Endowed by an Ellipsis
Ellipsis: (noun) !. the omission of one or more words from a sentence, especially when what is omitted can be understood from the context…2. a printed mark, usually three dots (…), or less, often, asterisks (***), used to indicate that something has been omitted from a text.1
(An Appeal to History and Historians)
By Robert R. Edwards, B.A., B.S., J.D.
Recently I had the privilege of being summoned for jury duty in Broward County, Florida. As a preface to service, my fellow prospective jurors and I were treated to a video designed to instruct and enthuse us about the history, uniqueness and sanctity of the American jury system. It was to that end that we were shown and read the following excerpt from the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed…with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
As every American knows, or should know, the declaration actually reads:
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, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness (emphasis supplied).
In a speech read September 5, 2010, President Barak Obama told the Congressional Hispanic Caucus that:
What made us all Americans was not a matter of blood. It wasn’t a matter of birth. It was faith and fidelity to the shared values that we all hold so dear. ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, endowed…with certain inalienable rights—life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’
Eclipse: (noun) the partial or complete hiding from view of an astronomical object when another astronomical object comes between it and the observer; a loss or blocking of light; a loss of status, power or favor.
I call these omissions of reference to our Creator-God, “eclipses by ellipses.” Just as the Moon sometimes eclipses the Sun, so too sometimes does Man try to eclipse God—as did the Clerk of Courts and the President of the United States in these two instances. Simply by removing from the Declaration of Independence reference to “our Creator”, each man effectively “came between an astronomical object [a Creator-God] and its observers [prospective jurors and members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus].” Each man blocked the observers’ view of the object, thereby diminishing the object’s status, power and favor. In effect, each man elevated himself to an “astronomical” status of his own, just sufficient to block from our view, for a moment, God as “our Creator.” 2
I don’t believe I am overstating the significance of these omissions, in part because in both cases it appears deliberate. 3 It was certainly not for a lack of space or time. Belief in a Creator-God, however, is as fundamental to the foundation of this nation as it is to the foundation of the Judeo-Christian religion on which this nation was founded. It is an affront to our nation’s history to remove from the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence recognition that our unalienable rights come from a Creator-God. The Founding Fathers would have blanched, staunched themselves, and most certainly rebelled. Consider just a few more examples of their allegiance to God as Creator and as Governor of the universe, even prior and right up to their passing of the United States Constitution and their installation of a presidency and its first President.
In the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson invoked the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” as the platform on which to construct his thoughts about the unalienable rights of Man. In the first two paragraphs of the Mayflower Compact of 1620, often referred to as “the nation’s birth certificate,” the Pilgrims acknowledged that they undertook their perilous journey “In the name of God…by the Grace of God…[and] for the Glory of God.” In his most famous speech ending with the phrase, “as for me, give me liberty or give me death!,” Patrick Henry acknowledged before the Virginia Convention of 1775, the “just God who presides over the destinies of nations” and to whom we owe a “great responsibility.”
In the Declaration of the Causes of Necessity of Taking Up Arms, signed in Congress at Philadelphia on July 6, 1775, the representatives of the united colonies of North America recognized their Creator as “the divine Author of our existence.” The Articles of Confederation, which is the precursor to the United States Constitution and which was signed by members of the second continental Congress on November 15, 1777, included among the reasons for forming a confederation that “it hath pleased the Great Governor of the World” for its signers to do so. And in the first paragraph of his first Inaugural Address, delivered April 30, 1789, President George Washington said:
It would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge.4
How far we’ve come. How far we’ve fallen. How far we’ve gone to block from the Creature the sight and fact of his Creator.
Significantly, both the Clerk and the President left the word “endowed” in their recitations of the Declaration, whereas they might just as easily have said that, “…all men are created5 equal and [have] certain unalienable rights…,” or that, “…all men are [born] equal and [have] certain unalienable rights. But they did not. Each recited instead that those rights were in fact “endowed,” but neither identified by Whom or by What they were endowed. Instead, they substituted ellipses for the phrase, “by our Creator,” seemingly leaving open the door for the source of our “unalienable” rights. The question presented by their prestidigitations, of course, is two-fold: if our unalienable rights were not endowed by God, then by whom or by what were they endowed, and to what end?
We need not look long to answer the first part of the question or to “fill in the blank” left by the ellipses because there are only two possible, or plausible, sources of the endowment: God, as Creator, or the State, as governor. Having removed God from the equation (by replacing him with an ellipsis), we are left with the State. The difference is astronomical because the phrase “unalienable rights,” of course, refers to “rights that cannot be taken away.” What God gives, none but God can take away. It is beyond the reach of Man, permanent so far as Man is concerned. But what the State gives, the State can also take away, thereby rendering “alienable” by the State today that which the State deemed “unalienable” just yesterday, all appeals to God notwithstanding. In Matthew 17:21 Christ said we are to “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s.” The problem arises when the State usurps the role of God as the endower of unalienable rights. Then it can compel its people by force to render unto Caesar that which is God’s, thereby leaving nothing to God or left owing to God. Thus, the previously “unalienable” “right to life” is determined by the State. The right to “liberty,” by the State. The right “to pursue happiness,” by the State.
The State today takes away life by sanctioning and sometimes funding abortion, euthanasia, and assisted suicide. It takes away liberty by prohibiting the invocation of God in the public square by private persons, in a high school classroom, at its football games, and during its graduation ceremonies. It takes away the “pursuit of happiness” to the extent it taxes its people into poverty and ever more dependence upon the State for sustenance and to the extent it dictates and regulates virtually every aspect of their lives.6 In America today, the government’s restriction and retraction of these rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are growing ever more frequent, ever more exacting. Our rights are not just in danger, they are endangered. It is only by a return to the acknowledgment of a Creator-God that these rights might be secured because they must necessarily be secured, not by the State, but from the State.
This makes Creation Studies, Creation Science and the concept of Intelligent Design all the more relevant,7 and perhaps helps explain why the modern State has systematically uprooted them from our schools and from our culture today. It is not per se because they are untrue [see footnote 11, infra], but because they are unpopular with our most popular of political and judicial officials. Alongside the attack on Creation Studies, we are witnessing today an attack on our history. We are subtly but surely being lulled into forgetting our history, into rewriting it by redaction or omitting it by ellipses. I will reiterate, however, that the belief in a Creator is as fundamental to the foundation and character of our nation as it is to the Judeo-Christian religion on which our nation was founded. Only by recourse to his Creator can Man justifiably demand life in the face of his State, liberty in the face of his State, the pursuit of happiness in the face of his State. Absent that Creator, the State becomes the highest source of authority, beyond which there is no appeal. Absent that Creator, Man has no purpose or meaning, save to serve and preserve the State. Absent that Creator, God has no place in our lives because, absent that Creator, there can be no “God” as traditionally defined.8 Instead, the State becomes “God” for all purposes practical, and the people, its pawns in a wicked chess match dubbed the “survival of the fittest.”
It is no wonder that a President of the United States today,9 who is an avowed evolutionist, would be “pro-choice”, and would attempt to take over and nationalize healthcare; that he would favor the so-called “fairness doctrine” (by which the State could force Christian radio stations to give “equal time” to anti-Christian views), and “card check,” (by which the State could force workers to make public their votes on whether or not to unionize). It is no wonder that he would favor a socialized redistribution of wealth through massive government spending programs funded by massive tax increases on the so-called “rich,” even over and above the massive taxes Americans already pay, and progressively so, as “the rich.” The idea of a Creator-God who endowed us with the rights to resist such invasive intrusions into our daily lives would be repugnant to such a President’s view of the State and, having found what he believes to be political wrong in historical truth, it would be no wonder that he might decide history needed to be rewritten or redacted, and the words “by our Creator” eclipsed by an ellipsis in the Declaration of Independence. To such a President, his ends would surely justify his means. After all, what are three little words in an antiquated document compared with the “common good” of the evolving modern State?
In the face of such redactions to our history, to the removal of “God” from our schools, our public squares, and our founding documents, I submit it is time for historians to stand up. It is time for historians to demand fealty to history as history transpired, and to call out Clerks and Presidents when they distort or redact historical truth. It is time for historians and, particularly, teachers of history, to proclaim again in our public schools and our public squares the fundamental and undeniable, historical truth that our nation was in fact founded upon belief in a Creator-God, and that the founders understood Him to be the endower of our unalienable rights, including the rights to life, to liberty, and to the pursuit happiness. There was a time in our nation when God was at the center of the public school,10 when teachers wouldn’t think twice of teaching their students the Genesis account of creation, let alone creation science or the concept of “Intelligent Design.” Today, however, the teaching, nay, even the mention, of Intelligent Design in the public schools has been held “unconstitutional,” irrespective of whether or not there is intelligent design to the universe.11
If creation scientists can no longer teach creation science in public schools, irrespective of its validity and in a nation that was founded upon the fundamental belief in a Creator, how long will it be before the United States Supreme Court finds it “unconstitutional” to teach history as it actually transpired, all because history as it transpired doesn’t serve the “common good” of the modern State or, more particularly, the political agenda of its politicians who appoint the judges and Justices to the courts? In the oft-quoted words of Pastor Niemoller (1892-1984):
First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one to speak out for me.
Neimoller was writing about the Nazis. I write about the champions of the modern-day, “progressive” State, those proponents of evolution and socialism who aren’t above a revisionist history when it suits their needs and who so dominate our government and our public schools today. They came after the creation scientists, but too few spoke out. Now the creation scientists cannot speak out about or even mention the concept of Intelligent Design in most of the nation’s public high schools and universities today.12 I submit that, next, they are coming after history and the historians, and have already started. If the historians will not speak out to protect the integrity of their profession, who will speak out for the historians when the integrity of their profession is gone, when a whole and honest account of history is replaced by a distorted, redacted history and its “eclipses by ellipses?” And who will speak out for history when no credible historians are left? The thought leaves me with an unsettled feeling, like a sentence that ends with a comma,
1The definitions used herein are all taken from the Encarta Dictionary: English (North America), which can be easily accessed by clicking on and looking up the defined word in the Microsoft 2007 version of its “Word” word-processing program. I use this source for reference (a) because it is easy; and (b) because none of the definitions should be in dispute. Still, I needed to credit the source.
2As C.S. Lewis noted in The Problem of Pain, however, “A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.”
3On April 8, 2011, I e-mailed the staffs of both President Obama and the Broward County Clerk of Courts about their having omitted reference to “our Creator” in their recitations of the Declaration of Independence. To date, neither has responded. If and when either does, I’ll update this submission.
4Washington went on to pay “homage” to the “Great Author of every public and private good.”
5Use of the word “created,” here, as a verb and with the lower case “c,” does not carry with it the same implications as use of the word “Creator,” as a noun with an upper case “C”. To say one is “created” can refer simply to the fact that he was “born” of two parents. This may be why the President and the Clerk didn’t feel the need to substitute for the word “created,” the word “born,” although they did feel the need to substitute an ellipsis for the phrase, “by our Creator.”
6It should be noted that the right is to the “pursuit” of happiness, not to its attainment in some utopian society established and run by some socialist State.
7I say “all the more relevant” because their primary relevance lies of course in what I submit to be the fact of their scientific truth. It is the State, via its judicial system, primarily, that has dismissed creation science and intelligent design out of hand without regard to whether what they expound is true in a factual, scientific sense, or not. See footnote 11, infra.
8The Encarta Dictionary: English (North America), defines “God” as “a noun; supreme being; the being believed in monotheistic religions such as Judaism, Islam, and Christianity to be the all-powerful, all-knowing creator of the universe, worshiped as the only god (emphasis supplied).”
9I use the indefinite article “a” here, as opposed to the definite article “the,” because I do not mean to limit my remarks exclusively towards the current President of the United States, Barak Obama, but to any man or woman elected to the office who might share his views and agenda.
10In 1787, the same United States Congress that passed the United States Constitution passed the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, wherein Congress asserted, “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, [public] schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”
11 See Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578 (U.S. 1987); and Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, et al., 400 F.Supp.2d 707, 735, 737-738, 742-743 (M.D. Pa. 2005)(“While [Intelligent Design] may be true, [Intelligent Design] is not science,” and therefore may not even be referenced, let alone taught, in a public school).
12See id. Also, for an excellent documentary on the inability of instructors to teach, and the impermissibility of teaching, creation science or Intelligent Design at the university level, see Ben Stein’s 2008 movie, Expelled.