...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
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).
"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."
_ - Christianity and the Constitution p.51,53 ; America's Providential History p.156 ; Myth of