THE NATURE AND ROLE OF LAW
The intelligencia, who pride themselves on their objectivity, in reality, are inconsistent in at least two ways: First, they argue that truth is relative while adhering to a strict system of truth. They don’t really believe that truth is relative, no one does. Under the guise of arguing that truth is relative they insist on redefining truth. For example, they suggest that biblical commands dealing with such things as sexual purity are obsolete cultural mores no longer applicable to an enlightened society – while at the same time insisting that their standards dealing with such things as politically correct speech are absolute. They insist on tolerance dealing with issues such as homosexual preferences, divorce, and pre-marital sex, while practicing intolerance dealing with issues such as care of the environment, abortion, and women’s rights.
Second, they build their scientific method on the assumption that scientific law is inviolate, even though such a position can only be true if there exists a sovereign, personal, transcendent God who had revealed Himself in the Judeo-Christian Faith – while at the same time insisting that the revelation of God in moral matters cannot be verified using the scientific method, and are therefore non-binding.
Just as science cannot exist without the assumption that scientific laws are absolute, so too society cannot exist without assuming that there are absolute moral laws. The Judeo-Christian culture gave birth to the scientific method because it understood that the laws of God are inviolable. You do not need the gift of prophecy to predict that the culture that repudiates the assumptions of Scripture will eventually repudiate the scientific method. Skepticism breeds skepticism. Just as Einstein’s theory of relativity was applied to the moral realm, and Darwin’s theory of evolution contributed to the conclusion that man bears the image of an animal rather than the image of God, so too moral relativism begins to erode confidence in science.
Alan Bloom makes this point in his book Closing of the American Mind. He notes that the scientific method assumes the existence of absolutes. A relativistic society will destroy confidence in science, a reality that he suggests is already making its way through the universities in the United States. This results in the closing of the American mind. I could find nothing in the book suggesting that Dr. Bloom believed in absolutes; he simply concluded that they have to be assumed in order to continue growing and developing.
SOME LAWS ARE COUNTER-INTUITIVE
In both the scientific and moral realm some laws are counter-intuitive. By this I mean that they do not appear reasonable to the human mind. For example, we are taught that space bends. The speed of light is constant in reference to an individual even when that individual is traveling at half the speed of light. So let’s say one person travels in a space ship at half the speed of light while his twin sibling remains on earth. Their relative ages would differ once the spacecraft returned to earth.
The student of Scripture discovers that the same is true in the moral realm. For example, Paul says in Romans 7:7: “I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” The conscience does not affirm that coveting is sin. For this reason, the church discusses the issue only infrequently, if at all. We call coveting, “getting ahead,” “having drive and ambition,” “pursuing the American dream.”
Again, you would think that you would be able to predict the consequences of sin. A cursory reading of the Old Testament reveals that this is an impossibility. In Numbers 15:32ff. a man is stoned for gathering sticks on the Sabbath. In II Samuel 11 David commits murder and adultery. David’s son dies for the crime, but David is allowed to live, even though both acts were capital offences.
Again, Paul says in I Cor 6:18: “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.” Reason would suggest that the misuse of drugs and alcohol are more harmful to the body than sexual sins. Paul doesn’t qualify his assertion with the caveat, “You may acquire some form of venereal disease when you are promiscuous.” Most would argue that there are many sins more detrimental to the body than fornication.
The more deeply we delve into science, the more counter-intuitive things we discover. The same is true as we study Scripture.
THE IMMUTABILITY OF LAW
The immutability of scientific law teaches the immutability of moral law. If, by definition, law is immutable, and there is such a thing as scientific law, then why wouldn’t there also be such a thing as moral law?
This bifurcation between moral and scientific law is illogical and inconsistent. It satisfies man’s pragmatic urge to be secure and autonomous; secure in the laws of science and autonomous in his own personal behavior.
The universe is accountable to God; His laws are unchangeable. We willed to believe this in science and willed to believe the opposite in regard to morals. As noted, the rationale for this was: Man can, through experimentation, discover the laws of science. He cannot discover such laws in the moral realm.
A problem presents itself with such an approach. Experimentation can only yield probability, not certainty. Doubt will fill the astronaut who is told, “The laws governing space travel, in reality are not laws; they are calculated guesses. We have never before traveled into space and we have no idea what to expect. Once you are launched there is an excellent chance we will never see you again.” Everything a person does involves risk, but scientific law is the difference between acceptable risk and stupidity.
If there is no God, then the forces of nature are not predictable. Everything is left to chance. For example, I cannot know that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow. All I can offer is the degree of probability. It has risen in the east and set in the west every day I have observed it, but this does not mean that it will rise in the east tomorrow.
If scientific law does not exist and degrees of probability are all we have, then we should assume that the disruptions of “scientific law” are common. Those who believe in scientific law call such disruptions “miracles.” If all is relative, then what we call miracles should be commonplace. People should be able to readily walk on water; the parting of the Red Sea in Exodus a frequent occurrence, and people regularly raising themselves from the dead.
Actually, we should be skeptical and amazed when events become consistent. Anything that so much as resembles “law” would be held in suspect. All know that the opposite is true. The Bible is belittled precisely because it claims the existence of events not conforming to scientific law. Belief in the laws of science is to acknowledge Nature’s God. We are rendered without excuse.
People judge. People are incapable of not judging. No one can live in a community without saying to himself or others, “That is wrong, he should not have done it.” “That was mean and unnecessary.” Etc. Few people in life are as judgmental as the liberal, broadminded people that comprise academia. They forget that judging assumes the existence of moral absolutes.
When I judge your behavior I assume that there exists a standard of right and wrong. Not only do I believe that my standard is right for me, I insist that it is right for you as well. A set of moral absolutes stands over both of us, to which we are both amenable. There may or may not be a law covering the behavior legislated by society. It makes no difference. For the most part, people judge one another without reference to the law of the land, that is, they don’t say, “He was wrong because he broke the law.” Rather, “He was wrong because he violated my sense of right and wrong.”
Law deals with what a society deems right and wrong, good and evil. For example, we do not impose capital punishment because of irrelevancies. People are not executed because when hungry they steal a loaf of bread. There must be a sense of proportion; the penalty must match the crime. We deem crimes to be capital offenses when there exists a violation of what society believes true, necessary, and inviolable.
To state it another way, law is the expression and imposition of how society defines absolute moral truths.
For this reason, idolatry is better than skepticism when it comes to governing a nation. Religion, by its nature, is a restraining force in society. The gods watch the affairs of man and impose punishment for recalcitrant behavior.
Most people believe that they can beat the temporal system. For this reason people drive faster than the speed limit. Some are less than forthright when paying taxes. People lie, cheat, and steal, all within the parameters of what they deem to be acceptable risk. I am convinced that all that read this believe they can “beat the system.” If they did not, they would not sin.
So too, all agree that the eternal system, if it exists, cannot be beaten. Therefore, he who hates or ignores religion has no restraint other than his fellow man. He believes truth to be relative. Why shouldn’t he seek his own good at the expense of others? Montesquieu once said, “He who has no religion at all is like a terrible animal who perceives his liberty only when he tears in pieces and when he devours.”
Yours for the cause of Truth,