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An Interesting Historical Footnote

I came accross this interesting historical note while reading the book "The Emergence of Lincoln, Vol II: Prologue to Civil War 1859-1861" by Allan Nevins (Chapter 14, The Rival Republic, section II, page 418) on what was being preached in the Southern pulpits with respect to the election of Lincoln and those "Black Republicans" as they were called in the South:

"...The Thanksgiving sermons of the Rev. B. M. Palmer, head of the largest Prebyterian church in New Orleans, and the Rev. W. T. Leacock, his Episcopal collegue, two stirring exhortations to secession which were scattered broadcast in pamphlet form, were long remembered....[8]"

Now to the footnote [8] and this very interesting quote:

"The two sermons were printed together in 'The Rights of the South Defended in the Pulpits,' and were notable for their violent tone. Palmer declared that it was the South's duty under God 'to conserve and perpetuate the institution of domestic slavery as now existing,' and that 'the abolition spirit is undeniably atheistic.'..."

So, there you have it..."the abolition spirit is undeniably atheistic" according to the right reverend Palmer.

Well, I guess the Right Rev. Palmer does have a point, clearly the Holy Bible does not go out of its way to say domestic slavery is morally wrong (e.g. several stories like that of God making slaves for those who did something God didn't like --- like in the story of the drunken Noah, although I've yet to figure out what was done to offend God, and why those who were made slaves deserved that condition; moreover, their slave status was passed down --- was it down 4 generations or 7 generations --- from the original folks God condemed to slavery --- you read it and try to figure it out yourself, but the bottom line is it is in the Holy Bible and in other places also, and make no mistake, these pasages were used by Southern Preachers to illustrate it so!).

OK, so can we really take serious those folks that claim that the Holy Bible is the source of all good morals --- of the true God's law that teaches right from wrong for us to hear and obey?

What do you think?

Hi History: Matt has addressed the fact that the Bible endorses slavery on the Atheist Experience TV show. In addition to the Old Testament passages, Jesus instructed slaves to "obey your masters" in the New Testament. So, it wasn't just an ancient Hebrew thing.

However, the note you added, about the anti-abolishionist preachers was news to me. It was very interesting. I also saw recently that Lincoln is listed as an atheist on many sites. It could be that the "atheist" mention in the sermons was meant to be levied as a dig at Lincoln. I'm not sure if Lincoln was an atheist in the modern sense or not--but he certainly didn't seem to subscribe to any particular brand of Xianity. And from what little I've read, he seems to have taken some hits for not being a church member.

Thanks for your post. Very entertaining stuff.

Tracie, you bring up a good point that I hadn't thought about. Indeed Lincoln had 'issues' with the established relgions of his day. Perhaps the right Rev. Palmer was playing off this issue in his statement. Those in the South tried every possible avenue of attack on Lincoln.

Gore Vidal claimed on a TV show that Lincoln was a free thinker on relgion, but of course we can't say really what Lincoln truly believed, despite what we might want to think of him today, Lincoln was a very crafty politician who was not above applying some "spin" to his views (the ones he considered less important) if it advanced the more important ones.

By the way, I liked your presentation yesterday. I now see the story of Sampson from a different perspective! Very good!

Thanks very much!

The issue of slavery in the Bible has been a perplexing one for me, and one of the extreme few problems in the Bible I have yet to resolve.

It cannot be denied that God did not think slavery was abhorent, at least as the Bible presents Him.

Though the purpose of the Messiah's coming was not to be a revolutionary in any way, I marvel that the new testament says "slaves obey your masters", rather than, "Masters, set your slaves free."

Of course, I have had literally thousands of resolutions after twenty five years intense study and scrutiny of the Bible, so I have an overwhelming amount of faith for it to always be able to withstand the light of day, but I admit this one still gets me.

Of course, I have read what dozens of Biblical Apologists have to say, such as, "Christ came to free the soul, not the body", and things like that. While they carry a little weight, I have never been one for accepting trite pat answers to Biblical problems.

While God had and has the ability to make anyone's life much better, including a slave, I put a great deal of importance on the freedom of the individual.

Therefore when anyone says to me, "What about slavery in the Bible?", I am afraid my answer has to be, "I don't know."

That was my stance when I was a Christian. If I didn't agree with the Bible, I just figured there had to be some answer that I just wasn't smart enough to figure out yet.

The problem is that with that attitude--no matter what the belief is, theological or not--one will never find out if what one believes is wrong, because anything that seems to be inconsistent or incorrect is simply recategorized as "not yet understood." It's a stance that effectively serves to make _any_ belief system at all immune from criticism or verification.

Dear Tracieh,

Yes, the "not yet understood" category is used far too often, especially I find when it comes to evolutionists.

However, when a source of information has been found to be reliable thousands of times over, and it has solved about as many problems, and has also been verified many times, a small handful of problems that are not solved certainly cannot serve to make one abandon that source of information.

Besides, we are not speaking of a innaccuracy, we are speaking of a particular stand taken by God on a particular issue.

Obviously, God does not put personal freedom on His list of prioroties, whereas it has been at the top of my list of priorities. It is puzzling to me, and requires a better understanding. But do not make the mistake of placing me in with those who will accept any answer.

Also on a personal note, I have had several personal experiences through the years that are only explainable as God working in my life; miraculous experiences. Once one has experienced a phenomenon, they have a certainty far beyond any dogma or source of information can give. It is totally subjective of course, it cannot be used as evidence for others, but for me only, but my point is that I have more than dogma to go on, I have experience.

But I DO agree with your premise, many people do hang on to some traditional belief simply because they want to, and they set up a system of thinking that insulates them from ever having to scrutinize their presuppositions. Much like evolutionists do.

We must all be careful to remain open to all possibilities, and to never close our mind.

>It is totally subjective of course...I have experience.

This much I do understand from reading your posts. The problem is that experiences and subjective interpretations are subject to error. This is why repeatable testing and independent verification becomes imperative in confirming that our subjective beliefs align with what actually exists.

Many people in this organization have had "miraculous experiences" and experienced events that were "only explainable as God working in" their lives. We felt that the Bible (although you don't say you mean the Bible) was described as:

"...a source of information has been found to be reliable thousands of times over, and it has solved about as many problems, and has also been verified many times, a small handful of problems that are not solved certainly cannot serve to make one abandon that source of information."

But when we finally reached a point where we attempted to verify any of these things we believed we'd experienced or learned were actually true, we found it wasn't possible. In the end, we determined that what could be verified was more important than what we subjectively believed to be true, but could not independently verify. If I'm misinterpreting something, I actually want to know that.

Matt, the ACA President, states it like this: Independent verification isn't important, unless you actually care about whether or not what you believe is true.

I don't think you'll get a lot of respect for your ideas at this site if your offerings are going to consist of unsupported opinions that rely on subjectively, potentially flawed, extraordinary, supernatural interpretations of your personal experiences--whether you label them as opinions or not. I don't mean that to sound unwelcoming--but that's my experience from what I've seen at this site, and what I know of this group.

As far as I know (or am concerned), you're welcome to stay and post. But if you're into mutual respect of ideas, you won't find that here. This group actually has a hierarchy of what constitutes a ridiculous idea up to what constitutes an idea worthy of respect. It usually is rated based on verification and support that can be presented for the claim--again, opinion or not. Expressing it's just an opinion won't get you too much sympathy, since this group expects opinions to be based on the best data available as well. They consider there are poorly-supported opinions (which they don't respect) and well-supported opinions (which they do respect).

None of this may matter to you--or you may have already picked up on this. I'm just sort of giving you a heads up as to what criteria this group is generally going to be using to judge and respond to your posts.

I consider my experiences to be verified.

I was once dying of pnemonia, I was healed with no trace of it one night, not even a cough left.

I prayed for a girl who had one leg a bit shorter than the other. Right in front of my face it grew out, and her dad said later she no longer had to wear her special shoes and no longer walked with a limp, and the doctor was amazed as well.

Somewhere between a dozen to fourteen or fifteen times while praying a face and name would come to me of someone I had never known or met, and some problem they had. Sure enough, the next day I would always run into this person, the name would be accurate, and the problem would be accurate.

Other things like this have occurred as well, a meeting in a town I had never been in before, a small meeting with just a few women, and a couple of men.and the names of several men came to me as I prayed, and I spoke their names out loud, plus the thing I was suposesd to pray for them about. It turned out that every name was the name of the husbands of every married woman present, and the son of the one single woman.

I am sure you can come up with explanations for all of these, but those explanations I have thought of already, and none of them fit the situations.

You can imagine that after such experiences I would be silly to deny that they happened, or that it must just be the power of my mind, or something else.

I guess you could also think I am mistaken, or lying, but I would of course have no reason to be here talking to you if I was lying, if I was a liar I would be off trying to fleece the sheep and simple people, like Peter Popoff does.

>I consider my experiences to be verified.

What I said was this: "...independent verification becomes imperative..."

Anecdotal evidence is dubious and does not qualify as independent verification. Neither does your story about the girl or the names coming to you. It's your claim against natural reality. If you can do supernatural things, then by all means, submit yourself for research study and have your claims independently verified, so that people don't just have to take your word that you can do supernatural magic.

I don't feel compelled to come up with explanations for any of these things you claim occurred, as you're just claiming these things are true, and not presenting a shred of evidence to support the claims.

There are many people who claim they have been abducted by aliens and that experiments have been done on them. Some say they suffer repeated abductions, that they have been impregnated and the babies stolen from their wombs.

I don't believe my choice is to explain or accept. I can be totally baffled as to why they'd make such a nutty claim--and still not believe them. BUT, if my choice was to either explain these stories or accept them, I'd vote for mass delusion, since, despite all the "evidence" they offer, they have failed to substantiate any compelling claims--they've shown no "reason" why _they_ believe this occurred or why I should believe it. Even if they can substantiate a piece of metal was removed from someone's neck--that doesn't prove aliens abducted them.

And recovering from a severe cold isn't proof of god in a world where we see natural spontaneous remissions from cancer.

> I guess you could also think I am mistaken, or lying, but I would of course have no reason to be here talking to you if I was lying

It would depend on your motivations. Some apologists support lying if it means gaining souls for god.

However you _would_ have a reason to be here if you were "mistaken," since many, MANY people who are deluded by their own minds feel a need to convince others their delusions are real--such as the alien crowd, the psychic power crowd, the "I can talk to the dead / I have seen a ghost" crowd, the "I can tell the future" crowd, the "I've seen Bigfoot" crowd, the "I took drugs and found another dimension" crowd, the "I can astral project myself" crowd, the "I can heal people crowd," the "I can tell the future" crowd, and on, and on, and on. Many of these people do not stand to gain a single thing by convincing others they're telling the truth...and yet they publicly present their stories, in staggering numbers, and claim they're true. Presenting their claims to the public is an indication that they want others to hear / accept these stories. Otherwise, they could keep them to themselves. They don't even have a command to preach this stuff to me from a holy book--and they feel compelled to do it anyway. Why shouldn't you feel that same compulsion if you are, in fact, deluded?

To be fair, you did indicated you recognized these were subjective stories and wouldn't be convincing to others. If I believed what you believed, I might draw the conclusions you draw, but more likely I wouldn't trust myself in the event that I believed things that conflicted with reality. I would have when I was a Christian, but now I would not. I would consider myself to be deluded in some way if I believed a thing I couldn't verify. In fact, there have been times when I thought I remembered that X had occurred, and when I couldn't verified it, I said, "I must not be remembering that correctly," or "Maybe I'm mistaken." I have also had the experience that what I remembered was not correct--and I found a note or reciept that proved I recalled the incident less than perfectly. Eye witness testimony, for example, has been shown to be horribly flawed and untrustworthy in many cases--and yet juries put a lot of trust in it, and will even vote with an eye witness against a substantiated alibi. This shows that people are prone to trust human perception against reality--even if they don't have sufficient cause to.

"I prayed for a girl who had one leg a bit shorter than the other. Right in front of my face it grew out, and her dad said later she no longer had to wear her special shoes and no longer walked with a limp, and the doctor was amazed as well."

We can't verify whether or not her leg actually grew right in front of your face, and (if it did) we can't verify that your prayer (or a god) was responsible...but, it seems that some part of this story would be verifiable.

Her medical file could be reviewed by qualified physicians who could verify that the length of her leg had changed. Unfortunately, that wouldn't provide evidence for the reason for the change - especially if we have examples of spontaneous remission of disease and correction of deformities.

However, it certainly seems to be a lame (couldn't resist) example. Of all the prayers that could have been answered, you believe that your god chose to correct a minor deformity?

One wonders why claims of "miraculous" healings always seem to be impossible to verify or trivial in nature.


I ALREADY said these things were subjective and could not be used for evidence or proof, why did you then go on and on saying the same thing in ten different ways?

It would be like trying to prove to someone I have a headache, it can't be done.

Like I said, it cannot be used to prove anything to anyone else, it just makes it so nobody can take it away from me!

1. In my former post, I was clarifying our use of the term "verification" and what that means in each context (yours vs. mine).

2. In my later post, I qualified myself with a starting paragraph acknowledging you noted it was simply your subjective experience, meaningful to you alone. Then I simply expounded on how I might react to something similar in my own experience.

I hope that helps explain why I wrote what I wrote.

OpenMind - "The issue of slavery in the Bible has been a perplexing one for me, and one of the extreme few problems in the Bible I have yet to resolve."

The true origin of Christianity is something you obviously haven't experienced! Because to do that you would have to get out of your comfort zone, and come into contact with another view. I doubt that's going to happen.

A big problem for the Romans was when the slaves realized that the Jews were against slavery, and the Romans were not. The Romans conspired to create a "new religion" just for the slaves. The slaves would believe this was a way to rise up. However, they would still be obliged to serve the Romans. Roman slaves only knew misery and despair, but "salvation through Christ" was a step up. Furthermore, this gave them a purpose in their miserable lives.

The New Testament portrays the Pharisees and Sadducees as rivals, because they both wanted to lead the Jews. The bible does not report that the Sadducees had joined forces with the Romans. The Pharisees were not aware of this. So, the Pharisees were the real enemies of Rome not the Sadducees. And the Pharisees were a big threat to Rome. The Slaves realized that the Pharisees opposed slavery and that made Judaism attractive to them.

As a tactic in fighting back at the Jews who opposed Rome and slavery, the Romans decided to invent a "new religion." They would give the slaves superstition, apparitions, and a façade of dignity. Slaves don't have to go far to move up. Although, they would still be slaves serving the needs of Rome, but slaves had been living in deprivation without any hope. This "new religion" would give them "salvation" and freedom. Now the Jews who had been leading the battle against the powerful Romans were respected as scholars everywhere, and the gentile slaves admired them. What was known at that time by the Jews has been lost forever. But the uneducated gentiles would have been hard pressed to learn what these scholars knew.

In contrast, the "new religion" or Christianity only required them to accept Jesus as their savior. The "new religion" was a mix of Judaism, Roman, and Greek religions. Nothing in Christianity is unique; just about all of its beliefs are found in Paganism. In the first Century world of the Roman Empire concepts such as Gods who are born of mortals, ascend and descend from their home in heaven to earth, control the universe, and who were concerned with people's lives; the soul being everlasting, were not astonishing ideas. The myth of the "virgin birth" came from the myth of the vestal virgin Rhea Silva and her godly son Romulus." The Roman Catholic Church burned most of the Gnostic and Pagan literature which would have shown Christianity to be the booty-religion that it is.

I thought that this little snippet from a biographer doing a review of books on Lincoln might be of some interest. Perhaps the AE TV show might have a brief mention in honor of Mr. Lincoln (near his 200th birthday) by pointing out Lincoln's less than conventional religous views --- just a thought...

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The Washington Post The Lincoln Canon By Fred Kaplan Sunday, February 8, 2009; Page BW05

" would read books that over the years have claimed Lincoln for Christianity without noticing that he did not believe in miracles, immortality or the divinity of Jesus."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

It's interesting that it's not "true" unless it's on television. Although, they distort events that we have seen with our own two eyes. Scholars deal with reality not tinsel, but nobody knows about them or believes them if they are not on television. Surprisingly, there are still ethical scholars who do find out what the facts are even if it doesn't sale soap.

I have read things that were written by people who lived in those times and actually knew Lincoln, Jefferson, and Washington. The only conclusion that anyone would come to is that they were not Christian. From his own writings it is obvious that Jefferson was actually contemptuous toward Christianity. In early life Lincoln had written a pamphlet criticizing the Bible and Orthodoxy. The manuscript was thrown in the fire by one of his friends, who feared it would injure him professionally and politically. In those days he was outspoken in his unbelief. Later he became more cautious. In 1846, when he was a candidate for Congress against a Methodist minister, the Rev. Peter Cartwright, his opponent openly accused him of being an unbeliever, and Lincoln never denied it. On March 26, 1843, at the time Lincoln was attempting to obtain the nomination for Congress, he wrote to Martin M. Morris, of Petersburg, Ill.: "It was everywhere contended that no Christian ought to vote for me because I belonged to no Church."

The biography by Lincoln's close associate, William Herndon, removes any question about Lincoln's freethinker status. In 1865, following the assassination of Lincoln, a number of biographies of Lincoln were written that did not tell the truth about Lincoln's lack of religion or that Lincoln's favorite activity, according to Herndon, was to argue freethought issues. He had belonged to a freethinker group when he was young. Only the biographers who never knew Abraham Lincoln said that he was religious. Lincoln knew about evolution, having been elected to the presidency a little over a year after the publication of The Origin of Species. By then speculation on evolution had been making the rounds within freethought circles for years.

Most of the Founding Fathers were Deists, as were most intellectuals in America during the Revolutionary era. After Darwin they became freethinkers or agnostics.

If the members of the First Continental Congress had been bible thumping, god-fearing men, there would never have been a revolution at all! 1 Samuel 15:23. "For rebellion as is the sin of witchcraft." God hates rebellion! The New Testament approves being ruled over by a monarchy, as the Founding Fathers were, and the bible tells Xians how to behave. Paul wrote in Romans 13:1: "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resist authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment" (Paul's true mission). The Founding Fathers: "But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government."

If the Xian extremists want to return this country to its beginnings, bring it on! The Founding Fathers were students of the European Enlightenment, and half a century after the establishment of the United States, clergymen were very disturbed that no president up to that date had been a Christian. A sermon of Episcopal minister Bird Wilson of Albany, New York, on October 1831 was reported in the newspapers that testifies to true situation. "Among all our presidents from Washington downward, not one was a professor of religion, at least not of more than Unitarianism." The attitude of the age was one of enlightened reason, tolerance, and free thought.

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