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Declaration of Independence created by regular people

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What were the “true” beliefs of the Founders? Were they “pure” religious beings (whether Christian or not)? I doubt it. To steal from Thomas Paine – “Hey, how about a little common sense.”

It is likely that the humans of 1776 were similar to those of 2019. Each person had diverse needs, talents and proclivities. Even the best of them likely had some personal desires (money, fame, sex). Each likely had a few hidden secrets and was “in the closet” on some issues (whether intimate, criminal or just embarrassing).

Each likely changed his mind several times a day. The human brain has an automatic inner voice that regularly inserts, “But, on the other hand … .” The brain is not only a data collector, it also is a “doubt machine” programmed to seek out competing models. Then come comparisons and predictions – and (unfortunately) limited perceptions, stereotypes, emotional biases and other inhibitors.

Along with honorable (socially-acceptable) thoughts and words about freedom and patriotism, perhaps their minds also pondered, “What’s in this for me?” and “How will this affect my portfolio?”

How could/did these lovable, scattered, fallible humans manage to garner enough political savvy to eventually insert the word “unanimous” into the final document? They likely scurried among passionate discussions, intimidation, bargaining, bribery, vote-trading – the same as today.

Religions often claim that humans would not act morally unless directed to do so by divine proclamation. Baloney. Morality has been evolving for thousands of years simply by the rubber meeting the road – that is, human intentions interfacing daily with (1) the environment and (2) other humans with differing intentions. Our founders no doubt borrowed concepts from prior thinkers and civilizations. Each society builds upon elements from the past. No divine revelation created the Declaration of Independence.

Religions (and politicians) have perfected the ability to “co-opt” labels. Examples: religions represent “good” and therefore other views are “bad.” My political party is “patriotic” and yours is not. My views represent “fairness” and yours stink.

No one truly knows the “real” thoughts of the Founders. The co-opted label, “Christian,” does not stick. Humans wrote the Declaration of Independence.

Gene Johnson


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