Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Mencken's Creed

To further develop your thinking from today’s class, read the excerpt below.  This excerpt is by a writer named H.L. Mencken who, among other things, reported on the Scopes Monkey Trial, the subject of Inherit the Wind.  

Read his controversial creed copied below and respond to it in a well-written paragraph.  Your response might capture your reaction to his creed and the extent to which you agree or disagree with it.  Consider also how this creed relates to the ideas about fact v. opinion we discussed in class today.

Use your response as a way to dialogue in an appropriate way with the your classmates about this topic.

Your response will receive a writing grade.  Accordingly, it should demonstrate understanding of effective paragraph writing, beginning with a topic sentence, supporting your thinking with at least 3 details, and ending with a concluding sentence.  Be sure to also proofread your work. 




I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind - that its modest and
greatly overestimated services on the ethical side have been more than overcome by the damage
it has done to clear and honest thinking.

 I believe that no discovery of fact, however trivial, can be wholly useless to the race, and that
no trumpeting of falsehood, however virtuous in intent, can be anything but vicious.
 I believe that all government is evil, in that all government must necessarily make war upon
liberty...

 I believe that the evidence for immortality is no better than the evidence of witches, and
deserves no more respect.

 I believe in the complete freedom of thought and speech...

 I believe in the capacity of man to conquer his world, and to find out what it is made of, and
how it is run.

 I believe in the reality of progress.

 I - But the whole thing, after all, may be put very simply. I believe that it is better to tell the
truth than to lie. I believe that it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe that it is

better to know than be ignorant.

32 comments:

  1. To me, it sounds as if H.L. Mencken, was a very arrogant man. He switched ideas throughout his creed. First stating that religion was in fact a "curse" but then said that he thought the government was corrupt. It seems tom me that he is what sounds like a tyrant. He asks for to much, and thinks about too much at once. I highly disagree with him and his creed. I believe it is best to go with what flows, and see where the world can take you. If you keep all of that stock held up inside you all the time, you're going to get sick. I don't believe in what H.L. Mencken has said, and disagree with his creed because of those reasons.

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  2. I believe that he was right, and wrong. Many of his things I disagree with, while some I do agree with. To his statement that religion is a curse to mankind, I completely disagree. I understand why he would say this, in his eyes religion is ignorance, in his eyes religion is a completely useless thing that keeps people from learning about science. I understand his thinking. What he has to keep in mind is that religion is not meant to be something that causes ignorance, in fact it isn’t ignorance at all. Religion is hope, that this life is not pointless, if you look through my eyes, you see him saying that hope is pointless. That there is no reason to live on this earth when you die, you are nothing, there is no point in being kind, because once you are dead it does not matter. Some wonder why people kill themselves, sometimes it's because of this belief, often it’s because there is no hope for the person, they feel trapped, there is nothing to live for in their mind. “Religion has been nothing but a curse” Is an ignorant statement in itself, religion has saved countless lives it gives people reasons to live. Now to flip the sides I completely agree with his statement “better to know than be ignorant.” Only, Religious people aren't ignorant, he is.

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    1. Who are you? Can you please change your username to something that reveals your identity? Otherwise it's tricky to give you credit for your response.

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  3. In this passage, there were ideas that I agreed with, and ideas that I disagreed with. One of the ideas that I didn’t agree with was the idea that religion has been a curse to mankind. In my personal opinion, I think a persons religion shapes and defines who that person is. It doesn’t matter which religion that person is, but it affects the way they act, and their decisions in everyday life. I would disagree saying that this is a curse, because a persons religion can help them, and make them a better or worse person. One thing I do agree with in the passage was the idea of complete freedom of thought and speech. I agree with this statement because everyone is entitled the right to free speech. Any person can say anything they want to say freely even if others don’t agree with them. It sounds like H. L. Mencken was a very opinionated man, and only believed what he wanted to believe. After reading this passage it sounds like he doesn’t rely on many facts, and only relies on his opinions. I think this is good because he sticks up for what he believes in, but this is also bad because he may not have enough facts to prove something, and this could turn bad against him. Overall I don’t agree with the entire passage. Although there are a few things I agree with, many of them are opinionated, and there aren’t many facts involved to back up this passage.

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  4. I agree with him because I think it is our right to believe what we want. Also I believe that he is right because knowing things is good and being ignorant is not good. His creed shows that there is a lot of opinion in the world and also shows that opinion is a good thing and that facts aren’t always something you need in your life but are a great thing to have in your life so you don’t always have to be wondering about things.

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  5. Some of his opinions kind of offended me because his are different than mine. It feel that he has a very wild imagination to think of such things like bashing religion and government. Also I can tell he has very strong opinions about his beliefs and stand strong about his beliefs. He makes it sounds like he thinks his opinions are fact

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  6. I agree with some of Mencken's beliefs, but I also disagree with some of his ideas too. I definitely agree with the line, “ I believe in the complete freedom of thought and speech...” I believe that everyone has the right to freedom of speech no matter who they are. But, on the other hand I strongly disagree with the quote, “I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind...” Many people hold their religion very close to that and I respect that. They depend on it to get through life and hard times. In the end I agree with him saying, “I - But the whole thing, after all, may be put very simply. I believe that it is better to tell the truth than to lie.” But I still believe that people should let others believe what they want and respect it.

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  7. While reading Mecken’s Creed, multiple ideas stood out to me. Mecken made some good points and some not so great points in his argument. Mecken made some good point like how it is better to know than to be ignorant. And that people in this country do have freedom of speech which is something that many countries in the world still haven’t acquired. This means that John Scopes did have the right to teach his students on what he saw fit. Even so Mecken made some irrelevant points in my opinion like how he mention that religion was a curse on mankind. I do believe that religion is one of the most important parts of a person’s life. But this doesn’t mean everyone is gonna have the same religion or the same beliefs. Religion is what makes this world diverse and a part of culture. I believe religion is one of the best things this world has to offer even if John Scopes belief are different than mine.

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  8. There were many instances I found myself agreeing and disagreeing with this.This man believes in complete freedom. He believes that religion is ridding us of completely honest speech, which I disagree with. True freedom is having the right to believe what you want, and religion is a part of that. I think that your religion determines who you are as a person and it is definitely something we take pride in. He also believes in man’s full potential which I agree with. We are capable of achieving so much and we have to give ourselves enough room to accomplish those things. Complete freedom of speech is also an idea I agree with. Our beliefs shape us and we should be able to speak our beliefs aloud.

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  9. While I was reading this article I was often thinking and counter arguing to the statements he believes in, but I was also agreeing with certain segment of his writings. For instance I disagreed with his statement, " I believe that religion, generally speaking, is a curse to mankind...". I believe that religion is one's choice and is enjoyable and enlightens us on how life came to be. This man also said that immortality is as if you believed in witches. Yes, that is his opinion, yet he should realize that it is any other persons choice to believe in eternal life and its not his position to look down upon others beliefs. Although I do have to agree with some of the things he did mention. He stated that it is better to tell the truth than to lie. This is true because no one wants to hear a lie, they want to hear the truth. Yet he is referring to a belief, so it is unright for him to say that when he knows that is his own opinion and isn't someone else's. Overrall this article is based on his opinions that are very counter arguable to others. That is ok though because everyone has different opinions an beliefs that many others may or may not share.

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  10. I disagree with him because religion is not ignorant, people have their own beliefs on the world. Me, I believe in God, yes, but that doesn’t mean I’m ignorant. It just means that its can opinion. Really all religion is, is can opinion on the world and how it was created and how we were created and pretty much how we should act. Like be nicer to other people, give to the poor, etc. I disagree with him because yes there is science but religion is not keeping people from science its helping them to be their own person. People an believe in whatever they want, its not hurting anyone. I know there has been some wars over religion but that’s just because people took things too far and things got out of hand. I am a Christian, I believe in God. Does that make me ignorant when I’m not hurting anyone? And this thing about witches, I believe in them too. I believe in all things mythical and real. Plus I believe that God and Jesus are real. I really do. Again I ask, Does that make me ignorant? I don’t think so. Other’s might, but that’s their opinion. Everyone has their own opinion on life and that world. I agree with one thing he says “Its better to tell the truth than lie” because yes the truth is better than a lie because who knows what could happen. If you lie to your parents and they find out, you can get into a lot of trouble. And I mean a lot. The truth is better than a lie.

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  11. He says that all that people in the world that cannot be proven is wrong and that the only way for man to become better is to find all that the world and the universe has to know. you can easily tell that these are his opinions because he says that he believe these thing and not that they are fact of that they have anything to do with what has been discovered or proven. while some of the think that he talked about are true many of them are unfair and unrealistic that the human race would just give up their believes.

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  12. The author of this passage is obviously very opinionated, and many points he addressed I agree with and some I do not. For example, the concept of freedom of thoughts and speech. I agree with this, but, I also think H.L. Mencken put that in there so people would not automatically judge this piece. He is entitled to his opinion and as we are to ours. Although I do not agree with his views on religion, he does know what he is talking about and uses reasoning to support his views. Overall, I think he is a wise but ignorant man who thinks his views are the ones everyone should have.

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  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  14. Throughout reading this I found myself agreeing with him. I agree that it is better to tell the truth than a lie. In a way i also disagree with that because sometimes there are times in life where you have to tell a lie to keep someone you care about safe from getting hurt. He believes in the capacity of man to conquer his own world. I agree with this 100% because knowing who you are helps life. Understanding your own life and world will make you capable of anything you want to do. Everyone has different beliefs and not everyone will get along but what you believe in makes you who you are and that is the best thing that ever happened.

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  15. Mencken’s creed mainly focuses on religion, and how it’s unproductive. this made a lot of sense to me, mainly because In a way I agree with him, I believe that a large majority of America is extremely religious, that’s alright as long as it doesn’t affect the way you work or how you behave, but that’s my opinion. As I was reading this article, I read that Mencken's views were very opinionated, and that made it sort of hard to respond to this mainly because of the lack of factual data. So in the end Mencken’s creed made me realize that in the world there is a lot of opinions, but there is also a lot of people who are too ignorant to face the facts, that is what I think Mencken believed as well, but if I were him I’d back my beliefs up with actual facts and studies of evolution and maybe statistics of how religion may be slowing down the progress of the studies of Darwins theory of Evolution.

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  16. This has confused me because I don't know how being religious is like being a slave or lying. I am not the most religious person one could possibly know but With the little church experience I have had, I think that religion is fascinating because there is so much people believe and so many different religions so I don't think tat religion is really a burden because the people were lying because there is proof that Jesus did live and eventually die but they have no proof that he came back. I also think that not all people lie about what they believe in.

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  17. sorry guys I don't know what is going on but this is Jacob Bjornebo

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    1. we were just responding to this article. The focus is basically on facts and opinions. (just thought i'd let you know)

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    2. Thanks, Aedin, for adding to Jacob's understanding. Jacob, did you read the post? Also, will you please change your username to something that readily identifies you?

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  18. I think that Mencken's creed is a great example of opinions. Because he is just listing what he think and what he believes. It is kind of difficult to post on this with the topic of 'fact vs. opinion' because this is all just one mans opinion. There is no factual evidence to support his ideas, they are merely just what he thinks. Maybe if he backed up his thinking, like when he said that religion is a curse to man-kind, he could have put some extra thinking into his idea and back it up with facts. Some of his other ideas he brought up could have been supported, but instead it was just opinion after opinion. In many way I agree with what he is saying, but in others I do not. It is a little extreme to say the religion is a curse to man-kind, I feel that a religion is what makes a person who they are, but he clearly doesn't. I also don't think all government is evil, but I could see how a person might see it that way...? But Mencken is entitled to his opinion just as we are, which is why i also agree with with his freedom of speech and thought. Mencken should be able to say what he thinks and how he feels and what he believes.

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  19. I find it interesting how straight forward he is with his word choice. He is very opinionated, he knows what he is talking about. But I do disagree with his thinking about beliefs, because everyone has their own and its not fair for one to be shooting it down. He seems to be very ignorant about people’s feelings and what they think. Although, I do agree with some things that he is saying. But saying the government is evil, I feel like that shouldn't be said as nowadays he could get into trouble. Aswell as hurting others because they could agree with government and like what they are doing.

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  20. The beauty of Mr. Mencken’s thoughts translated to written prose poses a great irony in that he was able to express his ideas without fear of persecution due of the government he was currently living under. The very government that he said was evil also made it possible for him to write his thoughts freely without fear of persecution.

    In regard to Mr. Mencken’s ideas on religion, I disagree with him because our country was founded on religious principles. Religion is what propels man to do good and be good. Without religion you don’t have the guiding principles of fair treatment for your fellow man. The truth really is that when you believe in nothing, you believe in anything. I found myself agreeing and disagreeing with some things he has written about. Overall, I could never agree with the idea that religion is meaningless to humanity, that it is void of purpose. In reality, it is the only thing that really matters in the end.

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  21. I have very mixed feelings about this. As he starts off with religion, right off the bat i do not especially agree. What Mencken fails to realize when he says " I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind - that its modest and
    greatly overestimated services on the ethical side have been more than overcome by the damage it has done to clear and honest thinking." is that "religion" while it does have its problems of varying degrees, has helped many people. There are countless "religious" organizations out there that do a ton of wonderful things for people and society. For example, The Salvation Army, The Denver Rescue Mission, Pearl Ministries,Samaritan's Purse, Operation Christmas Child, etc. I completely agree with him on the idea of freedom of speech and thought, however not all government is evil. In order to function all countries need some form of government.

    Overall, i agree with him to an extent. However there are many issues with his writing. As I was reading this, I found myself shaking my head and wondering what made him feel the way he did. I would LOVE to have a conversation in class about this piece of writing.

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  22. This piece clearly shows his nature of animosity towards most of the human functions of a country. He criticizes Religion and Government, claiming that religion has caused more harm than good in the history of the world, and that it has overstepped its boundaries of intervention in human life and ethical influence. He is also an avid supporter of freedom, deep thinking and scientific discovery. He is a very factual thinker and discounts anything that cannot be proven with evidence as false. I feel respect, and I also feel some disagreement towards his position. Although overall i have to disagree with his point of view. He definitely voices his own opinion on these things which i love, but my opinions are different. I think that government in of itself is not evil, but it is the people inside it who are corrupt and drunk with power. They should not be in office, needless to say. Also his stance on religion can be justified. It is hard to believe in a deity without some sort of pro of, but that is what having faith is about. i completely agree with his ideas of freedom and thinking however.

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  23. I agree to the article that “ that no discovery of fact, however trivial,” because we didn’t live through the time period that how space was made or all the planets appeared but we have theories of how we think it might’ve happened. I agree with how he says there is freedom of thought and speech because we deserve to share our opinions about whatever subject. I also believe it is better to tell the truth because it has nothing else happen with false facts which can be led back to you that which you would get in trouble. However, sometimes it is good to tell lies just to either protect someone or to keep someones sanity. This creed relates to how we learned about facts v opinion because this guy is saying what he believes in which is his opinion and how some people can agree with his opinion or disagree.

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  24. I agree with many points he raised. Although he was blunt and completely honest with his beliefs, I believe he acknowledges that they are his beliefs and wouldn’t try to force them upon others and made this simply to share his point of view and opinions. I may not agree with every point he raised but I applaud him on making his beliefs public because they are controversial. I agree with his points on facts, religion, freedom of thought and speech, progress, and above all, I agree with his point on truth. I think it was brave of him to make his beliefs public and I found many of them very insightful

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  25. When looking at Mencken’s creed some thoughts are brought to my mind. The first thing I notice is that his entire Creed is based on opinion and only opinion. Therefore, there is bias and this would not be a credible source to site. These are his personal beliefs which of no credible backing based on fact whatsoever. That being said, I agree with some things Mencken said, I also disagree with some things he said. What I think is opinion and what anyone thinks is their opinion.
    My personal beliefs is that I disagree about his religion point. While to some religions this may apply, but it does not apply to the religion I am a part of. I mostly agree with his second point. I think it usually is more important to make progress with actually science rather than conspiracies/far out there ideas. I somewhat agree with the government point he made. The government can be good, but when people of government positions abuse power, governments corrupt. I agree with free thoughts and speech. I also agree with his telling the truth point.

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  26. After reading Mencken’s Creed, I was a bit surprised by it. The world at that time was generally more religious, and I think that he was very bold in expressing this opinion. Now, do I agree with him? Yes, at least on some points. I am also of the opinion that religion is overrated and not useful any more. It has caused more damage than the small amount of positive benefit that it offers. However, I know that religion will persist, at least throughout my lifetime. While I personally am not religious, I don’t think that such extreme measures should be taken. I also strongly disagree with his opinion of government. Government is there to make your life better, (in theory at least) and I think most governments do an adequate job in this task. I do agree with Mencken's point on chained thought. If you have your entire world influenced in a certain way by a belief system, your mind has become closed, and stagnant.

    However, everything Mencken said was his opinion. He has no proof that what he said was true. He made a lot of scathing remarks on religion, and some were unfounded. While he has every right to believe what he is saying, and possess this opinion, it is still just an opinion. It’s not going to change anyone set in their ways, and it’s certainly not going to change a lot of people’s opinions. Overall, This is just a set of ideas and policies that this particular man finds to be valid.

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  27. Creed seem that he is inflexible from his concept of supporting evolution. He writes like he tries to insult creationism, but hides them under his statements of what he find the truth. Examples that he used where against cultures and governments making himself seem like an atheist and an anarchist. I agree few of his ideas of how people should be more open minded to solid evidence than to a book that they use to restrict them. I think that they should be religious at the same time, so people can use evolution to support the bible with evolution and how God would had created everything. Instead of using it to disprove and cause vast problems with disagreements.


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  28. *Late* I agree with many points he raised. Although he was blunt and completely honest with his beliefs, I believe he acknowledges that they are his beliefs and wouldn’t try to force them upon others and made this simply to share his point of view and opinions. I may not agree with every point he raised but I applaud him on making his beliefs public. I agree with his points on facts, religion, freedom of thought and speech, progress, and above all, I agree with his point on truth.

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