Wise and Learned Men Who Believed in a Creator
by Dorothy E. Kreiss Robbins
What did the wise and learned men who founded the greatest republic in the world (the U.S.A.--the most free and prosperous for over 200 years), believe about the beginning of this universe? Were they evolutionists? Were they theistic evolutionists?
Never has the world seen so many men of such great learning and sagacity engaged in a work over such a long time span (150 years) with such a wide and benevolent influence. These men, whose erudition gained them respect in the courts of the kings of Europe, whose writings have astonished the world, did they believe in a Creator and a creation? Emphatically, yes! They were believers in a Creator: the God of the Bible. The few quotations gathered here must forever refute the proposition that learned men cannot believe in the creation of the universe by a wise, benevolent, and intelligent being: Jehovah God.
Let us begin with the reputed discoverer of this hemisphere, Christopher Columbus (1451-1506). Columbus had great learning in many sciences and was also well acquainted with the Scriptures. In a prayer taken from a letter to the sovereigns of Spain, dated October of 1492, we read: "O Lord, Almighty and everlasting God, by thy holy Word Thou hast created the heaven, and the earth, and the sea. . . ." And later, "(May you) . . . be well received before the eternal Creator, to whom I pray. . . ." (Las Casas' abstract of Columbus' Journal of the First Voyage.)
Kay Brigham says, "The Admiral writes in his letter to the nurse of Prince John (1501): 'My hope in the One who created us all sustains me; . . .' She writes further, '. . . (T)he Holy Scriptures inspired the Discoverer to execute the idea with a sense of mission (and strength). Others had dreamed, but Columbus followed through and realized . . . the discovery of the marvelous Americas (unknowingly) . . . (and) the expansion of Christianity to 'Other Worlds.'"
John Calvin (1509-1564), of whom it was said: "(He) was the founder of the greatest of republics. The 'Pilgrims' . . . were his sons . . . and that American nation which we have seen growing so rapidly boasts as its father the humble reformer on the shores of (Lake) Leman." He, who was one of the greatest intellects that ever lived, whose influence is still felt throughout the world, wrote: ". . . God was pleased that a history of the creation should exist - - a history on which the faith of the church might lean without seeking any other God than Him whom Moses sets forth as the Creator and Architect of the world."
The nation God raised up was, indeed, begun by men who knew who He is. William Bradford, the great leader of the Pilgrims (who wrote our founding document, the Mayflower Compact), is the third person in our anthology to whom we turn as proof of the Creator's being honored by those who founded our country.
William Bradford (1590-1657), Governor of the Pilgrims for 37 years, author of the famous history of the beginnings of our country, and learned in several languages, wrote: 'Though I am grown aged, yet I have had a longing desire, to see with my own eyes, something of the most ancient language, and holy tongue, in which the Law, and oracles of God were writ; and in which God, and angels, spoke to the holy patriarchs, of old time; and names were given to things, from the creation."
Skipping hundreds who believed as these did in an Almighty Creator, we come now to those men most immediately influential in the laying of the foundations of our sovereignty as a nation. The following quotations will give us a better idea about our worthy progenitors. Consider first Sir William Blackstone (1723-1780). Mr. Federer tells us, "When scholars examined nearly 15,000 items written by the Founding Fathers from 1760 to 1805 . . . they found that Sir William Blackstone was quoted more than any other author except one," and then quotes Sir William thus: "(M)an, considered as a creature, must necessarily be subject to the laws of his Creator, for he is entirely a dependent being. . . . (I)t is necessary that he should in all points conform to his Maker's will. . . .
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) (so well known he needs no introduction), said: "I believe in one God, the Creator of the Universe." March 9, 1790, in a letter to Ezra Stiles, p. 250.
Samuel Adams (1722-1803), "Father of the American Revolution," author of The Rights of the Colonists (the most systematic presentation of the American cause ever written and by whose suggestion Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence), stated: "In the supposed state of nature, all men are equally bound . . . by the laws of the Creator. . . ." He, Lieutenant Governor, was addressing the Massachusetts state legislature, 1794, p. 24.
John Quincy Adams (1767-1848), sixth President of the U.S.A. (so well educated he was only a boy of 14 when made secretary to the ambassador to Russia), said: "I see Him (Jesus Christ) explicitly and repeatedly announced, not only as having existed before the worlds, but as the Creator of the worlds without beginning of days or end of years." Written from London, December 24, 1814, p. 17.
Noah Webster (1758-1843), lexicographer and "Father of American Education," mastered 26 (!) languages to produce his American Dictionary of the English Language, therein defining creation and creature thus: "Creation . . . especially, the act of bringing this world into existence, Romans I. . . . Creature, . . . Every being besides the Creator, . . . "
Edmund Burke (1729-1794), outstanding orator, author, and leader in Great Britain, defended the colonies in Parliament. "There is but one law for all, namely, that law which governs all law, the law of our Creator." p. 82.
Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804), signer of the Constitution and author of 51 of the Federalist Papers. "(L)iberty is a gift of the beneficent Creator."
Patrick Henry (1736-1799), five-time Governor of Virginia, whose "Give me liberty or give me death" speech has made him immortal, said: "It cannot be emphasized too strongly" nor too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. . . . " He defined religion, like many others of our Founders, thus: 'That religion, or duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it. . . ." pp. 288-289.
John Jay (1746-1829), first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court: "We (by the Bible) enable (people) to learn that man was originally created and placed in a state of happiness, but, becoming disobedient, was subjected to the degradation and evils which he and his posterity have since experienced. 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. . . . "from an address as President of the American Bible Society, May 13, 1824, p. 318.
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), third President of the U.S.A., chosen to write the Declaration of Independence, said: "I have little doubt that the whole country will soon be rallied to the unity of our Creator, and, I hope, to the pure doctrines of Jesus also." He, too, recognized that it was the God of the Bible who founded our country when he said in his inaugural address in 1805: "I shall need, too, the favor of that Being in whose hands we are, who led our forefathers, as Israel of old, from their native land and planted them in (this) country." p. 323, 327, 332.
William Samuel Johnson (1727-1819), lawyer, signer of our Constitution, President of Columbia College for 13 years, in remarks to the graduating class of that college, said: "You have . . . received a public education . . . the better to serve your Creator and your country. . . . Your first great duties, . . . are those you owe to Heaven, to your Creator and Redeemer."
James Madison (1751-1836), our fourth President, was known as the "Chief Architect of the Constitution," and the original author and promoter of the Bill of Rights. In the Constitutional Convention he spoke 161 times. Madison said: "It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator . . . homage. . . ." and defined "religion" thus: "Religion ... the duty we owe our Creator." p. 410.
George Mason (1725-1792), the richest man in Virginia, American Revolutionary statesman, and member House of Burgesses, was the author of the Virginia Constitution and Virginia Bill of Rights. The first ten amendments to the Constitution "are practically his." He too stated that religion is "the Duty which we owe our Creator." "In his Last Will and Testament, (he) wrote: '. . . My soul, I resign into the hands of my Almighty Creator, whose tender mercies are over all His works. . . .'" p. 424.
Andrew Jackson (1767-1845), seventh President, lawyer, Congressman, U.S. Senator, Judge of Tennessee Supreme Court (in a letter to a couple on the bereavement of a child): "This charming babe was only given you from your Creator and benefactor. . . . We have one consolation that this babe is now in the bosom of its Savior." p. 309.
Not only individuals, but whole bodies of people capable of establishing a nation such as ours, were believers in the Creator and a creation.
The authors of the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. . . ." July 2, 1776. (Emphasis added.)
"We, . . . the people of Massachusetts (establish this Constitution [of Massachusetts, 1780. . . . ] Part I, Article II:) It is the right, as well as the duty, of all men in society, and at stated seasons, to worship the Supreme Being, the Great Creator and Preserver of the Universe." p. 429.
In closing this list of quotations (which is just a small sample of those that could be given), we come to one by that great Christian man, George Washington, found in his little book of personal prayers: "WEDNESDAY MORNING . . . Almighty and eternal Lord God, the great Creator of heaven and earth, and the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; look down from heaven . . . in pity and compassion upon Thy servant, who humbly prostrate myself before thee, sensible of thy mercy and my own misery . . . take me unto thy protection this day, keep me in perfect peace, which I ask in the name and for the sake of Jesus. Amen." p. 659.
Can any honest and reasonable person now doubt that, not only have we progenitors whose faith in the Almighty Creator was very real, but that these same men had no compunction about acknowledging the same. Shall we do less?
*Dorothy E. Kreiss Robbins is the author of several books on the Christian History of the American Constitution, most recently You, Your Child, and the Constitution.
- All quotations (noted thus: 'p.'), unless otherwise noted, are from America's God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations, William J. Federer, Fame Publishers, Inc., 820 S. McArthur Blvd., Suite 150-220, Coppell, Texas, 75019-4214, 1994.
- Kay Brigham, Christopher Columbus, Libros Clie, Galvani, 113, 08224 TERRASSA (Barcelona) Spain, 1990, p. 78.
- Merle D'Aubigne, The History of the Reformation in Europe, quoted in Slater, Teaching and Learning America's Christian History, p. 172.
- Calvins' Institutes (Beveridge), vol. 1, Eerdmans, 1953, p. 153.
- William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, edited by Samuel Eliot Morison, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1952, p. XXVIII.
- Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, (1775), Philadelphia, J. P. Lippincott and Company, 1879, vol. 1, p. 39.
- Webster's 1828 Dictionary.