Creationist Wisdom #448: The God Amendment

Today’s second letter-to-the-editor appears in the Sentinel of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in the Cumberland Valley. .It’s titled: Amendment on teaching God needed.

We don’t like to embarrass people (unless they’re politicians, preachers, or other public figures), so we usually omit the writer’s full name and city. But there’s no problem with this one. The letter-writer is a preacher, Rev. Glen Bayly, and we think he’s with the Mifflinburg Alliance Church. We’ll give you a few excerpts from the rev’s letter, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

“All men are created equal.” So states the Declaration of Independence. Americans believed we were here because of God, our creator.

Not quite. Being here and being equal are two very different things. Many, perhaps most, of the Founders believed we had equal rights because that was the philosophy of the Enlightenment. It’s specifically attributable to John Locke, who wrote that everyone had a natural right to defend his life, liberty, and property. The bible, on the other hand, teaches about the divine right of kings — render unto Caesar and all that good stuff.

The rev isn’t starting off very well, but let’s see how his letter progresses. He says:

Americans believed it then. Do Americans believe that now? Many do not. It is illegal to even mention this fact in the science classes of Pennsylvania.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! How does the rev’s “fact” fit into science class? He’s undoubtedly thinking about the crushing defeat suffered by intelligent design in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. That splendid decision bothers a lot of creationists. Let’s read on:

Today’s version of our origin as taught in public schools and universities is that human beings are an evolved animal, hereby the processes of survival of the fittest and natural selection. Does that lead to any sort of equality, or does it lead to a constant struggle of the weak versus the strong?

What’s he saying — that everyone was equal before Darwin’s theory came along? Yeah, sure they were. He continues:

Where is the worth of every human life if we are merely the result of random natural processes of time and chance? They cannot rationally be defended apart from an infinitely loving, intelligent creator, who made us in his image.

Somehow, the Enlightenment philosophers managed to figure it out. And so did America’s Founders. It was only by making a clean break with the church-dominated past that we have the freedom we now enjoy. The rev seems not to know that. Here’s more:

Is it reasonable to believe in a super-intelligent creator in light of the facts of modern science? Many believe it is. Most founders of modern science believed in God. Many notable modern day scientists do.

He gives a modest list of religious people who achieved some success in science — mostly in inventing things. He fails to mention that their accomplishments weren’t in any way based on, nor do they provide any evidence for, their religious beliefs. Moving along:

Can we still believe the creator did it the way it states he did in the Bible? Many still do. If all people are not created equal by God, then where do such noble ideas come from?

We’ve already explained that. Another excerpt:

The evidence of evolution may be compelling to some, but its philosophical implications are tragic.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Now we come to the end, and it’s the best part:

It’s time America has a spiritual revival of the Christian religion that made America great and for a constitutional amendment in Pennsylvania allowing teaching of God as our creator in classrooms of our state.

That reminds us of this scene from one of the Star Trek movies:

Or to put it in other words more relevant to the Rev’s letter: Why does God need a constitutional amendment?

And here’s another thing the rev might want to consider. The Pennsylvania Constitution provides, in Article I, Section 3:

All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences; no man can of right be compelled to attend, erect or support any place of worship or to maintain any ministry against his consent; no human authority can, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience, and no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious establishments or modes of worship.

Well, rev, you’re gonna have to repeal that before you can get the public schools to teach things your way. Good luck, rev!

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17 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #448: The God Amendment

  1. How do these guys get to be Pastors or Preachers?

  2. Doctor Stochastic

    They get really heated about religion and become pastorized.

  3. waldteufel

    Pastor is another word for “shepherd” . . . and as we all learned early in life, only sheep need a shepherd.

  4. Regarding Pennsylvania Constitution Article I, Section 3, I wish we had that law in Texas. Not that any of our state officials would recognize it, but still.

  5. We have very similar wording in the Indiana Constitution: Article 1,
    Section 3. No law shall, in any case whatever, control the free exercise and enjoyment of religious opinions, or interfere with the rights of conscience.
    Section 4. No preference shall be given, by law, to any creed, religious society, or mode of worship; and no person shall be compelled to attend, erect, or support, any place of worship, or to maintain any ministry, against his consent.

    However, the very religious state legislators have chosen to ignore it by compelling all Hoosiers to pay taxes, which are then used for vouchers for religious schools. And their actions were found to be constitutional by the State Supreme Court. Must be something in the water.

  6. All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences; no man can of right be compelled to attend, erect or support any place of worship or to maintain any ministry against his consent; no human authority can, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience, and no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious establishments or modes of worship.

    But this statement seems to imply that one will worship the “almighty god” in one form or another, and the method shall not be interfered with. But it does not state that one is free not to worship said “almight god,” implying that a deity exists and one is obligated to so worship it, and when written obviously likewise implied the/a christian deity.

  7. Great post Curm. Luv the snippet from the Constitution of Pennsylvania.

  8. DavidK: “But it does not state that one is free not to worship said “almight god,” implying that a deity exists and one is obligated to so worship it, and when written obviously likewise implied the/a christian deity.”

    No, it does not say nor imply that; it actually prohibits coercing anyone to worship anything, and does not even imply an obligation to worship, and prohibits all legal means by which an obligation to worship might be enforced.

    You should go back and re-read it; also study the history of Pennsylvania and the influence of the Quakers and their notions of freedom of conscience. Fundamentalism is Anti-Pennsylvanian.

  9. Is it reasonable to believe in a super-intelligent creator in light of the facts of modern science? Many believe it is. Most founders of modern science believed in God. Many notable modern day scientists do.

    So what? The issues isn’t whether there was a Creator but how “creation” occurred. Those “many modern scientists,” I’m sure (excluding creationists who call themselves scientists) believe in evolution right alongside believing in God.

    As for the “founders” of modern science, go back far enough (to the Greeks, or even the medieval era) and you’ll find that most believed the sun revolves around the earth. Science, dare I say it, evolves.

    For that matter, so does creationism. It’s been forced to adopt new arguments as the Supreme Court has ruled out old ones as unconstitutional attempts at establishment of religion. Outright bans on the teaching of evolution, for example, went out with Epperson v. Arkansas in 1968; otherwise, don’t kid yourselves, creationists would be waving their torches, pitchforks and clubs demanding that that “satanic” doctrine be outlawed nationwide and its proponents hunted down as enemies of the nation and the Faith.

  10. Diogenes says: “Luv the snippet from the Constitution of Pennsylvania.”

    I’m far from the first to notice it. Most states have a provision something like it in their bill of rights. That clause of the Pennsylvania constitution was a factor in the Kitzmiller case. The full text of the opinion is here. This is from page 3:

    For the reasons that follow, we hold that the ID Policy is unconstitutional pursuant to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and Art. I, § 3 of the Pennsylvania Constitution.

    It’s also mentioned, albeit briefly, at page 134. Jones concludes that the school board’s actions violated both the state and federal constitutions, and either one alone would have been enough to justify his opinion.

  11. Ceteris Paribus

    Kirk asks: “What does God need with a starship?”

    Hey Kirk, God just spent an eternity doing a tour of duty of the entire universe, while wearing a hospital gown for a uniform. Wouldn’t you want a chance for some of those spiffy Star Trek duds? And maybe an occasional chance sitting in the Captain’s chair to peek up Uhura’s skirt?

  12. There is no acknowledgement of God in the Oklahoma Constitution. Many current legislators in the state ignore the following parts of the state constitution. Article II (below) is probably a stronger statement on separation than the U. S. Constitution.

    “Article I, section 2.
    Perfect toleration of religious sentiment shall be secured, and no inhabitant of the State shall ever be molested in person or property on account of his or her mode of religious worship; and no religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights. Polygamous or plural marriages are forever prohibited. ”

    “Article II, section 5.
    No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, donated, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion, or for the use, benefit, or support of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary, or sectarian institution as such.”

  13. vhutchison, that second provision in the Kansas Oklahoma constitution is known as a Blaine Amendment. Thirty-eight states have adopted something like it.

  14. This pastor sounds like a leftover from the Bush years.

  15. It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so. -Robert A. Heinlein, science-fiction author (1907-1988)
    I feel that a religions truth and power is inversely proportional to the amount of legislation they need.
    I hope that ‘inversely proportional’ isn’t too hard a concept for the dimly lite minds of a religious person to follow.

  16. Mark Joseph

    So…Rev. Bayly wants us all to worship Vishnu, and explain in science class how Vishnu created everything?

  17. Mr. Bayly got the same letter in the Harrisburg Patriot News, just about 11 miles from Carlisle. Was doing my own post about that one when I stumbled upon your take on his nonsense. As always, theocrats are such nitwits and are always around here in central PA.