Burning down the country? Robert M. Shelby, 8-21-11. [1102 txt wds]

The American people were referred to as a sleeping giant by Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto after the indecisive attack on Pearl Harbor and the Hawaian airfields. In truth, it is as if a vast number of Americans are perpetually half asleep. Liken their brains to nuclear piles in atomic energy plants, you would have to suppose they all have big iron rods inserted through their brains to prevent them from rousing to a state of critical mass. So non-mental are these people that one could call them sleeping midgets who imagine they are awake, living lives at full size and thinking about matters intelligently. So lacking in conscious depth and access to their potential powers of understanding are these folks that their far right component and Tea Party types endanger the country. These sleepwalkers could burn down our constitutional nation.

In previous articles I wrote about these factors that dampen mental activity (here referred to as similar to iron rods in nuclear piles) in terms of SMD (Standard Metaphysical Disconnect) and SPD (Standard Political Disconnect — which can double as Standard Physics Disconnect.) A mind with these defects can scarcely get correct answers to any problem but arithmetical. Joshua Holland writes, in AlterNet 8-19-11: “A great irony of our political discourse is that those who describe themselves as ‘constitutional conservatives’ display not only habitual ignorance of what our founding documents proscribe, but also show blatant scorn for the most important principle they enshrine: the separation of powers.”

The founding fathers were property owning men, well educated for their times. Some had a classical education and could read Greek and Roman philosophers and historians in the original languages. A few knew Hebrew and could read scripture in as original a form as it came. This gave dimensions of perspective to their thinking not available to most other citizens. But, even more importantly, they were all aware of British and European histories if not in English then in the continental languages which some spoke fluently. Others became vicariously aware of the content of those nation’s books and articles by listening to their fellows, by reading translations or hearing lectures. They understood what caused centuries of bloody conflict in the Old World.

Differences of culture implicit in other languages gave these men some recourse to thoughtways beyond those of common folks on the street or at work in the fields. An ability to think outside conventional views and to stand apart from ordinary ideas gave them an ability to grasp what was necessary to build a stable political enterprise for governing our new nation. True, it did not come all at once, but within a decade after our founding, at the constitutional convention they could recognise the essential principles when clearly presented by the leading thinkers.

Joshua Holland continues: “In her book, The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party’s Revolution and the Battle Over American History, historian Jill Lepore writes that the problem with the Tea Partiers’ claimed fealty to the Constitution is that it’s a form of religion rather than analysis. ‘Originalism,’ Lepore writes, ‘looks like history, but it is not; it’s historical fundamentalism, which is to history what astrology is to astronomy, what alchemy is to chemistry, what creationism is to evolution.’” This generation of so-called Christians and pseudo-conservatives never learned or has forgotten the facts about why the Constitution came to be designed. We are not a “Christian nation,” but a secular nation for the best of reasons. We want no religious wars such as would ensue from lost separation between church and state, religion and politics.

People, like this current crop of aspirants for the Republican presidential candidacy, go shooting off their mouths within that somnambulistic but intense dream they share with their even less responsible followers. Left to them, we shall have fresh causes for new civil wars and a generation of chaos. The rest of us must call them to account and keep them under control if they cannot be awakened and given a sound education in the fundamentals of our polity, for these are not the Tea Party’s so-called “principles.” If they suddenly came to a real understanding of those “principles” they would have a good, crying laugh at themselves, go home sheepishly and be quiet.

In my previous piece, “Biblical truth? Literalism?” a paragraph starting, “Belief without knowledge is dangerous,” I wrote, “Fundamentalist Christians promote several false beliefs and support them with fallacious arguments.” Some of the more salient travesties among these “beliefs” need to be listed, exposed and exploded.

1.   Religion is the sole source and guardian of spirituality, and my church conveys the one and only true religion. False. Conversely, most religions stem from spirituality. Spirituality can exist without an organized or codified religion. Genuinely spiritual people can be found in every religion along with thoroughly unspiritual people.

2.   Family is the basis of society. False. Society is the basis of family. In the chaos of a world without society, family cannot survive save as a feudal defense force, a purely elemental grouping. The same holds for marriage. The institution of marriage however defined is part of an encompassing social contract to which all parties subscribe. Without solid society no institution of marriage or property stays meaningful or viable.

3.   Each person’s life begins at conception. False. A specific human organism starts with conception which may or may not carry through full gestation to birth. Its development is phased. After conception it must implant in the uterine wall and become an embryo. If all goes well it becomes a fetus. It is not a baby until it gets born. Then it does not become a person until it learns to interact voluntarily with other people in self-referential ways as a sociable being. (It’s incredible how much ignorant confusion surrounds this subject and how many otherwise sensible people obfuscate about it for reasons stemming from poorly understood biology or ill-informed religiosity.)

4.   What I perceive and experience as real is “out there in the world.False. Everything I sense, know or experience happens inside my skin as a function of my nervous system. My brain uses information to model a world imagined as outside my skin but I can never touch it. Each one of us models a world in his head. We communicate only to what degree our models match up with each other’s. Matching “outer reality” is the work only of science. This is no mere matter of opinion. You’re free to disagree ignorantly. Otherwise, perhaps you should study General Semantics or epistemology and the philosophy of science.

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