"Heathens" Unite

Thursday, July 17, 2003:

Jesus' Actions Are Unknowable
As
I have mentioned before it is hard to predict how Jesus would act in the present-day world. It is understandable why one might look upon Jesus for the inspiration to understand Jesus' view on an issue. The problem is people promoting issues like whether Jesus would drive an SUV or not or how Jesus would stand on the war in Iraq. Mankind will be better off leaving our actions to be based on reason.

Cal Ulmann // Link //
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Thursday, June 12, 2003:

Will Jesus be a Myth in a Thousand Years?
One of the earliest known belief structures from the
Ancient Greek culture. We all learned this one in school. Zeus, Apollo, the mighty Aphrodite, Poseidon and the rest of the gang from Mt. Olympus. This was all but lifted by the Romans, but the names were changed to protect the innocent. We learned the belief structure of the Romans in school as well.

Then we have a whole bunch of other religions that come about around the same time. Hinduism in India, believing in reaching a high state of being of belonging to the Brahman. This path to the enlightenment is measured by karma: how many times will you need to be reincarnated until you lead a pure life that will allow you to leave this earth and pass on to the next. Up until the the late 1980s, this was seen as a strange eastern myth. Very similar to Hinduism was Buddhism, which came about somewhere around 500 years before Christ was allegedly born. Again, this was seen as a strange myth, up until very recently.

I point this out, because this is something that has always fascinated me: the transformation of beliefs to myths and sometimes the repeating of this pattern.

Very few people still believe in the belief structure of ancient Rome and ancient Greece. In today's world, that is a myth. Even Buddhism and Hinduism, which are still practiced today, are seen by most of the world as funny myths about life, not as alternative religions. This is especially true, I have noticed, with Christians, who believe that their way is the only way; everything else is wrong or is a myth which is not even worth arguing against.

Oddly enough, that was the same idea most Greeks and Romans had about their polytheistic belief structure. To them, that was the only answer. Up until the beginning of trade with Japan, Buddhism and Shinto were really their only answer to religious questions. The same holds true for Hinduism in India. Then the Christians entered these societies and broke down these belief structures and replaced them.

What I am driving at is this: the belief structures of the past are seen as myths in todays world. This forces me to wonder if in 1000 years, people will begin to think that the idea of Jesus being reborn and being the son of some great spirit in the sky is just a myth. I can hear the Christians: no we, have the true religion; the Greeks and Romans were wrong. Oddly, that is what the Romans originally said about the Christians, and now the Romans are viewed as believing in myths.

Let me get at this a different way:

Religion is incredibly related to societal conditions. Fewer people believe in Christianity today in the same way people believed in Christianity 1000 or even 500 years ago. The core beliefs of the Bible are still there to be sure, but more and more the Bible is being viewed as a collection of stories that drive to moral points; no longer are the Biblical stories literary tales about actual occurrences, for the most part. In large part, this is because of the development of scientific technique which has proved or at the very challenged the authenticity of the tales in the Bible. Put differently, the Biblical stories which were seen as complete truths up until 500 or 600 years ago, are now being seen as myths that tell stories about ethical points, much in the same way the Greeks and Roman are seen today. The only difference is that the Bible is viewed as having a religious nature to it, and the Greek and roman stories are viewed as having an historical nature to it.

Let me sum it up this way: there are many ways of approaching religion. All of them answer pretty much the same questions, and many do so in the same or in very similar ways. Those that believe in a particular belief structure tend to support it as the only truth, when in reality that belief might be proved wrong in a few hundred years and might join the ranks of being just a myth.

Matthew Edgar // Link //
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Saturday, December 14, 2002:

It doesn't matter what Jesus would do.

Natalie Solent takes people to task for reasoning the potential actions of Jesus to support a cause. There is no clear way to determine what Jesus may have done in our positions.Jesus offered the suggestions he did as the leader of the reform movement of the Jewish church.

What would Jesus have done if he lived as another occupation? We can not know. Nor can we know what kind of car he would drive or who he would vote for. People as a whole would be better off folowing their own self-interest rather than figuring out what someone else would have done. Natalie Solent put it perfectly when she said "However the WWJD phrase has now become little more than a hook for anybody to make any claim they like about divine backing for their side in whatever temporary and local kerfuffle happens to be in the paper this week, secure in the knowledge that the authority they quote is scarcely going to gainsay them."


Cal Ulmann // Link //
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Friday, October 18, 2002:

Religious History: Bad Moments
Many people don't know who King Louis XIV of France was. Most don't even realize that there were kings and queens of France in 1685. And many don't realize that it was on October 18, 1685 that King Louis XIV
revoked the Edict of Nantes (according to this it happened on the 22nd - other accounts say the 18th - decide for yourself), which had established legal toleration of France's Protestant population, the Huguenots.

Why is this such an important event to remember? Because it should remind us why we broke away from monarchies for starters. Clearly a ruler with power to ban religion. While I do not go so far as to say this is where our current society is headed, I think there are many who would like to a see a similar revocation of the First Amendment's religious clause. In many ways this is being lost - to the point of extinction, no, probably not.

This is not a great day for the history of freedom.

Matthew Edgar // Link //
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Saturday, September 28, 2002:

Read All About It! More Proof ofa Big Bang!
Radio Telescope Proves a Big Bang Prediction.

Link via Mathematical Blog!

Matthew Edgar // Link //
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Monday, September 09, 2002:

Oh relax would you!
This isn't exactly what I meant by keeping a wall between church and state. In fact, this is truly quite silly and is a prime example of the intelligence level of some truly biased by their beliefs. On that note, realize that I think the guy out in California who made the charge about the flag had a few cards missing from his deck.

Yoga is an okay activity and I, a secular type guy, participate in it and am not bothered by it. I know of many religious people who partake in it. As the title says, just relax about yoga would you?

Matthew Edgar // Link //
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Tuesday, September 03, 2002:

Quote of the week
I am ready to meet my maker. Whether or not my maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter. - Winston Churchill

Matthew Edgar // Link //
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Tuesday, August 27, 2002:

On Morality
Nothing is absolutely moral or immoral. I do and always have believed this. What is absolute is laws that guide us into deciding what we believe is and is not moral. Once enough people agree on what is or is not moral, they form a society. A society (the Catholics, Jews, Germans, society is broadly defined) then determines what is moral or not.

A large source of misunderstanding lies at this point. I personally think greed is moral, murder of fellow members of your species is not (in any form), sex is not, and drinking is not. I think these are pretty However, natural laws or God do not dictate this.

What then are natural laws? Natural laws are natural laws are what make us tick and are NOT moral in nature. Natural laws, for example, say that animals mate, there is gravity, the Earth orbits the sun, etc. Natural laws are also characteristics of species (man is the thinker and the lion the hunter).

Previously, I posted a muddled discussion on this that got a lot of responses most of which confused at my point. Sorry, I did re-read it and I wasn't clear in this distinction of natural laws versus morality.

Matthew Edgar // Link //
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Tuesday, August 13, 2002:

Traditions should stay despite our enlightened values

Religion in any form should not be imposed on anyone. The addition of religion into any new governmental situations is a bad idea. Religion and government should be separate.

While governments should avoid adding the addition of religion symbols into their infrastructure, traditional symbolic involvement should not be forced out of government due to our enlightened standards. The pledge of allegiance did not need the words under god removed, nor do the American coins need “In God We Trust” removed. At the same time, I find it unnecessary that the London police are giving options of uniforms without the royal badge containing the royal crown. The royal crown is topped with a cross that some feel is “too Christian.” This is a clear instance where the government should be able to stick with tradition even if some incidental religion is imbued.


Cal Ulmann // Link //
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Tuesday, August 06, 2002:

If Everybody Had An Ocean...
Ben Domenech is an excellent writer, further evidence of this comes in
his most recent offering.

This is thought provoking but unlike Pilate I know that if one wades in he quickly finds himself in too deep of water and will drown. The smarter person realizes this danger, and will survey the land around the shore and the ocean for the better alternative.

Man was not put on earth to drown in the ocean that so many say is appealing. Man is to escape the perils of drowning...why else would man have the power to think? Utilizing thought, how can an action such as drowning in an appealing story be justified? It cannot. It must not.

Matthew Edgar // Link //
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Damn Those Historical Revisionists to Hell: Church and State NEVER Mix
The Hokie Catholic points out this sad article from the Washington Times on Thomas Jefferson and the fact that he may not have really wanted a strict wall of separation of Church and state.

Well so what? Yeah okay so it questions the greatest of the Founding Fathers and the greatest President this country has ever had, but other than that, it doesn't real change the issue: religion and state should never mix. Never, ever, ever, ever – under no circumstance should these mix. The mixture is too deadly to risk.

America still has many mixtures of the two, however America has less mixture than any country I know of. In my opinion, America should work to reduce the amount of government involvement in religion. Unfortunately, Bush is doing just the opposite. Let's take a few of the more obvious examples:

1. Any country in the Middle East. Yeah, religion really helps there. Ask a friend or family member of the victims of any terrorist attack led by a Middle East based group.
2. Soviet Russia/USSR. Yeah those atheists made it work.
3. The Days When the Catholic Church ruled Europe (e.g. Crusades). Oh yeah, that worked wonderful! Let's do that here! Also, you might want to go ask this guy named Martin Luther or Galileo what they thought.
4. Nazi Germany. Go ask a Jewish person how well this mixture worked.
5. The Tudor Dynasty in England. Hey that worked fine for Catholics when Catholics were in power, and fine for Church of England supporters when they were in power, and fine for Protestants when they were in power…but they were heavily persecuted when they were out of power.

Okay, but maybe these are just five random examples that I have pulled out of history. The common answer to these charges is that "We here in America can make this work – after all we are special." Wrong!

There is nothing special about America: what fails in one place will fail in another place. Perhaps not right away. Let's say we post the Ten Commandments in the schools. What next? How about morning prayer? To make sure we don't offend anybody, we will just make it a non-religious-type prayer, "I praise the fellowship of my common man" or something along those lines. Yeah, but that doesn't go far enough because there is still gang violence and school shootings. So a guy runs for office with the pledge to make those "children moral". Once he gets elected, because those fine citizens want their children moral, he passes a law to change the prayer to include God. Another guy joins the crusade and before you know it we have Catholic Church dictating what should and should not be taught in classes.

Oh this is pure nonsense I hear you say. We will never allow that to occur, you quickly add. We know where to stop it you say. Okay you might. Okay the current politicians might know where to stop it. What about the politicians fifty years from now? What about society fifty years from now…will they know where to stop it? Will they stop it?

Now I hear you saying, okay so what if the Christians start dictating course policy. Most people are Christians…the schools should feed the majority of the population. And if you were thinking that, I pity you for you have fallen into the trap. You are ready to accept that a certain elite group of people should determine what you can and cannot learn. And what are children cannot learn. In America, it is clear from my reading of documents written during the Founding Years that they feared an elite group of rulers. And the reason they feared it is that they feared brain washing. Had their message been listened to by those creating the Weimar Republic, Hitler would likely not have been able to come to power. And if a religious group, Atheists and Christians and Muslims and Buddhists and whoever else gain control of the government, they will attempt brainwashing.

This must be avoided at all costs. All it takes, as seen throughout history, is one man or one group of men thirsting for power to take over government and use whatever means available to brainwash – religion is the most powerful tool they have.

How do I know this? Let's look at the Catholic Church. The Church is scared, very scared, of people having the power to be free thinkers. In 1517, they attempted to stop Martin Luther from communicating to the common people the words of the Bible. In 2002, the Church released an "Ethics on the Internet" report in which they feared they unregulated and highly immoral Internet:
Although radical individualists and entrepreneurs obviously are two very different groups, there is a convergence of interests between those who want the Internet to be a place for very nearly every kind of expression, no matter how vile and destructive, and those who want it to be a vehicle of untrammeled commercial activity on a neo-liberal model that “considers profit and the law of the market as its only parameters, to the detriment of the dignity of and the respect due to individuals and peoples.”
They later call for more regulation of the Internet.

I cannot see how this desire to end free thought will ever cease. This is why I think it is very scary for the Church, or any other religious group, to be in charge of government: they want their and only their message delivered and will accomplish this via brainwash.

That e-mail address is matthew@matthewedgar.net. From my last post I got about fifty e-mails...can we top that?!


Matthew Edgar // Link //
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Down with Miracles and Mysticism

God is. God is inherent in the creation and the existence of everything. This is an idea encompassed by all major religions. It is the same idea whether it is called the logos, the word, the spirit or any other name. Through the rules that God has established, there is an order to the world.

To allow for God to have the ability to break the rules would go against God’s own decree. Those who believe God may act in “miracles” are in many ways denying the very nature of the God they claim to worship. The classic question of whether God can make a rock that God can’t lift is no because the essence of God would be in the rock and by making a rock that he could not lift he would be violating his/her self-imposed rules.

Thomas Woolston was on to something when he said that the various stories in the bible were just metaphorical. How then to explain Jesus’ resurrection as seen by many people? A possibility exists of the resurrection being a mass hallucination. Yet, as the philosopher Spinoza points out, the resurrection may still have occurred but with only the understanding of the spirit rising.


Cal Ulmann // Link //
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Thursday, August 01, 2002:

Can We Be Moral Without God? or Is Reason a Sin?

This is a question that I often ask myself. I don’t believe that a being controls our actions and thusly there is no being capable of telling us what is and is not a good moral standard. At the same time, it is clear to me that there are natural laws governing our actions…but do those natural laws dictate good moral standards?

Those natural laws tell us to live life as good as we can and as full as we can. Obviously outside the state of nature, society controls how extreme our lives can be lived. Thusly, society is needed to create a system whereby the immorality found in the state of nature can be controlled. The state of nature, just to refresh your memory, is the state whereby NO societal order exists – a state of pure anarchy.

But what do I mean when I say “the immorality of the state of nature”? Well, I mean, for instance, that people kill other people in the state of not having a society. Killing is, I believe, an immoral act found in a state without society…abortion is different, and I do not include that herein. Another immoral act would be the stealing of other people’s stuff (land, food, shelter, supplies, etc.). The third and final act I would consider to immoral found within the state of nature is all types of assault towards other humans. Not being an animal rights advocate, I believe animals are there to be eaten or used to make shelter and clothing for those higher on the food chain.

These are clearly immoral acts in the state of nature – man is therefore not born moral. Now the question becomes “how much should we try and change this immorality”. Natural law in suggesting living a good life would imply that we want to live free of murder, theft, and assault. Towards this end, it is natural for societies to form and attempt to control these acts of immorality. With natural laws being the main guiding force, and no God controlling us, we can become a more moral society – a society free of assault, theft, and murder.

Yet those religious folks want us to follow hard-core guidelines supposedly put in place by that omnipotent and controlling being they believe in, for example, the Ten Commandments. In Exodus 20, God presents the Ten Commandments. Exodus has to be the most fascinating story in the Bible for this reason. Some of the Commandments are right in line with my beliefs. However, I do not think having the audacity to question the existence of a God is immoral…as Thomas Jefferson said, "Question with boldness even the existence of a God, because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blind faith."

As for considering sex a sin or adultery an immoral act, I personally think that is going too far simply because these acts impact only the parties directly involved and do not have society wide implications, like murder does for example. Many consider greed to be an immoral act, however this seems odd as greed is truly a mother of innovation, and innovation is a too terrific to even give up. And by the way, scientific innovation into the debate of evolution and creationism might really provide hard data in support of the Bible.

So does this mean that all Deists are out having wild sex parties with their neighbor's wives while burning God in effigy and worshiping the greediness of Kenneth Lay? Of course not. Deists believe in reason above all else. Reason dictates that this will result in ultimate unhappiness, which is usually something people wish to avoid. Reason would also dictate that there are significant health concerns related to sexual acts, and that these health concerns are far more significant than any concerns of morality. This is why I am always very proud to be a true "moral square" – I do not believe in or partake in pre-marital sex or excess greed simply because I cannot justify it with reason. I certainly do not partake in assault, theft, or murder because none of these are congruent with reason.

Oddly however I do sin, at least according to the religious types, every time I question the existence of God. Realizing this, I have to ask, do Bible-believers consider reason a sin?

Matthew Edgar // Link //
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Friday, July 19, 2002:

Goofy Fun


What Was Your PastLife?

From the Hokie Nun.

Matthew Edgar // Link //
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Thursday, July 18, 2002:

Founding Fathers: Christians or Heathens?
Not all the Founding Fathers were religious as some want us to believe. Here are some quotes that prove this to be true:

"Lighthouses are more helpful than churches."--Benjamin Franklin

"The way to see faith is to shut the eye of reason."--Benjamin Franklin

"Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are serviley crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God, because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blind faith." -- Thomas Jefferson

"The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."--Thomas Jefferson

"I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition [Christianity] one redeeming feature. They are all alike, founded on fables and mythology."--Thomas Jefferson

"The clergy converted the simple teachings of Jesus into an engine for enslaving mankind and adulterated by artificial constructions into a contrivance to filch wealth and power to themselves...these clergy, in fact, constitute the real Anti-Christ."

"I would not dare to so dishonor my Creator God by attaching His name to that book (the Bible)." -- Thomas Paine

"All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit."--Thomas Paine

"The United States of America should have a foundation free from the influence of clergy."--George Washington

"I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved--the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!"--John Adams

"As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?" - John Adams

"The truth is, that the greatest enemies of the doctrine of Jesus are those, calling themselves the expositors of them, who have perverted them to the structure of a system of fancy absolutely incomprehensible, and without any foundation in his genuine words. And the day will come, when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter." - Thomas Jefferson

"Among the sayings and discourses imputed to him by his biographers, I find many passages of fine imagination, correct morality, and of the most lovely benevolence; and others, again, of so much ignorance, so much absurdity, so much untruth, charlatanism and imposture, as to pronounce it impossible that such contradictions should have proceeded from the same being. I separate, therefore, the gold from the dross; restore him to the former, and leave the latter to the stupidity of some, the roguery of others of his disciples. Of this band of dupes and imposters, Paul was the great Coryphaeus, and the first corruptor of the doctrines of Jesus." - Thomas Jefferson

NOTE: Compiled in random order from a variety of web and non-web sources.

Matthew Edgar // Link //
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Saturday, July 13, 2002:

The After Life

“Here is the one question you need to get right ....because your life depends on it:
When you die and you meet the Lord at heaven's gates and He asks you, ‘Why should I let you into my heaven?’... What will your answer be? And will your answer get you through the gates into heaven?”

This according to
this website sent to me by an anonymous reader. The after life is a seminal point in the determination of religious beliefs as the afterlife determines how you will live your life and how you will respond to the death of those close to you.

There are two aspects to death: 1) what happens to you after you die and 2) how should those on Earth deal with the death of a close friend or family member.

What Happens After You Die?
Deists are simply no fun. There are no virgins to great you, no all-knowing being, no meeting “the savior”, and no going to Hell to be tortured for eternity. Deists reject all that on grounds that you cannot prove it by reason. The truth may be in the form of Heaven and Hell…however the truth might also be that there is no after life. There is no way as of yet to prove what happens after death – it is the ultimate mystery. Science can prove evolution of creationism or something else.

Seeming that there is no true way to determine this, how then should we live our lives before death? Christians would answer that we must live our lives according to His word so that He shall let you into His heaven. This is wrong. Man was not put here to serve someone else’s desires. Much to the contrary, man must serve himself.

Man must serve himself by living life not in fear on some Almighty creature but in joyous admiration that you had the goodness to be alive for any period of time. In short, we must all be Epicureans. Epicureanism is by far the most misunderstood philosophy. It is not some wild hedonistic party-till-you-drop philosophy as some think, but rather it is the notion that we must live for serenity of body and soul (I define soul as the mind). Clarified by Lucretius in “On the Nature of Things” as the mental tranquility and devotion to the truth as the two most important pleasures in life. In other words, the truth must be sought in order to have pleasure, and it is that pleasure that we must seek in this life.

How to Respond to Death
Recently my grandfather passed away after prolonged diseases and this question has haunted me since that day. Should I cry and weep for my selfish desires to have my grandfather life forever despite the unbelievable pain he was in towards the end? Or should I accept that my grandfather lived a very full life. Not only did he have many friends and family who loved him, but also he was a man very committed to mental tranquility and the thirst for truth. Or should I o as the Christians suggest and accept that it was just his time to go by the Almighty’s plans.

While crass, it makes no sense to cry after the death of a loved one. At least no logical sense. In saying this, I do not pretend to suggest that I am somehow immune to tears and certainly am not suggesting that we all must be a John Wayne tough guy who never cries. Much to the contrary, in saying that crying and sadness following death makes no sense I mean only to suggest that it serves no purpose as it will not bring the dearly departed back to life.

As for the Christian idea that somehow there was a plan for each of us when we are born and when we die, I think that is a load of bunk believed only by those who wish to find an easy answer to the overwhelming concept of death. In other words, this is a scapegoat: I don’t understand death, therefore I will simply say that the omnipotent God intended it to occur.

I have decided to accept the notion that we must not cry and instead be thankful that our loved ones lived for a time and be even more satisfied if they lived a good life. This is not easy to do and is certainly does not answer the question on anyone’s mind who has experienced a death, why did that person have to die? Why now? Those questions are complex and should remain under investigation. But in investigating those questions we shouldn’t slip into the easy answer that it was someone’s plan.

Conclusion
Instead of living life in fear of some all-knowing creature with a planned time for our death, man must live to seek the pleasure of knowledge and the pleasure of truth. Maybe there is an afterlife, maybe there is not. I am inclined to think that there is none as it makes no logical sense in an otherwise logical world.

Matthew Edgar // Link //
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Friday, July 12, 2002:

What is Deism?
For those of you not satisfied by our answers, the
CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA has the best definition I have ever seen.

Matthew Edgar // Link //
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Sunday, July 07, 2002:

Religion in Schools/Government

I have thought long and hard about the recent ruling of the 9th Circuit Court regarding the Pledge of Allegiance. My co-workers, my family, my friends – all people I respect not only for their strength of character but also for their power of intellect – have argued to me that this ruling is “another example of politically correct nonsense”. This is why it is so hard for me to admit that I like the ruling of the court. The phrase “under God” is hard for someone who does not believe in God to accept.

As Thomas Jefferson said, “No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship.” By this he meant that some government bureaucrat in DC can’t come to Denver and force me to say “I believe in God” – which is truly what you are saying when you state “one nation under God”.

One interesting critic of the pledge ruling was that “America was founded in the light of Jesus Christ and in the name of the God Almighty”. Another TV minister stated that “this country [America] was founded in the idea that government must reflect the view of God’s wishes”. How can these seemingly intelligent people suffer from such a delusion?

Says the Declaration of Independence, “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”. Where in there does it say that men derive their powers from God? Where in there does it say that God has the right to altar governments? Where does it say that these Colonists want to break away from the Crown to found a Puritan-God based government? It doesn’t!

And moreover, the First Amendment to the Constitution stating that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”, also supports an idea of religious freedom. This country was not founded on God or Christianity. Certainly, many of the Founders were Christians. Several were Deists. Some were atheists. Some didn’t care about religion at all.

This proves not only that “one nation under God” is not historically founded but also that Christians’ stories of American Christianity are often far over exaggerated.

Some would argue that the original settlers of America were Christians, and that is enough historical grounding to maintain historical proof for the need for a religious government. Often the existence of the Puritans are cited as a reason and an example of religious government. Sure, the Puritans were among the original Founders of the country. The Puritans believed in a very religious based government. So much so, that their religious zeal led to the burning of not only supposed witches but also all non-believing heathens at the stake. While this makes me glad I live now instead of then, the question still becomes are we sure, we want to use the Puritans as a reason for a religious government?

But to say that the Puritans came here to found a national government based on religion is ludicrous. They came after they were ostracized from their native lands, wanting to form only small communities of Puritanism; the Puritans came to America to be left alone and free of religious persecution from non-Puritans. Many other religious groups came for the same reason: fear of persecution if they remained in their native lands. When government is involved in religion, they can use government power persecute and ostracize people not of the government’s religious beliefs. If this doesn’t add proof for a need to get government out of religion, I don’t know what does.

Now returning to the Pledge, it is obvious that there is little historical grounding for requiring us to say “under God”, as this is a clear example of the national government embracing a certain religious belief, namely the existence of God. So might I add are tax breaks to religious groups, and President Bush’s “faith based initiatives”. Just like the governments of 18th Century Europe, the American government embraces predominately western religions. Not being among those religious groups accepted by government, this scares me.

I will be the first to admit however that the phrase “under God” is of little consequence compared to other larger movements to get the government involved in religion. President Bush’s “faith initiative” would give money to religious organizations. By giving money, the government endorses a certain idea within these religious organizations. This endorsement of one religious group but not another, is an outright government embrace of a certain religion.

In taking the oath of office, most presidents (I believe there was one or two that didn’t say it, but I can’t remember) have referred in some way or another to the existence of God as a controlling force in their lives. This is yet another example of God being embraced by government officials. If they want to be religious that is great. Just don’t use that religion in making government decisions; it doesn’t matter if Jesus wanted or didn’t want the death penalty as the death penalty can be discussed free of religion.

No place is this religion in government movement more clear than in debates over education. Many want creationism taught in the schools, simply because they believe in creationism. That is great, as long as it is taught alongside every other philosophical or religious belief of the origin of man. Creationism should not be taught in science class. On the same note, neither should Evolutionism as Evolutionism is still very much a theory.

As I discussed in my last post, micro-evolution (evolution on a small scale) can be scientifically proven. Geological evidence of rock layers, and thus rock ages, can be scientifically proven. The nature and origins of stars, planets, and all those other “heavenly bodies” can be scientifically proven. All these things, and all other things that can be scientifically proven, should be taught in science class. This with the understanding that while science truth is only as objective as it can be. The objective truth is subject to modification.

It is clear though that there is no scientific proof for macro-evolution (the idea that man evolved from apes, for example) and there is no scientific evidence for creative design or creationism. Thusly, these should be taught in philosophy classes and weighed with equal importance. If science begins to prove beyond a doubt one of these true, whichever that is should be moved to a science class.

There is a great movie that I strongly recommend everyone watching, called
“Inherit the Wind”. (The best version is the Spencer Tracey/Fredric March/Gene Kelly version and not just because I love Spencer Tracey, but because it really is.) This movie, for those who don’t know, deals with a court trial over the legality of the teaching of evolution in the schools. The point made in this movie is an overwhelming need for exposure to alternatives – the need to remove thought blinders. To teach just evolution or just creationism, or just the Koran or just the Torah, increases the amount of indoctrinating instead of critical thinking about all the possibilities to believe in.

So in conclusion, government embracing a religion leads to indoctrination which leads to persecution of all those outside the indoctrinated-mold. I hope everyone agrees that it is not the role of government to persecute people simply because of religious beliefs.

Matthew Edgar // Link //
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Thursday, July 04, 2002:

What About Science?

Evolution or Creationism?

Geologists have stated that the earth is much older than the Bible would have us believe. Biologists have also stated that the earth is much older than the Bible would have us believe. But how right are these scientists?

Evolution is still just as much a theory as creationism is. To say that evolution is the right answer is to put up a set of blinders from the quest to find the truth. These are the very blinders I am opposed to with those in the organized religion who cling tightly to their story of Creationism.

There are indications of micro-evolution such as the evolutions noted by Charles Darwin…the changing beak sizes for example. This can be observed in a relatively short time period. As the larger beak becomes necessary those with the larger beak will survive. This micro-evolution is accepted by most people. Some have reasoned that micro-evolution on the small scale somehow shows the existence of macro-evolution (the evolutions that occur over eons). This is where the controversy begins.

I would tend to think that macro-evolution makes sense. Clearly the shape of the land on the earth has changed; geology shows this at the very least. As land shape changes (continents breaking apart), climate changes. As climate changes, animals that can survive these changes change as well so as to survive. But this macro-evolution happens over eons, and can only be observed through geology and the methods of geology are subject to human fallibility.

There is pretty good scientific evidence for evolution, and because of that I remain in the camp of evolutions, believing that life comes from nature. However, as a person who believes in unbiased reason, I will continue to monitor the science as best as I can, without trying to see how best it fits into preconceived notions or stories passed down for many generations about the beginnings of the earth.

Does this mean that Creationists might some day be proven right? Yes it might mean that. However, Creationists rarely have an open mind about this issue; they are quick to put up their blinders. The Christian religious professors and priests/pastors I have spoken to about this issue say that the only true beginning of the earth is the story of Genesis or Creationism. When asked about science, they reject it as “heathen’s play” or something towards that end. They are very closed minded and reject the idea of using thought or reason or logic to analyze their beliefs.

And while on this note does Creationism hold up to logic? It asks us to believe that some creature we have never seen or heard from except in old stories from men who drank a lot somehow gave birth to a lot of matter and then formed that matter into humans and animals and plants and rocks and planets and stars and moons. Believing this story is almost as hard as believing that cells were able to spontaneously come together and combine and then spontaneously become other organisms. We never saw either of these occurrences (with the exception of small scale evolutionism). On the one hand we are told to believe the theory because it is a “Holy Book” that has been passed down for many generations. On the other hand we are told to believe the theory because of imperfect science.

As noted here previously, Deists are not nihilists…they do believe in something. That something is reason and the mind of man – the power of thought. We are to use that power of thought not to believe some fancy theory to answer all our questions but to determine the truth.

Said Another Way
All throughout history man has developed theories about how things started. It is natural for man to want to know these things. One of the more interesting stories of the beginning of the earth came from a very civilized society that wrote a good deal of classic literature was the Ancient Greeks. Let’s take a look at their story of the creation of the earth.

The Ancient Greeks believed that in the beginning there was Nothing. All of a sudden Earth appeared. With Earth came the Gods. Eros, love, was the most powerful of these gods. Tartarus, the underworld suddenly came to be. Nothing then created Night and Erebos. This was end of the first generation of gods.

Then for the second generation Night and Erebos gave birth to Day and Space then Earth gave birth to Heaven and Sea and the mountains. My Olympus became the home of the gods (the gods being Nothing, Earth, Eros, Tartarus, Night, Erebos, day, Space, Heaven, and Sea).

Then for the third generation came the Titans, the sons and daughters of the Earth and Heaven. Earth gave birth to three Cyclopes. The father of these Titans and Cyclopes, Heaven, really ticked them off. So following in good Freudian footsteps, the Titans and Cyclopes revolted against Heaven under the leadership of Kronos, the youngest Titan. Once this revolt was over, Kronos went and had children, but ate them all, with the exception of his youngest son, Zeus, who was hidden by his mother and grandmother, the Earth.

Zeus then came back and killed Kronos his father and miraculously all Zeus’s and brothers had survived in Kronos’s tummy and Zeus saved them too. Zeus then ridded the Earth of the Titans and the Cyclopes as well as monsters. Now it was just Zeus, his cousins, his brothers, his sisters, their children, and the first and second generation Gods sitting atop Mt. Olympus.

Eventually Prometheus came along. He was Zeus’ cousin and had helped Zeus in killing the Titans. Prometheus and his brother were assigned the task of making humans and animals to populate the Earth. And so they created all these animals and humans on the Earth. Because of mistakes made in giving animals faster motion, more courage, and more strength, Prometheus created man in a nobler shape; man was shaped in God’s image. Prometheus also gave man fire, an act which led him to be severely punished by Zeus.

Of course, to the Ancient Greeks this made perfect sense. However, to a modern eye this doesn’t seem to make too much sense, especially considering that we can know now the geographical flaws in these stories, not to mention the severe biological flaws. Science debunked this mythical story of creating the universe and creating mankind. Science has a way of doing that to most mythical stories.

The Point
I remain objective and without blinders in my analysis of the stories of the finding what the beginning is, waiting until I can find something that is beyond a doubt true. Micro-evolution is beyond a doubt true, and therefore more credibility is given to theory of evolutionism. The Creationist’s responses to evolution, that the science is just flawed, does not convince me that evolution is necessarily wrong nor prove to me that Creationism is necessarily right. It never will, until their Bible blinders are removed.

Matthew Edgar // Link //
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Wednesday, July 03, 2002:

Deists are not nihilists.

Deists are not nihilists. Deists believe in an orderly world that embraces the goodness within everyone. The deist appreciation of man as a rational being gives the deist a standard of morality to life up to in order to respect the greatness in man. Atheists who have no orderly structure in the world are more likely to become nihilists with only an appreciation of the here and now. Nihilists of course don’t stand for anything, deists do.



Cal Ulmann // Link //
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Why Catholics, Jews, and the Rest of the Organized Folks Should Read This Blog
I got an e-mail from a guy who demanded knowing why we thought this blog was needed, for propaganda? for insulting? or what?

First, non-Deists should read this blog to understand attacks on their religious faiths. Know your enemy. More than that, reading the other side helps reduce your bias and makes you smarter. We're not insulting you, we're opening your minds.

Second, Deists should read this to learn the various ins and outs of this religion.

And as for the claim that it is propaganda, well, it is not. Just an attempt to organize some thoughts about theological questions big and small.

The // Link //
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But We Aren't Heathens!
War of Words
According to the
online Merriam Webster dictionary, a heathen is:
1 : an unconverted member of a people or nation that does not acknowledge the God of the Bible; OR
2 : an uncivilized or irreligious person
The idea that we have to be converted is ridiculous. This notion that conversion is dependent on being accepted into society is plain silliness which proves only that this is a Christian's word for non-believers, not a word that can be used by all people.

The further implication that the rejection of the Bible's God suggests an uncivilized nature adds further evidence to this. Those who do not believe in the Bible's God most certainly can be civilized people, as defined in a non-religious sense.

So why is this blog called "Heathens" Unite? Well, because we want to show just how silly everything about organized religions is, even their myopic words for non-believers. And this gets to the heart of the matter. Anyone who rejects a certain notion Bible lovers are told to believe by the Bible, is instantly considered to be wrong and that person espousing that idea is instantly branded by those Bible lovers to be a heathen. Bible carriers are way too quick to judge...and have been all through history (think Crusades, for only one example).

Deists, alternatively, consider everything by reason and logic. If an idea doesn't make sense, that is only as a result of careful consideration using logic and facts and weighing all possibilities by reason. Bible lovers don't consider everything and rarely use the power of thought and often they throw out idea after only comparing that idea to magical stories passed down for generations upon generations. If that new idea doesn't fit into that magical story, it cannot be right. Bible lovers argue that God created the Earth because the Bible written by God says he did, therefore scientific evidence for evolution must be wrong. Deists say that the science is pretty good, sure there are flaws, but Deists try and work through those science flaws to do more science, not to prove creationists wrong or evolution right, but to find the true story without bias.

While this subject will be covered more later by one of the non-anonymous heathens, it is easy to see that Deists are far more open minded to ideas than those "civilized and converted" folks. We'll call ourselves heathens, just to prove that this is so.

UPDATE: This is a response to comments made in the below response box.

1. Just because someone is not of your select religions they are slapped with a very derogatory word, whether you mean it to be or not it comes across as such.

2. How can you claim I am unenlightened when all you are meaning by that is that I don't wear your Bible (Koran or Torah) induced blinders? In other words, you think me unenlightened simply because I don't believe in the magical stories that cannot be explained by logic in your bible. Since when did those who use logic become unenlightened? The same goes for civilized and religious.

3. Religious. According to Merriam-Webster (www.m-w.com), religious is:

Main Entry: 1re•li•gious
Pronunciation: ri-'li-j&s
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Old French religieus, from Latin religiosus, from religio
Date: 13th century
1 : relating to or manifesting faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality or deity
2 : of, relating to, or devoted to religious beliefs or observances
3 a : scrupulously and conscientiously faithful b : FERVENT, ZEALOUS

I acknowledge an ultimate reality of natural laws and evolution. I also believe in a form of a deity that started the evolution process then jumped ship. I am very devoted to these beliefs and I am most certainly faithful to my beliefs.

4. Civilized. Merriam-Webster (again) says that civilized means, "to cause to develop out of a primitive state; especially : to bring to a technically advanced and rationally ordered stage of cultural development". Guess what, we "heathen" Deists believe in evolution, which is the development of a certain thing, again according to MW. Further, Deists believe in a world ordered by natural laws, not a world commanded by a god-like creature. Thusly, man has power of control to advance society and will utilize technology to do that. Finally, by developing technology to have more power over nature, man is able to more fully utilize his mind instead of utilizing physical labor. That is to say a world without God has more rationally ordered stages of being.

It should also be noted that the Bible seems very fearful of technology as technology might possibly be used to spite God. Additionally, where the Bible does use technology, it is as a response to God's wrath. The story of Noah for example forces Noah to develop technology so as to survive the wrath of God represented by the flooding. How is this response to danger civilized? Seems to me that is very primitive.

The // Link //
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Tuesday, July 02, 2002:

What Then is the Difference?
Both Cal and I have offered what we believe in and how we view Deism. A natural question then becomes, well how then does Deism differ from organized religions and beyond that how is Deism not Atheism?

Deism is the belief that the universe can be known through reason and the understanding of natural laws. Judaism, Islam, Christianity, and the rest of the popular religions believe at some point in the knowledge of the universe being revealed to humans. Deists alternatively believe that this revelation is a bunch of nonsense. To Deists, there is no thing capable of revealing anything to man. Man is the highest being and can reason to understand the nature of the universe based on a natural order of the universe. This is why Deism cannot be organized into a church-like setting: no interpreters of something’s word is necessary. Rather Deists gather to discuss what they have proven to be true based on reason.

Unlike Atheism, Deists believe that there is a God. But not a God that controls the universe or predetermines the fate of the universe. Rather, Deism teaches that this God began the evolutionary process and then allowed the universe to determine its own fate. Atheists believe in no ordered evolutionary process and in no natural laws and in no form of God at all. For more read Ayn Rand and Thomas Jefferson - Ayn Rand was an Atheist, and Thomas Jefferson a Deist.

Matthew Edgar // Link //
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Prayer

I got an interesting e-mail sent to me after my post the other day regarding prayer. Now there is a lot to be said about prayer and I’m sure I’ll be saying more on it later, and especially after the many responses I’m sure I’ll get after writing this. FYI, my direct e-mail is
matthew@matthewedgar.net.

The question the reader sent was, “Do Deists pray, if so to who, and what do you think of prayer by other religions?”

Seeming that the objective of prayer is to thank God for something or to ask God for something, Deists would see no reason to pray as God has no power over the operations of the universe. A prayer asking for my daily food would be no different than asking my wall for that same thing, as both could equally provide that daily food.

Because I reject the notion of a universal and controlling God, I think prayer by alternative religions is a waste of time. More than that, I think it is a waste of time even if you accept the beliefs of those religions. Let me explain: Most religions believe that ultimately God is in charge. If God is in charge, what good does praying do? Building on that, if you believe that God is in charge and man is not near as powerful, how is one little prayer going to change God’s mind? Lastly, if god predetermines the fate of the universe what good does prayer do to change God's plan? Now I don’t believe that God controls man or predetermines our fate and this odd logic justifying prayer helps explain why.

Again that e-mail is matthew@matthewedgar.net or leave a comment below under "responses"!

Matthew Edgar // Link //
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Monday, July 01, 2002:

Deism is belief in god without the divine intervention. Rationally certain laws of nature exist that bring an order upon the world. The fact that the world is run under a consistent methodology and set of rules does not necessarily require the existence of god. A belief in God is an idea that explains the origin of the universe. I became a deist as a reaction to the feelings of guilt I received when going to church. A place of worship should not be a place of punishment but somewhere to embrace the goodness of God.

Belief in a god that does not selectively intervene does not mean that deists are nihilists. It is far from the case. It is the greatness of man that I hold as being of prime importance


Cal Ulmann // Link //
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Inherit the Wind

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