The comments section underneath the post on the unofficial gun blog blacklist against TTAG has devolved (so to speak) into a discussion about the role of religion in the gun rights movement. So, have it here fellas. Are gun rights from God (a logical progression from the right to self-defense) and, so, exempt from legal infringement? Did Jesus’ disciples lack trigger discipline? Just kidding. Obviously. But let’s get down to it: what’s God got to do, got to do with it?

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111 Responses to Question of the Day: Do Gun Rights Come From God?

  1. Gun rights come from the right of every life form, be it protozoa, plant, or platypus, to defend itself from harm.

    Whether that’s from God (as I believe) or the Flying Spaghetti Monster or evolution makes no difference.

  2. If they, the right to armed self-defense and freedom of speech, were fundamental human rights(if such a thing was possible), you would not be posting this question.

    It would be like posting a question of the legality of gravity.

    Both self-defense and speech are extremely important, but are derived from and controlled by man.

    Kevin, the problem is, it does make a difference how the rights come into being. Know your history and you will know your future

    • “self-defense and speech … are derived from … man”

      No, some of us believe that they are inherent rights of all living beings …and these are two that happened to have been enumerated by people.

      Since you “know your history,” you know that there was much debate over whether to even create a Bill of Rights as doing so, enumerating a finite list, would lead people to believe incorrectly that:

      a) these were our only rights
      b) these rights were conferred to us by other people, not that living beings were born with them

      Please remember Amendment 9 of the BoR:

      The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

      Note the phrase, “retained by the people.” Retained from where? “Natural rights’ which are described in the Decl of Independence as having been endowed on us by our Creator. If you believe you were created by God then the Creator is God. If you believe you weren’t created by a god then whatever created you endowed you with those rights.

      • If you don’t believe you were created by God, then you probably believe you were created by your parents. And I don’t think parents alone can endow their children with rights.

        A constitution can’t create rights either. It can only recognize them. A constitution’s only power comes from the people who believe in it and will defend it with force if necessary. The same goes for the rights it enumerates.

        As a practical matter, the rights we enjoy come from our culture. Fortunately, in our country, a signification strain in that culture is people who believe that self defense and the tools necessary to effect it are a God-given right. I don’t agree with religious people on matters of religion, but I’m really glad to have them as allies on guns and several other issues.

        As for figuring out what our rights ought to be, I think Walter Williams has done some good writing on the subject.

      • Evan,

        I was not saying I knew my history, it was a paraphrasing of Santayana’s, “those who do not learn…..” perhaps a clumsy one, but still.

        Your part about the declaration is preceded by, “we hold these truths to be self-evident.” So, it is true because we say it is true?

        I am not saying that these rights are unimportant or unnecessary, I am just saying that there is really no such thing as natural rights.

  3. God’s got nothing to do with it. Does a person who is not of spiritual faith retain basic human and civil rights? Of course they do.

    All rights are universal and are retained by the people. Rights that are enumerated in the Constitution (and other statutes), only place, on the Government, the responsibility to protect those specific rights.

    • I used to think as such but I now see the reason to have absolutes. If a right only comes from what we have written down, it could simply be crossed out and a new thing could be written in its place. In fact some believe the constitution should evolve and keep with the times. They think what was true 200 years ago doesn’t fit our modern times.
      Once you are down with the fact that these rights written down in the constitution should not ever change because they are immutable, whence do you think they derive? Saying they come from God is a handy way of saying they are absolute. It’s also a way to describe how we got the rights and makes it clear that no judge, policeman, congressman, official, etc. can take those rights away as they are between man and God.
      I think this discussion is a symptom of moral relativism in our society. It’s not about right and wrong but what the majority of people think at the moment. And it’s always in flux. I believe that some things should not be in flux.
      Jason

  4. Guns didn’t exist in Jesus time, the right to defend oneself did, call it Sword Rights if you want to be technical about it. The Constitution is clear about one thing, rights come from God not government. That’s the founding document of our country, and society. Other countries do things differently. If you support or defend the constitution, then you agree to it’s terms.
    I know that doesn’t sit well with some people, but that’s the way it is.


    • The Constitution is clear about one thing, rights come from God not government.

      Please cite your source – where in the Constitution (or any of the Amendments) does it say our rights come from god?

        • It says nothing about God there, either. The deist Jefferson would not have written that, though others would have.

        • “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”

          Thus, the inherent rights of citizens, as enumerated in the U.S. Constitution, come from the creator, be it the Judeo-Christian God, or some other concept of divinity.

  5. All rights are claimed, fought for, and defended by actual human beings. Religions influence many peoples’ beliefs about what constitutes a right. But I do not see any actual deity in the picture.

  6. Do gun rights come from God? The Founding Fathers claimed that they were “endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights . . . .” I think Mao Zedong was closer to the truth: “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” So gun rights come from having guns and retaining the ability to apply force to peserve gun rights. It’s the same with every other right that we enjoy.

    “The right of citizens to bear arms is just one more guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard against the tyranny which now appears remote in America, but which historically has proved to be always possible.”

    Written by that well-know right wing kook and gun nut, Hubert H. Humphrey.

    • ‘I think Mao Zedong was closer to the truth: “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”’

      Does this mean you have no moral objection to Mao Zedong’s actions?

      • @Charles: Where did you get THAT out of what he wrote?!

        You know who else drew ridiculous conclusions? Hitler!

  7. Either several of you are misunderstanding the question, or I am.

    I think that what RF is asking (and await correction if I’m mistaken) can be rephrased as “Are there fundamental rights, including self-defense, that no government can legitimately deny its people”. And I’d bet my next paycheck that he is not saying that your possession of those rights is dependant on your acceptance of God.

    You can call that “natural rights”, you can call it “God given rights”, you can call it “human rights” or whatever else you want. The question is does you think that people are born with rights by virtue of being people, or are rights limited to those things our fellow men allow us to do?

    I personally believe in natural rights, and I think any government that violates them is illegitimate.

  8. Truth, Justice, and the value of life are all relative according to human reason.

    The beauty of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is that he exists outside the confines of human existence AND that he reveals himself to man in word and deed. This is a faith assumption, just like all the materialistic theories of the origin on the universe. We can’t prove God exists or that there was a point of singularity because we are limited in our perception and understanding.

    We are all bound to make assumptions in our quest for understanding because we can’t know all things. The question becomes how well an assumptions works. Getting to the point; can you better defend your right to life based on the assumption that the universe came into being by chance or on the assumption that a God “infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth” made it and handed down a moral code that prohibits murder?

    Some may say these assumptions aren’t mutually exclusive. Go right ahead, but you’re still stuck with that pesky moral law.

    • That’s a pretty short sighted view of morality. It ignores that many nasty deeds are done in the name of god(s) and claim to be in line with said god(s) given “holy” book(s).

      I think there is just as much sense in saying that sentient life should be respected because it is finite, and it is rare.

      It’s easy to get hung up on the superiority of your moral code when you aren’t forced to look outside it. I think there are plenty of competing sensible explinations for pre-existing rights I prefer the ones that don’t invoke god(s) but that’s just me

      • “I think there are plenty of competing sensible explinations for pre-existing rights”

        I would be interested to hear them, but here in America the debate usually falls along the line between classical materialism and Judeo-Christian morality.

        “It’s easy to get hung up on the superiority of your moral code when you aren’t forced to look outside it.”

        We’ve been forced, don’t worry.

      • The only atrocities that are attributed to “religion” were truly the work of totalitarian despots using religion as a means of legitimizing the means by which they gained and/or aimed to hold power.

        This explains the Spanish Inquisition, it explains what the NAZI party did in the name of religion, and it explains everything that Muslims do (as Islam is not a religion, it instead being a totalitarian political system).

        • Well I said nasty deeds not atrocities…so I may be speaking of things on a much smaller scale.

          Though I can’t think of a war where religion didn’t play at least a minor role even if it was in justifying a stance already held (aka for god and country)

          As to your notion that Islam is not a religion…it is. It is a world view based on a belief in a deity who directs followers to do certain things… If you can’t agree that is the definition of religion then we really can’t have a discussion as our fundamental attributions are just too far removed from one another.

          I also take issue with the idea that any “atrocity” done in the name of religion is immediately written off as something other than what it was (aka man twisting religion) rather than acknowledging sometimes bad things do happen in the name of religion. Just as I will acknowledge that some bad things happen in the name of non-religion…though I suppose I could say the same about despots twisting our secular humanism to their own ends…I don’t think that would be intellectually honest though

  9. YES, and our savior has very poor trigger discipline. Someone should also tell him that smoking is bad and that he’s setting a bad example for the kids.

  10. Those of you who believe it’s a god-given, or a fundamental-human right make me laugh. I see how you got there. Right to life, right to self-defense, right to own a gun.

    You know what it reminds me of? St. Thomas Aquinas’ hierarchy of sexual sins. One of the most influential philosophers of all time, not just to Catholics, but to everyone, came up with this.

    The ideal sexual act is one man and one woman who are married and are trying to procreate. The further you deviate from the ideal the graver the sin, philosophy demands it. Therefore violently raping a 15-year-old virgin is less grave than consensual homosexual sex which is less grave than masturbation (or maybe those two are about even, I forget).

    This is very much what you guys have done with the “rights” thing.

    • Mike, if there is such a thing as a devout atheist I’m it. I have no strong opinions on abortion one way or the other, care nothing for the consensual sexual practices of others and am currently involved in a sexual relationship with a woman who wants children even less than I do.

      Yet I believe natural rights exist. How does your theory account for that?

      And just to be clear, are you saying that people don’t have the right to defend themselves?

  11. Interesting pic, btw. Drop the cig and I would buy a copy as a gift for my local gun store. 🙂

    “What does G-d have to do with it (gun rights)?”

    ExurbanKevin said it well. There are scriptures to back up Judaism and Christianity support for gun ownership and self-defensive use. I won’t repeat them here.

    Certainly the writings of the founding fathers for natural rights are clear enough.

    And the natural right of self-defense is simple enough for everyone to understand (although some would surrender that right to the false idea of the state protecting everyone from bad guys).

    I would say that G-d has everything to do with gun rights. And if pushing that angle gets our rights back, then lets push it. If it helps more to push for our natural rights, then let’s push that. Whatever angle it takes, whatever words convince the non-gunners to support every ones rights, then we need to use those words. Loud and often.

  12. I would hesitate to refer to it as a “human right”, if for no other reason than to distance myself from our more liberal friends who actually believe internet access & cell phones are also “human rights”…

    • And that’s the problem. The right to broadband and laptops dilutes the amazing power of human rights. Patients, Air Travelers and Students now have “Bills of Rights.” Are they not human? We have no understanding of how privileged a nation we are to have these rights and good people (liberals included) defending them. There is no freedom of religion in Germany. There is no freedom of assembly in France. There is no freedom from search and seizure in the UK. Our rights make us a beacon to people from all over the world. We need to show some friggin’ appreciation and stop treating “rights” like a damn checkbook.

    • @Here Iam

      I think you may be confusing the issue – Internet access, in terms of having unfettered, non-government filtered access, is in my opinion, a human right. It’s a free speech issue.

      Now, should the government pay for internet access for those who otherwise can’t afford it… well no, I don’t think so.

      • Well, precisely; I also have the right to property too, but that doesn’t mean that it is left to the government to provide it to me.

  13. I have had this discussion with the Christian gun nuts here at my well-armed office and in my family, and as a confessing Christian (LCMS) myself, my stance is wildly unpopular, but it’s Biblically grounded: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” (Romans 13:1–2) What does this mean? If your government means to disarm you and tax you to starvation, Christians must be subject to it — Paul wrote this admonition to Christians suffering under the oppression of Nero, a leader slightly worse than any we’ve had here in the US of A.

    This does not mean we participate in state-sanctioned evil (Nazi Germany is often cited in this argument). Indeed, as Peter put it in Acts, “We must obey God rather than men.” Defense of others — from death, harm or even slander — is very righteous. Christ’s call to turn the other cheek means we should expect slander and abuse and endure it with grace, but the context of the Sermon on the Mount indicates self-defense when life is at stake is allowable, although some are called to martyrdom in death. Peter (obviously an early CCW fan) used a sword to defend Christ in Gethsemane and Jesus told him to holster it, or at least stand down to low ready.

    • @Rokurota


      Biblically grounded

      Well, human sacrifice is Biblically grounded. As is the murder of innocent children (and babies), as is rape, slave ownership, and stoning…

      • The bible really is a carnival grab-bag in that sense; You can find passages that, when quoted selectively, can be given just about any meaning imaginable.

  14. I’ll post here what I wrote on the other post with edits for context:

    All I’m saying is that religion, any religion, has no place in the debate over gun rights (it has little place in most debates). For a variety of reasons I think that it’s best to not bring it into the debate. The fact that the comments have strayed off into a debate over religion is a good example of why.

    Your not supposed to mix bleach and ammonia for a reason.

    Example – you may say you have a “god given right” to own a gun, but that means noting to me. It’s not a data point I can do anything with. You have to give me reasoning and data beyond your personal belief. Anecdote means noting if you can’t back it up with verifiable data. Your beliefs might inform your opinion one way or another but your beliefs are not in and of themselves facts.

    What do you do when someone comes up to you and says “I have a god given right to take your guns.”. Where does it end?

    It’s not that it offends me when someone refers to god, it annoys me because it can’t be used as a debating point – “god given right” means nothing to me – and it can alienate people (Atheists and people of differing faiths) when religious ideology is thrown into the debate. In the fight for gun rights I think we need as many allies as we can get, best not to alienate anyone.

    I don’t care what god anyone believes in, I really don’t. I’m a former (recovering?) Christian, I’m not out to offend anyone. I’m all about live and let live. Most atheists are. I draw a distinct line concerning issues of Church and State but I really don’t care what anyone else does so long as they are not harming others.

    • I sympathize with your sentiment. The circle only ends when we agree to disagree. You will not get any “evidence” for God or any other deity because you begin from the presumption of godlessness, just as I start from the presumption of God. Anyhow, your nonbelief in God does not negate any life, rights, whatever He bestows on you (if indeed He does). Nor does anyone’s unbelief make it likely for believers to shut up about God. Our beliefs in the transcendent wraps everything we think; asking someone to ignore his or her faith (or lack thereof) is like asking someone to change skin color. It matters not that you, as an atheist, don’t “get” the unscientific babbling of believers, and when believers try to temper language to not “alienate” others, it never works anyhow. So live and let live? Heck yeah. It’s a free country. Let’s disagree and have a beer afterward.

  15. Natural rights flow from the belief in a power above that of the human world. Our rights recognized in the Constitution are said flow from this source and not from men. If they are creations of man then your rights are arbitrary and can be given or taken by those in power.

    God’s existence and his nature do not depend on what you or I believe. So yes from the standpoint of the founding fathers the individual rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights flow from the creator.

  16. I’m agnostic. I distrust fanatical atheists as much as fanatical theists. I believe, given the current state of collective human knowledge, it’s impossible to know for certain what “lies beyond,” if anything.

    That being said, I believe self-defense is primal and is as much a necessary part of the human condition as procreating or any other animalistic need. Our methods of self-defense must evolve along with the ways with which our lives are threatened.

    Today, guns are needed to match the threats that could be leveled against us. So, yes, I believe gun rights come from essential nature. If you call that God or nature or Mother Earth or whatever, that’s your call.

  17. I’m going to stray a little far afield here but I think this is still on topic. Here’s something for my fellow atheists (or anyone else) to think about.

    As I said above, I believe in the idea of natural rights. If you ask me to justify that belief I can. If you ask me to justify my justification, I can. But if you keep asking “why?” enough times the answer will eventually be “because that’s what I think is right”.

    That, more than anything, is why I’ll never be able to convince someone like MikeB about the morality of gun ownership. His view of the world is as different from mine as a Muslim’s is from a Taoist. And because both our beliefs are ultimately rooted in “that’s what I think is right” neither of us will ever be able to reason the other person out of their position.

    (None of which has anything to do with the objective, pragmatic, provable benefits of gun ownership, I’m strictly talking about philosophy and morality here).

    The dictionary I use offers this as one definition:
    “a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects.”

    Although we all get them from different sources we all have those fundamental beliefs. Which means, after a fashion, that we all have some kind of religion. It also means that religion can never be entirely left out of any debate that involves morality or law.

    • That is the best “proof” that I have ever found to the existence of God. If you dig down enough you get to a place where there is something you just believe is true. I think that MikeB is no different in his beliefs. But we are still able to arrive at vastly different conclusions based on what I think is some basic truth. It is that basic thing that I think is related to God.

      For instance, what would MikeB do if you walked up to him and proceeded to choke him. Would he figure you have as much right to strangle him as he has a right to not be choked? Would he be passive? He might not pull a gun on you but I bet MikeB would be capable of some violence in order to protect his own life. What if you were to choke his child in front of him, would he again be passive? I think if you drill down far enough, MikeB’s moral code probably isn’t that much different at a fundamental level, I think we would both respect life because we just should. I think he just arrives at a conclusion that if we eliminated all guns, violence would be reduced. And, most of us here arrive at a vastly different conclusion. But, MikeB still operates on some sort of moral system. Anyhow, I shouldn’t speak for him, Mike?

      Jason

      • I don’t see how that speaks to an existence of God so much as the existence of instincts unique to particular species. We’re essentially a complex version of a wolf or other type of animal that runs in a group. If we were predisposed to be solitary creatures like a spider or something then our morals and religion would be completely different.

        I don’t deny the existence of God but I also don’t think His existence is based in superstition and ceremony. We as humans just make things up to try to explain things we actually have no capacity to understand.

        • Sure, it’s by no means a proof of GOD but I think it speaks for the need to have some set of
          rules that are somehow above us or are otherwise immutable.

          I used to think that anything could be solved with reason. The problem is that you can make
          reasonable arguments for or against abortion, for or against gun control. Heck, even for or against
          murder. I’m sure to Mexican drug lords, murder is a good tool in your quiver for doing business.
          It’s completely reasonable to eliminate competition and let the strongest survive. My point is
          reason isn’t the holy grail so to speak.

          I bet the people that think religion has no place in an argument are pretty happy that we kind of
          decided that murder is wrong. Reason doesn’t make murder wrong, morals do. I understand reason,
          I’m an engineer, all I do is reason. But, in order to make moral decisions you need some sort of
          reference. Heck, all religion has been created by man and is quite flawed. But, I think of it as giving
          the old college try to write down some stuff that we believe is true and is universal.

    • Whilst pursuing a some quick research concerning agnostic, atheist, etc. I encountered something new to me namely Religious Naturalism (“where science and spirituality meet”). Religious Naturalism is devoid of supernaturalism so apparently no deity there. I should try to find writings by R.N. proponents concerning guns and rights.

  18. “Do Gun Rights Come From God?”

    Yes. To put it simply. Whether you are a believer in God or not. Many people (especially those that believe in the right to self preservation and the preservation of family) are fanatical believers in God and their own right to defend themselves issued by degree of that God.

    On the flip side if you are an atheist the same holds true (belief in self preservation and safety of family).

    ‘Why is it the same for both, Buuurr?’

    It is the same for both because the book (The Bible) that these laws (the ones we in the U.S. follow) were derived from was written before the existence of any of us or even this country.

    So… to answer: Do gun rights come from God? Yes, they do, whether you believe in God or not those that wrote them did and these are still in affect to this day.

    -Buuurr

        • The Bible, as many other religions texts is largely plagiarized from other religions texts and non-religious ideas that came long before the human authors of the Bible came along. It is hardly original.

          Here is the best reference I could find quickly: http://www.freethoughtpedia.com/wiki/Was_the_bible_plagiarized_from_other_works_of_fiction%3F

          Furthermore, the Founding Fathers were either Atheists, or Theists so don’t go there. The US was not founded on the Christian religion but rather religious freedom.

          Besides, with all the glorifying of murder, rape, incest, pillaging, stoning, etc, etc. the Bible is hardly a guide post for morality. Neither is the christian god.

        • Really? Atheists or Theists? Interesting that a large amount of them had Christian seminary degrees… odd. And thats fact, Adam.

        • Whoops – I said Theists, I meant Deists.

          This is going to be a long post but you asked:

          Art. 11 of the treaty of Tripoli:

          “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen,—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

          Benjamin Franklin:

          Believed in god but doubted the divinity of Jesus and from my perspective seemed rather wishy washy in his views:

          “As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupt changes, and I have, with most of the present Dissenters in England, some Doubts as to his divinity; tho’ it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and I think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an Opportunity of knowing the Truth with less Trouble….”

          Oh and he stated himself in his autobiography:

          “For the arguments of the Deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to be much stronger than the refutations; in short, I soon became a thorough Deist.”

          References: Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Franklin#Virtue.2C_religion.2C_and_person al_beliefs

          George Washington:

          According to historian Paul F. Boller Jr., Washington practically speaking was a Deist.

          References: Boller (1963), George Washington & Religion, pp. 93-100

          John Adams:

          Adams was educated at Harvard when the influence of deism was growing there, and used deistic terms in his speeches and writing. He believed in the essential goodness of the creation, but did not believe that God intervened in the affairs of individuals, and, being a Unitarian, his beliefs excluded the divinity of Christ.

          References: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Adams#Religious_views

          Thomas Jefferson (I love this quote):

          “Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear.” -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787

          And:

          “Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting “Jesus Christ,” so that it would read “A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;” the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.” -Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, in reference to the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom

          Jon Jay:

          Anglican

          James Madison:

          “We hold it for a fundamental and undeniable truth that religion, or the duty which we owe our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence. The religion, then, of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man: and that it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate.” – James Madison, Memorial and Remonstrance to the Assembly of Virginia

          “Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise.”

          “During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.”

          James Madison:

          In his early life, he was an orthodox and conventional, though not deeply pious, Presbyterian. From 1777 to 1792, Hamilton appears to have been completely indifferent, and made jokes about God at the Constitutional Convention. During the French Revolution, he had an “opportunistic religiosity”, using Christianity for political ends and insisting that Christianity and Jefferson’s democracy were incompatible. After his misfortunes of 1801, Hamilton began to assert the truth of Christianity; he also proposed a Christian Constitutional Society in 1802, to take hold of “some strong feeling of the mind” to elect “fit men” to office, and he wrote of “Christian welfare societies” for the poor. He was not a member of any denomination, but led his family in the Episcopal service the Sunday before the duel. After he was shot, Hamilton requested communion first from Benjamin Moore, the Episcopal Bishop of New York, who initially declined to administer the Sacrament chiefly because he did not wish to sanction the practice of dueling. Hamilton then requested communion from Presbyterian pastor John Mason, who declined on the grounds that Presbyterians did not reserve the Sacrament. After Hamilton spoke of his belief in God’s mercy, and of his desire to renounce dueling, Bishop Moore reversed his decision, and administered communion to Hamilton.

          References: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Hamilton#Hamilton.27s_religion

          This is also a good read:
          America’s True History of Religious Tolerance | History & Archaeology | Smithsonian Magazine – http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/Americas-True-History-of-Religious-Tolerance.html?c=y&page=4

        • Here they are. To site the wiki page you didn’t fully read… lol…

          Religion

          Lambert (2003) has examined the religious affiliations and beliefs of the Founders. Of the 55 delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention, 49 were Protestants, and three were Roman Catholics (C. Carroll, D. Carroll, and Fitzsimons). Among the Protestant delegates to the Constitutional Convention, 28 were Church of England (or Episcopalian, after the American Revolutionary War was won), eight were Presbyterians, seven were Congregationalists, two were Lutherans, two were Dutch Reformed, and two were Methodists.

          A few prominent Founding Fathers were anti-clerical Christians, such as Thomas Jefferson[12][13][14] (who created the so-called “Jefferson Bible”) and Benjamin Franklin.[15] A few others (most notably Thomas Paine) were deists, or at least held beliefs very similar to those of deists.[16]

          Read the last sentence… most notably read the word ‘few’…

        • @Buuurr @otalps

          I was refering to the key Founding Fathers, commonly recognized as John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington. Apologies for not making that clear.

          I guess it’s a matter of semantics on the Atheist/Deist thing. None were, as far as we know Atheist. Deists believe in a creator but not in a god that intervenes or has any interest in the lives of humans, or anything else for that matter. Piratically speaking, Deists live their live’s the same way Atheists do.

          In any case, read the Constitution and tell me where you see the words – God, Jesus Christ, Bible, Christianity, Creator, or Divine. If the Founding Fathers were so bent on their religion then why does the Constitution not say so?

        • Although I haven’t done so recently I have read the Constitution “cover to cover”, and the only mention of religion I can recall is in the First Amendment.

          The Declaration of Independence makes reference to a Creator, but it’s a non-denominational one. Also the DoI, though valuable philosophically, is not the law of the land.

        • The U.S. has 78.4% of it’s population as Christian. I think what you think isn’t reality, James. To not call this a Christian country is silly. Roughly 20% are not…

        • For Adam:

          Oh? So that’s it? You just referring to these particular people as the founding fathers is this country being based on atheism and deism? What a load of crap, Dude. These people were a but a small number of the total of the people that had things to put into the doc. Again, you can’t ignore history. It doesn’t support your claim no matter whom you refer to. The founding fathers numbered many more then the ones you quote and they are for the most part all Christian or some form of it (27 of them were qualified to be priests or religous leaders! 27 out of what? 55 or 57?). To think that God or Christianity is not the basis for the laws and beliefs of this country is ludicrous. To think that this country was not built on the love of God is silly in fact. Other religions call us the infidels because we are? We are what, Adam? We are a Christian country. No matter how you want to see it. Read a coin. This is not Arabia. This is not Iran.

        • “We are a Christian country. No matter how you want to see it. Read a coin.”

          That is simply not true. And having “In God We Trust” stamped on a coin does not make it any more true than if I stamped “I have a physic pet monkey” on a coin.

          And it’s well established that those seven men were the foundation of this country.

          And I’ll repeat:

          Read the Constitution and tell me where you see the words – God, Jesus Christ, Bible, Christianity, Creator, or Divine. If the Founding Fathers were so bent on their religion then why does the Constitution not say so? If we are a Christina Nation then why does the Constitution no say so?

        • In the 18th Century combining church and state was a pretty common practice. If the Founders had intended for us to have a Christian nation they could have established one without much of a problem. They didn’t. Instead they explicitly rejected the idea of a state religion.

          If you want to say that the Founders were partially influenced by Christianity I think that’s a fair point. If you want to say that most citizens at our nation’s founding were at least nominally Christian I think that’s probably also true. But to say that we’re a Christian nation, or that the Founders intended us to be one, goes too far I think.

        • I’ll call bull poopy on that one, Dude. Here is what our friend Wiki has to say about the number of Christians in Christian countries. Guess where we stand?

          #1 U.S. at 243,186,000 (in case it is hard to see, the U.S. is 68,486,000 Christians ahead of the next country which is Brazil.

          #2 Brazil 174,700,000

          #3 Mexico 105,095,000

          #4 Russia 99,775,000

          #5 Philippines 90,530,000

          To say this country is not a Christian country is insane. I don’t care how atheist you are. At some point reality should hit you no matter how much you want to deny it.

          What both of you are saying is that we started out as a non-Christian country (the witch hunts didn’t happen here apparently – lulz) and then somehow we became the largest Christian country after we what? Dumped Islam? Dumped being Atheists and Deists? Seriously? I think it makes much more sense to anyone here with a grasp of ACTUAL history that we started out as AND still are a Christian country.

        • @Buuurr

          Why are you ducking the question:

          Read the Constitution and tell me where you see the words – God, Jesus Christ, Bible, Christianity, Creator, or Divine. If the Founding Fathers were so bent on their religion then why does the Constitution not say so?

        • Simply because a majority of people believe to some extent in christianity does not make this a christian nation.

          When people say this is a christian nation their statement is understood to mean that our country’s precepts were based on the bible and the teachings of jesus. Our country may be demographically more christian than not, but that really isn’t what people generally mean when they say this is a “christian nation.” It is very clear from all of the things that Adam has already stated the notion that the U.S. is a “christian nation” is incorrect.

          Our founding was based mostly on locke and avoiding becoming like England.

        • You’re right, Raph. Simply because lets say 80% of the country is gay doesn’t mean we are a gay country. Simply because 80% of the country rides around in Porches doesn’t mean we are a rich country. Simply because 80% of the country has murdered someone doesn’t mean we are a nation of murderers. Get a grip, Dude. The numbers speak for themselves. The Amish speak, the Germans speak, the English, the French, the Irish speak, hell! The Italians speak! But throw in a couple of minorities and we are not a Christian nation. Yet somehow we are the largest Christian nation. Odd. I guess I don’t have my head in the sand far enough to not see the stats.

        • Burr,
          Don’t pretend you don’t understand the argument we are making regarding the demographic breakdown of the religions of the US vs the founding principles and precepts not being based on Christianity. It’s not valid when Magoo does it and it’s not valid when you do it

        • Washington was an Anglican and attended church quite often. John Adams was a Unitarian, Hamilton was a Christian, John Jay was an Anglican. Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson may have been Deists but Jefferson often referred to himself as a Christian. Even so Deists are not atheists, they deny the Trinity, miracles and the divinity of Christ.

        • @Buuurr

          If they were Satanists I bet you would not be saying the US is a “Satanists Country”

        • I’m not saying that we are a Christian nation. I am denying that any of the founders of this nation were atheists or close to being one.

        • “Adam says:

          August 18, 2011 at 7:50 PM

          @Buuurr

          If they were Satanists I bet you would not be saying the US is a “Satanists Country””

          Why wouldn’t I? If history has said it I would be an idiot to deny it. Give me some numbers to back the claim that this place isn’t Christian and we can have a conversation. I don’t care what you believe, Dude. I only care about what is.

        • @otalps

          For all piratical purpose Deists live their lives as if there is no god, or gods, because they do not believe he, she it, has anything to do with anything other than having created… creation.

          Atheists, live their lives as if there is not god because they don’t believe exists, or has ever had to exist to explain the natural world.

          Practically speaking Deists live the same way Atheists do – as if there is no god (because there isn’t ya know).

          “but Jefferson often referred to himself as a Christian”

          But suggested people question the existence of god. A practice that would have him bound for hell according to most versions of Christianity.

        • I’m not exactly sure how an atheist lives their life differently than a Christian?

          Jews don’t recognize the Trinity nor believe in the divinity of Christ, do they live the same as atheists as well?

          Jefferson was of the Enlightenment even Catholics of then questioned the very existence of God. It is not heretical.

        • @otalps

          “Deism (i/ˈdiːɪzəm/ US dict: dē′·ĭzm)[1][2] in the philosophy of religion is the standpoint that reason and observation of the natural world, without the need for organized religion, can determine that the universe is a creation and has a creator. Furthermore, the term often implies that this supreme being does not intervene in human affairs or suspend the natural laws of the universe. Deists typically reject supernatural events such as prophecy and miracles, tending to assert that a god (or “the Supreme Architect”) has a plan for the universe that this god does not alter by (regularly or ever) intervening in the affairs of human life… – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deism

          Unlike many other faiths – Deists don’t believe that the god, or creator is doing anythign to interfere with the Universe, the plan of the creator is set in motion and Deists don’t see any reason why the creator would alter that plan by intervening.

          If you don’t believe that your god/creator intervenes in the everyday lives of humans, no does he/she/it intervene in the affairs of the Universe as a whole then you have no reason to believe that praying does anything, or that the way you live your life means anything to this creator then practically speaking you probably live your life as if there is no god. Deists reject religion as a whole.

          As far as I know Christians and Jews spend a lot of time praying to an invisible boogeyman hoping that he/she/it will alter things in their favor. They also both live their lives in such a way as to please this boogeyman. They fight wars in the name of their respective boogeyman, they kill innocent people in the name if their boogeyman, etc, etc.

        • @Buuurr

          “Why wouldn’t I? If history has said it I would be an idiot to deny it. Give me some numbers to back the claim that this place isn’t Christian and we can have a conversation. I don’t care what you believe, Dude. I only care about what is.”

          Statistically we may be a Nation of mostly Christians… you could say we are a Nation of Christians if you cared to ignore everyone else of differing faiths that live her as well. I agree that based on population we are a Nation that is full of Christians.

          But, to say that we are a Christian Nation, as to imply that somehow we were founded on, or that our system of government is based on Christianity is patently false, you know it, I know it, dogs know it.

        • “Adam says:

          August 19, 2011 at 12:07 PM

          @Buuurr

          “Why wouldn’t I? If history has said it I would be an idiot to deny it. Give me some numbers to back the claim that this place isn’t Christian and we can have a conversation. I don’t care what you believe, Dude. I only care about what is.”

          Statistically we may be a Nation of mostly Christians… you could say we are a Nation of Christians if you cared to ignore everyone else of differing faiths that live her as well. I agree that based on population we are a Nation that is full of Christians.

          But, to say that we are a Christian Nation, as to imply that somehow we were founded on, or that our system of government is based on Christianity is patently false, you know it, I know it, dogs know it”

          Give me a little while. I will pop over to Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Japan, Korea, India, and China and ask what group the U.S falls into. I think you will be surprised by the result.

  19. Per the Declaration of Independence:
    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    Per a very sharp guy from Nazareth named Jesus:
    ‘I tell you, give to Cesar that which is Cesar’s, and give to God that which is God’s.’
    And, probably the finest consolidation of civil law ever published: ‘Have no higher allegiance than your allegiance to God. And do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’
    Yet, to temper rash judgement and unbridled passion, he also said, ‘Those who live by the sword, will perish by the sword.’

    My personal interpretation of these: If God (or Nature) has given you life… then, only God (or Nature) has the right to take it away. And I will do whatever is within my judgement and abilities to protect you from unnatural harm. – JB (Atheist)

    • JB,

      The problem is why is it unnatural for one person to kill another. Animals kill each other every day, even from the same species. I have been an atheist for a long time but I think this is where it breaks down. In your post as in others, there is allusion to some “rule”. Some people call it nature but I just don’t think nature works for the above reason — nature will kill you just as soon as look at you. This “higher” standard for which you are willing to defend is not nature. I don’t know what other word to use except God.

  20. The right to free speech and to personal protection are only important because they are most often the first things people come after to take advantage of other people. These rights in themselves aren’t specifically important. If historically it was more effective to limit people’s ability to drink milk then the right to drinking milk would be more important than speech and self protection. We would then be discussing this on http://www.ttam.com!

    As far as God, Jesus said “Live by the sword, die by the sword” and rebuked Peter when he went to defend himself and Jesus in the Garden when the Roman soldiers came to arrest Him. If Jesus was for gun control He would have said “hey don’t do that right now but other times it’s okay.” Instead He told people to “turn the other cheek”.

    Bringing God into this subject is more of a use of superstition to drive home a point than relying on reason, logic and evidence to present your opinion. I believe that using religion to justify an idea is more dangerous than any weapon.

  21. The problem is that if you are going to use god, or gods, fairies, or unicorns to support your argument then you first need to prove that the god, or gods, fairies, or unicorns your refering to exist, otherwise your argument is meaningless.

    Case in point:

    “I believe that it is a god given right to own guns.”

    “I believe that it is an Allah given right to own guns.”

    “I believe that it is a unicorn given right to own guns.”

    All utterly meaningless unless the person you are talking to believes in the same god, or unicorn that you do.

    So, please provide empirical, scientific, testable evidence that your god exists before invoking him, her, it, to support your argument. If you can’t do that (and you can’t do that anymore than I can prove I have a pet unicorn. Really, I do!) then, as I’ve said, it’s pointless and harmful to invoke such things in support of your argument.

    Just the fax, ma’am.


    • Adam says:
      August 17, 2011 at 6:30 PM
      The problem is that if you are going to use god, or gods, fairies, or unicorns to support your argument then you first need to prove that the god, or gods, fairies, or unicorns your refering to exist, otherwise your argument is meaningless.

      Case in point:

      “I believe that it is a god given right to own guns.”

      “I believe that it is an Allah given right to own guns.”

      “I believe that it is a unicorn given right to own guns.”

      All utterly meaningless unless the person you are talking to believes in the same god, or unicorn that you do.

      So, please provide empirical, scientific, testable evidence that your god exists before invoking him, her, it, to support your argument. If you can’t do that (and you can’t do that anymore than I can prove I have a pet unicorn. Really, I do!) then, as I’ve said, it’s pointless and harmful to invoke such things in support of your argument.

      Just the fax, ma’am.”

      Ah… but here we are Adam. Enough people do believe in what you deem fantasy. Your argument is actually FOR the belief of god, God, gods, fairies being the basis of the laws that govern us. True? Yes. Yes because history has deemed it so. Some examples:

      Vikings deemed it worthy to die in battle. Raping, pillaging, killing, burning and stealing were fine examples of being a good Odin fearing Viking. Were their laws and beliefs justified? No, not that we can see. Did that stop them from leading the world in barbarity and hate owning them a big chunk out of the history books? Yes, it did. Did their not doing the right thing be based on their fear of gods? Yes, it did. If they did not kill and hate they went to hell, ironically. Yet the laws that governed their lives were based around it.

      The Crusades. Did the love of God rain down on those that went to the Middle East just to kill those of another religion? No, I don’t think so. Maybe, who knows? BUT there were laws and degrees to knights from priests from kings which ultimately spoke to God on mans behalf to do these things and make it law that those that were not Christian be slain every man, woman and child. Was it right? I don’t think so. I can however commend them on their staunch faith and devotion.

      What I am getting at here Adam is that the invocation of the name of God, gods, or fairies, etc. is a powerful tool and where one person can be seen as ‘believing’, a large group of people with the same belief can make that invocation (whether it be real or not) reality. An simple example:

      I am a chick in during the witch hunt. I have committed adultery and the dude doesn’t want to be caught. So witch is my name and I am dying because the entirety of the village says so. They say so in the name of God. Is it real? Is it not? Who is to say? My feet are burning regardless.

      The ‘fax’ are transparent where belief is used Adam. That is why fact and belief are two different words but so closely compared against each other. The reason being both are equally powerful when there is a large number of them.

      -Buuurr

      • Burr,

        So the argument you’re making if I understand correctly is: People believe in god/gods/God/fairies, so the best way to come to consensus and sway them to your opinion is to invoke whatever deity they believe in to create a system they will follow.

        That’s a pretty terrible case for religion, and I think Adam has already strongly refuted that with regards to our founding.

        • No. You completly missed it. You also missed that this reply was in reference to why some of us get to have faith.

        • Oh well then you didn’t actually address Adam’s point. I guess that’s what confused me, thinking it actually attempted to answer the point and not just muddy the water with random religious philosophies that have nothing to do with the topic at hand

  22. No, we are a tool making species who decided we wanted to be civilized. Part of being civilized is agreeing on what universal rights should be. One of the rights we agreed to is that the old animal kingdom “the strong win regardless” dynamic needed to stop.

    -D

  23. “I’ll call bull poopy on tha one, Dude.”

    Well, I don’t see how I can possibly answer an argument as well reasoned as that.

    • You can’t win the argument regardless. History has ‘past’ you by, Dude. The U.S. has 78.4% of it’s population as Christian. I think what you think isn’t reality, James.

      • You’re mistakenly assuming that a country populated predominantly by Christians and a Christian Country are the same thing. They are not.

        If this were a “Christian Country” abortion would be illegal, there wouldn’t even be a debate. Homosexual marriage would be illegal, no debate. Divorce would probably be illegal as well.

        Israel is a Jewish country. Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country. Vatican City is a Catholic country. America is governed by secular laws.

        Adam is correct. Neither Christianity nor any other faith is mentioned in the Constitution, and in fact the only mention of religion is an explicit rejection of state-sponsored faith. You are unable to dispute this.

        Your only response to that is to “call bull poopy” on it, which would be inadequate as an argument even on a gradeschool playground. If you truly consider that to be winning the argument then further discussion is clearly futile.

        • “James Felix says:
          August 18, 2011 at 6:43 PM
          You’re mistakenly assuming that a country populated predominantly by Christians and a Christian Country are the same thing. They are not.”

          Ah, but they are. True Christians believe in freedom of choice and that man is only accountable to what God thinks of him. Not others.

          “If this were a “Christian Country” abortion would be illegal, there wouldn’t even be a debate. Homosexual marriage would be illegal, no debate. Divorce would probably be illegal as well.”

          Ah, but it wouldn’t. Again, freedom of choice and non-judgment are the foundation of many true Christian beliefs. For example: I am a Christian. I could care less if you are gay or kill as many children that are unborn as you want. Do I think it is wrong? Yes. Do I think I have a right to tell you what to do? No. I will let God deal with you because my bible says that only God can deal with you. Ditto for divorce.

          “Israel is a Jewish country. Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country. Vatican City is a Catholic country. America is governed by secular laws.”

          Israel is a Jewish country. Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country. Vatican City is a Catholic country. America is governed by secular laws based on the belief of a one God and his teachings.

          “Adam is correct. Neither Christianity nor any other faith is mentioned in the Constitution, and in fact the only mention of religion is an explicit rejection of state-sponsored faith. You are unable to dispute this.”

          I am not disputing it. But I would think it safe to say that if a bunch of Islamics wrote the Constitution they would be of the Islamic persuasion. Luckily Christians wrote it. Hence our Christian country.

          “Your only response to that is to “call bull poopy” on it, which would be inadequate as an argument even on a gradeschool playground. If you truly consider that to be winning the argument then further discussion is clearly futile””

          Actually my only response was to call bull poopy on what was bull poopy and then write a lengthy reply on why it was so. You missed that, I take it?

        • “James Felix says:

          August 19, 2011 at 11:25 AM

          “Again, freedom of choice and non-judgment are the foundation of many true Christian beliefs. For example: I am a Christian. I could care less if you are gay or kill as many children that are unborn as you want.

          I guess Catholics aren’t Christian then.
          http://www.catholic.com/library/Abortion.asp

          http://www.catholic.com/library/Homosexuality.asp

          You’re asserting things that are provably wrong.”

          Actually James, no. I often butt heads with Catholics as many of their rituals are very non-Christian. There are other types of Christian than Catholics though.

        • Burr,

          You don’t get to make new definitions to fit the argument…that’s not how facts work. People are either christian or they are not. moving the goal post back to “true christian” doesn’t work. Every person on earth could have a different concept of what a “true christian” is

          It is fairly clear that the most vocal and important founding fathers “the framer’s” or the “father’s of the revolution” if you will were, being the most charitable to your argument, Deists. Deists are not Christians in that they don’t follow christ any more than they follow any other philosopher so even with your attempt to change what the definition of “is” is you are still incorrect.

          I would also argue that if “Islamics” or muslim’s were of the same bent as our founders and read a bunch of Locke and experienced the same issues with English tyranny they would write a very similar document as religion plays practically no part in our secular constitution

        • As I have already discussed and you have missed Raph: The founding fathers number far more then the ones you label deists (there were, what? Two?). The vast majority were Christian. And those are facts, Raph.

        • Burr,
          Yes many people who did next to nothing except sign their names were Christian… The ones that actually did all of the heavy lifting of the revolution like writing the federalist. papers, and creating a new political ideology were mostly deists… Glad we can agree on that 😉

        • Not true. History doesn’t say so. Two were deist. The rest (all 52 or so were Christian). We can agree to disagree.

        • In 1954, in response to the Communist threat of the times, President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add the words “under God,” creating the 31-word pledge we say today.

          “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

          Seems like Eisenhower wanted to make sure that his country (a Christian country) stayed Christian in the threat of Communism.

          I also find it odd that we have to swear on a bible in the court room when on ‘the stand’.

          It also seems strange that if this is not a Christian country that I have to swear on a bible and swear allegiance to the flag and swearing to God in order to get citizenship.

          Seems a little thin, Raph. Your argument I mean.

        • So you are arguing because Eisenhower thought our country was so sufficiently godless (on paper and in it’s institutions) in 1954 that it might be confused with soviet russia that he needed to tweak our currency and pleadge to give it a theistic spin that helps your argument.

          I think that only lends creedence to the argument that our institutions are secular

  24. @Buuurr

    “Actually James, no. I often butt heads with Catholics as many of their rituals are very non-Christian. “

    Buuurr, your assertion is that even though the Constitution explicitly rejects a state religion, and even though we have legalized abortion and at least some legalized gay marriage, that because our nation was founded by Christians and has a predominantly Christian population that makes the USA a Christian Nation. I think that’s a fair summation of your argument and trust you to correct me if I’m wrong.

    You then seemingly dismiss Catholics as being less than authentically Christian because their rituals strike you as being, well, un-Christian.

    Funny thing is there are 1.2 billion Catholics in the world. That’s far more than any other single Christian church, and in fact it’s a little more than every other interpretation of Christianity combined. So, using the same logic by which you call America a Christian country Catholics are the authoritative Christians based on their majority status.

    Also, you can’t say that we’re 80% Christian if you then dismiss large blocks of that 80% as being non-Christian. Either they’re Christians or they’re not, you can’t count them both ways.

    Which puts you back in the position of insisting that America as a nation is Christian even though our laws and government behave contrary to the Christian faith. Which I say, at the risk of repeating myself, makes no sense at all.

    http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_denominations_by_number_of_members

    • A well phrased reply. Thank you for that. I butt heads with them, James. That doesn’t mean they are not considered Christian. I have had issue with gays being gay at one point. That didn’t make them any less gay and nor should it have. They have the right to choice – a fundamentally Christian notation that is the basis of the Constitution.

      There are even more out there religions that are deemed Christian that I disagree with. That however does not mean they are not Christian. You in fact have said that they are yourself. I say they are but I don’t agree with their antics. I guess that is why we have many denominations of Christianity. Which falls back on, ‘let others do what they want and live for yourself’ – a very Christian concept.

      Just as you cannot in any factual way (numbers) argue against this nation being Christian, I cannot argue against Catholics not being Christian. It is because it is written and they are because they are deemed Christian. However, I can have my own take on it, just as your own incorrect take on the state of this nation.

      • Burr,

        Continuing to pretend you don’t understand the difference between the demographic breakdown of the religions of the US versus the secular basis of our founding does not make your point valid.

        The founding principles and precepts of our nation were not based on Christianity, but on secular philosophies. Just as one wouldn’t classify us as a right handed nation, or a shoe wearing nation (which demographically we are) it makes just as little sense to classify us as a christian nation

  25. Call it God if you choose. I call it nature and nature’s term for organisms that cannot defend themselves is “extinct”.

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