27th February 2008

“During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.”

James Madison1751 – 1836

10 Responses to “27th February 2008”

  1. Critic Says:


    Sounds like a succinct and accurate summary of the religious and their religions. Seems unlikely that any good that may have been done in the name of religion was worth the evil that it has perpetrated, and continues to perpetrate, on society. Deluded minds (our oxymoron Christhinker??) continue to try to resolve something good from their religious traditions that can only be shown to be ignorance and evil.

    Pitiful that they can’t seem to let go of stupid ideas and move on with their lives to improve society instead of hold it back in the dark ages of the religious mind. Actually, that may be more accurately characterized as evil instead of pitiful.

  2. Chris Says:

    I was watching an episode of “The Atheist Experience” and a christian woman called in. Tried everything with escalating frustration – bible as unalterable word, Pasqual’s wager, if there’s no god then anything goes. She went on and on trying to save the hosts and in the process displayed – pride, ignorance, superstition, bigotry and finally anger and threats. Terrible to see, a caged animal in it’s last despair finally eating itself.

  3. Christhinker Says:

    Hello, Critic! It’s your favorite “oxymoron” here (go back to the quote two days ago and read my response there, if you care).
    As for James Madison, a truly great man (and like most great men, quite contradictory). He, along with Thomas Jefferson, was adament that the young United States not be constituted as a “Christian nation” (see the Jay Treaty). I agree whole-heartedly. The “wall” that he and others placed between Church and state is a great good and absolutely necessary. Despite the fact that the Declaration of Independence names God-given rights as the basis for the American decision to demand independence form Britian, Madison, “the Father of the Constitution,” was right to leave God out of the Constitution entirely. those modern “evangelical” right-wing Christians who continue to claim that the United States is a specifically “Christian nation” (politically speaking) are just plain wrong.
    Beyond that, Madison seems a poor choice to imply the idea that somehow atheism is a better way than religion in general or Christianity in particular. In historical context, Madison’s criticism was aimed squarely at the Church of England, the church he was raised in. His sweeping generalization of all of Christianity as producing “rotten” fruit, as it were, was unwarrented then and now. When in his life is this quote from? Towards the end of his life he went a little “batty” and became a bit self-serving and delusional; perhaps even a bit of a liar. He went through much of his written diary and personal papers and changed dates, times, whole passages even, apparently in an effort to make himself look better or possibly to “explain” things. Or maybe he was merely “editing”?
    Oh, and he owned slaves. Hardly the bastion of non-Christian righteousness you suppose him to be.
    Anyway, as I wrote two days ago: you (Critic) seem to be a Critic without a context, capable of little more than name-calling and, well, criticism. Perhaps you are unable to think?

    I agree that it is “terrible to see, a caged animal in it’s last despair finally eating itself.” Still, one poor woman confronted with ideas beyond her ability to deal with is hardly evidence against Christianity or religion as a whole. A question: Where can I see/buy “The Atheist Experience”? I do not get cable/satelite television or even watch much broadcast television. Is it available on line?


  4. Renshia Says:

    if your new to the net, when looking for something try using google.. at: http://www.google.com . always make your search as short and specific and you should have little problem. also try: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page … as a good start point for research.

  5. Christhinker Says:

    Thanks for the tip! Should of figured that out on my own!
    Answered your thoughtful reply to my “blah, blah” 🙂 on the 2/25 AQOTD a few minutes ago. Anyway . . .
    Have a nice day!

  6. Chris Says:

    I don’t know that I’d call her “poor woman” in that she didn’t consider herself overmatched. She was obviously prepared with all the usual arsenal of pro-bible piffle. What was frustrating to her, I think, was that the arguments she’d employed with past success were utterly useless against people who had heard them all before and had good answers to each challenge. I’m sure that was something new to her – people that couldn’t be bullied.

    Google “The Atheist Experience” and add a show number and Google video will pull up individual shows. I like to watch them in order. The first 7-10 minutes are usually given over to announcements so I’ve gotten in the habit of moving past that section.

  7. Christhinker Says:

    Well, perhaps she’s not a “poor woman.” Still I feel sorry for the likes of her. The “usual arsenal of pro-Bible piffle” that her and those like her employ constitute neither an “arsenal” nor anything like what I personaly might consider “pro-Bible.” “Piffle” however is probably accurate! I doubt that she’s ever actually employed that arsenal against anything successfully. She’s probably merely been parroting what she’s heard elsewhere and “preaching to the choir.” Easy enough to sit around congratulating one another on being “right” while bemoaning those “sorry” atheists for being “deluded!” (I’ve noticed that a few atheists on this site seem to have the same problem) No point in getting angry with her faith, but by all means call her on her methods/arguments (I doubt that she saw what she was doing as “bullying.” On this site, for example, Critic seems to know only how to “bully,” and weakly at that, and doesn’t seem to even realize it!) In my opinion her “teachers” (whoever they might be; maybe even herself) have almost certainly failed her. And so I feel sorry for her. She may, perhaps, be in the midst of losing her faith; those who are experiencing this often resort to the “bully pulpit.” Reminds me of the story about the preacher giving his sermon on Sunday with this written in the margin: “Weak point – pound pulpit!” Or maybe she’s just wrong. Anyway, a little compassion. As a Christian, it seems and feels like the “Christ-like,” human thing to do. I imagine for atheists, it oughta be at least the human thing to do. (Haven’t actually seen the episode yet, so maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about. Can you tell me which episode it is? Or does it matter at this point?)

    I also re-read the Madison quote. He isn’t arguing here against Christianity or religion. He is arguing against the “legal establishment of Christianity,” that is, the creation of any form of Christianity as an official/state religion, something both the Congregationalists in the states and the Anglicans across the pond tried to do in Virgina. Atheists and Christians alike ought to be glad that Madison and Jefferson succeeded (quite easily, actually; a majority of Christians of all denominations, despite the over-reported and over-emphasized shennanigans of the “Christian Right” (now that’s an oxymoron!), have always been advocates of the Seperation of Church and State. At least here in America.
    Have a nice day!

  8. Critic Says:

    Christhinker: Thanks so much for the musings on the life of Madison. My point still stands: Institutional religion is humanity’s worst creation and we are lucky that we dodged that bullet in the US.

    Atheists and Christians alike ought to be glad that Madison and Jefferson succeeded….

    Yes, but their success is under direct attack from the religious – not from the atheists.

    …despite the over-reported and over-emphasized shennanigans of the “Christian Right” (now that’s an oxymoron!)…

    Interesting. So, as a, “liberal christian,” (I’m guessing with the label) Christhinker seeks to justify his position by minimizing the atrocities of the right wing religious as “shenanigans”. I can hear it now, “Their just a noisy minority, don’t worry about them.”

    He fails to see that adherence to whatever small part of the primitive religious tradition that he can still believe in merely enables the wacko religious right.

    Rather than trying to find an intellectually defensible corner of the vast mental wasteland that is religion, why not accept it for what it is – the morally bankrupt product of a delusional primitive mind.

    It seems he has put himself in a very desperate position – but, crusaders always like the darkness before the dawn.

  9. Chris Says:

    Hi Christ – You suggest that Madison is pro-christianity but anti-establishment of christianity. I believe that Madison and his deist (the gentlemans atheism!) brethren were actually disdainful of the christian religions generally. Since this was, and is, the prevailing mythology it’s only natural that he and others would seek to keep what they viewed as a pernicious thing out of the enlightenment government that they were struggling so hard to create. Thus Jefferson’s genius in the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, one of his proudest accomplishments. I think they’d all be proud that, because of their forethought on this issue, no one sect has come to dominate. A balance of power was created that had the effect of producing a secular government but unfortunately promotes faith by leaving it unconstrained. A spoonful of sugar, as it were.

    More Madison:

    “…Freedom arises from the multiplicity of sects, which pervades America and which is the best and only security for religious liberty in any society. For where there is such a variety of sects, there cannot be a majority of any one sect to oppress and persecute the rest.” [James Madison, spoken at the Virginia convention on ratifying the Constitution, June 1778]

    And just one more:

    “Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize [sic], every expanded prospect.” [James Madison, in a letter to William Bradford, April 1,1774, as quoted by Edwin S. Gaustad, Faith of Our Fathers: Religion and the New Nation, San Francisco:Harper & Row, 1987, p. 37]

  10. Chris Says:

    P.S. – I’m hoping the Madison letter from 1774 was from an early enough period in his life that Christhinker can’t dismiss it as coming from his “batty years”. Its inarguably clear how he felt about christianity. Sure, he damns religion specifically, not christianity. Christianity is a subset of religion and I’m certain that was not lost on Madison.