OF TWISTED WORDS => SECULAR

freedomconscienceIt was only after I posted it I realized I had made a mistake. When I posted BECOMING SECULAR, I should have added it to the series I had started, OF TWISTED WORDS.

How have we twisted the word “secular?” Well, according to the dictionary the word secular pertains “to worldly things or to things that are not regarded as religious, spiritual, or sacred.” However, as the examples given in BECOMING SECULAR demonstrate, “becoming secular” is a religious choice. When we hear so and so is “becoming more secular,” don’t we know that means?

Fortunately, two commenters wanted to debate.  So they gave me an excuse to add the word “secular” to the OF TWISTED WORDS series.

Atheism

hessianwithteeth has two problems with BECOMING SECULAR (his comments are here, here, here, here and here).

  • He takes issue with the fact that I supposedly called him a fool.
  • As an atheist, he does not believe the Bible. That is, there is no God, and the Bible is not His Word.

Did I Call  A Fool?

Did I call  a fool? No. What I said in BECOMING SECULAR is that becoming secular through indifference, ignoring God, is foolish.   says he has studied the matter carefully and determined that God does not exist. That is not the same thing as “becoming secular.” Instead of ignoring God,  has deliberately turned his back to God, saying He does not exist.  calls himself an atheist, and an atheist is someone who has made a conscious decision that God does not exist. God, not me, calls atheists fools.

Psalm 14:1 New King James Version (NKJV)

14 The fool has said in his heart,

There is no God.”
They are corrupt,
They have done abominable works,
There is none who does good.

In fact, both Psalms 14 and 53 make it quite clear that God has a low opinion of those who turn away from Him. Nevertheless, I have no idea what is in ‘s heart, and it is not my place to judge anyone.  I can only look at a man’s deeds, and I know next to nothing of ‘s deeds.

Does God Exist?

Can I prove the Bible is the Word of God? To some people? Maybe. To ? That depends upon him.

As a practical matter, we each allow the Bible either prove or disprove itself. If we study the Bible carefully and objectively, I think most of us will accept the Bible as true. Nothing else besides the Bible provides an explanation for why we exist and why we are as we are that makes any real sense. Unfortunately, we are lazy. Relative few actively study the Bible, and no one who has studied the Bible remains objective.

In this comment lists some of his objections. They illustrate some knowledge of the Bible, enough knowledge that he has lost his objectivity.

  •  wants independent proof, a report from somebody who is neither christian/jewish nor roman (stipulated in a latter comment).  That sounds reasonable, but it is not. Luke was a Greek. He wrote one of the four Gospels and Acts, and he believed. So he became a Christian. Thus, because Luke believed,   disqualifies him.
  •  does not find it odd that people converted to Christianity. He compares Christians to the Jewish Zealots. Yet any historian, which  claims to be, should able to observe just how unique Jewish history is and that there is something incredible about the spread of Christianity. In spite every attempt to destroy the Jewish people, they remain, and Christianity spreads through the blood of martyrs, not the sword.
  •  offers as argument that morality existed long before the Bible (and he considers the subject further on his blog, Do We Require Religion to be Moral?). It is true that morality existed before the Bible. God existed long before the Bible. As the Apostle Paul observed:

    Romans 2:14-15 English Standard Version (ESV)

    14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them

    What is relevant about Christianity is how much people’s morality improves when they become devout Christians. Consider, for example, that it was in Christian lands that governments first abolished slavery. In the 1850’s who other than a Christian writer could have written this paragraph and been taken seriously by millions?

    “My view of Christianity is such,” he added, “that I think no man can consistently profess it without throwing the whole weight of his being against this monstrous system of injustice that lies at the foundation of all our society; and, if need be, sacrificing himself in the battle. That is, I mean that I could not be a Christian otherwise, though I have certainly had intercourse with a great many enlightened and Christian people who did no such thing; and I confess that the apathy of religious people on this subject, their want of perception of wrongs that filled me with horror, have engendered in me more skepticism than any other thing.” (from UNCLE TOM’S CABIN or Life among the Lowly by Harriet Beecher Stowe)

    Because we live in a large nation where almost everyone has a Christian heritage, we don’t understand the significance of that heritage. Because those people are far away, few appreciate the reason for the relative lawlessness in other lands. Those people don’t share our Christian heritage. And fewer still have studied our ancestors well enough to appreciate the civilizing influence of Jesus Christ’s teachings. Through Jesus, we learned just how much God loves us.

Compartmentalization

scout objected to my observation that we have twisted the meaning of the word “secular.” Instead, he said the dictionary definition of the word remains true. He also said that we can easily distinguish the religious from the secular (his relevant comments are hereherehere, and here). The second paragraph in ‘s first comment probably best summarizes his argument.

But the post seems to go off the rails (for me, at any rate), where it equates secular content with an active decision to ignore religious issues (or God Himself, as you appear to say). At that point, I think you begin to mis-use the term “secular” and are confusing it with concepts such as atheism or agnosticism. There are many religious people (I count myself among them) who view the religious/secular distinction as an extremely important protection of religious life. Keep the base and the worldly in their appropriate context. Let spiritual issues, issues that are not of this world prosper in their appropriate sphere. I view this distinction as important, as a practical matter, to protect religion and religious expression. In this country, it was part of the great genius of the Founders that they permitted that distinction to take root and thrive, thus avoiding the debasement of religion by political leaders such as had occurred in Europe in their times and continues in many places today. The distinction also has strong Scriptural foundation for Christians, although other religions also benefit from observing clear distinctions between secular and religious activities.

Did I misused the term “secular?” Read the post BECOMING SECULAR, and judge for yourself. Let’s consider here ‘s effort to divide Creation into distinct secular and religious spheres or compartments. To the Christian, that should make no sense. As a practical matter, we do not even have what the dictionary would describe as a secular government. We have a government that is suppose to recognize the fact that our rights are God-given. Unfortunately, due to the fact that our parents allowed politicians to supervise our education, we have forgotten the intent behind the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof “(from here). That means no one should use the power of the government to either to establish a religion or stop anybody from practicing their religion.

Why such an attitude towards government power? Why such a deliberate effort to keep government from interfering with religion? Christians believe in glorifying God in all things.  Depending upon the translation, that phrase “all things” occurs often, 201 times in the Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV). Sometimes that phrase says we should glorify God in “all things.”

1 Peter 4:11 Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)

11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

What do numerous passages tell us what should be our primary occupation? Consider this one.

Matthew 6:19-21 Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)

19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Hence, the Founders structured our government to prevent it from interfering with religion, not to use secularism or some other excuse to suppress it.

Why would someone want to suppress Christianity? The Bible reminds us of just how awful we can be. In one of his complaints about the Bible,  observed that God seems to approve of some very bad things. Oddly, considering he says he is a historian,   forgets that the Bible records quite a bit of history, often just saying what happened. Much of the Bible is also a Book of Law. Making laws appropriate for the ancient Jews, trying to civilize a stiff-necked people — like us — sometimes forced God to compensate for our hard hearts. So He allowed the Jews to divorce their wives, keep slaves, and have a king to rule over them, but He did not approve of any of these things. He simply made laws that softened the affects of our sins.

Civilizing human beings is very difficult. We too often want to do very bad things, and sometime we revert to savagery. Consider how far back to our savage nature we have already gone.

In the following passage, G.K. Chesterton talks about the religion practice by the ancient Carthaginians. Carthage was a Phoenician colony. The Phoenicians, the folks who gave us our alphabet, are apparently one of the Canaanite Peoples the Hebrews should have destroyed when they took over the Holy Land.

In a previous chapter I have hinted at something of the psychology that lies behind a certain type of religion. There was a tendency in those hungry for practical results, apart from poetical results, to call upon spirits of terror and compulsion; to move Acheron in despair of bending the Gods. There is always a sort of dim idea that these darker powers will really do things, with no nonsense about it. In the interior psychology of the Punic peoples this strange sort of pessimistic practicality had grown to great proportions. In the New Town, which the Romans called Carthage, as in the parent cities of Phoenicia, the god who got things done bore the name of Moloch, who was perhaps identical with the other deity whom we know as Baal, the Lord. The Romans did not at first quite know what to call him or what to make of him; they had to go back to the grossest myth of Greek or Roman origins and compare him to Saturn devouring his children. But the worshippers of Moloch were not gross or primitive. They were members of a mature and polished civilisation, abounding in refinements and luxuries; they were probably far more civilised than the Romans. And Moloch was not a myth; or at any rate his meal was not a myth. These highly civilised people really met together to invoke the blessing of heaven on their empire by throwing hundreds of their infants into a large furnace. We can only realise the combination by imagining a number of Manchester merchants with chimney-pot hats and mutton-chop whiskers, going to church every Sunday at eleven o’clock to see a baby roasted alive. (from Everlasting Man (1925) by Chesterton, Gilbert Keith (1874-1936))

The ancient Romans utterly destroyed Carthage.

Referring to it as a secular practice, denying the humanity of the unborn, we sacrifice infants today. We don’t overtly call an abortion a sacrificial offering; we deny the practice might have any entertainment value. Nonetheless, trying to elevate the practice — making every taxpayer an accomplice — abortion supporters fight tooth and nail for public funding. Hence, to satisfy the demands of our “secular” government, abortion supporters deny the possibility that an unborn baby — a miracle of life — has any religious significance.

 

42 thoughts on “OF TWISTED WORDS => SECULAR

  1. Two things. First, I did not say that you called me a fool. You asked if non-believers were fools, I answered. Then you said that only god can judge and I said that I was only being judged by humans. And second, you keep calling me him. If you look at my blog, you’ll notice that there are two people writing this blog and we have different genders. As you don’t know which of us was replying to you or which of us wrote the post, we would appreciate it if you used “they” instead.

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  2. I’d also like to recommend that you read Not the Impossible Faith. It was written by a fellow historian and explains why Christianity didn’t need a miracle to succeed (that’s actually the subtitle).

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  3. I must say, Tom, that this post strikes me as quite a confused ramble and not something that materially advances the discussion over the previous post. Interestingly, however, there are some shards in the rubble that seem to reflect agreement between us on some things. We both agree that the Constitution forbids the establishment of religion or the enactment of laws prohibiting the free exercise thereof. (How could we not agree, the language is quite clear). WE also agree (and I would think it very rare that any American would think otherwise) that the Founders intended that the State would not suppress religion. It can’t. Religious suppression is illegal.

    It is because of these constitutional prohibitions that Christianity and other religions can thrive in this country. The Founders were aware of modern (in their day) and ancient examples of confusion between religious and governmental activities leading to the suppression of liberties. They took some pains to see that this did not happen here.

    As I said in comments to your earlier post, I also agree with you that the clips you cited there about “becoming secular” did reflect imprecise usage of the English language. Things generally don’t “become” secular – they either are or aren’t secular. But this seems largely a quibble over the imprecision of modern journalistic writing, not a big philosophical/policy issue. The reports you cite (as I recall) were addressing not transitions of religious objects or functions into secular ones, but were more geared to discussing social and demographic changes that lead more people to identify in surveys as being less committed to traditional religious structures than their parents or ancestors.

    In many of your posts, there is a point at which, after tooling along at a platitudinous level on elementary and non-controversial items, the thought process just seems to go off a cliff. Kurt Vonnegut, in a slightly different context, used the image of two smoothly running gears meshing and spinning together until they reach a point where some teeth are missing on one of the gear wheels. Then the mechanism shakes itself apart, sometimes with great abruptness.

    One such point in your comment (and this time it’s toward the end) was this peculiar idea that abortion supporters deny the possibility that an unborn baby “has any religious significance” “to satisfy the demands of our ‘secular’ government.” So much is out of kilter in that sentence. To name a few examples – 1) the government does not demand abortions. Anyone who does not wish to have an abortion does not have an abortion; 2) the reasons that abortion supporters favor the possibility that abortions be available are no doubt varied and multi-faceted. I oppose abortion and have many discussions with supporters about this issue, but I have never once heard any abortion supporter say that abortions should be provided to meet the demands of the secular government. I don’t think anyone believes that. I have heard abortion advocates say that they favor the possibility of abortion because they don’t believe that life begins at conception, because they do view early stage pregnancies as being issues primarily of the Mother’s health, because they fear that bans on abortion would have negative public health consequences, and merely drive the practice underground where it would be conducted by unscrupulous and unqualified abortionists, etc. etc. The reasons are multitudinous. None of them resemble feeding babies to Moloch’s fires.

    The abortion issue is difficult because it is one which doesn’t lend itself to middle ground (Roe v. Wade was a kind of attempt at a middle ground – using the first trimester as a line of demarcation between when the matter was a medical issue between mother and doctor and when it became a legitimate matter of state concern. We’ve seen how successful that was). If one believes, as a starting point, that a separate being is formed at conception, and one opposes the taking of innocent life, one simply has to oppose abortion, even in the case of rape or incest. What right does a mother have to terminate a life, even one a few days along, even one that was created by force, against her will in her body? If one believes that early pregnancy is simply a gathering process of cellular material that has no moral, civic, liberty or religious interest until much later in gestation (I assume that even abortion advocates would concede that, at some point, we are dealing with a fully formed human life – if not, they might as well justify slitting the baby’s throat when it emerges from the birth canal), and/or one believes that a woman’s body, because of her individual liberty interests, should be under her control and subject only to her decisions based on private consultations with her medical doctor, one can justify, morally and ethically, abortion at some stage of gestation. These positions are inherently irreconcilable, because they proceed from very different premises.

    In these situations, the role of government is that it cannot force any mother to have an abortion against her will. And we do not do that in this country. Those of us who have moral scruples against abortion do not have abortions. Doctors with similar scruples do not perform abortions. And the government does not compel us to have them.

    There are some ancillary points that probably will play out in later comments: e.g., can Tom prove that the Bible is the Word of God? – short answer: No. That is a matter of faith, not evidentiary proof. Is Tom right that “nothing else” besides the Bible provides answers to why we exist and why we are the way we are? No. There are many other explanations for these issues. Tom finds the Biblical (and I venture to say a literal Biblical) explanation more compelling for him, but there are many other explanations that appeal to others and these explanations run from complex astronomical, biological, and physics theories to folk cultural stories that many in the world find every bit as believable as Tom finds the Bible. Is our government “suppose [sic] to recognize that our rights are God-given”? No. The Constitution says nothing about that. The federal government (and in most cases involving fundamental liberties, the states also) are “supposed” to honor the prohibitions and work within the affirmative grants of authority contained in the Constitution and its amendments. That’s all. That’s plenty. That’s a lot. We are very fortunate people.

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    1. Well, it seems I finally have time to reply. However, I don’t intend to respond to every one of your observations. Rather than repeat myself, I will let what I have already said stand.

      1. You say:

      Things generally don’t “become” secular – they either are or aren’t secular.

      “Becoming secular” refers to people becoming more secular, not things.

      2. You took issue with what I had to say about abortion. Supposedly, my arguments did not mesh. They flew apart.

      One such point in your comment (and this time it’s toward the end) was this peculiar idea that abortion supporters deny the possibility that an unborn baby “has any religious significance” “to satisfy the demands of our ‘secular’ government.”

      I suggest you consider this quote.

      In republican governments, men are all equal; equal they are also in despotic governments : in the former, because they are everything ; in the latter, because they are nothing. — “The Spirit of laws” by Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu (https://archive.org/stream/spiritoflaws01montuoft/spiritoflaws01montuoft_djvu.txt)

      Why are men everything? Christians say men are everything because we belong to God, and God loves us.

      Does God care about an unborn child? The Bible does not come right out and say it, but wiser men than I have read the Bible, and they have concluded that the Bible supports the conclusion God wants us to treat the unborn as sacred (not as secular things) from the time of their conception.

      Frankly, I admit the limitations of Law. Because men define, enforce, and break laws, laws have limited utility. Since so many support abortion, and expectant mothers cannot be forced to love the child they are carrying, I don’t know how to effectively criminalize abortion. Nevertheless, I see no need whatsoever for our government to pay for abortions. In fact, I think it evil.

      I also don’t want our government (like that of China) demanding abortions, but I did not address this subject in my post. So I can only guess as to why you brought it up. I think you have a tendency to mischaracterize what I wrote.

      3. Can I prove the Bible is the Word of God? Did I suggest I have what you call evidentiary proof? No. I said:

      Nothing else besides the Bible provides an explanation for why we exist and why we are as we are that makes any real sense.

      If you cannot say the same, then what is the point of calling yourself a Christian?

      Multiculturalism is pure rot. When the beliefs themselves say just the opposite, to say all beliefs are good is just stupid. Peter Kreeft of Boston College put it this way.

      Be egalitarian regarding persons. Be elitist regarding ideas.

      For example, I can like and respect Keith, but I don’t have to believe non-theism is a good idea. I just have to respect his right to make that choice for himself. Similarly, if someone wants to call himself a Christian, but advocates things the Bible condemns, I don’t have to believe that is a good idea. I just have to respect that person’s right to make their own choice too.

      When someone studies different beliefs — rejects the Bible after reading it — and declares their atheism or non-theism, I have more respect for that person than I do the person who affirms the Bible and doesn’t actually attempt to live by what it says. In fact, it is a sort of treachery. When the lives of Christians don’t represent the Bible well, they hurt the body of Christ more than any loud denunciations and rejections from atheists.

      Have you ever looked up the origin of the word “Punic.”

      Punic (adj.) (http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=Punic)
      “pertaining to Carthage,” 1530s, from Latin Punicus, earlier Poenicus “Carthaginian,” originally “Phoenician” (adj.), Carthage having been founded as a Phoenician colony, from Poenus (n.), from Greek Phoinix “Phoenician” (see Phoenician). Carthaginians were proverbial among the Romans as treacherous and perfidious. Punic Wars were three wars between the Romans and the Carthaginians fought 264-146 B.C.E. Related: Punical (early 15c.). (from http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=Punic&allowed_in_frame=0)

      When the Roman empire began to decay, during the reign of Caesar as a matter of fact, the Romans revived Carthage. I guess when Rome started to pretend it was a republic, the Punic people’s pretense to be trustworthy did not seem so bad.

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      1. 1. People are people. They are neither “secular” or “religious” objects.

        2. I am appreciative of Montesquieu, but have no idea what your proffered quote from him has to do with the post or this comment thread.

        3. There are lots of non-Biblical explanations for “why we exist and why we are as we are.” You personally do not find them compelling. But many people do. Many practicing Christians would tell you that they don’t find the Bible particularly informative on the “why we exist” part of your sentence. I think more would agree that the Bible does offer insights into why humans behave the way they do. But, as mentioned in my previous comments, there are many non-Christians who find non-Biblical sources compelling on these subjects. I don’t see how anyone can dispute that.

        No, I’ve never looked up the word “Punic”. Don’t know what it has to do with the discussion (unless it is a vague reference to your Moloch discussion in the post – but that would be pretty obscure). Perhaps my schoolboy days as a avid fan of Latin and Greek led me to just take it for granted that most people know that “Punic” refers to Carthage and its wars with Rome. Why do you ask?

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        1. scout,

          I’d have to disagree with your statement in #3. Outside of some ‘creation’ explanation, there are no ‘compelling’ theories as to why we or here or how this universe came about. When you actually and fully understand what we ‘think’ we know of the universe and its origins, the odds of an ‘accident’ are far, far beyond the statistical chance of zero which — to the rational mind — dictates the necessity of a Creator.

          Now, you may find other notions of how we came to be more ‘appealing,’ but strictly speaking from a point of logic, they are not sound — not one of them. Neither are many rational, which means they are not valid, either. So — again, from a point of reason/logic — these theirs are not ‘compelling,’ but rather, appealing — and there is a big difference there.

          Now, mind you, I did not tell you that you had to accept the Bible, only that everything we humans know about this universe actually points to Intelligent Design. Please keep that in mind before you think me pushing my faith (especially since it is actually the Hebrew creation model, not Christian 🙂 )

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        2. scout – Feigned ignorance? Again?

          When people discover someone has a view that differs from their own, many often experience first surprise, then the desire to persuade the poor fool of the error of their ways, and finally a conniption when the poor fool won’t be persuaded. That conniption is foolish, of course.

          You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. (http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/you-can-lead-a-horse-to-water.html)

          Do I have the right of it in our debate? I think so, but no one can be made to believe or understand what they don’t want to believe or understand. Even the Apostle Paul, when he literally saw the light, finally understood and believed because he wanted to understand and believe. Jesus did not force him.

          What we each understand and believe is our own responsibility. Therefore, since we have politely exchanged our opinions, and we still don’t agree, then that is the best we can do.

          Thank you for your comments.

          Joe – I appreciate the support.

          Some years back I reviewed a couple of books: https://citizentom.com/2008/04/29/science-and-religion/

          Using two books, I sought to demonstrate that science and religion work in concert, not in opposition. Unfortunately, that is not what we have been taught. We have secularized our schools. We the People have put politicians in charge of the education of our children. Therefore, what children learn has more to do with politics than science, and that’s a shame. As a society, we need to put parents back in charge of the education of their children.

          Anyway, if the “scientists” want to deny that Intelligent Design is science, I have no problem with that. I just think it funny they insist upon “believing in” The Theory of Evolution” and calling that science. What is objective or scientific about believing in a scientific hypothesis that cannot be proven?

          You are right. When the statistical probabilities are considered, the notion of accidental creation runs into serious trouble. For example, if the Big Bang Theory is true, the statistical probability that the Big Bang would produce a universe in which life as we know it exists is minuscule.

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  4. I see nothing wrong with your interpretation of “religion” and “secular”. I have always thought “secular to be, or mean, worldly; or of the world.” While “religion” refers to the “spiritual realm.” Although this is a seemingly universal interpretation it becomes blurred when one considers “atheism” as being a religion.

    The United State Court of Appeals for the 7th Judicial District rendered atheism a religion. They now have their own churches and fellowship. Certainly, in all respect, their religion would be secular in nature as would their churches. Their god is “self.”

    Then too, as if things aren’t becoming confused enough, we have secular humanism: The ideal of secular humanism is mankind itself as a part of uncreated, eternal nature; its goal is man’s self-remediation without reference to or help from God. Secular humanism grew out of the 18th century Enlightenment and 19th century freethinking. Some Christians might be surprised to learn that they actually share some commitments with secular humanists. Many Christian and secular humanists share a commitment to reason, free inquiry, the separation of church and state, the ideal of freedom, and moral education; however, they differ in many areas. Secular humanists base their morality and ideas about justice on critical intelligence unaided by Scripture, which Christians rely on for knowledge concerning right and wrong, good and evil. And although secular humanists and Christians develop and use science and technology, for Christians these tools are to be used in the service of man to the glory of God, whereas secular humanists view these things as instruments meant to serve human ends without reference to God. Which, to a certain degree, resounds as being atheistic in nature.

    Wiping away the perceived confusion atheism, human secularism and all such entities, are secular .
    I see I’ve contributed nothing here so I’ll be going, my friend. Lol!
    If it’s any consolation I agree with you.
    Michael

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    1. Michael

      Thank you for very much for your comment and your contribution. I did not know about that court decision, and that all by itself is important to know.

      The secular claim to have a high regard for “reason.” Unfortunately, since the secular worship “self,” their reason loses out to the insanity of overweening pride. Hence, the “Enlightenment” in France resulted in the Reign of Terror. Whereas in England and America a different kind of enlightenment produced stable governments more respectful of the rights of the People..

      Pride is a battle we all must fight. When we choose to worship “self” or humanity, that’s a sign we are losing.

      And it is a great consolation to have your support. May our Lord bless you.

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      1. Thank you, Tom. I do so agree with your follow-up comment.
        May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob bless and keep you, and yours, now and always.

        Your Friend;
        Michael

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  5. My education was in Classics, and with our course studies we had to study immensely the rules of logic, and apply it to reasonable thought. However, being rooted in Classical thought I’ve come to be even more rooted with concepts of Natural Law, and Natural Rights which would include what we Americans know as Inalienable rights.

    Studying the rules of logic and applying it to thinkers such as those who were of the enlightenment period, and our founding period it’s certainly not a stretch to come to the conclusion that those who cannot recognize any “Higher Law”, in the words of Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of State William H. Seward, than it would be impossible for them to recognize any sort of inalienable right. Being rooted in oneself the only rights they could possibly recognize is the rights that they deem prudent to their view of the world.

    As such it is certainly not a stretch to understand that with their inability to understand Natural Law, is why they subscribe to such beliefs as “Living Constitutional Theory” because they are incapable of recognizing authority from anything but themselves; therefore, if they are allowed to interpret the laws of our Republic, they are not subject to the inner workings of that Republic, they are still “God” in their world.

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  6. Despite all of that, your logic has led you astray. I am a lifelong non-theist. I have argued for many years in support of Natural Law and the Constitution. You make it sound as if atheists don’t believe in nature.

    There are a huge number of Christian statists, as well as statists of other religions. Obama’s spiritual advisor Jim Wallace is an open communist. The jihadists belief in Allah eliminates any of Man’s natural rights; all must submit to Shariah law. In centuries past, nations have used Christianity in much the same way, through the faith has outgrown this as a general thing.

    And there are many non-theists and atheists who firmly uphold America and its founding documents, and are (like me) fierce proponents of the Bill of Rights as denoting natural rights the government cannot take away (without a fight!). The notion that non-belief in Christianity = non-belief in natural rights is simply incorrect.

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

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  7. As a Classicist I will examine the Stoics; Zeno of Citium (334 – 262 BCE) said that, “All things are parts of one single system, which is called Nature; the individual life is good when it is in harmony with Nature.”

    Nature must follow reason, The Stoics illustrated that the God, the universe itself, created purpose with organization therefore to be in accordance with natural law being Atheist is a contradiction at best. Since nature gave mankind the ability to think the stoics believed that humans could recognize this order given to them by nature, and with this ability to recognize order man could recognize what is good as it will lead them to happiness , and what is evil to ruin as it goes against nature.

    So what I said isn’t incorrect as I would conclude that if you uphold Natural law as you said, as well as the constitution than you may claim yourself to atheist, but ultimately by recognizing natural law, as such God, and being governed by this higher law. You are not what you claim to be.

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    1. “You are not what you claim to be.”

      You say that with a such authority, rather like a liberal saying that black people cannot truly be conservatives.

      You would drive off the millions of people who, like me, are on your side defending the Constitution but are claimed by you to be acting falsely.

      Thousands of years ago, in cultures that never heard of Christianity, moral codes existed that said that murder was wrong. Some of these codes were quite sophisticated, and based upon their understandings of natural law, which often differed wildly.

      I have no hostility to Christianity, as Citizen Tom will attest. But I am disappointed in those who evince hostility towards me, simply for how I arrived at my moral code, and “defy” me to explain the behavior of others.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

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      1. My intent was not to show you direct hostility; as you focused on those eight words it appears that you missed the other 173. Tom’s interpretation of what I said is correct and what I was suggesting, “is that that indicates you unconsciously acknowledge the Giver of the moral law.”

        My response did not arise from any sense of authority that I was attempting to assert; but instead from keen observation, that if one recognizes Natural law by recognizing what is good or evil or how Joe explained by nature, as in God, placing a conscience within us that we either listen to or ignore then one such as yourself is subconsciously a theist. This is whether your will admit to it or not, as Natural law is defined from nature which I attempted to explain from my previous comment above.

        In regards to you supporting the Constitution, I have no issue at all with any who take up this course of action. However, what I wish to make known is that it was written in high regard of natural law in the defense of our natural rights; as such one who wishes to support such a cause and still chooses to ignore God does so against their own nature.

        So when I say that you contradict yourself or that your are not what you claim to be, there is no malice in my words. I merely only hope that you continue to fight on with side of the Constitution and with its support find theism.

        So in that regard you comparison to my claim is like a liberal claiming blacks can’t be conservatives falls flat, because using similar analogy what I am saying is that you’re claiming to be a liberal but instead you’re saying I believe in the free markets, self reliance, and fiscal responsibility. Well if that’s what you’re saying there’s no way you’re liberal.

        So if you’re saying I believe in Natural law and the Constitution, as much as you’re right it. There’s no way you’re a non-theist.

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      2. Also, I just scrolled through your blog, and just by glancing I know there’s much you cover that I will find a lot of common ground. So I hope we can merely chalk this up as a misunderstanding.

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        1. There is a difference between your comments and Citizen Tom’s. He asked me if something were true. (It isn’t.) You insist, despite all the evidence, that it IS true, that you know my thinking and I do not.

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

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        2. Your observation is correct, Tom did ask you to look into what Joe and I said. However, I will still stand by what I say because I merely have arrived from observation that you are in acknowledgment of a transcendent being recognizing natural law, it doesn’t matter if you admit it or not. Because you’re correct I wasn’t asking, I was observing.

          I respectfully disagree because even though I am applying faith, I believe it to be the truth. I have arrived at this point through logical analysis much like mentioned by Joe and Citizen Tom with C.S. Lewis. Natural law is purely derived from a transcendent being, because of what I illustrated above with the stoics, and the explanation of Joe’s with Romans

          As such what you believe to be the truth, that there is no deity,you arrived at through your own reasoning

          Again, I’ve attempted to explain myself, and extend the hand of friendship, however it appears that you’re insistent on some sort of mundane conflict. Which I’ve attempted to explain I have no malice intention to make enemies of you. You refuted my comment, and as such I refuted your claims. This is basic debate, no reason to wear feelings on your sleeve.. There are plenty of others making similar observations.

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  8. Phadde,

    Our founders did not understand Natural Law in the same sense as the Stoics — or any Greek, for that matter. They understood it in the sense that Paul mentions in Romans 1 and 2. The short version is: God placed a conscience within all of us and we either listen to or ignore it according to our own will. That said, if I read you correctly, you are right: there is no possibility of law or morality without acknowledging a transcendent power (i.e. God).

    For all those who claim otherwise, I defy them to tell me where, why and how Hitler, Mao and Stalin were immoral or what they did was wrong. For them, their nation and their time in history, it was ‘right,’ and therefore, ‘moral’ — from their personal point of view. Those who do not believe in God like to claim otherwise, but they have to do so while stepping over the logical stumbling block in their way. Without a higher authority to set it, there can be no moral law. All their is is what each man thinks is right, which is exactly what the Bible calls “The Days of Noah,” and why God destroyed man. We are quickly approaching those days again, and Scripture tells us we will face the same result.

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    1. Thanks Joe for the response, I went a bit deeper in history with the stoics knowing that when attempting to discuss matters of natural law and religion if one references the bible it is often denounced. However, you did read me correctly that the acknowledgement of natural law and morality is acknowledging a transcendent power, even is the claim is made otherwise.

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      1. Phadde,

        I understood what you were trying to say (mostly because of our past discussions). All I was trying to do is distinguish between the Greek notion of rights and those held by our founders. The Greeks will get you to Thomas Hobbes, but the founders were looking to John Locke, who got his ideas directly from the book of Romans (via other theologian scholars). Many do not know that Locke wrote a positive treatise on Romans. He commented on it line-by-line. Newton, as well. In fact, the majority of the men who developed what became modern science were devout Christians with a view of Natural Rights similar to that of our founders and directly derived from Romans (also, please note that Paul probably got his notion of Natural Rights — at least in part — from Job).

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  9. Citizen Tom,

    Solid blog. It is not “rambling,” it is consistent and well stated. It just rests on a broad education and understanding. Sadly, this is something many lack these days (though it is through no fault of their own — until after they reach adulthood. Then it is their fault).

    As for your ‘critics:’ you cannot ‘prove’ what they demand. God constructed things such that faith is the way we obtain salvation. In order for these people to have the ‘proof’ they demand, faith could not be possible. No one has ‘faith’ in gravity: we all know it is real. So, if we could ‘prove’ God, we would destroy faith in the process, and thus, salvation. This is why Scripture tells us that only those who hear God’s voice will ever see and understand the Truth. Still, Lee Strobel and C.S. Lewis are two excellent examples of atheists applying reason to the question and coming to believe in God — the God of the Bible.

    As for those who claim they rest on ‘science,’ they mostly lie to themselves. While it may be from ignorance, they still tell themselves that ‘science’ has ‘proven’ enough to ‘prove’ there is no God. Sadly, if they just understood basic probability, they would know that there must be a God. And that is just thee start of the indirect evidence pointing to God. They just don’t want there to be a God for the very reason you are hitting at here: because a God means there are fixed rules of right and wrong and consequences for breaking those laws. There is the thing these people actually want to reject.

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  10. phadde2, Keith, and Joe – phadde2, that’s a good subject, but I think Keith has some justification in getting a little bit upset. Whatever we are, none of us are perfectly logical. Fortunately, our Creator does not demand perfect reason from us. He does, however, expect us to love Him and each other.

    1 John 3:16-18 English Standard Version (ESV)

    16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

    Only God can know and judge our hearts. If someone claims to be an atheist or a non-theist, but he loves others in deed and in truth, I suspect he will also respect the rights of others. I personally think, whether he knows it or not, that that atheist or a non-theist has accepted God’s love. So he loves in turn. On the other hand, if a man claims to be a Christian yet he does not love others in deed and in truth, his faith is dead (James 2:14-19).

    Keith, I don’t understand what motivates your non-theism, but I have followed your blog. You consistently defend human rights. You may not believe in God, but you do recognize some sort of natural or moral law. What I think Joe and phadde2 are suggesting is that that indicates you unconsciously acknowledge the Giver of the moral law. Are we wrong? God only knows, but it is worth your consideration.

    Anyway, as Joe observed, C. S. Lewis argued something similar. We may not obey it, but we all implicitly acknowledge very much the same moral law. To Lewis that suggested God had put that moral law in our hearts.

    Anyway, please don’t take what phadde2, Joe, or I said personally. We dislike atheism, not you.

    Sometimes we all advocate our views more forcefully than we should. Yet no man is an island. What hurts one harms us all. So we all need to speak with more kindness.

    Joe – Thank you very much for your praise and your observations.

    scout – I apologize, but it has been a long day, it’s bed time, and another thunderstorm is rolling in. So I have not the time to do justice to your comment; i have to turn off my old desktop. So until tomorrow, I think I will let Joe’s kind words stand in my defense.

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  11. You owe me nothing, Tom. This medium is just one where people can wander in and out and say what they think. No apologies are necessary. However, I think Joe was agreeing with me on the “proof” issue. He and I are both saying that acceptance of Scripture as the Word of God is a matter of faith, not proof.

    Beyond that, however, I think I am closer to Keith’s point in this thread than to Joe and Phadde – I believe one can have a complete and effective moral and ethical code without resort to religion. I believe that that code is, in people who have devoted effort to thinking things through, very similar to the code that most major religions champion. One can reach similar conclusions about the necessity of certain kinds of conduct towards others with or without the overlay of a religious construction to guide one. And, as you mention, there are many nominally religious people who, in fact, are operating opportunistically in the world and who run amok, just as there are many non-theistic people who lead exemplary lives. I come at it from a different perspective than Keith, because I am a Christian, but I know many non-religious people whose morals and ethics are of the highest calibre and who find their bearings from their study of humanity and history and have made judgements about how they should behave in society that bring them very close to the judgements that would be made by members of most of the major religious groups. St. Paul kind of alludes to this in Romans 2, although the passage is not without ambiguity.

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  12. Secular, non-secular, to be or not to be, that is the question? There is a link between morals and rituals, same as there is a link between morals and government.
    Check out this thought about a link. You don’t have to understand the beliefs mentioned to obtain the gist of the story in relation to your post. Can’t have one without the other in my humble opinion.
    http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/halacha-hashkafa/ritual-without-morality/2014/05/29/
    Regards and good will blogging.

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  13. Tom – what is it about which you suspect me of feigning ignorance? I couldn’t make sense of that. Clue me in.

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  14. That was very sweet, Keith. Thank you. I hadn’t visited that poem since boyhood. It was one of my grandfather’s favorites. He was much given to memorization and recitation (as was customary in his day). I had virtually forgotten the poem. I also appreciate the atypical flattering reference, but I’m not sure it fully applies.

    In any event, I don’t see what it has to do with the post or previous comments. Tom, you indicated that you thought I was feigning ignorance about something. Could you be a bit less opaque? I’m rather curious. As mentioned before, my ignorance if profound on many subjects, but I would think it difficult to “feign” either ignorance or knowledge. My ignorance is generally very sincere.

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    1. scout – Why ask me to explain? I have no extraordinary ability. To the extent I have succeeded (whatever that means), I have done so by persevering. Perseverance (some would call it stubbornness) is the only reliable way I know to make up for all my other deficits. Based upon my experiences with the virtue of perseverance, I don’t see much to gain by perpetually appear ignorant. Honest humility? Yes. A silly effort to look dumb? What’s the point?

      Frankly, when I first read THE FOOL’S PRAYER, I was confused. So this time I concede the possibility. Maybe you can’t figure it out. So how did I do it? Being a computer worker, I use a computer tool.

      Here is a clue.
      Key word => fool
      Computer tool => the “find” function
      As strange as it may seem, the word “fool” is all over this post and its comments. Must have something to do the twisting of the word “secular,” I guess.

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  15. I appreciate your persevering struggle to avoid the perpetual appearance of ignorance, Tom. We should all so strive. Good luck with that. One way to avoid the appearance of ignorance is to have the patience and ability to explain our more turgid utterances (we all have them from time to time, but those who put up prolix blog posts are perhaps more vulnerable than others).

    The remainder of your last comment, particularly re the poem so nicely provided by Keith, is impenetrable to me. The poem’s ironic meaning is quite clear. Sorry it confused you. I hope you’re not now trying to say that there is some obscure hidden meaning to it that only a computer expert can tease out. Take it for its surface meaning, man. That’s plenty good enough.

    My remaining question on this thread is very simple: on 30 May @ 2319 you made a reference to my preceding comment with the phrase “feigned ignorance”. To what were you referring? It is not apparent from my preceding comment.

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    1. So now you don’t know how to find text on a web page?

      The only reason I bothered explaining Keith’s reference to a poem is that I feared you would think he posted it to insult you personally. For your information, there are 15 uses of a certain word on this post and its comments, nobody applied the word to anybody except perhaps themselves. That poem reminds us to consider the fact that compared to our Lord we are all fools (and that makes 16 uses), not just you.

      Anyway, verbal oneupmanship is pointless. When compared to maker we have no worth. So what is the point of anyone trying to prove themselves better than any other? What an empty victory! When only the Almighty knows our merit, and He judges us as we judge others, why take such a foolish (17 uses) risk?

      So it is I prefer to discuss issues, not you or me. If you don’t like people saying you are feigning ignorance, then stop doing it. If you actually don’t understand something, instead pretending the larger part of a post is generally inscrutable, try asking a specific question for clarification.

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  16. First of all, I saw nothing offensive whatsoever in the poem. Keith is sometimes given over to harsh personal attacks, but the poem itself was lovely. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he simply enjoyed the poem as much as I did. I liked it and said so. The fool in that poem was actually wise, so if you, unlike me, thought Keith was calling me a fool (he has shown himself capable of that and worse), then you probably should have assumed he was flattering me. I didn’t really take it too seriously that way, however, because the poem had so little to do with anything else going on.

    The poem is neutral in the context of the post and comment thread. I saw nothing in it that had anything to do with me (or you) or anything else that had gone on in the thread. But it is a poem of an old style rarely visited these days. These types of poems (Robert Service’s works are other good examples) were very popular in their day and we just don’t see these any more. They are fast becoming forgotten. So, for that reason, I’m pleased that Keith put it up, even though it had no obvious relevance to anything else going on in the thread. It could be enjoyed for its own sake. I still don’t quite understand why you felt you had to subject it to computer analysis. I hope you don’t do that in all your aesthetic undertakings. There are things, Tom, that can be enjoyed for their surface meaning.

    To the extent one really wants to extrapolate from the poem to other subjects, maybe one can strain to say that wisdom often comes from unexpected sources. There were two wise men in the poem – the fool, whose job description tended to mask his inner wisdom, and the King, who recognized the fool’s wisdom at the end of the poem. This medium offers people a chance to test and exchange ideas. Sometimes wisdom results. Perhaps not often, but sometimes.

    By the way, getting back to my earlier inquiry (and the comments) – you posted that one of my earlier comments was “feigned ignorance.” I was curious about what you referred to, given that I saw nothing in the particular comment that I had submitted that would have given rise to that charge (one that echoes one of Keith’s attacks when he gets into his personal rant mode). I remain curious, but since you have evaded the query thus far, I doubt that you are going to clear that up now. I think it was just a phrase that you lobbed out rather than address any particular part of my 30 May 0023 comment.

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    1. The poetry you chanced to see here wasn’t aimed at you
      Such fools, and kings, and other things, have oft appeared here too
      The king’s great plan to shame the man backfired to his shame
      To criticize and then chastise, the “fool” played one good game

      And as for you and me, it’s true: I’ve pointed out some quirks
      That you have shown, and I will own, you class me with the jerks
      Your writing style I’ve watched a while, ‘spite other things to do
      But you and I share “poet’s eye”: I’m fond of Service, too

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

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    2. Keith – Love the poetry. I wish I could do that, but it seems whatever talent I have for writing extends only to plainest prose. Nonetheless, I am pleased that some do have the talent for poetry. Otherwise, there would be none to enjoy reading.

      Scout – It seems the logic of your behavior either escapes you or you expect no one else to notice. Yet some have noticed. What does it mean when someone rightly points out you are feigning ignorance? It means you are engaging in a form of denial.

      If you actually did not understand a portion of one of my posts or comments, you would simply ask me to explain what you did not understand. If you thought what I said illogical, I expect you would be quite pleased to explain why that was so. Instead, even when others have no trouble understanding, you quite often just brush off what I have written as incomprehensible. That is because you have no other response. Since you don’t want to agree, and you cannot think of any good reason not to agree, all you can do is brush off what I have said as nonsense. That’s not rational. That’s just denying what you don’t want to believe.

      Effectively, when you feign ignorance, you are tongue-tied, and the act is just a cover-up. Silence would work better.

      Anyway, that’s my answer to your “query.”

      Like

  17. You suggest that “you should simply ask me to explain what you did not understand.” I think that’s exactly what I was doing. I think I have posed the question, exactly as you now suggest, several times. I have no idea what “others” understand or don’t understand. My curiosity was based on my own personal lack of understanding of the reference to “feigned ignorance”. It had nothing to do with “agreement” or “disagreement”.

    I made three or four points in my 30 May 0023 comment. Your response suggested my comment “feigned ignorance”. I went back, looked at my comment, and couldn’t find what you were talking about. I then simply asked, several times without a response, what you were referring to.

    Your answer is no answer.

    BTW, I am rarely tongue-tied. Perhaps you’ve noticed.

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