Thoughts on Newdow’s lawsuit, forgotten gods, first Christian State

By | January 2, 2009

Atheist Michael Newdow is suing to remove the reference to God from Obama’s upcoming inauguration.

… It’s a lawsuit against using religion at all in a presidential inauguration.

In 2005, Newdow sued for the same reasons and the courts rejected his suit. I think it is important to note that we didn’t always have prayers in the Inauguration ceremony and they began with Franklin Roosevelt in 1937.

… the phrase “so help me God” isn’t a historic precedent, either. Newdow writes that the first verifiable use of that phrase took place in “1881, ninety-two years after George Washington’s initial ceremony” — when “Chester A. Arthur took the oath upon hearing of President James Garfield’s death.” – thelang

American atheists are currently outnumbered, but if Newdow is around in 2042, he’d probably win then:

Polling data from the 2001 ARIS study, described below, indicate that: 76.5% (159 million) of Americans identify themselves as Christian. This is a major slide from 86.2% in 1990. Identification with Christianity has suffered a loss of 9.7 percentage points in 11 years — about 0.9 percentage points per year. This decline is identical to that observed in Canada between 1981 and 2001. If this trend has continued, then: By about the year 2042, non-Christians will outnumber the Christians in the U.S. – religioustolerance

I’m not saying Christianity will ever go completely extinct ( unless our species does), yet I find it interesting that most gods humans have ever worshipped are now little known. They include: Aken, Aker, Am-Heh, Ament, Ammit, Amun and Amun-Re, Anat, Andjety, Anqet, Anubis, Anuke, Anuket, Apep, Arensnuphis, As, Astarte, Aten, Atum, and Auf … and those are just the Ancient Egyptian gods… just the one’s that start with the letter A.

Well, you’ve probably have heard of Anubis from some mummy movies. Did you know that “Anuke” was a god of war? Coincidence, time travel? 😉

At the core of issues of religious tolerance is the reality that each group privately believes the other’s beliefs are absurd. Respect for those who reach vastly different conclusions when presented with the same (you assume) evidence, takes serious effort, on both sides.

Yet we continue to coexist.

After death, will evil persons of all religions be greeted byAment and then be devoured by Ammit? Will Christians be shocked to meet Ptah, the creator, with his punt beard? Yes, Ptah, the god of stone based crafts, reincarnation, and lord of the underworld. Will their hearts be heavier or lighter than the feather of Ma’at? Will they then be able to get past the evil demons armed with knives guarding the 15 or 21 gates and then exist in pleasure for all eternity in Aaru,  a series of islands  covered in “fields of rushes”?

Odd beliefs? Perhaps, but they persisted for more than 3,000 years.  Christianity has lasted at most 2000 years now.

Armenia was the first country converted to Christianity. This was done, some claim, by St. Gregory the Illuminator in 301. He supposedly converted people from their pagan beliefs. Others see things a bit differently:

… A letter of Bishop George of Arabia to Jeshu, a priest of the town Anab, dated 714 (edited by Dashian, Vienna, 1891), contains an independent tradition of Gregory, and styles him a Roman by birth.

In spite of legendary accretions we can still discern the true outlines and significance of his life. He did not really illumine or convert great Armenia, for the people were in the main already converted by Syrian missionaries to the Adoptionist or Ebionite type of faith which was dominant in the far East, and was afterwards known as Nestorianism. Marcionites and Montanists had also worked in the field. Gregory persuaded Tiridates to destroy the last relics of the old paganism, and carried out in the religious sphere his sovereign’s policy of detaching Great Armenia from the Sassanid realm and allying it with the GraecoRoman empire and civilization. He set himself to Hellenize or Catholicize Armenian Christianity, and in furtherance of this aim set up a hierarchy officially dependent on the Cappadocian. He in effect turned his country into a province of the Greek see of Cappadocia. This hierarchical tie was soon snapped, but the Hellenizing influence continued to work, and bore its most abundant fruit in the 5th century. His career was thus analogous to that of St Patrick in Ireland.

And so, I find myself at the start of 2009 spending hours and hours researching the history of Jesus Christ.  I”ve barely scratched the surface. Once again, however, the same evidence leads different people to vastly different conclusions.  It is my belief that an objective reality does exist, that some people are right on some counts, and wrong on others.

If you had proof that Jesus Christ was an invention of a Roman writer, who created him a century after he supposedly existed as a way to control the local Jewish people, would you personally choose to make that fact known? You could destroy the hope and faith of millions. Or perhaps remove one of the major causes of war. Would making this known be a good or a bad thing to do, if it were the truth? I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

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