“We Hold These Truths”
By: David S. Petolicchio
“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” this famous line is echoed across more than two centuries and is spoken by a multitude who don’t believe it. This particular prelude comes from the Declaration of Independence. It is quoted constantly, particularly in government, but its wording is largely ignored. The first word worth noting is the word “truths”. It isn’t claiming a suggestion or a theory, it is taking ownership of an indelible fact, that all men are equal in inherent value. The Second notable portion of this quote is “self-evident”. Not only was the author (Thomas Jefferson) stating a fact, but he asserts that it is recognizable by every person that all humanity should have rights. Not only is the Declaration of Independence stating an absolute truth, but it is pointing to this is a commonly accessible notion and that mankind is capable of recognizing this without instigation.
“That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”. Here we see an obvious reference to an intelligent design presupposition regarding both the nature of human existence and from whence unalienable rights originate. Not only is this section stated a belief in an Intelligent Creator, but it’s basing the premise of unalienable rights off of this fact exclusively. Not only does this provide bases for the argument for human equality of value, but it also explains human rights and their nature of being inseparable.
This brief quote, is incredibly powerful and assertive. Odds are, that in today’s society, this would never have been written. Why? Because it asserts confidently three things: first; it states an absolute truth that is easily understood and accessible to all people; second it claims that there is a God of some nature that formed both rights and value; and, lastly, it states that rights are “unalienable” and cannot be destroyed or removed by the will of anyone. Allow me to reiterate: The Declaration of Independence states that there is a Creator, that all men are equal in value, and that all men are provided rights, all of which flow from the One whom Created them.
This fact lies in direct contradiction to the philosophy of universal-ism and even atheism. Yes, Jefferson struggled with faith, and I do not know where he ended up in terms of eternity, but I do know that he found it evident enough that a conscious Being was great enough to create all things and impart rights and value to those creations. Religion is intrinsically tied to government philosophy. It’s truly an inevitable discussion to be had once people realize there’s nothing to say that have rights outside of an all-powerful being who decided there would be. Otherwise, humans would not have value or rights, they would be like beasts and only the most powerful and cunning would rule. Without the foundation of a Creator, rights are empty, temporal, and fluid. All earthly things must have an origin, otherwise life is malleable and morality, philosophy, government, and truth will mean absolutely nothing.
“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.”