Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Freedom Does Not Exist

Just 6 days prior to this writing our nation marked the 232nd anniversary of its declared independence from Great Britain. Separately, Malcolm Jones wrote an article delivered in the July 7-14 issue of Newsweek titled, "Who was More Important: Lincoln or Darwin?" Though the Independence Day festivities and Jones' article may seem unrelated, there is an interesting parallel and a resulting point of contemplation.

Jones’ Newsweek article was stale and felt purposeless (perhaps interesting only to a fledging English major), but what struck me was the juxtaposition of Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin. While Jones ponders the relative greatness of these two 19th century men he unwittingly exposes a fundamental problem that he fails to elucidate thereby leaving the casual reader unaware.

Jones quotes from Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg address, “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Later he quotes from Lincoln’s Second Inaugural speech, “Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said 'the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether'.” While Jones continues to be more impressed with Lincoln’s literary style the weight of Lincoln’s messages are untouched.

Jones meanders back and forth between Lincoln and Darwin throughout the article. Even with Darwin he is primarily enthralled by literary style over content; rarely contemplating the impact of Darwin’s message. Somewhat offhandedly Jones mentions the anti-religious element of Darwin’s work, but he never addresses the resultant implications of the absence of a creator. In the end, Jones fails to recognize the stark conflict between the ideologies of these two men almost intentionally avoiding the inevitable discord among his philosophically diverse readers.

Regarding our nation’s independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote in 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 unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Our nation's founding father's recognized that objectively true freedom could only be granted by our Creator. If we do not answer to a higher power, an absolute good, then there can be no objectivity in the determination of ethics. Instead, right and wrong would be, under the best of circumstances, a democratic process with only the subjectivity of the voting population accountable for the outcome.

In reality, democracy in a system of relative ethics does not happen. Governments establish laws in accord with the ethos of people in a position to make those laws. We can all point to autocratic foreign governments as an example of such undemocratic processes, but the system of law in the United States of America is also largely undemocratic. Although our lawmakers are elected by the people and (supposedly) serve the people, they often put into law legislation that is not representative of the will of the people. In fact, we are frequent witnesses to the passing of new laws that represent the will of a minority of the constituency.

More importantly, our judicial branch provides a particularly undemocratic element to the determination of ethics by virtue of legal precedence. When a determination of right or wrong is ruled on by the courts (in particular the Supreme Court) the outcome of such ruling is the based upon the opinions of the appointed justices who represent a minute portion of our total population. Barring a change in the law by an act of Congress, that ruling stands. If the justices have no objectively determined ethos then they must rely upon their own views and opinions; in effect, we would be ethically bound by the whims of 9 individuals.

We have come full circle. The parallel is the recognition by our founding fathers, and its reaffirmation by Lincoln, that true freedom can only be derived from an objective ethos – a power and authority far greater than our own. Lincoln’s Second Inaugural expounded upon this ultimate authority when he said, “’the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’” Truth and Righteousness are meaningless without objectivity; otherwise, we would be left to ask whose truth and whose righteousness? If we deny the existence of our creator we have only relative truth and are at the mercy of those in a position of power over us. Those born into the citizenship and residence of a country ruled by evil would be hopelessly and perilously denied the rights endowed by our creator.

Thus the point of contemplation: if we accept the Darwinian position that there is no God, then what of objective truth, good, and evil? Our legislative and judicial branches of government have been ardently rejecting religious doctrine citing the notion of “separation of church and state.” Yet without the Creator morality has only a subjective basis; after all, we would then accept that we came into existence not through divinity and righteousness but by death, destruction, and survival of the fittest. Based upon a new Darwinian version of origins we are made better (all the way from inanimate chemicals to human form) through death of the inferior and survival of the superior; we need only determine who is more evolved to decide who deserves to survive. Such is the basis of eugenics, Hitler’s genocide, and the genocide in Darfur…need I go on? Moreover, subjectivity would not only apply to matters of life and death, but to all moral concerns.

In conclusion, our government’s irreverence towards our Creator, in the form of constitutional interpretation, and the continuing trend of “intellectuals” towards neo-Darwinism is eroding the objective basis upon which ethics and truth can be defended. The human race is disowning its creator and with it Truth and endowed Freedom. Without our Creator freedom does not exist.




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