As Promised: A Fourth of July Free Fire Zone

Liberty Enlightening the World

This is pretty much a copy of what we posted last year. We wish our American readers a happy Fourth of July, and we ask our non-US readers to indulge us as we celebrate America’s Independence Day.

You may see some nonsense about the Fourth at creationist websites. The Revolution was a few generations before Darwin wrote Origin of Species, so that gives creationists some wiggle room to say crazy things about the Founding Fathers, but regardless of what creationists may claim, the Founders were very much part of the Enlightenment, and there was nothing biblical about the American Revolution. Most of the clergy opposed it — divine right of kings, you know. The bible is all about monarchy, on Earth as it is in heaven. It’s certainly no blueprint for the American Revolution, or the Constitution — see Is America a “Christian Nation”?

The Discovery Institute frequently attempts to hijack the Fourth of July by claiming that American Founders like Jefferson were — or would have been — supporters of their “theory” of intelligent design. They’re doing it again today. For some of their previous travesties, see, e.g., this from ten years ago: Discovery Institute: Another July 4th Hijacking, and then Discoveroids Again Hijack the Fourth of July, and then Discoveroids Pervert the 4th of July Again, and then The Discoveroids and Thomas Jefferson, Again.

We always take this occasion to load you up with a bunch of historical links, so we’ll do that once again. Here’s a link to the Declaration of Independence, plus the Articles of Confederation, which — except for a few tweaks — was also drafted in July of 1776, but it wasn’t ratified until 1781. No collection would be complete without Common Sense, by Thomas Paine.

Those links are about the Revolution. The time when we were living under the Articles is the often-neglected period when we had ten Presidents before George Washington — see President of the United States in Congress assembled. Finally we come to the Constitution.

Here’s the Federalist Papers — that splendid and still authoritative series of essays by the Constitution’s principal authors, who explain the meaning and purpose of its every clause. The website has a search feature at the bottom of the page. For some wholesome family amusement, invite someone over who insists that the nation was founded on religious principles. Encourage your friend to search through the entire thing for all the religious words he can think of, and then let him ponder the results.

After that, check out our post on Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and then our post on The Unknown Bill of Rights.

It’s astounding what you can find at Primary Documents in American History (1763-1815). And you ought to be aware of this: Veto of federal public works bill by James Madison, because pork barrel spending is unconstitutional. Hey — it’s always handy to have a link to Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith. Searchable!

We’re not expecting any of our kind of news today, so we’ll have to entertain ourselves. Therefore, we’re declaring another Intellectual Free-Fire Zone. As with all our free-fire zones, we’re open for the discussion of pretty much anything — science, politics, economics, whatever — as long as it’s tasteful and interesting. Banter, babble, bicker, bluster, blubber, blather, blab, blurt, burble, boast — say what you will. But avoid flame-wars and beware of the profanity filters.

We now throw open the comments to you, dear reader. Have at it.

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10 responses to “As Promised: A Fourth of July Free Fire Zone

  1. Robert Baty

    Well, did I tell you how I managed to really tick off Steve McRae and his people after McRae started misbehaving in my Hovind group?
    What is particularly interesting about all of that, in part, in my opinion, is that McRae and his people are acting quite in opposition to the virtues Steve is trying to promote regarding his announced appearances on Hugh Ross’ new show “Agree to Argue”.
    What is with that?
    Reasons to Believe vice-president Fazale Rana and Steve McRae are claiming they are going to play nice and talk about stuff on that new program premiering next week, all the while McRae is acting in contradiction of the virtues they are trying to promote for their new show.

  2. “that gives creationists some wiggle room to say crazy things about the Founding Father”
    Do they need room then? I’ve never noticed anything that could prevent them from crazy things.

    “we ask our non-US readers to indulge us”
    Nah, not so much. At this moment I’m too lazy to look it up, but recently I learned that the American Constitution was drafted and ratified not in a democratic way, but during sessions that were dominated by the economic elite of that time. So it’s unsurprising that the country has devolved into a one-party system and that (according to polls) the American people hardly ever get their way if their views conflict with the interests of the current politico-economical elite.
    The USA are a failed democracy; the question is if the Republicans will succeed in turning it into a failed state. Donald the Clown is doing a fine job in this respect – with 4% of the global population the USA has 25% of all COVID-19 infections. MAGA indeed!

  3. Dave Luckett

    Atheists of course have the right of it when they dismiss the entire body of – what? – literature(?) called “theology” as irrelevant and meaningless. So it is – to them. The trouble is that it is not so to others. And oddly, this is true even when those others have no idea that their behaviour expresses theological ideas. It is quite possible to behave in a fashion informed by and expressive of theological principles without having any real idea of what those principles actually are, and still less where they come from, or what they actually mean or necessarily imply.

    How others act, and what causes their actions, are essential to understanding them. Understanding others is essential if one is to live successfully in a human society. Religion is found in all human societies without exception. Religion implies and must imply a set of understandings of what is divinely appointed, commanded, essential, condoned or forbidden, which are aspects of the essential nature of the divine. Exploring and explaining the essential nature of the divine is “theology” – “knowledge of God”. Therefore, some understanding of, and hence knowledge of, theology is essential to live successfully in a human society.

    It’s no use declaring that, as an atheist, you couldn’t care less; that you are sublimely uninterested in it, bored rigid by it. Like it or not, willy-nilly, but me no buts, you are interested, in the classic sense of “concerned”, “involved in”. You may not want to be. Alas, as in many other aspects of life, your wishes are irrelevant. I don’t want to get still older and die. I don’t want to have Parkinson’s disease. My wishes are irrelevant. Same for theology. I have to deal with age and disease. I have to deal with theology.

    If you want to explain Ham or Comfort or the ICR or the DI – or any of them – you have to explain their theology. If you don’t do that, they become mysterious, cryptic, inscrutable. They are not worthy of such respect. Why would any opponent grant it?

  4. docbill1351

    @DL “If you want to explain Ham or Comfort or the ICR or the DI – or any of them – you have to explain their theology. ”

    A fool’s errand, my friend. Holding up a Bible and shouting “Jeebus!” is not a theology, it’s showmanship. None of these con-idiots have a theology. They simply make stuff up as they go along. “Believing” in the Bible is no different than “believing” in Harry Potter.

    Jerry Coyne has been criticized by theologists, aka academic posers, for not understanding “sophisticated theology,” rather than the cheap-stunt theology (Hambo, et al) that even the academic posers look down on. But, Coyne has read and understood “sophisticated theology” which he dismantles straw by straw in his book, “Faith vs Fact.” Spoiler alert: It’s Fact in the kitchen with a lead pipe.

    In summary, their so-called theology, and I would submit all theology, is an exercise in pulling threads from an endless number of spools. You never get to the end and it’s a pointless exercise.

  5. Indeed, many of the creationists reject theology. Theology is just as unwelcome as science.

  6. Eddie Janssen

    Anyone else having trouble getting on Panda’s Thumb website

  7. Eddie Janssen: I was just trying, after many months of absence, and had trouble. Haven’t been here much lately either, but since I retired in Dec. 2019 have been re-reading many of the books I read 10-20 years ago. Currently on “The Counter Creationism Handbook.”

  8. Dave Luckett

    docbill1351: (I have just realised – a testimony to my own obtuseness – that you are apparently a month older than me. 69, the age of living innuendo.)

    I think you give theology too much respect when you say “Holding up a Bible and shouting “Jeebus!” is not a theology, it’s showmanship. None of these con-idiots have a theology. They simply make stuff up as they go along.” Theology often is making up stuff as you go along.

    “Holding up a Bible” is precisely theology: Scriptura solus. “God is manifest only through scripture”; “Scripture is the only revelation”. “Shouting ‘Jeebus'” is precisely theology: “All prophecy leads to, and is completed by, Jesus, the only Son of God, very God, the Second Person of the Trinity” (etcetera)

    They do make up stuff as they go along. But what they make up is informed by theology. Take Ham’s and Hovind’s dinosaurs on the Ark, for instance. Two theological principles are at work: one, that scripture must be read literally, unless it displays clear markers in the very words that it is to be read non-literally; two, that undeniable physical facts not specifically denied by scripture are to be accommodated by that reading.

    So Noah took into the Ark “one male and one female of every living thing”. This must be read literally, principle one. But dinosaurs were living things, as the undeniable physical fact of their fossilised remains attests: principle two. Therefore there were dinosaurs on the Ark.

    Some other creationists might hold that this is nonsense. The fossils are lies from the devil. This requires that the devil be capable of creating something, which opens the beartrap of Manicheanism. But again, this is theology.

    Nor am I saying that they know where they are coming from. I’m quite prepared to believe that they have no clue. Nevertheless, it informs them, and this is true despite the fact, as TomS observes, that they reject theology.

    It’s because they are dishonest and ignorant of their own theological underpinnings (or, if they’re complete con-men, those of their audience) that theology offers a line of attack. That’s why it should be available as a weapon. That’s why we need it.

  9. Michael Fugate

    Yes, proposing gods is making stuff up. Animism is the thread running through all of this – and the end result is a path from a democracy of souls each with its own power to an oligarchy ending in a monarchy. It is about power and control. If one believes in an all-powerful god and then it is a small step to believing this god gives power to a church and a king…