« Why China Allows its Citizens to Sue the Government | Main | Video: Sunstein and Thaler on "Nudge" and Noodles »

July 15, 2008


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Jon Rowe

I'm currently listening to the lecture.

Note: I've studied the record from the inside out so, I'm hear to verify or criticize Stone's speech. He's not going to say anything I haven't already learned.

So far so good, except I wouldn't put Franklin, and Jefferson in the same box as Paine and Allen. Rather I'd put them in the same box as Washington, J. Adams, & Madison, as believing in that "hybrid" system that mixed elements of Christianity with Deism. Both Franklin and Jefferson were "theists" in the sense that they believed in an active personal God. AND, they both held Jesus to be a great moral teacher and had a higher view of Him than the strict Deists.

I don't think we know enough about G. Morris to categorize him, except I'm pretty sure that he wasn't an orthodox Christian. He may have been a strict Deist, but most likely believed in the hybrid system somewhere between Deism and Christianity, "theistic rationalism," as one scholar termed it, which posits an active personal God, one who intervenes in man's affairs and one to whom men ought to pray.

Michael F. Martin

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Michael F. Martin

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Anonymous Bosch

Mr. Martin, am I correct in assuming that your quotation of the Preamble is an attempt at refuting Prof. Stone's argument? If so, I'm sure you must have noted the absence of any mention of any markers of Christianity in the langugae of the Preamble: no "Christ," nor even "God." The language is purposefully inclusive: "Creator" could just as easily refer to Allah, Brahma, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, perhaps even atheists' "primordial ooze."

If you're not attempting to refute Prof. Stone's argument... well, what are you trying to do?

Michael F. Martin

@Anonymous Bosch

What made you question whether I was trying to refute Prof. Stone's argument?

Anonymous Bosch

@Michael F. Martin

I supposed that the posting of canonical text without commentary of your own implies an assumption that the text speaks for itself as commentary on Prof. Stone's argument.

But given that there are at least two ways of reading that particular text as commentary on Stone's talk (as I read it in my post above, or as evidence that the Framers believed in a higher power [a "Creator"], which some believe lends credence to the idea that the US should be run as a "Christian" nation), it was unclear to me what you were trying to communicate by posting it.

Do you care to elaborate?

Michael F. Martin

Sure. Given the text, I think it's no accident that the first amendment made to the constitution says the following:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Excellent Presentation

Great talk about the views of the founding fathers about the non-intended influence of religion and religious dogma on the new nation. In spite of religion's powerful influence on today's govt, how would the founding fathers feel about the huge influence of banks and corporations on today's govt..I think they would think religion's influence topday is insignificant by comparison.

Michael F. Martin

Over the weekend I was enjoying a few pages of the late Prof. Currie's treatise on the Constitution in Congress, and noted that the same first Congress that proposed the first amendment also appointed chaplains and adopted a resolution calling upon President Washington to "recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer" on which to acknowledge "the many signals and favors of Almighty God. . ."

Prof. Currie notes that "the original understanding thus appears to have been that the amendment did not forbid public endorsements of religion as such but only establishment as it had existed in England and in some of the states: the creation of a single official church."

Vol. 1 at page 13.

The comments to this entry are closed.