Many people are quick to assert that America was founded by Christian men and based on Christian precepts and principles. Is this true? Or is this another repeated truism taken at face value because someone said so? If America was not founded by Christian men and based on Christian principles, then who were the men called the Founding Fathers, and what principles did they base the three major foundational documents (the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution) on?
There are passionate and misinformed arguments on both sides of this issue. On the one hand, many fervent Christians will proudly proclaim how the Founding Fathers were devout Christians, and how they made sure that Christian principles were consulted and included in the foundational documents. On the other hand, many fervent agnostics, atheists, and free thinkers will contend that the Founding Fathers were not Christians, and how they framed the foundational documents on the principles of deism and free thought. As with most passionate controversial arguments, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
For those unfamiliar with deism, it is a worldview–as opposed to a religious view–that sees God or the “Creator” as a “watchmaker.” A watchmaker creates or assembles a watch before setting it in motion and has little to no interest in what happens to the watch or how the watch feels, and so forth. Deism says God does not communicate with man or try to influence the world through action, thought, or revelation. He merely created, set in motion, and is now unconcerned with what is going on with the creation or any potential outcomes it may face. I am presuming that most readers are familiar with Christianity, its principles, and its dogma. Basically fundamental Christian principles and dogma state: Jesus is God’s son, who was sent to earth to suffer and die as atonement for the sins of humankind; he arose from the grave and will return one day to claim victory over sin and death. Believers will reign with him throughout eternity, and unbelievers are doomed and will face an eternal hell. Obviously, these two perspectives are quite different from each other. Deism places humankind’s fate in the hands of humans, while Christianity believes divine intervention will determine the fate of each individual human. Deism does not believe in an afterlife, while Christianity hinges on what happens in the afterlife.