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(57,936 posts)
5. A couple of offhand comments (not well thought through so
Fri May 16, 2014, 12:24 AM
May 2014

criticism is welcome).

1) Christians (and members of other religions) are persecuted around the world. Egypt comes to mind as does maybe Saudi Arabia, and those are just a couple of examples.

2) But with regard to the Supreme Court's disapproval of putting the Ten Commandments on the lawn of City Hall somewhere while the Court has the Ten Commandments on its own walls, the confusion, I suspect (and could be wrong) arises from a misunderstanding about the First Amendment to the Constitution.
Here is the text:

U.S. Constitution › First Amendment
. . . .
Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.


If a local government places or sponsors the placement of a symbol or language or a specifically religious artifact on public property to endorse a religious holiday or belief but does not permit other religious groups to place their symbols, artifacts, etc. on its public property to endorse their religious (or atheist) ideas or holidays, then that local government is establishing a religion. That is prohibited by the First Amendment. That is why a local government may not place the Ten Commandments on its lawn. Because that is the establishment of a religion -- the Jewish or Christian religious traditions.

The Supreme Court has as yet not been considered to be establishing a religion due to the display of the Ten Commandments on its walls. That is because the friezes on the walls of the Supreme Court represent the most revered lawgivers in history.

"Cass Gilbert (1867-1934), architect of the Supreme Court Building, selected Adolph A. Weinman (1870-1952), a respected and accomplished Beaux-Arts sculptor, to design the marble friezes for the Courtroom. Weinman’s training emphasized a correlation between the sculptural subject and the function of the building. Gilbert relied on him to choose the subjects and figures that best reflected the function of the Supreme Court Building. Faithful
to classical sources and drawing from many civilizations, Weinman designed a procession of “great lawgivers of history” for the south and north walls to portray the development of law. Each frieze in
the Courtroom measures 40 feet long by 7 feet, 2 inches high and is made of ivory vein Spanish marble.

Weinman’s sculpture begins on the South Wall Frieze with Fame and moves from left to right. Included among the great lawgivers are allegorical figures whose names are included below the images in


I think this is such a great historical tribute that I will list all the great lawmakers honored on the walls of our Supreme Court and mentioned in the article I cite:

Menes -- Egypt
Hammurabi -- Babylon
Moses -- Mosaic law (which some think was somewhat inspired or related to Hammurabi's code). They are different.
Solomon -- Israel
Lycurgus -- Sparta
Solon -- Athens
Draco -- Athens
Confucius -- China
Octavian -- Rome
Justinian -- Byzantine Empire
Mohammad -- Prophet of Islam (Muslim religion)
Charlemagne -- Franks and Roman Empire
King John -- signed Magna Carta
Louis IX -- St. Louis
Hugo Grotius -- Dutch and wrote on international law
Blackstone -- great British legal scholar
John Marshall -- American
Napoleon -- Napoleonic Code

The Ten Commandments appears on the walls of the Supreme Court not to symbolize the establishment of the Jewish or Christian religion as the religion of our country but to recognize its historic importance. That is why it is not a violation of the First Amendment.

As for evolution, anyone who questions the scientific basis for the "theory" of evolution should read "Your Inner Fish" by Neil Shubin. Evolution is called a theory, but it is a pretty well established and proven theory.

Cleaning house last week, I discovered a copy of an old National Geographic magazine from Feb. 2009. The front teases the reader with the title "What Darwin Didn't Know." The magazine contains an article, "Darwin's First Clues" followed by the article "Modern Darwins." The theory of evolution is simply based on the idea that the plants and animals that survive and reproduce successfully are most likely those most favorably adapted to the current environment. Over time, traits like human speech, give biological beings such an edge that the successful species with the advantageous traits distinguish themselves as a new sort of biological life form. (Personally, I believe we are ultimately all a part of life itself and linked in more ways to other animals, plants and living beings than we realize, so survival of the fittest is survival of life itself and that includes all of us.)

There isn't anything complicated about evolution. It's just common sense backed up by DNA.

Here is an excerpt from that National Geographic article, "Modern Darwins."

". . . off the Gulf Coast of Florida, beach mice have paler coats than mice living on the mainland. This camouflages them better on pale sand: owls, hawks, and herons eat more of the poorly disguised mice, leaving others to breed. Hopi Hoekstra . . . and her colleagues traced the color difference to the change of a single letter in a single gene, which cuts down the production of pigment in the fur. The mutation has occurred since its beach islands formed less than 6,000 years ago."

National Geographic, Feb. 2009, at pages 58-59. (May be available in some electronic form from National Geographic or your library.)

Clearly, if the lighter beach mice are not eaten as frequently as are the darker ones, the lighter mice breed and reproduce themselves more successfully. Thus the beach mice become differentiated based on color with the lighter ones forming a special group and living on the light colored sand. That is a step in the process of evolution -- the separation of the beach mice by color and location.

As more information and understanding are acquired, the errors in the nascent theory that Darwin espoused about evolution are set aside.

Another quote from that Feb. 2009 edition of National Geographic at page 71:

"Though modern genetics vindicates Darwin in all sorts of ways, it also turns the spotlight on his biggest mistake. Darwin's own ideas on the mechanism of inheritance were a mess -- and wrong. He thought that an organism blended together a mixture of its parents' traits, and later in his life he began to believe it also passed on traits acquired during its lifetime. He never understood, as the humble Moravian monk Gregor Mendel did, that an organism isn't a blend of its two parents at all, but the composite result of lots and lots of individual traits passed down by its father and passed on from their own parents and their grandparents before them.
citation above.

The gift of gab, being able to speak and communicate well on the radio, TV or internet is a wonderful thing. I love talk radio, but some of the hosts on talk radio need to research the topics they plan to discuss. Opinions on political issues -- even those should be based on research and facts.

Theories that are not based on research and facts should be identified as such or part of a conversation of theories that could give rise to research and compiling facts. It is not helpful just to assert that you do not believe in evolution unless you understand the current state of the research supporting the theory of evolution. A person with a large audience who spouts ideas without checking to find out whether maybe those ideas are wrong does a grave disservice to his listeners. He is spreading ignorance and misunderstanding.

On that note, all religions meet up with intolerance. So do self-described atheists. We all need to work together to be more sensitive to the religious beliefs of others. And we need to make sure that our government guarantees our freedom of religion by making it clear that our government does not endorse or establish any particular religion. That is my opinion. I believe that idea best complies with the First Amendment.

I respect all religious beliefs. I also respect atheists' ideas and suspicion of religion. But I cherish my own spiritual sense and my own study of what is common to all religions and to atheism.

Sorry my posts are long and maybe ranting, but I'm very detail-oriented and don't want to spend a lot of time editing posts that will be read once if that often.

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