This clip spawned an infographic which circulated around the internet and which was then edited by another atheist in a way that actually surprised me.
I know all that text can be hard to read at that size, so you an find an enlarged version HERE.
|"It was the best of times, it was the BLURST of times? |
“In terms of the historical record, I should also point out that there is no account in any ancient source whatsoever about King Herod slaughtering children in or around Bethlehem, or anyplace else. No other author, biblical or otherwise, mentions this event. Is it, like John's account of Jesus' death, a detail made up by Matthew in order to make some kind of theological point?”
― Bart D. Ehrman, Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible & Why We Don't Know About Them
"And when Herod knew that he had been mocked by the Magi, in a rage he sent murderers, saying to them: Slay the children from two years old and under. And Mary, having heard that the children were being killed, was afraid, and took the infant and swaddled Him, and put Him into an ox-stall. And Elizabeth, having heard that they were searching for John, took him and went up into the hill-country, and kept looking where to conceal him. And there was no place of concealment. And Elizabeth, groaning with a loud voice, says: O mountain of God, receive mother and child. And immediately the mountain was cleft, and received her. And a light shone about them, for an angel of the Lord was with them, watching over them."
"When he [emperor Augustus] heard that among the boys in Syria under two years old whom Herod, king of the Jews, had ordered to kill, his own son was also killed, he said: it is better to be Herod's pig, than his son."
"The bell ringing for church, we went thither immediately, and with hearts full of gratitude, returned sincere thanks to God for the mercies we had received: were I a Roman Catholic, perhaps I should on this occasion vow to build a chapel to some saint, but as I am not, if I were to vow at all, it should be to build a light-house."Here we see a much more accurate view of Benjamin Franklin's beliefs, more of which can be read HERE.
"Twenty times in the course of my late reading have I been on the point of breaking out, "This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!!!" But in this exclamation I would have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company, I mean hell."When read in context we see the actual opinion of Adams, and what is likely the opinion of several other of the Founding Fathers. He was rightfully disgusted by the history of religion and Christianity, but he also understood that we would be worse off without it. In Adams' view, religion doesn't prevent this world from being paradise, it prevents it from being Hell. More on John Adams view of Christianity can be read HERE.
"DEAR SIR, -- I learnt some time ago that you were in Philadelphia, but that it was only for a fortnight; & supposed you were gone. It was not till yesterday I received information that you were still there, had been very ill, but were on the recovery. I sincerely rejoice that you are so. Yours is one of the few lives precious to mankind, & for the continuance of which every thinking man is solicitous. Bigots may be an exception. What an effort, my dear Sir, of bigotry in Politics & Religion have we gone through! The barbarians really flattered themselves they should be able to bring back the times of Vandalism, when ignorance put everything into the hands of power & priestcraft. All advances in science were proscribed as innovations. They pretended to praise and encourage education, but it was to be the education of our ancestors. We were to look backwards, not forwards, for improvement; the President himself declaring, in one of his answers to addresses, that we were never to expect to go beyond them in real science. This was the real ground of all the attacks on you. Those who live by mystery & charlatanerie, fearing you would render them useless by simplifying the Christian philosophy, -- the most sublime & benevolent, but most perverted system that ever shone on man, - endeavored to crush your well-earnt & well-deserved fame."
"I, too, have made a wee-little book from the same materials, which I call the Philosophy of Jesus; it is a paradigma of his doctrines, made by cutting the texts out of the book, and arranging them on the pages of a blank book, in a certain order of time or subject. A more beautiful or precious morsel of ethics I have never seen; it is a document in proof that I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus, very different from the Platonists, who call me infidel and themselves Christians and preachers of the gospel, while they draw all their characteristic dogmas from what its author never said nor saw. They have compounded from the heathen mysteries a system beyond the comprehension of man, of which the great reformer of the vicious ethics and deism of the Jews, were he to return on earth, would not recognize one feature."Jefferson's Philosophy of Jesus was one of his first efforts to produce his own version of the Bible, taking only the actual teachings of Jesus and compiling them together. Of Jesus' philosophy, Jefferson says, "A more beautiful or precious morsel of ethics I have never seen." He clearly thought very highly of "real" Christianity. In fact, it is somewhat amusing to note that when he referred to himself as a "real Christian," he underlined it for emphasis.
"Article 3: Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged."In other words, schools and education were to be forever encouraged specifically because people need to learn "religion, morality, and knowledge." The study of religion and morality is not required simply as an intellectual exercise, but because it is a necessary ingredient for "good government and the happiness of mankind."
"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity...And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."But just because they viewed religion, in general, as an essential part of public and private welfare, doesn't mean that they promoted Christianity specifically. For example, Thomas Jefferson wrote a bill in Virginia regarding "Establishing Elementary Schools" in which he writes:
"No religious reading, instruction or exercise shall be prescribed or practiced inconsistent with the tenets of any religious sect or denomination."In other words, religion was to be taught in schools, but only religious tenets which were universal to all religions. We can only speculate what these universal tenets might be, but some of the Founding Fathers have hinted at their opinion. For example, Benjamin Franklin wrote:
"Here is my creed. I believe in one God, the Creator of the universe. That he governs it by his Providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable service we render to him is in doing good to his other children. That the soul of man is immortal, and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental points in all sound religion."From this we may gather that Benjamin Franklin considered the following to be universal religious tenets:
"On my arrival in the United States the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention; and the longer I stayed there, the more I perceived the great political consequences resulting from this new state of things, to which I was unaccustomed.In France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom marching in opposite directions. But in America I found they were intimately united and that they reigned in common over the same country."The Founding Fathers produced a nation in which religion was, unlike its modern counterpart, a force of liberation and freedom, and where religion was an important part of the lives or American citizens, regardless of race, class, economic status, or political party. This was a sharp contrast to Toqueville's description of Europe at that time. His description also closely fits modern America:
"The philosophers of the eighteenth century explained in a very simple manner the gradual decay of religious faith. Religious zeal, said they must necessarily fail the more generally liberty is established and knowledge diffused. Unfortunately the facts by no means accord with their theory. There are certain populations in Europe whose unbelief is only equaled by their ignorance and debasement; while in America, one of the freest and most enlightened nations in the world, the people fulfill with fervor all the outward duties of religion ... The unbelievers of Europe attack the Christians as their political opponents rather than as their religious adversaries; they hate the Christian religion as the opinion of a [political] party much more than as an error of belief; and they reject the clergy less because they are the representatives of the Deity than because they are the allies of government."
Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.There are numerous arguments for and against the Christian references in the writings of Josephus, and the Testimonium Flavianum is no different. Many scholars have different opinions regarding its authenticity.
|Where is your god now???|
"Instead of implying that he won't debate because we're all racist, women-hating savages ..., or because PZ Myers owns this vast stockpile of credibility and doesn't want any of it leaking out to nourish undead believing memes, PZ might just admit, 'My whole schtick involves pretending that we atheists are a breed apart, and that the solution to religion is to mock it, deride it, and slander those who believe it. I would lose credibility with my crowd if I were found on stage reasoning -- really reasoning, thinking and discoursing and looking at evidence and trying to really understand, rather than just slandering and dancing and posturing -- with the other side.'"