Fight Truth Decay

By image - November 10, 2003

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I have seen perhaps no more poignant statement reflecting the condition of modern American society. 

There is a growing rift in America society over "the truth". This rift is a product of over fifty years of Cold War ideology that has deeply impacted American society. The picture above, taken near my home in Florida, reflects a growing movement in America to bury one's head in the sand. The truth is that there is a significant disparity between reality and what the majority of Americans believe is true. In the presence of this situation a strong "conservative" movement is growing in America, which is seeking to reshape "the truth" to fit their beliefs.

The sign obviously reflects one of the most dangerous aspects of human culture, the tendency for religious escapism when facts do not match beliefs. The sign is obviously indicative of a mindset that The Bible holds the truth, and anything that conflicts with The Bible must be a lie. This has been common throughout history of course, but this is 2003 in the most powerful country in the world, and I think that this goes beyond just religion, this goes into the matters of State as well.

The fact is that an entire worldview has been crafted in America since World War II which is very much removed from reality. This worldview has been crafted by establishment interests and encompasses matters of Church, State, and Commerce.

The call being issued by this church is a call to prevent introspection and critical analysis of American history and policy, a call to prevent expanding scientific knowledge and understanding, and a call not to dispel the popularly accepted fallacies pervasive in American society, in other words, a call to fight against "shattering the illusion".

It is this attitude that now places the very principles of the founding of America at risk. 

At the heart of this American movement to bury our collective heads in the sand is the conservative belief that America was founded on "conservative" principles. The irony of this of course is that nothing is farther from the truth. America was founded on the very principles of liberalism and reason. America was founded as the most progressive force in the history of the world. America's gift to the world was not "conservatism", it was the triumph of radicalism, the triumph of reason, the triumph of liberalism. The founding of America was the most profound and successful liberal event in the history of the world, which helped to promote the next most profound and liberal event in the history of the world, the French Revolution, and the two complimented each other to strengthen the light of liberty around the world.

The past 50 years of Cold War ideology have destroyed the greatest strength that America ever had, it's liberal ideological core. The torch of liberty is the torch of liberalism, they are one and the same thing.

The most important man in American history is arguably Thomas Paine, as John Adams stated: "Without the pen of Paine the sword of Washington would have been wielded in vain." He is the man that helped to raise awareness and set the events of Revolution in motion. He certainly did not do that by telling people to bury their noses in the Bible, no, in fact he did the opposite. In addition Paine did not stop once the American Revolution had been completed; no, he then went to Paris and helped to promote revolution there as well. Paine was not a nationalist, his views were international; his goal: total liberty for all mankind.

Benjamin Franklin remarked to Paine after the American Revolution, "Where liberty is, that is my country," Paine replied, "Where liberty is not, that is mine."

The founders were not men who viewed themselves as the authorities of humanity, as  codifiers of truth for all time, they were men who more than anything wanted to secure the idea that every generation must determine the truth and act on it accordingly. They were not dogmatic; they did not seek to cement the world to their views; they desired to make it possible for all of mankind to determine for themselves what they believed.

Thomas Paine wrote:

"The circumstances of the world are continually changing, and the opinions of men change also; and as government is for the living, and not for the dead, it is the living only that has any right in it. That which may be thought right and found convenient in one age, may be thought wrong and found inconvenient in another. In such cases, who is to decide, the living, or the dead?"

"I have always strenuously supported the right of every man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies another this right makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it."

"The countries the most famous and the most respected of antiquity are those which distinguished themselves by promoting and patronizing science, and on the contrary those which neglected or discouraged it are universally denominated rude and barbarous. The patronage which Britain has shown to Arts, Science and Literature has given her a better established and lasting rank in the world than she ever acquired by her arms."

"All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit."

"It is from the Bible that man has learned cruelty, rapine and murder; for the belief of a cruel God makes a cruel man."

"There is scarcely any part of science, or anything in nature, which those imposters and blasphemers of science, called priests, as well Christians as Jews, have not, at some time or other, perverted, or sought to pervert to the purpose of superstition and falsehood."

"The study of theology, as it stands in Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on nothing; it proceeds by no authorities; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing and admits of no conclusion."

"No falsehood is so fatal as that which is made an article of faith."

"Of all the tyrannies that afflict mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst. Every other species of tyranny is limited to the world we live in, but this attempts a stride beyond the grave and seeks to pursue us into eternity."

"Yet this is trash that the Church imposes upon the world as the Word of God; this is the collection of lies and contradictions called the Holy Bible! this is the rubbish called Revealed Religion!"

Paine did believe in "God".  He believed in a god, but he did not believe that "religion" was beneficial. Paine instead saw religion as a man made institution that not only prevented man from understanding God, but also prevented man from understanding man.

"Soon after I had published the pamphlet Common Sense, in America, I saw the exceeding probability that a revolution in the system of government would be followed by a revolution in the system of religion. The adulterous connection of church and state, wherever it had taken place, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, had so effectually prohibited by pains and penalties, every discussion upon established creeds, and upon first principles of religion, that until the system of government should be changed, those subjects could not be brought fairly and openly before the world; but that whenever this should be done, a revolution in the system of religion would follow. Human inventions and priestcraft would be detected; and man would return to the pure, unmixed and unadulterated belief of one God, and no more.

Every national church or religion has established itself by pretending some special mission from God, communicated to certain individuals. The Jews have their Moses; the Christians their Jesus Christ, their apostles and saints; and the Turks their Mahomet, as if the way to God was not open to every man alike.

Each of those churches show certain books, which they call revelation, or the word of God. The Jews say, that their word of God was given by God to Moses, face to face; the Christians say, that their word of God came by divine inspiration: and the Turks say, that their word of God (the Koran) was brought by an angel from Heaven. Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all."

In 1925 Thomas Edison wrote of Paine:

"Tom Paine has almost no influence on present-day thinking in the United States because he is unknown to the average citizen. Perhaps I might say right here that this is a national loss and a deplorable lack of understanding concerning the man who first proposed and first wrote those impressive words, 'the United States of America.' But it is hardly strange. Paine's teachings have been debarred from schools everywhere and his views of life misrepresented until his memory is hidden in shadows, or he is looked upon as of unsound mind."

And it is this man, Tom Paine, who is more singularly responsible for liberty as it exists everywhere in the world today than any other man. And it is Thomas Paine's type of thinking that is under strong attack in America, possibly as strong an attack as it has ever been under. The very men and ideas that gave America, and the world, liberty are still under attack from the very things that those men decried, the desire to close up minds inside an ancient book.

Thomas Jefferson shared many of Paine's views on liberty, freethought and religion as well. Both Paine and Jefferson were attacked in their day as wretched, lascivious, immoral men, and no two men did more to advance the reality of liberty and freedom then any other man. It is the ultimate irony that these men, who are responsible for lighting and preserving the torch of liberty more than perhaps any other men in the history of the world, are now abused by "conservative" thinkers and used to try and create a mythical anti-liberal image of not only our own past, but of the entire concept of liberty and truth itself.

Jefferson wrote of religion and its institutions:

"History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes."

"In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. It is easier to acquire wealth and power by this combination than by deserving them, and to effect this, they have perverted the purest religion ever preached to man into mystery and jargon, unintelligible to all mankind, and therefore the safer engine for their purposes."

"The Christian religion, when divested of the rags in which they [the clergy] have enveloped it, and brought to the original purity and simplicity of it's benevolent institutor, is a religion of all others most friendly to liberty, science, and the freest expansion of the human mind."

"Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch toward uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one-half the world fools and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth."

Again, Jefferson did believe in God, but he also recognized the tendency of religious institutions to thwart rational thinking, free thought and understanding. Jefferson himself was a man of science, and certainly not one that would prescribe the reading of the Bible as a means to "understand the truth."

No, the sign on that marquee should read: "Embrace knowledge; put down your Bible."

Yes, the established worldview in America that has been cultivated through the past 50 years of Cold War climate is starting to come under serious attack. The events of 9/11 have cause some Americans to take notice and begin to question, the internet has opened up new avenues of learning outside our own corporate/State media, and people are once again fighting for the freedom to express dissenting ideas and to challenge the "official version" of the truth. It is this exact situation that is causing many, those who are more comfortable with the illusion than the scary reality, to recoil into their institutions of mass deception to comfort themselves with delusion, rocking back and fourth with their eyes closed praying, "just make it (the truth) go away."

Yes, their "version" of the truth is, once again, in decay.  Maybe this time it will rot completely, if only we should be so lucky.

"Reason and Ignorance, the opposites of each other, influence the great bulk of mankind. If either of these can be rendered sufficiently extensive in a country, the machinery of government goes easily on. Reason obeys itself; and Ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it." - Thomas Paine

What shall we be, a country whose gears of State are oiled by Reason or Ignorance?

See: The Age of Reason - Thomas Paine

 

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