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Where is God in the Constitution?
Faith and Action ^ | Nov 04 | David W. New, Esq.

Posted on 12/10/2004 3:38:41 PM PST by Ed Current

Secularists believe that they have the right view of America. They are convinced that America should be a secular state or a godless state. They believe that religion was not a decisive factor in the formation of the Constitution of the United States and therefore, this proves that the framers of the Constitution did not want religion to influence public policy. Simply put, politics and religion don't mix. Government and religion should be kept as far apart as possible. There are several historical "facts" secularists use to support their views. Apparently, one of the most important historical facts is the absence of the word "God" in the U.S. Constitution. To secularists, the absence of the word "God" is extremely significant. Indeed, it has a deep, almost mystical significance to them. It suggests that the framers of the Constitution had little or no interest in religion. Secularists are convinced that the absence of the word "God" proves that there should be a strict separation of church and state in the United States.

The purpose of this article is to argue that the conclusions reached by the secularists goes far beyond what the historical evidence will allow and to offer some reasons for why the word "God" does not appear in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment.

The U.S. Constitution Before and After Charles Darwin

Most people would not consider Charles Darwin to be someone important in order to understand the U.S. Constitution. Most people would consider the writings of men like John Locke, Blackstone and James Madison as important in order to understand the Constitution. Obviously, these men had a great influence on the Constitution. But there is a sense in which Charles Darwin is more important than all of them. Charles Darwin, the author of The Origin of Species (1859) had a profound impact on the U.S. Constitution. In fact, a case could be made that he has had a greater or equal impact on the Constitution than the delegates at the constitutional convention! The reason is simple. Charles Darwin changed the way we see the Constitution. For better or for worse, the way many Americans see the Constitution today is very different from the time before Darwin. The dominant legal philosophy in the United States today is secularism. The U.S. Constitution is seen today as a "secular" document. This is what Charles Darwin gave us. Charles Darwin gave us secularism. Secularism as a philosophy is based on the principle that there is an alternative explanation for the existence of the Universe. Secularists believe that only scientific evolution is valid. They are not atheists as often claimed. Many secularists believe in God. However, secularists believe that in terms of the government, it does not matter whether God exists or not. The impact of secularism on the Constitution was revolutionary. Secularists read the Constitution in a way that is totally foreign to its framers. In a nutshell, secularists think that religion was not important to the framers of the Constitution. As one of their writers said concerning the majority of the delegates at Philadelphia: ". . . most were men who could take their religion or leave it alone." Note 1.

The Constitution Before Darwin

To the framers of the Constitution, the idea of having a government not based on God would have been unthinkable. It is important to remember that when the Constitution was written, the only possible explanation for the existence of the Universe was special creation. Therefore, all of the delegates at the Philadelphia convention were creationist. This is the reason the framers did not create a "secular" state in the modern sense of the term. Indeed, the concept of "secularism" as it is used today didn't even exist in 1787. It is largely a twentieth century concept. Since the framers of our Constitution predated Darwin and the theory of evolution, the desire to have a "secular" state would have made as much sense to them as Egyptian hieroglyphics. It is only with the advent of Darwin and an alternative explanation for the existence of the Universe that a secular state becomes desirable. There were atheists in 1787 to be sure but they lacked a coherent scientific explanation for the existence of the Universe.

At the same time, the framers of our Constitution did not want America to become a theocracy. They did not believe in a theocratic state. The framers of our Constitution did not want clergymen to pick the Presidents and set government policy. However, this is not to say that they saw no role for religion in government. The framers most certainly did believe that religion and religious values should influence the government and its policies. George Washington's first Proclamation as President made this abundantly clear. On the day that Congress finished its work on the First Amendment, it called on President George Washington to issue a Proclamation to the people of the United States to thank God for the freedoms we enjoy. A week and a day later the President's opening paragraph in his Proclamation said: "Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor . . ." Note 2. The words "to obey His will" are fatal to any suggestion that George Washington and the framers of our Constitution believed in "secularism." In America, religious values influence government policy through the vote of the people.

The Constitution After Darwin

The rise of modern secularism made the debate about the word "God" in the Constitution very intense. It was not until the legal community in the United States adopted secularism that the absence of the word "God" took on the kind of significance it has today. It is true that before the rise of modern secularism some Americans objected to the fact that the word "God" was not in the Constitution. There were suggestions to amend the Constitution to add it. There were efforts to add "Almighty God" and "Jesus Christ" to the Preamble for example. Some members of Congress suggested that "In the Name of God" should be inserted before the Preamble. As early as the time of the Civil War, Americans have been trying to amend the Constitution to add some sort of reference to God. These efforts did not get very far with the public. Thankfully, Americans were content with the Constitution the way it was. However, in all of these early debates about whether the word "God" should be added to the Constitution, the debate was between one group of creationist verses another. Almost no believed that the United States was a godless country just because the word "God" was not in the Constitution. Today, this is no longer true. Today the fight is between creationist and evolutionist. Secularists insist that the absence of the word "God" means that the Constitution created a godless government in America.

Where is "God" in the Preamble to the Constitution?

Secularists are very quick to point out that the word "God" does not appear in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. They claim that this is highly significant. It proves that the United States should not be 'under God' in their opinion. Of course, they are correct in one point. The word "God" does not appear in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution or anywhere else. However, it is doubtful that this fact has the kind of significance they claim it has. Generally, the word "God" will appear in two places in most constitutions. The first place is in the preamble to the constitution. The second place is in the religion clauses in the bill of rights. For example, the word "God" appears in the preamble in eight state constitutions. In four states, the "Supreme Ruler of the Universe" is used instead. By far, the most popular divine reference in a preamble is "Almighty God." This appears in the preamble of 30 state constitutions. In some states, the state constitution does not have a preamble. However, a divine reference can be found in the religion clauses in the bill of rights in each instance. There is only one state constitution which has a preamble that does not have a divine reference of any kind. This is the Constitution of Oregon. But here the words "Almighty God" appear in the state religion clauses. In the case of the U.S. Constitution however, no divine reference appears in either the Preamble or in the religion clauses in the First Amendment. Why is this true?

The most likely reason why the word "God" does not appear in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution is textual. The Preamble to the U.S. Constitution is modeled after the Preamble in the Articles of Confederation. Since the Articles of Confederation did not use the word "God" in the Preamble, this is the most likely reason it does not appear in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. The Preamble in the Articles of Confederation began by listing all 13 states. It began as follows: "Articles of Confederation and perpetual union between New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, etc. . . . and Georgia." When the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution was first drafted, this was the model that was used. Later, as the constitutional convention was coming to a close, a short form was agreed to. The 13 states were dropped in favor of the much simpler form We the People.Thus, rather than trying to establish a radical godless state, the most likely reason the word "God" does not appear in the Preamble was because the Articles of Confederation did not have it. It is doubtful that anyone in 1787 could have foreseen the development of radical secularists groups like the ACLU and their 'spin' on the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution.

Where is "God" in the First Amendment?

The most likely reason why the word "God" does not appear in the First Amendment is textual as well. Here however the textual reason is due to the subject matter of the First Amendment. The religion clauses in the First Amendment are very different from the religion clauses in most state constitutions. The subject of the religion clauses in the First Amendment is the government or "Congress." This is not the case with most state constitutions. In most state constitutions the subject is the individual. This difference in the subject matter is the reason the word "God" does not appear in the First Amendment's religion clauses. Let's compare the religion clauses in the First Amendment with the most popular religion clause used in the United States. Most states copy from the religion clauses found in the Pennsylvania Constitution. In particular, the first sentence appears in many state constitutions which says: "All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences . . . " The subject of the clause is clear. It is "All men." The New Hampshire Constitution which copied from Pennsylvania uses' better wording. It says "Every individual . . ." In either case, the individual is the subject of the clause. Thus, a major difference between the religion clauses in the First Amendment and most state constitutions are their points of view. The First Amendment was written from the point of view of the government. Most state constitutions were written from the point of view of the individual. In addition, the religion clause in the Pennsylvania Constitution protects a "natural right" of an individual to worship "Almighty God" according to conscience. Since the focus of the religion clause is on the "right" of an individual, the word "God" naturally appears. This is not the case with the First Amendment. Here the focus is on the role of the government. There are two religion clauses in the First Amendment. They consist of 16 words as follows: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . . " The first clause is known as the Establishment Clause. The second clause is known as the Free Exercise Clause. The subject of the First Amendment is clearly the "Congress." The purpose of the First Amendment is to bar the Federal Government from interfering with the freedom of religion in the United States. Congress may not establish a religion or prohibit the free exercise of religion in America. Since the purpose of the First Amendment is to stop any abuse by the Federal Government against religion, this explains why the words "God" "natural right" "worship" or "conscience" do not appear. Rather than trying to promote a radical secularist philosophy, the most likely reason the framers did not use the word "God" in the First Amendment is because the subject is Congress.

Where is "God" in the Constitution?

The mistake modern secularists make is obvious. They take a twentieth century concept like "secularism" and read it back into the Constitution. They take a concept that didn't even exist in the eighteenth century and attribute it to the framers of the Constitution. Unfortunately, this is a very common mistake. The fact that the word "God" does not appear in the Constitution means little. It is actually a rather shallow observation. The reality is "God" is in every word of the Constitution, including the punctuation. Below the surface of the words in the Constitution, there are a mountain of ideas that made its formation possible. The belief that God exists and that all nations of the world are subject to Him sits on the summit of that mountain. As the Supreme Court of Florida said in 1950: "Different species of democracy have existed for more than 2,000 years, but democracy as we know it has never existed among the unchurched. A people unschooled about the sovereignty of God, the ten commandments and the ethics of Jesus, could never have evolved the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. There is not one solitary fundamental principle of our democratic policy that did not stem directly from the basic moral concepts as embodied in the Decalog and the ethics of Jesus . . . No one knew this better than the Founding Fathers." Note 3.

Special Note: Even if the word "God" was in the Constitution it probably would not make any difference. Secularist groups like the ACLU would probably dismiss it as a mere formality. There are 50 reasons to believe that this is true. Since secularists dismiss all references to God in the state constitutions, there is no reason to believe that they would behave any differently with the federal Constitution. Their commitment to secularism will not allow for the possibility that they might be wrong. Interestingly, in 1915 there was one state supreme court which said that the reference to "in the year of our Lord" in the U.S. Constitution was a reference to Jesus Christ! Note 4.

For a more in-depth discussion of how monotheism and the Ten Commandments influenced the U.S. Constitution read new my booklet: "The Ten Commandments For Beginners." Visit: www.mytencommandments.us for ordering information.

Notes.
1. Clinton Rossiter, 1787, The Grand Convention, pg. 126 (1966).
2. Vol 1. Messages and Papers of the Presidents, p. 64 (1896).
3. State v. City of Tampa, 48 So. 2d 78 (1950).
4. Herold v Parish Board of School Directors, 136 L.R. 1034 at 1044 (1915).


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Religious Freedom Restoration Act

(1) The freedom to practice religion and to express religious thought is acknowledged to be one of the fundamental and unalienable rights belonging to all individuals.

(2) The Framers of the Constitution deliberately withheld, in the main body of that document, any authority for the Federal Government to meddle with the religious affairs or with the free speech of the people. Then, as further and more specific protection for the people, they added the first amendment, which includes the `establishment clause' and the `freedom of speech clause' which are as follows: `Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech . . .'. It is of utmost importance to note that the first amendment is not a grant of authority to the Federal Government. To the contrary, it is a specific restriction upon the exercise of power by the Federal Government.

(3) For over 150 years, the Court held to this historically correct position in interpreting the first amendment. During this period, scant mention was made to `The Separation of Church and State'.

(4) Then, beginning in 1947, and accelerating through the 60's, the Court abruptly reversed its position. This was done with no change in the law, either by statute or by amendment to the Constitution. The Court invented the distorted meaning of the first amendment utilizing the separation of `church and state' in 1947 in Everson v. Board of Education when it announced: The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach. (Everson v. Board of Education; 330 U.S. 1, 18 [1947]). Over the past five decades, rulings of the United States Supreme Court have served to infringe upon the rights of Americans to enjoy freedom of speech relating to religious matters. Such infringements include the outlawing of prayer in schools and of the display of the Ten Commandments in public places. These rulings have not reflected a neutrality toward religious denominations but a hostility toward religious thought. They have served to undermine the foundation of not only our moral code but our system of law and justice.

(5) In making this abrupt change, the Court ignored all historical precedent established previously by the Court, the wording of the First Amendment, and the intent of its framers. The rulings are legally irrational and without foundation. Although the Court presumed to rely upon the First Amendment for its authority for these rulings, a review of that Amendment reveals that said rulings could not possibly have been based upon its original intent. Consequently, it is incumbent upon this Congress to review not only the rulings of the Court which are in question but the wording and history of the First Amendment to determine the intent of its framers. This abrupt change is found in the following court cases:

(A) `A verbal prayer offered in a school is unconstitutional, even if that prayer is both voluntary and denominationally neutral.' (Engel v. Vitale, 1962, Abington v. Schempp, 1963, Commissioner of Education v. School Committee of Leyden, 1971.)

(B) `Freedoms of speech and press are guaranteed to students and teachers unless the topic is religious, at which time such speech becomes unconstitutional.' (Stein v. Oshinsky, 1965, Collins v. Chandler Unified School District, 1981, Bishop v. Aronov, 1991, Duran v. Nitsche, 1991.)

(C) `It is unconstitutional for students to see the Ten Commandments since they might read, meditate upon, respect, or obey them.' (Stone v. Graham, 1980, Ring v. Grand Forks Public School District, 1980, Lanner v. Wimmer, 1981.)

(D) `If a student prays over his lunch, it is unconstitutional for him to pray aloud.' (Reed v. Van Hoven, 1965.)

(E) `The Ten Commandments, despite the fact that they are the basis of civil law and are depicted in engraved stone in the United States Supreme Court, may not be displayed at a public courthouse.' (Harvey v. Cobb County, 1993.)

(F) `When a student addresses an assembly of his peers, he effectively becomes a government representative; it is therefore unconstitutional for that student to engage in prayer.' (Harris v. Joint School District, 1994.)

(G) By interpreting the establishment clause to preclude prayer and other religious speech in any public place, the Supreme Court necessarily violates the free speech clause of the very same first amendment.

These rulings of the Court constitute de facto legislation or Constitution-amending. This is a serious violation of the doctrine of separation of powers, as all legislative authority bestowed by the people through the Constitution is bestowed upon the Congress and the Congress alone.

(6) A fundamental maxim of law is, whenever the intent of a statute or a constitution is in question, to refer to the words of its framers to determine their intent and use this intent as the true intent of the law.

(7) The intent of the First Amendment was and is clear on these two points: The Federal Government was prohibited from enacting any laws which would favor one religious denomination over another and the Federal Government has no power to forbid or prohibit any mention of religion, the Ten Commandments or reference to God in civic dialog.

(8) In its rulings to prohibit Americans from saying prayers in school or from displaying the Ten Commandments in public places, the Court has relied heavily upon the metaphor, `Separation of Church and State'. Note that this phrase is nowhere to be found in the First Amendment or any other place in the Constitution.

(9) The metaphor, `Separation of Church and State', was extracted, out of context, from a letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists in reply to a letter from them expressing concern that the Federal Government might intrude in religious matters by favoring one denomination over another. Jefferson's reply was that the First Amendment would preclude such intrusion.

(10) The Court, in its use of Separation of Church and State, has given to this phrase a meaning never intended by its author; it took it out of context and inverted its meaning and intent. The complete text of Jefferson's letter is found in Jefferson, Writings, Vol. XVI, pp. 281-282, to the Danbury Baptist Association on January 1, 1802.

(11) Justice William Rehnquist made an extensive study of the history of the First Amendment. In his dissent in Wallace v. Jaffree (472 U.S. 38, 48, n. 30 [1984],) he stated: `There is simply no historical foundation for the proposition that the Framers intended to build the `wall of separation' that was constitutionalized in Everson. . . . But the greatest injury of the `wall' notion is its mischievous diversion of judges from the actual intentions of the drafters of the Bill of Rights. . . . [N]o amount of repetition of historical errors in judicial opinions can make the errors true. The `wall of separation between church and state' is a metaphor based on bad history. . . . It should be frankly and explicitly abandoned. . . . Our perception has been clouded not by the Constitution but by the mists of an unnecessary metaphor. It would come as much of a shock to those who drafted the Bill of Rights, as it will to a large number of thoughtful Americans today, to learn that the Constitution, as construed by the majority, prohibits the Alabama Legislature from endorsing prayer. George Washington himself, at the request of the very Congress which passed the Bill of Rights, proclaimed a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God. History must judge whether it was the Father of his Country in 1789, or a majority of the Court today, which has strayed from the meaning of the Establishment Clause.'

(12) As Justice Rehnquist states, the greatest injury of the `wall' notion is its `mischievous diversion of judges from the actual intentions of the drafters of the Bill of Rights. . . .' It is necessary to review not only Jefferson's intent in his use of this `wall', but his involvement or noninvolvement in the drafting of the First Amendment, and the intent of the framers of the First Amendment.

(13) Jefferson was neither the author of nor a coauthor of the First Amendment. He cannot be considered as a source of legal authority on this subject. The Court, if it had wished to rely upon Jefferson to determine the true and original intent of the First Amendment, could have served themselves and the American people well by referring to Jefferson's admonition to Judge William Johnson regarding the determination of the original intent of a statute or a constitution: `On every question of construction, carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.' (Thomas Jefferson, Memoir, Correspondence, and Miscellanies, From the Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, editor [Boston: Gray and Bowen, 1830, Vol. IV., p. 373,] to Judge William Johnson on June 12, 1823).

(14) The principal authors of the First Amendment, the record reveals, were Fisher Ames and Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, not Thomas Jefferson. Others who participated were John Vining of Delaware, Daniel Carroll and Charles Carroll of Maryland, Benjamin Huntington, Roger Sherman and Oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut, William Paterson of New Jersey, and James Madison and George Mason of Virginia. Thomas Jefferson is not found in the record as having participated. (The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States [Washington, D.C.; Gales and Seaton, 1834], Vol. I, pp. 440-948, June 8-September 24, 1789.)

(15) George Mason, a member of the Constitutional Convention and recognized as `The Father of the Bill of Rights', submitted this proposal for the wording of the First Amendment: `All men have an equal, natural and unalienable right to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that no particular sect or society of Christians ought to be favored or established by law in preference to others.' (Kate Mason Rowland, The Life of George Mason [New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1892,] Vol I, p. 244.)

(16) The Father of the Constitution, James Madison, submitted the following wording for the First Amendment: `The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established.' (The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States [Washington, D.C.; Gales and Season, 1834,] Vol. I, p. 451, James Madison, June 8, 1789.)

(17) The true intent of the First Amendment is reflected by the proposals submitted by Fisher Ames, George Mason and James Madison and the wording finally adopted.

(18) Justice Joseph Story, considered the Father of American Jurisprudence, stated in his Commentaries on the Constitution: `The real object of the [First A]mendment was not to countenance, much less to advance Mohometanism [sp], or Judaism, or infidelity by prostrating Christianity; but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects and to prevent any national ecclesiastical establishment which should give to a hierarchy [a denominational council] the exclusive patronage of the national government. (Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States [Boston; Hilliard, Gray and Company, 1833], p. 728, par. 1871.)

(19) Proof that the intent of the framers of the First Amendment did not intend for the Federal Government to restrict the exercise of free speech in religious matters in civic dialog is found in various statements by George Washington, who was President when the Congress adopted the First Amendment. The following is found in his `Farewell Address': ` . . . of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness.' (George Washington, Address of George Washington, President of the United States. . . . Preparatory to his Declination [Baltimore: George and Henry S. Keatinge, 1796], pp. 22-23.

(20) James Wilson was a very active member of the Convention and was later appointed by President George Washington as an original Justice on the United States Supreme Court where he coauthored America's first legal text on the Constitution. Wilson never mentioned a `separation of church and state'. To the contrary, he declared the correlation between religion and civil laws: Far from being rivals or enemies, religion and law are twin sisters, friends, and mutual assistants. (James Wilson, The Works of James Wilson, Bird Wilson, editor. Philadelphia; Bronson and Chauncey, 1804. Vol. I, pp. 104-106.)

(21) It was Fisher Ames of Massachusetts who provided, on the 20th of August, 1789, the final wording for the First Amendment as passed by the House of Representatives. Fisher Ames, who should be considered the foremost authority on the intent of the First Amendment, never spoke of a separation of church and state. (Fisher Ames, Works of Fisher Ames, Boston; T.B. Wait & Co. 1809, p. 134, 135.)

(22) Because the Court does not seem to be disposed to correct this egregious error, it is incumbent upon the Congress of the United States to perform its duty to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, by the use of its authority to apply checks and balances to other branches of the government, when usurpations and the exercise of excesses of power are evident. The Congress must, then, take the appropriate steps to correct egregious problem.

The Ten Commandments and the Ten Amendments: A Case Study in Religious Freedom in Alabama, 49 Ala. L. Rev.434-754 (1998).has the history and refutation of the incorporation doctrine used by the deviant courts to pervert the text of the14th Amendment.

1 posted on 12/10/2004 3:38:41 PM PST by Ed Current
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To: Ed Current

bump


2 posted on 12/10/2004 3:40:29 PM PST by blackeagle
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To: Ed Current

bttt


3 posted on 12/10/2004 3:41:52 PM PST by Tailgunner Joe
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To: Ed Current

BTTT!


4 posted on 12/10/2004 3:41:59 PM PST by writer33 (The U.S. Constitution defines a conservative)
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To: Ed Current; Brett66

bttt


5 posted on 12/10/2004 3:51:35 PM PST by phoenix0468 (One man with courage is a majority. (Thomas Jefferson))
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To: Ed Current
I would disagree in saying that the French Enlightenment (Volatire, Diderot...) was the birthplace of Secularism not Darwin. And they did have a primary influence on the writing of the Constitution.
6 posted on 12/10/2004 3:53:21 PM PST by Borges
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To: Borges
The source most often cited by the founding fathers in their political writings(1760-1805) was the Bible, which accounted for 34% of all citations. Deuteronomy was the most frequently cited book of the Bible."Liberty Fund, Inc. - Check-In
7 posted on 12/10/2004 3:57:42 PM PST by Ed Current
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To: Borges

"I would disagree in saying that the French Enlightenment (Volatire, Diderot...) was the birthplace of Secularism not Darwin. And they did have a primary influence on the writing of the Constitution."

I would have to disagree with you about the timing of 'Secularism's' beginning with the French, although plenty can be laid at their doorstep, Secularism got its first planting in the Garden of Eden. The serpent (devil)whispered sweet seductions into Eve's ear telling her that, 'God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.' That planting is with us to this day.


8 posted on 12/10/2004 4:02:44 PM PST by Just mythoughts
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To: Borges
The most celebrated American historian, George Bancroft, called Calvin "the father of America," and added: "He who will not honor the memory and respect the influence of Calvin knows but little of the origin of American liberty." To John Calvin and the Genevan theologians, President John Adams credited a great deal of the impetus for religious liberty (Adams, WORKS, VI:313). This document includes a justification for rebellion to tyrants by subordinate government officials; this particular justification was at the root of the Dutch, English, and American Revolutions.

Authors Most Frequently Cited by the Founders

Authors Most Frequently Cited By the Founders of the United States

The following chart enumerates European and Biblical contributions to the founders' political thought. These are the people and sources that the founders quoted most often. The political literature included in this study was literature written by the founders of the United States between 1760 and 1805 (approximately one third of the significant secular literature and about ten percent of the significant sermons).



Source: Donald S. Lutz, "The Relative Importance of European Writers on Late Eighteenth Century American Political Thought," American Political Science Review 189 (1984), 189-97.


 

Frequency of Citation

 

Rank

Author

Percentage

1

St. Paul (Biblical)

9.00%

2

Montesquieu (Enlightenment)

8.30%

3

Sir William Blackstone (Common Law)

7.90%

4

John Locke (Whig)

2.90%

5

David Hume (Enlightenment)

2.70%

6

Plutarch (Classical)

1.50%

7

Cesar Beccaria (Enlightenment)

1.50%

8

Trenchard & Gordon (Whig)

1.40%

9

De Lolme (Enlightenment)

1.40%

10

Baron Pufendorf (17th Century Protestant Political Theorist)

1.30%

11

Sir Edward Coke (Puritan/Common Law)

1.30%

12

Cicero (Classical)

1.20%

13

Thomas Hobbes (17th Century Political Theorist)

1.00%

14

Robertson (Enlightenment)

0.90%

15

Hugo Grotius (17th Century Protestant Political Theorist)

0.90%

16

Rousseau (Enlightenment)

0.90%

17

Bolingbroke (Whig)

0.90%

18

Francis Bacon (Puritan)

0.80%

19

Price (Whig)

0.80%

20

Shakespeare

0.80%

21

Livy (Classical)

0.80%

22

Alexander Pope (Enlight.)

0.70%

23

John Milton (Puritan)

0.70%

24

Tacitus (Classical)

0.60%

25

Coxe (Whig)

0.60%

26

Plato (Classical)

0.50%

27

Abbe Raynal (Enlightenment)

0.50%

28

Mably (Enlightenment)

0.50%

29

Machiavelli

0.50%

30

Vattel (Enlightenment)

0.50%

31

Petyt

0.50%

32

Voltaire (Enlightenment)

0.50%

33

Robinson

0.50%

34

Algernon Sydney (Whig)

0.50%

35

Somers (Whig)

0.50%

36

Harrington (Whig)

0.50%

37

Rapin (Whig)

0.50%

 

 

9 posted on 12/10/2004 4:04:54 PM PST by Ed Current
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Without declaring indepence there would be no constitution. And the constitution derives its existence and authority from the declaration – in part:
The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

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…


10 posted on 12/10/2004 4:11:23 PM PST by D-fendr
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To: Ed Current

I was about to add Montesquieu to my enumeration but held back at the last moment. Still, the 18th century thinkers made a good showing on that chart. And if someone could explain how The Ten Commandments are the basis of the Constitution I'm all ears. They are ethical precepts which are not law and I would presume no one would want most of them to be (Keep the Sabbath Day Holy, covet thy neighbors goods, Honor they Father and Mother...). good words to live by but not legal principles.


11 posted on 12/10/2004 4:17:14 PM PST by Borges
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To: D-fendr
The National Lawyers Association takes the position that the practical effect of the legal connection or relationship between the Declaration and the Constitution is that the Constitution is to be interpreted in the light of the principles set forth in the Declaration.[...] The Preamble introduces and explains the purpose of The U.S. Constitution, and links it to The Declaration of Independence."

The Preface to the United States Code - Annotated states that "this code is the official restatement in convenient form of the general and permanent laws of the United States in force December 7, 1925...." The Preface also states that there is also contained therein a copy of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Ordinance of 1787 and the Constitution with Amendments. Robert C. Cannada, Senior Counsel, Butler, Snow, O'Mara, Stevens & Cannada, PLLC, Jackson, Mississippi, "America's Choice: A Limited Government Or A Totalitarian Government," The National Lawyers Association Review, Winter 1996.

12 posted on 12/10/2004 4:18:04 PM PST by Ed Current
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To: Borges

Should be 'Not covet thy Neighbor's Goods' :)


13 posted on 12/10/2004 4:27:18 PM PST by Borges
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To: Borges

I would disagree. I feel that it was the English Enlightenment, Locke, et.al, who most influenced the Founders. The extremisms of Voltaire, Rousseau, and more dangerously St. Juste, are not found in the balanced work that is the Constitution. Also there is genuine effort to protect the minority from the evils of the untrammeled majority. Something the French Revolution lacked and Europe lacks even today.


14 posted on 12/10/2004 4:30:08 PM PST by xkaydet65
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To: D-fendr

Where is God in the Constitution of the United States? Here is the quote from the ratification Clause: Article VII.
The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.
done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names,

The LORD referred to is not the King of England. He is the Jehovah God of Jacob, Issac and Jesus. Most education in those days consisted of the study of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, so that the ancients holy books could be read in their native tongue. This phrase "in the year of our Lord" was not a convention of speech. It was the very air that free men breathed.


15 posted on 12/10/2004 4:31:02 PM PST by mission9 (Be a Citizen worth dying for in a Nation worth living for!)
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To: Ed Current
Whence do the rights enumerated in the Constitution arise? If the Constitution does not follow the precedent of the Declaration of Independence on that matter -- that men are endowed with those rights by a Creator God -- then what new precedent does it establish? What are the origins of our rights?

If you say "government," then any government that grants those rights is entitled to take them away. If you say "nature" or something equally vague, you are in essence saying God, although you lack the courage to use the word.

The only other possibilities are chilling: our rights arise because we say they do. So if we eventually say they don't, they don't. Or we assume certain rights because of public utility. However, if that utility changes, then the rights vanish. The relativist school poses a serious threat to our notion of democracy.

When all is said and done, the rights listed by the Constitution arise from a divine author, or we are simply serfs under a different king.

16 posted on 12/10/2004 4:42:40 PM PST by IronJack (R)
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To: Ed Current

So. Is the word 'Man' in the constitution? I don't have a text file to search. I'd think so, but I can't think of where.


17 posted on 12/10/2004 4:45:14 PM PST by nosofar
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To: Ed Current
The National Lawyers Association takes the position that the practical effect of the legal connection or relationship between the Declaration and the Constitution is that the Constitution is to be interpreted in the light of the principles set forth in the Declaration.

I hadn't read this post when I posted above. But it's nice to know the National Lawyers Association agrees with me.

18 posted on 12/10/2004 4:45:21 PM PST by IronJack (R)
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To: IronJack

How ABSOLUTELY RIGHT your are.
Post #12 may be of interest.


19 posted on 12/10/2004 4:45:40 PM PST by Ed Current
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To: Borges

I was about to add Montesquieu to my enumeration but held back at the last moment

It proves incontestably, that the judiciary is beyond comparison the weakest of the three departments of power 1 The celebrated Montesquieu, speaking of them, says: "Of the three powers above mentioned, the judiciary is next to nothing.'' "Montesquieu: The Spirit of Laws.'' vol. i., page 186. The Avalon Project : Federalist No 78

20 posted on 12/10/2004 4:51:27 PM PST by Ed Current
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To: Ed Current
A Godless Constitution? A Response
21 posted on 12/10/2004 5:01:35 PM PST by LiteKeeper (Secularization of America is happening)
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To: Ed Current
The Importance of Morality and Religion in Government
22 posted on 12/10/2004 5:02:53 PM PST by LiteKeeper (Secularization of America is happening)
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To: Ed Current

read later. looks like interesting stuff.


23 posted on 12/10/2004 5:04:38 PM PST by Sam Cree (We still pray......that there's beer in the fridge)
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To: Ed Current
The Founders on Public Religious Expression
24 posted on 12/10/2004 5:05:28 PM PST by LiteKeeper (Secularization of America is happening)
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To: Ed Current
After reading this and seeing the uhmm,...secular groups' (mis)understanding of our founders intentions, it's easy to understand the "reasoning" of"...."That depends on what the meaning of is is".

I was going to say Lord help us...but I think he is already.

FMCDH(BITS)

25 posted on 12/10/2004 5:13:38 PM PST by nothingnew (Kerry is gone...perhaps to Lake Woebegone)
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To: Borges
And if someone could explain how The Ten Commandments are the basis of the Constitution I'm all ears.

The Constitution and the ideas on which it rests was influenced in large part by the Christian idea of 'Original Sin'. That we are imperfect/corrupt/sinful. A well-known phrase reflects this: "Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely." I don't recall who said this. It's the basic idea that matters. Whereas many held the position that people are basically good and any evil that results is an aberration. Governments founded on this latter principle have not done too well.

26 posted on 12/10/2004 5:16:07 PM PST by nosofar
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To: Ed Current
The main body of the Constitution concluded with this statement:

"done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names,"

Granted, it is not part of the regulatory language, but it is the operative paragraph which confirms that those who signed witnessed the drafting and passage of the Constitution. Also granted that "year of our Lord" was a common formulation on legal documents in the founders' time. Nevertheless, if they wanted to ban all religiously based references, they could have eliminated the phrase.

27 posted on 12/10/2004 5:27:15 PM PST by Wolfstar (Counting down the days to when the new White House puppy arrives.)
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To: PatrickHenry

A 'mein gott' ping.


28 posted on 12/10/2004 5:34:46 PM PST by Junior (FABRICATI DIEM, PVNC)
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To: nosofar

I believe it was Lord Acton who said 'Absolute Poewer corrupts absolutely'. But I don't deny the Christian basis. I just deny the Ten Commandments as being any sort of meaningful legal precedent. The two that are law (The prohobitions against killing and stealing) actually predate The Ten Commandments going back to the code of Hummarabi which many legal scholars say is one of the three primary influences on the Constitution along with the Magna Carta and English Common Law.


29 posted on 12/10/2004 6:17:41 PM PST by Borges
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To: Junior
I posted some of this in another thread, but it fits in here too:

No doubt the Framers were all deeply influenced by growing up in a land where virtually everyone is Christian. But you'd never know it from reading the Constitution. Other than the date at the end, there's no mention of religion, except to prevent religious tests for holding office. As we often point out in the science threads, the bible isn't a science book. Similarly, the Constitution isn't a theological work.

The Federalist Papers (mostly by Madison & Hamilton) are universally regarded as the most authoritative source for the intent of the Framers. You can search the Federalist Papers on line (I have done this), but you'll find not one mention of the words "bible," "scripture," or "Jesus." The word "Christian" appears once, in a reference to an historical period. "Lord" appears 5 times, but always in reference to aristocracy or the House of Lords. "God" appears 3 times, respectively refering to demi- gods, pagan gods, and nature's god.

Don't take my word for it. Here's a searchable copy: The Federalist Papers.

30 posted on 12/10/2004 6:23:41 PM PST by PatrickHenry (The List-O-Links for evolution threads is at my freeper homepage.)
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To: Lindykim; DirtyHarryY2K; Siamese Princess; Ed Current; Grampa Dave; Luircin; gonow; John O; ...

Moral Absolutes Ping.

A long read, but it looks well worth it.

(Currently have been very busy with volunteer work and other stuff, so I can't freep as many hours as I would like...)

Will comment later after I read it maybe. Looks like it's right up my alley.

Let me know if anyone wants on/off this pinglist.


31 posted on 12/10/2004 6:28:32 PM PST by little jeremiah (What would happen if everyone decided their own "right and wrong"?)
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To: Borges

"I would disagree in saying that the French Enlightenment (Volatire, Diderot...) was the birthplace of Secularism not Darwin. And they did have a primary influence on the writing of the Constitution."

The French Enlightment may have had some influence but not nearly so much as Locke and co from England.

The French Revolution with its massacres and drowning priests in sunk barges by the thousands had more obvious influence from the Voltaire crew.


32 posted on 12/10/2004 6:33:22 PM PST by JFK_Lib
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To: mission9

You hit the nail on the head.

The use of the phrase "in the year of our Lord" in the US Constitution replaced the conventional "in the year of our reign" use by kings in royal decrees. For example, see the Magna Carta, which repeatedly refers to the year of the reign of King John and is executed thus: "Given by our hand in the meadow that is called Runnymede, between Windsor and Staines, on the fifteenth day of June in the seventeenth year of our reign." ( (i.e. 1215)


33 posted on 12/10/2004 6:33:47 PM PST by RBroadfoot
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To: Borges

". I just deny the Ten Commandments as being any sort of meaningful legal precedent."

Would you say that Hammurabi's Code is of no effect as well? That it bore no relevance in impact to the US Constitution?

How about the Magna Carta?


34 posted on 12/10/2004 6:38:47 PM PST by JFK_Lib
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To: mission9
done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven

Thank you for this post, I was looking to see if it was here before I typed it.

35 posted on 12/10/2004 6:39:32 PM PST by HoustonCurmudgeon (May God Bless the President)
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To: Borges

I'd agree with you ... The Enlightenment dismissed the relevance of God. Darwin just created a "rational" origin for the existence of life on this planet that made it all seem scientific.


36 posted on 12/10/2004 6:46:21 PM PST by RBroadfoot
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To: Borges
The Bible was read and understood by all educated men of the Founder's generation. All the major universities founded in the colonies were seminaries first. Hammurabi's code was later commented upon by the archaeological community, but it was not part of the history of law going back to Medieval times, Roman times, Greek times, etc. The founders well understood the difference between speculative ethics - the laws of men (inherently flawed) verses theological ethics - laws given by God (Divine and Supernatural).
Just as all our rights are divinely given, all our true laws are divinely given. (The Ten Commandments) I must remind you, the record of the Bible was considered to be accurate and historical. Time itself was measured from that point at which God supernaturally entered the world to reveal his true nature.
37 posted on 12/10/2004 7:08:25 PM PST by mission9 (Be a Citizen worth dying for in a Nation worth living for!)
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To: nosofar
"Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely." I don't recall who said this.

Lord Acton.

38 posted on 12/10/2004 7:26:47 PM PST by IronJack (R)
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To: Ed Current

The preamble does include the words "secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity," seemingly referential to the Declaration of Independence "endowed by our Creator with ... Liberty." There is also the argument of whence the source of "Blessings" if not God. Even if it were argued that "liberty" is a "natural right" independent of a God - the term "blessing" would not be appropriate to that interpretation. Ergo, the presence of God is implicit in the 'raison d'etre' of the Constitution.


39 posted on 12/10/2004 8:02:11 PM PST by dougd
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To: PatrickHenry

I agree. I don't think our Founding Fathers anticipated the cultural war we'd be fighting today, though. They'd have fought it another way, of that I'm certain. We need to start thinking not as they would, but as effectively as they would. This world is just as much on the edge as theirs was.


40 posted on 12/10/2004 8:27:17 PM PST by risk
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To: jan in Colorado

ping


41 posted on 12/10/2004 11:32:43 PM PST by jan in Colorado (Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas...anyone offended? Ge t over it!)
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To: Ed Current

Bump.


42 posted on 12/11/2004 12:05:03 AM PST by Terpfen (Gore/Sharpton '08: it's Al-right!)
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To: Borges
And if someone could explain how The Ten Commandments are the basis of the Constitution I'm all ears. They are ethical precepts which are not law and I would presume no one would want most of them to be (Keep the Sabbath Day Holy, covet thy neighbors goods, Honor they Father and Mother...). good words to live by but not legal principles.

My opinion.

When people live together in their millions, there has to first an ethic that defines evil, and therefore defines moral, and is applicable to all, including the rulers, and second, an enforcer of that ethic.

If not the first, the whole of the people would rapidly disintegrate, there being no binding of trust that each one's necessities for survival was secure from wanton violation by another. The foundation of any system of moral behavior is the golden rule and all its variations, for if you would not want someone to steal from you, it's evil to steal from them.

The last 6 of the ten commandments govern the first.

If there is no higher law than man then man is a law unto himself. Even though the people agree to live under the common and written law, no man can watch them in their private moments when temptation comes. The only thing that's present is the sense of that which is omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent.

But more important is that same sense in the rulers, leaders and makers of policy. They have the greatest temptation. If, in their minds, there is no higher power than they, what keeps them from tyranny and evil when all they have to do is not get caught?

The first 4 of the ten commandments govern the second.

Our law is based these assumptions, and the integrity of our country depends on each member holding to them. The constitutions of the states and the federal/national government is founded on that law because the survival of the people depends on our administrators holding to them.

Best I can do.

43 posted on 12/11/2004 12:47:13 AM PST by William Terrell (Individuals can exist without government but government can't exist without individuals.)
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Comment #44 Removed by Moderator

To: Elsie; AndrewC; jennyp; lockeliberty; RadioAstronomer; LiteKeeper; Fester Chugabrew; ...

Thy Pingdom come.


45 posted on 12/11/2004 5:01:59 PM PST by bondserv (Alignment is critical! [Check out my profile page])
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To: Ed Current
You ask in this thread where is GOD in the Constitution. Here is my answer, it is not based on any actual writings or lofty words. HE is in every thought,letter,word, syllable in that document. HIS essence is everywhere we look for HIM. Is this country from HIS ideas...........










YOU BET YOUR SOUL ON IT!
46 posted on 12/11/2004 5:03:34 PM PST by TMSuchman (American by birth,rebel by choice, MARINE BY GOD!)
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To: bondserv
Thanks for the ping.

I keep hearing people assert constitutional words which are not in the Constitution. One phrase is "separation of church and state". It is not in there. Here is what the Constitution has to say on that issue.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

Obviously, "separation" is not in that statement. I also keep hearing that Congress cannot promote religion. That is also not there.

PUBLIC LAW 103-344 [H.R. 4230]; October 6, 1994

PUBLIC LAW 103-344 [H.R. 4230]; October 6, 1994

AMERICAN INDIAN RELIGIOUS FREEDOM ACT
AMENDMENTS OF 1994

For Legislative History of Act, see Report for P.L. 103-344 in U.S.C.C.   A.N. Legislative History Section.

An Act to emend the American Indian Religious Freedom Act to provide for the traditional use of peyote by Indians for religious purposes, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the "American Indian Religious Freedom Act Amendments of 1994". SEC. 2. TRADITIONAL INDIAN RELIGIOUS USE OF THE PEYOTE SACRAMENT.

The Act of August 11, 1978 (42 U.S.C. 1996), commonly referred to as the "American Indian Religious Freedom Act", is amended by adding at the end thereof the following new section: "SEC. 3. (a) The Congress finds and declares that-- "(1) for many Indian people, the traditional ceremonial use of the peyote cactus as a religious sacrament has for cen- turies been integral to a way of life, and significant in ...

It is time we correct those anti-Constitutionalists.

47 posted on 12/11/2004 7:17:05 PM PST by AndrewC (Darwinian logic -- It is just-so if it is just-so)
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To: Ed Current
Most people would not consider Charles Darwin to be someone important

Struck me funny.

48 posted on 12/12/2004 1:54:06 AM PST by Dataman
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To: Ed Current
Excellent refutation, Ed.

I haven't read the whole thread yet but so far I have seen no mention of the fallacious nature of the secularist argument from silence. The whole notion of "no mention of God, therefore secularism" is also a strong case against secularism since there is no mention of secularism whatsoever. Using their own argument, "no mention of secularism, therefore God."

49 posted on 12/12/2004 2:07:23 AM PST by Dataman
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To: Borges
Still, the 18th century thinkers made a good showing on that chart.

Good showing? Relative to what?

Surely you don't believe "18th century thinker" is the same thing as secularist.

50 posted on 12/12/2004 2:09:16 AM PST by Dataman
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