Ed Brayton: Judge Jones is above criticism
In a recent article on his blog "Dispatches From the Culture Wars," Ed Brayton said,
Jon Rowe and I have spent much of the last two years pointing out the numerous false quotations and false claims about the religious views of the founding fathers that are tossed about by both sides in debate over church/state separation. While false quotes are not as common on the separationist side, they're not unheard of, and we still have to deal with the perpetual "they were all deists" claims, which is as false as claiming that they were all Christians.
Yet Ed has never condemned Judge Jones for Jones' following false claims in a commencement speech:
. . . . this much is very clear. The Founders believed that true religion was not something handed down by a church or contained in a Bible, but was to be found through free, rational inquiry. At bottom then, this core set of beliefs led the Founders, who constantly engaged and questioned things, to secure their idea of religious freedom by barring any alliance between church and state.
Far from condemning Judge Jones for stereotyping the religious beliefs of the Founders, Ed Brayton actually expressed approval of Jones' above words -- see here and here.
Judge Jones probably thought that this alleged universal "true religion" of the Founders was Deism, but Deist beliefs include the teleological argument of design. It is sheer speculation to suppose that the Founders who were Deists would have accepted Darwinism -- with its numerous warts -- as a replacement for the teleological argument of design. Even Ed's pal Jon Rowe conceded, "Because our Founders lived before Darwin, ultimately, whatever contemporary position they would have held is speculation and their legacy thus can be taken only so far in this battle."
Furthermore, IMO, "originalism," the idea that our interpretations of the constitution should be governed by the beliefs -- or the perceived beliefs -- of the founding fathers, is asinine. Why should we turn back the clock over two hundred years and live under the principles of another era? We could not even have kept the same basic Constitution for so long if we did not constantly re-interpret it to suit changes in society and technology. Many of the big issues today -- e.g., environmental problems, rights of free expression and privacy on the Internet, and (yes) the controversy over evolution -- were not even on the radar screens of the founding fathers. Originalism has only fostered disrespect for the founding fathers, who are now condemned as racist, sexist and elitist by people who argue against originalism.
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