Progressivism vs. Declaration (4th of July Primer)

(School is in!) Mark Levin shares his study of the U.S. Constitution and it’s Founding. The American Founding. Levin discusses the miracle of the death of the two men key to the Declaration’s appearance (Jefferson and Adams) on the Fourth of July. He then treads into progressive waters and the current dislike of our American Founding as compared to history. He reads from Woodrow Wilson (our first Ph.D. President) and his disdain for the Founding document and Principles. Then a reading from — really a counter point — Calvin Coolidge to cement the idea that these are eternal principles. Levin wonders aloud how Leftists can even celebrate the 4th in good conscience.

About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers. — Calvin Coolidge (POWERLINE)

BTW, if one does not know the history of the fourth in regard to Jefferson and Adams, or the eternal principles BEHIND the Declaration, here are some decent videos:

Our Founders Hated “Direct Democracy”

(Originally posted in April of 2015)

Take note of Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution reads:

  • “The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government

I tell my kids that we do not have a democracy, but a Democratic REPUBLIC; and I am basing these on the Constitution and the authors (and signers) understanding of it (commonly referred to as “original intent”).  Our Founders had an opportunity to establish a democracy in America but chose not to.  In fact, they made very clear that we were not – and never to become – a democracy:

James Madison (fourth President, co-author of the Federalist Papers and the “father” of the Constitution) – “Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have, in general; been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”

John Adams (American political philosopher, first vice President and second President) – “Remember, democracy never lasts long.  It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself.  There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”

Benjamin Rush (signer of the Declaration) – “A simple democracy is one of the greatest of evils.”

Fisher Ames (American political thinker and leader of the federalists [he entered Harvard at twelve and graduated by sixteen], author of the House language for the First Amendment) – “A democracy is a volcano which conceals the fiery materials of its own destruction.  These will provide an eruption and carry desolation in their way.´ /  “The known propensity of a democracy is to licentiousness [excessive license] which the ambitious call, and the ignorant believe to be liberty.”

Governor Morris (signer and penman of the Constitution) – “We have seen the tumult of democracy terminate… as [it has]  everywhere terminated, in despotism….  Democracy!  Savage and wild.  Thou who wouldst bring down the virtous and wise to thy level of folly and guilt.”

John Quincy Adams (sixth President, son of John Adams [see above]) – “The experience of all former ages had shown that of all human governments, democracy was the most unstable, fluctuating and short-lived.”

Noah Webster (American educator and journalist as well as publishing the first dictionary) – “In democracy… there are commonly tumults and disorders…..  therefore a pure democracy is generally a very bad government.  It is often the most tyrannical government on earth.”

John Witherspoon (signer of the Declaration of Independence) – “Pure democracy cannot subsist long nor be carried far into the departments of state – it is very subject to caprice and the madness of popular rage.”

Zephaniah Swift (author of America’s first legal text) – “It may generally be remarked that the more a government [or state] resembles a pure democracy the more they abound with disorder and confusion.”

CATO Article:

Critics have long derided the Electoral College as a fusty relic of a bygone era, an unnecessary institution that one day might undermine democracy by electing a minority president. That day has arrived, assuming Gov. Bush wins the Florida recount as seems likely.

The fact that Bush is poised to become president without a plurality of the vote contravenes neither the letter nor the spirit of the Constitution. The wording of our basic law is clear: The winner in the Electoral College takes office as president. But what of the spirit of our institutions? Are we not a democracy that honors the will of the people? The very question indicates a misunderstanding of our Constitution.

James Madison’s famous Federalist No. 10 makes clear that the Founders fashioned a republic, not a pure democracy. To be sure, they knew that the consent of the governed was the ultimate basis of government, but the Founders denied that such consent could be reduced to simple majority or plurality rule. In fact, nothing could be more alien to the spirit of American constitutionalism than equating democracy will the direct, unrefined will of the people.

Recall the ways our constitution puts limits on any unchecked power, including the arbitrary will of the people. Power at the national level is divided among the three branches, each reflecting a different constituency. Power is divided yet again between the national government and the states. Madison noted that these two-fold divisions — the separation of powers and federalism — provided a “double security” for the rights of the people.

What about the democratic principle of one person, one vote? Isn’t that principle essential to our form of government? The Founders’ handiwork says otherwise. Neither the Senate, nor the Supreme Court, nor the president is elected on the basis of one person, one vote. That’s why a state like Montana, with 883,000 residents, gets the same number of Senators as California, with 33 million people. Consistency would require that if we abolish the Electoral College, we rid ourselves of the Senate as well. Are we ready to do that?

The filtering of the popular will through the Electoral College is an affirmation, rather than a betrayal, of the American republic. Doing away with the Electoral College would breach our fidelity to the spirit of the Constitution, a document expressly written to thwart the excesses of majoritarianism. Nonetheless, such fidelity will strike some as blind adherence to the past. For those skeptics, I would point out two other advantages the Electoral College offers.

First, we must keep in mind the likely effects of direct popular election of the president. We would probably see elections dominated by the most populous regions of the country or by several large metropolitan areas. In the 2000 election, for example, Vice President Gore could have put together a plurality or majority in the Northeast, parts of the Midwest, and California.

The victims in such elections would be those regions too sparsely populated to merit the attention of presidential candidates. Pure democrats would hardly regret that diminished status, but I wonder if a large and diverse nation should write off whole parts of its territory. We should keep in mind the regional conflicts that have plagued large and diverse nations like India, China, and Russia. The Electoral College is a good antidote to the poison of regionalism because it forces presidential candidates to seek support throughout the nation. By making sure no state will be left behind, it provides a measure of coherence to our nation.

Second, the Electoral College makes sure that the states count in presidential elections. As such, it is an important part of our federalist system — a system worth preserving. Historically, federalism is central to our grand constitutional effort to restrain power, but even in our own time we have found that devolving power to the states leads to important policy innovations (welfare reform).

If the Founders had wished to create a pure democracy, they would have done so. Those who now wish to do away with the Electoral College are welcome to amend the Constitution, but if they succeed, they will be taking America further away from its roots as a constitutional republic.

How did the terms “Elector” and “Electoral College” come into usage?

The term “electoral college” does not appear in the Constitution. Article II of the Constitution and the 12th Amendment refer to “electors,” but not to the “electoral college.” In the Federalist Papers (No. 68), Alexander Hamilton refers to the process of selecting the Executive, and refers to “the people of each State (who) shall choose a number of persons as electors,” but he does not use the term “electoral college.”

The founders appropriated the concept of electors from the Holy Roman Empire (962 – 1806). An elector was one of a number of princes of the various German states within the Holy Roman Empire who had a right to participate in the election of the German king (who generally was crowned as emperor). The term “college” (from the Latin collegium), refers to a body of persons that act as a unit, as in the college of cardinals who advise the Pope and vote in papal elections. In the early 1800’s, the term “electoral college” came into general usage as the unofficial designation for the group of citizens selected to cast votes for President and Vice President. It was first written into Federal law in 1845, and today the term appears in 3 U.S.C. section 4, in the section heading and in the text as “college of electors.”

Christopher Columbus – The Left’s Public Enemy #1

Michael Knowles explains the difference between leftist lies and reality, and why Christopher Columbus is the Left’s public enemy #1

To analogize the main point, it would be like taking the political attacks in politics as who a person really is. Here is a great example:

Jefferson called Adams “a blind, bald, crippled, toothless man who is a hideous hermaphroditic character with neither the force and fitness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.”

The Federalists attacked the fifty-seven-year-old Jefferson as a godless Jacobin who would unleash the forces of bloody terror upon the land. With Jefferson as President, so warned Adams (actually the Connecticut Courant), “Murder, robbery, rape, adultery, and incest will be openly taught and practiced, the air will be rent with the cries of the distressed, the soil will be soaked with blood, and the nation black with crimes.” Reportedly New Englanders hid their Bibles for fear that the infidel Jefferson would declare them illegal if elected. In 1828, supporters of John Quincy Adams called Andrew Jackson a murderer and a cannibal.

Were the Founders Religious? (Joshua Charles)

Very happy for my “cyber friend” to be in the Prager-U mix!

What did the Founding Fathers believe about religion? Were they Christians, or just deists? Did they believe in secularism, or did they want Americans to be religious? Joshua Charles, New York Times bestselling author and researcher at the Museum of the Bible, explains.

Liberty’s Secret ~ Excerpt

I have already been challenged on this topic, to wit, the challenge and my response will follow the excerpt.

This following excerpt from Liberty’s Secrets is one that squarely displaces the typical secular attack on Jefferson being a man of faith to some degree. In this excerpt Thomas Paine’s position on Christianity and God is dealt with as an extra bonus, as well as some of the Founders predictions of the then young French Revolution. This is a really good read, and I highly recommend the book.

Before the excerpt, I want to share a favorite sentence that I think best defines the Founders accomplishments in the Constitution. Here it is:

  • The Constitution is the integration of ideals with reality, the ideal being human liberty, the reality being human nature. (p. 69)

If that isn’t the best definition in one sentence of the Constitution, I don’t know what is!

GOD AND THE HUMAN SOUL: THE EXISTENCE OF THE UNIVERSE AND MORALITY

Belief in God and the immortality of the human soul was universal among the Founders, which is incontrovertibly evident from the most cursory review of their writings. While not all of them were orthodox Christians, their thoughts on atheism ranged from extreme caution to outright disdain. For them, belief in God was natural to man because it was in accordance with his nature, and they agreed with Tocqueville when he noted (while describing the virtual absence of atheism in America) that “men cannot detach themselves from religious beliefs except by some wrong-headed thinking, and by a sort of moral violence inflicted upon their true nature . . . Unbelief is an accident; faith is the only permanent state of mankind.”

They saw the fingerprints of God everywhere they looked, and their conclusion that He existed was not even necessarily dependent on the Bible or any specific set of religious dogma but on the very nature of the cosmos. Writing to his friend John Adams toward the end of his life, Jefferson explained his views:Josh Charles Liberty Secret Book 300

I hold (without appeal to revelation) that when we take a view of the Universe, in its parts general or particular, it is impossible for the human mind not to perceive and feel a conviction of design, consum­mate skill, and the indefinite power in every atom of its composition… We see, too, evident proofs of the necessity of a superintending power to maintain the Universe in its course and order… So irresistible are these evidences of an intelligent and powerful Agent that, of the infinite numbers of men who have existed through all time, they have believed, in the proportion of a million at least to unit, in the hypothesis of an eternal pre-existence of a creator, rather than in that of a self-existent Universe. Surely this unanimous sentiment renders this more probable than that of a few in the other hypothesis Even Thomas Paine, who in the second half of his life was an ardent opponent of orthodox Christianity (mostly Catholicism) and the clergy and did not believe the Bible was divinely inspired, wrote at the same time, “All the principles of science are of divine origin. Man cannot make or invent or contrive principles. He can only discover them, and he ought to look through the discovery to the Author.”

Paine criticized any teaching of “natural philosophy” (i.e., science) that asserted that the universe was simply “an accomplishment” (i.e., self-existent). He also criticized those teachers who “labor with studied ingenuity to ascribe everything they behold to innate properties of matter and jump over all the rest by saying that matter is eternal” and thereby encouraged the “evil” of atheism. “Instead of looking through the works of creation to the Creator Himself, they stop short and employ the knowl­edge they acquire to create doubts of His existence,” he lamented. “When we examine an extraordinary piece of machinery, an astonishing pile of architecture, a well-executed statue, or a highly-finished painting… our ideas are naturally led to think of the extensive genius and talent of the artist. When we study the elements of geometry, we think of Euclid. When we speak of gravitation, we think of Newton. How, then, is it that when we study the works of God in creation, we stop short and do not think of God?”

For these reasons, among others, Jefferson rejected being an atheist, “which,” as he put it, “I can never be.” His friend John Adams noted, “I never heard of an irreligious character in Greek or Roman history, nor in any other history, nor have I known one in life who was not a rascal. Name one if you can, living or dead.”” Nor did the Founders see sci­ence and religion as opposed to one another, as is all too common today. Rather, as President Adams asserted in a letter to university students, they were not only mutually compatible, but mutually necessary for one another: “When you look up to me with confidence as the patron of science, liberty, and religion, you melt my heart. These are the choicest blessings of humanity; they have an inseparable union. Without their joint influence no society can be great, flourishing, or happy.”

Just as much as the existence of God was essential to their under­standing of the physical constitution of the universe, its combination with their belief in the immortality of the soul was crucial to their understanding of the moral constitution of the world, as it was the means by which God judged the good and evil acts committed in this life, whether noticed by man or not. Tocqueville ascribed a great deal of the accomplishments of the Puritans/Pilgrims and their progeny (the Founders) to this belief, which he described as so “indispensable to man’s greatness that its effects are striking,” for it kept him morally anchored, never able to escape ultimate justice. It was for this reason that the Founders considered belief in God as the cornerstone of all morality, but not because man could do no good apart from God commanding him to do so. Quite the contrary: part of their conception of the “law of nature and nature’s God” was the idea that all men had at least portions of this law inscribed into their very being, and that most men knew the basics of right and wrong because God had given them a conscience. The problem was that, because of their fallen nature, they did not obey their consciences as they should. Adams elaborated:

The law of nature would be sufficient for the government of men if they would consult their reason and obey their consciences. It is not the fault of the law of nature, but of themselves, that it is not obeyed; it is not the fault of the law of nature that men are obliged to have recourse to civil government at all, but of themselves; it is not the fault of the ten commandments, but of themselves, that Jews or Christians are ever known to steal, murder, covet, or blaspheme. But the legislator who should say the law of nature is enough, if you do not obey it, it will be your own fault, therefore no other government is necessary, would be thought to trifle.

This brings us to a very important fact that we must remember when it comes to the Founders: they did not believe that religion made men good, but rather that it provided the best encouragement and incentive to be good, for it taught them that their choices had consequences in eternity, not just in the moment. Even if consequences could be avoided in the now, God would exact justice in the hereafter.

This had been a Judeo-Christian teaching from time immemorial and was well known to the Founders. The problem was not that man had no knowledge of good and evil and therefore needed a religious commandment to tell him, but rather that human nature commonly bowed to the dictates of the passions, rather than reason, and thereby abandoned conscience and committed evil anyway. The Founders realized that our human nature could, and often did, pervert the plain dictates of conscience, allowing us to convince ourselves that right is wrong and wrong is right if it suits our own desires. As Adams noted, “Human reason and human conscience, though I believe there are such things, are not a match for human passions, human imaginations, and human enthusiasm.” Our passions would corrupt our minds, our minds would justify our passions, and in turn our passions would become even more corrupt, a deadly cycle with horrific consequences for indi­viduals and society. “Our passions, ambition, avarice, love, resentment, etc. possess so much metaphysical subtlety and so much overpowering eloquence that they insinuate themselves into the understanding and the conscience and convert both to their party,” Adams wrote. “And I may be deceived as much as any of them when I say that power must never be trusted without a check.”

That “check,” at least as far as voluntary self-restraint was concerned, was religion. The Founders understood that mankind’s capacity for self-delusion was boundless; therefore, moral obligations must be placed on a divine rather than a humanistic footing if anyone could assert any truth or notion of right and wrong at all. It was for this reason that religious commandments such as “do not murder,” “do not steal,” and “do not commit adultery” were necessary, not because man was completely incapable of avoiding these sins without God commanding him to, but because, since He had commanded them, man had no intellectual excuse for ever allowing his passions or personal desires to blind his judg­ment and excuse him of his moral obligations. Religion thus anchored the definition of morality on God and asserted its obligations on man by acting as a powerful regulator of the inherently negative aspects of human nature. James Madison explained the importance of this truth: “The belief in a God All Powerful wise and good, is so essential to the moral order of the world and to the happiness of man, that arguments which enforce it cannot be drawn from too many sources nor adapted with too much solicitude to the different characters and capacities to be impressed with it.”

Adams asserted the same thing and specifically acknowledged that Judaism, through the Bible, had bequeathed to the world what he con­sidered the most essential ingredient of human civilization:

I will insist that the Hebrews have done more to civilize men than any other nation. If I were an atheist, and believed in blind eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations. If I were an atheist of the other sect, who believe or pretend to believe that all is ordered by chance, I should believe that chance had ordered the Jews to preserve and propagate to all mankind the doctrine of a supreme, intelligent, wise, almighty sovereign of the universe, which I believe to be the great essential principle of all morality, and consequently of all civilization.

For the Founders, the most effective catalyst of virtue was religion, for it reminded man that he is not God and he therefore cannot shape morality according to his own selfish desires. It was the subversion of this principle that they identified as the cause behind the American and French Revolutions taking such radically different courses: it was ultimately a difference of theology.

GOD AND THE AMERICAN AND FRENCH REVOLUTIONS

The Founders believed in the existence of a God, which they deemed the most rational basis for the existence of the universe, morality, and reason itself. The French Revolution was predicated on almost the exact opposite idea.

While many today assume that the notion of blind chance being the operative force in the universe’s creation and development arrived on the scene with Charles Darwin, this is not the case. In fact, it was a notion quite popular among many of the continental European intellectuals of the time, most of whom were French, and most of whom tended to be atheists and/or materialists (which were practically the same). They contended that the universe had not been created but had either existed eternally or was the result of inherent properties in matter itself. But among the French intelligentsia, the one who had the most profound effect on the Founders, Montesquieu, directly contradicted this position in his famous work, The Spirit of the Laws: “Those who have said that a blind fate has produced all the effects that we see in the world have said a great absurdity,” he wrote, “for what greater absurdity is there than a blind fate that could have produced intelligent beings?”

For Montesquieu and the Founders, the universe was simply too full of information, order, and harmony to ascribe it to blind chance. “What is chance?” asked Adams. “It is motion; it is action; it is event; it is phenomenon without cause. Chance is no cause at all; it is nothing.”

In addition to their denial, or at least extreme doubt of the exis­tence of a Creator, many of the French intellectuals in like manner either doubted or denied the existence and immortality of the human soul. They therefore denied the two theological pillars upon which the Founders based their ideas of virtue, and as such, it was no surprise that the French Revolution, which claimed to be the heir of the American Revolution, devolved into a bloodbath of violence and oppression unrestrained by any religious principle.

While both revolutions were similar in their assertion of human rights, they offered fundamentally different explanations of the origin of such rights. The American Revolution was premised on men being “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” while the French Revolution asserted man’s rights were based purely on reason, apart from any notions of divinity or religion. A statue of a deified “Reason” was erected in the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, and the revolution was predicated upon principles that were explicitly and directly opposed to religion, Christianity in particular. Adams noted the differences between the two revolutions when he wrote to his friend Richard Price that “Diderot and D’Alembert, Voltaire and Rousseau,” all French atheists and materialists, “have contributed to this great event more than Sidney, Locke, or Hoadly,” English political philosophers who explicitly asserted that the “laws of nature and nature’s God” were the foundation of man’s rights and moral obligations, and who had a profound impact on the American Revolution. The French, on the other hand, based man’s rights on the consensus of “the nation.” The rights of man were what man, through the nation, had decided they would be. For this reason, Adams admitted to Price as early as 1790, “I own to you, I know not what to make of a republic of thirty million atheists,” and he predicted there would be rampant violence and bloodshed.

But that was not all. Several of the Founders, Adams in particular, believed that the principles of the French Revolution not only directly undermined the basis of human rights and obligations but also destroyed the very idea of human liberty. If man was simply matter in motion, then his entire destiny had already been determined by physical laws and constants (today known as “determinism”), making liberty a mean­ingless idea. And yet, this was the view of many of the leading French intellectuals. “And what was their philosophy?” Adams inquired:

Atheism—pure, unadulterated atheism…. The universe was matter only, and eternal. Spirit was a word without a meaning. Liberty was a word without a meaning. There was no liberty in the universe; liberty was a word void of sense. Every thought, word, passion, sentiment, feeling, all motion and action was necessary [determinism]. All beings and attributes were of eternal necessity; conscience, morality, were all nothing but fate. This was their creed, and this was to perfect human nature, and convert the earth into a paradise of pleasure… Why, then, should we abhor the word “God,” and fall in love with the word “fate”? We know there exists energy and intellect enough to produce such a world as this, which is a sublime and beautiful one, and a very benevolent one, notwithstanding all our snarling; and a happy one, if it is not made otherwise by our own fault.

Alexander Hamilton, who described the French Revolution as “the most cruel, sanguinary, and violent that ever stained the annals of mankind,” also predicted its failure due to the fact that it was explicitly

opposed to Christianity, “a state of things which annihilates the foun­dations of social order and true liberty, confounds all moral distinc­tions and substitutes to the mild and beneficent religion of the Gospel a gloomy, persecuting, and desolating atheism:’

It was precisely because the French Revolution rejected the Judeo-Christian notion of the fallen nature of man in exchange for the idea that he could be perfected by reason that they engaged in the wanton violence and cruelty of the guillotine: it was all worth it because they were creating a new, ideal world that had to be purged of its impure elements.

The French Revolution was thereby founded on principles that fun­damentally contradicted the divine basis of the existence of the universe, man’s rights, his moral obligations, and his very liberty, upon which the Founders, partaking of both the classical and Judeo-Christian tradition, asserted them. With God removed, several of the Founders, Adams in particular, predicted the French Revolution would operate according to the bloody principles of “might makes right.” “A nation of atheists,” he had warned, would likely lead to “the destruction of a million of human beings.” Adams explained his prophecy of a forthcoming deluge of blood in biblical terms and ascribed it to the utter rejection of religion by the leaders of the French Revolution:

The temper and principles prevailing at present in that quarter of the world have a tendency to as general and total a destruction as ever befell Tyre and Sidon[,] Sodom and Gomorrah. If all religion and governments, all arts and sciences are destroyed, the trees will grow up, cities will molder into common earth, and a few human beings may be left naked to chase the wild beasts with bows and arrows…. I hope in all events that religion and learning will find an asylum in America.

In this, he disagreed (at the time) with Jefferson. But even Jefferson was forced to admit decades later, after the Reign of Terror, the Napoleonic Wars, and the other violent outbursts that came out of the French Revolution, that Adams had been completely right in his assessment, acknowledging, “Your prophecies… proved truer than mine.” When Jefferson asked Adams why he had predicted what he did, Adams explained that the power of God had been replaced by the arrogant, usurping power of man, and conscience was thereby discon­nected from its transcendent anchors. Thus, those in power believed whatever they did was moral: “Power always sincerely, conscientiously, de tres bon foi [“in very good faith”], believes itself right. Power always thinks it has a great soul, and vast views, beyond the comprehension of the weak, and that it is doing God’s service, when it is violating all his laws.” It was for this reason that, as much as religion had been abused for centuries in European history, Adams argued it could not compare with the atrocities committed in the name of “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité” during the French Revolution: “It is a serious problem to resolve whether all the abuses of Christianity, even in the darkest ages when the Pope deposed princes and laid nations under his interdict, were ever so bloody and cruel, ever bore down the independence of the human mind with such terror and intolerance, or taught doctrines which required such implicit credulity to believe, as the present reign of pretended philosophy in France.”

As president, Adams had to deal directly with the revolutionary French government and easily noted the difference between an American society that assented to general religious principles and a French society that rejected them:

You may find the moral principles, sanctified and sanctioned by reli­gion, are the only bond of union, the only ground of confidence of the people in one another, of the people in the government, and the government in the people. Avarice, ambition, and pleasure, can never be the foundations of reformations or revolutions for the better. These passions have dictated the aim at universal domination, trampled on the rights of neutrality, despised the faith of solemn contracts, insulted ambassadors, and rejected offers of friendship.

For the Founders, the purpose of reason—which Adams referred to as “a revelation from its maker” and Jefferson as an “oracle given you by heaven”-was to better align human actions with the “law of nature and nature’s God” by the taming of human passions and the application of knowledge. The leaders of the French Revolution believed precisely the opposite, that God didn’t really exist (and if He did, He was largely irrelevant), and that reason was man’s alone, and thus his to utilize toward whatever ends he himself determined. Though the Founders knew perfection “falls not to the share of mortals,” the French believed that man could be perfected through reason, and therefore any bar­riers to creating the world of their dreams needed to be destroyed, for this was tantamount to obstructing man’s perfection. The differences between the two revolutions thus turned out to be theological at root, and for this reason, while on the surface they were superficially similar, they were in fact fundamentally different, as Adams prophesied, other Founders criticized, and the facts of history verified.

Joshua Charles, Liberty’s Secrets: The Lost Wisdom of America’s Founders (Washington, DC: WND Books, 2015), 82-91.

Dennis Prager interviews Ann Coulter in regards to her new book, Demonic.” Ann points out a fact I wasn’t aware of in regards to the mob mentality that set the standard for the French Revolution. Much like the misunderstanding in regards to the Crusades, the witch trials, and the like, numbers are not the forte of the left. Nor is putting into context meaning behind them.

For more clear thinking like this from Dennis Prager… I invite you to join Pragertopia: dennisprager.com/

Challenges

I posted a link to this at a friends “counter-atheist” page on FaceBook. I posted the following that included a link back to this page:

For those interested, before I head out to drink wine in Cambria, I posted an excerpt from a book I am reading… and it deals with both Jefferson’s, Madison’s, Hamilton’s, Paine’s, view of faith and/or atheists and creation vs. evolutionary thinking (the basis of which reaches back to Greece)

Almost immediately after this was posted this was posted.

  • Fascinating!! I never knew Jefferson died before The Origin of Species was written!!

I believe Tim, the author of the above challenge, meant to say “died after” Darwin’s seminal work, not before.

Per the modi operandi of the atheists on this site, they do not read and inculcate what was said. Forgive me as I take time with a though. After reading four books on marijuana addiction and the latest studies (one that followed over a thousand people for 25-years) showing the deleterious affects of this drug (a 8% decrease of the amygdala, and 12% reduction in size of the hippocampus). During this time of reading, a story came out about what amounts to brain damage in a controlled setting by “targeted magnetism” — making more people unable to “believe” in God… by about thirty-percent.

One commentator said it must be embarrassing to the atheist because “the specific part of the brain they frazzled was the posterior medial frontal cortex—the part associated with detecting and solving problems, i.e., reasoning and logic.”

I often wonder aloud to my wife if these guys smoke weed! But I digress… continuing.

I respond:

I am sorry Tim, evolutionary thinking pre-dates Darwin. Take Cicero countering his rivals of the day (as an example). If you read this… what is the opposing viewpoint? [Nothing?]

…suppose that after darkness had prevailed from the beginning of time, it similarly happened to ourselves suddenly to behold the light of day, what should we think of the splendour of the heavens? But daily recurrence and habit familiarize our minds with the sight, and we feel no surprise or curiosity as to the reasons for things that we see always; just as if it were the novelty and not rather the importance of phenomena that ought to arouse us to inquire into their causes.

Marcus Tullius Cicero, Cicero Nature of the Gods Academics (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; Translated by H. Rackam, 2005), 217.

OR,

But if the structure of the world in all its parts is such that it could not have been better whether in point of utility or beauty, let us consider whether this is the result of chance, or whether on the contrary the parts of the world are in such a condition that they could not possibly have cohered together if they were not controlled by intelligence and by divine providence. If then the products of nature are better than those of art, and if art produces nothing without reason, nature too cannot be deemed to be without reason. When you see a statue or a painting, you recognize the exercise of art; when you observe from a distance the course of a ship, you do not hesitate to assume that its motion is guided by reason and by art; when you look at a sun-dial or a water-clock, you infer that it tells the time by art and not by chance; how then can it be consistent to suppose that the world, which includes both the works of art in question, the craftsmen who made them, and everything else besides, can be devoid of purpose and of reason? Suppose a traveller to carry into Scythia or Britain the orrery recently constructed by our friend Posidonius, which at each revolution reproduces the same motions of the sun, the moon and the five planets that take place in the heavens every twenty-four hours, would any single native doubt that this orrery was the work of a rational being? These thinkers however raise doubts about the world itself from which all things arise and have their being, and debate whether it is the product of chance or necessity of some sort, or of divine reason and intelligence;

Marcus Tullius Cicero, Cicero Nature of the Gods Academics (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; Translated by H. Rackam, 2005), 207-209.

And the opening sentence to a Berkeley.EDU paper is this:

✦ Evolutionary theory begins with the Ionian philosopher Anaximander (ca. 611 – 546 B. C. E.). Very little is known about his life, but it is known that he wrote a long poem, On Nature, summarizing his researches. This poem is now lost, and has survived only in extracts quoted in other works. Enough survives, however, that Anaximander’s thought can be reconstructed with some confidence. For Anaximander, the world had arisen from an undifferentiated, indeterminate substance, the apeiron. The Earth, which had coalesced out of the apeiron, had been covered in water at one stage, with plants and animals arising from mud. Humans were not present at the earliest stages; they arose from fish. This poem was quite influential on later thinkers, including Aristotle. ~ Berkeley.edu

Tim responds:

  • What’s your point?

This is one of those “bang your head on the keyboard” moments. You see, Tim challenged my statement. I corrected his challenge. He then feigns like I just waded in, off topic. Like I started talking about MPG for city buses where I live. You will notice this is Paley’s watchmaker argument almost 1800-years before Paley lived! Paley pre-dated Darwin. Were there no naturalistic origins hypothesis of his day either? Paley was just “preaching to the quire”? Dumb. Here is my response:

OMG…. sigh….

You said: “Fascinating!! I never knew Jefferson died [after] The Origin of Species was written!!”

I corrected your viewpoint that “evolution” is something Charles Darwin “founded.” He merely reformulated the general idea that “man has evolved,” into, the General Theory of Evolution (GTE).

For more context on defining “evolution,” see my debate with some atheists about the General Theory of Evolution.

European Happiness and Crime Rates Compared To America’s

“It’s become common knowledge that Denmark, Sweden and Norway routinely rank highest on lists of the world’s happiest nations…” (The World’s Happiest Countries Take The Most Antidepressants)

(As usual, all graphics/pics are linked to other resources.) Often I hear about how much lower the crime rate is in Europe, at times having the “Peace Index” thrown into the conversation without any meditation on what exactly this “index” says. Happiness is another moniker often thrown around without any comparisons of “what constitutes ‘happiness’.” So lets deal first with happiness, and then get into the peace index and gun-control/stats.

HAPPINESS

What constitutes happiness between the States and Europe? Let’s delve — quickly — into this topic via Forbes (2006):

The average American works 25 hours a week; the average Frenchman 18; the average Italian a bit more than 16 and a half. Even the hardest-working Europeans–the British, who put in an average of 21 and half hours–are far more laid-back than their American cousins.

Compared with Europeans, Americans are more likely to be employed and more likely to work longer hours–employed Americans put in about three hours more per week than employed Frenchmen. Most important, Americans take fewer (and shorter) vacations. The average American takes off less than six weeks a year; the average Frenchman almost 12. The world champion vacationers are the Swedes, at 16 and a half weeks per year.

Of course, Europeans pay a price for their extravagant leisure. The average Frenchman produces only three-quarters as much as the average American, even though productivity per hour is slightly higher in France.

This raises more than one interesting question. First, why do Americans choose to work so much? (Or, if you prefer, why do Europeans choose to work so little?) Second, who’s happier?…..

Why indeed.

I think this is answered a bit later in a newer poll/study, found at Live Science (see also FoxNews):

Americans really do love to work, it seems, while Europeans are much happier if they skip burning the midnight oil in favor of leisure. That’s according to a new study finding longer work hours make Europeans unhappy while Americans get a very slight (albeit not statistically significant) bliss boost from the extra grind.

“Those who work longer hours in Europe are less happy than those who work shorter hours, but in the U.S. it’s the other way around,” said study author Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn, a clinical assistant professor of public policy at The University of Texas at Dallas. “The working hours’ category does not have a very big impact on the probability of happiness of Americans.” [Happiest States’ List]

The study, based on survey data, can’t tease out whether work causes happiness or unhappiness, though the researchers speculate the effect has to do with expectations and how a person measures success.

Okulicz-Kozaryn used surveys of European and American attitudes for the study. The surveys included questions about the number of hours worked and asked respondents to identify if they were “very happy,” “pretty happy” or “not too happy.”

They found that the likelihood of Europeans’ describing themselves as “very happy” dropped from around 28 percent to 23 percent as work hours climbed from under 17 hours a week to more than 60 hours per week. Americans, on the other hand, held steady, with about a 43 percent chance of describing themselves as happy regardless of working hours.

The results held even after the researchers accounted for possible confounding factors, such as age, marital status and household income….

[….]

“Happiness depends upon satisfaction with your income, satisfaction with you family life, satisfaction with your work, satisfaction with your health,” he said.

“People trade off work and leisure,” Easterlin explained, and so any attempt to explain the results of this study would have to take that into account. “[Happiness] has to do with what you think the goals are of people in the two countries.”

American happiness is a pursuit important enough to include in one of our Founding documents, right next to life and liberty. This “pursuit” we are use to (and is being harmed/deformed by the welfare state growing larger) creates innovation. For instance David Mamet notes the following:

In my family, as in yours, someone regularly says, “Hey, you know what would be a good idea … ?” And then proceeds to outline some scheme for making money by providing a product or service the need for which has just occurred to him. He and the family fantasize about and discuss and elaborate this scheme. Inherent in this fantasy is the unstated but ever-present truth that, given sufficient capital and expertise or the access to the same, the scheme might actually be put into operation (as, indeed, constantly, throughout our history, such schemes have), bettering the lives of the masses and bringing wealth to their creators. Do you believe such conversations take place in Syria? In France?

David Mamet, The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture (New York, NY: Sentinel Publishing, 2011), [FN] 120.

Some can be happy with less pay and trusting the state will care for them enough to go on 12-week vacations. While doctors, for instance, may enjoy a month-long vacation in France [mandatory vacation], this “happiness” rather than hard-work often has deadly consequences, one being — for instance — nearly 15,000 people dying in a heat wave in France in 2003 (a record for Europe… previously Italy held it with 3,000).

  • …Health Minister Jean-Francois Mattei has ordered a separate special study this month to look into a possible link with vacation schedules after doctors strongly denied allegations their absence put the elderly in danger. The heat wave hit during the August vacation period, when doctors, hospital staff and many others take leave…

So Europe being “happier” than the United States is something of a misnomer.

“Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” We pursue it, not expecting government to provide it for us. If government doeas, a simple economic law states — basically — that creativity is squelched:

  • “A fundamental principle of information theory is that you can’t guarantee outcomes… in order for an experiment to yield knowledge, it has to be able to fail. If you have guaranteed experiments, you have zero knowledge”

George GilderInterview by Dennis Prager {Editors note: this is how the USSR ended up with warehouses FULL of “widgets” (things made that it could not use or people did not want) no one needed in the real world.}

When people do, austerity more-often-than-not leads to riots and collapse. And why in many European countries the EU is being rejected, and conservative parties are getting landslides (like UKIP in the UK). People are fed up with horrible health care, no incentive to succeed, taxes, crime, and immigration issues. 

Okay, I feel my point has been made. Innovation comes by a drive to work hard, as much as you wish in fact… whereas Europe forces people to work less, and thus is stagnant in relation to this said innovation. What about crime rates and violence, yes, even gun violence? Lets see. Firstly, I deal with some of the more pressing issues with the Peace Index here. But in this conversation, I wanted to deal with violent crimes… which include more than gun violence. As Europe gives birth to a generation divorced of their cultural heritage, you will see a rise in violence, and then a rise in reaction to it. Maybe an over-reaction?

VIOLENCE

Firstly, if you are an in-depth kind of reader, at this link you will find multiple debates and appearances of John Lott on CNN and other programs discussing gun crime. But let’s deal with a place that has for years made gun ownership illegal, the United Kingdom. Here is the headline from The Telegraph on the topic:

UK is violent crime capital of Europe: The United Kingdom is the violent crime capital of Europe and has one of the highest rates of violence in the world, worse even than America, according to new research.

Analysis of figures from the European Commission showed a 77 per cent increase in murders, robberies, assaults and sexual offences in the UK since Labour came to power.

The total number of violent offences recorded compared to population is higher than any other country in Europe, as well as America, Canada, Australia and South Africa.

Opposition leaders said the disclosures were a “damning indictment” of the Government’s failure to tackle deep-rooted social problems.

The figures combined crime statistics for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The UK had a greater number of murders in 2007 than any other EU country – 927 – and at a relative rate higher than most western European neighbours, including France, Germany, Italy and Spain. 

 It also recorded the fifth highest robbery rate in the EU, and the highest absolute number of burglaries, with double the number of offences recorded in Germany and France.

Overall, 5.4 million crimes were recorded in the UK in 2007 – more than 10 a minute – second only to Sweden.

Chris Grayling, shadow home secretary, said: “This is a real damning indictment of this government’s comprehensive failure over more than a decade to tackle the deep rooted social problems in our society, and the knock-on effect on crime and anti-social behaviour.

“We’re now on our fourth Home Secretary in this parliament, and all we are getting is a rehash of old initiatives that didn’t work the first time round. More than ever Britain needs a change of direction.”

The figures were sourced from Eurostat, the European Commission’s database of statistics. They are gathered using official sources in the countries concerned such as the national statistics office, the national prison administration, ministries of the interior or justice, and police.

A breakdown of the statistics, which were compiled into league tables by the Conservatives, revealed that violent crime in the UK had increased from 652,974 offences in 1998 to more than 1.15 million crimes in 2007.

It means there are over 2,000 crimes recorded per 100,000 population in the UK, making it the most violent place in Europe.

Austria is second, with a rate of 1,677 per 100,000 people, followed by Sweden, Belgium, Finland and Holland.

By comparison, America has an estimated rate of 466 violent crimes per 100,000 population.

France recorded 324,765 violent crimes in 2007 – a 67 per cent increase in the past decade – at a rate of 504 per 100,000 population. 

…read more…

Which segways into a recent comparison in crime and gun-control in a Wall Street Journal article by Joyce Lee Malcolm, entitled: “Two Cautionary Tales of Gun Control: After a school massacre, the U.K. banned handguns in 1998. A decade later, handgun crime had doubled.” Here is an interview of her in regards to the article, followed by excerpts from said article:

Larry Elder Interview & Wall Street Journal Article

Here are portions of the article:

…Great Britain and Australia, for example, suffered mass shootings in the 1980s and 1990s. Both countries had very stringent gun laws when they occurred. Nevertheless, both decided that even stricter control of guns was the answer. Their experiences can be instructive.

In 1987, Michael Ryan went on a shooting spree in his small town of Hungerford, England, killing 16 people (including his mother) and wounding another 14 before shooting himself. Since the public was unarmed—as were the police—Ryan wandered the streets for eight hours with two semiautomatic rifles and a handgun before anyone with a firearm was able to come to the rescue.

Nine years later, in March 1996, Thomas Hamilton, a man known to be mentally unstable, walked into a primary school in the Scottish town of Dunblane and shot 16 young children and their teacher. He wounded 10 other children and three other teachers before taking his own life.

Since 1920, anyone in Britain wanting a handgun had to obtain a certificate from his local police stating he was fit to own a weapon and had good reason to have one. Over the years, the definition of “good reason” gradually narrowed. By 1969, self-defense was never a good reason for a permit.

After Hungerford, the British government banned semiautomatic rifles and brought shotguns—the last type of firearm that could be purchased with a simple show of fitness—under controls similar to those in place for pistols and rifles. Magazines were limited to two shells with a third in the chamber.

Dunblane had a more dramatic impact. Hamilton had a firearm certificate, although according to the rules he should not have been granted one. A media frenzy coupled with an emotional campaign by parents of Dunblane resulted in the Firearms Act of 1998, which instituted a nearly complete ban on handguns. Owners of pistols were required to turn them in. The penalty for illegal possession of a pistol is up to 10 years in prison.

The results have not been what proponents of the act wanted. Within a decade of the handgun ban and the confiscation of handguns from registered owners, crime with handguns had doubled according to British government crime reports. Gun crime, not a serious problem in the past, now is. Armed street gangs have some British police carrying guns for the first time. Moreover, another massacre occurred in June 2010. Derrick Bird, a taxi driver in Cumbria, shot his brother and a colleague then drove off through rural villages killing 12 people and injuring 11 more before killing himself.

[….]

Six weeks after the Dunblane massacre in 1996, Martin Bryant, an Australian with a lifelong history of violence, attacked tourists at a Port Arthur prison site in Tasmania with two semiautomatic rifles. He killed 35 people and wounded 21 others.

At the time, Australia’s guns laws were stricter than the United Kingdom’s. In lieu of the requirement in Britain that an applicant for permission to purchase a gun have a “good reason,” Australia required a “genuine reason.” Hunting and protecting crops from feral animals were genuine reasons—personal protection wasn’t.

With new Prime Minister John Howard in the lead, Australia passed the National Firearms Agreement, banning all semiautomatic rifles and semiautomatic and pump-action shotguns and imposing a more restrictive licensing system on other firearms. The government also launched a forced buyback scheme to remove thousands of firearms from private hands. Between Oct. 1, 1996, and Sept. 30, 1997, the government purchased and destroyed more than 631,000 of the banned guns at a cost of $500 million.

To what end? While there has been much controversy over the result of the law and buyback, Peter Reuter and Jenny Mouzos, in a 2003 study published by the Brookings Institution, found homicides “continued a modest decline” since 1997. They concluded that the impact of the National Firearms Agreement was “relatively small,” with the daily rate of firearms homicides declining 3.2%.

According to their study, the use of handguns rather than long guns (rifles and shotguns) went up sharply, but only one out of 117 gun homicides in the two years following the 1996 National Firearms Agreement used a registered gun. Suicides with firearms went down but suicides by other means went up. They reported “a modest reduction in the severity” of massacres (four or more indiscriminate homicides) in the five years since the government weapons buyback. These involved knives, gas and arson rather than firearms.

In 2008, the Australian Institute of Criminology reported a decrease of 9% in homicides and a one-third decrease in armed robbery since the 1990s, but an increase of over 40% in assaults and 20% in sexual assaults.

What to conclude? Strict gun laws in Great Britain and Australia haven’t made their people noticeably safer, nor have they prevented massacres. The two major countries held up as models for the U.S. don’t provide much evidence that strict gun laws will solve our problems.

Ms. Malcolm, a professor of law at George Mason University Law School, is the author of several books including “Guns and Violence: The English Experience,” (Harvard, 2002).

Of course America’s worst massacre involving a school is the Bath Bombing (below), Michigan (1927). And a bomb killed 168 people in the Oklahoma City Bombing. So if someone wants to kill another… no amount of government regulation will decrease this fact:

  • “…we have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

John Adams, first (1789–1797) Vice President of the United States, and the second (1797–1801) President of the United States. Letter to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts, 11 October 1798, in Revolutionary Services and Civil Life of General William Hull (New York, 1848), pp 265-6.

Ball State Would Censor Thomas Jefferson ~ OBEY!

CBN News via ACF:

The president of Ball State University is forbidding faculty to endorse intelligent design, the belief that the universe is too complex to have evolved by chance.

President Jo Ann Gora has sent a letter to faculty and staff saying intelligent design is not appropriate material for science courses.

Gora said only humanities or social science courses may discuss topics like intelligent design, as long as professors do not openly support it.

That letter comes after an atheist group complained that the school hired a science professor who wrote a book on intelligent design and another professor was accused of teaching creationism….

 

A bit more from Evolution News and Views:

Next time someone tells you intelligent design is “based on religion,” you might point him to American Founder Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence. As I explain in a special July 4th edition of ID the Future, Jefferson not only believed in intelligent design, he insisted it was based on the plain evidence of nature, not religion.

Ironically, the critics of intelligent design often think they are defending the principles of Jefferson. The National Council for the Social Studies, for example, claims that intelligent design is religion and then cites Jefferson’s famous Letter to the Danbury Baptists calling for a “wall of separation” between church and state. The clear implication is that Thomas Jefferson would agree with them that intelligent design is religion. A writer for Irregular Times goes even further, insisting that “the case of Thomas Jefferson makes it quite clear that there was not a consensus of support among the authors of the Constitution to allow for the mixing of religion and government to support theological doctrines such as intelligent design.”

In reality, Jefferson did not believe that intelligent design was a religious doctrine. In a letter to John Adams on April 11, 1823, he declared:

I hold (without appeal to revelation) that when we take a view of the Universe, in its parts general or particular, it is impossible for the human mind not to perceive and feel a conviction of design, consummate skill, and indefinite power in every atom of its composition. (emphasis added)

By insisting that his defense of intelligent design was made “without appeal to revelation,” Jefferson clearly was arguing that the idea had a basis other than religion. What was that basis? He went on to explain:

The movements of the heavenly bodies, so exactly held in their course by the balance of centrifugal and centripetal forces, the structure of our earth itself, with its distribution of lands, waters and atmosphere, animal and vegetable bodies, examined in all their minutest particles, insects mere atoms of life, yet as perfectly organised as man or mammoth, the mineral substances, their generation and uses, it is impossible, I say, for the human mind not to believe that there is, in all this, design, cause and effect, up to an ultimate cause, a fabricator of all things from matter and motion, their preserver and regulator while permitted to exist in their present forms, and their regenerator into new and other forms.

In sum, Jefferson believed that empirical data from nature itself proved intelligent design by showing the natural world’s intricate organization from the level of plants and insects all the way up to the revolution of the planets.

…read more…

Intelligent Design pre-dates even Jesus! [Earthly visit]

“When you see a sundial or a water-clock, you see that it tells time by design and not by chance. How then can you imagine that the universe as a whole is devoid of purpose and intelligence when it embraces everything, including these artifacts themselves and their artificers? Our friend Posidonius as you know has recently made a globe which in its revolution shows the movements of the sun and stars and planets, by day and night, just as they appear in the sky. Now if someone were to take this globe and show it to the people of Britain or Scythia [barbarians at this time] would a single one of those barbarians fail to see that it was the product of a conscious intelligence.” 

[….]

But if the structure of the world in all its parts is such that it could not have been better whether in point of utility or beauty, let us consider whether this is the result of chance, or whether on the contrary the parts of the world are in such a condition that they could not possibly have cohered together if they were not controlled by intelligence and by divine providence. If then the products of nature are better than those of art, and if art produces nothing without reason, nature too cannot be deemed to be without reason. When you see a statue or a painting, you recognize the exercise of art; when you observe from a distance the course of a ship, you do not hesitate to assume that its motion is guided by reason and by art; when you look at a sun-dial or a water-clock, you infer that it tells the time by art and not by chance ; how then can it be consistent to suppose that the world, which includes both the works of art in question, the craftsmen who made them, and everything else besides, can be devoid of purpose and of reason? Suppose a traveller to carry into Scythia or Britain the orrery recently constructed by our friend Posidonius, which at each revolution reproduces the same motions of the sun, the moon and the five planets that take place in the heavens every twenty-four hours, would any single native doubt that this orrery was the work of a rational being? These thinkers however raise doubts about the world itself from which all things arise and have their being, and debate whether it is the product of chance or necessity of some sort, or of divine reason and intelligence…

Cicero, Nature of the Gods, Translated by H. Rackam, p. 207-209.

Via Russell Grigg, A Brief History of Design:

Cicero (106–43 BC), used this concept in his book De Natura Deorum (On the Nature of the Gods) to challenge the evolutionary ideas of the philosophers of his day.

The two main schools of philosophy then were Epicureanism and Stoicism. The Epicureans sought happiness through bodily pleasures and freedom from pain and anxiety. The two chief causes of anxiety were fear of the gods and fear of death, so Epicurus sought to nullify both of these by teaching an evolutionary atomic theory.

He denied that there was any purpose in nature, because everything was composed of particles (atoma: atoms), all falling downwards. He said that these sometimes spontaneously “swerved” to coalesce and form bodies — non-living, living, human, and divine. The gods were made of finer atoms than humankind. They did not create the world or have any control over it, so they were not concerned with human affairs, and there was therefore no need for man to fear them. At death, the soul disintegrated and became non-existent, so there was no need to fear death or the prospect of judgment after death.

Cicero used the Stoic character in his book to refute these ideas with arguments from design, aimed to show that the universe is governed by an intelligent designer. He argued that a conscious purpose was needed to express art (e.g. to make a picture or a statue) and so, because nature was more perfect than art, nature showed purpose also. He reasoned that the movement of a ship was guided by skilled intelligence, and a sundial or water clock told the time by design rather than by chance. He said that even the barbarians of Britain or Scythia could not fail to see that a model which showed the movements of the sun, stars and planets was the product of conscious intelligence.

Cicero continued his challenge to the evolutionism of Epicurus by marvelling that anyone could persuade himself that chance collisions of particles could form anything as beautiful as the world. He said that this was on a par with believing that if the letters of the alphabet were thrown on the ground often enough they would spell out the Annals of Ennius.

And he asked: if chance collisions of particles could make a world, why then cannot they build much less difficult objects, like a colonnade, a temple, a house, or a city?

 

Concepts: “The Loss of Secular Society” (Distortions from the Left)

I am amused to see a guy — John Van Huizum — mention his two-decades of writing articles, and then, follow this resume reference with this:

I think that when you put God on a U.S. issued coin or banknote, you obviously ignore what should be a separation of church and state, as many of our founders intended.

Please, besides writing crap for two decades backed by nothing more than opinion, tell me what the Founders thought of “separation of church and state” John. Tell me what books you have read to come to such a conclusion, please. And I imagine you would have read a few from each viewpoint to come to such a FIRM conclusion, like: “you OBVIOUSLY ignore what should be a separation of church and state, as many of our founders intended” (emphasis added). In a paper I did on this topic, I note that the same persons that wrote and ratified the 1st Amendment, did something that according to John they shouldn’t have done if how he views the topic is true. For instance, as soon as they finished with Constitutional issues (its creation and passage), they immediately went to their prospective states and wrote their state constitution. Here are some excerpts from them:

State Constitutions

On the day the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, they underwent an immediate transformation.  The day before, each of them had been a British citizen, living in a British colony, with thirteen crown-appointed British state governments.  However, when they signed that document and separated from Great Britain, they lost all of their State governments.

Consequently, they returned home from Philadelphia to their own States and began to create new State constitutions.  Samuel Adams and John Adams helped write the Massachusetts constitution; Benjamin Rush and James Wilson helped write Pennsylvania’s constitution; George Read and Thomas McKean helped write Delaware’s constitution; the same is true in other States as well.  The Supreme Court in Church of Holy Trinity v. United States (1892) pointed to these State constitutions as precedents to demonstrate the Founders’ intent. 

Notice, for example, what Thomas McKean and George Read placed in the Delaware constitution:

“Every person, who shall be chosen a member of either house, or appointed to any office or place of trust… shall… make and subscribe the following declaration, to wit: ‘I do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed forever more, and I acknowledge the Holy Scripture of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration.’”

Take note of some other State constitutions.  The Pennsylvania constitution authored by Benjamin Rush and James Wilson declared:

“And each member [of the legislature], before he takes his seat, shall make and subscribe the following declaration, viz: ‘I do believe in one God, the Creator and Governor of the Universe, the rewarded of the good and the punisher of the wicked, and I do acknowledge the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine Inspiration.’”

The Massachusetts constitution, authored by Samuel Adams – the Father of the American Revolution – and John Adams, stated:

 “All persons elected must make and subscribe the following declaration, viz. ‘I do declare that I believe the Christian religion and have firm persuasions of its truth.’”

North Carolina’s constitution required that:

“No person, who shall deny the being of God, or the truth of the [Christian] religion, or the Divine authority either of the Old or New Testaments, or who shall hold religious principles incompatible with the freedom and safety of the State, shall be capable of holding any office, or place of trust or profit in the civil department, within this State.”

You had to apply God’s principles to public service, otherwise you were not allowed to be a part of the civil government.  In 1892, the Supreme Court (Church of Holy Trinity v. United States) pointed out that of the forty-four States that were then in the Union, each had some type of God-centered declaration in its constitution.  Not just any God, or a general God, say a “higher power,” but thee Christian God as understood in the Judeo-Christian principles and Scriptures.  This same Supreme Court was driven to explain the following:

“This is a religious people.  This is historically true.  From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation….  These are not individual sayings, declarations of private persons: they are organic utterances; they speak the voice of the entire people….  These and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.”

…read more…

In other words, for two decades John has been writing hearsay and not doing the hard work a knowing what the “F” he is talking about. Unfortunately, due to time, I am not able to critique other issues in this short article I found wanting. That being said, I am sure the reader gets the point from this single critique (as well as my previous) that John is your typical secular liberal. I think I agree with Milton Berle’s assessment of John (*wink*), “with him, ignorance is a religion.”

Concepts: “Playing Softball or Hardball” ~ Political Grit

(Click article to enlarge) This installation of Concepts is pretty ambiguous and I agree with most parts of it. The connection of sports with politics is a bit for me, but to each their own. I really only take issue with John Van Huizum’s view of history. And really it isn’t just John’s lack of applying our past to our current situation, but many American’s lack this knowledge of our political past. So this isn’t an issue I bring up merely to debate with John about, but to edify all me readers knowledge about.

The first is that money has always played a part in our political structure, always. Almost all of its people that have run for president have been very well-to-do, i.e., the one-percent. This disparity in Congress of millionaires and the creation of Super-Pacs has recently become more lopsided due to campaign finance laws which had caused nearly half of Congress’ members to be millionaires, including about two thirds of Senators. Ironically, the much heralded campaign finance reform that was supposed to level the playing field in a populist direction has only served to increase the likelihood of more millionaire candidates, even though millionaires constitute about 1 percent of the American population. But these are discussions for another day. I wanted to focus in on this idea that our political landscape is “less and less friendly,” as if we have reached some apex of name calling and “meanness” in politics and partisanship. This just isn’t the case, as the video included herein points out.

Jefferson called Adams “a blind, bald, crippled, toothless man who is a hideous hermaphroditic character with neither the force and fitness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.”

The Federalists attacked the fifty-seven-year-old Jefferson as a godless Jacobin who would unleash the forces of bloody terror upon the land. With Jefferson as President, so warned Adams (actually the Connecticut Courant), “Murder, robbery, rape, adultery, and incest will be openly taught and practiced, the air will be rent with the cries of the distressed, the soil will be soaked with blood, and the nation black with crimes.” Reportedly New Englanders hid their Bibles for fear that the infidel Jefferson would declare them illegal if elected. In 1828, supporters of John Quincy Adams called Andrew Jackson a murderer and a cannibal.

Cronkite, A Liberals-Liberal

“I know liberalism isn’t dead in this country. It simply has, temporarily we hope, lost its voice….We know that unilateral action in Grenada and Tripoli was wrong. We know that ‘Star Wars’ means uncontrollable escalation of the arms race. We know that the real threat to democracy is the half of the nation in poverty. We know that no one should tell a woman she has to bear an unwanted child….Gawd Almighty, we’ve got to shout these truths in which we believe from the housetops. Like that scene in the movie ‘Network,’ we’ve got to throw open our windows and shout these truths to the streets and the heavens. And I bet we’ll find more windows are thrown open to join the chorus than we’d ever dreamed possible.” (link in pic)

One small point to add, as I am apt to do in my rants. John Huizum mentions implicitly Walter Cronkite as some pinnacle of fairness. My deep study of the Vietnam ground war in the larger Cold War (some would say WWIII) and Walter Cronkite’s liberal slant (and all the networks of the time leaning that way) is an example of the monopoly one viewpoint had on the news people took in as a whole. Cronkite, while very liberal, did however control it much better than many CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, and FOX hosts today do — not to mention he was an all-around good guy who had many friends on both sides of the isle. That being said, this “non-control” isn’t a bad thing. To be clear, Cronkite was more left leaning than many have previously allocated to him… but choice in what bias one prefers was not present during those days like it is in ours. This freedom of choice is what many liberals do not like. Unfortunately for John, Mr. Cronkite was a very leftist person, and his leftism crept out into his reporting during the Vietnam War, and he ended up NOT being “the most trusted man in America.” Granted, Cronkite was not as publicly left as, say, Rachel Maddow [who stated she is to the left of Mao], but Douglas Brinkley’s new book makes his leftism very clear.

Key to this debate is that Democrats hate competition, but once-in-a-while a liberal comes out on the side of fairness and competition of ideas, one such person is Camille Paglia. She is certainly no conservative, she had a lot to say to fellow progressives and Democrats in regards to the “Fairness Doctrine” and makes some fine points:

Speaking of talk radio (which I listen to constantly), I remain incredulous that any Democrat who professes liberal values would give a moment’s thought to supporting a return of the Fairness Doctrine to muzzle conservative shows. (My latest manifesto on this subject appeared in my last column.) The failure of liberals to master the vibrant medium of talk radio remains puzzling. To reach the radio audience (whether the topic is sports, politics or car repair), a host must have populist instincts and use the robust common voice. Too many Democrats have become arrogant elitists, speaking down in snide, condescending tones toward tradition-minded middle Americans whom they stereotype as rubes and buffoons. But the bottom line is that government surveillance of the ideological content of talk radio is a shocking first step toward totalitarianism. One of the nuggets I’ve gleaned from several radio sources is that Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, who has been in the aggressive forefront of the campaign to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine, is married to Tom Athans, who works extensively with left-wing radio organizations and was once the executive vice-president of Air America, the liberal radio syndicate that, despite massive publicity from major media, has failed miserably to win a national audience. Stabenow’s outrageous conflict of interest has of course been largely ignored by the prestige press, which should have been demanding that she recuse herself from all political involvement with this issue. (Capitalist Fanboys)

We should all be for fairness and friendliness in interactions with each-other, of course, who wouldn’t be for this. But Cronkite’s Republican friends were thick skinned, which is why Nixon (a thin skinned Republican) hated him. We all have to all play hard ball, and part of doing so in our Republic is by incorporating and knowing our history and to limit the “limits” we want to place on each others freedoms.

Ed Morrissey Debates Extremist Rhetoric On Al-Jazeera (Also: ReasonTV)

HotAir h/t:

This from the NYT’s opinion page:

….It is hard to resist payback, like pointing out the violent rhetoric directed against President George W. Bush from the left. Despite all of the strong rhetoric directed against Ronald Reagan (remember, some civil rights leaders said he’d legitimize Nazism in America after his 1980 election), I can’t remember any conservatives blaming Reagan’s shooting by John Hinckley on leftist rhetoric, or still less on Hollywood for a nutjob who took his model from “Taxi Driver.”

But this blame-setting shows an appalling historical ignorance and lack of perspective. The very first election in history where power passed from one political party to another without violence was our election of 1800, when Jefferson turned out Adams. It was the first time, as Lincoln observed, that ballots replaced bullets. The vitriol in that election would make Fox News and MSNBC blush.

Jefferson, the Federalists said, would bring the guillotine and French Jacobin terror to America. Adams, the Republicans responded, was intent on refastening the tyranny of the British monarchy. Reason TV offered a perfect representation of what an attack ad from that campaign would look like if they’d had 30-second spots back then, not to mention the fact that in those days people often ended their political quarrels through duels (see: Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr). Is political vitriol really worse today? Get a grip….