One of the beautiful traits of our municipal jurisprudence is, that Christianity is a part of the common law, from which it seeks its sanction of its rights and by which it endeavors to regulate its doctrine.
“An atheist is a person who questions every kind of authority, and this is the thing that is important. Because, if we can, without blinking an eye, question the ultimate authority, God, who must be obeyed; then we can question the authority of the state, we can question the authority of a university structure, we can question the authority of our employer, we can question anything.”
–Madalyn Murray O’Hair (quote from here)
“A being, independent of any other, has no rule to pursue, but such as he prescribes to himself…”
— Sir William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England
“Those are not at all to be tolerated who deny the being of God. Promises, covenants, and oaths, which are the bonds of human society, can have no hold upon an atheist. The taking away of God, though but even in thought, dissolves all.”
“For in all states of created beings capable of laws, where there is no law, there is no freedom; for liberty is to be free from restraint and violence from others; which cannot be where there is no law: but freedom is not, as we are told, a liberty for every man to do what he lists: (for who could be free, when every other man’s humor might domineer over him?)”
–1. John Locke, A Letter Concerning Toleration, 2. John Locke, Second Treatise of Government
“For as God, when he created matter, and endued it with a principle of mobility, established certain rules for the perpetual direction of that motion; so, when he created man, and endued him with freewill to conduct himself in all parts of life, he laid down certain immutable laws of human nature, whereby that freewill is in some degree regulated and restrained, and gave him also the faculty of reason to discover the purport of those laws.”
–Sir William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England
The law of human nature is not, in all points, a limitation of human freedom but a direction of a freewill agent toward his proper interest. That law does not deserve the description of confinement which prevents us from falling off of cliffs and getting stuck in ditches. It’s aim is to preserve and broaden our freedom, not only to restrain.
If no God exists, then no law of human nature exists. If no law of human nature exists, then all government of human society is arbitrary and has no objective foundation or obligation upon men.
Moreover, there is no foundation for the establishment of government by free discourse in light of atheism because there is no objective and equal value of human persons to respect concerning each other’s jurisdiction or dominion over one another. Others need not respect the property (life, liberty, and estate) of their neighbors because no one has laid equality upon them or an obligation to respect.
The only reason, outside of the law of human nature, that can be maintained concerning respect of property, is only in the pursuit of certain social ends: i.e. If it is the case that men are pleased to preserve their property, then they need only confine their actions in such a manner as to meet those ends. But, let it be clear, if there is no superior being to lay an obligation upon them, then the choice to confine one’s action toward the preservation of property is arbitrary, and only holds so much as men are pleased to do so.
Also on atheism, outside of society, freedom is to do what one lists. There is no security within which one may conduct one’s affairs without constant threat of harm, and that harm cannot be considered illegitimate. There is no law the victim may appeal to, neither has he right to punish the offender, although, he may punish the offender if it so pleases him.
Furthermore, since rules of society are arbitrary, in a democratic society where the social end is peace with one another, those who think themselves outside this arbitrary law can rightly consider it tyranny. Tyranny is the exercise of power beyond right, and right cannot be defined by arbitrary decision if a person is not pleased to accept that arbitrary decision.
This is why John Locke states that promises and oaths, which are the bonds of human society, cannot hold for an atheist. He has no law but such as he prescribes to himself and it holds as long as it pleases him to hold it.
The objection may arise, “But there are, indeed moral atheists. Are you saying that atheist are inherently immoral?” No. Because there is a law of human nature and they can apprehend it as much as the religious man can. They can be just as moral or even more so than the Christian because the same law holds for both and both understand it. Not only does the law of nature govern them, but the laws of the society they are in confine their actions as well. However, since the atheist has rejected God, the only foundation for moral obligation; the option is left open to him to reject the law of society and the bonds of nature’s law, even in the smallest of measures, because his true foundation is whatever pleases him.
Men who value liberty but believe themselves to be self-sufficient in matters of truth and existence and who have no need for authority apart from themselves, also have no compulsion to follow laws, except laws conforming to their own reasoning or inclination. Contrariwise, men who value liberty but believe themselves to be in a state of dependence on a Superior Being for matters of truth and existence, eventually accept the will of this Being on whom they depend to be the foundation for self-restraint and morality. The extent to which man believes himself to be dependent affects the degree of his adherence to the will of his Maker.
This superior Being; having brought matter into existence and provided it with rules for motion, has also, in bestowing upon man a freewill, given a law of nature whereby man’s actions may be conducted in accordance with his greatest happiness. Man’s reason, although corrupt, has the ability to discover this law of nature manifested by the moral standards men have held each other accountable to from the beginning of time until now. Because of man’s corrupted reasoning, moral standards look different throughout history, but never amount to a total difference. A greater understanding of the natural law provides better individual self-regulation, which in turn, keeps liberty free from corruption.
This doctrine applies to all men at all times and in all places, regardless of belief, religion, or disposition. No legitimate rule in existence can oppose this law of nature without corrupting man’s happiness, or providing a false happiness. Therefore, pure liberty cannot exist without the self-governance of man founded upon the will of his maker.
George Washington said in his farewell address in 1796, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens.”
You joyfully apply Old Testament laws to today’s society to show how ridiculous they are.
“If you worship other gods…then you get stoned to death.”
Does this apply to you? Do you fear stoning? No. These are obsiously not laws that apply to all times and all cultures. You have the same choice as any other man. God created man, gave him the ability to choose, and set a choice before him. “Of every tree in the garden you can freely eat, but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it, for in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die.” Adam chose and we still choose today. The Christian should allow the same choice for every man, but he should still cling to the truth he knows and expel and refute the lies around him. If the truth purges, that’s great. But force shoudn’t be used unless there is a threat of imminent harm to freedom.
I know why you bring up stoning and other harsh laws in the Old Testament, and leave out the rest of the Bible in your assessment of God. That harsh part of God that demands perfection is hard to reckon with and is easy to reject as unreasonable. You know, if that’s all there was, no man could have hope. I urge you, don’t ignore the merciful and gracious side of God either. He has provided a way to bring us to himself without requiring us to follow a list of do’s and dont’s. Jesus is that way. Without him, our imperfection could never be reconciled with his perfection.
On November 4th, 2008, seven million Californians vote to define marriage as only between a man and a woman. On August 4th, 2010, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California struck down the decision declaring it unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause and the right to due process.
The moral issue of homosexuality need not be addressed here. What will be addressed is the Court’s continual use of equal protection to take basic cultural decisions out of the hands of the people. The Court is a legal institution, but it undertakes to decide hot button issues of culture and politics that are, strictly speaking, none of its business. The Supreme Court, aided by the lower federal courts and many state courts, has usurped the powers of the people and its elected representatives. Our democratic system gives the people the power, if they are persuaded that the policies of the past should not be the policies of the present, to change the laws as they see fit. The system is destroyed if the policies of each age is taken out of the democratic process and written into the constitution. It’s ironic that the Court criticizes the ways of our ancestors when at least our ancestors left us free to change. The same cannot be said of this Court-dictatorship which has chosen to inscribe into law, one by one, the current preferences of society and in some cases the counter-majority preferences. The court has become a supreme law maker beyond the reach of the ballot box.
In conclusion, the decision by one Judge Walker to usurp the power of the California voters of more than seven million and overstep his bounds was wrong. One against seven million. Every American, gay or not, should be alarmed at those numbers, strip the courts of their cultural and political influences, and put the issue to a vote. Whatever the decision, at least we would have the power to change down the road.
There are extremes for the religious and non-religious man which can never be reached. For the religious man it is complete adherence to the goodness and laws of God. He will always fall short. For the non-religious man it is individual liberty. He will always find himself constrained by what, to each individual, constitutes harm. Other people have quite different ideas about what part of your specific behavior concerns them or harms them. On one hand, society could define harm like Anthony Comstock and squelch even the most private immorality perceived to take place. The moral police would always be looking over your shoulders. On the other hand, if only physical or material injury counts as harm there could be no law against prostitution, public drunkenness, obscenity, indecent exposure, and so on. If expanding the sphere of liberty was always a “net gain”, so to speak, it would lead to the elimination of all law and restraints imposed by social disapproval, which is an unrealistic goal of individual liberty.
Now, what constitutes harm to this particular government, in this case, does not constitute harm to the commenters on this post. I’m inclined to agree with them. However, without an absolute, or at the very least, a unending universal standard by which to judge these actions as immoral, how can you impose your concept of harm on another person’s or government’s concept of harm. There is no reason why their opinions on that subject are not as valid as, or entitled to more weight than yours. Your assessment of their actions are still based on your own notions and opinions of right and wrong. This is where you draw the line. OK. Great. They draw the line at another place. If there is no absolute standard, then your definition of harm is just as valid as their definition of harm. What’s the difference if it’s all based on every individual’s or society’s line? By the way, making an unending universal standard leads to Communism, and that’s never been a successful government. Communism hinders individual liberty as well. The only real answer is one that exists outside of humanity. We need a mediator who knows what’s best of each of us. If he doesn’t exist, your proclamation of injustice can always be hindered by another man’s equally valid idea of justice.