Theistic Foundation of our Natural Rights
On January 26th, candidates exchanged words over various issues from colonizing the moon to best practices for tax havens at the umpteenth GOP presidential debate. But Florida voter Suzanne Bass brought the discussion back to earth when she asked the candidates if their religious beliefs would impact their governing. While local Jacksonville news states that all the candidates agreed, a careful listening to each of their responses would lead one to conclude otherwise. The candidates provided nuanced answers that shrewdly catered to potential electoral bases. For Ron Paul’s Jeffersonian reawakening movement, his Christian beliefs have no relevance to his policy making. Both Romney and Gingrich espoused seeking God’s guidance as psychological assuage during difficult decisions. But Gingrich immediately began pandering — focusing his answer on (unsurprisingly) an attack on the media and liberals for waging a war on Christianity. Romney only hinted at and Santorum expounded on the broader context of one’s faith to civic understandings of American’s Judeo-Christian values (i.e., God-given rights). What persists is the continual hesitation of our public leaders to not stalwartly defend their theistic worldviews.
Christian candidates disown their faith when they deny that their religion will have an effect on their governing. Moreover, our Christian leaders devalue America’s liberal democracy (Kantian definition) when they do not elucidate how our natural rights require a natural moral law, which a Supreme Being has ascribed into man. This inaction is a political copout in response to the modern populous misconstruing the oft touted “separation of church and state.” Even more alarming, this inaction is a concession to the ever-more-popular perspectives of postmodernism and philosophical naturalism. What is at stake is not a simple shift in talking points of debate lingo. What is at stake is the very foundation of our republic, the role of morality in our society, and the purpose of our laws — why we hold it self-evident that all men are created equal.
The relativism of a non-theistic worldview provides a weak rationale for moral conduct and a poor source for man’s liberty. Philosophical naturalists strangely profess strong trust in universal moral standards. In spite of man’s inhumanity to man, naturalists cling to their book deals and Darwin as they attempt to qualify moral action as an evolutionary response for survival. But if a preserving, adaptive behavior guides natural selection, then this worldview would provide a moral truth where man cannot even trust his own senses — or his natural rights. A candidate that reveres natural rights as the bedrock of our republic must avow that a Supreme Being endowed man with these rights — our negative liberties. If nature is the source of those rights, then we are gods, who judge the deplorable state of nature and determine standards of normalcy through social contracts. But how can we separate the natural and enlightened? If humanity or the state dictates the “good” and endows us with our rights, then we are slaves to an arbitrary propriety and a potential tyranny of majority. “Man is but man, before God we are all equal.” Yet, when our leaders are timid to defend our theistic natural rights, our Supreme Law, and our moral fabric, then “now this God has died”, and the morality that remains is whatever the pen writes.