Judeo-Christian Values?
Posted: 26 September 2010 02:22 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I’ve been doing some research into this concept lately.

I’m firmly of the mind that we (the USA) are in no way a country founded on “Judeo-Christian values” and that this has been a revision of our country’s history by the same theists who were blocked from having a strangle hold on our government in the first place.

The values laid down into law by the Torah/Old Testament and the New Testament are not a corollary of democracy, but fascism and totalitarianism.

To believe otherwise is untrue to history. We were founded on the principles of The Enlightenment, which arose from the the persecution of philosophers by various religious groups. There was no established and state involved religion that supported the Enlightenment.

If anything we are a country founded in spite of Judeo-Christian values.

Some examples:

During John Adam’s administration the Senate ratified the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, which states in Article XI that “the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion.”

And that wasn’t an isolated incident.

The Treaty of Tripoli, passed by the U.S. Senate in 1797, read in part: “The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.” The treaty was written during the Washington administration, and sent to the Senate during the Adams administration. It was read aloud to the Senate, and each Senator received a printed copy. This was the 339th time that a recorded vote was required by the Senate, but only the third time a vote was unanimous (the next time was to honor George Washington). There is no record of any debate or dissension on the treaty. It was reprinted in full in three newspapers - two in Philadelphia, one in New York City. There is no record of public outcry or complaint in subsequent editions of the papers.

Ethan Allen, whose capture of Fort Ticonderoga while commanding the Green Mountain Boys helped inspire Congress and the country to pursue the War of Independence, said, “That Jesus Christ was not God is evidence from his own words.” In the same book, Allen noted that he was generally “denominated a Deist, the reality of which I never disputed, being conscious that I am no Christian.” When Allen married Fanny Buchanan, he stopped his own wedding ceremony when the judge asked him if he promised “to live with Fanny Buchanan agreeable to the laws of God.” Allen refused to answer until the judge agreed that the God referred to was the God of Nature, and the laws those “written in the great book of nature.”

The words “In God We Trust” were not consistently on all U.S. currency until 1956, during the McCarthy Hysteria. And we’ve also already covered that “under God” was added to the pledge of allegiance until the 20th century.

All of the above writings can be found in the excellent article “The Founding Fathers Were Not Christians”

by Steven Morris, in Free Inquiry, Fall, 1995.

http://www.skeptically.org/thinkersonreligion/id9.html

He saved me a lot of typing, and I give credit where credit is due.

That covers the Christian side of things, onto the Torah…

The Ten Commandment that are claimed by many to be the “foundations of our laws,” are very plainly in no way foundational, and are only 30% relevant to modern (and by modern I mean the years following 10 A.D.) law.

For the sake of clarity I’m going with the Talmudic numbering. Catholics and Lutherans number them differently. I’m sticking with the traditional Torah/Old Testament version.

The first four of the ten are not laws at all:
1. I am the Lord your God.
2. You shall have no other gods before me.
3. You shall not make for yourself an idol.
4. Do not take the name of the Lord in vain

Very clearly, if these were laws, it would be unconstitutional. The very fist amendment of the constitution states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” so those 4 are obviously out.

The 5th commandment says “Honor your father and mother.” A fine sentiment, provided your parents actually deserve to be honored. But I’m pretty sure no one here actually thinks this should be a law.

The 7th commandment says “You shall not commit adultery.” Adultery being a moral crime, not a legal issue, also tends to be a self-punishing endeavor. And is not the territory I want our laws to stray into.

The 10th commandment says ” Neither shall you covet your neighbor’s wife. Neither shall you desire your neighbor’s house, or field, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

This commandment is the only one to punish thought. It also makes direct comparison of a man’s wife to his neighbor’s ox. Not only is this not a law, even in the most backward of America’s founding ideals, women were not considered chattel. 

Now we get into the meat of the matter. The legally functional of the commandments:

6. You shall not murder.

8. You shall not steal.

9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

6 and 8 are just fine. But if you expect me to believe that prior to the arrival of the Jews at Mount Sinai that they thought murder and theft were okay, I don’t know what to say to you. It is plain that we would not have survived as a species if that was the case.

If we use the “Judeo-Christian” example of the old testament, shortly after giving the the commandment of “Thou shalt not kill” Moses orders genocide on a tribe of nonbelievers.

Joshua 11:12 All the cities of those kings, and all the kings of them, did Joshua take, and he struck them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed them; as Moses the servant of Yahweh commanded.

11:14 All the spoil of these cities, and the cattle, the children of Israel took for a prey to themselves; but every man they struck with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them, neither left they any who breathed.

So it turns out that commandment is flexible if you’re up against nonbelievers.

Hmmm, where have I heard of killing infidels before? Was it in the Bill of Rights? Oh wait, that’s right, religious fascism!

Slavery, while not being written into the constitution of the Bill of Rights, is protected by the Bible, Torah, and the Qur’an. So in that sense, I guess there may be an argument there.

Back on topic…

The best commandment, clearly is the 9th, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

I have no issue with this. But I will point to the Code of Hammurabi and the Analects of Confucius, which contain most if not all of these concepts, and predate the Bible, the Torah, and the Qur’an.

I say this because what organized religion wants to claim as their exclusive territory (ethics) is something that has been with us since the beginning. We are genetically programed to look out for each other. And it didn’t take Jews and Christians to make it so.

Due credit where it is due, I had this idea around the same time as Christopher Hitchens was writing about the same topic. I can say he added some points I had never considered, but I’ve also felt strongly about this issue for a very long time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-63cTYJDCA

Then again, none of these views are new. I’m quite sure the founders felt the same way.

I will admit to feeling some murk when it comes to credit/plagiarism on these ideas. So much has already been discussed/written, but so much more needs to be covered.

I do believe that most of the theo-critics out there feel we are in a battle for reason, and an occasional quoting without credit is bound to happen.

So please, forgive me if I made an errors of omission in terms of crediting previous philosophers.

-RC

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Posted: 26 September 2010 02:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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...and Jesus himself, who told his followers to give everything away and follow him, was clearly a communist! I don’t know what to think of a man who tells you to leave your families to follow him. I’m surprised fundies don’t try to use that passage to get out of child support.

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Posted: 27 September 2010 10:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Ruat

The values laid down into law by the Torah/Old Testament and the New Testament are not a corollary of democracy, but fascism and totalitarianism

.

Actually they are neither, as neither fascism not totalitarianism existed at the time these originated from.  What the Old Testament is a set of tales and myths used as organizing principles for a group of tribes that were trying to conquer Canaan.

The New Testament is another set of myths that were very useful in organizing parts of society in the Roman Empire.  (You may want to see Rodney Stark’s “Then Rise of Christianity” for a good sociological study on this.)

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Gary the Human

All the Gods and all religions are created by humans, to meet human needs and accomplish human ends.

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Posted: 27 September 2010 10:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Asanta:

...and Jesus himself, who told his followers to give everything away and follow him, was clearly a communist! I don’t know what to think of a man who tells you to leave your families to follow him. I’m surprised fundies don’t try to use that passage to get out of child support

.

That is part of the tradition of Jesus, however if you have read (or attempted to read as apparently I am not the writer I thought I was. surprised)  The summary of the Letters of Ruth I posted under the thread “An Ancient Goddess” in this forum you will see there are other “interpretations” available. smile

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Gary the Human

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Posted: 27 September 2010 10:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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garythehuman - 27 September 2010 10:07 AM

Actually they are neither, as neither fascism not totalitarianism existed at the time these originated from.

Something can be corollary without being the exact origin. They are definitely (IMO) in the spirit of a totalitarian dictatorship. The concepts of the ruler’s word being infallible, and brutal punishments for dissenting ideas do not seem to be that far removed from one another.

I do thank you for the book recommendation.

-RC

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Posted: 27 September 2010 11:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Most Christian use the Bible as an icon for God. Otherwise it doesn’t have much to do with their beliefs.

Christianity is based on the letters of Paul. The Apostle Paul should probably be seen as the true founder of the Christian religion.

Generally they will use older passages to try and support Paul but are usually taken out of context.

The Torah does not belong to the Jews. They borrowed it from an older religion to give the Tanakh authority. The Gospels IMO don’t belong to any religion. They are a story about an individual who happened to live in the Judean Province. However he did have followers. Paul happened along and converted to this religion however from it, Paul created his own church.

Paul had no authority from “Jesus” or the Jews or the Torah. However his associated his beliefs with these to claim the authority of God.

In the same way Christians today associate their beliefs with the Bible to claim God’s authority. Their beliefs have little to do with what is written in the Bible it is just a symbol of authority for their belief.

Christians are making stuff up and some charismatic leader convinces large numbers that this “dogma” is the correct true belief.

People you can respect as individuals however the Christian religion deserves no respect because it is based on ignorance, ignorance of the basis of their own religion.

The Bible says what it says. To Christianity it doesn’t matter what it says. What matters is it is an icon for God’s authority.

Christians will try to take/interpret passages from the Bible to support their beliefs but so what .They may as well use a book of nursery rhymes.

The Bible should just be removed from consideration in any rational argument. Especially an argument about Christianity.

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Posted: 27 September 2010 05:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Gnostikosis - 27 September 2010 11:45 AM

The Torah does not belong to the Jews. They borrowed it from an older religion to give the Tanakh authority….

Source? Not that I don’t believe you, I’d frankly love to read a book on that specific topic.

The history of monotheism is not a personal strength of mine. I’m more of a Pathophysiology guy.

But continuing on this very interesting topic—with the admission that I’m not an expert—I’d like to voice that when comparing say, the Torah with the Codex Hammurabi we see many of the same elements of an autocratic state. Just with an infinite leader who just so happens to need scribes and soothsayers to speak for him/her/it.

It is, in my opinion, the mortar of totalitarianism. Even if the brick took many hundreds more years to develop.

-RC

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Posted: 02 October 2010 07:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Gnostikosis:

Most Christian use the Bible as an icon for God. Otherwise it doesn’t have much to do with their beliefs

Good point. I never thought about it that way, but it is true.  I amy be using it from time to time if you don’t mind.

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Posted: 02 October 2010 07:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Ruat:

I have just reread your essay and apologize.  I did not make clear in my earlier posting that I agree with a great deal of what you are saying. 

The point I was trying to make is that you cannot judge the ancients by modern standards, they were living in very different times.  You cannot blame them or give them credit for any modern political philosophy, they wouldn’t know what you are talking about.  (Among other things there were no nation-states until approx. 1500 and both fascism and totalitarianism are political philosophies of the nation-state.)

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Gary the Human

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Posted: 14 October 2010 05:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Many Christian apologists maintain that, while certain passages and incidents in the Bible are either fictitious or disturbing and apply only to that particular society at that particular time, the overall message is a positive one.

I can find no basis for such a belief.

The “message” of the Old Testament, as far as it has one, is IMO merely an attempt to justify the Hebrews’ invasion of Canaan and the slaughter and enslavement of its people; “Well,yeah, we slaughtered all those people and stole all their land and property, but it’s OK because we’re God’s chosen people, and God told us to do it.”

The apologist will then point to the “message” of the New Testament, but it really isn’t much better. The NT “message” seems to be essentially a legal and political one. “Believe what we tell you to believe, don’t ask awkward questions, don’t rock the boat, obey those whom it has pleased God to place in authority over you no matter how cruel and corrupt they are, and God will reward you (in heaven, after you die).” I don’t know about you, but to me that kind of offer is right down on all fours with those letters one sometimes gets in the mail; you know the ones I mean: “Help me to get $56,000,000 out of Nigeria and I’ll split it with you, but I’ll need accass to your bank account and your pass code…..”

And, of course, if you DON’T believe the right things, if you make the cardinal mistake of trying to think for yourself and insist on asking questions we can’t answer, you’ll burn in Hell for all eternity. Scary.

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