Skeptic Friends Network

Username:
Password:
Save Password
Forgot your Password?
Home | Forums | Active Topics | Active Polls | Register | FAQ | Contact Us  
  Connect: Chat | SFN Messenger | Buddy List | Members
Personalize: Profile | My Page | Forum Bookmarks  
 All Forums
 Community Forums
 Book Reviews
 American Gospel
 New Topic  Topic Locked
 Printer Friendly Bookmark this Topic BookMark Topic
Author  Topic Next Topic  

Paulos23
Skeptic Friend

USA
446 Posts

Posted - 02/20/2007 :  19:49:58  Show Profile  Visit Paulos23's Homepage Send Paulos23 a Private Message
Well I can't find a review for this, so I guess I am the first.

I just finished American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation by Jon Meacham. Very intresting book. In it he gives a (IMO) balanced historical portait of religion and American politics. This I feel is very much needed at this time for everyone, and after reading this book I feel I have a better understanding of how close we are to the edge.

This is a well writen book, with a third of its pages filled with appendixies (Selected Documents on Religion in America and Presidents' choice of inaugural bible verses) and source notes.

This is a book for both the beleiver and the skeptic.

I think this quote sums up the book well:

quote:
The Republic is not a church, but it is a Republic filled with churches. Let the religious speak but encourage them not to shout; let them argue, but encourage them not to brawl. The system the Founders built allows for religious considerations to play a role in politics in the same measure-no greater, no smaller-as any other consideration, whether geographical, economic or cultural.

--American Gospel by Jon Meacham pg 244

You can go wrong by being too skeptical as readily as by being too trusting. -- Robert A. Heinlein

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley

Neurosis
SFN Regular

USA
675 Posts

Posted - 02/20/2007 :  22:52:47   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Neurosis an AOL message Send Neurosis a Private Message
I have not read the book but I will comment on your summary.

I do not think that politics should play fiddle to religion at all. I don't think that any law should be based on an unprovable concept or view of morality. I think that laws should be written in order to achieve a purpose, one that can be established as 1)necessary and 2) following from the laws action.

Facts! Pssh, you can prove anything even remotely true with facts.
- Homer Simpson

[God] is an infinite nothing from nowhere with less power over our universe than the secretary of agriculture.
- Prof. Frink

Lisa: Yes, but wouldn't you rather know the truth than to delude yourself for happiness?
Marge: Well... um.... [goes outside to jump on tampoline with Homer.]
Go to Top of Page

Paulos23
Skeptic Friend

USA
446 Posts

Posted - 02/21/2007 :  06:31:46   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Paulos23's Homepage Send Paulos23 a Private Message
In general terms I agree with you Neurosis, laws need to be written with rational necessity. But, one of the things that this book slammed home for me is that belief in a God is an intregal part of America. It was from the begining, and it will well passed our lifetimes. Because of this it is better for common beliefs to be a small voice among many then a loud voice that drowns out all others. The founding fathers believed this, even though some of them saw religion as a form of slavery of the mind. But they did believe in a "Natural God" and a "Rational God" that endowed man with enaliable rights.

This belief that formed the basis for a public religion that is both generic and uniquelly American. This public religion has been used by presidents, mostly in time of crisis, sometimes not. But it is easy to confuse the public religion of the nation with the private religion of ones personal church. This is what is happening now, and this is the crisis the founding fathers saw would happen to the republic in the future. This is not the only time this has come close to happening in the past, but I believe this is the biggest threat to the republic. Once the public generic religion is replaced with a private religion, then this nation loses one of it founding tenits: Freedom of Religion.

And if one tenit falls, the others can't be far behind.

You can go wrong by being too skeptical as readily as by being too trusting. -- Robert A. Heinlein

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
Go to Top of Page

Neurosis
SFN Regular

USA
675 Posts

Posted - 02/21/2007 :  12:17:16   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Neurosis an AOL message Send Neurosis a Private Message
At least eighty percent of the religious public in the US are private practicers. It is easy enough to rile them up into thinking they need to support this or that in order to be a true believer and support god, but eventually they will value their freedom over the ideas of the fanatical leaders they were supporting. I am sure that this particular theocracy threat will subside in time just as all other fear driven agendas eventually do.

I do realize that there is a certain religious tendency in human beings. A certain need for the hope and answers that religion provides. Of course, neither of those are actually offered but a willing mark is easily decieved.

The problem to me is that religion can never be a small voice. If it were a small contibutor to the debate then the feelings of oppression can be seeded. This is of course the way that a charasmatic leader could rise again to create another hub-bub about how god needs to lead this country through god's people, blah blah. It is how it happened the last time.

The ideal scenario to me is that freedom of religion should be observed so long as no practice of a religion is against the law, and all laws are based on the two principles I already stated, rational and necessary laws. This can't work though, since anyone who actually believes their religious tenents will want to see them reflected in the laws, like abortion laws, marriage, and other moral sticking points.

There was a generic god/religion cited by the US founders and by the great speakers throughout history all around the world. The main reason for this is the previous idea about humans being prone to religion, and the lack of ability to be openly atheist in any public area even now. This says nothing, however, about the need of such a god.

The generic god is utterly impotent without passing judgements or laws onto the people. This leads to everyone casting their vote for what the generic god's will would be and that then to the replacing of the generic with the specific, mostly Christian, god.

Facts! Pssh, you can prove anything even remotely true with facts.
- Homer Simpson

[God] is an infinite nothing from nowhere with less power over our universe than the secretary of agriculture.
- Prof. Frink

Lisa: Yes, but wouldn't you rather know the truth than to delude yourself for happiness?
Marge: Well... um.... [goes outside to jump on tampoline with Homer.]
Go to Top of Page

Paulos23
Skeptic Friend

USA
446 Posts

Posted - 02/22/2007 :  13:13:24   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Paulos23's Homepage Send Paulos23 a Private Message
Well I was going to write a long reply this morning, but then I decided I need more time to wake up. I am glad I waited, since rereading your last post Neurosis I find I agree with most of it.

Your comments on the public religion and generic god are right on the money, and if you look at past Presidenal and political speaches that refer to god you will find a lean to (if not an outright mention of) a Christian god. But I see that mostly due to the large population of Christions in the US, and so can be expected to some extent.

Ugh, I am still tired. I had more but I can't recall. Maybe later I will be able to recall it.

You can go wrong by being too skeptical as readily as by being too trusting. -- Robert A. Heinlein

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
Go to Top of Page
   Topic Next Topic  
 New Topic  Topic Locked
 Printer Friendly Bookmark this Topic BookMark Topic
Jump To:

The mission of the Skeptic Friends Network is to promote skepticism, critical thinking, science and logic as the best methods for evaluating all claims of fact, and we invite active participation by our members to create a skeptical community with a wide variety of viewpoints and expertise.


Home | Skeptic Forums | Skeptic Summary | The Kil Report | Creation/Evolution | Rationally Speaking | Skeptillaneous | About Skepticism | Fan Mail | Claims List | Calendar & Events | Skeptic Links | Book Reviews | Gift Shop | SFN on Facebook | Staff | Contact Us

Skeptic Friends Network
© 2008 Skeptic Friends Network Go To Top Of Page
This page was generated in 0.19 seconds.
Powered by @tomic Studio
Snitz Forums 2000