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Lincoln's Christianity by Michael Burkhimer
10-27-2015, 07:30 PM
Post: #31
RE: Lincoln's Christianity by Michael Burkhimer
Thank you for your response, Rob.

Since you are also apparently a skeptic, and since Lincoln is not here to ask, I would be just as interested in hearing why you (or any skeptic) do not believe in the New Testament, if you don't mind me asking.
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10-27-2015, 08:04 PM
Post: #32
RE: Lincoln's Christianity by Michael Burkhimer
Kate,

There are a myriad number of reasons why I believe what I do. However, given that my personal beliefs are just that, I respectfully would decline to discuss them.

Best
Rob

Abraham Lincoln in the only man, dead or alive, with whom I could have spent five years without one hour of boredom.
--Ida M. Tarbell

I want the respect of intelligent men, but I will choose for myself the intelligent.
--Carl Sandburg
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10-28-2015, 09:22 AM
Post: #33
RE: Lincoln's Christianity by Michael Burkhimer
Just thought I'd post these two links on the topic:
http://www.mrlincolnswhitehouse.org/insi...ubjectID=2

http://abrahamlincolnsclassroom.org/abra...the-bible/
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11-08-2015, 01:36 AM
Post: #34
RE: Lincoln's Christianity by Michael Burkhimer
I periodically go through a "dark night of the soul" when I am overwhelmed by doubts and questions, and this is one of those times. So I can certainly understand some of the reservations skeptics have, and why Lincoln was tormented by doubts.

FWIW, here are some of the questions I can't get out of my mind.

The Bible tells us that sin entered this world as a result of human action, and that death (for humans, at least) entered the world through sin. How is that possible, given that our bodies age and wear out, and can sustain serious and even mortal injuries due to accidents, etc.? Are we to believe that the human body was indestructible prior to the Fall?

Evolutionary theory obviously further complicates things. If humans evolved from "lower" life forms, at what point were they considered by God to be human and not animal, and therefore subject to God's moral code?

Apparently, death existed in the animal kingdom even before sin entered this world, and it was not due to any "sin" on their part. Nature is in fact a virtual slaughterhouse, with predators continually preying on other animals and often eating them alive (I've watched enough wildlife documentaries on YouTube to know that even the most efficient predators, such as lions, don't always make clean kills). I have difficulty understanding how a loving God could create such a world and observe "that it was good."
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11-08-2015, 06:38 AM (This post was last modified: 11-08-2015 07:12 AM by Eva Elisabeth.)
Post: #35
RE: Lincoln's Christianity by Michael Burkhimer
Kate, these are amongst my personal issues (see my post 18) with "the Bible" respective faith, too. I think there's no answer than either you believe these things or not. I had a friend, very intelligent, brilliant architect, who was firm in believing in the Bible and would have told you the only beginning of men 's evolution was God's creation of Adam and Eve - period. No animals in ancestry.
The Old Testamentary God was quite brutal IMO and rather fearsome, so "in line" with the ongoings in nature.
Despite I see unfairness towards all people born before Jesus' death regarding the the original sin issue. Yes, I, too, have often wondered what Lincoln thought about these things as he had a rational, rather scientifically thinking and questioning mind. I wonder if he read Darwin's "Origin of Species"" (published in 1859).
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11-08-2015, 07:48 AM
Post: #36
RE: Lincoln's Christianity by Michael Burkhimer
Lincoln and Darwin were born the same day. Charles Darwin to moderate wealth and privilege, Lincoln to grim circumstances often not far from starvation and poverty. Darwin was an excellent rider and huntsman, a dead shot with a rifle from a running horse. On Darwin's travels the coast of South America, he had no compunction about shooting thousands of birds and animals, some he knew were very rare. Lincoln had a dislike for personally killing anything. Both men were shrewd politicians and knew how to manipulate folks to advance themselves. The first edition of Origin of Species came out November 1859. ORIGIN went through 6 revised editions over the years, and is a very boring, dry book to read. It only gets interesting when Darwin will cite someone in an anecdote raising or breeding plants or animals. I think surveys taken show that very few past or modern professors have ever actually read Origin of Species. If Lincoln ever looked at Darwin's On the Origin of Species, my guess is that Lincoln would have just skimmed it and found not much of interest to him.
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11-08-2015, 09:33 AM
Post: #37
RE: Lincoln's Christianity by Michael Burkhimer
(11-08-2015 06:38 AM)Eva Elisabeth Wrote:  I wonder if he read Darwin's "Origin of Species"" (published in 1859).

(11-08-2015 07:48 AM)maharba Wrote:  If Lincoln ever looked at Darwin's On the Origin of Species, my guess is that Lincoln would have just skimmed it and found not much of interest to him.

I do not know for certain, but I doubt it. I checked The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, and Lincoln never (even once) mentioned Darwin in any speech, letter, etc. I also looked through my quote books and drew a total blank regarding Darwin or related topics. The two men never communicated with each other as far as I can tell.
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11-08-2015, 09:39 AM (This post was last modified: 11-08-2015 09:56 AM by Gene C.)
Post: #38
RE: Lincoln's Christianity by Michael Burkhimer
Maharba, I appreciate your comments about Darwin and his book.

Since we have veered slightly off subject to God and his moral code, this reminded me of a song.
Sometimes we mistakenly blame God for the wrongs in the world.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_ZBqpEUbik

So when is this "Old Enough To Know Better" supposed to kick in?
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11-08-2015, 12:17 PM
Post: #39
RE: Lincoln's Christianity by Michael Burkhimer
Good one, Gene!
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11-08-2015, 12:42 PM (This post was last modified: 11-08-2015 12:49 PM by Rob Wick.)
Post: #40
RE: Lincoln's Christianity by Michael Burkhimer
According to Herndon, Lincoln never read Darwin's Origin book, although through Herndon he had access to it. Herndon wrote "Occasionally he would snatch one up and peruse it for a little while, but he soon threw it down with the suggestion that it was entirely too heavy for an ordinary mind to digest." Lincoln did read a book by Robert Chambers called Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation which Chambers published anonymously. It predated Darwin by about 15 years. Joshua Wolf Shenk used this to argue that Lincoln could have been considered an evolutionist, although William E. Barton argued (as did Chambers later) that there was no discrepancy in Vestiges between evolution and religion.
The Smithsonian published in 2009 an article on Lincoln and Darwin, although it gets the title of Herndon's book wrong.

Almost forgot to mention that in 2010 Southern Illinois University Press published James Lander's Lincoln and Darwin: Shared Visions of Race, Science and Religion. I have it, but haven't read it yet.

Best
Rob

Abraham Lincoln in the only man, dead or alive, with whom I could have spent five years without one hour of boredom.
--Ida M. Tarbell

I want the respect of intelligent men, but I will choose for myself the intelligent.
--Carl Sandburg
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11-08-2015, 01:28 PM
Post: #41
RE: Lincoln's Christianity by Michael Burkhimer
Twice in my life, I have been struck with the thought that I might be a Deist. I am not going to attempt to define that theological term here, so you will have to look it up for yourself.

Cut to the shortest possible explanation: A supreme being created the world and gave man the power to reason his way through it. This has seemed to me to be the best explanation for the world we live in. I believe that Thomas Jefferson toyed around with the idea of Deism as did some of our nation's other historical figures. I have often thought that its tenets would suit Lincoln also.

Excerpt from Wiki: The concept of deism covers a wide variety of positions on a wide variety of religious issues. Sir Leslie Stephen's English Thought in the Eighteenth Century describes the core of deism as consisting of "critical" and "constructional" elements.

Critical elements of deist thought included:

Rejection of religions that are based on books that claim to contain the revealed word of God.
Rejection of religious dogma and demagogy.
Skepticism of reports of miracles, prophecies and religious "mysteries".

Constructional elements of deist thought included:

God exists and created the universe.
God gave humans the ability to reason.

Individual deists varied in the set of critical and constructive elements for which they argued. Some deists rejected miracles and prophecies but still considered themselves Christians because they believed in what they felt to be the pure, original form of Christianity – that is, Christianity as it supposedly existed before it was corrupted by additions of such superstitions as miracles, prophecies, and the doctrine of the Trinity. Some deists rejected the claim of Jesus' divinity but continued to hold him in high regard as a moral teacher (see, for example, Thomas Jefferson's famous Jefferson Bible and Matthew Tindal's Christianity as Old as the Creation). Other, more radical deists rejected Christianity altogether and expressed hostility toward Christianity, which they regarded as pure superstition. In return, Christian writers often charged radical deists with atheism.

I think Lincoln desperately wanted answers to a question that plagues us all -- why do bad things happen to good people in this world. He developed these questions in childhood and became acutely aware of things that needed to be changed and that a supreme being (if there was one) was not assisting. I think Lincoln kept these questions (and wariness) about religion throughout his life. I think he still clung to the idea of there being a supreme being (an maybe even the faith that there was a life hereafter), but tended to think that the evils and the illnesses in the world were up to humans to correct.

Notice that I use "I think" a lot in this post. That's what frustrates me with my religion - I have to guess at answers when I want "to know" the answers.
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11-08-2015, 01:39 PM
Post: #42
RE: Lincoln's Christianity by Michael Burkhimer
Gerat post, Laurie!
As for Darwin - thanks, Rob, great post, too - I was just wondering this because Lincoln was so interesting in all new scientific finds, theories and inventions (and I'm not sure if Euclid's works were a less dry read). Just to mention that Darwin was not the only one in those very days developing evolutionary thoughts - A. R. Wallace did likewise:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Russel_Wallace
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11-09-2015, 03:51 AM
Post: #43
RE: Lincoln's Christianity by Michael Burkhimer
I think one of Darwin's cousins or some relation (last name Darwin) was living in the States and did serve in some capacity in the Federal army? Seems there were some letters back and forth and hoping for a Federal victory. And I think Karl Marx had written to both Lincoln and Darwin. I believe Marx wanted to dedicate one of his books, probably Das Kapital, to Charles Darwin who declined the offer as I recollect. Chambers popular VESTIGES went through maybe dozen revised editions and sold much better among the masses than Darwin's ORIGIN. Darwin's friends despised Vestiges of Creation because it was highly unscientific and in some ways almost cartoonish. I think it had man evolving upward from a frog? Why would anyone bother to 'revise' an Enquirer sort of book and 'make corrections', I never understood. If it's selling well, just reprint more. I can't see Abraham Lincoln poring over ORIGIN and long passages about variation under domestication, pigeon breeding, primroses, etc.
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11-11-2015, 05:19 AM
Post: #44
RE: Lincoln's Christianity by Michael Burkhimer
I think Lincoln desperately wanted answers to a question that plagues us all -- why do bad things happen to good people in this world. He developed these questions in childhood and became acutely aware of things that needed to be changed and that a supreme being (if there was one) was not assisting. >>

Did Abraham Lincoln PRAY ?

Some folks here appear to conclude that Abraham Lincoln was not at all a Christian. This coming February 12 likely we'll see the newspapers instead claiming Lincoln was or had finally evolved into a follower of Christ. Modern Lincoln scholars seem to be mixed on the subject: Lincoln was an atheist, no Lincoln was a good Christian.
William Herndon hints that Abraham Lincoln made a public show of invoking the Maker or Providence, but in fact scoffed, and Lincoln remained a lifelong atheist.

But if Abraham Lincoln actually did pray, then to Whom was Lincoln praying if he was not praying to the Lord Jesus?
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11-11-2015, 07:29 AM (This post was last modified: 11-11-2015 07:41 AM by Eva Elisabeth.)
Post: #45
RE: Lincoln's Christianity by Michael Burkhimer
I addressed this point in my post #18, and my answer is - (if then) he prayed to God. I cannot recall A. L. ever referring to Jesus. Probably, like Gene once said, I am influenced by own personal religious beliefs that I want Lincoln to have too - or perhaps it's not a matter of wanting but of having difficulties to imagine other. I have difficulties him praying to Jesus (like I have myself to do although I'm a Christ on the paper and by communion), but I can well imagine him praying to God (maybe not the usual way, "technically" though. However - if G. Greene's account is reliable - the 23rd Psalm could be seen as a prayer, couldn't it?)
Here are some of his references:
http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/linc...quotes.htm
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