Oh man... this is getting out of hand.I've been having other related religious discussions on another forum as well in the past few days and seem to be reaching another point of frustration at which I feel compelled to speak out.
For the record, I'm a devout atheist. And I find it a bit sad when people cannot differentiate from the natural laws, such as laid down by the Roman empire, and which our legal system is based on... and the so called "God's law", which in all actuality has very little to do with morality, even less to do with civil issues and is even in reality contradictory to true freedom in the natural sense.
Christianity teaches absolute obedience to authority, without question and without skepticism of contradictory evidence and falsehoods etc. This very same mindset lends itself to abuses by governments who use it to rally the people behind God's cause... "One nation, Under God", "In God We Trust" etc... if you don't believe in God, you're not a patriot. And that is used to group people into one mindset... one of obedience and "patriotism" under a moniker which in itself is divisive within its own people. Those very statements and mottoes serve to divide the people between believers and non-believers instead of acknowledging us as we were meant to be, individuals with inherent natural rights. Rights not granted by any particular God... but natural rights that transcend any particular religion's God's word on which rights you do and don't have.
The idea of "Divine Law" is the very same belief that allows the theocracies in the middle east to publicly execute people found "guilty" of homosexuality, sex before marriage, and any number of other things that might offend the particular deity of some of its people... when no rational "crime" has been committed. In the natural world, an adult has the right to sleep with another adult, in or out of wedlock, should they so choose. You don't have to personally approve of it, but they have the right as human beings to do so... and unless that robs you of your property or does you personal injury, you have no right to deprive them of their life, liberty or property for merely offending your personal moral beliefs.
E Pluribus Unum. Out of Many, (come) One. A celebration of the diversity of our culture, the diversity of our beliefs, the diversity of our ethnic roots... and through that a celebration of our unity as Americans. Stronger as a result of that diversity, not in spite of it.
The fact that our founding fathers were wise enough to understand that strength and celebrate it... and take measures to ensure the freedom of the people to believe as they wished, as human beings with inherent natural rights... that is something that we should take heed of.
God isn't going to grant you any benefit in a battle. You have to do that for yourself. The mere fact that you imply that your idea of a God somehow grants you some authority greater than that of another man who might believe in a different God, inherently impedes upon that man's freedom.
And to believe in a God that forbids you to believe in anything he does not approve of, regardless of rational merit... a God who commands you to kill people of different beliefs or sexual orientations, in spite of no rational crime being committed... a God who names himself a Jealous God that commands you to obey and never to question, in spite of mountains of evidence to the contrary... that God is the epitome of our modern government. A Genocidal egomaniac responsible for mass genocide of people who committed no crime other than believing in a different God, or no God, or in believing they had the very same natural rights that you do... to live, govern themselves and choose their own paths as individuals or as a society.
I dislike entertaining ridiculous conspiracy theories, so I'm loathe to start debunking the ridiculous nature of many of Madison's claims... much less the fact that he presumes to use the name of one of the founding fathers as though he in any way resembles such a great man.
But I feel it is important to remove the idea of "natural law" from that of some divinely derived authority. Am I to have no inherent liberties as an atheist? Am I somehow not a patriot or exempt from the same freedoms afforded to the faithful?
No. The founding fathers understood this and wisely exempted religion from any official place in government. A man or woman are free to hold their own beliefs and free to have them serve as a moral compass... but those beliefs fall short when they infringe upon the natural liberties of all men, regardless of their beliefs in much the same way that even if the government believes it has a legal right to deprive you of your property, you have a natural right not to be extorted, threatened at gunpoint and made a slave of a relatively small group of people who claim that authority over you, regardless of their justifications. And no God is going to come down and change that for you. You must stand upon the same principles our founding fathers did in their various backgrounds and beliefs and come together in an understanding of the fundamental principles of liberty and freedom that predated your Abrahamic God by millennia and strive to return man to his natural state.
As Einstein said:The more a man is imbued with the ordered regularity of all events the firmer becomes his conviction that there is no room left by the side of this ordered regularity for causes of a different nature. For him neither the rule of human nor the rule of divine will exists as an independent cause of natural events. To be sure, the doctrine of a personal God interfering with natural events could never be refuted, in the real sense, by science, for this doctrine can always take refuge in those domains in which scientific knowledge has not yet been able to set foot.In losing focus on the fundamental reality of the matter at hand, you place power back in the hands of the authority figures who in the same manner as religion, demand obedience without question. Authority over you and subservience by you in the face of violations of your natural right to true freedom in the face of contradictory or fallacious evidence to the contrary of their claims.
But I am convinced that such behavior on the part of representatives of religion would not only be unworthy but also fatal. For a doctrine which is to maintain itself not in clear light but only in the dark, will of necessity lose its effect on mankind, with incalculable harm to human progress. In their struggle for the ethical good, teachers of religion must have the stature to give up the doctrine of a personal God, that is, give up that source of fear and hope which in the past placed such vast power in the hands of priests. In their labors they will have to avail themselves of those forces which are capable of cultivating the Good, the True, and the Beautiful in humanity itself. This is, to be sure, a more difficult but an incomparably more worthy task... --Albert Einstein