Monday, October 24, 2011

God and Liberty - Part II

The following is part of a five-part series discussing the inextricable link between God and Liberty in the context of challenges to religion on the fallacious notion that our Founding Fathers intended a secular nation.  The consequences of a Godless society are considered and the historical precedence for religion in U.S. politics is explored.

Part II compares government under religious and irreligious extremes to understand the importance of God’s influence in establishing just governance.
Part V shows the direction we must go as a nation to preserve liberty and provides recommendations for achieving it.

Part II – God and Government

This world’s propensity for evil threatens to infringe upon our rights.  As individuals we may not be capable of standing against evil factions; therefore, we enter into a social contract: In order to more fully protect our unalienable rights we agree to form governments to establish positive laws.  Some philosophers have argued in favor of monarchy while others, notably Locke, argued in favor of republicanism.  Given the influence of Locke’s ideas on the founding fathers it is no accident the U.S. Constitution begins with “We the People…” 

The concept of individuals forming governments is logically consistent with natural law.  If individuals are the rightful bearers of unalienable rights, then it stands to reason only an individual can enter into a social contract with a government.  Any tyrannical form of government whereby a ruling minority proclaims the right to establish a de facto government with or without the consent of the governed is a violation of natural law.  An unjustly formed government is prone to equally unjust punitive laws.  By contrast, a just government granted its power by the governed is infinitely more likely to spurn unjust positive laws.

Imagine a world in which every person lives according to their God-given purpose.  There would be no violence, no injustice, and certainly no need for laws; much less the penal system that comes with them.  However, God gave us liberty through free will – the will to choose God’s purpose for our lives or our own.  In principle, it is the choice of God or not God.  In the beginning there was only God’s purpose and it was “very good.”  It wasn’t the very good you associate with a well flavored, over-priced coffee drink, it was the exact definition of very good – good in the sense of something completely without evil. 

As soon as Adam and Eve used their liberty to chose evil they no longer were fulfilling the totality of God’s purpose.  Being their Creator, God was well within his right to obliterate his creation, but he had mercy and allowed them to remain, albeit with the castigation of toiling in life, culminating in eventual death.  Thus was established the basis of punishment and proper law.

What is just and unjust, good and evil?  Absent any definition we are left to develop our own criteria.  Whose criteria are correct and how do we know?  The notion that evil is anything that harms another is overly simplistic as there are numerous examples that blur the line.  Moreover, what is harm – is harm limited to physical harm, or can it include psychological harm?  Is harm relative?  In a God-created universe the answer is straight forward: God is good.  Thus, whatever is not God is, by definition, evil.  It follows that living outside of God’s purpose is therefore evil, and yet how can we possibly know God’s purpose for someone else’s life?

Thankfully, the ultimate judgment resides with God, not us.  However, there are still instances within the confines of our limited human existence wherein we must take immediate action to cease further usurpation of our rights.  For this purpose we have the Ten Commandments and the Levitican laws – much of which has been relied upon as an objective basis for the practice of law within our nation, serving as a reference for many Supreme Court justices who recognize their inability to affect judgment without objectivity.

Perhaps this sounds like a lot of religious garbage to you?  Have you considered the alternative?
I previously established that there can be no unalienable right to life, liberty, or property within an irreligious existence.  This has far reaching logical consequences.  If there are no unalienable rights, then for what purpose do we enter social contracts with government?  A common response is that we function better as a society working together.  Often this is followed by references to behaviors within groups of wild animals such as packs of wolves who will hunt together.  Such observations are compelling…to an extent.  Certainly, pack behavior fits nicely into the survival narrative – the sole source of motivation in an atheist’s universe.  However, it reaches a practical limit when the pack becomes too large.  The weaker wolves will not have food to eat and will die off.  By extension, wouldn’t this philosophy advocate the death of people who are incapable of working, or who are too poor to subsist on their own?  If true, then governments would form only to the extent that survival and well-being is guaranteed for its citizens; specifically, those deemed too weak or incapable would die and the size of the governed be inherently limited.  There is no justification for compassion for the poor or disabled under such rationale.

Sadly, this type of thinking isn’t too far removed from reality.  Abortion in the United States was largely pushed to the forefront by the Eugenics movement in the early part of the 20th century.  Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, was a eugenics supporter and urged the use of abortion, contraception, and sterilization of poor women (and black women, whom she considered genetically inferior) to “cleanse” the gene pool.  In a universe derived from meaninglessness it is not difficult to justify such barbary because there is no right to life; thus, a baby conceived into a poor, homeless, unloving, or accidental reality can have no purpose.  What few realize, or are willing to admit, is they are likewise purposeless under this regime.  Any arbitrary criteria for worth can be envisaged and applied because there is no other basis with which to refute it.  Take for instance the Nazi Holocaust.

Nazi’s tried at Nuremberg after World War II referenced American eugenics as a source of inspiration and validation for their genocide.  The Nazi’s used identical arguments to claim non-Aryans were genetically inferior and not worthy of life.  They took this failed, atheistic worldview to its logical end by attempting to create a world government for the most genetically qualified people.  Yet in a meaningless universe, this is not evil – in fact, there can be no objective good or evil in an existence devoid of purpose.  Within this worldview, the Nazi’s might as well be correct because there is no basis to prove otherwise. 

It is little wonder that in every example of totalitarian governments, the leaders have despised religion.  Under the truth found in God we know everyone is meaningful and our rights are unalienable – these are condemning facts to a ruler bent on domination.  Religion is banned in such nations because the subservience of the populous depends upon them being unaware of their meaning.  Having such knowledge could compel them to rise against the unjustness much in the way the American colonists rose up against Great Britain.

I highly doubt those who file suit against every minute religious “infiltration” of our government would consciously chose a form of government derived from the atheist’s worldview.  However, their unchecked litany of litigation eventually results in a tyrannical government devoid of God-given purpose and liberty.  Here again we see the irony of proclaiming fighting for “separation of church and state” done to protect liberty because its inevitable end is a stark loss of liberty.

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