Saturday, October 10, 2009

My Letter To WND on Pat Boone's Latest Article

I'll reproduce the relevant part. You can read Boone's article here.

Regarding the Founding Fathers, Boone is as ignorant as the secular leftist with whom he corresponds. He doesn't realize he partakes in his own "Christian Nation" errors just as his correspondent engages in "secular left" errors.

First, Boone claims that Jefferson "averred that he consulted no other source for his Declaration...." Boone refers either to "specific Christian churches" or Blackstone; I can't tell based on the way Boone wrote the passage. But, it doesn't matter, because Jefferson sourced NEITHER for the ideas of the DOI. Rather, in a letter to Richard Henry Lee, May 8, 1825, Jefferson lists "Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, &c. ..." Not the Bible, not the Christian churches and not Blackstone.

Further Blackstone's influence on the Founding was qualified. The FFs had a love/hate relationship with him and for good reason. He was authoritative on common law issues; but on the overarching issues, he was an English Tory who believed in absolute parliamentary supremacy and thought the American Revolution violated such. In other words, 1776 was precisely an anti-Blackstonian movement. No wonder the FFs could hate him as they loved him.

Re whether the FFs were "Christians" or "Deists," this creates a false dichotomy. Yes, all of the notable FFs, including the supposed "Deists" like Jefferson, Franklin and Wilson were in some way affiliated with Christian Churches. In other words they were "Christian" by association or club membership. And they tended to identify as "Christians" as well (as Jefferson did). However these "Christian" men are also on record, in their private letters, denying virtually every single tenet of orthodoxy that defines "Christianity" to a Pat Boone or a Joe Farah. I'm speaking of original sin, the trinity, incarnation, atonement, eternal damnation, infallibility of the Bible and so on.

Perhaps Pat Boone can answer whether one can be a "Christian" and deny these things. And lest you think it was just Jefferson and Franklin who believed this way, I'll close with good old conservative "Christian" John Adams, mocking Christ's Incarnation and Deity.

"An incarnate God!!! An eternal, self-existent, omnipresent omniscient Author of this stupendous Universe, suffering on a Cross!!! My Soul starts with horror, at the Idea, and it has stupified the Christian World. It has been the Source of almost all of the Corruptions of Christianity.”

-- John Adams to John Quincy Adams, March 28, 1816


Jon Rowe
Yardley, PA

Now, let me anticipate some criticism. First, instead of "Jefferson and Franklin," as the Deists or "not Christians" I have Jefferson, Franklin and J. Adams. Not exactly. I have smoking gun quotations from those three. However, it's not at all clear that Washington, Madison, G. Morris, Hamilton before his deathbed were "Christians" in the way that Pat Boone understands the term or disbelieved in the fundamentals as put forth by Jefferson, J. Adams and Franklin (i.e., there is an active personal God, Jesus was something special, but not the 2nd Person in the Trinity, that men are justified through works not grace).

Second, the fact that I am discussing an article written by Pat Boone at all. A bit strawmanish? Yes, I admit it is. However, he and I both share an interest in this subject matter. WND is widely read. Boone (like Chuck Norris) is a semi-celebrity.

And as a long time fan of rock and roll, I have a score to settle with a man who nearly ruined the genre before the Beatles emerged to save it.

That dude has no musical soul whatsoever. There is a video of him singing Tutti Fruitti somewhere where he snaps his fingers on the one and three (we were shown it in our "History Of Rock" class at Berklee College of Music). I'll try to find it.


J said...

Yeah if it's from Pat Boone, it must suck--muzak or dee-eep thoughts on the Framers.

Actually, I nearly agree with Mr. Boone's rant against Michael Moore--Moore, millionaire celebrity, and hater of capitalism.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Although Boone might not be a scholar in the sense of understanding the speicific people and their impacts on our society, it is true that freedom is of importance to the Christian message. That is, if one believes that God created men with inaleinable rights.

Capitalism is built upon innovation, and ingenuity, which was an environment that still continues to prosper scientific flourishing.

Natural law, which was understood to give a 'moral order' to the universe, as well as the physical one, was the "frame' that the Founders formed American identity.

We have become more individualized due to the changes in the roles of women in the family and "work" as the focus and purpose of life.

I believe where "Christian" is misguided in understanding our country's founding was in "virtue". The Founders were not

men. The Puritans thought of themselves as virtuous, which was the reason they separated from the Church of England in the first place.

Religion has always separated, as values cannot be understood collectively, unless one wants to submit to a religious authority, as the Pope.

I do believe that evolution's focus today does not lend itself to virtuous living. Elitism can be justified because of understanding society in this way.

I believe that some scientists, such as Dawkins, have attempted to "form" a way of virtue, as has the Catholic Church (Charity in Truth). But, these should be values that are individually assessed and committed to. They can not be mandated by a government, without limiting liberty.

Tom Van Dyke said...

You keep asking the right questions, Angie. "Virtue" is actually a non-religious, philosophical idea going back to the ancient Greco-Romans, especially Plato.

And the French Revolution spoke of "republican virtue" as they justified their slaughter.

Anyway, "virtue" has a different meaning in philosophy than it does in Christianity theology. In the philosophical sense, it applies more to "manly" virtues like honesty and courage, and perhaps best described as "magnanimity."

It's big and public as opposed to small and private, like Christianity's "virtues" of say, sexual modesty and Christian charity.

Capitalism is built upon innovation, and ingenuity, which was an environment that still continues to prosper scientific flourishing.

I was thinking just today on the difference between Eastern philosophy/religion and that of the West. Innovation and ingenuity are much more features of the West than the East, which respects tradition to the point of ancestor worship.

As much as I admire the Founders, it's for their wisdom, not as human beings. They were no better or worse than we the living.

Which is why China and Japan got so far, up to 1500 or whatever, but no further as dynamic civilizations. They got stuck.

They needed revolutions [America occupying Japan, Mao taking over China] to advance. Which illustrates your previous distinction per Paul Zummo about the difference between revolution and reform.

The American "Revolution" was really a reform; the French Revolution was destructive of the French civilization at its heart. No wonder they brought in Napoleon to "fix" the damage, and damn quick.

J said...

I believe that some scientists, such as Dawkins, have attempted to "form" a way of virtue

What is virtue to a Darwinian atheist, Angie? Something like how successful a wolf is at turning an elk into lunch; or, say, Al Caponay outpimping Dion O'Banion. I respect Dawkins to some extent, but he's not exactly arguing for "virtue."

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Dawkins believes in "universal healthcare" and some other aspects of "equality". He has said he has no "warrant" for such beliefs.

I would imagine that "social contructionists" who are Darwinian, would believe that the elite would have the "right" to form society as they see fit.

And "society" would be a "construction of law" and an interpretaion of law. The consent of the governed would be "won" by hedging on "free information" and forming the society through containment of the media, so that "image" becomes all important.

Image is important because the elite can gain the "consent of the governed" without usurping society's "peace". But, then seek to undermine the very foundations of society's "foundations". This is a revolutionary stance of changing society.

And, yes, there would be inequality in societal functioning (classes) and this would "justify" the elite's position on "social equalization" on a Communistic "form of governing" or social engineering...

bpabbott said...

Angie, can you explain what you mean by; "I would imagine that "social constructionists" who are Darwinian would believe that the elite would have the "right" to form society as they see fit."?

Are you conflating biological science with eugenics?

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Well, historically, didn't the Nazis determine who was of greater value, or the "fittest" based on biology (DNA). This brought discrimination to the Jews.

And one cannot forget in our own counrty the discrimination toward African Americans, nor women.

So, if one reduces man to biologicaland chemical components, then there is reason historically to believe that men discriminate based on these factors.

Today, the educated elite are the ones that "form society". These also determine how "not to discriminate" (universal healthcare) which leads to a discrimination toward those that have other ways of expressing alturism.

bpabbott said...

The Nazi's certainly tried to purge the Jews, and produce a master race. Even though some have attempted to associate such evils with biological evolution, such an associated is rhetorical/ideological, not scientific.

For example, you illustrate this point yourself; Your conclusion that there is reason to believe that men discriminate based on biological and chemical components relies upon the supposition you made ... that those are the only factors that determine behavior.

Such is not the case. Experience plays a very large roll in human behavior. We are, after all, social animals.

Regarding Eugenics, there are a few approaches used to associate it with the biological sciences. I'll address two. Eugenics is an exercise in selective breeding. Breeding of domestic animals predates the biological sciences by thousands of years. Genocide also predates the biological sciences by thousands of years. Thus, genocide does not originate with our understanding of biological evolution.

Second, while breeding may be fairly qualified as an endeavor consistent, or even based upon, scientific principles ... it does not qualify as evolution (in the scientific meaning of the word). Scientific theories explain how things happen. Science does not address the question as to "Why?" things happened / happen / or will happen. Meaning science posits no goal, or purpose, behind its theories. "Why?" is a religious question.

Regarding health care , that is well off the topic of my inquiry. I'll save that discussion for another day ;-)

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I know that there are social reasons for discrimination. I have mentioned many times a book about genoicide and its social psychology, "Becoming Evil" by James Waller.

Waller's theory is based on the in-group/out-group mentality. Socially isolating and scapegoating another is how genoicide is "justified" in the minds of the ordinary person. But, we distance ourselves from that attitude, thinking we are above behaving this way...we are not.

In fact, our very work ethic and how we hierarchially form the work structure and define roles within the work force, team or organization can lead many time to this tragic state of affairs.

But, since we ARE social animals, then how do you suppose that these things will not become evidenced in society? It seems to be ommon human behavior to define ourselves by our group memberships...doesn't it?

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Is your main concern that the scientifically illierate make prejuidicial judgments about science without understanding the distinctions of science?

Do you believe that all cultures are of equal value? There is such a thing as an intolerant culture, and this is was the case of Nazi Germany. Aren't ideological forms the driving means of discrimination, as well? If so, then how do you suppose that we "identify" ourselves, understand ourselves, and formulate our thinking, opinions, and viewpoints?
Are you under the assumption that one can eradicate prejuidice out of everyone?

bpabbott said...

Yes, Angie, my general concern is with regards to "scientific literacy".

bpabbott said...

Regarding cultures ... I personally don't value all cultures equally, and while I find the idea of eradicating prejudice attractive, I suspect any such attempt would likely transform the liberators into tyrants.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I respect your concern. I am concerned that society would be based on extremes of scientific mind-sets or a religious one.

A free society demands that we allow individuals to be different in their behavior. Law was to protect iregularities or indiscretions concerning individual liberties.

bpabbott said...


No doubt the term "scientific mindset" means something very different to you than it does to me.

For me a scientific mind seeks out understanding before making decisions. A scientific mind is skeptical of claims not supported by a theoretical framework.

I'd guess you're worried about those who manipulate passions by leveraging scientific illiteracy, religious and/or political ideology in order to gain support for their destructive (perhaps evil) agenda's ... eugenics being an excellent example.

If the deaf are to hear, the blind to see, the crippled to walk, it will be science (imo) that will deliver the requisite understanding to achieve miracles. However, it will be religion (or religious sentiments) that provide the motive, inspiration, aspirations, and sense of purpose to those individuals who will fulfill such miracles.

bpabbott said...

While we're well off-topic, I thought I'd also mention what I see as two roots for the conflict between science and religion.

(1) Science is eroding many material claims of religion ... "God of the gaps" and such. I find materialism to be bad for religion. When religion incorporates material phenomena it swallows a poison pill. In all honesty, I consider such claims to be superstitious, not religious.

(2) Some focus on quick answers/solutions to the problems we face. Others seek out reliability. For reliability, a deep and justifiable understanding is needed. Some seeking the quick approach manipulate religion. Others seeking a reliable approach desire so much robustness that no acceptable solution would ever emerge ... an excellent example of the excluded middle, I think.

Tom Van Dyke said...

A scientific mind is skeptical of claims not supported by a theoretical framework.

I have no idea what you mean here, Ben. Once the framework is in place, nothing outside it can exist in our attempt to define, if only to describe, reality.

My challenge is either theological, metaphysical, or perhaps even poetic. I'm not trying to sandbag or trap you here---we've played that game---so I reveal simply where I'm coming from in my question/challenge.

Man---mankind---simply finds logic and science unfulfilled in explaining why we are here in the first place, or why you and I are discussing this right now.

And still discussing it. What is a "scientific mind?" There's obviously so much more than that to a human being, and that's the ask.

bpabbott said...


I should have been more clear and stuck with common scientific terms.

By scientific framework, I was referring to the scientific method.

Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning.

bpabbott said...

Regarding theology there are aspects that are material and aspects that are not. The latter is certainly beyond science ... meaning it is beyond what may be experienced or observed in our "reality". The former (I think) relies upon each individuals worldview.

However, if I understand you correctly, this is *not* the perspective you've raised. Rather, I think you refer to concepts such as morality for which there is no complete and consistent definition suitable for scientific study. Correct?

In which case, I agree that there are aspects of our existence which elude proper examination by science.

Regarding fulfillment, I've encountered claims that logic and science leave man unfulfilled often enough to understand than many do not find them interesting, much less fulfilling. However, there are others who find logic and science spiritually enriching (without need for theology and/or metaphysics). Dawkins has made such comments (sorry I don't have a link available). However, here's a short essay by Einstein on the subject.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Einstein's famous quote, "God doesn't play dice with the universe", was his view of determinism. He didn't accept Quantum theory, as quantum theory believes in change, contingency, and probabilities...

I think this is what science reveals today that seems chaotic, but the "free" aspect of the universe has to be admitted. But, it is hard to build a society on these aspects. I think this is why it is so difficult to come to "World Peace". The irreducible complexity of the world's relationships/interests are just not compatible. But, then, if there comes to be a "ruling class", then a consensus could be possible, and freedom would be these individuals.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

AND, it seems that theology is needful to those who need meaning, as they cannot make meaning due to their lack of freedom...

Meaning should be self-actualization in a free society. But, when there is slavery or other issues that put limitations upon men, then man needs another way to "live", as his very existence is denied by oppression.

This is why political freedom is more necessary than theological reflection. Political freedom values individuals in their own right, whereas, theology placates man in the state he is in.

JimBob said...

Pat Boone's mother told my mother that she was concerned for Pat's soul.
As both Mrs. Boone (d. 2000) and my mother (d. 1991) are dead these many years, I cannot document this which was said to me by my mother.