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Separation of Church & State, Spirtuality, and Tolerance Revisited: Homage to Thomas Jefferson
The purpose of this essay is to perpetuate and revisit ideas of the essay topic, while paying homage to Thomas Jefferson by way of introductory quotes to each topic. Opinions expressed are solely mine unless stated otherwise.
"The clergy...believe that any portion of power confided to me [as President] will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly: for I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: and enough, too, in their opinion." - Thomas Jefferson
Separation of Church & State:
The wall between a tyrannical church state and a tyrannical business state as we're in now, resides in the separation of the church & state. Either way America is not in good shape at the moment, but we mustn't let church and state merge for the sake of those who love liberty. This very important idea has filled modern society with enlightenment and revolutionary ideas. So for the sake of progress, we can not allow the education system to be solely that of a church education system. When we teach and mold young minds into believing dinosaurs and people lived at the same time as each other, we are effectively poisoning their minds and dumbing them down. And as a population degrades in intelligence, our liberties are at risk because those who mold the minds hold an impression, and those who hold an impression can take power. Christians, whom desire to rid the wall between church and state also believe the United States was founded as Christian nation, in which firstly it wasn't, secondly it still isn't, and thirdly if we allow poisonous education to be spilled into the youth population pool, it will be, and as utopian for some people as that seems, it will be a tyranny and go against everything the founding fathers had based the United States on.
When the compassion towards a minority is lost, oppression begins. When oppression begins, so does violence. With violence comes instability, and with instability comes violent revolution. Note the French Revolution.
Let the churches, states, and federal systems fear those who dare to reason and spread reason, for it was the fruit of knowledge that was forbidden in the Garden of Eden, and so it is again inside the borders of the United States.
Solemnly stated, religion encroaches evermore on politics. While the influence of religion is permitted, it still oppresses the minority. And even more sad is the desire to "teach the controversy" and to teach things like Intelligent Design in Biology. However, evolution is a scientific theory that belongs in a science class such as Biology, ID or Intelligent Design is nothing more than theology or pseudo-science. Anyways, if teachers were required to teach all of the pseudo-science counter parts to actual science, the list would be enormous. Demon induced sickness as opposed to pathogenic caused sickness, I.D. vs evolution, "evil eyes" etc. It would be silly.
Thankfully the scientific community has rejected these subjects as science. However, right sided wing nuts are now unfortunately pushing this issue through a political manner now, rather than a scientific one. Personally I believe you can accept whatever you want, but do not push it into the wrong category and give something like I.D. the title and credibility of a science, if anything put it into a Civics class.
I ask, that for the love of liberty, we may protect our religious freedom and our separation of church and state, not only to protect liberty, logic, and reason, but to protect us from tyranny and a nation of incapable thinkers. Texas taking out Thomas Jefferson's teachings from their World History textbooks is appalling, disgusting, and a threat to liberty, especially because of the presumed religious prejudice towards this great man for his revolutionary ideas of separating the church & state.
"Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear." - Thomas Jefferson
Spirituality is more than just a religion or even a belief in God, it's a belief in purpose, and quite frankly purpose brings happiness. Exploring every corner of spirituality would be infinite in extent, mainly because theology brings us new thoughts everyday. The limits of philosophy are the limits of intelligence, to ponder is to liberate. Questioning established religious authority is not a bad thing in any sense of the word, but rather an amazing thing. Thought is the light in the abyss of fear, because what we do not understand, we come to fear. And to understand we must think.
Christianity and Buddhism are in all out honesty my favorite religions for their teachings, mainly those of Buddha and Jesus. (See, the Old Testament just does not flow well in this New Era, for obvious reasons of both morality and practicality.) In exploring these religions, we must acknowledge them as all other systems of thought, which we find as an ever flowing system. So with the birth of philosophy, and science, our religious system's bells and whistles are in danger. The traditional bells and whistles of religion cannot stand up to the reasoning and questioning of modern Philosophy, or the Large Hadron Collider and high powered telescopes of Science.
In this, it is not the death of spirituality or even the death of religion, it's simply the evolution of one school of thought to another. The faith and moral teachings of Jesus of Nazareth can still be highly important to a society even if they do not believe in a God. Same thing goes for Muhammad, Buddha, Krishna, etc. In fact, I believe the clinging onto the bells and whistles is what is killing religion and what has inspired violence to and from.
So how can an atheistic or deistic society be spiritual? By finding a cause bigger than themselves and passionately devoting themselves to it. This society would probably be much more efficient, because an atheist has to find alternate ways to support their position, and there's no religion to do that. An atheist would have to postulate and formulate their own beliefs and positions on the matter, or become educated enough to understand things like string theory, abiogenesis, quantum theory, and other complex scientific ideas. One or the other of these would require more brain power than going to Sunday school and memorizing Bible verses. There's a fundamental difference of ability between knowledge and intelligence. Intelligence is the ability to think and rationalize, knowledge is the memorization of what others have thought of and rationalized. So frankly, an unintelligible but knowledgeable mind is something of an idle mind, and an idle mind is a wasted mind. However, knowledge is still important, intelligence however is more important. The plumber first has to think about what is wrong with your toilet before he can apply his knowledge to fixing your toilet.
In summary of the latter, I believe that seeking knowledge and having faith in knowledge are two entirely different things. Science is a static system with ever changing principals, religion is almost just the opposite. You could argue intellectual high ground for theists because they think they know everything, or you could argue intellectual high ground for the atheist who knows nothing but has the capability to wonder, speculate, and scientifically prove what he knows. Intelligence is not a measure of what you know, but rather what you can come to know. And unfortunately the arrogance of an asserting theist is that they lack the intelligence to think, speculate, etc. And an idle mind is a wasted mind.
You also have to acknowledge that art, religion, and science all stem from the same branch of the human tree. They all seek knowledge, and unfortunately for theists that knowledge is being challenged every day by a greater epistemological process called science. And this has never really settled well for either side because when age-old "facts" are challenged, the toll of the ages takes place and clings to the age-old "facts."
So if spirituality means happiness, happiness doesn't necessarily imply God. I believe that religion and the belief of God is something of a prescription drug, in that it's given to someone for all the right reasons, but sometimes it can have all of the wrong side effects on a person.
"I never will, by any word or act, bow to the shrine of intolerance or admit a right of inquiry into the religious opinions of others." - Thomas Jefferson
Tolerance is one of those very well-said teachings of Jesus. He died questioning the tyranny and intolerance of the Synagogues, and by this he was supposed to inspire many others to do the same. Unfortunately many people have strayed away from this. What harm does it do to yourself to know your neighbor believes in the flying spaghetti monster? Does it break your bones or inflame your appendix? At the very least it may give you a stress related headache, so simply do not care for what your neighbors' personal beliefs are. One could very well be best friends with that neighbor, for personal belief is only one of many qualities of humans. So to let personal belief obstruct a friendship is to unsheathe the sword of ignorance and effectively stab your neighbor in the back. Tolerance is the effective use of compassion towards those who you may or may not agree with fully. And in this day and age, compassion is key to opening the doors of understanding.
Tolerance isn't just religious. While religious tolerance would fix many instances of intolerance, there still resides other issues. Regarding perspectivism, who's to say the glass is half full or empty? Or who's to say it isn't just a hearty mug of Bavarian Beer? Who's to say what is what, and who is who, and why is why? When all life is benign and conscious, who's to say one form of life is inferior to the other? If we all as a body of people and nations could reason that intolerance is intolerable, we wouldn't see mass genocides or social Darwinism that has affected so very many people.
Tolerance is especially important when one realizes that we are all one. We are all connected by the laws of biology, chemistry, and physics. So when we destroy another, we are effectively destroying pieces of ourselves. We are all star stuff that has drifted across the universe for billions of years until it clumped into the matter we know today. We must educate ourselves against the social norms until these social norms are the universal norm of using logic, reasoning, and tolerance to solve our ethical and daily problems. If logic, tolerance, and understanding of perspective is not implemented into society, then society shall be effectively destroyed blindly.