Skip to comments.Can Quantum Mechanics Produce a Universe from Nothing?
Posted on 07/18/2013 10:36:09 AM PDT by kimtom
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Ghoulish? Dunno. He is simply stewing in his own juices.
Maybe you need some glasses.
I have a cat that resembles laundry. He’s black and white and when he’s in the laundry basket (always the CLEAN clothes mind you) he’s almost invisible.
Probably not. Scientists are generally poor philosophers who can aid professional philosophers to understand aspects of science they cannot understand for themselves, and help them refine philosophical understanding as part of a process. [That process is useful for philosophy -- and it may even contribute to pedagogy, lay acceptance, and even scientific understanding -- but it is not science.]
What of the many sociological questions not having to do with science except, perhaps, in a most general or peripheral way?
I'm not familiar with any sociological question I would regard as well posed enough to rise to the level of science. Some aspects of sociology involve science; most don't. You'd have to give me something concrete before I'd be willing to answer.
What of political polls, or other statistical studies, political or not, whose authors claim to be scientifically designed?
This is an abuse of terminology. Polls aren't "scientifically" designed. They're modeled under assumptions which allow them to be treated seriously on a mathematical basis. This is essentially an engineering process and is not science.
Would you permit Science alone to judge or evaluate the impact of technology on society?
This is a question which has nothing to do with the other questions in this paragraph, and the answer is emphatically "NO." We need to draw from a broad range of human endeavor and human experience, including, but not limited to science. These are questions for the polity; informed by morality, history, science, and even the arts and so on.
What of brilliant individuals such as Carl Popper or Alister McGrath? To what pigeonhole would you assign them?
Popper and McGrath are two different things. Popper was a philosopher, not a scientist. Popper's argument against the Copenhagen School of Quantum Mechanics is weak, and makes it clear he does not understand science even if he understands the Philosophy of Science. He has made important contributions in that field, but not in science, per se. If he told me that creation of the universe ex nihilo was not possible on scientific grounds (or was possible on scientific grounds) I would have no more regard for his opinion than the opinion of the person who wrote this article (which regard is, in fact, ZERO.)
McGrath is that very rare thing: a theologian who actually was a scientist. Within his field, or areas touching upon it, I would regard his scientific opinion as sound. If he commented on cosmology, I would have to examine closely what he said. He is not an authority in that field.
Science, and the Scientific Method, are primarily the happy inspirations of a Western Civilization and a Judeo-Christian Tradition. How do you propose to unravel that tapestry?
I would start by saying that this is an assertion that Christians often make which puffs their chests and is largely untrue. Christianity was able to flourish under Western Civilization, not the other way around. Like the claim that our laws are founded in Judeo Christian principles (which Thomas Jefferson thoroughly demolished) it's nonsense. Western Civilization existed for centuries before Christ, and was often better off without his Church or the ideas of the Jews and their parochial myths. Palestine was a backwater of Roman civilization, which, modifying and originating the Greeks is the source of a science which longs precedes Jesus of Nazareth.
As for the Jews, except for their own Bible, there is virtually no record of them in the ancient world. In the development of Western Civilization, they did not matter.
It was not until Christianity was Reformed (and Enlightened) that science was able to re-emerge after centuries of Christian suppression.
Have you expressed (forcefully) that sentiment to scientists of your acquaintance?
I have been out of the academy for nearly thirty years, so my contact with scientists, once a continuous experience, is now actually quite rare. On occasions when people in my old department with whom I still associate venture into these waters, I prefer to point them to people they can read who will educate them.
If so, what was their reaction?
Typically, they are not interested enough in these questions to bestir themselves (just as religious people are genuinely uncurious about science at any level beyond a comic book version. The comments on this thread, for example, are genuinely laughable.) People such as McGrath, straddling both worlds, are quite rare.
As to your last question, I have already answered this; in full generality, I have never read a serious cosmological paper by a theologian, and I have never seen a serious religious discussion from a cosmologist or particle physicist. If you can cite one of either flavor, I would be very happy to take a look.
I could start by saying that Humanists often deny that Science and the Scientific Method are the happy inspiration of a Judeo-Christian Tradition because it is a truth that deflates their puffed up oversized egos. But I wont.
Christianity was able to flourish under Western Civilization, not the other way around.
Were it not for Christianity, there would be no Western Civilization. Christianity was protected under the Roman Empire after two centuries of Roman persecution. In fact, it would be far more accurate to credit the Roman Empire (Western) for enabling Christianity to flourish. The Church (the HR Church) was the only civilized structure existing preserving the various cultures of antiquity upon which Western Culture was built, allowing it to flourish through the dark ages following the fall of the Western Roman Empire.
Like the claim that our laws are founded in Judeo Christian principles (which Thomas Jefferson thoroughly demolished) it's nonsense.
So you assert. The assertion does not prove the fact. Prove the fact.
"Western Civilization existed for centuries before Christ, and was often better off without his Church or the ideas of the Jews and their parochial myths.
So you assert. The assertion does not prove the fact. Prove the fact.
Palestine was a backwater of Roman civilization, which, modifying and originating the Greeks is the source of a science which longs precedes Jesus of Nazareth.
Palestine was considered a backwater by the Romans. What is the origin of the Roman name Palestine? Why did the Romans choose to name the area Palestine? But, foremost, what you assert does not prove the fact. Prove the fact.
As for the Jews, except for their own Bible, there is virtually no record of them in the ancient world.
Go to the Net. Look up Hebrew History or Jewish History (its no longer necessary to turn to a reference library). Tell me you can find little or no material (the record lists 31,400,000 results).
In the development of Western Civilization, they did not matter.
Name some of the eminent historians who claim that the Jews do not matter, and quote them saying so. I will wager that among them, Alister McGrath would not be numbered (nor few, if any, others). You also might explain to the assembly why Hebrew was a required subject at Harvard until nearly the Twentieth Century if the Hebrews did not matter.
It was not until Christianity was Reformed (and Enlightened) that science was able to re-emerge after centuries of Christian suppression."
So you assert. The assertion does not prove the fact. Prove the fact.
Your other nonsense is easily enough dismissed, and is not even worthy of comment: You're seriously quoting the number of web hits as authority for the consequentiality of the ancient Hebrews? Seriously? Hebrew was taught at Harvard because the school was established by a minister, not because understanding Hebrew was important to understanding the history of the West.
Not even a nice try. The common religion of the West was Christianity, and lots of people beside the Christian Church preserved our Hellenistic civilization, including the Muslims [who often steal credit for what were essentially Greco/Roman or Indus Valley achievements; just like, I might add, the Christians.]
Youve made a number of assertions you can not support. But, wait a moment and I will spare you the futile effort of trying.
Actually, it was you who made the claim that Thomas Jefferson had Thoroughly demolished my assertion that our laws are founded on Judeo Christian principles. You have made the assertion; you have not proven the fact. But, wait a moment and I will spare you the futile effort of trying.
Youve likewise made the assertion that Western Civilization existed for centuries before Christ, and was often better off without his Church or the ideas of the Jews and their parochial myths. Again, youve not proven the fact. But, wait a moment and I will spare you the futile effort of trying.
Youve correctly asserted that Palestine was a backwater of Roman civilization. . . but youve not explained the origin of the Roman name Palestine, nor have you explained why the Romans choose to name the area Palestine. And youve not established why Israel or Judah are of no account simply because they suffered humiliation at the hands the Roman Empire, as did every nation coming in contact with the Romans.
You also have failed to support your assertion that science was only able to re-emerge after centuries of Christian suppression.
Neither have you named any eminent historians who claim that the Jews do not matter.
But, wait a moment and I will spare you the futile effort of trying.
If youre going to insist every civilization must surrender its identity to its antecedents, then it must be thought that your claim is that the credit for all civilizations on Earth since the beginning of time must go to that first caveman who invented (discovered?) fire.
Do you recognize the following?
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, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness . . .
(Words, incidentally, that today would bring the FBI busting down Mr Jeffersons door, but not really all that different from the time when the soldiers of King George III would have been more than pleased to bust down his door and murder Jefferson, had they been able to find him.)
A Creator. A Christian name for God. The product of the KJV Bible of 1611, only recently completed before the founding of America. The Declaration, a product of a man (Thomas Jefferson), who you claim thoroughly demolished the idea that our laws were based on Judeo-Christian principles, written at the behest of a committee appointed by a Continental Congress determined to declare the English colonies independence from an oppressive British King and Parliament.
Check etymology and you will discover that The word was not generally capitalized Creator until the appearance of the King James Bible. (in 1611)
. . . . . The Barnhart Concise Dictionary Of Etymology, 1995 First Edition, Harper Collins.
For the Founding Fathers, and for any etymology dictionary, a capitalized Creator means just one thing; the Judeo-Christian God. I know you will find difficulty in accepting that The Declaration is a Christian document (the product of Christian belief). Nonetheless, all those who gave their consent to the Declarations wording understood the capitalized Creator to mean the Judeo-Christian God. But, for you, there is worse to come.
The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time: the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them.
. . . . . Thomas Jefferson, A summary view of the rights of British America Autobiography, Appendix [Note G.], The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Vol 1, pg 256).
It began with the Pilgrims (1620).
The pilgrims were English separatist Christians, fleeing Europe in order to escape religious persecution, and they literally began their stay in a new land with the words, In the name of God, Amen.
Determined to live their lives and govern themselves based on Biblical principles, but ignorant of the harsh conditions of a northern wilderness, the Pilgrims lost half their number the first winter when they attempted to install a communist-style system of resource allocation (see William Bradford). The sort of resource allocation of which Hilary Clinton and Buraq 0bama would heartily approve (as would every Humanist, Progressive, Positivist and Liberal who feasts on an America they detest, like feasting maggots on a carcass).
When the Pilgrims overcame their initial mistake by pursuing a more free enterprise form of resource allocation (see 2 Thessalonians 3:10-15), thanks to the judgment of that same William Bradford, the colonists, to celebrate their transition from severe want to a bountiful plenty, chose Leviticus 23:33-34 (The Feast of Tabernacles see also Deuteronomy 16:13) as their guide. That celebration tradition continues today as Thanksgiving (although some would like to forget to Whom it is we are giving thanks).
The pilgrims were followed to New England by the Puritans, who likewise sought to establish bible-based commonwealths (New Haven and the Massachusetts Bay colonies). Roger Williams founded the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, based on the principle of freedom of conscience. Pennsylvania was established by William Penn as a Quaker colony. Maryland was a haven from Protestant England for Roman Catholics. This is something every school child of my age was taught, but sadly, is taught no more.
These commonwealths, and subsequent ones, practiced the same sort of representative government as their church covenants, and whether or not you and others can see the cause in the Bible and Christianity, they did see that cause. Those governmental covenants and compacts came to number more than 100, and were the foundation for our Constitution.
Virtually all of the first universities founded in the American Colonies were Christian (see the first Harvard student handbook Rule #1: Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ, which is eternal life, John 17:3; and therefore to lay Jesus Christ as the only foundation for our children to follow the moral principles of the Ten Commandments. Harvard required the study of the Hebrew Language until the mid Seventeen Hundreds).
Evan though Hebrew is still taught as part of Harvards renowned Divinity School, clearly, Harvard was very much a different place then than now.
Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: Exodus 6:6 (see also Deut. 26:8).
Our American forebears likened their journey to the New World (the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers) as unto Exodus (Exodus 6:4), and likened their distance from Britain to Gods deliverance of Israel from the Egyptians. They paid heed to the OT, fully as much as did they the NT.
In the New World, being over 150 years (1620 to 1776) removed from King and homeland, they learned self-reliance and, more importantly, self-governance in their civil affairs and in their religious affairs, and acquired the ability to select their own leaders (their leaders, not masters). Having a great measure of independence gave them a huge advantage over their cousins of a French Revolution, that started badly and ended worse.
Being left largely to their own devices, our forebears did not react well to kingly oppression or parliamentary arrogance when it did come down on them. Therefore was the powder keg of independence rather easily lit.
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1. For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. Galatians 5:13.
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. John 8: 31-32.
And he (Peter) said unto them, Ye know that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Acts 10:28.
Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: Leviticus 25:10 (you and others may claim you dont see the connection with American liberty, but the Founding Fathers saw the connection well enough to put the passage on our Liberty Bell).
Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord; that walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands; happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. Psalm 128:1-2.
The labourer is worthy of his reward. I Timothy 5:18. And again, see 2 Thessalonians 3:10-15.
These passages fairly cry out in every part of the Constitution.
But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. I Timothy 6:11. (A passage that surely must be detested by our Courageous Young President and all his lackeys).
In defiance of the fact that there is supposedly nothing in the Bible to show that God created all men equal, nevertheless, the Founding Fathers (and their forebears) saw themselves as equals in the sight of God.
Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is Gods: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it. Deuteronomy 1:17.
Ye shall not therefore oppress one another; but thou shalt fear thy God: for I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 25:17.
Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers? Malachi 2:10.
Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God. Romans 2:9-11.
So . . . It would appear, in defiance of conventional wisdom, there is considerable evidence in Holy Scripture to show that God created all men equal.
Hence the immortal words of Thomas Jefferson expressing the beliefs of a whole new people; Americans. 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. The most famous words since the words of Christ. Not words expressing new ideas, but rather asserting a philosophy found in scripture, familiar to the Founding Fathers, which was confirmed by James Madison when he wrote:
Nothing can be more absurd than the cavil that the Declaration contains known and not new truths. The object was to assert, not to discover truths, and to make them the basis of the Revolutionary act.
. . . . . James Madison, letter to Thomas Jefferson, 6 September, 1823, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson in 19 volumes, Memorial Edition, edited by Albert Ellery Burgh.
Asserting known, not new truths, and making of them the basis of the Revolutionary act. Perhaps known, not new, but nevertheless apparently a startling revelation for many.
If anyone sees fit to question the Founding Fathers Biblical judgment in thinking themselves free men and equals, then they will otherwise have to question the Founders for the reasons. Pack for an extended trip.
TO WHAT expedient, then, shall we finally resort, for maintaining in practice the necessary partition of power among the several departments, as laid down in the Constitution? The only answer that can be given is, that as all these exterior provisions are found to be inadequate, the defect must be supplied, by so contriving the interior structure of the government as that its several constituent parts may, by their mutual relations, be the means of keeping each other in their proper places.
(And later) If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.
. . . . . FEDERALIST No. 51, For the Independent Journal. Wednesday, February 6, 1788. MADISON (James Madison, a supposed denier of Christianity)
Weve witnessed now, for over a Century, a parade of tyrants (beginning with Woodrow Wilson and John Dewey, if not much earlier, perhaps going back to Andrew Jackson), who reject the idea of the governed, who are determined to control the people, and who are violently determined to tolerate no control of their own behavior. They seem convinced the best avenue to their ambitions is to sever any connection with the Judeo-Christian Tradition upon which this nation was founded. We cannot believe them wrong in their assessment, as in each successive generation they turn ever more oppressive.
But what does any of this have to do with the proposition that the philosophy of government the Founding Fathers developed over some 150 years was inspired by their Christian values? What is it that these modern tyrants abhor? Justice? That as you sow, so shall you reap?
Did not the Lord bring the people of Israel out from Egypt and free them from the hand of Pharaoh? Whether or not you and the present tyrants approve of the vision, our forebears saw a parallel in the Israelites coming out of Egypt and the Pilgrims coming to America. And though they first wished to retain their loyalties to the king of their homeland, they did see being freed from the hand of a tyrant king as the same as being freed from the hand of Pharaoh. Nor could they tolerate anymore the hands of the tyrant princes of the Church. Nor would they tolerate the oppression of these Twenty First Century tyrants if they were alive today. All things you avidly seek to empower with your denials.
Oh, we are weary pilgrims; to this wilderness we bring
A Church without a bishop, a State without a King.
Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; (Deuteronomy 1:17)
We have no King but Jesus. A revolutionary battlecry born of Lexington - Concord.
For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christs, then are ye Abrahams seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:26-29).
Proclaim liberty through all the land and to all the inhabitants thereof
The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. (Romans 8:16-17 see also Acts 26: 17-18)
And this be our motto: In God is our trust! (In God We Trust on our money) -Another Revolutionary battlecry, later written into our National Anthem.
Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither that a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous. (Deuteronomy 16:19) A gift a bribe (do you understand pay to play?).
The philosophy that impelled the creation of the Constitution, is found in our Declaration of Independence, as Abraham Lincoln attests. Lincoln, using a biblical reference (Proverbs 25:11), described The Declaration an Apple of Gold adorned by a frame of silver, the frame being the Union and the Constitution. In so doing, he identifies the Declaration as the philosophy guiding the Constitutions establishment of Americas fundamental law.
. . . . . Abraham Lincoln, Fragment on the Constitution and the Union, January 1861, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Vol. 4, Roy P. Basler, ed., New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Few presidents since Lincoln have spoken as often, or so forthrightly, of the Judeo-Christian roots that are sunk deeply in the Declaration of Independence. One who has is Calvin Coolidge:
A spring will cease to flow if its source be dried up; a tree will wither if its roots be destroyed. In its main features the Declaration of Independence is a great spiritual document. It is a declaration not of material but of spiritual conceptions. Equality, liberty, popular sovereignty, the rights of man these are not elements which we can see and touch. They are ideals. They have their source and their roots in the religious convictions. They belong to the unseen world. Unless the faith of the American people in these religious convictions is to endure, the principles of our Declaration will perish. We can not continue to enjoy the result if we neglect and abandon the cause.
. . . . . Calvin Coolidge, The Inspiration of the Declaration, Speech at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on the One Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, July 5, 1926.
Coolidge was known for the brevity of his remarks. His profound understanding of liberty and its relationship to the Judeo-Christian Tradition should have been of equal note and even more appreciated than his notorious brevity, but Coolidges reward for the depth of his Constitutional knowledge was scorn and denigration, a reaction with which we today have some familiarity, for it is the standard behavior of Liberals whenever they encounter facts and truth which they cannot abide, but for which they have no rational reply.
We can not continue to enjoy the result if we neglect and abandon the cause.
The accuracy of Coolidges assessment grows ever more obvious, now with virtually every passing day.
The haters of Christianity and likewise the Constitution declare many of our Founders to be Deists, not Christians, hoping thereby to obviate any influence the Judeo-Christian Tradition has on our nation. Whether anyone chooses to call the Founding Fathers Deists or not, approx 156 years of religious freedom and Judeo-Christian Tradition have proved sufficient to bring forth the grandest government ever conceived by man.
If the Liberals of this present generation decide to pitch it all in the trashcan, be it upon their heads. They might well first consider the remarks of a character invented by a writer of a somewhat later time than the Founding Fathers,
I wear the chain I forged in life. I made it link by link and yard by yard.
. . . . . Jacob Marley (Charles Dickens)
May they wear every link for all eternity.
If Jefferson, as many claim, was a Deist, he was very unconventional, and in blatant defiance of all the usual characteristics defining the term.
Jefferson discusses the ancient philosophers as a contrast to his most favored; Jesus of Nazareth, making it difficult to dismiss Jefferson as a Deist, in a letter to William Short, October 31, 1819, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson in 19 volumes, Memorial Edition, edited by Albert Ellery Burgh.
In another letter, Jefferson writes to his namesake, addressing to him several things that will have a favorable influence on the course of his life. Jefferson starts by naming the two great commandments of Judeo-Christian belief, going on to refer to others of the Ten Commandments, and closes by quoting the body of a Christian hymn Lord, who's the happy man.
. . . . . A letter to Thomas Jefferson Smith, February 21, 1825, Ibid.
Jefferson confirms his distaste for Presbyterianism and equally his aversion to the teachings of Calvin. He then goes on to shatter the conventional understanding of his view of the separation of church and state, by relating the sharing of a courthouse by various Christian sects, as a common temple of worship. What is surprising is not that different Christian sects proved to be willing to share in common worship, taking turns in leading the services, but that their place of common worship was the very seat of local government itself, the court-house, and that this event was reported, with equanimity, by none other than Thomas Jefferson, himself. He then goes on to confound us further by relating how he and his fellow Visitors (directors) of the University of Virginia provided space on the university grounds and the sharing of certain facilities for formal religious instruction by various Christian sects, all this in a letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, November 2, 1822, Ibid.
In yet another letter, Jefferson declares his faith only in Christs teachings of the early church.
. . . . . A letter to John Adams, October, 13 1813, Ibid.
And, finally, in yet another letter he declares, To the corruptions of Christianity I am, indeed, opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian (emphasis mine), in the only sense in which he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence; and believing he never claimed any other.
. . . . . Thomas Jefferson, to Doctor Benjamin Rush, April 21, 1803, Ibid.
There were others who made it unmistakably clear the basis of their fealty to liberty. Those men (and women) did themselves declare Judeo-Christian values to be the foundation of the Revolutionary Act, and of the document they created and have ever since defended.
. . . Who composed that army of fine young fellows that was then before my eyes? There were among them Roman Catholics, English Episcopalians, Scotch and American Presbyterians, Methodists, Moravians, Anabaptists, German Lutherans, German Calvinists, Universalists, Arians, Priestleyans, Socinians, Independents, Horse Protestants and House Protestants, Congregationalists, Deists and Atheists; and Protestans qui ne croyent rien. Very few however of several of these species.
Nevertheless, all educated in the general principles Of Christianity; and the general principles of English and American liberty. Could my answer be understood by any candid reader or hearer, to recommend to all the others the general principles, institutions, or systems of education of the Roman Catholics? Or those of the Quakers? Or those of the Presbyterians? Or those of the Menonists? Or those of the Methodists? Or those of the Moravians? Or those of the Universalists? Or those of the Philosophers? No. The general principles On which the fathers achieved independence, were the only principles in which that beautiful assembly of young gentlemen could unite, and these principles only could be intended by them in their address, or by me in my answer.
And what were these general principles? I answer, the general principles of Christianity (emphasis mine), in which all those sects were united; and the general principles of English and American liberty, in which all these young men united, and which had united all parties in America, in majorities sufficient to assert and maintain her independence. Now I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God; and that those principles of liberty are as unalterable as human nature, and our terrestrial mundane system. I could therefore safely say, consistently with all my then and present information, that I believed they would never make discoveries in contradiction to these general principles. In favor of these general principles, I would fill sheets of quotations from Frederick of Prussia, from Hume, Gibbon, Bolingbroke, Rousseau and Voltaire, as well as Newton and Locke; not to mention thousands of divines and philosophers of inferior fame.
. . . . . John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, dated June 28, 1813, Ibid.
. . . reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
. . . . . George Washington, Farewell Address, 17 September, 1796, para 27 (see the complete paragraph for a more thorough exposition of Washingtons thought see the whole of the address; it is a revelation).
Washington was an Episcopalian. He regularly attended mass at Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia. To this day the pew where Washington customarily sat is marked by a brass plate. Robert E Lee likewise has a similarly marked pew in this church.
I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth - that God governs in the affairs of men. If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?
. . . . . Benjamin Franklin, 1787, when he was 81, from a speech given at the Constitutional Convention.
Reflecting his religious beliefs, the War of 1812 was the occasion for President Madison to issue a proclamation of Humiliation and Prayer Fast, with the texts of four hymns recommended to accompany the proclamation, as printed in the Independent Chronicle on July 20, 1812.
Clearly, Madisons religious commitments included a belief that the Christian religion and freedom of conscience were fundamental to republican government.
The letters and other documents of Jefferson and of the other Founding Fathers, fixes exactly the problem Deniers face in attempting to repudiate a Christian influence on the making of America, including The Declaration itself. To tailor the charge of Deism to any of the Founding Fathers, Deniers must redefine Deist to fit the changing characteristics of the different Founders. Franklin proclaimed God governs in the affairs of men. Not a belief attributable to Deists. Jefferson, on the other hand, swore fealty to Jesus Christ (the pure gospel of Jesus Christ). And Deniers will find no comfort in examining the Christian values of any of the other Founders charged with drafting The Declaration Of Independence (see John Adams, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, dated June 28, 1813). Nor any other Founder (Thomas Paine, for example).
But where says some is the king of America? I'll tell you Friend, he reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the Royal of Britain. Yet that we may not appear to be defective even in earthly honors, let a day be solemnly set apart for proclaiming the charter; let it be brought forth placed on the divine law, the word of God; let a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know, that so far as we approve of monarchy, that in America the law is king. For as in absolute governments the king is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other.
. . . . . Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776.
Paine so eloquently captured the American spirit of independence, that he won universal affection and acclaim among his fellow revolutionaries. Some twenty years later, when he switched from unseating tyrant Kings to unseating tyrant Bishops, he made the mistake of launching a vicious attack on Holy Scripture (ironically calling the attack The Age of Reason) and Christian belief (reducing John Adams to near sputtering anger). Paine so alienated Americans by his betrayal that he was never forgiven, and he died with their anger and scorn unchanged and irreversible. Today he is praised by some for the admirable manner in which he captured the American Spirit of 1776, and despised by others for that same achievement.
Ever since the time of the Declaration of Independence, Nihilists have sought to gain advantage from Paines irresponsibility and the Founders circumspection by insisting the documents are devoid of Judeo-Christian values (and will pitch a fit at any contrary understanding).
Oh, we are weary pilgrims; to this wilderness we bring
A Church without a bishop, a State without a King.
. . . . . anonymous poem, The Puritans Mistake, published by Oliver Ditson in 1844.
belief in the existence of a supreme being, specifically of a creator who does not intervene in the universe. The term is used chiefly of an intellectual movement of the 17th and 18th centuries that accepted the existence of a creator on the basis of reason but rejected belief in a supernatural deity who interacts with humankind. Compare with theism.
(from my MAC dictionary, an Oxford American Dictionaries product)
To merely declare Jefferson, or any of the other Founders, a Deist without going into specifics, simply allows Christian Deniers the opportunity to declare that America was not founded on Judeo-Christian belief and principles. So. . . not going into specifics is what Deniers are happy to do.
But Jefferson had rather a different vision:
I write with freedom, because while I claim a right to believe in one God, if so my reason tells me, I yield as freely to others that of believing in three. Both religions, I find, make honest men, and that is the only point society has any right to look to. Although this mutual freedom should produce mutual indulgence, yet I wish not to be brought in question before the public on this or any other subject, and I pray you to consider me as writing under that trust. I take no part in controversies, religious or political. At the age of eighty, tranquility is the greatest good of life, and the strongest of our desires that of dying in the good will of all mankind. And with the assurance of all my good will to Unitarian and Trinitarian, to Whig and Tory, accept for yourself that of my entire respect.
. . . . . Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Smith, December 8, 1822, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson in 19 volumes, Memorial Edition, edited by Albert Ellery Burgh.
For myself I fully and conscientiously believe, that it is the will of the Almighty, that there should be diversity of religious opinions among us: It affords a larger field for our Christian kindness. Were we all of one way of thinking, our religious dispositions would want matter for probation; and on this liberal principle, I look on the various denominations among us, to be like children of the same family, differing only, in what is called their Christian names.
. . . . . Thomas Paine, Of the Present Ability of America, with some miscellaneous Reflections, Common Sense, 1776.
Paines writings were full of Biblical references illustrating his points, and demonstrating his extensive Christian knowledge. It might be objected that the founding was almost twenty years earlier than The Age of Reason and that it no longer reflected Paines thinking. But I think it more likely that the above demonstrates Paines objections were directed against laws establishing one favored denomination over the others, rather than against Christianity itself:
Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly-marked feature of all law-religions, or religions established by law. Take away the law-establishment, and every religion re-assumes its original benignity. In America, a catholic priest is a good citizen, a good character, and a good neighbour; an Episcopalian minister is of the same description: and this proceeds independently of the men, from there being no law-establishment in America.
. . . . . Thomas Paine, Rights of Man Part The First, 1792, Being An Answer To Mr. Burke's Attack On The French Revolution.
Even the Library of Congress will commit History on occasion . . . however much against their natural instincts:
As related by a Library of Congress symposium, Religion and the Founding of the American Republic, June 18 - 19, 1998, Church services were regularly held in the House of Representatives from the fall of 1800 when the government moved to Washington until after the Civil War. Perhaps we can mark that time, after the Civil War, as the first Federal denial of Christian authority in public affairs, and the beginning of the ascendency of the Christian-haters in American society.
During his presidency, Madison regularly attended those services in the House of Representatives, as did Jefferson during his term. Both men were firmly committed to the ideal that republican government could not be maintained without the support of the moral instruction provided by Christianity, reflecting the thoughts of Washington expressed in his Farewell Address, 17 September 1796, para 27, where he said, Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. (do you understand that Washingtons remarks are a direct challenge to the pretensions of a much touted Age of Enlightenment that promised answers it could not produce?) The Founding of the American Republic examined the role religion played in the founding of the American colonies, and in forming the American Republic. It can be found on the Library of Congress website for those who wish to educate themselves.
So . . . it seems that Madisons religious commitments included a belief that the Christian religion and freedom of conscience were fundamental to republican government. As did Jefferson and Washington, and every other Founder.
But your most astonishing assertion is the preposterous claim that Science and the Scientific Method were developed before the Christian Era by Scientists, even before the concepts, the terms, or the practices gained currency.
Ibn al-Haytham, a Babylonian Arab, said by many to be the inventor of Science, came before the terms, the concepts, or the practices of Science and Scientist existed. Likewise Galileo Galilei (a Christian), who practiced what was known as Natural Philosophy among other things. The first comprehensive documents categorizing and subdividing knowledge into different areas were done even earlier by Aristotle, a philosopher (physics, poetry, zoology, logic, rhetoric, politics, and biology). Roger Bacon (1214 - 1294), an English monk, described what came to be known as the Scientific Method, and René Descartes, physicist, physiologist, and mathematician, but also a philosopher and a Christian (spit), first developed the Scientific Method. Isaac Newton, a mathematician and physicist, also a Christian and philosopher, is regarded as one of the most influential scientists of all time (primarily due to his epic work Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica. Somewhat earlier the publishing of scholarly journals (1665) and Peer review (1675) was established, although King James commanded scholars to conduct what amounted to a book-by-book peer review of his Holy Bible KJV translation even earlier (in 1611). It was at about this time (around the middle of the Seventeenth Century) that Science and Scientific Method first came to be used and understood largely as they exist today. So it develops that Western Civilization and Christianity both came before any modern comprehension existed of Science, or the Scientific Method.
Even a Science Dummy like me knows that much.
Before I close, I must correct a grievous omission:
When discussing the efforts of the Western (RC) Church to rescue and preserve what we now call Western Civilization, I failed to mention the equally arduous efforts of the Eastern Orthodox Church to preserve the vestiges of the culture of the Eastern Roman Empire (the Byzantine Empire). Surviving well past the Fifth Century (Romes fall) up to just a few decades before the epic discoveries of Columbus (that is, until 1453- marked by the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans in May of that year). While its true that during the one thousand years of its rule the Eastern Roman Empire lost a huge territory to Moslem zealots, including Asia Minor (now Turkey), all of North Africa including considerable areas lost by the Western Empire, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, a significant portion of Southeastern Europe, and all but a very small portion of what the Roman Empire called Palestine (all, by the way, Christian territories, including some Jewish presence and some others), The Greek Orthodox Church deserves credit for doing what it could to preserve the culture and learning under its care, just as did the RC Church. And its equally true that the Christian rulers of Western Europe evidenced little interest in coming to the aid of their Eastern brethren in fending off the frenzied Moslem Hordes plaguing them like a horde of locusts. My apologies to any of the Greek Orthodox faith Ive offended.
Almost equally preposterous as what you have asserted about Science (see above), is your claim that Western Civilization existed for centuries before Christ . . .
When the Western Roman Empire collapsed, a huge power vacuum was left unfilled for centuries. No other force, or combination, was adequate to fill the void created by Romes collapse. Only local powers, with limited reach, were left. The one remaining organized institution in western Europe was the RC Church, which acted to preserve what little was left of a civilization in Europe. It was left to the rulers of Western Europe and to the RC Church to pick up the pieces and to begin anew.
Beginning with little but a common liturgical language (Latin) and with what little knowledge and culture the Church could preserve, so was begun the painful process of building a new civilization (not the first time for this to happen in human history, we must believe).
Influences from Byzantine institutions, from the Sultanates along the coast of North Africa and the Moorish kingdoms of Spain, and borrowings from Greek, Roman, Hebrew, Persian, Babylonian, and Egyptian antiquity, all played their part, according to most historians, but the major impetus seemed to come from within Europe itself. An important event in this process occurred in 962 (with historical traces going back to as early as 800) when Pope John XII crowned Otto I of Germany as the first Emperor of a newly formed Holy Roman Empire. This new empire never attained the level of power or influence that had been exerted by the old Roman Empires (one fragment of which still being in existence until the mid 1400s), and its vigor steadily diminished over the centuries until it finally expired at the beginning of the Nineteenth. It nonetheless served to help solidify the idea of a Western society of nations.
When some European states turned to commercial interests over other interests, the flourishing of commercial enterprises (the Merchant States), benefiting most from a harmonious intercourse between states, influenced European nations towards closer relationships. Moreover, the nations shared a common religion, and Latin, being the language of their church, their legal and academic institutions, their literature, and of their statecraft, provided them with a common language with which to communicate. Their growing close association came to be known as Res publica Christiana (although in Latin, its meaning can hardly escape most, even those unschooled in the language such as your correspondent), and, at its height, allowing for some considerable variance in degree of independence, its membership came to an estimated number close to two thousand. This circumstance made supremacy difficult to attain. Any nation which attempted to achieve dominance, found an almost instant league of other states arrayed against it, which tended to dampen its enthusiasm for conquest, and which, in turn, tended to cause the states to admit to a certain level of equality amongst their members. Its major drawback seemed to be that it stimulated many relatively brief wars.
Despite the chaos and devastation of the Dark Ages, Western Academics and Theologians began working on the issues absorbing Western Europe, beginning with St. Isidore, Bishop of Seville from 596 to 636, who included in his work Etymologiae, a description of the Roman ideas jus gentium and jus militare which correspond closely to our modern concepts, respectively, of the Law of Nations and of the Law of War.
Despite the revolutions and religious wars roiling Europe, the ecclesiastics, jurists and academics continued with issues of the rights of man and the responsibilities of society and the state, right up to, and past, the time of the American Revolution. Numbered among the writers of these works were many of the most illustrious names of Western Civilization:
Johannes Gratian, generally regarded as the true founder of the science of canon law, whose major work appeared between 1139 and 1150.
St. Thomas Aquinas, Born 1225-27 - died 7 March, 1274, whose great work Summa totius theologiae occupied the last nine years of the author's life. Therein he devoted his whole work to vital religious and societal issues.
Joannes de Legnano, a jurist of note and a professor at Bologna, where he died in 1383. The author of the treatise De bello this writer had on several occasions been charged with diplomatic missions.
Honoré Bonet. His work l'Arbre des batailles is thought to have been composed about 1384. Therein he devotes 132 chapters to various issues on the Law of Nations. This work was reproduced in exquisite manuscripts and graced the library of many a great prince.
Franciscus de Victoria, died 1546, held the chair of theology at Salamanca for twenty years, restoring a high quality of theological teaching in Spain. A teacher and lecturer, Victoria was not a writer, but, following his death, many of his lecture notes were published by his students, including De Indis Et De Ivre Belli Relectiones, which, as the title suggests, deals with the issue of native peoples and the law of war. Prior to Victoria, there had been a long legacy of Spanish inquiries on the Law of Nations dating back to the afore mentioned St. Isidore, Bishop of Seville.
So it was in this manner that the Law of Nations was established in 1625 when Hugo Grotius published his epochal opus De jure belli ac pacis (the Laws of War and Peace). Although not greeted with universal approbation, the Vatican banning it from consideration until 1901, Grotius work was such a monumental accomplishment of compilation, organization, and integration of the disparate elements of the ethics of how nations should treat with one another, that it quickly gained general acceptance as the definitive authority on the subject.
Amazingly, through this period of time, from the fall of the Western Roman Empire right up to the present, it is the Christian nations of Western Civilization that have most scrupulously sought to adhere to the laws of nations and the laws of war (waterboarding notwithstanding).
Though a milestone of considerable proportions, the work of Grotius was but a step in a continuing process. There was more to follow:
Samuel Pufendorf. The Law of Nature and of Nations, published in 1674. Further development of Natural Law as it applied to ideas of justice and the Law of Nations.
Cornelius van Bynkershoek, Questions of Public Law, published in 1737. Expanded on the work of Grotius and Pufendorf on questions of the Law of Nations and Constitutional Law.
Emmerich de Vattel. The Law of Nations, published 1758. Basing constitutional and civil law on the Law of Nations, Vattels effort became perhaps the most often quoted work on state matters. A favorite of Jeffersons.
By the time the United States declared their independence from the United Kingdom, the epoch treatise of Grotius had been known and referenced for 150 years, and his work, along with the subsequent works of several other authorities, had provided the states of Western Civilization with what amounted to a series of organized protocols to which they could refer in the conduct of their foreign affairs.
While the ecclesiastics, jurists and academics of Western Civilization were working through the ethical and legal issues involving the relations between nations and the moral conduct of war, and erecting a buttress (that is, Protestantism - see Luther & Calvin, among others) against the growing tyranny of a Roman Church priesthood, neither had the temporal rulers been idle. Besides attending with some considerable interest the labors of the learned community within their respective societies, these rulers were themselves developing ideas and theories about a society of nations based on the developing philosophies of Natural Law and Natural Rights. Europe was forming itself into an association of republics, principalities, city-states, and kingdoms (the afore mentioned Res publica Christiana), taking the first tentative steps in the creation of what was to be a society of nations, and they were beginning to look upon their community of nations as functioning very similarly to how a society of individuals operates.
The Founding Fathers were heirs to that tradition. And, in keeping with the tradition, carried it forward. Alas, no more.
I would ask you, as I have many another, whom is it that has labored for fifteen hundred years to regulate the issues of Natural Law and Natural Rights, the issues of the meaning of lawful war, the origins of war, the avarice and cruelty of war, the treatment of prisoners, when the right of conquest and the claiming of the spoils of war are just and when they are not, the rights of discovery and the treatment of native peoples, the securing of peace as the prime objective of war, questions of maritime law, redress for injuries, restitution of property and recompense for wrongs done (in war and in peace), and the laws of embassy and envoys. Asian despots? Atheistic socialist tyrannies? If youre gagging on the answer, I will spare you the agony and provide the answer for you: Christian Western Civilization.
From its inception, Western Civilization seems to have been blessed with an instrument of self-correction, arising out of the intellectual vigor of our cultures Judeo-Christian tradition going back some five thousand years, that Man is capable of bettering himself and his condition; that, indeed, his very nature impels him to seek an elevation of himself and his condition. It is this idea that allows Western Civilization to correct its faults and liberate its virtues.
Amazingly enough, from the fall of Rome, right up to the present, it is the Christian nations of Western Civilization that have most scrupulously sought to adhere to the rights of Man, to the laws of nations, and to the laws of war.
Exhibiting a degree of perverseness that can only be regarded as deeply pathological, much of our present Intellectual Community, which is almost uniformly Marxist, has sought to reverse the process of self-correction of Western Civilization, using our cultures discarded faults as weapons with which to attack and destroy its virtues. Raised and schooled in Western Culture environs, they can hardly plead ignorance as an excuse for their miscreant behavior.
What is your excuse?
Supposedly, a most deeply rooted Humanist belief is, and has always been, an adamant insistence that Christianity has had no influence on the development of this nations political philosophy or its resultant prosperity, and that, in fact, hardly none of our revered founders were Christian, if anything holding that religion in contempt.
One of the most glaring contradictions in the Humanist argument are the conflicting claims that, a) Christianity is at fault for all of Americas ills, and, b) Christianity has never had any influence on America. Sometimes these claims coming in successive paragraphs, or even in the same sentence. Progressives keep switching from one argument to the other like a MIG 15 ducking back and forth over the Yalu to avoid an F86.
Liberals . . . Make up your minds.
Really?! Dont whine.
Afraid to do a little work? Or afraid you might learn something distasteful to your prejudices? Or, more likely, both?
Apparently, you were perfectly content to throw out a series of unsupported (and unsupportable) allegations, then go galloping down the pike, content in the belief that you had presented an unassailable Humanist conviction that Judeo-Christian Tradition and Western Civilization could only be pulled from the dregs of depravity by a superhuman effort of Progressive reason.
But, when I replied in kind you pitched a hissy fit, indulging in charges of the inadequacy and the inferiority of my answers. Apparently you have an entirely different standard to apply to your antagonist than to yourself.
Very well, then. Ive given you a relatively brief, but reasonably comprehensive summation of a near 400 year history of the Founding Fathers political philosophy, accompanied by over three thousand years of its Biblical foundation, and a summation of Western Civilization, supported by a Judeo-Christian Tradition with cultural roots of equal duration.
Not surprisingly, you found this answer equally unpalatable. It seems, then, that the only response you find acceptable would be an abject assent to your point of view.
Not likely, pilgrim.
Benjamin Franklin ridiculed Christianity, which he publicly stated was "incomprehensible." He did not believe in the God of Abraham.
To attempt to claim Thomas Jefferson as a Christian, you must cherry pick from his many commentaries, a good many of which are not favorable to Christianity. None have any regard for any supernatural aspects of it; and "without the Resurrection, all your faith is vain." Thomas Jefferson could not himself take the Nicaean Creed; this is what is required for "mere Christianity." If you think a man who could not accept the most fundamental generic principles of Christianity was a Christian, then you must accept Reza Aslan as a Christian also, since he deceptively has referred to himself in interviews as "a follower of Jesus." But of course, he isn't. He's just another Muslim practicing taqqiya. Neither was Jefferson. He was just practicing being Jefferson.
On the subject of apologizing to omitted Greeks, I owe a sincere apology to Archimedes. He precedes Galileo (a friend of the Pope, but an enemy of the Church) by seventeen centuries, and in most respects he was well advanced of any physicist until Newton. He knew more math, including Calculus, than most people living today, and was not in the least influenced by either Jews or Christians. And, sadly for your thesis, was practicing the scientific method long before Francis Bacon.
In fine and in sum: A tedious recital of carefully selected quotes about religion from a handful of the Founders doesn't establish anything about the relative importance of Judeo-Chrisitan principles in the formation of the West. You omit the Greeks and Romans from your "evidence" of Christianity's "indispensable" contributions to the West for a very good reason: because you must. When we take away all of Western Civilization that came to us from the Greeks by way of the Romans, there is nothing left -- except Christianity -- which the Greeks got along quite well without.
Sorry, but your response is a huge steaming pile. Your level of denial is truly astonishing, and you continue to herald the ridiculous fallacy that every civilization must surrender its identity to its antecedents. Get your nose out of those Atheistic websites, forget the Christian-hating talking points, drop the Richard Dawkins version of history, and do some of your own research, rather than dealing in the cut-rate, low-echelon political huckstering in which you delight. It seems you regard anything that undermines your prejudices as tedious. Typical Humanist schtick.
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