The Role of the Creator
This is our seventh in a series of articles describing the Founders’ Philosophy based on W. Cleon Skousen’s wonderful book The Five Thousand Year Leap. In previous articles we discussed the Founders’ belief in individual and public virtue and the prominent role of religion in our government. Our Founders empathically affirmed “throughout their writings that the foundation of all reality is in the existence of a Creator, who is the designer of all things in nature and the promulgator of all the laws which govern nature.”
Professor Skousen writes that our Founders argued that everyone can know there is a divine Creator. John Locke taught that to know there is a divine Creator is simply a case of “thinking about it.” Locke wrote “to begin with, each person knows he exists.” He then quoted Descartes, “each person can say, ‘Cogito ergo sum’ [I think, therefore I am]. With God, each person can say, ‘I am.’” Locke was so sure God existed “he felt that an atheist had failed to apply his divine capacity for reason and observation.”
Professor Skousen goes on to say that the American Founders agreed with Locke. They believed that “every single self-evident truth enunciated by the Founders is rooted in the presupposition of a divine Creator.” Additionally, the Founders believed that God has a strong sense of justice. The Founders considered the whole foundation of a just society to be structured on the basis of God’s revealed law. They believed that God’s revealed law constituted a moral code distinguishing right from wrong.
The most widely read contemporary legal scholar was William Blackstone. Until 1870, in most law schools, there were only two text books. The first was the King James Version of the Holy Bible and the second was William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England. Blackstone believed and taught that law was defined as “a rule of action which is prescribed by some superior, and which the inferior is bound to obey.” Blackstone explained as follows, “When the Supreme Being formed the universe, and created matter out of nothing, He impressed certain principles upon that matter, from which it can never depart, and without which it would cease to be.”
Blackstone concluded that the Creator’s Law is “superior” to all others and “binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times.” Finally, he argued that no human laws are of any validity if contrary to God’s law and that no human laws have any authority except as derived from that higher law.
Skousen explains that the Founders did not look upon God as some mysterious “teleological force” operating automatically and indifferently as modern Deists claim. They believed in a personal, intelligent, and benevolent Creator who would respond to people’s petitions. This is evidenced by the fact that days of fasting and prayer were commonplace in early America.
It is now easy to understand why the Founders adopted the motto, “In God we trust.” They were not indulging in any idle gesture; they truly believed and based our government on the fact of an active, benevolent Creator.
Alexis de Tocqueville captured the early American’s distrust in individuals who had no religious convictions. He wrote in Democracy in America, the following: “While I was in America, a witness who happened to be called at the Sessions of the county of Chester (state of New York) declared that he did not believe in the existence of God or the immortality of the soul. The judge refused to admit the evidence, on the ground that the witness had destroyed beforehand all the confidence of the court in what he was about to say.”
In a note de Tocqueville added: “The New York Spectator of August 23, 1831, related the fact in the following terms: … ‘The presiding judge remarked that he had not before been aware that there was a man living who did not believe in the existence of God; that this belief constituted the sanction [in law, that which gives binding force] of all testimony in a court of justice; and that he knew of no case in a Christian country where a witness had been permitted to testify without such belief.’”
It is clear our Founders believed in a Creator and based our government and our laws on that belief. Sorry ACLU; you are wrong! There never was a separation of Church and State. The first Amendment protects the Church from the State. If our very laws are based upon God’s law, how can anyone argue otherwise? Please remember this when voting on November 2, 2010.
The next principle to be discussed is our Founders’ belief that all men are created equal.
For greater information on this and other founding principles, please see The Five Thousand Year Leap by W. Cleon Skousen.