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17 november 2004

Abe Lincoln was a Republican

...but do the Neo-Know-Nothings know what kind?

I learned a new thing today. I learned about the most successful Third Political Party in the USA ever—except, of course, for Lincoln's Republican Party (arguably, the Party of Lincoln no longer exists, just the name does): the Know-Nothings. It was a party established to champion the rights and values of White Protestant [male] voters who were feeling threatened in the face of immigrants who might overturn their comfortable applecart. Sound familiar?

Ok, and I learned a new thing yesterday: the word fideism. Dictionary.com's definition is tame enough, at first blush: "Reliance on faith alone rather than scientific reasoning or philosophy in questions of religion". Neat, tidy, and most importantly, well-applied solely to religion. Good so far.

You'll see around the web all this claptrap about the so-called Party of Lincoln. Back then it was about bringing freedom to those who didn't have it. It was about course-correcting the country in favor of the spirit of the United States Constitution so that later this revised, more splendid spirit could be codified into the letters of the document itself. The Republicans of that day were responsible for the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, which abolish slavery, guarantee civil rights and also suffrage, respectively. Nice job, guys.

And especially nice job, Mr. Lincoln. Which brings me back to the Know-Nothings. Of them, he wrote:

Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that 'all men are created equal.' We now practically read it 'all men are created equal, except Negroes.' When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read 'all men are created equal, except Negroes and foreigners and Catholics.' When it comes to this, I shall prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty -- to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.

This was written before the Civil War, mind you. This was President Lincoln's worldview—regardless of the law. There's an irony here, in that a certain Martin Luther said the exact same thing, only far more tersely: "Sin Bravely."

For you literalist, right-wing moonbats out there, of course the father of Protestantism wasn't advocating sinning. At the least, he was cautioning against claiming self-righteousness. At best, I like to think he was insisting that one not compound a sin by also refusing to take responsibility for the sin in the first place.

The Know-Nothings were not brave in their sinning. They hid behind a curtain of public fear; they undermined good will and individual security just to accomplish their fevered, self-involved goals.

Today's version of the Know-Nothings are, sadly, the Republicans. This is what has become of the Party of Lincoln.

The general populace who support the Republicans these days not only volunteer victimhood to the Republicans in power, they have become their footsoldiers. Look at the arguments those people have made for choosing ineptitude for four more years: "moral values", "I just know he's a good guy" and "he's one of us". All considerations that have nothing to do with, well, consideration. Or with thinking or with reasoning or even with philosophy. They are today's fideists.

They argue that their faith alone is valid to any argument. They don't argue, come to think of it, they merely state. And there is no disagreement, because there is nothing to agree with. You are simply wrong and they're right because Jesus told them so. Jesus also apparently has told President Bush he's doing good work. Hard work.

I cannot underestimate the damage that fideism can do once it has taken root in bureaucratic bodies. Even the Catholics understood this, still understand this:

Fideism owes its origin to distrust in human reason, and the logical sequence of such an attitude is scepticism. It is to escape from this conclusion that some philosophers, accepting as a principle the impotency of reason, have emphasized the need of belief on the part of human nature, either asserting the primacy of belief over reason or else affirming a radical separation between reason and belief, that is, between science and philosophy on the one hand and religion on the other.

Example: witness Andrew Sullivan, a practicing Catholic, prattling about faith and Jesus being valid rhetorical method. He's basically saying that a person's faith is not to be discounted when having an argument (and here I take argument to mean 'a discourse intended to change the nature of a truth') about worldly things. Even the Catholics disagree with this kind of thing.

But if the Know-Nothings have their way this time around, the Catholics won't matter, either.

Posted by jeff at 17 november 2004 1:50

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Tracked on 20 november 2004 3:29


I'm working on a tag for you. Neo-con deserves a rewrite. Neo-clod is the best I can do right now, but I'll keep working on it. I'm searching for a word for idiot or fool of one syllable that starts with "co" or ends with "on". It'll come to me.

By the way arguing with this people is impossible, except within their bubble. They believe TimothyII 3:16 that their scripture is good for all things. That it teaches them how to be. If you can't cite scripture to your purpose, your doomed. What's worse if you do, you can still be the devil arguing with their own text. In "the book" Satan used God's own words to tempt Christ in the wilderness.

Posted by: Lee (Skittles) at 17 november 2004 6:50

I was going to say neo-clowns, but they're not funny. Maybe we can call the evangelicals who follow them blindly the neo-pawns?

I'm still workin on it.

Posted by: Lee(Skittles) at 17 november 2004 14:05

Yes, Lincoln was a Republican. However his party falls more in line with what the Demorcrats or Libertarians are today. Also, since the Evangelicals and Religious-Right have hijacked the Republican Party, it's even more messed up. Lincoln would NOT be a Republican if he were alive today. He believe in equality. The Republicans do not. **steps of soapbox**

Posted by: Eric at 17 november 2004 18:25

Lincoln worked more against the Constitution than anything else. Your discourse on the idiots of the Know-Nothings is spot-on, but placing the mythological Mr Lincoln as some moral counterpoint is strictly 9th grade filmstrips, and short of the mark.

The Emancipation Proclamation was political trickery that had nothing to do with emancipation. It didn't free anybody. It was made to keep Britain out of the war. It was black soldiers that freed the slaves.

There are versions of fideism that are secular as well, only these days we just call it drinking the koolaid. I see koolaid in lots of places. Especially amidst hacks for the Democratic Party who fool people into believing they are about liberty, when what they really want is the same thing the Republicans want; statist power over our lives. Like Lincoln.

Talk about moonbats... How about neo-moonbats? Another name for the two major parties in this country?

Posted by: Boileryard Clarke at 17 november 2004 19:24

I actually wasn't placing Lincoln into a mythical anything, other than a personification of the Republican party as it stood then, in what it accomplished—for whatever political reasons—back then.

Secular fideists don't really figure, for me, because they lack the traditional clout of the god-ridden.

Posted by: GodOfBiscuits at 17 november 2004 19:34

God-ridden? Oh, please can I steal that. It's so much easier to use than Religious Reich.

Posted by: Lee(Skittles) Author Profile Page at 17 november 2004 19:50

GoB: I'm wondering where your idea about fideism came from. Do you mean to imply that Christians (especially Catholics) are fideists? I don't understand. I am a Catholic, but not a fideist. (If you think I must be a fideist, you really don't understand Catholicism.) Perhaps you should read Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason) by Pope John Paul II. I think you'd be very surprised by what he says. (I'm sure you can download--or otherwise obtain--a copy from www.ewtn.com.) Faith and reason work together--building on and supporting each other--to lead one to the truth. I'm not afraid of the truth. I'm not afraid of reason. And faith (properly understood) supports them both because truth is ONE. After all, God, the object of our faith, created us with the faculty of reason so that we could freely come to know, love and serve Him. He IS Truth itself. The problem is, reason only takes us so far, and if we rely on reason ALONE we'll never attain the FULLNESS of truth. Thank you.

Posted by: the Green Flash at 18 november 2004 21:25

I don't mean to imply anything. I'm flat-out saying that the so-called "morals voters" are flat-out fideists.

The Catholics, back in the day when they abided folks like Aquinas, had decided that fideism actually conflicted with faith. I didn't bother figuring THAT one out, but I support their conclusion.

I meant to imply that once the politico-christians have swept through all of non-christendom, they'll turn on the 'radical' christian groups like the Catholics.

"They pray to statues!" "They actually believe they're eating jesus' body!"

That sort of thing.

Posted by: GodOfBiscuits at 18 november 2004 21:35

As for Free Will, I'd argue that that also includes the freedom to come to different conclusions.

if an omnipotent god created non-theists, one would think that he loves them, too, and knew all along how it was going to go for them.

Posted by: GodOfBiscuits at 18 november 2004 21:37

Thank you for that clarification. Aquinas was arguably the greatest thinker the Church has ever produced--if you have the chance to read his stuff, you'll know what I mean.

Yes, God is omnipotent (if He wasn't, He wouldn't be God, would He?) and He created everyone and everything, and He DOES love everyone (He cannot do otherwise, since besides being Truth itself, He is also Love itself). But, being the creator, He is outside time. His "abode" is eternity--outside the confines and limitations of time. He sees the whole shebang at once--from the creation of the universe to its final end. He knows what we will do (from our perspective), not because He determines it (He doesn't), but because (from His perspective) it's already happened. In eternity, there is no "then" or "later." Everything is "now." (This is hard for even the deepest thinkers to understand--even Aquinas, so don't worry too much about it.)

So yes, it means that everyone is perfectly free to accept or reject anything (come to different conclusions, as you say). It's always our choice, and God can help with grace if we let Him, but He never forces us. Thanks again.

Posted by: the Green Flash at 18 november 2004 22:20

Aquinas, in my opinion, had braces on his brain.

It saddens me to think about what he could have accomplished without the limits of absolutism he lived with.

I find it interesting that you feel the need to apply physics to the existence of a deity.

I've read Aquinas, have you read Gödel?

Posted by: GodOfBiscuits at 18 november 2004 22:49

Yes, God is omnipotent (if He wasn't, He wouldn't be God, would He?) and He created everyone and everything, and He DOES love everyone (He cannot do otherwise, since besides being Truth itself, He is also Love itself).

That is the most chocked full string of illogic I've seen in a long time.

Take the omnipotence part...answer this:

Could God create a stone so heavy he couldn't lift it? Omnipotence is just one of those fanciful and meaningless terms of quality that humans like to overlay on something to try to gain control over it. Like trying to fix the unknown in place with a spray words. Omniscience is another one of those.

The last part of your statement about "truth" and "love" basically just says that God has infinite limitations from which He cannot escape, that would make the nature of the Creation more omnipotent than the nature of the Creator wouldn't it? See what I mean about those sorts of comments being fanciful and meaningless?

And I'll take Gödel over Aquinas any day.

Faith is irrational which is not to say unuseful, but it must always be bridled by reason. History is replete with the horrific results of faith being allowed in the saddle...it always ends up in a regrettable disaster. And it has always been reason which has saved us from those disasters.

Posted by: cul Author Profile Page at 20 november 2004 3:07

Could God create a stone so heavy he couldn't lift it?
This is a common canard against faith in God and is easily dealt with. Inability to lift an object is a limitation, an imperfection. God is perfect and has no limitations. Here are some other things God cannot do: He cannot lie (since doing so would be the absence of truth, and He is Truth) and He cannot kill himself (cease to exist), since He is existence itself (the name He gave to Moses is "I AM"). In short, God cannot contradict Himself.

The last part of your statement about "truth" and "love" basically just says that God has infinite limitations from which He cannot escape...
"Infinite limitations" is an oxymoron. Infinite means "without limitations," so my statement could not possibly mean what you think it means. It is your statement that is meaningless, not mine. Try again.

Posted by: the Green Flash at 20 november 2004 15:48

Green Flash, you said "god cannot" several times. That negates omnipotence.

do you know what a canard is?

In other words, don't just give us an "an extravagant or absurd report or story", PROVE IT. Or at least let me know how I can prove your statements myself.

Posted by: GodOfBiscuits at 20 november 2004 16:10

Read carefully: God cannot contradict Himself. A contradiction is a denial of a thing. A denial is the absence of something (as a vacuum is the absence of air), not a positive thing itself. A vacuum is not a "thing." The word vacuum means there is NOTHING there. In God, everything is positive, not negative. He can do all things, He cannot NOT do anything. (These are theological statements, not scientific statements. I cannot "prove" them. They require faith to understand them, and faith is a gift from God. If you don't have faith, I don't expect you to understand them. That's OK.) Canard: "a false story, report or rumor, usually derogatory; hoax."

Posted by: the Green Flash at 20 november 2004 16:30

no, YOU read carefully. All this posturing is something you get from what you were taught, and which cannot be proven NOR disproven.

Therefore, in the course of a rational argument, it's just an extravagant claim.

You can't prove a god exists. I cannot disprove that one exists.

In the utter absence of evidence to substantiate that a god does exist, and in the abundance of evidence to suggest we don't need to invoke the concept of a god to explain the universe, I'll go with a "we can't know so why bother trying?" on whether s/he exists or not.

Posted by: GodOfBiscuits Author Profile Page at 20 november 2004 16:48

I don't know if you are angry or not, but you seem angry from what you've just written. (Sorry if I'm reading more into it than is there.) There is an old saying (I think it can be found in the Psalms or Proverbs): "Only the fool says in his heart there is no God." Now, I admit & agree that the existence of God cannot be proven scientifically. Science allows us to investigate the material universe. But God created the material universe and is outside of his creation, and is in no way limited by it. Science is limited to the material world. It cannot investigate God, you can't put God under a microscope. You need something other than science to find God. So if science is the only tool of investigation or "proof" you will accept, you're right. You'll never find God. But that's OK too, because even though you aren't looking for Him, He's looking for YOU. He IS your Father, even though you disowned Him and deny He exists. A good father never gives up on his child. He'll be right behind you if/whenever you ask for His help or forgiveness (mercy). There is no sin that is greater than God's power/willingness to forgive. (All sins ever commited from the beginning to the end of time put together are like an amoeba adrift in the ocean of God's mercy). As far as evidence goes, His "fingerprints" are all over creation: the order of the universe from the galaxies and planets down to individual cell structures. Order requires intelligence. Things left on their own tend toward disorder (2nd law of thermodynamics, a.k.a. entropy). There's more to the universe than matter and energy. There is also information, which also requires intelligence (e.g. DNA's "genetic code" or the text inside a book, or even this blog). Where did all that order come from? Not chance. Take a box of Lego pieces and drop it on the floor and watch what happens (that's entropy). You have to use intelligence and your hands to give order to a box of Legos, right? The same is true of the universe (down to its smallest detail). Order. Information. Think about it.

Posted by: the Green Flash at 20 november 2004 19:14

Green Flash:

You are missing completely what I said and are speaking in circular self-referential arguments. Everything you have said has this equivolence: the Bible is true because the Bible says it is true. You seem to be incapable of discerning the "bubble" of irrationality which contains you and seem to prefer getting caught up in the semantics of the words used to say a thing, rather than dealing with the thing being said.

Also, many of your statements are simply sophomoric, proselytizing assertions with no foundation whatsoever:

Order requires intelligence.

Prove it.

Things left on their own tend toward disorder...

You mean like life? You mean like self-organizing molecules? You mean like when energy is removed from water it crystalizes and becomes more ordered not less? And do you suppose that the patterned order of a snowflake requires intelligence on the part of the water molecules to self-organize in the particular way they do?

What exactly do you mean by intelligence?
What exactly do you mean by information?
What exactly do you mean by order?

Please try not to circular in your defintions and most of all, please stop your proselytizing as it is not only useless and annoying but rude and immature. So far none of the ideas you have presented in that vein have struck us as novel or instructive.

Posted by: cul Author Profile Page at 20 november 2004 21:26

Oh dear, pulling the old '2nd law of thermodynamics' bit, huh?

Interesting that you resort to science when it suits.

And I never said I denyed the existence of anything outside the closed system that is the universe.

I merely said that it's impossible to know anything outside of a closed system if you're a part of that system.

Why do you insist that I am denying? Because I am not praising and testifying?

Posted by: GodOfBiscuits Author Profile Page at 20 november 2004 21:41

"Order requires intelligence"

I think he means ordered by laws -- such as the laws of physics. Law, order, intelligence, God, all imply consciousnesses and will.

"You mean like self-organizing molecules? You mean like when energy is removed from water it crystalizes and becomes more ordered not less? And do you suppose that the patterned order of a snowflake requires intelligence on the part of the water molecules to self-organize in the particular way they do?"

Assuming there is a creator God, he would have created molecules and snowflakes to behave according to certain patterns -- those patterns imply an existing order, such as the laws of cause and effect.

In other words, the belief in God Green Flash is describing challenges the notion that the universe is random and arbitrary. Belief in God does not necessarily challenge science, nor does science necessarily challenge the existence of God, unless you want it to. It's possible both can coexist. Certainly, Einstein and Pascal were convinced that they do.

Posted by: diana at 21 november 2004 0:51

"Things left on their own tend toward disorder."

I think if you read "Chaos Theory" you might change your mind about that.

Posted by: diana at 21 november 2004 1:05

As far as "Lincoln Was A Republican," thanks for setting the historic record straight, but I have to agree with Lee:

"arguing with these people is impossible"

That the Republican wingnuts now want to claim Lincoln as their patron saint is pattently absurd.

It just leaves me feeling...WHATTHEFUCKEVA.

Posted by: diana at 21 november 2004 2:00

Diana, you may be right.

The Green Flash, for example, shows up with his reasonableness forward, but go check out his blog and you find the tired old Catholic party line, and takes it even further to the old chestnut about homosexuality being like drug addiction and alcoholism.


Posted by: GodOfBiscuits at 21 november 2004 19:56

Thank you, all.
GoB: I'm sorry for calling you an atheist when you're really an agnostic. Really sorry.

Posted by: the Green Flash at 21 november 2004 20:03

Ahh yes, Thou Shalt Have Labels.

I read your blog, Green Flash. Just call me a Lowlife Faggot and be done with it.

At least I'd appreciate the economy of words.

Posted by: GodOfBiscuits at 21 november 2004 20:06

GodofBuiscuits, yes I see that he quotes "Catholic Answers" in his post against Gay marriage. I note the authorative opening statement: "There can be no such thing as homosexual "marriage."

Can you hear the judges gavel pounding the table?

The presumption is that he or the Church or the government has a right to make that pronouncement. Who is to say? Who defines marriage? Only the partners can rightly make that decision for themselves.

He makes other obviously rigid Catholic pronoucements: sex is about reproduction. Says who? The church? *I* decide what sex means to me, and I will defend another's right to decide the same for themselves.

Posted by: diana at 21 november 2004 23:46

Theists LOVE the word 'agnostic'. It's their way of grabbing hold of those they view as "on the fence" and slapping a god-relative label on them.

It's the same reason they call same-sex marriage "gay marriage", as if they don't also get the benefit of marrying someone of the same sex even if they're straight!

Posted by: GodOfBiscuits at 24 november 2004 0:10

Yes, words are a tangle.

There is a wordless world that exists parallel to our constructs. It is found in nature, in science, in art, in love, in dreams, pictures, hieroglyphics -- and basically everywhere BUT words. The English language is particularly puritanical -- there are all these subliminal moral judgements. How often do English speaking peopel use the word "wrong" when they mean "false." Wrong carries a moral connotation. "YOU'RE WRONG!" is heard everywhere, it laces all our discourse. More subtle meanings and ironies are lost to us when we use words to compete and strike each other down. It is truly a "Babble of Tongues."

"We are drunk with words, we are deseased with words" - Stella Adler

Our language has become a tool for propagandists, and has therefore become almost completely corrupted. We use words for everything but what they are meant for, which is to COMMUNICATE."

Posted by: diana at 24 november 2004 15:20

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