Written by Ted Griffith
One of the most well known sentences in the whole of the English language is taken from the Declaration of Independence. To refresh your memory, since it has been many moons since most of us have heard it.
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.
This sentence is now etched into the culture of the American people and its inhabitants not only know it intellectually, but also intrinsically. Not to leave out anyone on the planet – these rights apply to the whole of mankind and this document only recognizes those rights on paper. It does not grant the rights itself. The Creator grants the rights because we (mankind) is his creation.
All of this goes to assert the apparently self-evident fact that man is created with inalienable rights. Now we have many forces at work in just this one sentence – Creator, created, self-evident, rights, endowed. What the founders did was form an American religion. One that had enough power to overcome the King of England who claimed, at the time, that he wielded power granted by God. The Founders in return claimed that they had Rights granted by God upon being created.
Fast forwarding a couple hundred years and now we have an environment where we all know we have Rights. We all do not agree where we got those rights, but everyone likes to think they have them. The question then becomes if you are not endowed with Rights by your creator where do they come from? By what right can you claim them? How do you justify the force that is often required to get others to recognize them?
Again the Framers, being almost wholly Theists, and only mostly Christian wanted to be able to cite God in the formation of nation. In doing so they did indeed create what can only be known as The American Religion – it is not verbose on should’s or should not’s – it is just the basic Framework for Theism at its basic level. You cannot logically disagree with your right to Liberty – doing so requires Liberty. This same Liberty most people in the world do not enjoy. People in other countries often do not have the right to believe in the non-approved manner and if they choose to they must often choose to do so secretly. We condemn this as Americans and feel all should have access to this same Liberty. Why? They are not American. But we know this is a universal right granted by…. ut oh … the Creator.
We are now stuck on the horns of a dilemma. The Creator is a capitalized word in the Declaration and is therefore a singular specific entity. This can only be God. The Framers were again crafty enough to not use “God” but sly enough to include His power of creation. The only logical answer to get off the horns of the dilemma is that God grants us Liberty as well as Life and the Pursuit of Happiness. Carefully now it is not just Happiness – the Creator is not going to come in a whirlwind and grant Happiness – this would make such a term meaningless. The pursuit of happiness is what is granted.
Life is another, oft overlooked Right, although we have been at war with ourselves since 1973 about who is alive and who is not. That is another post for a later date. The crux of the argument is that if one disbelieves in a Creator – from who do they get their rights? They cannot grant them to themselves – it would be no more or less valid than that granting of who plans to deprive you of the same rights. Even if you choose to disbelieve in a Creator – that right to do so – is granted BY the Creator. We know that:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Fear in this case is the non-primary definition being 3rd in Merriam Webster as : to have a reverential awe of <fear God>. It is not the fear that causes fright. This argument in and of itself starts one down the “Road to Damascus” with Christ being at the end thereof. It creates the first questions that need solid answers or a person finds themselves dwelling in a land that lacks logic, direction and Happiness.