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Human Nature And The Declaration Of Independence Essay, Research Paper

Human Nature and the Declaration of Independence

by Jake Repp

I would like to show that the view of human nature that is shown in The

Declaration of Independence is taken more from the Bible and that that view is

in disagreement with two of the three esays given in class. The Biblical

perspective of man is that he was created by a divine Creator with a specific

plan in mind and made in the image of his Creator. Men are entitled to the

pursuit of happiness but also required by the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God to

be the just attendants of the land and of the governed. The Nature of man is

sinful so that they must be governed but those who govern must be accountable to

God just as the founding fathers were. God is Sovereign over men as the final

Judge.

The Declaration of Independence is a document co-written by the

founding fathers in order to declare their independence of the Crown of Britain.

They belived this to be within their rights indowed upon them by their Creator.

Believing that they were under religious persecution and certain forms of

“absolute tyranny” from Britian the founding fathers felt it was necessary to

break the bonds that connected them to the monarchy. Not only did they feel they

had the God given right to do that but they also based their arguments on the

workings of governments of the time and contemporary theories of government of

writers and political-social thinkers of their time.

The three essays that were given to us in class, Politics by Aristotle,

Of Commonwealth by Thomas Hobbes, and Of the Limits of Government by John

Locke are all very intersting essays on how government is supposed to funtion.

Although the founding fathers probably read all three of these essays and

simialar philosphical thought went into the writing of The Declaration of

Independence I think that the only essay of the really used by the founding

fathers was Of the Limits of Government by John Locke. Unfortunately the

version of this essay given to us in class was truncated and consisted actually

of two different essays written by John Locke. . Thomas Hobbes [1588-1679] is

the founder of the theories of Hobbism which calls on absolute monarchy in order

to deal with what he calls inherently selfish, aggrandizing nature of humanity.

Aristotle[384-322 B.C.] was a Greek philosopher who studied under Plato.

Aristotlelian logic (Aristotle’s deductive means of reasoning) especially

sylogism_ dealt with relationship between proposistions in terms of their form

instead of their content. By using this kind of deductive reasoning with a major

premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion; for example, All human beings are

mortal, the major premis, I am a human being, the minor premise, therefore, I am

mortal, the conclusion Aristotle found all of his truth. I can’t connect

Aristotle’s view of human nature with that of the Founding Fathers and since an

omnipotent deity was not feasible for Aristotle (since he couldn’t see it and

therefor couldn’t belive in it) he comes to a different conclusion that doesn’t

agree what the founding fathers said. Aristotle’s begins by analyzing the

political structure starting at what he see’s as the most basic of human unions

(man and woman). Aristotle writes,

“In the first place there must be a union of those who can not exist

without each other; namely of male and female, that the race may continue (and

this union which is formed not of deliberate purpose, but because, in common

with other animals and with plants, mankind have a natural desire to leave

behind an image of themselves)…”

The first difference between The Declaration of Independence and

Politics is seen when you compare this quote with one from The Declaration of

Independence ,

“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…”

The founding father’s saw the deliberate purpose of a Creator in nature

where Aristotle sees mankind on par with plants and animals. Aristotle explains

that we have a natural desire to leave behind an image of ourselves. Man is an

electrochemical machine that operates simply on what happens around him and,

like an animal, finds a suitable mate and joins himself to her to make furthur

offspring of himself. Following this kind of thinking, governments join

themselves together just for the purpose of making war later making treaties and

finally making more governments to further this very productive cycle.

Aristotle goes to make other assumptions which are clearly in

contradiction with the aspects of The Declaration of Independence that I

discussed in the first paragraph. Aristotle’s writes, “…The state is by nature

clearly prior to the family and to the individual, since the whole is of

necessity prior to the part…” According to the Biblical view of man, God cares

more about the individual than about the state and man is created in the image

of God in the first place. The Declaration of Independence states in order for

the individuals to secure their unalienable (that is God given) rights of life,

liberty and the pursuit of happiness, “Governments are instituted among men,

deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Of Commonwealth could only be related to the thinking of the founding

fathers in a most basic way to their ideals. Thomas Hobbes also seems to be a

syllogistic thinker like Aristotle one, because he never thinks above elemental,

getting his most basic logical conclusions from observations of nature and

number two, for thinking along phylisophical lines that don’t agree with the

Biblical perspective. Hobes sees man as an elevated creature capable of self-

governing, self-evolving conduct. Hobes doesn’t understand the Biblical view of

fallen man, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked;

who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)” Hobbes also fails to see the need for a

separation of powers in Government when he talks about an absolute monarchy and

the Commonwealth being the solution to government.

The idea of seperation of powers is a biblical idea that come from

Isaiah, “For the Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our

king. (Isaiah 33:22)” This is the system that our forfathers set up and I’m sure

glad that Cliton is not my Judge, Lawgiver and King all in one. Baron Charles

Louis Joseph de Secondat Montesquieu [1689-1755] a French professor, author and

legal philosopher who wrote the book “Spirit of the Laws” (which greatly

impacted the American government, and was the source most frequently quoted by

the Founding Fathers, next to the Bible_) on the subject of separating of powers

in relation to human nature wrote,

“Nor is there liberty if the power of judging is not separated from

legislative power and from executive power. If it [the power of judging] were

joined to legislative power, the power over life and liberty of the citizens

would be arbitrary, for the judge would be the legislator. If it were joined to

the executive power, the judge could have the force of an oppressor. All would

be lost if the same…body of principal men…exercised these three powers.”

Also in comparison to the ideology of monarchy and commonwealth of

Thomas Hobbes, Montesquieu wrote, “The principles of Christianity, deeply

engraved on the heart, would be infinitely more powerful than the false honor of

monarchies, than the humane virtues of republics, or the servile fear of

despotic states.”

John Locke’s view of human nature and politics greatly influenced the

founding fathers in many of their other writings including The Constitution of

the United States. In the his treatise “Of Civil Government” Locke writes,

“For Men being all the Workmanship of one Omnipotent, and infinitely

wise Maker_they are his Property_Those Grants God made of the World to Adam and

to Noah, and his Sons…has given the Earth to the Children of Men, given it to

Mankind in common…

_ also given them reason make use of it to the best Advantage of Life

and Convenience.”

John Locke’s view of the perfectly governed body as one in which all men

answer to God can is seen when in the same treatise he writes,

“…It is also evident what liberty remains to men in reference to their

eternal salvation, and that is, that every one should do what he in his

conscience is persuaded to be acceptable to the Almighty, on whose good pleasure

and acceptance depends his eternal happiness; for obedience is due in the first

place to God, and afterwards to the laws.”

It seems pretty clear to me when I readThe Declaration of Independence

and when I read quotes from the founding fathers and their contemporaries that

it was the work of strong Bible believing men that first made the monumental

leap in breaking union with Britian. Unfortunately their words and lives have

gone by the wayside in our hearts and minds.Instead of learning about George

Washington’s famous words of Christian faith or how he emerged unscathed from

battle with his uniform riddeled with bullet holes our History books teach us

all about how he could not lie when he chopped down the cherry tree. If men such

as Hobes and Aristotle could have even welled up enough courage in their cold

and timid souls 200 years ago to break the tyrrany of the British, I strongly

believe that our country would have quickly decayed in immorality and greed.

“So whither you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory

of God.”

(1Cor 10:31)

- Christianity and the Constitution p.51,53 ; America’s Providential History

p.156 ; Myth of Separation p.195-96

367


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