Can Freedom and Law coexist without God?
An understanding of the relationship between freedom and law is fundamental to any discourse about the existence of God.
The essence of freedom is that no one person, group of people, or institution, has any natural authority over any other person or group of people. That is self-evident; to assert otherwise is to claim that some are masters, and others slaves.
However, if no one human being can be subverted to the authority of another human being, how can we have such a concept as law? It is fatuous to resort to arguments about the ‘will of the majority’, or ‘fundamental human rights’, or the ‘social contract’ as an ‘authority for government’; they are simply devious mechanisms by which some seek to impose their authority on others.
That leads to the inescapable premise that freedom cannot recognize as law the commands and doctrines of other human beings.
Yet, we do recognize the concept of law as operating to define the limits of freedom. We recognize that there are right and wrong actions.
That leads to the second inescapable premise – that freedom and law can only coexist under the auspices of a Supreme Law. Freedom can only recognize as law that which is universal, and applies equally to each and every human being alike, in the same way that the laws of physics apply to everyone everywhere, without distinction or favour. And like the laws of physics, such a law cannot emanate from another human being.
But does such a supreme law presuppose a supreme lawmaker?
Although physicists would argue that a supreme law does not require a supreme lawmaker, they devote a great deal of time and effort seeking a ‘theory of everything’, or a ‘final theory’. That is really a search for a supreme lawmaker – a fundamental set of principles, or perhaps even a single principle, from which all other laws flow. The question is whether such a supreme lawmaker could simply be an impersonal mathematical construct, or whether it is a conscious Being.
We cannot discover which it is by examining the minutiae of the building blocks of the universe; we need to consider what was built, and why.
If we want to know the intended purpose of a factory, we need to see what final product is produced. So far as we presently know, the final product of the cosmic factory that is the universe is a human organism endowed with a capacity for moral judgment. In that sense, human beings are a conscious manifestation of the fundamental laws of physics, and they give expression to their capacity for moral judgment in the search for justice.
Legal codes going back to Hammurabi, Moses and Asoka, testify to that.
The common underlying principles of such codes, and the recognition in each that those principles emanate from a supra-human authority, tell us that the authors ‘saw’ with stark clarity that freedom and law can only coexist under the auspices of a supreme lawmaker.
Modern systems of government and justice also reveal a recognition that a supreme law requires a supreme lawmaker. The grand structures housing our executive, legislative and judicial ‘authorities’, and their procedural ‘rituals’, are designed to create the impression of a supra-human authority as the foundation of supra-human systems of law and justice. It’s an illusion, of course, and mostly corrupted by those who believe themselves to be ‘gods’.
Yet, even such systems, corrupted as they may be, reflect a basic human condition that refuses to recognize the commands and doctrines of other human beings as legitimate authority to limit freedom. The human condition demands a supreme lawmaker as the only legitimate authority to define and limit human freedom.
Modern neuroscience can now tell us why that is. It is a consequence of a neurological moral network within the human brain. And that network is a manifestation and image of the moral dimension of the fundamental laws of physics.
But the neurological moral network is in fierce competition with primitive human instincts. The instincts for survival, security and reproduction, instincts that are fired by the prospect of pleasure and the fear of pain and death, seek protection and sanctuary in the herd. Herd instinct has compelled us to surrender our freedom to an ever more oppressive global corporate tyranny under which we are nothing more than economic units in service to the financial interests of a select few. Our productivity has become the only measure of our worth.
The challenge now facing the human race, as it has been throughout the ages, is to free ourselves from bondage to our primitive instincts, and exert ourselves to activate the neurological moral network that lives within us all. Only such a supreme effort can bring about a new dawn of civilization in which every human being is free from the commands and doctrines of other human beings, yet living under a system of universally recognized principles. Only such a reconciliation of freedom and law can ensure respect for the worth and dignity of each and every human being.
The neurological moral network tells us that such a reconciliation between freedom and law requires a supreme lawmaker as the author of a supreme law; it requires God. Anything less makes some masters, and others slaves. And that is tyranny.
This article is based on the theme of Joseph BH McMillan’s latest book, A ‘Final Theory’ of God.
Copyright © Joseph BH McMillan 2016 All Rights Reserved