal protection of the laws and due process at the national level to reach the result he wants.

Well, that's just the Paul LaClair spin version.

As I've pointed out more than once, it is the extrapolation beyond the statement of the law to which I object (in the case of the 14th Amendment). LaClair is stuck on this point, because he has to truncate US history or else lose the rhetorical effect of making my view appear extreme.

The truth is that the United States is historically based on theism, as is apparent from the Declaration of Independence. Paul claims that the laws are based on a "secular" worldview, but the rights of man that the government was designed to safeguard are specifically attributed to a Creator--that same Creator is described as judge in the same document.

That simply isn't a secular worldview in any normal sense of the latter term. Paul's tale is a fiction (pending his attempt to explain himself).

I disagree, and I'm not alone. Without equal protection of the laws, for example, what kind of nation would we have become? When Hitler was trying to conquer the world, might a nation informed differently than ours had been have sided with him?

There was extremely little application of the 14th Amendment beyond its original intent by WW2. The major judicial precedent at that point was Plessy v. Ferguson, and Frost v. Corporation Commission had only begun to broadly expand application of 14th Amendment (1928).

The U.S. had already involved itself in a major war in Europe prior to the Frost decision, and the reasons for U.S. involvement in WW2 probably had extremely little to do with equal protection issues. The U.S. was firmly allied with Great Britain, so the Nazis would have attacked our shipping regardless of equal protection laws, and in any event it was Hitler who got us in against Germany since Germany declared war on the U.S. after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

What if he had pandered to our religious sentiments, knowing those were our weak spot?

So, religion would have been more of a weak spot without cases like Frost v. Corporation Commission?

That seems like a stretch. Sounds like Paul is playing to what he thinks is the audience's weak spot.

Would the scientists who developed our war technology, including the first nuclear explosives, have been sufficiently sympathetic to our cause to have wanted to help us?

I don't think the scientists who fled Germany cared much about Frost v. Corporation Commission. Secular France was more antiSemitic than the holy-rollin' USA, I believe.

Many of them were Jews from other countries, who came to the United States precisely because they saw ours as a free country that granted equal protection to its citizens --- at least the Jews.

And they would have found that even before the passage of the 14th Amendment. Paul's argument appears rather incoherent.

The Jewish immigration history America started in 1860. In this year 200,000 German Jews immigrated to USA. From 1882 to 1914, 2 million Jews immigrated from eastern Europe to USA.

http://www.israel-flowers-center.com/artic...JewsAmerica.asp

Let's not forget our history. Our nation lived under its Constitution for nearly 80 years before the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted, guaranteeing equal protection for the first time to all persons --- not just all citizens, but all persons under the jurisdiction of any state.

And the Jews who immigrated prior to the passage of the 14th Amendment saw it coming?

(Paul forgets history)

Even then, our country did not take equal protection seriously for a very long time. Fifty more years passed before women gained the right to vote. Nearly 100 years passed before African-Americans had the same right to sit at the front of a bus as a European-American. And nearly 100 years passed before the Supreme Court said the obvious, which is that an employee of a public school may not misuse his position to proselytize his religion in denigration and/or to the exclusion of other religions.

And despite that admitted chronological problem, Paul had the audacity to suggest that the equal protection issue might have left the U.S. significantly more vulnerable to a religious appeal from Hitler.

What could be more specious?

So Bryan has a vision for our country. In his vision, equal protection and due process are up for grabs, subject to the laws of the individual states.

Right. Self determination. It's a concept that comes easily to us when regions like Kosovo get involved in a conflict with a sovereign entity.

There is no guarantee of equal protection or due process under his vision, and the nation could go back to the days of segregation and legally-sponsored racism and lynchings (which occurred for many years after the 14th Amendment was adopted in any case), or for that matter could proceed to the Balkanization of America with each of the fifty states adopting its own official religion.

As has happened in England and Denmark?

I love the way LaClair completely ignores the counterexamples as though they had never been suggested.

According to LaClair's own timeline, we had exactly the situation I recommend in 1860, when the first wave of Jewish immigration began to arrive in the United States.

Paul's certainly correct that there's no guarantee of equal protection under the system I'd prefer.

There's no guarantee under his, either. We've already seen how he has a "So what?" attitude toward the government's non-neutrality toward those who religiously believe in young-earth creationism.

I have a different vision for our country. It is more easily expressed: equal protection, due process, liberty and justice for all.

Except that LaClair has already admitted that his vision cannot be implemented perfectly (not surprising, since it's self-contradictory). Religious liberty will inevitably receive uneven treatment along with all the rest. He's selling what he cannot deliver.

It makes his claim seem less appealing if he remembers to mention that, however, so he takes care not to juxtapose the two statements. He wants to paint the pie-in-the-sky when he tries to convince his audience--hang logic.

Public school teachers won't have the "freedom" to proselytize their religions to a captive audience of students under this vision, but that's a small price to pay for the students' freedom to be treated on par with other students who may happen to be in the majority religion.

Even if that leads ultimately to the Balkanization of the nation--something LaClair seemed concerned about earlier?

There's a solution, of course. LaClair could then advocate restricting freedom of religion--for the good of the country, of course.

Similarly, white folks won't have the "freedom" to own black folks; small price or large price for cotton states, it was worth it.

Heh. Way over the top with the rhetoric. The slaves were freed prior to the 14th Amendment, and way before the judicial expansion of the 14th Amendment.

The difference is that the maximum freedom is preserved, consistent with a resolution of the inevitable conflicts. A biblical fundamentalist may not have the right to use his position on the public payroll to preach his religion, but he is free to preach it pretty much everywhere else. The conflict is resolved only insofar as it must be resolved to preserve the more essential principle. That is vastly different from enslaving an entire race of people because it made cotton cheaper, or decimating the native peoples because they were in the way, or making some citizens second-class because the dominant religious group can't abide anything less than total domination of the culture, and full support of the laws to accomplish their ends.

All Bryan's parsing aside, that's what the discussion is about.

Straw man completed, in other words.

I don't advocate abolition of the 14th Amendment, contrary to what Paul has consistently implied (if not stated outright), and I don't even advocate the establishment of a state religion. Could it happen? Sure--but only if the people decide on it, and Paul's vision suffers the same problem at the national level--and if it happens at the national level then all of the states would be obliged to follow suit because of the courts' treatment of the 14th Amendment.

And Paul has missed the real key of the issue. The national worldview was explicitly theistic all along, and the people never decided otherwise. The courts decided otherwise. Unelected officials made the decision--whether foreseeing the consequences or not--to change the national worldview to the one Paul prefers. The self-evident truths in the Declaration of Independence have been thrown over in favor of a system that Paul claims is objective--but he won't defend that claim. You're just supposed to believe that it's objective and rational, apparently, because he says it is.

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No, I don't.  I specified that I objected to judicial expansion of the 14th Amendment, not the 14th Amendment itself.

Are you really that careless at reading, or are you simply lying?

Your own rhetoric belies your claim above.  You champion religious neutrality and secular humanism as the default national religion.

You can't have it both ways.

You can have 3 million advanced degrees on the wall behind you and it won't make the contradiction go away.

Now you're right back to referring to the "objective" standard that you decline to defend.

That makes your foregoing statement mere empty rhetoric.

If you've really got a rational standard, then put it to the test in argument.

Reminding us that you skipped answering my question to you as to whether you think the United States was a theocracy prior to the court extending application of the 14th Amendment to the establishment clause.

If my position logically entails theocracy, then the United States was a theocracy for approximately its first 100 years.

Do you really believe that, Paul?

And you're apparently willing to misrepresent my position if it will help you have your way.

Where have I flattered myself?

Fallacy of the complex question, an even after ignoring the contested premise (the false suggestion that I oppose equal protection and due process as Constitutional mandates), the question appears incoherent.

I do oppose the notion that the federal government should ignore its Constitutional restraints.

Apparently, Paul thinks that when I ask him if he has conceded all of my points from the other thread, I am in effect assuming that he has conceded.

They must teach logic better than that at U of M.

Ruling that as a matter of law the majority may not use the agencies of the state to impose its non-universal religious views on the minority is not an expansion of the equal protection doctrine; it is equal protection itself. So it really is equal protection that you oppose, your denial notwithstanding.

You keep trying to pick away at the edges of the prevailing judicial philosophy, which I believe is the correct one, but you steadfastly refuse to flesh out your own vision. The reasons are obvious: your vision is not tenable. If you think it is, lay it out and state why you think it would bring forth the values you believe our nation should hold dearest.

I'm not going to play your game, Bryan. For example, if you want to talk about inconsitency, compare the last sentence in your post above with your criticism of me for drawing broad conclusions about your methods.

Life cannot be seen accurately or productively under a selective microscope. Take a beautiful model, for example, cut her up into little pieces and not only will you find plenty to criticize in her appearance, but more important she (or he) won't be beautiful any more. I'm very sorry if you can't see life in its broader sweep, and I know it's tempting for someone like you who has a decent intellect to think that you can analyze life with a slide rule and a calculator; but you can't. My advice, not that you asked, is that you take a deep breath, relax, step back from yourself and put your intellect to more productive uses.

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. . . .

(1) In an age in which virtually everyone was a theist, what would you label as the "secular" worldview?

(2) I suggest that Paul overreaches here by supposing that the law operates from a secular worldview.  . . . .

(3) Sounds like Paul is making this part up out of whole cloth.  During the history of the Witch Trials, for example, the civil courts convicted more witches (by percentage) and imposed stiffer punishments than the ecclesiastical courts (it was common for the systems to operate side-by-side).  Based on the available evidence, anyway.

(4) And as I pointed out earlier, reliance on a grounding in science is, in effect, a viciously circular justification for imposing LaClair's secular worldview (I refer to my reference to Michael Ruse's admission that modern science ultimately has a metaphysical base). 

(1) Most of the Framers were Deists, not theists. Their view prevailed.

(2) There is no over-reach whatsoever. The Supreme Court has held consistently that laws must be supported by an identifiable secular purpose.

(3) This is a mis-analysis. The Salem, MA of the mid-seventeenth century had not yet reached the Enlightenment. Those were indeed superstitious people. By the time the Constitution was adopted, the Framers recognized the problem with that sort of thing and took a new path.

(4) The success of science in advancing our technologies, expanding our lifespans, etc., is not merely metaphysical. This sort of selective philosophical skepticism, which in this case would simply overlook the practical effects of science since they aren't convenient to Bryan's "argument", just isn't interesting.

The fact that the United States of the 1940s was vastly imperfect does not alter the fact that the scientists who emigrated here to escape the Nazis saw the USA as a much freer place than Nazi Germany, especially the Jewish scientists. It also doesn't alter the fact that, imperfect as our national history is, our formal founding documents announce a commitment to a principle of a universal ethic, and the world saw our country as being committed to human freedom. It's no argument against a universal ethic that the USA wasn't perfect in applying one; the relevant question is "free compared to what".

The Declaration of Independence includes a statement about "God," but the fact is that people have never agreed on "God," and there is no rational basis for any such agreement. So in order to achieve the principles to which we aspire, the ones that actually affect the course of our lives, a government truly committed to liberty and justice for all must operate from principles that truly bind us together as one human family. Belief in a god is not among those principles. If one's primary objective is to push his religion on people who do not desire it, a universal ethic independent of one's belief in a god won't mean much. None of this is hard to understand if understanding is what one truly wishes to do.

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(1) Most of the Framers were Deists, not theists. Their view prevailed.

Deists are theists. They are not Christians.

Deism is actually a form of monotheism, but distinct enough in character and development to warrant its own section. In addition to adopting general monotheism, deists also accept the specific ideas that the single existing god is personal in nature and transcendent from the created universe. However, they reject the idea that this this god is immanent, which is to say presently active in the created universe.

http://atheism.about.com/library/FAQs/reli...heism_deism.htm

http://atheism.about.com/od/theismtheists/...smvarieties.htm

Theism is the belief in the existence of a god or gods. The word "theism" does not specify the kind or number of god(s), nor the religious context for that belief. Types of theism include monotheism, pantheism, polytheism, and Deism.

http://www.uua.org/visitors/beliefswithin/6797.shtml

Moreover, there was no prevailing of one side over the other. The two sides met on common ground; the theists signed the DoI because it expressed their point of view on the matter. To suppose otherwise is to call them liars.

This page appears to conflict with your claim about that "most" of the Framers were Deists, btw:

http://www.usconstitution.net/constframedata.html

(2) There is no over-reach whatsoever. The Supreme Court has held consistently that laws must be supported by an identifiable secular purpose.

I doubt that the "secular purpose" language much predates the Lemon test (1971). How consistent can it be if it's for less than 40 years out of over 200?

(3) This is a mis-analysis. The Salem, MA of the mid-seventeenth century had not yet reached the Enlightenment. Those were indeed superstitious people. By the time the Constitution was adopted, the Framers recognized the problem with that sort of thing and took a new path.

The Salem witch trials were but a blip in history. Europe (including England) is where the trials were a far more significant event, and in the very cradle of the English Common Law to which it seemed that LaClair was appealing (if he appeals to the law on the basis of an American genesis then he's in even deeper trouble).

And it does no good to dismiss the people as "superstitious"; approximately half of all witch cases ended in acquittal, so the benighted pre-enlightenment masses were largely skeptical. In many of the other cases there would have been evidence that the accused actually performed actions intended to bring ill to their neighbors. The science of the day would have discerned cause and effect (science back then was just as capable of being wrong as modern science).

LaClair cannot appeal to the foundation of our system of laws, I think, while cutting off influences prior to the (so-called) Enlightenment. To do so would be to ignore history.

(4) The success of science in advancing our technologies, expanding our lifespans, etc., is not merely metaphysical. This sort of selective philosophical skepticism, which in this case would simply overlook the practical effects of science since they aren't convenient to Bryan's "argument", just isn't interesting.

You can't "ground" something in science based on pragmatic effects, Paul. Not without playing a word game.

The Witch Trials had their grounding in pragmatic effects of that type.

The fact that the United States of the 1940s was vastly imperfect does not alter the fact that the scientists who emigrated here to escape the Nazis saw the USA as a much freer place than Nazi Germany, especially the Jewish scientists.

One wonders why you bother to mention the imperfection of the US in the 1940s, since I did not.

By all means, burn the straw man.

It also doesn't alter the fact that, imperfect as our national history is, our formal founding documents announce a commitment to a principle of a universal ethic, and the world saw our country as being committed to human freedom. It's no argument against a universal ethic that the USA wasn't perfect in applying one; the relevant question is "free compared to what".

May I help you jump up and down on the ashes?

I pointed out that the Jews were coming here before your watershed moments in US history, Paul. That is, around the time of the United States Civil War. Before the 14th Amendment, before the "equal protection of the laws" that you argued for as a major factor in bringing them here.

The Declaration of Independence includes a statement about "God," but the fact is that people have never agreed on "God," and there is no rational basis for any such agreement.

Well, I guess we're all in deep trouble, then, because atheists and agnostics don't agree about the nature of reality, either. Would you care to talk ethics with Nietzsche?

We might as well throw in the towel right now.

Obviously, the point is that if the jig isn't up because atheists do not agree, neither is it futile for theists to find agreement--as was precisely the case with the Declaration of Independence. Deists were, after all, theists. It's cute the way some atheists confer honorary atheism on them, however.

So in order to achieve the principles to which we aspire, the ones that actually affect the course of our lives, a government truly committed to liberty and justice for all must operate from principles that truly bind us together as one human family. Belief in a god is not among those principles.

The Framers disagreed, finding their foundation for the rights of man in the actions of the Creator, and appealing in the DoI for the rectitude of their actions to god ("appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions").

LaClair applauds the coup that removes that foundation from the United States government, and apparently repudiates the success of the foundation established by the Framers. It seems that Paul must count the Declaration of Independence, so far as its logic, as a grave error on the part of the Framers.

If one's primary objective is to push his religion on people who do not desire it, a universal ethic independent of one's belief in a god won't mean much.

Aren't you describing yourself here, Paul? You said the default secular Humanist religion was the default you favored for the US govt, didn't you? Do you care whether or not others do not desire what you desire?

None of this is hard to understand if understanding is what one truly wishes to do.

If you believe real hard on what Pastor LaClair is preaching, it can come true and make sense, too!

LaClair is revising history and building straw men.

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Ruling that as a matter of law the majority may not use the agencies of the state to impose its non-universal religious views on the minority is not an expansion of the equal protection doctrine; it is equal protection itself.

Again, I do not favor the institution of a state religion; I favor the default worldview sketched in the DoI rather than the one you'd like to replace it with.

So it really is equal protection that you oppose, your denial notwithstanding.

If I oppose it with my view, then so do you with yours (since you have affirmed your willingness to see secular Humanism as the default religion of the government).

You keep trying to pick away at the edges of the prevailing judicial philosophy, which I believe is the correct one, but you steadfastly refuse to flesh out your own vision.

No, I do not. I simply do not see a justification in "equal protection of the laws" for replacing one default religious philosophy with a different one.

Paul apparently does, but it will truly be a miracle if I can get him to explain the justification for it.

The reasons are obvious: your vision is not tenable.

Why not? It worked just fine for roughly half the nation's history.

If you think it is, lay it out and state why you think it would bring forth the values you believe our nation should hold dearest.

Ah, the old shifting the burden of proof trick yet again. You don't have to prove that my vision is untenable (even though I've described it). I have to prove that it is tenable.

Cute.

I'm not going to play your game, Bryan.

You'll refuse to bear your burden of proof, then? I'm not surprised.

For example, if you want to talk about inconsitency, compare the last sentence in your post above with your criticism of me for drawing broad conclusions about your methods.

"They must teach logic better than that at U of M."

?

You think that was me drawing a conclusion?

I think you should try to explain what you're talking about (I'm skeptical of your ability to reach a coherent conclusion).

Life cannot be seen accurately or productively under a selective microscope. Take a beautiful model, for example, cut her up into little pieces and not only will you find plenty to criticize in her appearance, but more important she (or he) won't be beautiful any more.

Meaning that you can combine many bits of flawed logic into a seamless and logical whole?

Sorry, but if that's what you mean, I'm skeptical.

I'm very sorry if you can't see life in its broader sweep, and I know it's tempting for someone like you who has a decent intellect to think that you can analyze life with a slide rule and a calculator; but you can't. My advice, not that you asked, is that you take a deep breath, relax, step back from yourself and put your intellect to more productive uses.

Is the rationalist appealing to the supernatural, here? Abandoning the Enlightenment view?

Funny stuff, Paul.

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Guest 2smart4u
(1) Most of the Framers were Deists, not theists. Their view prevailed.

(2) There is no over-reach whatsoever. The Supreme Court has held consistently that laws must be supported by an identifiable secular purpose.

(3) This is a mis-analysis. The Salem, MA of the mid-seventeenth century had not yet reached the Enlightenment. Those were indeed superstitious people. By the time the Constitution was adopted, the Framers recognized the problem with that sort of thing and took a new path.

(4) The success of science in advancing our technologies, expanding our lifespans, etc., is not merely metaphysical. This sort of selective philosophical skepticism, which in this case would simply overlook the practical effects of science since they aren't convenient to Bryan's "argument", just isn't interesting.

The fact that the United States of the 1940s was vastly imperfect does not alter the fact that the scientists who emigrated here to escape the Nazis saw the USA as a much freer place than Nazi Germany, especially the Jewish scientists. It also doesn't alter the fact that, imperfect as our national history is, our formal founding documents announce a commitment to a principle of a universal ethic, and the world saw our country as being committed to human freedom. It's no argument against a universal ethic that the USA wasn't perfect in applying one; the relevant question is "free compared to what".

The Declaration of Independence includes a statement about "God," but the fact is that people have never agreed on "God," and there is no rational basis for any such agreement. So in order to achieve the principles to which we aspire, the ones that actually affect the course of our lives, a government truly committed to liberty and justice for all must operate from principles that truly bind us together as one human family. Belief in a god is not among those principles. If one's primary objective is to push his religion on people who do not desire it, a universal ethic independent of one's belief in a god won't mean much. None of this is hard to understand if understanding is what one truly wishes to do.

Good Grief !! Your fingers must be freakin bloody by now. NOBODY is even reading your nonsense any more. Go take a walk around the block.

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Good  Grief !!  Your fingers must be freakin bloody by now. NOBODY is even reading your nonsense any more.

The fact that every one of his posts gets a response, and the "views" column on the topics he starts, speak otherwise. Of course, it's just like you to assert something you're completely ignorant of. At least you're consistent.

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Guest a proud american
Good  Grief !!  Your fingers must be freakin bloody by now. NOBODY is even reading your nonsense any more. Go take a walk around the block.

Actually, people are reading what Paul says and also what you and your ilk say.

If I am correct, you and like minded people like Bryan want the United States to become a theocracy, because that is what you believe our founding fathers wanted.

If this was true than they could have simply written into the Constitution stating so. In fact, John Adams wanted a Government similar to what the British had which was that a wealthy Family be in charge. Since he couldn't get his way, he left and came back only to sign the final document but was not pleased.

The theocrats believe that British common law is derived from religion and since our judicial system was based on English common law that this meant a theocracy. However, their common law derived prior to religion even being brought to England so that could not be true.

Personally, I don't want a theocratic Government. If you do than may I make a suggestion. Find an Island somewhere, buy it, move there and start your own Government. This way you can build the kind of society that you want. However, I believe that you would be very disappointed, since there are so many religions out there it would be hard to pick just one. But if you are lucky, your religion will attract the majority and you could then attempt to force your beliefs on all the others. You could practice traditional family values once you get the majority to come to an agreement what traditional family values are. And as far as school, you wouldn't need one since you would have the spoken word as your education.

Sounds ridiculous? Not really because when I read responses from all the good Christians I am thankful that our founders were wise enough to insure that we never became a country that you want the rest of us to live in. No matter how you try to spin it, no matter how you try to rationalize it, and no matter who or what you use to argue gainst those who disagree with you, as long as there are people like us, who believe in our founders our country is safe. And to Paul, please keep burning up your key boards because reading your responses prove that these people are in the minority, where they belong.

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Guest KearnyKard
Actually, people are reading what Paul says and also what you and your ilk say.

If I am correct, you and like minded people like Bryan want the United States to become a theocracy, because that is what you believe our founding fathers wanted.

If this was true than they could have simply written into the Constitution stating so. In fact, John Adams wanted a Government similar to what the British had which was that a wealthy Family be in charge. Since he couldn't get his way, he left and came back only to sign the final document but was not pleased.

The theocrats believe that British common law is derived from religion and since our judicial system was based on English common law that this meant a theocracy. However, their common law derived prior to religion even being brought to England so that could not be true.

Personally, I don't want a theocratic Government. If you do than may I make a suggestion. Find an Island somewhere, buy it, move there and start your own Government. This way you can build the kind of society that you want. However, I believe that you would be very disappointed, since there are so many religions out there it would be hard to pick just one. But if you are lucky, your religion will attract the majority and you could then attempt to force your beliefs on all the others. You could practice traditional family values once you get the majority to come to an agreement what traditional family values are. And as far as school, you wouldn't need one since you would have the spoken word as your education.

Sounds ridiculous? Not really because when I read responses from all the good Christians I am thankful that our founders were wise enough to insure that we never became a country that you want the rest of us to live in. No matter how you try to spin it, no matter how you try to rationalize it, and no matter who or what you use to argue gainst those who disagree with you, as long as there are people like us, who believe in our founders our country is safe. And to Paul, please keep burning up your key boards because reading your responses prove that these people are in the minority, where they belong.

Bla, Bla, Bla, Bla, Bla and Bla.

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Actually, people are reading what Paul says and also what you and your ilk say.

If I am correct, you and like minded people like Bryan want the United States to become a theocracy, because that is what you believe our founding fathers wanted.

If this was true than they could have simply written into the Constitution stating so. In fact, John Adams wanted a Government similar to what the British had which was that a wealthy Family be in charge. Since he couldn't get his way, he left and came back only to sign the final document but was not pleased.

The theocrats believe that British common law is derived from religion and since our judicial system was based on English common law that this meant a theocracy. However, their common law derived prior to religion even being brought to England so that could not be true.

Personally, I don't want a theocratic Government. If you do than may I make a suggestion. Find an Island somewhere, buy it, move there and start your own Government. This way you can build the kind of society that you want. However, I believe that you would be very disappointed, since there are so many religions out there it would be hard to pick just one. But if you are lucky, your religion will attract the majority and you could then attempt to force your beliefs on all the others. You could practice traditional family values once you get the majority to come to an agreement what traditional family values are. And as far as school, you wouldn't need one since you would have the spoken word as your education.

Sounds ridiculous? Not really because when I read responses from all the good Christians I am thankful that our founders were wise enough to insure that we never became a country that you want the rest of us to live in. No matter how you try to spin it, no matter how you try to rationalize it, and no matter who or what you use to argue gainst those who disagree with you, as long as there are people like us, who believe in our founders our country is safe. And to Paul, please keep burning up your key boards because reading your responses prove that these people are in the minority, where they belong.

The main point that my son Matthew has made with every public stance he has taken is that citizenship is more than merely standing and reciting words, or going along with the crowd. Citizenship is taking action with intelligence, passion and unwavering commitment for what we believe is best not just for ourselves personally, but for our country.

So please, you keep writing too. That is the only way we will ever get through to the good people who just don't understand --- yet. If enough of us do that, they may begin to understand.

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Deists are theists.  They are not Christians.

Deism is actually a form of monotheism, but distinct enough in character and development to warrant its own section.  In addition to adopting general monotheism, deists also accept the specific ideas that the single existing god is personal in nature and transcendent from the created universe. However, they reject the idea that this this god is immanent, which is to say presently active in the created universe.

http://atheism.about.com/library/FAQs/reli...heism_deism.htm

http://atheism.about.com/od/theismtheists/...smvarieties.htm

Theism is the belief in the existence of a god or gods. The word "theism" does not specify the kind or number of god(s), nor the religious context for that belief. Types of theism include monotheism, pantheism, polytheism, and Deism.

http://www.uua.org/visitors/beliefswithin/6797.shtml

Moreover, there was no prevailing of one side over the other.  The two sides met on common ground; the theists signed the DoI because it expressed their point of view on the matter.  To suppose otherwise is to call them liars.

This page appears to conflict with your claim about that "most" of the Framers were Deists, btw:

http://www.usconstitution.net/constframedata.html

I doubt that the "secular purpose" language much predates the Lemon test (1971).  How consistent can it be if it's for less than 40 years out of over 200?

The Salem witch trials were but a blip in history.  Europe (including England) is where the trials were a far more significant event, and in the very cradle of the English Common Law to which it seemed that LaClair was appealing (if he appeals to the law on the basis of an American genesis then he's in even deeper trouble).

And it does no good to dismiss the people as "superstitious"; approximately half of all witch cases ended in acquittal, so the benighted pre-enlightenment masses were largely skeptical.  In many of the other cases there would have been evidence that the accused actually performed actions intended to bring ill to their neighbors.  The science of the day would have discerned cause and effect (science back then was just as capable of being wrong as modern science).

LaClair cannot appeal to the foundation of our system of laws, I think, while cutting off influences prior to the (so-called) Enlightenment.  To do so would be to ignore history.

You can't "ground" something in science based on pragmatic effects, Paul.  Not without playing a word game.

The Witch Trials had their grounding in pragmatic effects of that type.

One wonders why you bother to mention the imperfection of the US in the 1940s, since I did not.

By all means, burn the straw man.

May I help you jump up and down on the ashes?

I pointed out that the Jews were coming here before your watershed moments in US history, Paul.  That is, around the time of the United States Civil War.  Before the 14th Amendment, before the "equal protection of the laws" that you argued for as a major factor in bringing them here.

Well, I guess we're all in deep trouble, then, because atheists and agnostics don't agree about the nature of reality, either.  Would you care to talk ethics with Nietzsche?

We might as well throw in the towel right now.

Obviously, the point is that if the jig isn't up because atheists do not agree, neither is it futile for theists to find agreement--as was precisely the case with the Declaration of Independence.  Deists were, after all, theists.  It's cute the way some atheists confer honorary atheism on them, however.

The Framers disagreed, finding their foundation for the rights of man in the actions of the Creator, and appealing in the DoI for the rectitude of their actions to god ("appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions").

LaClair applauds the coup that removes that foundation from the United States government, and apparently repudiates the success of the foundation established by the Framers.  It seems that Paul must count the Declaration of Independence, so far as its logic, as a grave error on the part of the Framers.

Aren't you describing yourself here, Paul?  You said the default secular Humanist religion was the default you favored for the US govt, didn't you?  Do you care whether or not others do not desire what you desire?

If you believe real hard on what Pastor LaClair is preaching, it can come true and make sense, too!

LaClair is revising history and building straw men.

Having read these topics, it is clear that Bryan is the one attempting to revise history, often by trying to build and destroy straw men. (However, he does not admit it even when it is obvious.) Bryan is one of those individuals who tries to reshape the universe to conform to his beliefs, instead of shaping his beliefs according to the facts. There are millions of people like this (everyone does it to a degree), but Bryan is especially persistent and stubborn about it. So let's dissect just this one post to illustrate the crippling flaws in Bryan's methods.

In pointing out that Diests are theists, Bryan overlooks the social framework in which our Constitutional Framers espoused their views. Admitting one's atheism in those days was at least as deadly to the person's political future as it would be today. Quite likely, very few people toyed with the idea: the intellectuals and the rebels mainly, as is the case in any generation in virtually any culture. So Jefferson, who did not believe in the supernatural or in the divinity of Jesus or the so-called miracles described in the Bible, called himself a Deist, but he really tended toward atheism/agnosticism, and probably would have been neither a theist nor a Deist had he lived today. He became President, perhaps partly because he was able to make his religious views appear to be compatible with social norms. He was able to do what politicians must do, which is fit in to his culture. By contrast, Thomas Paine was more open about his disdain for theism and theology, and not surprisingly he did not hold high political office.

Bryan also overlooks the fact that whatever these men believed, they adopted a secular Constitution. There is not a word about "God" anywhere in it, and its only references to religion are in the First Amendment. Those are facts, but Bryan steadfastly insists on ignoring them.

Bryan also falsely assumes (it seems) that the Declaration of Independence is our nation's founding document. It is not. The Constitution is our nation's founding document. The Declaration of Independence merely stated the case for separating from British rule, and while it references "their Creator," it was also a political document meant to inspire the masses to action. Jefferson was its main author, and we know his views on religion, especially the Christian religion. He opposed much of it, often quite vehemently. And while his words are measured in most of his public writings, he is more candid in a series of letters to his nephew, wherein he was especially critical of many of the tenets of supernatural belief systems. It is entirely possible that he found a way in his own mind to use a term like "Creator" loosely, so as to make the Declaration more powerful politically. Was he capable of that sort of mind game? This author of freedom owned slaves, so why would anyone think that he wasn't capable of mental gymnastics, similar to those of more modern politicians?

The important point is that we cannot logically employ the methods of fundamentalist-literalism to the words of the Framers or anyone else, cherry-picking a phrase here or there because it supports our point. At best we can look back more than 200 years to understand the writings and actions of these men in their totality, and at least equally important, to look at the legal framework they actually left us. That is what Bryan steadfastly refuses to do. We can't just take it out of a dictionary. We have to look at history and meaning in their totality. That leaves the door open for revisionism, no doubt, but Bryan's method does the same thing to an even greater degree.

Contrrary to Bryan's bald assertion, there was a prevailing of one side over the other. The Framers considered putting "God" into the Constitution, and voted down those who proposed to do that. One side prevailed, and the losing side wasn't happy about it, but to their credit recognized the importance of founding a nation and agreed to support the Constitution. The claim that one side did not prevail is simply false. It has nothing to do with the DoI, which is not a legally binding document under the laws of the United States. It never has been. The DoI predates our nation's founding and as such has no legal effect. Courts refer to it sometimes as part of our cultural and national heritage, but it does not have the force of law today or at any time since the United States of America was founded. Bryan's fallacy here is in the false assumption that the Declaration of Independence is the official and legally binding foundation for anything under the jurisdiction of the USA. It is not.

Bryan then speculates about how long the secular purpose test has informed US law. I do not know of any time in our history when government under the US Constitution was allowed to base its laws on anything but secular purposes. There was a time when the federal courts stayed out of internal state issues (even when a state crushed fundamental human rights), but that ended with adoption of the 14th Amendment. The fact that Bryan is willing to return us to the system that allowed men to enslave and beat other men, sell their families, etc., at their pleasure says more about the lengths to which Bryan will go to try to shape the world into his vision (and the pathological indifference to human rights and human suffering in that vision) than it does about the world or the legal system today. The secular purpose test certainly predates Lemon in 1971, since that case cites an earlier case citing the test. However, it must be remembered that these religious freedom cases began to emerge mainly after World War II. The mere absence of a stated principle in the case law does not mean that the principle did not exist in the law, but only that the courts had not found occasion to announce it explicitly. No doubt a Constitutional scholar could shed more light on the issue, but to what end? The secular purpose test is part of our law, and it is necessary if we are to have any hope of living together as a religiously, culturally and ethnically diverse nation of 300 million people and growing. It's not enough to say that you favor a different system. You must be able to think through how that system would work. Bryan steadfastly refuses to do that, too.

This next part is just funny. Bryan wrote (see above): "And it does no good to dismiss the people as 'superstitious'; approximately half of all witch cases ended in acquittal, so the benighted pre-enlightenment masses were largely skeptical. In many of the other cases there would have been evidence that the accused actually performed actions intended to bring ill to their neighbors. The science of the day would have discerned cause and effect (science back then was just as capable of being wrong as modern science)."

What an incredible feat of mental gymnastics! Consider the breathtaking fallacies in just a few sentences:

Fallacy 1: Half of people accused of being witches were acquitted; therefore, the people of the time were skeptical, not superstitious. (If you don't get how ridiculous this is, don't even bother, because you don't get it.)

Fallacy 2: If someone does something that could harm a neighbor, that makes a charge of witchery legitimate.

Fallacy 3: Belief in witches can be compared to modern science.

I'd finish this off with other points, but that pretty much says it. Bryan's central organizing principle is that he is right. End of story. And for him, it is the end of the story because that's where he stops.

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Actually, people are reading what Paul says and also what you and your ilk say.

If I am correct, you and like minded people like Bryan want the United States to become a theocracy, because that is what you believe our founding fathers wanted.

Are you correct?

If this was true than they could have simply written into the Constitution stating so. In fact, John Adams wanted a Government similar to what the British had which was that a wealthy Family be in charge. Since he couldn't get his way, he left and came back only to sign the final document but was not pleased.

While Adams favored states' rights and reform of the Articles of Confederation, he had worried about the continuing weakness of the national government. In 1788 he welcomed the proposed Constitution as "admirably calculated to preserve the Union."

http://ap.grolier.com/article?assetid=0003410-00

The theocrats believe that British common law is derived from religion and since our judicial system was based on English common law that this meant a theocracy.

Do I believe that?

However, their common law derived prior to religion even being brought to England so that could not be true.

That's one of the funniest things I've read here yet.

http://vi.uh.edu/pages/bob/elhone/seisin.html

http://vi.uh.edu/pages/bob/elhone/elhmat.html

http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/econ/hale01.htm

Personally, I don't want a theocratic Government. If you do than may I make a suggestion. Find an Island somewhere, buy it, move there and start your own Government. This way you can build the kind of society that you want. However, I believe that you would be very disappointed, since there are so many religions out there it would be hard to pick just one. But if you are lucky, your religion will attract the majority and you could then attempt to force your beliefs on all the others.

At the time of the Declaration of Independence, an overwhelming majority of Americans were theists (including Deists), and though the overpowering majority is less today, it is still a very substantial majority.

The United States asserted its independence and established self-government based on belief in god (a corollary of the "self-evident" idea that rights were given by the Creator).

I advocate that self-evident idea. Do you think I should leave the U.S. and go elsewhere and leave the U.S. to those who completely disagree with what the Framers thought self-evident?

Seriously?

You could practice traditional family values once you get the majority to come to an agreement what traditional family values are.

Is that allowed within the United States? Without the whole island idea?

Sounds ridiculous? Not really because when I read responses from all the good Christians I am thankful that our founders were wise enough to insure that we never became a country that you want the rest of us to live in.

Yet I'm advocating exactly what the Framers advocated.

So, were you correct in supposing that I want a theocracy?

No matter how you try to spin it, no matter how you try to rationalize it, and no matter who or what you use to argue [a]gainst those who disagree with you, as long as there are people like us, who believe in our founders our country is safe.

Heh. What a load of doubletalk.

You don't believe that it is self-evident that the Creator granted you unalienable rights, do you?

And to Paul, please keep burning up your key boards because reading your responses prove that these people are in the minority, where they belong.

His compelling contradictions have you convinced he is correct, then?

:lol:

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Actually, people are reading what Paul says and also what you and your ilk say.

If I am correct, you and like minded people like Bryan want the United States to become a theocracy, because that is what you believe our founding fathers wanted.

If this was true than they could have simply written into the Constitution stating so. In fact, John Adams wanted a Government similar to what the British had which was that a wealthy Family be in charge. Since he couldn't get his way, he left and came back only to sign the final document but was not pleased.

The theocrats believe that British common law is derived from religion and since our judicial system was based on English common law that this meant a theocracy. However, their common law derived prior to religion even being brought to England so that could not be true.

Personally, I don't want a theocratic Government. If you do than may I make a suggestion. Find an Island somewhere, buy it, move there and start your own Government. This way you can build the kind of society that you want. However, I believe that you would be very disappointed, since there are so many religions out there it would be hard to pick just one. But if you are lucky, your religion will attract the majority and you could then attempt to force your beliefs on all the others. You could practice traditional family values once you get the majority to come to an agreement what traditional family values are. And as far as school, you wouldn't need one since you would have the spoken word as your education.

Sounds ridiculous? Not really because when I read responses from all the good Christians I am thankful that our founders were wise enough to insure that we never became a country that you want the rest of us to live in. No matter how you try to spin it, no matter how you try to rationalize it, and no matter who or what you use to argue gainst those who disagree with you, as long as there are people like us, who believe in our founders our country is safe. And to Paul, please keep burning up your key boards because reading your responses prove that these people are in the minority, where they belong.

You've been posting the same crap since day one, don't you know anything else ?? You've been playing the same record over and over. BORINGGGGGG.

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Having read these topics, it is clear that Bryan is the one attempting to revise history, often by trying to build and destroy straw men. (However, he does not admit it even when it is obvious.) Bryan is one of those individuals who tries to reshape the universe to conform to his beliefs, instead of shaping his beliefs according to the facts. There are millions of people like this (everyone does it to a degree), but Bryan is especially persistent and stubborn about it. So let's dissect just this one post to illustrate the crippling flaws in Bryan's methods.

Promising to back up your criticism, eh? I appreciate your promise to do so without me having to drag it out of you.

In pointing out that Diests are theists, Bryan overlooks the social framework in which our Constitutional Framers espoused their views. Admitting one's atheism in those days was at least as deadly to the person's political future as it would be today. Quite likely, very few people toyed with the idea: the intellectuals and the rebels mainly, as is the case in any generation in virtually any culture. So Jefferson, who did not believe in the supernatural or in the divinity of Jesus or the so-called miracles described in the Bible, called himself a Deist, but he really tended toward atheism/agnosticism, and probably would have been neither a theist nor a Deist had he lived today. He became President, perhaps partly because he was able to make his religious views appear to be compatible with social norms. He was able to do what politicians must do, which is fit in to his culture. By contrast, Thomas Paine was more open about his disdain for theism and theology, and not surprisingly he did not hold high political office.

Philosophers who didn't run for political office weren't espousing atheism either, champ.

Have a look at this list of notable philosophers.

http://www.adherents.com/adh_phil.html

The earliest one identified as an atheist is Schopenhauer (1788-1860).

Your theory's all well and good--there's just no real evidence to support it. In effect, you're trying to reshape the universe to conform to your beliefs. Atheism was not a respectable intellectual position. That is why it was both politically and socially untenable even in intellectual circles.

Bryan also overlooks the fact that whatever these men believed, they adopted a secular Constitution. There is not a word about "God" anywhere in it, and its only references to religion are in the First Amendment. Those are facts, but Bryan steadfastly insists on ignoring them.

I also ignored the fact that aluminum cans didn't always have pop tops and the fact that helium can allow people to talk in high, squeaky voices.

It's up to you to point out the relevance of what I'm ignoring. It's not like the Constitution is the only window into the worldview of the Framers, and the Worldview of the Framers is the topic.

Bryan also falsely assumes (it seems) that the Declaration of Independence is our nation's founding document.

Seems that way, does it? Quote me.

It is not. The Constitution is our nation's founding document.

So the United States didn't exist until 1787?

http://usgovinfo.about.com/blconstday.htm

What moron was it that made the error that resulted in a bicentennial celebration in 1976? What nation's flag did Washington fight under during the Revolutionary War?

http://www.williams.edu/resources/chapin/e...s/founding.html

The Declaration of Independence merely stated the case for separating from British rule,

It went one step further than that. It declared independence.

and while it references "their Creator," it was also a political document meant to inspire the masses to action. Jefferson was its main author, and we know his views on religion, especially the Christian religion. He opposed much of it, often quite vehemently. And while his words are measured in most of his public writings, he is more candid in a series of letters to his nephew, wherein he was especially critical of many of the tenets of supernatural belief systems. It is entirely possible that he found a way in his own mind to use a term like "Creator" loosely, so as to make the Declaration more powerful politically. Was he capable of that sort of mind game? This author of freedom owned slaves, so why would anyone think that he wasn't capable of mental gymnastics, similar to those of more modern politicians?

And, just maybe, Jefferson was also a Templar and was a descendent of Jesus himself. Why else would he praise Jesus' teachings to the extent he did while denying the miraculous?

"Guest," your post is positively bursting with oodles of unintended irony.

So far, you've got the "crippling flaw" that I ignore the secular nature of the text of the Constitution, though you haven't made any case as to why I should have mentioned it.

You followed that up with some rather fanciful musings apparently intended to build the case that atheism was fairly common among the truly intelligent of those latter days, but they couldn't afford to allow it to be known because it would hurt their political careers.

You forgot to mention, of course, that you don't have any real evidence supporting that view.

The important point is that we cannot logically employ the methods of fundamentalist-literalism to the words of the Framers or anyone else, cherry-picking a phrase here or there because it supports our point. At best we can look back more than 200 years to understand the writings and actions of these men in their totality, and at least equally important, to look at the legal framework they actually left us.  That is what Bryan steadfastly refuses to do.

On that point you're right, but I think the fact that it would take years to understand the writings and actions of the Framers in their totality is a reasonable excuse for not bogging the discussion down into a morass of agnosticism. Whatever else they wrote, the Framers put together the Declaration of Independence. If you wish to claim that I'm putting too much focus on minor portions of that document, then make a case for that claim. On the other hand, if you wish to claim that some particular aspect of writings of the time places new light on the DoI, then make a case for that.

And your claim that I refuse to look at the legal framework they actually left us is simply false. We were given a framework that restricted the federal government as to religion while leaving state and local governments free to act in that realm. I provided a quote from one of Jefferson's letters that illustrates that point in what I would call an unequivocal manner--and far from being steadfastly unwilling to discuss it, I'd love for somebody from your side to treat that issue.

I've had the impression they're ducking that one.

We can't just take it out of a dictionary. We have to look at history and meaning in their totality. That leaves the door open for revisionism, no doubt, but Bryan's method does the same thing to an even greater degree.

That's baloney. I'm trying to get Paul to describe what he means by "secular world view." It's not a good choice of terms for advocating separation of church and state, but I'd accept that explanation from him even though he ends up looking rather silly for painting the Deists as pro-church/state separation and theists as anti-church/state separation.

If you think I've revised history in any way, shape, or form, I expect you to give a specific example.

Contrrary to Bryan's bald assertion, there was a prevailing of one side over the other. The Framers considered putting "God" into the Constitution, and voted down those who proposed to do that.

Except I was talking about the Declaration of Independence, not about the Constitution ("Moreover, there was no prevailing of one side over the other. The two sides met on common ground; the theists signed the DoI because it expressed their point of view on the matter.").

Moreover, our illustrious "Guest" has made no move to establish theist/Deist groups in opposition on the god issue in the Constitution. I don't think he could do it.

One side prevailed, and the losing side wasn't happy about it, but to their credit recognized the importance of founding a nation and agreed to support the Constitution. The claim that one side did not prevail is simply false.

What's false is calling false a claim made about the DoI by substituting a different situation respecting the Constitution.

It has nothing to do with the DoI, which is not a legally binding document under the laws of the United States. It never has been.

There's been a book published, IIRC, that makes the opposite case. I've had trouble finding it just now, but the gist of it is that the DoI and other documents were declared founding documents (or some similar language) by an act of Congress. A rather long time ago, as it happens.

You should be careful about making statements that may be flatly false.

The DoI predates our nation's founding and as such has no legal effect.

The DoI, in effect, appeals to inter (or perhaps super) national law in justifying the break with England. You might not agree with the appeal, but it's there.

Courts refer to it sometimes as part of our cultural and national heritage, but it does not have the force of law today or at any time since the United States of America was founded. Bryan's fallacy here is in the false assumption that the Declaration of Independence is the official and legally binding foundation for anything under the jurisdiction of the USA. It is not.

Guest's flaw here is the straw man fallacy.

I don't refer to the Declaration of Independence as being legally binding. I refer to it as an excellent measure of the worldview of the Framers.

Bryan then speculates about how long the secular purpose test has informed US law. I do not know of any time in our history when government under the US Constitution was allowed to base its laws on anything but secular purposes.

Add to that the fallacy of appeal to ignorance.

You'd be the sort of person to discern a secular purpose in designating chaplains, I expect.

In Section 9 of An Act to Provide for Calling Forth the Militia to Execute the Laws of the Union, Suppress Insurrection, etc., approved 18 April 1814, Congress declared: "Regimental chaplains in the militia which have been, or shall be, called into the service of the United States, shall receive the same monthly pay and rations as a captain of Infantry with the addition of forage for one horse."

There was a time when the federal courts stayed out of internal state issues (even when a state crushed fundamental human rights), but that ended with adoption of the 14th Amendment. The fact that Bryan is willing to return us to the system that allowed men to enslave and beat other men, sell their families, etc., at their pleasure says more about the lengths to which Bryan will go to try to shape the world into his vision (and the pathological indifference to human rights and human suffering in that vision) than it does about the world or the legal system today.

As I pointed out to Paul, the slaves were freed prior to passage of the 14th Amendment (see the 13th Amendment, or the Gettysburg Address if you like). Apparently the slaves could be freed without the 14th Amendment. But I'm just going by history and facts, unlike "Guest" so what do I know?

The secular purpose test certainly predates Lemon in 1971, since that case cites an earlier case citing the test.

Show us.

http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getc...l=403&invol=602

However, it must be remembered that these religious freedom cases began to emerge mainly after World War II. The mere absence of a stated principle in the case law does not mean that the principle did not exist in the law, but only that the courts had not found occasion to announce it explicitly.

May we at least see where the principle existed in the law, then?

No doubt a Constitutional scholar could shed more light on the issue, but to what end? The secular purpose test is part of our law, and it is necessary if we are to have any hope of living together as a religiously, culturally and ethnically diverse nation of 300 million people and growing. It's not enough to say that you favor a different system. You must be able to think through how that system would work. Bryan steadfastly refuses to do that, too.

Huh. Repeating Paul's lie (and I'll grant Paul the moral benefit of the doubt in using the term to simply mean a false statement).

The system worked from 1776 through the Civil War period, prior to the 14th Amendment. States could and did pass laws that touched religious issues--and the exercised enough restraint that Paul's side has so far been able to resist calling the first half of US existence a theocracy.

This demand that I describe how the system would work is just a silly piece of obfuscation. Pick up a history book if you want to see how it worked.

This next part is just funny. Bryan wrote (see above): "And it does no good to dismiss the people as 'superstitious'; approximately half of all witch cases ended in acquittal, so the benighted pre-enlightenment masses were largely skeptical. In many of the other cases there would have been evidence that the accused actually performed actions intended to bring ill to their neighbors. The science of the day would have discerned cause and effect (science back then was just as capable of being wrong as modern science)."

What an incredible feat of mental gymnastics! Consider the breathtaking fallacies in just a few sentences:

Fallacy 1: Half of people accused of being witches were acquitted; therefore, the people of the time were skeptical, not superstitious. (If you don't get how ridiculous this is, don't even bother, because you don't get it.)

Another straw man from "Guest," as he transforms "largely skeptical" into "skeptical, not superstitious."

The evidence of the time indicates that judges and juries in witch trial cases heard the evidence and weighed it with an overall skeptical eye.

Consider the case of Anne Gunter.

In the end, the charade failed, and Anne Gunter passed into obscurity until Professor Sharpe, an authority on the history of witchcraft, revived her case.

His account shows that the Jacobeans were not as credulous as we suppose.

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m099...321/ai_65130579

But of course all I've got is evidence presented by an expert. Not a straw man fallacy combined with a fallacious appeal to ridicule as with "Guest."

Fallacy 2: If someone does something that could harm a neighbor, that makes a charge of witchery legitimate.

Another straw man.

It is a legitimate concern of a society if people are deliberately plotting actions that would harm their neighbors, whether or not the actions could be successful in principle. One who picks up toy guns routinely and attempts to shoot people with them serves as an example. His actions show him to be a danger to society based on his behavior. The same holds true in principle for one who would attempt to kill somebody else's livestock through dubious means.

Another parallel would be conspiracy laws. Is there any harm in merely plotting to murder someone? Surely the crime is in the attempt, right?

Fallacy 3: Belief in witches can be compared to modern science.

That's not a fallacy.

People believed in witches because they observed cause and effect. Person X curses horse G, horse G dies. And typically it took a number of such instances for a witch (except in the case of witch panics) to acquire a reputation for attempting evil via magic. They used the same principles that modern science uses, except they didn't test as rigorously and they did a poor job of communicating and sharing the results (the culture wasn't particularly literate).

Today, right now, it would be reasonable to test a person who seemed to have the ability to cause animals to get sick and die via putting a curse on them. If the correspondence were consistent, it would be called a natural law eventually (the law of Broomhilda's cattle-cursing or something like that).

I'd finish this off with other points, but that pretty much says it. Bryan's central organizing principle is that he is right. End of story. And for him, it is the end of the story because that's where he stops.

And you've proven it with the magic of fallacious reasoning, with particular reliance on straw man construction.

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It's no accident that we met over the Paszkiewicz matter, since he wants what you want. Right now, my way prevails. If enough people think as you do, that will change, but I hope that will not happen.

Did Mr. Paszkiewicz ever say this? Or just came up with it? curious...

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Did Mr. Paszkiewicz ever say this?

Not literally of course, but that's basically the general underlying 'desire' behind the actions of anyone who is out to 'spread the good news' and so on. Anyone (especially a pastor) who is unable to keep his religion in check in a public school classroom obviously has got that 'desire' in him, or else how great God/Jesus/Christianity is etc. is wouldn't have kept coming up in those conversations in class.

People don't preach their religion to others, or hand them pamphlets (this actually happened to me yesterday) for no reason. They want to convert people. Their ideal is for everyone to have the beliefs they do. And the ones who are more...let's say "flagrant" about it, like Paszkiewicz, are the kind of people who talk about wanting this country to be a theocracy, and/or claiming it is, or even that separation of church and state is a myth or something (see Paszkiewicz's first letter to the Observer on the preaching issue).

Just reading references to the USA as a "Christian nation" should throw up a red flag or two, as a rule of thumb, lol.

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