Jody Nagel
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On "Separation of Church and State"
 
 
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Force them to prove the existence of their god in a court of law,
before forcing everyone else to live by the laws of their supposed god.
 

On "Separation of Church and State"
by Jody Nagel
Philosophical Opinion
 
 
The American Constitution can be changed by amendment. If amendments were not permitted by the original Constitution, then we'd have to fight a war every time we wanted to alter anything.
 
I do not understand why people spend so much time "analyzing" what the American forefathers "meant" by what they said in the Constitution. Regardless of what they "meant", we can have the Constitution now as we see fit.
 
As an atheist, I don't care two hoots what the forefathers believed, when they used words like "freedom of religion," and "separation of church and state." What matters to me is what I mean by these words. And what should matter to you is what you mean by these words. You and I, here and now, should discuss what we mean, not what they meant 230 years ago.
 
I do not wish theistic religion forced on me. If you want it, fine. But keep it away from me. I want nothing to do with a government that claims to embrace "separation of church and state," but then finds as many opportunities for "getting around the issue" as it can.
 
In tax-paid-for public schools and government buildings, I want nothing to do with prayer to a non-existent silly concept. I pledge no allegiance to a flag that claims to be "under god" since that is a flag under non-existence. I will not "swear to god" to tell the truth when I am called to jury duty, since this is making a promise to nothing-at-all and a promise which I would have no reason to keep. Our flag should not be under anything, but over all Americans. My promise to tell the truth in a court of law should be compelling because I am the one that promised.
 
"The Ten Commandments" should only be displayed in public space if the space celebrates the diversity of American beliefs, including atheism: if the "roots" of law are expressed in public space with icons of EVERY religion and philosophy, then that's OK by me. But the blatantly Jewish/Christian emphasis of publicly posting "The Ten Commandments," with no accompanying symbols, is unacceptable to me. Likewise, in state-schools and state-universities, choirs frequently give concerts of Christian, and sometimes Jewish, choral music. They virtually never sing choral works expressing other religions and philosophies. Where is there "separation of church and state" or a "celebration of diversity" in this? These Christian choral concerts should not be allowed to take place on state-school and state-university grounds, or with state funding.
 
According to the principles of Natural Selectivity, over time, humans gleaned the nature of ethical behavior by the simple mathematical fact of what was working and what wasn't working (e.g., a hypothetical people that believed in the goodness of killing all the members of their own group did not survive long enough to have their genes pass on.) After humans developed an ethical awareness (and knowing nothing about concepts like Natural Selectivity), they created stories, after the fact, to explain and justify what they observed to be true. "The Ten Commandments" are not given from any god. They are human-created, and the idea that they were "given from god" is also human-created.
 
What worked then, and now, may or may not be the same. Jews decided that eating pork was wrong, way back when. Of course, in their hot climate, trichinosis infected most swine, and people probably would get sick or even die from eating pork. Conclusion: don't eat pork. However, with our government inspections and modern refrigeration, somehow I'm not too worried about "being wrong" if I eat pork. Stealing and murdering, though, still seem like a good thing to avoid.
 
I have no interest in other people's "belief in god." I'm convinced it's just their delusion, their rationalizing, their self-fulfilling prophecies, and, ultimately, their waste of time. But I will not have any government, no matter how subtly they attempt to disguise the wording, attempt to force me to take part in somebody else's cornball beliefs while I'm in a public school, a government building, or attending a government function.
 
 
Jody Nagel
February 27, 2005
 
 
 

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