• This is a political forum that is non-biased/non-partisan and treats every persons position on topics equally. This debate forum is not aligned to any political party. In today's politics, many ideas are split between and even within all the political parties. Often we find ourselves agreeing on one platform but some topics break our mold. We are here to discuss them in a civil political debate. If this is your first visit to our political forums, be sure to check out the RULES. Registering for debate politics is necessary before posting. Register today to participate - it's free!

"... that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights ..."

TacticalEvilDan

Shankmasta Killa
DP Veteran
Joined
Feb 16, 2008
Messages
10,443
Reaction score
4,479
Location
Western NY and Geneva, CH
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Other
I have no idea if this thread is in the right place, but oh well.

Anybody who has stuck around for more than 30 seconds of a discussion of Constitutional rights has had the term "unalienable rights" (or inalienable, if the speaker is confused) thrown at them. These words are nowhere to be found in the Constitution, of course, but the Declaration of Independence -- a document which is an integral piece of our history and which reflects the mindset of many of the framers, but which has no legal standing under the Constitution.

Nevertheless, it got me thinking: If we assume that those words had been included in the Constitution, then they would have legal standing -- but what would they mean? Well, "Creator" suggests that these rights come from a divine source of some kind. Many of the religions known to the framers came complete with holy books that we are told were divinely inspired. I haven't read most of them, but I'm familiar enough with the Bible to say with confidence that god never sat down with his children and laid out a list of our human rights. People keep telling me this is a Christian nation, after all, so I figured it was a good place to start.

Could someone, anyone, point to a canonized or otherwise divinely inspired religious text that would've factored into the thinking of the framers which lays out these rights for us?
 

Paschendale

Uncanny
DP Veteran
Joined
Nov 3, 2010
Messages
12,510
Reaction score
12,604
Location
New York City
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Socialist
It's also just poetic language. If it were written today, it would say that our rights were bound up in our DNA or something like that. It would be silly to think that any reference to divinity or god represents an endorsement of religion in general or any specific religious ideas.
 

Captain Adverse

Classical Liberal Sage
DP Veteran
Joined
Jun 22, 2013
Messages
15,623
Reaction score
20,515
Location
Mid-West USA
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Libertarian - Left
Well, it's pretty easy to find the "Life" part of "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" in Genesis. Might even be able to find something in Genesis related to "pursuit of happiness" (although not in those exact words) before the apple got eaten in Eden. The Liberty part is harder...although a number of later passages make reference to various freedoms.
 

specklebang

Discount Philosopher
DP Veteran
Joined
Jan 13, 2012
Messages
11,524
Reaction score
6,769
Location
Las Vegas
Gender
Undisclosed
Political Leaning
Other
I'll take a guess that The Old Testament delved into this quite a bit. While slavery was not prohibited by the old testament, there were provisions for humane treatment and scheduled release. Sadly, they skipped over the humane treatment part but yes, Might have allowed a lot of wives but how you treated them was codified.

Please note the guess© disclaimer.



I have no idea if this thread is in the right place, but oh well.

Anybody who has stuck around for more than 30 seconds of a discussion of Constitutional rights has had the term "unalienable rights" (or inalienable, if the speaker is confused) thrown at them. These words are nowhere to be found in the Constitution, of course, but the Declaration of Independence -- a document which is an integral piece of our history and which reflects the mindset of many of the framers, but which has no legal standing under the Constitution.

Nevertheless, it got me thinking: If we assume that those words had been included in the Constitution, then they would have legal standing -- but what would they mean? Well, "Creator" suggests that these rights come from a divine source of some kind. Many of the religions known to the framers came complete with holy books that we are told were divinely inspired. I haven't read most of them, but I'm familiar enough with the Bible to say with confidence that god never sat down with his children and laid out a list of our human rights. People keep telling me this is a Christian nation, after all, so I figured it was a good place to start.

Could someone, anyone, point to a canonized or otherwise divinely inspired religious text that would've factored into the thinking of the framers which lays out these rights for us?
 

TacticalEvilDan

Shankmasta Killa
DP Veteran
Joined
Feb 16, 2008
Messages
10,443
Reaction score
4,479
Location
Western NY and Geneva, CH
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Other
Thanks for responding, folks, I appreciate it.

It's also just poetic language. If it were written today, it would say that our rights were bound up in our DNA or something like that. It would be silly to think that any reference to divinity or god represents an endorsement of religion in general or any specific religious ideas.
I don't think the framers were endorsing religion at all, much less a particular religion. I also don't think it was just poetic phrasing -- I think they really did want to classify basic human rights as something that comes from a "higher power," an authority beyond that of the governments of men. If liberty comes from such a source, it's not within the power of the governments of men to define or redefine, liberty itself becomes divine and oppression becomes heresy.

Well, it's pretty easy to find the "Life" part of "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" in Genesis. Might even be able to find something in Genesis related to "pursuit of happiness" (although not in those exact words) before the apple got eaten in Eden. The Liberty part is harder...although a number of later passages make reference to various freedoms.
Could you point them out to me? I'm not a biblical scholar, so I wouldn't have a clue to begin.
 

Visbek

Stuck In The Circle
DP Veteran
Joined
Nov 28, 2011
Messages
18,358
Reaction score
11,946
Gender
Undisclosed
Political Leaning
Other
A good thing about the Constitution is that it doesn't require a specific religious or political belief to hold its force. The legitimacy of the US Constitution doesn't depend on how you believe rights are generated.

If they were included in the Constitution somewhere, they could almost certainly be ignored anyway. Or, you could claim that almost any right has an inherent basis -- just like the framers did. E.g. search warrants did not exist when man was created, so how could a requirement for a warrant be inherent?

Along similar lines, there is no doubt that the framers were Christians, though specific beliefs vary from one individual to the next. This does not prevent non-theists from receiving First Amendment protections.


Could someone, anyone, point to a canonized or otherwise divinely inspired religious text that would've factored into the thinking of the framers which lays out these rights for us?
As far as I know, no such basis exists.

The framers were mostly inspired by Enlightenment philosophers (e.g. Locke, Rousseau, Hobbes), English common law, and a variety of contingent historical circumstances. E.g. Europeans did not believe in a universal right to gun ownership, and were living mostly in civilized regions. Americans lived in a frontier society, so it was more common to own guns. Hence, the US Constitution has wound up being one of the few that explicitly guarantees a right to bear arms.
 

davidtaylorjr

Well-known member
Joined
May 30, 2013
Messages
6,775
Reaction score
1,123
Location
South Carolina
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Very Conservative
It's also just poetic language. If it were written today, it would say that our rights were bound up in our DNA or something like that. It would be silly to think that any reference to divinity or god represents an endorsement of religion in general or any specific religious ideas.
No, that is the liberal spin on it.
 

Sisyphus

Banned
DP Veteran
Joined
Jul 12, 2013
Messages
1,185
Reaction score
151
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Very Liberal
I have no idea if this thread is in the right place, but oh well.

Anybody who has stuck around for more than 30 seconds of a discussion of Constitutional rights has had the term "unalienable rights" (or inalienable, if the speaker is confused) thrown at them. These words are nowhere to be found in the Constitution, of course, but the Declaration of Independence -- a document which is an integral piece of our history and which reflects the mindset of many of the framers, but which has no legal standing under the Constitution.

Nevertheless, it got me thinking: If we assume that those words had been included in the Constitution, then they would have legal standing -- but what would they mean? Well, "Creator" suggests that these rights come from a divine source of some kind. Many of the religions known to the framers came complete with holy books that we are told were divinely inspired. I haven't read most of them, but I'm familiar enough with the Bible to say with confidence that god never sat down with his children and laid out a list of our human rights. People keep telling me this is a Christian nation, after all, so I figured it was a good place to start.

Could someone, anyone, point to a canonized or otherwise divinely inspired religious text that would've factored into the thinking of the framers which lays out these rights for us?
Why? Could not my "Creator" be in fact who and what they were? (My parents)
 

TacticalEvilDan

Shankmasta Killa
DP Veteran
Joined
Feb 16, 2008
Messages
10,443
Reaction score
4,479
Location
Western NY and Geneva, CH
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Other
Why? Could not my "Creator" be in fact who and what they were? (My parents)
Because of this:

I don't think the framers were endorsing religion at all, much less a particular religion. I also don't think it was just poetic phrasing -- I think they really did want to classify basic human rights as something that comes from a "higher power," an authority beyond that of the governments of men. If liberty comes from such a source, it's not within the power of the governments of men to define or redefine, liberty itself becomes divine and oppression becomes heresy.
 

TacticalEvilDan

Shankmasta Killa
DP Veteran
Joined
Feb 16, 2008
Messages
10,443
Reaction score
4,479
Location
Western NY and Geneva, CH
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Other
A good thing about the Constitution is that it doesn't require a specific religious or political belief to hold its force. The legitimacy of the US Constitution doesn't depend on how you believe rights are generated.
Oh, I agree, the Constitution's legitimacy isn't my concern -- just the source material for the liberties codified in it.

Along similar lines, there is no doubt that the framers were Christians, though specific beliefs vary from one individual to the next. This does not prevent non-theists from receiving First Amendment protections.
Of course.

As far as I know, no such basis exists.

The framers were mostly inspired by Enlightenment philosophers (e.g. Locke, Rousseau, Hobbes), English common law, and a variety of contingent historical circumstances. E.g. Europeans did not believe in a universal right to gun ownership, and were living mostly in civilized regions. Americans lived in a frontier society, so it was more common to own guns. Hence, the US Constitution has wound up being one of the few that explicitly guarantees a right to bear arms.
Hmm. Okay.
 

Sisyphus

Banned
DP Veteran
Joined
Jul 12, 2013
Messages
1,185
Reaction score
151
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Very Liberal
Because of this:
Think what you wish. But "Creator" applies to human constructs as much as it does when speaking of mythical beings, such as the Christian God.

If it meant Divine Creator, why did they not say that? Hmmm?
 

TacticalEvilDan

Shankmasta Killa
DP Veteran
Joined
Feb 16, 2008
Messages
10,443
Reaction score
4,479
Location
Western NY and Geneva, CH
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Other
Think what you wish. But "Creator" applies to human constructs as much as it does when speaking of mythical beings, such as the Christian God.
By the definition of the word itself, yes, but I haven't seen anything written anywhere that this is what the framers meant.
 

davidtaylorjr

Well-known member
Joined
May 30, 2013
Messages
6,775
Reaction score
1,123
Location
South Carolina
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Very Conservative
By the definition of the word itself, yes, but I haven't seen anything written anywhere that this is what the framers meant.
Then with all due respect you should yell at him about his remark as well. The framers constantly in other documents referred to God synonymous with Creator.
 

Sisyphus

Banned
DP Veteran
Joined
Jul 12, 2013
Messages
1,185
Reaction score
151
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Very Liberal
By the definition of the word itself, yes, but I haven't seen anything written anywhere that this is what the framers meant.
Nor what you posit. It just says "Creator," which we can interpret however we wish, in the secular society which is the United States of America.
 

Paschendale

Uncanny
DP Veteran
Joined
Nov 3, 2010
Messages
12,510
Reaction score
12,604
Location
New York City
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Socialist
Well, it's pretty easy to find the "Life" part of "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" in Genesis. Might even be able to find something in Genesis related to "pursuit of happiness" (although not in those exact words) before the apple got eaten in Eden. The Liberty part is harder...although a number of later passages make reference to various freedoms.
I can't agree. I think that's viewing the text from an extremely modern viewpoint. The idea of rights, as we know them, basically did not exist in those times. The default state for all people was powerlessness, and only the grace of whatever ruler they were subjects of afforded them any protections at all. Remember that Hammurabi's code was revolutionary merely for not allowing the rulers to kill or maim on a whim as punishments. The idea of liberty was completely alien to the writers of biblical texts. Much of the bible and especially the quran, are centered on willing subjugation to a ruler, specifically to a god. It does not speak of any rights or liberties at all, for we have no protections from that ruler. We are posited as absolute subjects, with this god able to alter our lives, create us, reward us, or punish us in whatever ways and for whatever reasons he likes.

The writings in scripture are wholly antithetical to the American notions of liberty. The only divinity that could be a source of rights would be a deist god, which is what some of the founders believed in. Only a god that created us a certain way and then completely divorced itself from us could be a source of more liberty than subjugation. But that is not the god of scripture.

By the definition of the word itself, yes, but I haven't seen anything written anywhere that this is what the framers meant.
The word by itself could just as easily refer to nature, to an earth mother goddess, to the land on which our ancestors lived, or to those ancestors. It probably didn't in this context, since these men were mired in western Christian culture, but there is no need to assume that creating can only be done by a jealous penis god like the Hebrew one.
 

TacticalEvilDan

Shankmasta Killa
DP Veteran
Joined
Feb 16, 2008
Messages
10,443
Reaction score
4,479
Location
Western NY and Geneva, CH
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Other
I can't agree. I think that's viewing the text from an extremely modern viewpoint. The idea of rights, as we know them, basically did not exist in those times. The default state for all people was powerlessness, and only the grace of whatever ruler they were subjects of afforded them any protections at all. Remember that Hammurabi's code was revolutionary merely for not allowing the rulers to kill or maim on a whim as punishments. The idea of liberty was completely alien to the writers of biblical texts. Much of the bible and especially the quran, are centered on willing subjugation to a ruler, specifically to a god. It does not speak of any rights or liberties at all, for we have no protections from that ruler. We are posited as absolute subjects, with this god able to alter our lives, create us, reward us, or punish us in whatever ways and for whatever reasons he likes.

The writings in scripture are wholly antithetical to the American notions of liberty. The only divinity that could be a source of rights would be a deist god, which is what some of the founders believed in. Only a god that created us a certain way and then completely divorced itself from us could be a source of more liberty than subjugation. But that is not the god of scripture.
That's a damned interesting point, I'd never considered that.

The word by itself could just as easily refer to nature, to an earth mother goddess, to the land on which our ancestors lived, or to those ancestors. It probably didn't in this context, since these men were mired in western Christian culture, but there is no need to assume that creating can only be done by a jealous penis god like the Hebrew one.
Nor what you posit. It just says "Creator," which we can interpret however we wish, in the secular society which is the United States of America.
If you look only at the dictionary definition of the term, you both are absolutely right -- if you don't look at the context. You're neglecting the use of words like "Nature's God" and "Divine Providence." There is also the fact that Jefferson was a Deist, Adams a Unitarian, and the fact that the large majority of those who signed the Declaration were some flavor of theist.

Please don't get me wrong, I'm not arguing that the United States was founded as a Christian nation or a nation of any religion in particular. I'm not a Christian. I'm not even a theist. I'm an apatheist. I just think, given the context in which the Declaration was written, signed and issued, "Creator" definitely meant some kind of theoretical higher power of some kind, an eternal being that serves as the fountainhead of man's birthright of liberty.
 

Sisyphus

Banned
DP Veteran
Joined
Jul 12, 2013
Messages
1,185
Reaction score
151
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Very Liberal
That's a damned interesting point, I'd never considered that.





If you look only at the dictionary definition of the term, you both are absolutely right -- if you don't look at the context. You're neglecting the use of words like "Nature's God" and "Divine Providence." There is also the fact that Jefferson was a Deist, Adams a Unitarian, and the fact that the large majority of those who signed the Declaration were some flavor of theist.

Please don't get me wrong, I'm not arguing that the United States was founded as a Christian nation or a nation of any religion in particular. I'm not a Christian. I'm not even a theist. I'm an apatheist. I just think, given the context in which the Declaration was written, signed and issued, "Creator" definitely meant some kind of theoretical higher power of some kind, an eternal being that serves as the fountainhead of man's birthright of liberty.
I was looking at the Constitution, in which it neither defines it as divine nor natural origin.
 

TacticalEvilDan

Shankmasta Killa
DP Veteran
Joined
Feb 16, 2008
Messages
10,443
Reaction score
4,479
Location
Western NY and Geneva, CH
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Other
I was looking at the Constitution, in which it neither defines it as divine nor natural origin.
You're absolutely right, but here's how I set the stage for the thread, in part:

Anybody who has stuck around for more than 30 seconds of a discussion of Constitutional rights has had the term "unalienable rights" (or inalienable, if the speaker is confused) thrown at them. These words are nowhere to be found in the Constitution, of course, but the Declaration of Independence -- a document which is an integral piece of our history and which reflects the mindset of many of the framers, but which has no legal standing under the Constitution.

Nevertheless, it got me thinking: If we assume that those words had been included in the Constitution, then they would have legal standing -- but what would they mean?
 

greyhat

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 26, 2013
Messages
562
Reaction score
159
Gender
Undisclosed
Political Leaning
Undisclosed
The Founding Fathers were influenced more by philosophy, such as that of Locke, Rousseau and the like than by "Holy texts". I'd say some were agnostics if not atheists.
 
Top Bottom