Albert Einstein and the Unalienable Right
By Thomas A. Glessner, J.D.
January 23, 2014
The founding of the American Republic resides in these familiar words from our Declaration of Independence, which state:
We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among these life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The uniqueness of America is that it is a nation that was founded upon what was considered at the time to be a radical notion concerning the natural rights of every human being. Such a radical principle stated unequivocally that human rights are gifts from a Creator and therefore, cannot be denied to anyone by a government made up of mere mortals. Since human rights are not granted by a king, ruler, or government, they cannot be taken away at the whim of tyrants.
Succinctly put, America was founded upon the belief that: 1) there is a Creator who grants natural rights to human beings emanating from the fact that such humans are created; 2) all human beings are created equal and our nation does not acknowledge a class structure where some are considered superior to others; 3) such natural rights are self-evident. meaning that they are true on their very face and need not be proven through reasoning or logic; and 4) such self-evident truths are unalienable meaning that since they are granted by God alone they are incapable of being transferred, denied or taken away by anybody else, including the government.
The American concept of the equality of all because they are created equal and are given by a Creator natural self-evident rights was a radical departure from a contrary view held for centuries. The pre-American world view proclaimed that human rights are granted by the king or government who alone will determine which subjects will be blessed with such rights and which subjects will be so denied.
Prior to the American Revolution the prevailing view of the rights of human beings could be summed up simply as “the King giveth and the King taketh away.” Prior to the American Revolution nations and cultures recognized various classes of people and gave superior rights and status to a few elite while discriminating against those who belonged to lower classes. The Declaration of Independence was a dawning of a new day in the history of the world where the dignity and equal status of every human being was recognized.
This American view states that the natural rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness come from a Creator. This is, indeed, a strange concept for today’s modern-day American society whose current academic, political, and scientific elite promote the humanistic concept that we are not created, but rather, exist because of some random cosmic accident that occurred millions of years ago.
Modern American intelligentsia are very uncomfortable with the notion that humanity is created by an intelligent being. To believe otherwise flies in the face of their passionately held view that humankind is simply a higher form of animal life on an evolutionary chain. However, if such a concept of humanity is true then it is impossible for one to persuasively make the case that membership in the human race alone gives one superior rights to other life forms. Only a belief in the Judeo-Christian concept that one is created by God and in his image can explain why humanity, as opposed to animal and plant life, is accorded superior rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Current scientific and academic communities are divided on the issue of the existence of a Creator. Some say that this question is simply a matter for religion and therefore, an answer to it requires speculation and faith. Others argue very persuasively that biological facts show an intelligent design and order to the universe that can only be explained by the proposition that the universe and life itself was created by a superior being.
Ultimately, no matter which view one holds regarding the existence of a Creator such a view requires faith to support it. Those who say there is no Creator and that science has no proof of such are taking a faith position in the same manner as those who believe in a Creator. There is no scientific proof that the universe and life came about by a random cosmic accident where something miraculously appeared out of nothingness, or that the universe has always eternally existed. (These are the only two explanations for the existence of the universe and life outside the belief in a Creator.) Hence, those who hold to such view(s) must also do so by faith.
Was mankind created and thus, granted by its Creator self-evident and unalienable rights? Albert Einstein, perhaps the greatest scientific mind of the twentieth century, said this:
[E]very one who is seriously engaged in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that the laws of nature manifest the existence of a spirit vastly superior to that of men, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble.
It would be inaccurate to state that Einstein shared the theological views of many orthodox Christian believers. However, his brilliance led him to conclude that humankind, indeed, cannot exist because of a series of random cosmic accidents. Behind the existence of humankind, according to Einstein, is a spirit “vastly superior to that of men.”
It is the belief in a Creator who provides to humankind self-evident and unalienable rights that are the bedrock of the American nation. This foundational belief supplied the rationale and moral fiber for the abolition of slavery and for the ending of the Jim Crow era of discrimination against African Americans. It is also the foundation for the belief in the sanctity of life of all, born and unborn, and thus, provides the basis upon which millions of Americans rely to justify their opposition to abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia.
The belief in the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness has eroded in our nation over the last forty-one years. Since 1973 more than 56 million unborn children have lost their lives to abortion, and this number continues to increase at a rate of 1.2 million each year. Only a return to a commitment to once again protect the natural rights of all human beings will reverse this trend. Such a return requires a reaffirmation throughout our culture that humankind is special among all creation because humankind was created in the image of a Creator.
Is this really such a hard pill for our intellectual elite to swallow and accept? Apparently, it wasn’t for Albert Einstein.
Copyright © 2014 by Thomas A. Glessner. All rights reserved.