Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christian Quotes Attributed to Founding Fathers Faked

We've all seen the letters in the newspapers with quotes from the Founding Fathers and other respected historical American leaders that can sometimes make the most ardent Atheist think twice about trying to refute the historical reconstructionist's ideology of "Christian Nation" that comes along with, "This nation was founded on Christianity by Christian men!"

What a lot of Atheists don't know is that many of these "great" quotes (great in the sense that they would be devastating to our side if they were true) are fabricated and disseminated just like every other urban legend email you get about Big Foot, the godly banana, and the missing girl with leukemia.

David Barton is a Christian fundamentalist from the WallBuilders group. He wrote a book full of quotes from the Founding Fathers that really took the Atheist's take on the foundation of this country to task. Many people jumped to do the research to find out the validity of these quotes. Firms devoted to Madison and Jefferson became involved, universities got involved and ultimately the Library of Congress was the final resting place for these quotes.

David Barton was cornered and he admitted to fabricating the quotes, okay he actually called them "spurious," but we all know that means he made them up. He was ordered to create a pamphlet that listed all his bogus quotes. Unfortunate that pamphlet has had almost zero impact on those use the quotes daily in newspapers around the United States.

Here are some of the BOGUS quotes that you should immediately refute if you see them used in a letter to the editor, in an online forum, or anywhere else for that matter.

1) "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ!" - Patrick Henry

2) "The only assurance of our nation's safety is to lay our foundation in morality and religion." - Abraham Lincoln

3) "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible." - George Washington

4) "Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise. In this sense and to this extent, our civilizations and our institutions are emphatically Christian." - Holy Trinity v. U. S. (Supreme Court case)

5) "The principles of all genuine liberty, and of wise laws and administrations are to be drown from the Bible and sustained by its authority. The man therefore who weakens or destroys the divine authority of that book may be assessory [sic] to all the public disorders which society is doomed to suffer." - Noah Webster

6) "A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue they will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or eternal invader." - Samuel Adams

7) "We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves ... according to the Ten Commandments of God." - James Madison

8) "There are two powers only which are sufficient to control men, and secure the rights of individuals and a peaceable administration; these are the combined force of religion and law, and the force or fear of the bayonet." - Noah Webster

9) "Whosoever shall introduce into the public affairs the principles of primitive Christianity will change the face of the world." - Benjamin Franklin

10) "The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next." - Abraham Lincoln

11) "I have always said and always will say that the studious perusal of the Sacred Volume will make us better citizens." - Thomas Jefferson

The spearhead behind the effort to verify the quotes was Professor Robert S. Alley from the University of Richmond. He's the author of James Madison on Religious Liberty. Editors from The Papers of James Madison at the University of Virginia got involved and helped Alley verify all the quotes being used by Barton, which were being disseminated across the country as he toured (Rush Limbaugh used the bogus Madison quote on his show). Most of the quotes above were included in Barton's book The Myth of Separation. The whole thing started with an article in Church & State magazine written by Alley. WallBuilders was ultimately forced to admit that the quotes were bogus, although they listed a lot of them as "questionable" and a few as "false." The admission by Barton was produced in a pamphlet titled 12 Questionable Quotes. Barton then corrected his book and renamed it Original Intent for its second edition. Barton was also involved in the Herdahl case in Mississippi. Barton's video, 'America's Godly Heritage' was being shown in the school (Herdahl v Pontotoc County School District ( The original article addressing all of this was written by Rob Boston in Church & State Magazine, July-August 1996 in the article David Barton Falsifies American History, Consumer Alert: WallBuilders' Shoddy Workmanship. But it's not just "the left" that is hammering Barton for his "shoddy workmanship." The Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs issued a critique of Barton's movie that highlighted most of the quotes. The BJCPA takes Barton to task and hammers his video. You can find Barton's bio online at, where it says he's an "author and historian." It should be noted that he is not an historian. The bio even says he has a degree in Arts from Oral Roberts University and an honorary doctorate from the Pensacola Christian College. That's far from being an historian. WallBuilders has an article about the quotations on it, but if you read it it's blathered in nonsense to take away the sting Barton had to feel. You can't find that article easily unless you do a search for "questionable quotations" in "all categories."

By: Blair Scott, Alabama State Director, American Atheists, Inc.

Additional notes from Arlene-Marie, Michigan State Director, American Atheists :

David Barton has long been a thorn in my side. I have debated his work on over 22 TV programs and when testifying at the Frankenmuth Bible Study hearings, on two occasions. Barton is a king pin in the National Council of Bible Curriculum in Public Schools and they use his historically inaccurate video tapes to promote this unconstitutional program. At the first hearing in February 2004, I viewed one Barton's tapes filled with bogus quotes, in a room filled with believers and they brought the house down with their applause.

Beyond the NCBCPS, Barton is a popular revisionist and a leading advocate for emphasizing Christianity in US history by producing revisionist history videotapes and books that cherry-picks and distorts facts, while ignoring historical evidence. He is best known for his claims that, "Separation of church and state is a myth," and/or, "separation of church and state was invented by the Supreme Court."

These claims, and others, were big issues for me while defending separation of state and church during the tour of Roy's rock in Michigan. Michigan's supporters of this hunk of rock were spouting Barton's bogus quotes at each stop and the media never failed to pose their questions around Barton's claims. In fact, Barton's claims haunt me and I think all Atheists, in every aspect of our separation debates, and discussions from every level of the media.

However, I don't think everyone is aware of the fact that they are quoting Barton. I feel that over time his material has simply become a familiar part of their (media / believers) vocabulary. Maybe now is a good time for Michigan Atheists to consider continuing to gather supportive dialogue to expose Barton's fabricated quotes, develop talking points and write letters to the media exposing these bogus quotes.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Collectivist a Bad Thing to Be?

Last night during a discourse I was having with a Libertarian Constitutionalist and staunch supporter of Individual Rights, I got called one of these and had to go running to my Funk n' Wagnals to see if I should be insulted or not;

Seems to me like collectivist is a good thing to be, and anyone who will argue that it isnt, I will remind them about their religion, like I did my (christian)libertarian friend;

"..Thanks anyways for your lesson in Constitutional Law, but I have been a paralegal for almost 20 years specializing in Constitutional Law. Of course you are right, I'll give you no argument there. The feds IN EVERY DEPARTMENT have gotten WAAAAY too big for their britches and in so many ways...trampling our constitutional rights is only one of them.
As for your seemingly disparging attitude regarding collectivism,...I am wondering what you have against it? Is not human-kind all living on this earth together a sort of collectivisim? Are we not social animals? Do we not live "collectively" in communities around the world togther? I hear you are a christian man. If that is so, do you not feel like all men are brothers? Do you not feel like we are all one big family and have a duty to look out for eachother? After all, it is said we are all derived from the same parents, Adam and whats er name,... eh? See what I mean? Dont be a hypocryte. You cant be against collectivism but "for" the christian ideals of peace, love and brotherhood, and taking care of eachother the best we can. Finito ..."

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Athiest v. Christian: a Supposed to be Intelligent Debate

I have only one objection to the debator here on the christian side, and that is his wrong assumption that athiest are amoral in that he believes that athiest believe that there is no right or wrong, and nothing could be farther from the truth. Listen how he keeps bringing up that argument as he attemtps to paint the athiest camp as ok with such things as rape and child-molestation! He also equates athiesm with individual selfishness, if "taking care of only ones self and needs" is part of their philosophy or creed, when this also simply is not true. Many athiests are Humanist that actually care about the well being of others, their neighbors, communities, and of all their fellow human beings all over the world. I just dont know where this so-called intelligent man could get off making these assumptions and generalizations and saying things like me it is assinie and I am thinking perhaps a deliberate ploy to make the athiest look bad in the eyes of the believers in the crowd? I mean, he cant really believe that stuff, now can he? Is he really that stupid and/or he must think we (the people) are.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Psychology & Philosophy / Sciences of the Mind

What do you think?

Psychology - 20 - Constructing Social Reality 26:36 -
by PhD Philip Zimbardo Funding for this program was provided by Annenberg/CPB Annenberg Foundation - Corporation for Public Broadcasting "To advance excellent teaching."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Food for Thought: Religion, Money, Secret Socities, NWO, Population Control, etc.

Zeitgeist The Movie. A History of All Religions or "The Greatest Story Ever Told."
Intro by Jordon Maxwell; )

Zeitgeist II Addendum; Our "Fractional Reserve" Monetary System
and how the poor and middle-class working families pay the vig on its built-in failures;

Bill Clinton @ Zeitgeist '07 (Talks about Americas future,
including concern over population control or "pop con."

Billionaire Club in Bid to Control Population;

Jordan Maxwell; "The Godfather of Secret Societies;

The Georgia Guidestones Wiki;
Often referred to as "The 10 Commandments of the New World Order"

The Georgia; Homesite

JFK Warns About The NWO;

Dick Morris Tells It Right;

Is Our Government Trying to Kill US?

and then there is this;

ChemTrails (Studies by Dr. Scott Johnson and associates show that the chemicals contained in the "trails" contain a barium compound that is known to lower immune systems.)
A History;

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Socrates in America / Arguing to death

From Socrates, history's quintessential nonconformist, lessons for America today

Dec 17th 2009 | LOS ANGELES | From The Economist

IF THE most famous philosopher of all were alive today, he might find America remarkably similar to his own Athens of the fifth century BC. Socrates would witness a vibrant and proud democracy, and disdain it as an indulgence of the benighted, unphilosophical “herd”. He would interrogate America’s politicians, talk-radio and cable-television pundits in search of honest discussions that lead to truth, and thereby expose their confusion, contradictions and ignorance. He would avail himself of America’s as of Athens’s freedom of speech, and simultaneously be horrified by the speciousness of the speech that Americans choose to make. And he would challenge America just as he had provoked Athens, and possibly be prosecuted and condemned for it a second time.

Socrates throws down a gauntlet from antiquity to America and all other democracies. How could Athens, which prided itself on its freedoms and had for decades not only tolerated but delighted in the stings of the man who described himself as its “gadfly”, turn on its greatest mind and condemn him to death when he was 70 years old? Had Socrates exposed a terrible flaw in democracy? Or had democracy responded to a mortal threat from the likes of Socrates?

His influence today is usually felt in academia, through the legacy of his ideas. He founded Western philosophy in the sense that all intellectual inquiry before him is deemed to be “pre-Socratic” and all Western philosophy since him, in the words of Alfred North Whitehead, an English philosopher of the early 20th century, mere “footnotes” to the 35 Platonic dialogues in which Socrates was the main character. It was Socrates who made the momentous “turn” of Western thought away from speculation about the composition of the physical world and towards the liberal questions of morality, justice, virtue and politics.

But Socrates casts his influence far beyond academia, beyond even his ideas. His main contributions, arguably, were his method and style as well as the example of his life. His method was to question one or a few individuals in small settings (the “Apology”, which records his address to the 500-man jury at his trial, was the exception). Through such intimate probing he elicited and tested his interlocutors’ deepest and most hidden opinions, a process now known as Socratic dialectic. His style during the discussions was “ironic” in the original sense of eironeia, meaning that he pretended to be ignorant to prompt his interlocutors to open up.

His life, above all, was dedicated to the love of wisdom (philosophy). His wife, Xanthippe, and three sons lived in near-penury while Socrates loitered around the marketplace of Athens looking for debaters. In the end he sacrificed his life for philosophy when he was offered the opportunity to escape from prison before his execution but chose to swallow hemlock instead.

What, then, had Socrates revealed in Athenian democracy that made this martyrdom necessary? And would American democracy be capable of repeating Athens’s sin?

The town-hall meeting
Visiting America today, Socrates might have dropped in on last summer’s “town hall” meetings, in which members of the public allegedly came to debate the reform of health care with their elected representatives. Socrates would have beheld hysterical firebrands shouting that America’s president and senators were Marxists, Nazis or both. Reaffirmed in his disdain for democratic rhetoric, Socrates would have left to seek better conversations, as he used to do in Athens, where he conspicuously shunned the public assembly and the jury courts in which male citizens were expected to serve.

Socrates considered the debate in such settings unedifying, pointless and unworthy—in a word, “eristic”. Eris was the Greek goddess of strife (the Roman Discordia). It was Eris who cunningly dropped a golden apple with the inscription “to the fairest” into a feast, inciting three goddesses—Hera, Athena and Aphrodite—to bicker over who deserved it and thus launching the ten-year Trojan War. Eris is present in presidential debates, in court rooms and wherever people are talking not to discover truth but to win.

Sympathising with Sparta—the equivalent of an American having kind words for Islamic Jihad
In 1968 Stringfellow Barr, an historian and president of St John’s College in Maryland, wrote a Socratic critique of American discourse: “There is a pathos in television dialogue: the rapid exchange of monologues that fail to find the issue, like ships passing in the night; the reiterated preface, ‘I think that…,’ as if it mattered who held which opinion rather than which opinion is worth holding; the impressive personal vanity that prevents each ‘discussant’ from really listening to another speaker”.

Socrates’s alternative was “good” conversation or dialectic. To converse originally meant to turn towards one another, in order to find a common humanity and to move closer to the truth of something. Dialectic, in other words, is decidedly not about winning or losing, because all the conversants are ennobled by it. It is a joint search. Unfortunately, as Mr Barr put it, it is also “the most difficult” kind of conversation “especially for Americans to achieve”.

On a good day, Socrates’s conversations bore all the marks of dialectic. There was little long-winded monologue and much pithy back-and-forth. The conversation often meandered and sometimes Socrates contradicted himself. In the “Protagoras”, for example, he argues that virtue cannot be taught but in the “Meno” that it can. The conversations were at times humorous and invariably surprising. He hoped to bring all involved to a higher state of awareness.

Because Socrates wanted to win converts to this conversational culture he often chose young and malleable men who appeared tempted by the eristic rhetoric he believed democracy encouraged. For instance, Socrates tried hard to educate Alcibiades, the hedonistic and ambitious young man whose guardian Pericles was Athens’s greatest statesman. He also went for a long walk in the countryside of Athens (which he hated leaving) with a young man named Phaedrus in order, very gently, to make the youth see the hollowness of a rhetorician he admired.

Socrates as talk-show host
But Socrates also sought out those whom he saw peddling the skills of eristic conversation. These were the travelling teachers who charged wealthy fathers to teach their sons the tools of power, the “sophists” such as Protagoras or Thrasymachus. And there were the rhetoricians. Socrates manoeuvred the most famous of them, Gorgias, into admitting that the aim of rhetoric is “rule over others in one’s city”. Gorgias even boasted that a master rhetorician unqualified in medicine could get himself elected as surgeon general over a qualified doctor who is not rhetorically gifted. In America today, Socrates would recognise sophists and rhetoricians in partisan spin doctors such as Karl Rove and David Axelrod or equally in talk-show hosts such as Sean Hannity and Keith Olbermann.

Using his irony, Socrates would make them feel overconfident, draw them out and then, through his questioning, expose their confusion and ignorance. Often this was done for the benefit of an impressionable young student who was listening. Because such conversations had to be bespoke for the participating individuals, Socrates refused ever to write anything down. As he said in the “Phaedrus”, text remains dumb when questioned and will be understood or misunderstood depending on who is reading it.

The trouble was that, although his students, including Plato and Xenophon, who passed on Socrates’s conversations for posterity, saw him as noble, much of Athens did not. Instead, many Athenians detected an underlying arrogance in Socratic irony. Socrates thus resembled, say, the wiser-than-thou and often manipulative comedian-commentators Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert in today’s America. Those who agreed with him found him funny and enlightening. The rest found him merely condescending.

Socrates fed this image of arrogance. In his defence before the jury, he said that he acted on a divine mission from Apollo’s oracle at Delphi in exposing so many as ignorant. In Plato’s version, Socrates claimed that the oracle had said “there is no one wiser”. With this presumed superiority, Socrates set out to prove the oracle wrong. Xenophon’s version is more arrogant yet. “Apollo answered that no man was more free than I, or more just, or more prudent,” Socrates told the jury. “Apollo did not compare me to a god…he did, however, judge that I far excelled the rest of mankind.”

Socrates resembled, say, the wiser-than-thou, often manipulative comedian, Jon Stewart.It is a tribute to the Athenians that they mostly embraced such megalomania as a charming quirk. They did, however, mock it. Aristophanes, a comic playwright who wrapped serious messages in humour—as, say, Sacha Baron Cohen (aka Borat) does today—wrote an entire play, “The Clouds”, to lampoon Socrates.

In that comedy, an old farmer named Strepsiades wants to get out of the debts of his horse-racing son, Pheidippides, and sends him to an eccentric philosopher named Socrates who runs a “thinkery” where students learn to talk themselves out of any situation (sophistry, in other words). The son successfully evades his creditors but also returns with strange ideas. Because Socrates has taught him that wisdom is the only authority, Pheidippides proceeds to beat up his uneducated father, then threatens to do the same to his mother. Angry that his son has been corrupted, Strepsiades burns down Socrates’s school.

The Socrates lampooned in the play, and probably laughing heartily in the audience, was 46 at the time and got on well with Aristophanes. Plato presents both men as having a jolly time together in the “Symposium”. But already in “The Clouds”, there are the familiar charges of Socrates corrupting the young and threatening to subvert society and of being impious. Indeed, Aristophanes has Socrates arguing in his thinkery that “Zeus does not even exist.” Addressing the jury 24 years later, Socrates claimed that this is where the charges originated.

In the coming years, many Athenians, and especially those who had been embarrassed by him, would learn to loathe Socrates. His dialectic was indeed surprisingly negative. Typically, he became obsessed with defining something abstract—What is justice? What is virtue?—and then twisted words to dismantle any opinion offered.

In Xenophon’s “Memorabilia”, a man named Hippias refuses to debate Socrates: “You mock at others, questioning and examining everybody, and never willing to render an account yourself or to state an opinion about anything,” he says. In Plato’s “Meno”, his interlocutor compares Socrates to “the flat torpedo sea-fish; for it benumbs anyone who approaches and touches it.” Socrates had a talent for making people feel bad.

He also, in effect, boycotted Athens as a society. Socrates did his military duty but not his civic or jury duty, which he considered beneath him. By opting out of ordinary public life, he chose to be what Pericles in his funeral oration called an idiotes, a person who remains “private” when his country needs him in public life.

Socrates as American Taliban
Worse, he was suspected of sympathising with Sparta, Athens’s enemy in the Peloponnesian War. An oligarchy in which rulers, warriors and workers had prescribed stations in life, Sparta had aspects of the “ideal” city that Socrates sketched in Plato’s “Republic”, and it was fashionable among his students to admire Sparta. The equivalent would have been for a prominent American intellectual to be pro-Soviet in the cold war, or today to have kind words for Islamic Jihad.

If Socrates had subversive tendencies, he never acted on them overtly. But he did seem to have a bad record with his students. Most famously, there was Alcibiades, who rose to power, talked the Athenians into sending an army to Sicily in a pre-emptive strike that turned into disaster, then defected to advise the Spartan enemies on how best to fight Athens, then defected again (after sleeping with a Spartan king’s wife) to Athens’s other enemy, Persia. When Alcibiades speaks in Plato’s “Symposium”, it is to lament his failure to persuade Socrates to have sex with him.

Another young man, Meno, is Socrates’s chosen interlocutor on the subject of virtue. The same Meno then led an Athenian army to Persia where he betrayed his country and troops by seeking favour at the court of the Persian king. (Admittedly, another student of Socrates, Xenophon, then rescued the stranded Athenian army.) One of Socrates’s three future accusers, Anytus, was present at his debate with Meno.

Socrates’s oldest student was Antisthenes, who apparently became so frustrated with Socrates’s habit of demolishing every conceivable opinion but not offering anything positive that he became the first of the Cynics. He concluded that all of democracy and politics was silly, taunted the Athenians that they should have a majority vote declaring asses to be horses, and then suggested that everybody withdraw from public life altogether. The Cynics became “apolitical”—without a polis (city), apart from society.

And there was of course Plato. But Plato never divulged his own views except, perhaps, through the words he attributed to Socrates. It is safe to say that he, too, disdained democracy and was attracted to the Spartan alternative, all the more so since he was the cousin of a certain Critias and the nephew of a man named Charmides, both of whom he appears to have admired and who became the rough Athenian equivalent of what Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri are to America.

Ancient Athens after September 11th
For Athens did have its version of September 11th 2001: an attack on its basic way of life, its freedom and security as a democracy. It had two such events, in fact. In 411BC, during the Peloponnesian war, a group of aristocratic Athenians including students of Socrates overthrew Athens’s democracy in conspiracy with Alcibiades, who promised (but failed) to bring Persian support. This oligarchic junta lasted only a few months.

Then, in 404BC, a second coup toppled Athens’s democracy. Among its leaders were Plato’s relatives, Critias and Charmides, who appear in Plato’s dialogues to be students of Socrates and who were in cahoots with the Spartans who had just won the Peloponnesian war. For much of a year, the oligarchs conducted a reign of terror, before Athens reclaimed its democracy. In 401BC the oligarchs were scheming a third coup, but failed.

Socrates was put on trial two years later. He had played no part in the coups, but he was deemed suspect by association. His speeches, in light of recent events, struck the wrong chord and were considered inflammatory—like, say, the sermons of the American pastor, Jeremiah Wright, which forced Barack Obama, formerly in his congregation, to disavow him. Vaguely but plausibly, Socrates was accused of corrupting the young.

The other charge, also familiar to Americans who distrust atheism in their public figures (even though their constitution would not admit it in court), was impiety. Socrates almost certainly was an atheist. As was his wont, however, he cared more about debating, with a man named Euthrypho on the steps of the courthouse before his preliminary hearing, what piety even meant.

In his perplexing defence before the jury, Socrates never addressed either charge directly. True to form, he attempted dialectic with his accusers, making them look confused and thus insulting them even more. Nonetheless, and to the great credit of the Athenians, the verdict was close. I.F. Stone in “The Trial of Socrates” estimates that 280 jurors voted guilty, 220 innocent.

In his second speech, before his sentencing, Socrates stepped up his invective. To his acquitters he was kind. But to the rest he was mocking. Xenophon believed that Socrates intentionally antagonised the jury because at this point he wanted, or needed, to die and become a martyr. If so, Socrates succeeded. Stone estimates that the margin in the second vote grew, to 360-140 in favour of execution. When his friend, Crito, came to Socrates’s cell with an escape plan, Socrates chose to stay and drink the hemlock.

The nonconformist hero
Who and what, then, was Socrates to Athens? Part of his glory derives from his incorruptibility, his brave nonconformism, his determination to think as an individual not as part of “the herd”. Nonconformism became a heroic value in the Western tradition that Socrates helped to found, especially in societies such as America’s that value individualism.

But nonconformism is not an absolute virtue and easily veers off into sedition, subversion or other actions deemed unpatriotic. Psychologists suggest that people make constant trade-offs in social settings between, on one hand, insisting on their notion of truth and, on the other, the cohesion of a group. Sometimes truth and virtue require dissent and rebellion. Other times the survival or security of the group takes precedence and requires solidarity. If Socrates the free thinker belonged to a team, a club, a firm or a country today, he would never compromise his values, but he might well compromise his group.

Stone concluded that Socrates was on the biggest “ego-trip” in history. He probably was. And yet Athens would soon regret having convicted him. His trial was an overreaction, a betrayal of Athenian values just as torturing terrorist suspects or wiretapping Americans after September 11th were betrayals of American values. Democracies do betray themselves. Challengers such as Socrates exist to test society in its commitment to freedom and, if society fails the test, to remind it of the virtuous path.

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