- Native Americans Discovered Columbus (GRAY)
- 2. Your ethnicity makes a difference.
- 1. Normal aging is the biggest culprit.
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True religious liberty was rare in the colonies: dissenters were fined, flogged, jailed, and sometimes hanged. Yet, surprisingly, no atheist was ever executed. According to the Cornell professors R.
Nonbelievers were either few and far between in Colonial America or understandably cautious about making themselves known; clergy and magistrates rarely bothered to mention them, even derisively. Still, his argument was audacious for an era when most colonies had established churches and collected ecclesiastical taxes to support them. It was striking, then, after the Revolutionary War, when the men who gathered for the Constitutional Convention banned religious tests for office holders, in Article VI.
But, while neither was a creedal Christian, both men were monotheists, and, like John Locke, their ideas about tolerance generally extended only to those who believed in a higher power. It was another one of the revolutionaries who became a hero for the nonreligious.
Both atheists and their critics often make a hopeless muddle of the category, sometimes because it is genuinely complicated to assess belief, but often for other reasons. Some believers, meanwhile, use atheism to discredit anyone with whom they do not agree.
Native Americans Discovered Columbus (GRAY)
For atheists, at least, this definitional elasticity provided a kind of safety in numbers, however inflated: as their ranks grew, so did their willingness to make their controversial beliefs public. William Lane Craig and Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham do today. With nonbelievers starting to assert themselves, believers began more aggressively protecting their faith from offense or scrutiny.
All but three states passed Sabbatarian laws, which were imposed on everyone, including religious observers whose Sabbath did not fall on Sunday. Such prohibitions linger in blue laws, which now mostly restrict the sale of alcohol on Sunday. Indeed, the charge of atheism became a convenient means of discrediting nontheological beliefs, including anarchism, radicalism, socialism, and feminism.
That presumption became both more popular and more potent during the Cold War. The Founders had already chosen a motto, of course, but E pluribus unum proved too secular for the times. Even as courts were striking down blasphemy laws and recognizing the rights of nontheists to conscientious-objector status, legislators around the country were trying to promote Christianity in a way that did not violate the establishment clause. They succeeded, albeit at a price: the courts upheld references to God in pledges, oaths, prayers, and anthems on the ground that they were not actually religious.
Not surprisingly, neither believers nor nonbelievers believe this. Every such ruling is a Pyrrhic victory for the devout, for whom invocations of God are sacred, and no victory at all for atheists, for whom invocations of God, when sponsored by the state, are obvious attempts to promote religion. Legal challenges to the Pledge of Allegiance, in particular, persist, because nonbelievers are concerned about its prominence in the daily lives of schoolchildren.
David Niose, the legal director of the American Humanist Association, is one of many who have suggested that atheists might even be a suspect class, the sort of minority who deserve special protections from the courts. But are atheists a suspect class, or just a skeptical one? Unlike racial minorities, their condition is not immutable, but, like many religious minorities, they are subject to hostility and prejudice. Yet that capaciousness is appropriate, because it suggests, correctly, that there is no single atheistic world view.
Much of the animosity and opprobrium directed at nonbelievers in America comes from the suspicion that those who do not believe in God could not possibly believe in anything else, moral or otherwise. The reason that atheists were not allowed to testify in court for so long was the certainty that witnesses who were unwilling to swear an oath to God had no reason to be truthful, since they did not fear divine judgment.
Not all monotheists are literalists, and, for many of us, both now and throughout history, the Garden of Eden is not a faulty hypothesis about evolution but a rich symbolic story about good and evil. The strategy they champion, scientific ethics, has been tried before, with a notable lack of success.
Auguste Comte and his fellow nineteenth-century positivists envisioned a Grand Pontiff of Humanity who would preside alongside scientist-priests; unfortunately, scientists at the time were practicing phrenology.
2. Your ethnicity makes a difference.
Today, the voguish version of science as religion is transhumanism, which claims that technology will overcome human limitations both physical and mental, perhaps through bioengineering or artificial intelligence or cyborgs that can carry around the contents of our brains. On the whole, Gray is a glass-half-empty kind of guy, and what others regard as novel or promising he often sees as derivative or just plain dumb.
He argues, for instance, that secular humanism is really monotheism in disguise, where humankind is God and salvation can be achieved through our own efforts rather than through divine intervention. Unlike the linguist—and new atheist—Steven Pinker, Gray regards the idea that the world is getting better as self-evidently silly.
1. Normal aging is the biggest culprit.
Religions are still thriving, as are wars between them, and secular regimes have wrought as much, if not more, havoc under the auspices of Jacobinism, Bolshevism, Nazism, and Maoism. Gray is especially interested in those atheists who, in addition to having no faith in the divine, have none in humanity. Given his own intellectual bent, one suspects him of delighting equally in their pessimism and their unpopularity.
Coleman writes:. Wolves had a ghostly presence in colonial landscapes. Settlers heard howls, but they rarely spotted their serenaders. The fearsome beasts avoided humans. Because humans and wolves frightened one another, they logically avoided confrontation, opening space between the species.
But that space closed when European colonists brought horses, cattle, sheep and pigs with them over the perilous journey across the Atlantic. Without these animals — sources of food and transportation for the European settlers — the colonies would have failed. But because most early colonial communities were small, livestock often grazed on the periphery of the settlements with little protection. Their pastures abutted and bled into the wild, exposing the animals to hungry wolves in search of prey.
Wolves quickly learned that docile cattle and sheep made easy meals. Suddenly, colonists found their livelihoods in danger, and they lashed out at wolves, both with physical violence and folklore that ensured wolf hatred would be passed down from one generation to the next. The campaign to eradicate wolves in North America began with private landowners and farmers baiting and trapping wolves.
Often, colonists turned wolf baiting into both sport and protection for their livestock. Jon T. Coleman describes an incident that took place in the winter of deep in the Ohio River Valley, in which John James Audubon assists a farmer as he mutilates trapped wolves.
Native Americans Discovered Columbus (GRAY) – OXDX Clothing
The violence Audubon witnessed, however, did not shock him. Further west, in Yellowstone National Park, wolf baiting and hunting had become a lucrative profession. In states like New Mexico where cattle ranching was big business, ranchers responded by turning to professional wolfers and bounty hunters. The U. Wolves were trapped, shot, dug from their dens, and hunted with dogs. Poisoned animal carcasses were left out for wolves, a practice that also killed eagles, ravens, foxes, bears, and other animals that fed on the tainted carrion.
Government-Sanctioned Wolf Extermination Programs.
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Towards the end of the 19 th Century, wealthy livestock owners increased both their demand for wider grazing ranges and their influence over policymakers in Washington, D. In , the federal government established the U. Bureau of Biological Survey, initially chartered to research insects and birds.
In , the U. Forest Service acquiesced to the stockowners and enlisted the help of the Bureau of Biological Survey to clear cattle ranges of gray wolves. In other words, the Bureau became a wolf-extermination unit. That same year , bureau biologist Vernon Bailey traveled to Wyoming and New Mexico to investigate the extent of wolf and coyote depredations.
By the middle of the 20 th Century, government-sponsored extermination had wiped out nearly all gray wolves in the Lower 48 states. Only a small population remained in northeastern Minnesota and Michigan.