X-Message-Number: 20016
Date: Sun, 08 Sep 2002 10:23:03 -0500
From: Jeff Dee <>
Subject: Re: Jeff Dees Challenge Round 3
References: <>

Dani Kollin <> wrote:

> Hi Jeff,

> I sent your challenge over to my brother Eytan, A CI member and occassional 
lurker. He's also far more knowledgable than I am when it comes to historical 
> Dani Kollin
> Mr. Dee, 

> If you wish to claim that a belief in a theistic diety is irrational and 
therefore harmful and we are better off hoping that a "rational" set of values 
replaces one that is "God" based I think you are in for a dangerous and 
depressing world.  The truth of the matter is that religious movements have a 
far better track record of creating a just and safe world than anything a 
secular, for lack of a better word, ideology has ever come up with.

Ireland. Afghanistan. Palestine. Must I go on?

You will most likely counter with Stalin. But Stalin did not get his 
justification for genocide from secularism. Those engaging in religious violence
in Ireland, Afghanistan and Palestine DO get their justification from their 
belief system.

> The religions of the world for all the harm they have caused, have given the 
world some vital precepts.

It is fairer to say that many of the world's most vital precepts were arrived at
while religion was dominant. This is no big surprise, since religion has 
dominated human culture throughout recorded history. The question is, do those 
precepts require religion in order to make them valid? No. Religion has simply 
taken credit for ideas such as "it's a bad idea to kill", "it's a bad idea to 
lie", and so on when those ideas are equally obvious to anyone coming from a 
rational, rather than religion, perspective.

> For all the horror of the inquistion and the stupidity of Crusades and Jihads 
with all the intendent suffering - they have not come close to doing the harm of
the secular movements of nazism and Communism.

There's that irrelevant Stalin reference. And Hitler was not a secularist. By 
all accounts, Hitler used Christian rhetoric to motivate the German people into 
war and atrocity, while personally holding some weird sort of Nordic religious 

> The great religions of the world have done a great deal of good.  Babies were 
left to die of exposure if not physically perfect until the Church decided that 
all persons have souls and are INDIVIDUALLY valuable. Something that was unheard
of before the rise of the monotheistic religions.

I'd love to see documentation to support this audacious claim. It occurs to me 
that if this were true, then that practice would still be common everywhere that
monotheism wasn't dominant. Is it? I don't think so...

> Judiaism was among the first to say the power of a king was tempered by the 
law of God, the first successful experiment in limited government and, as anyone
who has ever lived in an absolutetess regime can tell you, a vital one.

The Judaic priesthood "tempered" the power of the king by grabbing some of that 
power for THEMSELVES. At most, that was an extremely tiny step toward opening up
government to the people. Similar small steps have occurred throughout history,
often without the benefit of monotheism. 

> The secular movements have nothing good they have accomplished that they can 
point to with pride.

Nonsense. Secularists were among the earliest activists against slavery and for 
the rights of women in the West - while religion was used in both cases as an 
excuse to continue those unjust practices. Religionists largely jumped on the 
bandwagon AFTER secularists had gotten the ball rolling, and then claimed that 
their religion deserved all the credit.

> Whereever a secular movement becomes dominent, you get hell.

The people of Britain may be surprised to learn that they are living in hell. In
Britain, something like 75% of the population consider themselves ambivalent 
toward religion at best. The Archbishop of Canterbury recently stated that 
religion had lost to agnosticism there. Has that turned Britain into a hell? 

> The only place we can point to where secularism has managed to be benefit is 
the experiment called the United States. But that is because the founding 
fathers knew how vital a religious center is to a community.

"I have examined all the known superstitions of the world, and I do not find in 
our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all 
alike founded on fables and mythology. Millions of innocent men, women and 
children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, 
fined and imprisoned. What has been the effect of this coercion? To make one 
half the world fools and the other half hypocrites; to support roguery and error
all over the earth." Thomas Jefferson,  letter to William Short

"This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it."
John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, 1817

"Among the most detestable villains in history, you could not find one worse 
than Moses. Here is an order, attributed to 'God' to butcher the boys, to 
massacre the mothers and to debauch and rape the daughters. I would not dare so 
dishonor my Creator's name by (attaching) it to this filthy book (the Bible)." 
Thomas Paine

"What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In 
some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of 
the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones
of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the 
liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have 
found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, 
instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not." James Madison, "A 
Memorial and Remonstrance", 1785

"I cannot conceive otherwise than that He, the Infinite Father, expects or 
requires no worship or praise from us, but that He is even infinitely above it."
Benjamin Franklin, from "Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion", Nov. 20, 

This evidence contradicts your claim that the Founding Fathers recognized "how 
vital a religious center is to a community." It is clear that many of the most 
influential and respected founding fathers recognized only that religion was a 
divisive distraction at best, and that the best way to deal with it was to erect
a wall between it and the government. 

> Remember, many of our greatest triumphs, from victory in the civil war, to 
Rev. King and the SCLC were accomplished by the religious, not just the secular.

Since most people throughout history have been religious, it is no surprised 
that many who were involved in anything humanity has done have been religious. 
That does not indicate that religion itself was necessary to those 

> In short if I had to choose which world I would want to wake up in, the odds 
are good I could live in a world motivated by religious ideals.  I would bet 
good money that a world motivated by secular ideals would be one in which I 
would request to go back to the freezer. Speaking historically that is.
> Eytan Kollin

Speaking historically, you have no idea what you're talking about.

-Jeff Dee

"It is as morally bad not to care whether a thing is true
or not, so long as it makes you feel good, as it is not to
care how you got your money as long as you have got it."
-Edmund Way Teale, "Circle of the Seasons", 1950

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