I'm from Missouri

This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

U.VA. and Judge Jones' "true religion" speech

I have many times noted that Judge Jones showed extreme prejudice against the Dover defendants by saying in a Dickinson College commencement speech that his Kitzmiller v. Dover decision was based on his notion that the Founders based the establishment clause upon a belief that organized religions -- and any religious beliefs not based on "free, rational inquiry" -- are not "true" religions. He said,

. . . 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.

Judge Jones' above statement implies that he is inclined to go out of his way to attack anything that he could possibly conceive of as representing "false" religion -- e.g., intelligent design.

The phrases "free, rational inquiry" and "constantly engaged and questioned things" bring Thomas Jefferson to the minds of a lot of people. The early history of the University of Virginia, founded by Thomas Jefferson, gives insight into how Jefferson's thinking compared to the thinking of his contemporaries. A webpage of the University of Virginia's website says,

The University of Virginia was founded as a secular university, with no religious affiliation or denominational identity. In contrast, Georgia, UNC, South Carolina, Vermont, Blount College (which became the University of Tennessee), and others chartered as state universities had denominational sponsorship.

Chapel attendance was not required of students at the University of Virginia. Other universities, public and private, required their students to attend church services. In fact, Harvard did not do away with the chapel requirement until late in the 19th century.

Another webpage of the U.VA. website says,
For Jefferson, the college experience should take place within an "academical village," a place where shared learning infused daily life. Plans were developed for ten Pavilions—stately faculty homes with living quarters upstairs and classrooms downstairs—attached to two rows of student rooms and connected by an inward-facing colonnade.

At the head of the shared lawn would stand the library (not, as in most other colleges and universities of the time, a chapel), . . . .

Also, when Jones gave his "true" religion speech, he was standing behind the Dickinson College seal, which was designed by USA Founders Benjamin Rush and John Dickinson and which has a picture of an open bible and the college motto, "religion and learning, the bulwark of liberty," in Latin.

So even if Judge Jones' statement about "true" religion represents the views of Thomas Jefferson, it is doubtful that this statement represents the views of the Founders in general.

Anyway, IMO judges' establishment-clause decisions should be based on the plain meaning of that clause and not on the judges' notions of what the Founders thought.
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9 Comments:

Anonymous Voice in the Urbanness said...

Mindless repetition as usual. Can't you find anything new to misconstrue?

Thursday, January 10, 2008 10:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice in Suburbanness said...

Larry, what is the "bottom line" in this argument for you?

In the case of the fundies, it is fairly clear. To them evolution is contrary to the notion of purpose in life, and further, this can be fixed by having the purpose driven by God. (That God is inscrutable is irrelevant in this view.) There is a second gain, which is that once one concedes that God did the creating, then it is a short step to a cookbook morality that is never ambiguous or difficult.

I can see the attraction of these arguments. But none of this seems to apply to you. What do you hope to get out of this effort?

Thursday, January 10, 2008 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

The no establishment clause was probably meant,in large part, to avoid the religious conflicts that had often prevailed in Europe. Many religious sects came to this country to secure the right to practice their religion freely. The Constitution says nothing about any preference for allegedly "rational" religion.

Thursday, January 10, 2008 1:41:00 PM  
Anonymous John Jones said...

I'm John Jones, His Ruling Grace,
Who keeps all the "low" in their place:
If they doubt any word
From a Darwinist nerd,
My riding-crop snaps in their face!

(These comments by someone named John Jones were received telepathically by Jim Sherwood.)

Thursday, January 10, 2008 3:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Telepathy Operator said...

< received telepathically by Jim Sherwood >

He's good at this ... trust me!

Thursday, January 10, 2008 5:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice in Suburbanness said...

Well, as usual, Larry does not answer a question. Admittedly a hard question, but not that hard. I'd think it was one that Larry would want to answer for himself, if not for us.

Maybe what's in it for him is skepticism for its own sake, seasoned with the opportunity to poke his finger in the eye of perceived authority figures?

Thursday, January 10, 2008 11:58:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Voice in Suburbanness said...

>>>>> Well, as usual, Larry does not answer a question. <<<<<<

Damn you, I told you umpteen times to give me some time to respond to questions.

Voice in the Urbanness said...
>>>>> Mindless repetition as usual. Can't you find anything new to misconstrue? <<<<<<

Where's the repetition? This is the first time I have presented this particular stuff (except for the thing about the Dickinson College seal, but I presented that here only to reinforce my point).

Voice in Suburbanness said...

>>>>> Larry, what is the "bottom line" in this argument for you? <<<<<<

I had no particular interest in the evolution controversy until the Kitzmiller v. Dover case. I perceived that case as a threat to freedom of inquiry. Also, as I said, my main reason for starting this blog was that I was being censored on other blogs.

Jim Sherwood said...

>>>>> The no establishment clause was probably meant,in large part, to avoid the religious conflicts that had often prevailed in Europe. Many religious sects came to this country to secure the right to practice their religion freely. The Constitution says nothing about any preference for allegedly "rational" religion. <<<<<

Fatheaded Ed Brayton said,

On February 18th, I'll be delivering a speech about religion, the founding fathers and the separation of church and state to a group at Grand Valley State University. In that speech I will consider the question of how their personal beliefs related to their positions about separation of church and state. I've said many times that there is no intrinsic connection and pointed out that some of the staunchest defenders of strict separation were devout Christians, particularly Baptist ministers.

-- yet Ed has never unequivocally conceded that Judge Jones' "true religion" statement is wrong.

I have been following Judge Jones' speeches as well as I can and to my knowledge he never repeated that "true religion" stuff. Maybe he got the message.

Friday, January 11, 2008 3:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmn, I like what you're writing, but do not like the interface here.

Friday, January 11, 2008 4:24:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>> Hmn, I like what you're writing, but do not like the interface here. <<<<<<

What do you mean by "interface"?

Friday, January 11, 2008 4:30:00 PM  

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