Thursday, November 24, 2005

God: The Word

Note: any reference to "we" or "us" is a collective term for atheists

Our recent posts & discussions have evolved around the topic of God in our government. This made me wonder: Well, if we [the atheists] don't believe in God, then why do we care so much that the word "God" is on the dollar bill? It's an interesting question, since if atheists don't believe that God exists, God is just a word. A word by which we attempt to pin down as an abstract concept in which atheists by definition have no faith in.

If we don't believe in God, why are we so upset about the word being on the dollar bill? Sure, it's a word that has caused people to kill each other and have huge wars, but in the grand scheme of things. The word is just a label, but isn't necessarily the concept it's attempting to decribe. Personally, if we get frustrated by having the word "God" on our currency, then we are letting the definition of the word become more generalized and accepted. Basically, if you try to treat it as though it's a word more special or taboo than other words, it will become more special and revered. If we don't believe in the concept the word represents, the word shouldn't really bother us should it? It's the meaning behind the word which holds so much power.

By giving "God" so much attention, we are letting the whole situation bother us much more than it has to. And again, we have to draw the line somewhere between atheist and a-religion because as much as some of us may want to group them together, they are innately different concepts and must be treated as such. Finally we're getting somewhere.


At 11/24/2005 4:12 PM, Blogger Aeger said...

God is a symbol. It is also an insult to a country which claims to have detached itself from religion in its goverment to have the word God plainly displayed on its own currency.

I think you're more addressing the issue of God-offing, so I'll just quote something: Every bill you fix is just one more bill that will be carried by thousands of people in its lifetime. It takes almost no time to whip out a sharpie or a stamp and correct the mistake made on bills. Think about it.

By fixng dollar bills we are letting theists know we exist, that we are relevant. Also, its an insult to my beliefs, or lack thereof, to have to look at "God" in all of my money transactions. I must depart now, but I'll continue this when I get back.

At 11/24/2005 7:53 PM, Blogger Enil Edam said...

Theists are very aware that atheists exist. But I find it hard to believe that we seriously think that by crossing out one word, we'll change the world.

No matter how hard we try, some people will never change and I'm of the opinion that there are more effective ways to get the atheist message out there than by simply crossing out a word or idea that we don't believe in.

Aeger, if you don't believe in God, looking at the word shouldn't really bother you should it? If the word doesn't mean anything? Just something to consider.

At 11/24/2005 8:26 PM, Blogger Aeger said...

Perhaps you misunderstand me? The reason I am insulted by the word God on currency is that it means that this country is under the control of mono-theistic's with no respect for this countries founding principles, or at least the ones that are relevant to this issue. Also, why not GodS? What's up with that? rather unfair if ya think about it.

No matter how hard we try, some people will never change

Ok, sure, lets give up. I for one am convinced now that we should all go and live in holes for all eternity, or better yet, brand "I Have No Determination" onto our foreheads.

And if you have a better idea of how to get the word out, post about it. That's what the gosh darn blog is for.

And have a happy thanksgiving.

At 11/24/2005 8:44 PM, Blogger Enil Edam said...

Aeger, I'm not saying we should give up. But for the population that is highly theistic, we're already at an impass. That's all I meant.

God really should be taken off the dollar bill though, just because it's hypocritical. It bothers me too that the government essentially takes the position that all people believe in God. But I'm generally more passive I think than most of you. Since I look at a a dollar bill and don't really think of the word "God" as something particularly special. Eh, just a difference in action.

At 11/24/2005 9:25 PM, Blogger seth said...

Ah, well, you see, Maddy, this country has a separation of Church and State. The acknowledgement of "God" on federally-issued currency is a blatant violation of that wall.

At 11/25/2005 12:42 AM, Anonymous Advocate of the Browns said...

This is the same thing Seth and i argued about months ago. This country has always tried to remain privately under one religion even though our constitution prevents it.

Maddy you are right. But we really need to raise awareness of constitutional breaches.

I wnt be on till i return after today

At 11/26/2005 11:56 AM, Blogger Beowulf said...

If the federal courts or Congress were to dictate that God could not be mentioned in any government forum or by any government figure in official capacity, or even on coinage—this would be just as much of an endorsement of atheism as a similar law requiring an acknowledgment of God would be an endorsement of theism. Besides, the Constitution states that we have the freedom OF religion not FROM religion.

At 11/26/2005 12:05 PM, Blogger seth said...

It says Congress may not endorse a particular religion, and it is endorsing monotheism.

At 11/26/2005 12:25 PM, Blogger Beowulf said...

Which monotheistic religion? I think your reaching a bit. The sole purpose of the statement was to ensure that the government was not to establish a religion. The phrase “Under God” or “In God we trust” in not a government religion. Turn to Webster’s dictionary, and read the definition of “Endorse”: (2) To support: to endorse a policy or candidate.”

Let me illustrate the difference.

Let’s say I am Congress. And I say, “Ford trucks are good trucks.” What have I done?

I have endorsed Ford trucks, as good trucks. But have I established Ford trucks as the official trucks of America? No. I have merely said they are good.

And I have not deprecated Chevy trucks, or Dodge trucks. I have simply said nothing about them. But I can go on and say, Ford trucks are good trucks, Chevy trucks are good trucks, and Dodge trucks are good trucks too!

Now I have endorsed Ford trucks, Chevy trucks, and Dodge trucks, but I still have not established any of them as the “official truck of America.” I have not conferred any special benefit on people who buy Ford, or Chevy, or Dodge trucks, and I have not imposed any special detriment on people who don’t buy Ford, or Chevy, or Dodge trucks. And I have not used any public funds to fund Ford trucks, Chevy trucks, or Dodge trucks. I have merely “supported their goodness,” endorsing them all. But I have not established any of them.

There are many religions, and many visions of God, and the broad declarations that “Religion is good for America . . . one nation, under God . . . in God we trust” are broad and encompassing enough to embrace them all.

I have endorsed the goodness of religious faith and trust in God, but I have not established an official religion or any religion in particular. And thus, I have not violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, nor have I commingled church and state. So, endorsement—yes—established—no. There is no Constitutional infringement imposed.

At 11/26/2005 12:49 PM, Blogger seth said...

Maybe I should remind you that the phrase "In God We Trust" was first put on coins by the Treasury at the behest of a Baptist minister who wanted to "relieve [America] from the ignominy of heathenism."

At 11/26/2005 1:49 PM, Blogger Beowulf said...

Fair enough; but what follows from this? You still haven’t made a case about how the terms/phrases are unconstitutional. (Yet I must admit that I was not aware of that fact—I will be doing more research on that specific subject; so thanks for the info.) BTW—If you're so super-principled about your atheism that you really have problems about "In God We Trust" on the money, you can interpret it by saying that this proves the frailty of our non-gold-standard money; it's inherently worthless, so we have to, metaphorically speaking, "trust in God" that we don't wake up tomorrow and discover it is now toilet paper—but thats another subject…

At 11/26/2005 6:41 PM, Blogger seth said...

Granted, the government is not technically endorsing Judeo-Christianity. However, it is ostracizing atheists and polytheists.

At 11/26/2005 7:05 PM, Blogger Beowulf said...

I will concede that it is possible that polytheists and atheists are genuinely offended at the sight of the term “God” on currency (though I think it’s petty); however, your legal problem, though, is that no one has a constitutional right not to be offended. I am offended by government employees every day, namely the vampires at the DMV who get a kick out of making you stand in line for three hours and then are absolutely rood when you get to the counter. However, I have decided to accept the fact that not everyone is going to agree with what I think “should be” all the time, and I go on with my life. The current hyper-sensitivity with not offending anyone and the out-of-control obsession with outward displays of political correctness, despite what we are thinking inside, is ridiculous. Finally, as a practical matter, as long as the greater part of the US is religious, an absolute separation of church and state is impossible. BTW, thanks for the responsive comments.

At 11/26/2005 7:20 PM, Blogger seth said...

I agree, screw political correctness. However, the Supreme Court has set precedents that seem to support the ideal of a religion-free government. Ya remember how the 10 Commandments couldn't be on state property as a religious statement? That was last June, no?

And the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the inclusion of "Under God" in the Pledge is unconstitutional; there are already California schools that no longer have the phrase in the Pledge.

At 11/26/2005 8:17 PM, Blogger Beowulf said...

The Ten Commandments do refer to specific religions (Judaism and Christianity). Though there was a lot of dispute on that issue. Also, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is not the Supreme Court. Moreover, I heard that schools took out the words but were still saying it anyway (especially students). Nevertheless, I am sure that this will end up in the hands of the Supreme Court—to which I eagerly wait there sufficiently plausible jurisprudence.

At 11/26/2005 10:48 PM, Blogger Enil Edam said...

This is sort of what I was getting at:

To be so sensitive to the issue is pretty pointless. Of course, I didn't really say that quite so eloquently.

It was interesting to see the different viewpoints you guys have.

At 11/26/2005 11:02 PM, Blogger seth said...

Maddy, does it in any way irk you that the only people featured on dollars and coins (still in circulation) are white men?

At 11/27/2005 9:33 AM, Anonymous Sam said...

Dudes, Are you people really as unhappy as you sound? I've been reading atheist blogs for a while now and can't find anyone who seems to be living anything but a misreble existence. Do you keep lists of things that irk you so that you can dwell on them? Seth, put down the "happiness repellent" before you find yourself or someone around you tying a noose. Be happy.......God loves you. In fact, He's crazy about you. REEEEEELAX!!!!!..............

At 11/27/2005 10:56 AM, Blogger Enil Edam said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 11/27/2005 11:00 AM, Blogger Enil Edam said...

Sure it does.

But I don't feel as though being featured on a coin is a particularly high honor.

Rosa Parks just lay in State. To me, it's not all that important that she's on a coin. Symbolism on our currency to me means quite little in the grand scheme of things. Of course, it would be nice if more women were on coins, but I pick my battles. This isn't one of them.

At 11/27/2005 11:06 AM, Blogger seth said...

Nah, we just blog about the things that bother us. I'm happy as a cucumber.

At 11/27/2005 11:52 AM, Blogger Enil Edam said...

He's so content with his life that he needs something to bitch about.


At 11/30/2005 7:04 AM, Anonymous With an All-Seeing I said...

"Maddy, does it in any way irk you that the only people featured on dollars and coins (still in circulation) are white men?"

Seth check your facts. Remember the Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea dollars? I do admit that the governemnt only distributed them to stop people from shouting that at them. But still. Also i think alls of y'alls do need to lighten up a bit.

...and yes this is who you think it is...I got bored of my username


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