Whence come our rights?

The single most important word in the Declaration of Independence may well be "Creator."  Without the Creator, we would not be "endowed with certain inalienable rights."  Our rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" would be alienable by whatever temporary earthly authority (if any) permitted us to exercise them.

The principles in the Declaration of Independence were handed down to us by a long and meticulous history, a convergence of Greek reasoning and Hebrew revelation, by both aspiration and inspiration.  In the cosmic scheme of things, it is useful to appreciate how unlikely it is that we should have the republic we have.  Let's start with our planet.

Planet Earth is not merely suited for life; it is prime real estate for the development of a civilization that can reach for the stars while at the same time asking why we reach for them.

Were we the product of chance alone, then far more likely it is that we should live on a planet that barely supports life, that allows us to eke out a meager existence, the atmosphere of which conceals the stars with clouds, and on which none of the minerals and metals exists from which technology can be built.  It is overwhelmingly more likely that by chance alone, a planet would produce a society in which people are mere slaves to tyrants, people who never yearn to be free.

Those are the overwhelming odds that would decide who we are.  Instead, we have not merely technology, but also poetry, the Golden Rule, and the ability to appreciate the beauty of nature.

While we should be careful to separate government from religion, we must be just as careful never to separate our religious principles from our public institutions.  Our laws are based on those principles.  In ancient times, laws were designed to serve the king.  The servant class was allowed to exist only for the convenience of the ruler.

Today, we recognize that "all men are created equal," both the king and the peasant alike.  While our society often violates this principle in practice, we are not like the tyrannies of the world that reject the principle altogether.  The difference is all the difference in the world.

While we do not have a "Church of America," our nation is nevertheless a temple to the Creator, and that is what makes us a beacon to the world.