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Whether you consider yourself an atheist, agnostic, or a believer in God, one thing can’t be denied: the Declaration of Independence clearly asserts that God is the authority under which America was founded. According to the framework of the Declaration, our unalienable rights were not given to us by any Pope or King—they are our inheritance, bestowed upon us from none other than God Almighty. And, being as such, they are not subject to revocation by any man or woman, no matter how great their temporal power may be.
The Declaration is perhaps one of the most powerful documents ever written, and we want to understand why. Why go through all the effort to declare independence upon eternal principles that come from God? Why couldn’t Jefferson and company simply send King George a letter saying, effectively, “you’re not our king anymore”, and call it a day?
It's hard for a secular culture that’s steeped in materialism to appreciate questions such as these, but the fact of the matter is that the separation of theology and politics is a recent phenomenon. Secular states were virtually unheard of a little bit more than a century ago—some argue that America was founded on “the separation of church and state”, which seems to imply that God and religion have nothing to do with governance, law, etc., but this is not an accurate interpretation.
Without at least the concept of God, there would be no Declaration of Independence—the document says so on its face.
Jefferson and company didn’t take God out of the government. Instead, they declared that mankind is inherently free because that’s how God created him. The practical implementation of this freedom is to let men and women to worship (or not) as their conscience compels them—provided that such forms of worship don’t involve the unlawful destruction of life, liberty, or the property of others.
“Separation of church and state” does not mean the removal of God from government—it simply means that government is not the proper entity to prescribe particular forms of worship. How can a government claim to derive its authority from the Creator while at the same time denying the Creator? It’s an unsustainable, self-defeating proposition.
Why Secular Concepts of Authority Aren’t Enough
Is authority nothing more than the capacity to force other people to do or not do certain things? Either authority is given to man from a source outside himself, or is claimed by him as a matter of his own choosing. The secular-nihilistic viewpoint, by denying a transcendent origin of rights and authority, necessarily forces the latter conclusion on us.
Sure, it may be nice for us to treat each other with kindness, but in the absence of any purpose to our existence, we can’t justify our civilizational procedures, laws, customs, ways, etc., on any basis other than the fact that we happen to prefer them. According to this view, morality is a purely human invention, and therefore it’s completely relative; it’s a matter of social custom, and nothing more. Nihilism (aka secularism by another name) tells us that mass murder isn’t intrinsically wrong per se—that it’s only “wrong” to us because we don’t like it. But in the grand scheme of things, the universe simply doesn’t care what happens to mankind, and whether freedom or tyranny reign on Earth is zero cosmic significance.
The closest thing to an objective standard of morality that secularism possesses is the idea that it’s better to do what the majority wants than not. Ergo, secularism often champions “democracy” as the highest ideal of civilized society—because without any objective or intrinsic basis to morality, the only thing left to guide society is majority will. But, as Walter Lippman pointed out in Public Opinion a century ago, the will of the majority is largely a mirage, and the only true power in a democratic society comes from the ability to sway the masses. (Which is extremely easy to do when you own the media).
The irony of democracy is that a society can “vote” it’s way into a totalitarian state, thus negating its own (supposedly) democratic character. Unless there are sufficient guardrails in place against the encroachment of individual rights, a democratic system can easily devolve into mob rule wherein any “majority” can oppress any given political minority however it pleases.
Our Marxist education system obfuscates the true nature of oppression by making it purely about race—in truth, one can become a minority by virtue of holding a differing belief or opinion about a given matter than the majority of people. If a mob descends upon your house demanding you give them all your possessions, then, technically speaking, they’re in the majority, aren’t they?
Remember, according to the secular-materialist worldview, our preferences for freedom and kindness are just that—human preferences, and nothing more. In this worldview, it’s impossible to displease God, for how can you displease a God that doesn’t exist? Your rights can’t come from a God who doesn’t exist either. Instead, they only exist because other people agree that they exist—which means that they cease to exist as soon as other people stop agreeing that they exist.
If your rights exist or stop existing purely based on what other human beings do, then do you even have any rights in the first place?
As we can see, secularism is utterly antithetical to the spirit and philosophy of the Declaration of Independence, making it heretical to our political system as it was designed by the founders. It makes as much sense for an atheist to be a politician in America as it does for an atheist to become a pastor at a church. How can one possibly vow to uphold a system of laws that is fundamentally at odds with one’s own conscience and beliefs?
Bringing God back into the Equation
On a deep psychological level, most people instinctually feel that you can’t trust someone who sees no true authority outside himself, and the same holds true of entire legal systems. For most of human history, kings, rulers, pharaohs and authority figures of various stripe have relied upon theological (or quasi-theological) arguments to justify their rule. History shows us that even tyrants who believe in nothing but their own power often pretend to rule on behalf of a “higher” power of some kind (the book Shadow Men is basically an encyclopedia on this type).
Most people agree that authority is not the sort of thing one gives to oneself. In most authority structures throughout history, there is a chain of authority, so to speak, starting with Heaven, God, or a consortium of “higher” beings, etc.—it depends on what system or society one is talking about. The point is that, on the whole, mankind instinctually seeks a source of authority that transcends himself. Sure, false rulers throughout history have abused this principle to rule without just cause, but this unfortunate reality doesn’t change the basic principle at work here.
Either authority comes from man himself, or it comes from something above him in a given chain of authority—and no matter what “chain” one proposes, there has to be a starting point for said chain. With regard to American society, the Declaration of Independence identifies the Creator as that origin point.
Let’s Compare and Contrast
It's all well and good to argue these points from a logical or philosophical standpoint—but let’s formulate these two competing views into two declarations of political intent and see what we find more inspiring on an emotional or spiritual level.
Let’s try these on for size:
“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.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
“Rights are agreed upon between people as a matter of collective preference, and governments are instituted among men to render said preferences into enforceable law.”
Of these two declarations, which one will produce the more stable society? Which one has at least a fighting chance at winning the hearts of men, and inspiring them to become a civilized people?
In the absence of any intrinsic meaning to our existence, all systems of governance and authority become purely arbitrary. If God exists, and God is the true source of our rights, then it would be an affront to God to voluntarily surrender those rights (in other words, without due cause) or seek to take them from an innocent man or woman. It also means that every time you use your rights in a harmonious way or defend the God-given rights of others, then you are honoring God. This isn’t simply a nice thought; it’s a logical conclusion.
Perhaps the Declaration of Independence accurately exemplifies the will of God, or perhaps it lacks in some detail or another—naturally, there are many different opinions on that matter. Nonetheless, its core claim is that rights come from God, which means that they are NOT purely a matter of mankind’s preference. For the sake of civilizational stability, rights need to come from a source that is greater than man. Atheists might argue that we don’t need God per se, and can resort to reason alone as that source, however the problem remains that without a transcendent source of rights, then the source itself reverts to man.
The modern west could be described as a civilization-wide experiment in what happens when God is denied as the true source of rights and authority. We shouldn’t be surprised by the undesirable results of this experiment—after all, the fundamental conflict is between a viewpoint that says that the fate of mankind is important to God and the universe vs. a viewpoint that says that the fate of mankind is only important to man. We are told that only the latter view is consistent with “science”, but is that truly so?
Put another way, is it somehow necessary to deny God before properly engaging the scientific method? Of course it isn’t.
We were promised that war, slavery, pollution, and superstition would end if mankind would only give up his belief in God; but ironically, such promises have never been made on legitimately scientific grounds. While it’s true that religious conflict has been a problem at various points in human history, this doesn’t automatically mean the solution is to get rid of God altogether.
We are asked to believe that there exists a proven connection between the denial of God and the improvement of civilization, yet no definitive or compelling evidence for this connection is ever given.
Perhaps the real problem is that we lack sufficient deference to God?
If Thomas Jefferson were here today, it’s certain that that’s what he would tell us.
Badlands Media articles and features represent the opinions of the contributing authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Badlands Media itself.
If you enjoyed this contribution to Badlands Media, please consider checking out more of my work for free at American Hypnotist.
Great piece...thank you!
These two papers deliver historical insight into The Declaration Of Independence that has been buried or over-looked completely by history. They will expand your current perspective and sharpen the traditional historic view of this document & the man who wrote it. Where did he get his inspiration from? Who influenced how he worded it? Might there be another Founding Father whom the secular history guardians would rather not bring to light? Along with other questions that are answered, although they've never been asked? Please find the time to read the work the author of these papers worked so thoroughly and diligently to present to the public over half a century ago. God bless.