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Appendix 20: The Creationist Faith of Our Founding Fathers

by Dr. Henry M. Morris:

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Many of the foundations of our American Christian heritage are being undermined in today's hedonistic society, and this sad fact is surely related to the prior undermining of Biblical creationism in our schools and colleges. It is therefore relevant to the emphasis of this study Bible to note that most of the founding fathers of our nation believed in special creation as taught in the Bible. Thus, defending our Christian creationist faith is a vital component also of the true defense of our country and its system of constitutional government “under God.”

A favorite patriotic song of yesteryear, “My Country, 'Tis of Thee,” is not sung much anymore, especially in our public schools, probably because the last verse is a prayer, directed to “Our fathers' God ... Author of liberty ... Great God our King.” (The Supreme Court decided several years ago that it is unconstitutional to pray in school.)

In fact, it is now considered unconstitutional to acknowledge God in any way at all in the public schools, especially as our “Author” and “King”—that is, as our Creator and Lord. Yet, when our nation was first established on that memorable fourth day of July in 1776, the signing of the Declaration was preceded by prayer, at the urging of old Ben Franklin, to the Author of liberty. It was no accident that the Declaration of Independence acknowledged God as Creator (that is, as “Nature's God”) in its very first sentence. Then, in its second sentence, the Declaration affirmed that “all men are created equal, ... endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” In its last sentence, it expressed “firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence.” Our nation's first and founding document thus expressed faith in God as both Creator and Sustainer of men, and there is bound to be a correlation between our nation's strong foundation and God's blessing on it for these some 225 years since that first fourth of July.

Franklin may not have been an orthodox Bible-believing Christian, but he did believe in God and creation. He wrote, for example, as follows:

Here is my creed. I believe in one God, the Creator of the universe. That He governs it by His Providence. That He ought to be worshiped.1

The same could be said of Thomas Jefferson, reputedly a deist, but nevertheless a believer in God and special creation. Some of his testimonies are actually inscribed on the walls of the Jefferson Memorial, in Washington, D.C. For example:

Almighty God hath created the mind free. All attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens ... are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion ....

God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?

A modern evolutionary historian has noted Jefferson's keen insight in reference to the growing pre-Darwinian propaganda for uniformitarianism and evolution, as follows:

When Jefferson, in his old age, was confronted with the newly developing science of geology, he rejected the evolutionary concept of the creation of the earth on the grounds that no all-wise and all-powerful Creator would have gone about the job in such a slow and inefficient way.2

It was Jefferson, of course, who had the major responsibility for the wording in the Declaration of Independence.

James Madison, who is often considered the chief architect of the Constitution as well as the Bill of Rights, was a profound Bible student studying for the ministry during his college days at Princeton (then known as the College of New Jersey). Although he eventually became a lawyer and statesman, his Christian convictions never wavered. It was especially his influence that eventually established religious freedom in our country. He later wrote that “belief in a God All Powerful, wise and good, is ... essential to the moral order of the world and to the happiness of man.”3

Madison's theology had been largely shaped by the teachings of President John Witherspoon of the College of New Jersey (also a signer of the Declaration) whose strong Biblical Calvinist faith included the doctrine of natural depravity of man. This truth in turn was behind Madison's unique insistence on a government of checks-and-balances in which the innate sinfulness of men attaining power could be prevented thereby from usurping total power. This doctrine, of course, rests squarely on the Biblical record of the Creation and Fall of man.

His manuscripts also include elaborate notes on the four Gospels and Acts in particular, specifically acknowledging the deity and bodily resurrection of Christ, and praising the example of the Berean Christians in studying the Scriptures.4

John Hancock, who was the first to sign the Declaration, had been president of the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts a year before when he issued a proclamation calling for “A Day of Public Humiliation, Fasting, and Prayer,” referring to “that God who rules in the Armies of Heaven and without whose Blessing the best human Counsels are but Foolishness—and all created Power Vanity.”5 That same year, the Continental Congress had also passed a stirring resolution expressing “humble confidence in the mercies of the Supreme and impartial God and ruler of the universe.”6

George Washington (often called “the father of our country”) was also a strong Bible-believing Christian and literal creationist. Among other things, he once commented as follows:

A reasoning being would lose his reason, in attempting to account for the great phenomena of nature, had he not a Supreme Being to refer to: and well has it been said, that if there had been no God, mankind would have been obligated to imagine one.7

Washington also said:

It is impossible to account for the creation of the universe, without the agency of a Supreme Being. ... It is impossible to govern the universe without the aid of a Supreme Being. It is impossible to reason without arriving at a Supreme Being.8

Consider also the testimony of John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. In an address to the American Bible Society (of which he was then president) he said:

The Bible will also inform them that our gracious Creator has provided for us a Redeemer, in whom all the nations of the earth shall be blessed: that this Redeemer has made atonement for the sins of the whole world, and ... has opened a way for our redemption and salvation.9

In fact, all the signers of the Declaration and the delegates to the Constitutional Convention, as well as the delegates to the various sessions of the Continental Congress—at least so far as known—were men who believed in God and the special creation of the world and mankind. Nearly all were members of Christian churches and believed the Bible to be the inspired Word of God.

This had been true of their forebears as well:

In colonial times, the Bible was the primary tool in the educational process. In fact, according to Columbia University Professor Dr. Lawrence A. Cremin, the Bible was “the single most primary source for the intellectual history of Colonial America.” From their knowledge of the Bible, a highly literate, creative people emerged. Their wise system of education was later replaced by a man-centered system that has caused a steady decline in literacy and creativity.10

An interesting admission from Fred Edwords, Executive Director of the American Humanist Association and a strong opponent of modern creationism, has noted that the nation's founders

... all mentioned God—and not merely the clockwork God of deism, but a God actively involved in history. Their “public religion” ... harked back to the Old Testament with its view of America as “the promised land.” This was prevalent in many writings of the time.11

In many ways the history of the founding and further history of our country in modern times does seem to parallel that of God's chosen nation of Israel in ancient times. One fascinating example of this is found in a very early Independence Day address by Dr. Elias Boudinot, President of the Continental Congress in 1783.

No sooner had the great Creator of the heavens and the earth finished His almighty work, and pronounced all very good, but He set apart ... one day in seven for the commemoration of His inimitable power in producing all things out of nothing. ... The deliverance of the children of Israel from a state of bondage to an unreasonable tyrant was perpetuated by the Paschal lamb, and enjoining it on their posterity as an annual festival forever. ... The resurrection of the Savior of mankind is commemorated by keeping the first day of the week. ... Let us then, my friends and fellow citizens, unite all our endeavors this day to remember, with reverential gratitude to our Supreme Benefactor, all the wonderful things He has done for us, in our miraculous deliverance from a second Egypt—another house of bondage.12

Sad to say, ancient Israel gradually forgot their Sabbaths and their Passovers, and even forgot God and served the gods of nature, so that God finally judged them and sent them into captivity.

Similarly our own nation was greatly blessed of God in its miraculous formation and early history. On that first great Liberty Day, when the Liberty Bell first rang out, the founders sent forth a testimony to all colonies taken from God's Word: “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof” (Leviticus 25:10). Yet now, we also are rapidly forgetting the true God, His Creation, His Word, and His great salvation. Will the time come when America, like Israel, will fall under the chastening hand of our offended Creator and be enslaved by the coming humanistic pagan world government?

Actually, multitudes of our people, including many of our national leaders, have already abandoned their God-given Christian American heritage of liberty through our Creator and Savior, and have thereby become slaves themselves—some to drugs, some to alcohol, some to crime, immorality, greed, pleasure, or various other exacting slavemasters. In a word, they have become slaves to sin, even in this once-sweet land of liberty. As Jesus said, “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin” (John 8:34).

The agents of the Enemy entrap many into such slavery by their deceptive promises of freedom from God and His Word, but “while they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage” (2 Peter 2:19).

True liberty, for both time and eternity, is secured only by faith in the saving work of Christ, and “if the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). America in general—and individual American men and women individually—need urgently to come back to the true God and Savior before it is too late.

Notes

  1. The Writings of Ben Franklin (New York: Macmillan Co., vol. 10, 1905-1907), p. 84.
  2. Gilman M. Ostrander, The Evolutionary Outlook, 1875-1900 (Clio, Michigan: Marston Press, 1971), p. 1.
  3. Princeton University Library Chronicle (Spring 1961, p. 125), cited by Eidsmoe, p. 110.
  4. See volume I in Biography of James Madison, pp. 3, 34, as cited in A Cloud of Witnesses, ed. by Stephen A. Northrop (Portland, Oregon: American Heritage Ministries, 1987), p. 307.
  5. Cited in William J. Federer, America's God and Country (Coppell, Texas: Fame Publishing Co., 1996), p. 275.
  6. Ibid., p. 140.
  7. Maxims of Washington, ed. by John F. Schroeder (Mt. Vernon, Virginia: Mt. Vernon Ladies Association, 1942), p. 209.
  8. Quoted in Maxims of Washington, ed. by John P. Schroeder (Mt. Vernon, Virginia: Mt. Vernon Ladies Association, 1942), p. 275.
  9. Cited in A Cloud of Witnesses, ed. by Stephen A. Northrop (Reprinted by American Heritage Ministries, Portland, Oregon, 1987), p. 251.
  10. Mary-Elaine Swanson, “Teaching Children the Bible,” Mayflower Institute Journal (vol. 1, July/August 1983), p. 5.
  11. Frederick Edwords, “The Religious Character of American Patriotism,” The Humanist (vol. 47, Nov./Dec. 1987), p. 20.
  12. Address in New Jersey on July 4, 1783, cited in Foundation for Christian Self-Government (July 1982), p. 3.