ROMNEY WORDSWORTH – Natural Law. Part 1. The term “Natural Law” refers to the Moral Law given by God, which is written on the heart of every human being. Most people are at least somewhat familiar with this phenomenon from their intuitive sense of right and wrong. This intuition was put in us by God and reflects His infinite justice.
The Moral Law is an argument for the existence of a theistic God. The argument is set forth thusly:
1. Every law has a lawgiver.
2. There is a Moral Law.
3. Therefore, there is a Moral Law Giver.
If the first and second premises are true, then the third must also be true. Is there, in fact, a Moral Law? Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that “Nature’s Law” is “self evident”.
All people are impressed with a fundamental sense of right and wrong. Everyone knows that love is superior to hate, courage to cowardice, and kindness to cruelty. C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity: “Think of a country where people were admired for running away in battle, or where a man felt proud of double-crossing all the people who had been kindest to him. You might just as well try to imagine a country where two and two made five.”
Or, you could just go to France.
Okay, I’m being sarcastic. We all know that if you actually went to Paris, France, you would not find the Musee de l’Armee filled with exhibits of military deserters and cowards. While the French sometimes seem to come close to C.S. Lewis’ imagined country, the reality is that even the French know right from wrong.
We know what the Moral Law is not by what we say, or even necessarily by what we do. We know it by our reactions. No one, for instance, wants to be murdered, stolen from, lied to, or otherwise be treated in a cruel or shabby manner. There has never been a human being who did not yearn to be free from bondage, once put under the yoke of slavery. Even if they themselves had enslaved others, they admit the wrongness of slavery by how they react if they themselves are enslaved. The thief admits the wrongness of thievery by his reaction to being robbed himself. This is replicated by observing the reactions of people to any of the acts we traditionally think of as crimes.
Even children know the Moral Law intuitively. Take away a toy or a candy that rightfully belongs to a child, and they will let you know, loudly and persistently, that they resent being wronged by having their things stolen away.
We also know the Moral Law by the excuses made by those who break it. For instance, although there have been various primitive tribes through the ages that have practiced cannibalism, every one of those cultures first engage in elaborate rituals all designed to dehumanize the victims and to expiate the guilt of the cannibal. But if there really wasn’t anything wrong with cannibalism, if there wasn’t a Moral Law that forbids it, people would not engage in such excuse making.
In a similar vein as the cannibals dehumanizing their victims, abortionists also go to great lengths to deny the humanity of the unborn children they kill. The abortionist tacitly admits that it is against the Moral Law to commit murder, so they make excuses that dehumanize (or deny the humanity of) the victims, by claiming that the unborn child is “just a clump of cells”, or “defective (Down’s Syndrome)” or “that the child wouldn’t have a life worth living”. Just to name a few. The excuses given by those supporting abortion are legion. If there really wasn’t anything wrong with abortion, the abortionist would not feel compelled to make such excuses.
Think about it. Does anyone make excuses for acting brave? For being heroic? For being kind? No, human beings only make excuses when they act cowardly, or with cruelty; when they mistreat other people and when they otherwise violate the Moral Law.
The Nazis went to great lengths to convince the German people that Jews were not really human, or were at best sub human, and that therefore the normal prohibition on murder did not apply. In an identical manner, the Palestinians today (and other radical Islamists) also deny the humanity of Jews, referring to them as pigs or monkeys. Once again, the Islamist admits that their anti-Semitic genocide violates the Moral Law by making the excuse, ludicrously, that Jews are not really people.
The slave owners of the Antebellum South excused enslaving Africans by also claiming that they were sub humans, or animals. Racists like Woodrow Wilson and Margaret Sanger later latched onto Darwinism to claim that blacks were “less evolved” and a “lower subhuman race”. Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, referred to blacks as “weeds to be removed from the human garden.” Woodrow Wilson, by the way, re-segregated the military and blocked blacks from taking jobs in the Federal bureaucracy.
Deniers of the Moral Law sometimes present moral dilemmas as proof that there is no moral law. The classic example of a moral dilemma is an overcrowded life boat where more people are trying to climb into the boat and get out of the water. If you let more people on the boat, the boat will capsize, and everyone will drown. Refuse to let more people on to the boat, and they will drown. This does not actually refute the Moral Law, it is more evidence it exists. The fact that there may be competing moral imperatives does not invalidate the imperatives. It just shows that in some cases you can find yourself in a situation with no good choices. This gives rise to the phrase “choosing the lesser of two evils”.
Another claim, made by Darwinists, is that the Moral Law does not actually exist and that virtues merely developed over eons of evolution because virtues, such as putting women and children onto the lifeboats first, enable the species as a whole to continue and thrive. The problem with this theory is the fact that alligators and lions eat their young. The Darwinist cannot have it both ways. If virtue really is just a product of evolution, then why are lions and alligators (which predate humans by millions of years) still around with their predilection for eating their young? Obviously the maltreatment of the young does not necessarily doom a species to extinction, and therefore a moral imperative to treat children well is also irrelevant to evolutionary success. By definition, if virtue is not relevant to evolutionary success, then it could not be a byproduct of natural selection.
So, there is a compelling argument to be made that the Moral Law, or Natural Law if you prefer, is real and exists. In my next column, I will discuss those aspects of the Natural Law that are referred to in the Declaration of Independence more fully, and how the Moral Law is the basis for claims of human rights.