Thursday, March 18, 2010

David Barton Apparently Responds to Chris Rodda

I say apparent because an anonymous commenter at American Creation claiming to be Barton left the response. Based on years of experience, I believe this really is Barton. But for obvious reasons, the qualification is necessary.

First, co-blogger Brad Hart did a post that showed a clip of Barton on Glenn Beck. Below, he posted a clip of Rodda criticizing Barton for balance. Rodda chimed in the comments section. Then Barton left the following note:

Ms. Rodda,

Let me first apologize for anything I may have said or done that offended you. It's obvious that you have been offended by something I either said or did so I just want to say that I have never meant any malice towards you in any way. I'm sorry if this was the case. Over the years I have grown accustomed to being ridiculed, but I try to apologize in person whenever the opportunity arises.

You have a nice blog here and I commend you for your interest in American history, so I hope what I have to say regarding this particular article will not increase your disdain for me.

What I don't understand is why you continue to insist that my research is unsubstantiated when I provide an endless list of footnotes to explain and defend my positions. This is especially true of the Aitken Bible. I would invite you and everyone else here on your blog to visit my website:

http://www.wallbuilders.com/LIBissuesArticles.asp?id=46

There you will see a photocopied document of Congress' official endorsement of Robert Aitken's Bible. Your attempt to libel me by saying that I cannot provide any actual documentation is false.

I also want to address the portion of this video clip where Glenn Beck and I very briefly mention the 1807 Thomas Jefferson letter. I did not have the time in that segment to go into detail but if I did, I certainly would have put it in context. I don't presume to think that Mr. Jefferson was a Christian. But I do think it is abundantly clear that he was not an atheist as many history revisionists claim.

I admit to not watching your entire video response but I will try to when time permits. I also hope that you and I will be able to come to some sort of an accord. I believe that people do not need to agree on everything in order to be friends.

All my best,

David Barton

17 comments:

Tom Van Dyke said...

In fairness, we should add Ms. Rodda's original reply to Brad Hart's post here as well:

I can do better than just dropping by to give a few more details. I've made the entire chapter of my book that contains the Aitken Bible story available as a free PDF. The lies about this Bible come up so often that I got tired of having to go find the story in my book files to copy and paste parts of it, so I decided just to put the whole chapter on my website so I can just link to it. Here's the link:

http://www.liarsforjesus.com/downloads/LFJ_chap_1.pdf

The part about the Aitken Bible begins on page 12.

You can also look at all the documents I used as sources in my footnote archive. The link to the footnote archive is near the top my homepage -- http://www.liarsforjesus.com -- right above the image of the book cover. The actual images of the documents written by Aitken, like the one that shows that it was he who wrote the thing about this Bible being for the use of schools, and not Congress, are in this archive.

bpabbott said...

Some weeks ago a link was provided to the Texas Education Agency where reviews of the Social Studies curriculum for Texas could be found. If I recall correctly the link was provided with the hope some would read the review by Daniel L. Dreisbach, Professor, American University.

I have to admit that I skipped the review by Prof. Daniel L. Dreisbach, and dove into reading the review by David Barton.

Before commenting on David Barton's review of the Texas Social Studies Curriculum, I should mention that I find browsing Wall Builders to be a frustrating struggle between my view of reality and another view that I'd qualify as propaganda.

That said, I was pleasantly surprised by Barton's review of Texas' Social Studies curriculum.

What surprised me most was that while reading his critique, I found my perspective, on this subject, to be compatible (more than consistent) with the same man who is responsible for Wall Builders.

In his critiques, I did not infer any preference for religious inclination. I did find his opinion to be have been carefully considered and well reasoned.

It wasn't until I reached the pages where Barton made suggested changes to the curriculum that I found disagreement. For example, at the bottom of page 11, Mr. Barton states;

"The principles set forth [in the DoI] and subsequently secured in the Constitution and Bill of Rights include:
1. There is a fixed moral law derived from God and nature
2. There is a Creator
3. The Creator gives to man certain unalienable rights.
4. Government exists primarily to protect God-given rights to every individual.
5. Below God-given rights and moral law, government is directed by the consent of the governed.
"

I have two concerns. (1) Neither the Constitution or Bill of Rights secures #2. The remaining can, and I think should be, reworded by dropping the Evangelism. For example;

1. There are fixed moral laws.
3. One being that man has certain unalienable rights.
4. Government exists primarily to protect these rights of every individual.
5. Below unalienable rights and moral laws, government is directed by the consent of the governed.

I don't offer a different wording as an affront to religion, but rather in support of religious liberty.

(Continued below)

bpabbott said...

Another passage I take issue with is;

"Significantly, the Constitution directly attaches itself to the Declaration by dating itself from the year of the Declaration of Independence rather than from 1787, the year of its writing. In fact, to this day every federal law passed by Congress as well as every presidential act is dated not to the Constitution but to the Declaration. Additionally, the admission of territories as States into the United States was typically predicated on an assurance by the State that its constitution would violate neither the Constitution nor the principles of the Declaration.[…] Only in recent years have the Declaration and the Constitution wrongly been viewed as independent rather than inseparable and interdependent documents. No opportunity for that mistake should be allowed in the TEKS; they should explicitly connect the two documents and identify the fundamental principles set forth in the Declaration and subsequently secured in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights."
-- see pages 12-13.

Where I infer that Mr Barton intends to imply that the DoI carries legal weight. I take no issue that the DoI has great symbolic weight, and gives important context to the Constitution. However, if a legal weight was intended, it isn't to be found in any legislated law.

By page 20, Mr Barton losses me in what appears to me to be a sermon on how democratic government is rooted in Deuteronomy 1:13, Exodus 18:21, Deuteronomy 17:18-20, 31:24, II Chronicles 34:15-21, etc.

Page 20 includes the assertion;

"Similarly, students are to identify how our government reflects the “separation of powers” [Grade 7 (b)(14)(A); Grade 8 (a) & (b)(16)(D); World History (c)(8)(B); Government (b) & (c)(8)(D)], but there is nothing to tell students why this important feature was incorporated – why did America become the first nation of recent centuries to include this characteristic in its government documents. And why were governmental powers separated?

According to George Washington, John Adams, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and many other Framers, it was because of their belief in the religious teaching of the depravity of man as taught in churches of Reformed theology across America.
"

Which if it were written as ...

"According to George Washington, John Adams, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and many other Framers, it was because of their belief in the fallibility of man."

... I'd have no issue, but I think it doubtful that these bright and able men required religious instruction to conclude that men were fallible.

What I hope those who have endured my long comment is that my objections are largely of perspective and not substantive. While I'm encountered some followers of Mr. Barton who give me reason to be concerned, I am please to discover that Mr. Barton's perspective and mine overlap more than I had expected.

That said, I remain strongly fixed in the principle that Government should not engage in Evangelism. Ours is a proportionately religious Nation, of a proportionately Christian people, governed by secular laws. I firmly believe that our religious liberty would suffer under government Evangelism.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Ben, please do accept my compliments on your extremely fair and well-reasoned analysis of Mr. Barton's Texas arguments, which you don't dismiss out of hand.

And coming from you, Mr. Abbott, as someone who is unsympathetic to Mr. Barton on general principles, your opinion holds great weight. I wish he'd read what you wrote, to refine his arguments further for the unsympathetic but open-minded, but that's sadly unlikely. Sad for Mr. Barton and his POV, to which I meself am sympathetic, although you'd have to pay me to be his lawyer.

Your most sustainable objection, where Mr. Barton attempts to build a bridge too far between the founding of the American republic and the Old Testament:

By page 20, Mr. Barton losses me in what appears to me to be a sermon on how democratic government is rooted in Deuteronomy 1:13, Exodus 18:21, Deuteronomy 17:18-20, 31:24, II Chronicles 34:15-21, etc.

That's a non-starter. Perhaps the OT is prophetic in dictating or anticipating democracies or republics, but there was never one of either in Biblical history, where rubber might meet the road.

As for the fallibility of man---that he is "fallen, " and cannot be trusted---the contrary view was "modern"---that of Rousseau, that man is born some "noble savage," born pure and it's only "society" that perverts him.

This fundamental question about man's nature was at the core of the Founding of the "Novus ordo seclorum." I think Barton and Dr. Dreisbach especially go too far in crediting Calvinism for the Founding's decision to distrust man's "good nature" instead of distrusting it as his "fallen" nature.

But I do think this was the key to the American Founding, stepping away from falling over the precipice that the French Revolution did, in trusting in man, and believing ideology and "reason" could "reform" his nature, that "republican virtue" could replace personal virtue in the "good" citizen of a republic.

"> "The motives which predominate most in human affairs [are] self-love and self-interest...We must make the best of mankind as they are, since we
cannot have them as we wish."---GWash

I don't think it was religion or ideology

In the end, GWash [and Madison] decided Calvin was right on this one. But not based on religion or ideology, but on wisdom and experience.

But Calvin was on their shoulder, certainly, like some Jiminy Cricket, saying, I told you so. That made it easier to think, mebbe that dude was right.

Joe Winpisinger said...

"By page 20, Mr Barton losses me in what appears to me to be a sermon on how democratic government is rooted in Deuteronomy 1:13, Exodus 18:21, Deuteronomy 17:18-20, 31:24, II Chronicles 34:15-21, etc."

This is where he and the author of "Libertating the Nations" lose me too Ben. I was just stating this the other day in the comments.

I also was wondering why you would drop the fact that the DOI states that rights come from God? It is in there and that is what all of them believed. Even Jefferson it would seem.

I would also highly recommend that someone, if I have time I will but I am busy today, post Ben's comments on the main page. I agree with Tom:

Your words on this hold great weight and seem to indicate that there is so much venom on this topic that few actually understand what the other is saying. I find that most that comment on it do not bother to read what the people they are attacking actually said.

Ben,

You made my day reading this because you represent the best of this blog in that you actually do read what people say. Thanks for giving all of us a great example. Possibly that is why Barton chose to respond to her here. It is one of the few places where both can be welcome and safe. I hope it stays that way.


King/Joe

Joe Winpisinger said...

Tom,

I second all of your comments except about Calvin. I have one minor quibble that I think you would actually agree with:

First, the depravity/sinfulness of man doctrine goes back much further than Calvin and is not a Protestant idea in anyway. Second, and most important, is that the founding/renaissance?/enlightenment idea of the nature of men, while understanding are fallen nature as is clear in Madison's Federalist 10, it is also much more optimistic that man can do good and promote change on earth than Calvin's view.

It is this view of God and man that most overlook in this study. It is middle of the road compared to Calvin and French Enlightenment. Those who miss the subleties and the theology they are based on tend to lump people in one camp or the other and miss the heart of what I call "Rational Christianity".

IT IS NEITHER CALVIN OR FRENCH REVOLUTION. The term Theistic Rationalist does this. But that seems to go ignored here in out pursuit to nail Barton at times.

I repeat that most that comment on this topic do not understand the Bible or theology enough to do it. No different than the Pastor that wants to change the Biology standards and has not even read the book nor would understand it if he did!(Ed Brayton's correct claim) NO DIFFERENCE AT ALL!

King/Joe

bpabbott said...

Before new comments get buried under the old, I should mention that I'm quite pleased that Mr Barton commented here. I am hopeful he will do so again. I encourage all who respond to him do so respectfully. I think we can all benefit from a genuinely honest discussion and inquiry.

bpabbott said...

Joe/King, thanks for the compliments, but please don't post my comments to the front page. I had considered that, but decided against it.

Re: "I also was wondering why you would drop the fact that the DOI states that rights come from God? It is in there and that is what all of them believed. Even Jefferson it would seem."

What Mr. Barton wrote was;

"The principles set forth here and subsequently secured in the Constitution and Bill of Rights include:
1. There is a fixed moral law derived from God and nature
2. There is a Creator
"

My objection was to this enumerated list being secured by the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

But, you bring up a good point. Much/most/all(?) of my objections are moot if the reference to the Constitution and Bill of Rights were dropped.

bpabbott said...

Tom, thanks for the props!

Re: "As for the fallibility of man---that he is "fallen, " and cannot be trusted---the contrary view was "modern"---that of Rousseau, that man is born some "noble savage," born pure and it's only "society" that perverts him."

Certainly Rousseau's view is contrary to Calvin's, but I don't think it is the only alternative view. (Personally, I find blaming man's imperfection on society to be lame). I also don't care for Hobbes view that since man in the "state of nature […] has no idea of goodness he must be naturally wicked; that he is vicious because he does not know virtue". These ideologies don't' serve a constructive purpose, so I'm happy to ignore them all.

Its enough for me to realize that none of us are perfect and (pragmatically speaking) we need each other to keep ourselves and other in check (i.e. why man is imperfect is a pointless question for me).

Speaking of pragmatism, I like the GW quote you provided. Which I've duplicated below.

"The motives which predominate most in human affairs [are] self-love and self-interest ... We must make the best of mankind as they are, since we cannot have them as we wish."---GWash

Whether GW and/or Madison "decided Calvin was right on this one" I'm not sure. They certainly agreed with the pragmatic conclusion, but I don't have reason to conclude they reached their conclusions based upon Calvin's theology, or that they agreed with his Theology … but I may be drawing parallels from your comment that you didn't intend, so please take my comment as a qualification rather than as an objection.

Brian Tubbs said...

I want to publicly commend Ben Abbott for his very fair, even-handed, and respectful tone. Chris Rodda should take some notes.

Tom Van Dyke said...

IT IS NEITHER CALVIN OR FRENCH REVOLUTION.

Yes, those would be the extremes, and the Founding was neither one.

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