16th November 2010

“Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise.”

James Madison1751 – 1836

8 Responses to “16th November 2010”

  1. CaptainZero Says:

    I looked up the original letter from which this passage was extracted to see if there was a context that might make it less harsh. Nope.

    Great men, the founders, born as they were in the right time and place, freshly weened from the breast of enlightenment values and with the courage to found a new republic on the ashes of theocratic and hereditary rule.

  2. Atheist MC Says:

    Religious bondage? Giggity!

  3. Simon Says:

    This quotation surprised me.

    Here in the UK we are taught about the war of independence as the loss of a sovereign territory not the foundation of the first modern republic (second if you count France but we don’t count France here). I’d be intrigued to learn more about the people who founded the republic. Can anyone recommend any books.

  4. Dan Says:

    I remember what I was taught in grade school about the American Revolution, but I must say I myself would enjoy a bit more in-depth study on the subject. Just about everyone here in the States knows Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, James Madison, and John Adams were the central figures in the political philosophy of the era. And also that they were heavily influenced by Locke, Rousseau, Hobbes, Hume, and their contemporaries in England, Scotland and France. But I’m not sure if I can explain the political philosophy itself so well…

  5. Simon Says:

    Thanks Dan

    It’s interesting to ask why the radical thinkers of America had such influence whilst those of Europe had little.

    Maybe many of the people who made the long journey to the new world were by nature of a radical disposition themselves (as opposed to the people who made the long journey to Australia who were criminals -sorry that was a bad joke).

    One question, in the list of protagonists in what you rightly call ‘The American Revolution’ you don’t mention George Washington any reason for this?

  6. Dan Says:

    Washington was the military leader, and wasn’t so much involved at all in the formulation of the Bill of Rights or the Declaration of Independence.

    And I’m not so sure that these were radical dispositions of the time. I mean, maybe they were (Paine was, come to think of it), but here in the US we’ve generally been taught that these were colonial aristocrats, representing the mainstream ideas of political philosophy of the era, who drafted these documents. And although the immediate influences came from the political philosophers that I mentioned, the sentiments put forth in these founding documents can be traced back to the Magna Carta.

    So I don’t understand the founding fathers to have been radicals, with the exception of Paine, just learned.

  7. CapRon Says:

    Simon, if nobody has suggested a book, I highly recommend the late Howard Zinn’s “The People’s History of the United States.” It comes in paperback and audio.

    It’s a real eye opener to anyone who has swallowed the sanitized version of this country’s shameful history.

  8. Dan Says:

    Zinn’s book is a fine and highly recommended book, but doesn’t cover the philosophies of the Founding Fathers of the American Revolution. I’ve been looking and I still can’t find a satisfactory book for the subject, unless one tries to get separate books for Jefferson, Franklin, Paine, Madison, etc.

    And if you do that, I’d read about Jefferson first and foremost. He’s the one credited with writing the Declaration of Independence, and arguably the most central person to America’s founding.

    But of the Founding Fathers, the only one that published lasting political treatises (beyond founding documents) was Thomas Paine. I’d also highly recommend his books Rights of Man and The Age of Reason. And these are must-reads for any atheist, IMO.