Friday, August 19, 2005

Fact vs. Fiction and the Origins of the American Democracy

This whole "Justice Sunday II" has brought all of the fundamentalists back out of the wood work, all rallied up by the speeches of a bunch of nuts. A lot of it had to do with the Tem Commandments and US law and the constitution. I have blogged on this before (Link).

If you ever have an argument with someone who claims that the US law and constitution is based on the Ten Commandments and the bible, have them read this speech by Pericles during the war between Athens and Sparta. Our founding fathers studied both the bible and this speech. Were the founding fathers religious? Yes, of course. So was Einstein, but that does not mean that the Bible was the foundation of his theory of relativity. It is no coincidence that the word "democracy" is Greek. It is no coincidence that the words "Republic" and "Senate" are Latin.

So, which one sounds more like the Constitution and American ideals -
"Do not have any other gods before Me"


I will speak first of our ancestors, for it is right and seemly that now, when we are lamenting the dead, a tribute should be paid to their memory. There has never been a time when they did not inhabit this land, which by their valor they will have handed down from generation to generation, and we have received from them a free state...
Our form of government does not enter into rivalry with the institutions of others. Our government does not copy our neighbors', but is an example to them. It is true that we are called a democracy, for the administration is in the hands of the many and not of the few. But while there exists equal justice to all and alike in their private disputes, the claim of excellence is also recognized; and when a citizen is in any way distinguished, he is preferred to the public service, not as a matter of privilege, but as the reward of merit. Neither is poverty an obstacle, but a man may benefit his country whatever the obscurity of his condition. There is no exclusiveness in our public life, and in our private business we are not suspicious of one another, nor angry with our neighbor if he does what he likes; we do not put on sour looks at him which, though harmless, are not pleasant. While we are thus unconstrained in our private business, a spirit of reverence pervades our public acts; we are prevented from doing wrong by respect for the authorities and for the laws, having a particular regard to those which are ordained for the protection of the injured as well as those unwritten laws which bring upon the transgressor of them the reprobation of the general sentiment.

So, no, out laws and nation were not founded on the Ten Commandments.

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