ETHICS, GOD and the CONSTITUTION
The claim that the United States is a secular nation is simply a straw man argument. Our Constitution was written by God-fearing people—the evidence for which is simply overwhelming—who were not at all timid about expounding their reliance on a Supreme Being by any name in their actions. Some were Deists (belief in a superior power–God in any guise), most were members of established orthodox churches in the colonies. It is accurate to say that the Judeo-Christian worldview was the foundation on which the founders built our Republic. It was written into the Declaration of Independence. All of them cited a Supreme Being in their admonitions for our budding nation. Our founders, to a man, were in essential agreement.
“It is the duty of all men in society, publicly, and at stated seasons, to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe. And no subject shall be hurt, molested, or restrained, in his person, liberty, or estate, for worshipping God in the manner most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience; or for his religious profession or sentiments; provided he doth not disturb the public peace, or obstruct others in their religious worship.” –John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776.
And this from James Madison, ‘The Father of Our Constitution’: “We have staked the whole of all our political Institutions upon the capacity of mankind for Self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to The Ten Commandments of God.” Is this not the essential Christian worldview?
You want legal precedent? A Supreme Court ruling (1892) that “this is a Christian nation,” was followed again in 1931 with “we are a Christian people.” Indisputable.
[Well, what about Muslims? Our President recently (July, 2014) thanked Muslim-Americans for their many “achievements and contributions… to building the very fabric of our nation and strengthening the core of our democracy.” This statement is untrue at its core; no Muslim had anything to do with “building the…fabric of our nation,” and Islam does anything but strengthen the core of any democracy—the entire culture is specifically undemocratic.]
However, our Founders would have welcomed Allah into the American fabric in their mission to guarantee freedom of religion; they were not specifically Judeo-Christian in that mission. But they would not have tolerated Islamic Shariah law because of its conflict with their vision of a republican government, a government that was not to interfere with religion.
The founders did not want freedom from religion, they wanted freedom of religion. What they were vehement about was that government was not to interfere in religion. To a man they all stipulated that God (by any name) was part and parcel of our founding and did not feel the need to expound incessantly on the subject. This is clear in the Declaration, the Constitution, the Federalist (and Anti-Federalist) Papers, and in countless documents from the Magna Carta through and beyond the Mayflower Compact.
Those who claim that our nation does not have God (by any name) in our initial makeup are wrong, so why suffer the argument? Some may wish to consider a ‘living Constitution,’ but they may not alter the events leading up to its writing (recorded history) and inherent in it. If they wish to change the Constitution to ‘make it more relevant,’ the mechanism is there—built in by the writers: amendment. Go at it, I say, but don’t allow God-denying people to lead the charge because, (and this is important)—they are not qualified to do so because they refuse to accept the initial premise. Only those who understand the thoughts and words of our founders (even if they do not agree with them) are qualified to interpret what they meant. God’s being currently out of vogue does not alter history. We are not a secular nation because God is in its DNA.
Nor may the courts remove God from the mix. Jefferson worried that the courts would overstep their authority and instead of interpreting the law would begin making law an oligarchy—the rule of few over many.
The body that is charged with interpreting it (our Supreme Court) cannot interpret and rule on a Constitution that it doesn’t accept in its entirety. It’s impossible, clearly unconstitutional.
Interpretation requires understanding the bases and meaning of the words themselves, not to mention the intent. The Constitution was written for the God-fearing nation clearly evident in the writings of the founders. All of them.
So. Why would words such as “In God We Trust” be eliminated from government documents? Does eliminating them eliminate the presence of God in the very foundations of our nation? Does eliminating “under God” from the Pledge nullify God? Does pretending that God was not a factor in our founding take God out of the equation? Does trying to prove that God does not exist (an impossible task) change the facts? No to all. Pretending that our nation was not founded on a Judeo-Christian worldview does not make it so.
What’s presented here is not anti-Jewish, or anti-Muslim, or anti-anything. It is simply a fact that cannot be changed, and trying to change it is simply anti-American and unethical. This does not suggest that Christians are superior to anyone else, or that anyone else has fewer rights than Christians. It is simply historic fact—the way it is. History cannot be changed, even by amendment. There’s no denying that what happened, happened, for whatever reason. History is immutable. Live with it. Amen.
THE HOAX OF GLOBAL WARMING
This comes from one of our original blogs. It’s still current.
I’ve been a geologist for more than half a century (and an engineer as well for about 8 years during that time). Geology being the science of the earth naturally includes the environment (which includes Earth). Typically, we geologists begin our investigations by observing and documenting current conditions, then working backward to determine how they got that way. We do this using, among other tools, the method of multiple working hypotheses devised by T.C. Chamberlin, an American geologist who died before my time; it has found its way into other forensic sciences. Essentially, it involves looking at current conditions and investigating simultaneously, without prejudice, every conceivable path that might have led to the current situation. This method will necessarily include chasing down dead ends and correcting wrong turns, but it has the advantage of identifying false and misleading information and enhancing the credibility of the conclusion. It is, if anything, a thorough and exhaustive approach. And it’s the key to evaluating climate change.
My own geology education began in 1950 and has been augmented in many ways since that time. Being the definitive earth science, geology includes hydrology, meteorology, climatology, oceanography, even cosmology, any science that adds to knowledge about the earth and conditions thereon. In other words, it’s not just ‘rocks.’ It goes back to the Big Bang and proceeds from there. And it’s the key to evaluating climate change.
Geologists necessarily investigate past earth environments using various techniques including drilling & coring, geophysics, glaciology, fossils, stratigraphy, mineralogy, structural science, and anything else (including tree rings) that might provide clues to historical climate change, among other things. In other words, we are uniquely qualified to determine what happened when, during the earth’s long history. It’s what we do. And we know about climate change.
When I began my education, plate tectonics, ‘continental drift,’ mid-ocean ridges and other massive, literally earth-shaking, features were only ideas (no kidding). In other words, I go ‘way back. Now, plate tectonics can be observed in real-time. When I began my geology education, geophysics was a ‘science abornin’. Now, precise geophysical methods are used regularly and with confidence to investigate and measure accurately otherwise-unobservable earth conditions. And I’m proud to have been involved directly in its development and use.
I have grown up with, and contributed to, contemporary earth science. I have kept current with post-graduate courses in rock mechanics, hydrology, engineering geology, soils engineering, remote sensing, seismology, geophysical methods, even statistical methods and computer modeling, few of which were available in my undergraduate years. I have done this so as to keep up with the ever-developing earth sciences. I’ve written professional papers and articles, and I continue to study my chosen science even as I grow unable to follow it all.
I bore you with these details only to point out that I know something about the subject. Really. I am, in fact, an expert, and I lay my expertise on the line. Regarding ethics, I am dedicated to the truth.
I can say, without reservation, that ‘global warming’ as promulgated by those who have no idea what they’re talking about is a hoax. Climate change is real, and will always be with us. It’s what nature does, without our help. You can read all about it at any number of blogs on this website and, if you will investigate the facts you will necessarily come to the same conclusion. I guarantee it, because it’s the truth.
The ‘global warming’ scare is political, not scientific, and it’s just that–a scare–with no basis in fact. You can believe it or not, but there’s no reason to panic. So relax and enjoy our world. Take care of it, of course, but remember that we are guests, not hosts, on this planet, and there’s no way we can supplant nature. It has complete control over us, and that you can take to the bank. Get used to it.
THE LIBERAL ETHIC: PART II – the DECLINE of the INDIVIDUAL
The later 20th Century witnessed a lessening of vitality in the public sector. The promise of scientific progress was weakened with the realization that science might go too far (as witnessed by the atrocities of both World Wars—ethnic cleansing and thermonuclear power). An increase in leisure activities cut into interpersonal relations. Television and the computer led to a more depersonalized mode of interaction—the public consuming media (and therefore subject to being manipulated by it) rather than paying attention to politics and interfacing with other people—and politics became more of a ‘spectator sport’ than a personal involvement. In effect, democracy was colonized by mass media and the liberal elite. The group, not the individual, became paramount.
Liberalism has come to control mass media (newspapers, television, even Hollywood) and dominate the Democrat Party in recent years. This New Left attracts a class of humanistic intellectuals with an inordinate will to power—a technical and cultural elite of doctors, lawyers, engineers, academics and highly-paid professional bureaucrats. This elite deems itself superior to the working class (historically more representative of the party) by virtue of its higher education and remuneration (a phenomenon exemplified by wealthy politicians and CEOs who are effectively part of the highly-paid bureaucracy.) Academe has become almost exclusively liberal, leftist ideology becoming stronger the farther one ascends the scholarly ladder.
The Progressive faction within liberalism emerged as a result of societal changes brought about by industrialization. It eschews corporate concentration of power, the disenfranchisement of the electorate and militarism, and advocates peace, human and civil liberties, social and economic justice, a preserved environment, and nonviolence. It stands in firm opposition to conservative ideology.
The current state of American society is that of disparate beliefs. Politics is split roughly down the middle—Democrat and Republican—Democrats identified with liberalism, Republicans identified with conservatism. The Democrat party is by far the more activist, its many factions clamoring for special recognition. It is also by far the more secular (although it is instructive to note that the nation’s spiritual divide is significantly wider: two-thirds religious vs. one-third non-religious).
The “enlightened” practice of eliminating religion from tradition has resulted in “throwing out the baby with the bathwater;” in its headlong rush to secularism it has compromised ethics by disavowing spirituality. That there is a spiritual dimension—independent of religion—to mankind is undeniable, yet it is decried by much of the liberal establishment because of its position in the conservative ethos (not only tradition, but an inability to be proven scientifically). Morality suffers because of the concept of relative truth held by the ‘enlightened’ Modernist. Ethics and morality are rooted in truth, a (the) first principle of natural law, which is an absolute and cannot be “proven.” A meaningful ethics cannot stand in the absence of first principles, and morality without ethics is impossible
Any society needs a system of rules within which its members can operate to its general benefit. These rules are founded in its values and articulated in its privileges. The rules of all successful societies including our own begin in ethics and are adapted to the society’s needs and wishes.
Our nation’s laws trace their origin to a paramount need for freedom. They are founded in a Declaration of Independence and empowered by a Constitution written by individuals with a strong ethical and moral base “in order to form a more perfect union.” Conservative philosophy embraces a tendency to preserve the established order, favoring financial responsibility, individual freedom, limited government and a strong national defense. Its tradition dates back at least to Plato; as such, it has a spiritual dimension that affects its morality. Based on rationality, tradition and social stability, conservatism reacts cautiously to change, more aggressively to abrupt change. It is on this basis that the Conservative ethic rests, and it is on this basis that rests the future of our country.
The Progressive faction within liberalism has come to dominate the Democrat party. In its ‘politically-correct’ attempts to rewrite both the dictionary and the Constitution to oblige its numerous minorities, it stands in firm opposition to the conservative ideology that is the bulwark of our Republic. In its rejection of man’s spiritual aspect and zeal for change for the sake of change, the Progressive ethic will destroy it.
Conservatism is not behind the times. With mankind’s undeniable spiritual dimension, it is the times. The individual, not the state, remains at the center of mankind. Get used to it…and be proud of it.
THE LIBERAL ETHIC : A HISTORY
Modern conservatism favors financial responsibility, individual freedom, limited government and a strong national defense. Its tradition, by definition, dates back at least to Plato. As such, it has a spiritual dimension that affects its morality, and cannot be considered secular in any absolute sense. But conservatism is regarded “behind the times” in liberal quarters.
The proliferation of newspapers, literary journals and salons occurring in the 18th Century resulted in an explosion in mass communication and exchange of information. This, and the growth of public venues where ideas could be shared, developed and spread, resulted in the shaping of public opinion and enabled challenging the status quo to an unprecedented degree. Government control of the electorate initially was made more difficult by the growth of public venues where ideas critical of the existing order could be widely discussed. The American and French Revolutions were encouraged in large part by this phenomenon.
Today’s liberalism has its roots in the cultural revolution of the Enlightenment (and consequent advent of Modernism, ‘the culture of rational discourse’). “Enlightened” intellectuals rejected the entrenched religious authority pioneered by historical philosophers and its penchant for inference and reason. It embraced instead a philosophy of natural reason—conclusions based solely on evidence—pioneered by Descartes and his largely mechanistic approach to the world. Although the Enlightenment commenced within Christianity, the “philosophy of language” nevertheless sought to replace any religious thinking with a fusion of scientific-technological and secular humanistic values.
The movement reached its zenith with Karl Marx, whose humanistic socialist theories challenged traditional aristocratic authority. Marx would create a mass society; his activist State assuring social conformity by managing its economy to provide employment and welfare for all. Marxist ideas spawned the Institute for Social Research (the Frankfurt School) in Germany in the early 20th Century in response to a perceived need to spread Marxist communism. The Frankfurt School came to New York in the 1930s and California in the ’40s, finding a convivial home at the University of Wisconsin-Madison along the way. Whereas Western thought is founded in the individual, in communism all valid ideas are professed to come from The State. The Frankfurt School initially employed Sigmund Freud’s psychological conditioning methods in an attempt to dislodge the structures of traditional Western society by promoting the thought that certain of its beliefs are disrespectful of others and must be tempered to atone for past inequities and injustices. The result: the birth of PC.
Political Correctness, the scourge of our times
PC’s foundation lies in the Frankfurt School’s Critical Theory, a term not embodying critical thought so much as criticism itself. Based on Marxist conjecture and an underlying thesis that “all history is about which groups have power over which other groups,” its goal was to combine social theory, philosophy, economics and cultural criticism in its behalf. Its framework includes Deconstructionism, an outgrowth of the “philosophy of language” that removes meaning from existing text and re-inserts another meaning of current choice. (It amounts to one’s being told by the ‘enlightened’ what one thinks, a simplistic but correct description of the work of Jacques Derrida.) Eventually, critical theory abandoned its German idealistic roots and morphed into American pragmatism, a strand of thought appealing to practicality and common sense. Postmodernism began as a reaction to the modernist certainty of scientific (objective) efforts to explain reality, focusing instead on idealism, relativism, skepticism and the ‘relative truths’ of each individual in an effort to understand his own reality.
Postmodernism continued the modernist rejection of absolute truth and remains an ideology rather than a philosophy. The modern liberal practice of rejecting formal convention in favor of good intentions spawned its own unique ideology (a body of doctrine, myth and belief) rather than a primary socially-grounded philosophy. Ideologies claim to be indifferent, but by definition have an agenda and tend to breed extremism in their effort to debunk conflicting philosophies (i.e., if facts intrude, the well-meaning liberal’s response may well be: “that’s just not the way we do things.” This approach is characteristic of an ideology.)
…to be continued…
ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS and THE FUNCTION OF MAN
Ethics is all about the individual’s relationship with humanity, which includes not just people but the planet essential to our very existence.
It’s a given that mankind will have an impact on the environment. It can’t be otherwise, and there always will be consequences associated with human development and progress. Man is steward of all nature, being its most highly-developed inhabitant. We are dependent on the natural world and therefore are totally responsible to it. But not for it.
Extinction is a fact of life and can’t be effectively arrested by man or nature. Mankind, the apex of the ‘life pyramid,’ will necessarily affect everything below. We can and must be careful stewards, but we can’t protect everything that exists from our impact completely, or from the vagaries of nature generally. This includes the atmosphere and hydrosphere as well as the lithosphere, the soil and rock below our feet.
Some of that rock provides the fossil fuel energy that we need in order to exist and prosper; the by-products from its use necessarily affect our water and air, and disposal of solid waste affects the lithosphere. Nuclear power, on the other hand, has little effect on the atmosphere, but its waste can create problems in the lithosphere, at least until we can learn to effectively control it. Solar power is in the future, but even that involves batteries, creating yet other disposal (and manufacturing) problems. We have choices, and must make them wisely and with the future in mind, but we cannot make them with zero environmental impact.
CLIMATE CHANGE and GLOBAL WARMING
Global warming is a natural phenomenon, following the global cooling (glaciation) that was the case some 15,000 years ago. Does mankind contribute to the current warming trend? If we do, the effect is minimal, but nevertheless we should try to minimize our impact. This is the realm of environmental ethics which, as all ethics, is founded in truth. We can’t know what isn’t true, so we should make every effort to find out just what that is before trying to control nature (an impossible task).
Natural law is what it is…truth. We are subject to it—we don’t write it. And that’s the truth, what ethics is all about.