“We hold these truths to be self-evident …”  What the heck does that mean?  If we’re going to find out what these principles are, we ought to understand the very first words, right?  

There are a couple things to understand here.  First, this statement says that there are “truths.”  In other words, things that are true.  Always.  Truth is not “relative.”  Some things are relative, of course, but not these things.  One of the things that bugs me about teaching confirmation to freshmen in high school is the occasional statement that “well, it’s true for them,” when talking about God.  How can it be “true for them” if it’s not true?   (I could understand a statement that “well, they believe it to be true and I respect them and their history.”)   Some of these kids believe they live in a very different metaphysical universe than did the Founders of the United States, one where truths can morph depending on the person believing them.  That is not the universe of conservatism. 

Another thing to understand is that “truths” can be evident from the way the world works, or “self-evident.”  In other words, through experience and reason we can come to understand things about human nature, nature, Man’s place in nature, and how people best live together (and other stuff but that’s what the Declaration is about).  We will continue this in coming episodes.  Try to stay calm.

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