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The Bible and US Constitution Fail Morally for the Same Reason

Discussion in 'North American Politics' started by joe1776, Apr 12, 2021.

  1. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    Both the Bible and the US Constitution were authored by good men who meant well but lived in earlier times. And since we humans have been making moral progress, the societies in those earlier times were morally immature. Think about the attitudes of the Framers of the Constitution toward slavery and women's rights, for example.

    When men were made to think about what it would feel like to be born a woman or a slave, the treatment of women and slaves felt wrong. This intuitive feeling of wrongness is commonly referred to as conscience. And it is conscience that motivates our moral progress. We humans are treating each other better today than at any time in the distant past.

    The Bible and the Constitution aren't influential enough to stop humanity's moral progress, but they can slow its pace. In 1866, Pope Pius IX slowed the moral progress of some Catholics when he, quite correctly, told them that he found nothing in the Bible opposed to the buying, selling and trading of slaves. The conscience-motivated abolition movement was a century old at the time.

    The Constitution also slowed the abolition movement. The constitutional amendment to abolish slavery (1865) was nearly a century behind Vermont's abolition in 1777. And, it would take another century for the descendants of slaves to gain equal rights as citizens (The Civil Rights Act of 1964).

    I know that my conclusion will sound outrageous to most of you, but I'm convinced that the US Constitution, and the government it devised, should be regarded like a stagecoach, a no-longer-useful relic of the past. In its place, decisions on our nation's policies should be made by contemporary minds, the best we can find, organized into a modern, more efficient system, and unhindered by laws written by men of a morally-immature, earlier age.
     
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  2. Deo Vindice

    Deo Vindice Member

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    Both the Bible and Constitution are god ordained perfection, and deviating from either is regression, not progression.
     
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  3. Lyndon

    Lyndon "Peace is the answer" quote: GOD, 2014
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    nonsense, nothing written by man is perfect
     
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  4. Kooky

    Kooky Freedom from Sanity

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    I would strongly disagree with the notion that the US Constitution is a sacred document that is conveying any sort of moral principle - being borne out of politcal compromise and written with a very specific political intent in mind - but I acknowledge that the majority position among Americans seems to appear otherwise.
     
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  5. Evangelicalhumanist

    Evangelicalhumanist "Truth" isn't a thing...
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    Rubbish, they are very different kinds of text. Note, for example, that the notion of applying an "amendment" to the Bible would be, for a lot of people, unthinkable, but a Constitution that couldn't be amended would be a trap that would soon become fetid and need to be thrown away.

    And yet, it is already known that the Bible has been amended -- lots of times. Not least, quite early on, by Ezra, who was very likely the "redactor" of the Torah somewhere around 400 BCE, and throughout the first centuries of the Common Era (CE), right down to the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE -- and even after, since the Protestant Bible differs markedly from the Catholic one.

    To state that something that was cobbled together from all sorts of bits and pieces over a period of 2000 years, and then edited in various subsequently over the next 1700 years "God-ordained perfection" doesn't make any sense whatever.
     
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  6. sun rise

    sun rise "This is the Hour of God"
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    Given the state of America today, that ideal can't be realized. Yet. There are too many who are regressing to older morality.

    But I'm convinced that what you want will come in the next few hundred years.
     
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  7. QuestioningMind

    QuestioningMind Well-Known Member

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    Fortunately the constitution was designed to be a living document that would evolve according to the thinking of contemporary minds, which is why we've had these amendments that bring us closer to contemporary thinking. No so for the bible.
     
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  8. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    I realize that most Americans would agree with you. I don't.

    Unfortunately, that idea of the Constitution being a "living document" doesn't work much better than the Bible which gets morally upgraded a bit over time with each new edition by omitting or rewording the most obviously immoral passages from the earlier texts..

    It boils down to this: When there's a conflict between contemporary morality and the morality of the Framers of the Constitution, and we always resolve the conflict in favor of contemporary morality as we should, then the Constitution is useless.

    Furthermore, you have three members of the current Supreme Court who are "originalists." They argue that cases should be determined based on what the Framers intended at the time they wrote it. Logically, I agree with them. If you're going to obey written laws, the original intent should rule. But, these conservative judges will use constitutional law to obstruct moral progress.

    One law professor pointed out that the originalists could logically argue that Kamala Harris's candidacy was unconstitutional since there's not much doubt that the Framers had in mind only white male land owners to hold such high positions. The originalists on the Supreme Court wouldn't do that but they would be restrained only because there's be a swift backlash which would expose their intent to use the law to hold back other more controversial movements on the progressive agenda.
     
    #8 joe1776, Apr 12, 2021
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  9. QuestioningMind

    QuestioningMind Well-Known Member

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    It boils down to this: When there's a conflict between contemporary morality and the morality of the Framers of the Constitution, and we always resolve the conflict in favor of contemporary morality as we should, then the Constitution is useless.

    It's hardly useless since the constitution was specifically DESIGNED to resolve conflict in favor of contemporary morality. The very fact that amendments were specifically incorporated into the document indicates that even the founders realized the laws they were enacting were imperfect and should be subjected to revision over time based upon the contemporary needs and morals of the nation.

    What the originalists foolishly ignore is that the document was specifically designed to be changeable. By claiming you can't change it they're denying the founder's original intent.
     
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  10. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    You're mistaken. The Constitution was designed to ALLOW for change by amendment. But the Framers were not thinking that future conflicts should be resolved in favor of contemporary morality because they were probably unaware that humanity has been making moral progress.

    In fact, most people, even today, think we humans are morally declining. Resolving all conflicts in favor of contemporary morality only makes sense if one is aware of humanity's moral progress.

    If the Framers realized that the future decision-makers would be better equipped to make moral judgments, they would have wanted all decisions to be made by contemporary minds. They would have set up the kind of decision-making process I suggested in the OP.
     
  11. Evangelicalhumanist

    Evangelicalhumanist "Truth" isn't a thing...
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    Odd that you should think humans are morally declining. We are experiencing fewer wars than at any time in human history. There are fewer executions of people, for crimes both temporal and spiritual, than at any time in human history. There is more aid provided from have nations to have-not nations, more non-governmental charitable organizations, more health care for ordinary people, less slavery, less child labour, etc. etc. than at any other time in human history.

    I presume you think we are morally "damaged" because we allow people who love each other to enjoy that love, even if they are the same sex, and because we don't think that a little marijuana is so much more morally evil than a beer or a martini?
     
  12. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest I have the kavorka
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    You said it so that I didn't have to.
    In short....
    The Constitution is what it is...not what it was.
    The Bible (so they say) is unchanging.
     
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  13. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    I don't think that. I wrote that most people think that. A survey a few years back had the number at about 72% as I recall.

    But my OP and all my other posts in this thread are based on the idea that we humans have been making moral progress.
     
  14. QuestioningMind

    QuestioningMind Well-Known Member

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    The fact that it allows for change means that it was designed for the possibility that future generations would have a different concept of what is right and wrong and would need to alter the document accordingly. And I disagree that the founders weren't resolved in favor of contemporary morality. In fact they founded a nation based on what was then a new type of contemporary morality that stated that government should be invested with power by the people instead of having it imposed on them from above. They were a product of the enlightenment, in which people were questioning long held moral standards, like the morality of slavery, which is why it was a hotly debated subject among the founders. They were attempting to form a more moral form of government, but realized they weren't perfect, so they made it possible for they're predecessors to alter the document as needed.

    If the Framers realized that the future decision-makers would be better equipped to make moral judgments, they would have wanted all decisions to be made by contemporary minds. They would have set up the kind of decision-making process I suggested in the OP.

    That's PRECISELY what they did. That's why we have regular elections, so that decisions being made at any given time are being made by contemporary minds. There's absolutely nothing in the constitution that comes close to suggesting contemporary law makers should base the laws they pass on the moral mindset of the founders. The constitution is simply the framework we use for electing officials and deciding how they pass laws. That framework has been altered numerous times over the years by contemporary minds passing amendments to the constitution.

    If we toss out the constitution, how would these contemporary minds get anything done? We'd have no process for electing contemporary minds to office nor would we have any rules for how contemporary minds would pass laws. Without a constitution we'd have no constitutional rights and contemporary minds could pass laws prohibiting free speech, practice of religion, or the right to free and fair elections.

    I don't think you have a problem with the constitution. You have a problem with those extremists who foolishly suggest that we're somehow constrained by the founder's 'original intent' or 'moral mindset' when making contemporary law. We're not and there's nothing to suggest that the founders thought it should be that way, since they provided us with the amendment process so that we could fix any errors or omissions they may have made. In fact it was just 15 years after the founders enacted the constitution that the contemporary minds of the day realized that there were a good 10 things that had either been overlooked or omitted in the original document that required amendments.
     
  15. Regiomontanus

    Regiomontanus άντρας των αστεριών

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    The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa is better than the one here in the US, I think. As an example


    27. Health care, food, water and social security
    1. Everyone has the right to have access to

    a. health care services, including reproductive health care;



    Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 - Chapter 2: Bill of Rights | South African Government
     
    #15 Regiomontanus, Apr 12, 2021
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  16. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    Agreed.

    That was contemporary morality for THEIR day -- not for all future days.

    But they didn't design the system to favor contemporary judgments. If they had, it wouldn't have taken a century to abolish slavery and another century to obtain equal rights for the descendants of slaves. If the founders wanted to favor change, they wouldn't have designed one that makes change so difficult..

    You mean nothing except the establishment of the Supreme Court to decide whether the laws passed are constitutional?

    The notion that, without laws, societies would be in chaos is a popular fallacy. A society needs a recognized authority, one that citizens can trust. That authority can be a contemporary decision-making body unhindered by laws.

    I'll link you to one way it might be done. It can be tested in an advisory capacity before giving it the power to implement its decisions.
    The Future of International Expert Advisory Panels
     
  17. Kooky

    Kooky Freedom from Sanity

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    Don't these amendments require an overwhelming consensus among the political class for any change to be made to the text of the document, in all relevant national institutions, as well as Presidential support?

    That doesn't seem to make any such changes particularly simple to implement.
     
  18. QuestioningMind

    QuestioningMind Well-Known Member

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    Yes, it is difficult and by design. Otherwise you'd have radical changes in our laws every time a new congress got elected. One party gets elected and abortion is suddenly illegal... or gun ownership is banned... or freedom of religion abridged. Wait a couple years for a power shift and suddenly all the laws would change back.
     
  19. Lyndon

    Lyndon "Peace is the answer" quote: GOD, 2014
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    They couldn't even pass an amendment for equal rights for women.
     
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  20. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    You're minimizing the problem. There should be a reasonable degree of difficulty involved in adopting new policies; but it shouldn't take centuries. The system is too easy to obstruct. It can be abused by obstructionists, especially when you have them on the Supreme Court.
     
    #20 joe1776, Apr 13, 2021
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2021
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