Larry Arnn has demonstrated in his books and public talks the idea of the march of Western Civilization through Israel, Rome and Athens, and then to Magna Carta and the age of Enlightenment through our own Declaration. I too have used a similar example when explaining why we should all feel so humble and grateful for the blessings we all celebrate on this Fourth of July. The tension between REASON and REVELATION has been going on since the beginning of time—Exodus (Adam and Eve). Aristotle—Augustine —Aquinas all discussed the issue. I tend to side with Aquinas in believing that reason and revelation are not mutually exclusive and are both gifts from God.
The philosophical pillar upon which our Republic is founded is the idea of NATURAL LAW defined as a knowledge of truth in the hearts of all men known through the faculties of reason and revelation The Natural Law applies to all the natural world—the basic sciences, as well as to civics and political philosophy. The bases for scientific inquiry expressed by Galileo, Copernicus, the Bernoulli brothers, Blasé Pascual up to Einstein is that there is a “natural order to the universe and there is a Natural Orderer”. The sages of the Enlightenment Locke, Burke, and Jefferson used this same logic and argument to defend the concept of Liberty and Individual sovereignty—”we are endowed by our Creator with certain alienable rights”.
Just like the Natural Law rules the world of the physical sciences, The Natural Law also rules the philosophical world. It is given to us by God in the form of Natural Rights. Calls on “Devine Providence” were ubiquitous in our founding documents, individual State Charters, and correspondence amongst the founding fathers and Patriots.
But I differ from Professor Arnn and a few other academics on one point. Our founding that we celebrate as Independence Day was not just the result of the slow march of history and the confluence of the Enlightenment and The First Great Awakening. It was also the result of the collusion, clashing, tension, contentious debate of two incredible men who first were great friends and allies, and then became the most bitter political and personal enemies, and finally for the few years prior to both their deaths on the same day—the 50th anniversary of the 1st 4th of July, became respectful and loving friends.
George Washington is the undisputed Father of our Country. Jefferson and Adams are the undisputed “God Father’s” of our country. Jefferson represented a philosophy with deep roots in the Enlightenment. He supported the atheistic views of Voltaire and Robespierre and he supported the French Revolution. To Adams, French Revolution was an anathema on the heart and soul of mankind. Adams believed that only faith could be the bases of virtue and a people without virtue could not rule themselves. Not an orthodox Christian, Adams had a deep personal faith—read his letters to his wife Abigail.
Our Founding Father’s knew they were imperfect men. They knew that ‘all men” were created in God’s image and that was the bases of our equality. The also knew that generations to follow would be human and imperfect, but they created a system of governance that was designed to accommodate for both man’s greater and lesser natures. They created a platform and a system by which individual men could make civilization better for all men. The nature of our political system will forever be debated.
The Foundations of our system including our Great Declaration and Constitution, but also the State Charters, and Land Grants—Read the Northwest Ordinance of 1789, and The Federalist Papers proclaim a glorious ideal that none of us including eight of our first ten Presidents who owned slaves, have yet or will forever live up to. And that is the point. There is no utopia on earth. Each generation has its’ crosses and duties to bare—slavery, indenturhood, child labor, sex trafficking, the murder of the unborn.
We should all be both grateful—thankful for being lucky enough to live in a country where our potential and sovereignty can be realized, and humble enough to know that there is no place else on earth nor has there ever been where those hopes and ideals of “liberty and justice for all” are closer with each generation, to coming true.
Thank you to our Founding Fathers. I am humbled by the legacy you have given to me and my family—to all Americans. I am grateful for your intellect (reason) and your faith in God.