Precisely. Though to my knowledge, only the leaders of the communist faith
enunciated the philosophy that the end justified the means directly.
Men will fight for food or territory, but they will die for an ideal or
I forget where this quote came from.
The enduring attraction of war is this: Even with its destruction and
carnage it can give us what we long for in life. It can give us purpose,
meaning, a reason for living... And war is an enticing elixir. It gives us
resolve, a cause. It allows us to be noble. And those who have the least
meaning in their lives ... are all susceptible to war's appeal.
Actually, it's the Declaration of Independence that Tim's referring to
specifically, not the Constitution wherein the reference comes from.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created
equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable
rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men,
deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. ..."
But, it seems pretty clear, I agree...
It is indeed the Declaration where Jefferson parrots Locke in naming
the "Creator" as the author of our natural rights. While the
Constitution does not explicitly mention this, it is implicit in its
very foundations. Moreover, even a casual reading of the personal
lives of the Framers shows them almost all to have some at least
nodding investment in Judeo-Christian ideas (Franklin) up to an
including people who were deeply invested in their Christian faith (the
Adams boys). To sanitize our government entirely of religious
expression today is to dishonor our own history and the intent of the
Framers. Were they trying to institution a state religion? No. Were
they trying to exclude anyone but Christians? No. But their ideas came
from *somewhere*. That "somewhere" was the Judeo-Christian notion that
we are valuable because we are God's creation. Secularists/atheists
hate this, and have been busy for decades trying to paint of this
inconvenient part of U.S. history. I have no more respect for them
than I do the snakehandler religious rightwingers who want to turn
all our Framers in Southern Baptists ... but that's a grump for another day.
Tim Daneliuk email@example.com
Why are the two documents so unalike in their inclusion/exclusion of the
mention of a Creator? Are not many of those who wrote and signed the
Constitution the same as those who wrote and signed the Declaration?
This is a real question -- I'd never seen the disparity between the two
before this thread.
In contrast to Tim's answer, I think it has far more to do w/ the actual
purpose and content of the two documents themselves -- the Declaration
is prose and intended to be persuasive of the righteousness of the cause
where as the Constitution is a legal document and therefore staid and
much more precise.
You may be right... I wasn't there, and after considerable reading in
the matter, I don't know for sure and can only guess. But there is
indirect evidence of the Framers being deeply influenced by their
faith traditions - even if it was a sort of generic faith for many
of them. References to Divine providence litter their letters and
writings. Their appointment of chaplains to pray at the beginning
of legislative or other deliberative sessions is a big hint.
Certainly some of them (Sam Adams, John Adams) were very up front
about their religious faith and how it influenced their law making.
If they were alive today, some of the people on this thread would
be complaining bitterly about how "John Adams talks to God,
what a loon..." or words to that effect.
This thread got to this point because atheists have a couple problems
in liberal Western culture and it makes many of them angry:
1) The culture was not founded on pure secularism and this is historically
2) The worst abuses of government has been in places whether those
who govern either flatly oppose any sort of religious faith.
As I noted elsewhere in this thread, Stalin is a poster child
for what happens when you don't believe any moral boundaries exist.
He alone makes the next two or three in the Top 10 Evil Hit Parade
look like rookies. Mao - another atheist - is not far behind.
Any one of these did more harm than all the excessive of every
religion before- or since. But that doesn't stop a good number of
atheists from blaming faith for the world's problems
3) A good many atheists I've spoken with cannot make the distinction
between a *sufficient* form of knowledge and a *complete* form
of knowledge. Science is sufficient for a great many things,
but it is complete. It simply cannot address a bunch of
questions we humans find interesting. I cannot because of the
nature of how scientific knowledge is acquired and tested. This
claim, too, is mighty irritating to atheists.
For the record, I do not think government is well served by having it
become a theocracy. I similarly have no desire to convince atheists
that my views are right. I just tire of listening to them blame
people like me for all the world's sins, when it has been much moreso
people like them that have been the real culprits. Some of the
asinine comments seen here as regards to politicians who openly
express their faith (politicians, I might add, whose ideas I almost
entirely disagree with) are yet another example of these bad manners.
Tim Daneliuk firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you dpb -- now I've more to consider regarding the two documents.
Given the seemingly clear inclusion/exclusion I'm leaning to my own
understanding that the framers of the Constitution wanted no reference
to any faith belief in the primary document of the country. While the
majority of the citizenry held religious beliefs (as it still does
today), the framers purposefully withheld all such references.
Why would they so blatantly do this if they were using, as has been
argued, Judeo-Christian beliefs to draw upon?
Was the Declaration merely a play to the faithful to stir the majority
to action? In other words, use the argument most likely to appeal to the
listener regardless of your own beliefs as long as the end result moves
toward your goal?
Would a Deist be considered a conservative or a liberal by today's
I think you're taking it out of context of both time and purpose. To
infer the first one would have to ignore all the supporting debate,
letters, other writings and prior and post history of the individuals
Overall, considering the scope of the document and the issues, religion
was a very small fraction, indeed, so it is not surprising it doesn't
contain references thereunto. It is, after all, _not_ a religious
document. One cannot, of course, separate the writing of a Constitution
for a budding nation having recently succeeded in pulling of a
revolution from the Declaration of Independence which was the
instigating document of that revolution so I would answer the questions as
1. It is not "blatantly" ignored, the pertinent question was directly
addressed in the establishment doctrine.
2. No, the beliefs expressed are completely self-consistent w/ those of
the primary author as well as the overwhelming majority of the signers
(actually, I'd venture 100%, but I've not researched every individual
signer in detail).
3. Religious belief is irrelevant to political belief overall. I
strongly suspect would be hard to find any of the original members of
the constitutional convention that would be considered anything but
conservative (probably radically so) politically these days regardless
of how "enlightened" their social views of the time might have been. In
those ways as well, they would all undoubtedly be "male chauvinist pigs".
So, overall, I personally disagree quite strongly w/ your interpretation
and think if you were to read seriously of the era you'd find great
difficulty in substantiating the hypotheses outlined.
One needs to understand that a King rules by divine right. The
feudal notion was that rights flowed own from above. From
God to the King, from the King to the nobility, from the nobility
to the commoners. By the time of the Revolution, the other
nobles had been circumvented so that all Englishmen were
directly subjects of the King.
Still, to rebel against the king was to rebel against God,
is the King in question was the supreme temporal head of the
Christian Church in England. Jefferson was faced with the vexing
problem of how to separate rebellion from sacrilege. His solution,
drawing upon the work of the early liberals, was to do the same
with the King as the King had done with the lesser nobility. He
circumvented the King, declaring that each person's rights flowed
to him directly from God.
Let's not forget, Jefferson was trying to convince a lot of other
colonists to join in, or at least tolerate the revolution. He was
not trying to convert others to his personal philosophy. Whatever
that was, Jefferson' words were always crafted with deference
to his audience.
That's a stretch -- Jefferson took it almost literally from Locke. Nor,
do I think Jefferson had any difficulty whatsoever in thinking freedom
of tyranny from the King had anything whatsoever to do w/ sacrilege.
I'm not sure he would have thought there _could_ even be such a thing a
sacrilege--and surely not against the Church of England.
The notion of natural rights appeals directly to a Creator only
in the mind of one who believes in a Creator. Belief in a
Creator is not needed to believe in natural rights. One
may assume the existence of such rights as easily as one
may assume the existence of a Creator.
The Framers themselves chose to sanitize the Constitution itself.
That does not show that they were not religious men. It DOES
show that they wanted their nation to function independently of
It's also pretty straight forward that "no religious test shall ever
be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the
United States." Yet what we've seen - at least on the Republican side
- is precisely that. Romney felt compelled to comment on his religious
views, to tell the faithful that his Jesus was Jesusy enough. No
matter. Iowa Republicans went with the most Christianly candidate they
The Huckster's schtick isn't going to play here in the Northeast.
He'll be crushed in New Hampshire. After that South Carolina get its
shot. How do you think they'll vote? My guess is more Jesusry.
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