In the previous lesson, we reviewed personal agency and briefly touched on the sense of accountability that we feel to God and one another for the choices we make. The accountability that we feel reflects our deeply ingrained sense of right and wrong.
Not only is there a general agreement on the existence of a “right” and “wrong,” but there is remarkable consistency across the human race in what we consider to be fundamentally good and fundamentally evil. But where does our sense of right and wrong come from?
These principles of right and wrong that are basic, widespread beliefs have been referred to as Natural Law, or the laws of Nature.
The Founders used the writings of Marcus Tullius Cicero, William Blackstone, John Locke, and other great thinkers to understand Natural Law. Natural Law can be described as the Creator’s order of things.
William Blackstone taught that Natural Law can be divided into two genres of law:
- Laws governing the course elements (physics & chemistry)
- Laws governing intelligent beings (social laws)
The first set of laws describe how the universe will work and how elements will interact with one another. The second set of laws describe how human beings should treat one another and the world in which we live.
These natural standards of right and wrong are designed to preserve, perpetuate, and perfect human life.
Cicero believed that as we appear to have reason in common with the gods, we must also believe that we have Law in common with the gods.
Principle #9: To protect man’s rights, God has revealed certain principles of divine law. (The 5,000 Year Leap)
Since our capacity to reason is imperfect and our judgment is sometimes clouded, our estimation of what is truly Natural Law may fall short of what God’s laws truly entail. William Blackstone stated that in these instances, our philosophical reason should be checked against and corrected by the revealed law in scripture.
Principle #1: The only reliable basis for sound government and just human relations is Natural Law. (The 5,000 Year Leap)
As God has a perfect understanding of human nature, God’s law is perfectly calculated to secure our lasting happiness. This perfect law must be the foundation of human society.
Principle #4: Without religion the government of a free people cannot be maintained. (The 5,000 Year Leap)
Without a firm commitment to Natural Law, societies spiral into the extremes of chaos and war. A fundamental purpose of religion is to perpetuate an understanding of God’s law so it may be established as the basis of stable, free government.
The phrase Natural Law is often used to describe our best, and sometimes imperfect, understanding of God’s perfect law. However, we must never forget the source of Natural Law or we may fail to recognize the true source of our natural rights.
- The only reliable basis for sound government and just human relations is Natural Law.
- Natural Law is God’s Law.
- Our understanding of natural law must be informed and corrected by revealed law in scripture.
- Religion promotes scripture which enables society to organize with stability upon true and correct principles.
- The 5,000 Year Leap – Principle 1: “The Genius of Natural Law”
- The 5,000 Year Leap – Principle 4: “The Role of Religion”
- The 5,000 Year Leap – Principle 9: “The Role of Revealed Law”