hat is Natural Law? This is a question which is heard from people of many different backgrounds, whether they are religious or secular, or supporters or
opponents of Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) legislation. Many wonder whether or not this is an arcane concept, and whether it can rightly have any role in
public policymaking, since it has religious belief at its root.
Natural Law: the Reason for the American Revolution?
The present phenomenon of uncertainty with the doctrine of Natural Law would
most probably be disturbing and perplexing to our founding fathers, who regarded it to be the justification of the American Revolution. The proof of this point is
found in the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence: "When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary....to dissolve the Political Bands
which have connected them with another, and to assume.....the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them....., they
should declare the causes which impel them to separation."
Many of the incidental provocations which led to the separation are well know:
taxation without consent, the quartering of troops among the people, failure to permit trials by jury, and so on. But the founders made it clear that it was
specifically the "Laws of Nature and of Nature's God" which "entitled" them to different treatment. They insisted that these natural laws of the Creator gave them
the right to demand not to be subject to the excessive strictures of the colonial government.
Natural Law Protects Human Rights
The signers of the declaration were clear in their position that the existing
government was not a sound one, because it violated principles of good government and the rights of man which they considered to be rooted in the "Laws
of Nature and of Nature's God". They therefore certainly implied that respect for these Laws of Nature was a guarantor of the basic human rights of mankind. To
reject the notion of these Laws of Nature, then, was, in the publicly manifested opinion of the signers, to attack the foundation of human rights and to reject their reason for the American revolution.
The phrase "Laws of Nature" implies that nature is systematically ordered in accordance with a set scheme, or "blueprint" of operation. The addition of the
phrase "and of Nature's God" makes it clear that that same scheme is of God, and therefore is in conformity with the Creator's design. The entire phrase captures the
essence of Natural Law, and is premised on the understanding that the existence of nature results from the action of a Creator, and not from some random, accidental event.
A short synopsis can be easily made:
Natural Law is the will of the Creator as implied in the way that He has arranged creation.
Conversely, we can therefore conclude that any action which is opposed to the
arrangement of the natural order, is therefore also opposed to the will of the Creator, and therefore the Natural Law. The understanding that the Creator's
creation is good, and that the Creator is good, leads us to conclude that opposing the will of the Creator, including His Natural Law, is not good.
Obviously, this doctrine is not understandable without belief in a Creator. George Washington makes the point eloquently: "religion is as necessary to reason, as
reason is to religion........a reasoning being would lose his reason, in attempting to account for the great phenomenon of nature, had he not a Supreme Being to refer to."
Does this Lead to a State-Sponsored Church?
Many will most probably be uneasy at this point in the argument when contemplating the idea of applying this reasoning to public policy. However, it is
clear from history and the religious beliefs of many of the founders, that this line of reasoning can be arrived at without the influence of Christianity, Judaism, or any other "revealed" religion.
We should keep in mind that many or all of the founding fathers were deists, and did not subscribe to organized religion (although some may have occasionally
attended church services). Components of the deist creed are a belief in God, freedom, and immortality. Some of the founders, like Jefferson, went so far as to
mock belief in the Trinity and other aspects of major organized religions. Many deists, including some of the founders, did not even accept the divinity of Jesus
Christ. They tended to believe in a religion which was uninfluenced by traditional creeds, and which they believed was rooted in human reason alone, otherwise known as natural reason.
Terms were frequently used which reflected the natural character of their deist faith, such as "the Grand Architect," "the Governor of the Universe," "the Supreme
Dispenser of all Good," and "the Great Ruler of Events". It is no surprise that the preamble of the Massachusetts Constitution uses similar terms like "great
Legislator", and that part one, article II states that " [i]t is the right as well as the duty of all men in society, publicly....to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe".
If the founders were correct to believe that one can know of the existence of God without the influence of organized religions, then there is no credibility to the claim
that applying ones belief in a Creator to public policy decisions violates a desired separation of church and state.
The Harvard educated John Adams, who played a prominent role in the crafting of
the Massachusetts Constitution, seemed to be indifferent to organized religion. He was quoted as saying, "I do not....attach much importance to creeds because I believe he cannot be wrong whose life is right".
It therefore seems unlikely that he considered article II to be a violation of church-state separation. Article II, with
it's statement declaring it a "duty of all men in society....to worship the Supreme Being", was simply an expression of something that was believed to be understandable by human reason alone.
There can be little doubt that Adams, and most of his peers, were able to see the distinction between state sponsorship of a church and merely applying religious
belief, developed through natural or human reason, to government policymaking. It is easily evident that the two are not equivalent.
Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
Can we be as certain as the founders that belief in a Creator has a basis in fact, and therefore confident that it is just to apply this belief to government policymaking?
In answering this question, it seems reasonable to use the same standard of proof that is used in U.S. criminal courts - "proof beyond a reasonable doubt". This
phrase means that the evidence must be so convincing that there is no reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime.
Is there a reasonable doubt of the existence of a Creator, when one considers the
manifold evidence of His existence in nature? The 18th century deists clearly believed that there was not, even though they were not able to know what we are able to know today, thanks to modern science.
According to the Smithsonian Institution, there are 4,629 species of mammals, and about 1.5 million species of insects in the world. It is estimated that there are
230,000 to 270,000 species of flowering plants on earth. What is the percent probability that the creation of these creatures and plants came to occur
accidentally, in a random and independent manner? Mathematically, it is 100 / ( 4,629 + 1,500,000 + 270,000 ) = .000056 %, or 1 in 560 billion!
However, this cursory examination does not begin to take into account the complexity of these organisms. For example, a human body contains about 10
trillion cells, with 23 chromosomes in each cell, and with each cell having hundreds of genes that determine traits such as the color of the eyes and hair. Although the
creation of these10 trillion cells are probably not independent events, nevertheless it is easy to see that the number calculated above would be much lower if one
could find a mathematical model to account for these facts. And we have not even mentioned the incredible attribute of human intelligence!
We are essentially saying that there is less than a .000056 % , or in other words, less than a 1 in 500 billion chance that all animal and plant life was created in an
accidental-like fashion, without the action of an intelligent, directive, and creative force, which we commonly call a Creator.
The question is, should positions or claims which are supported with statistical
evidence of this magnitude be accepted as fact in the court of public opinion, or in the general court of the Massachusetts legislature? Does this not meet the strict
standard of proof that government traditionally uses in criminal courts of proof "beyond a reasonable doubt"?
Not only does it meet this standard, but in order to deny the existence of a Creator
when one understands the evidence in nature that supports this conclusion, one would have to risk doing damage to one's ability to reason. It is unreasonable,
once the evidence is understood, to deny the existence of a Creator, and therefore this argument definitely suffices for "proof beyond a reasonable doubt".
Therefore, to legislate that it is "the duty of all men....to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator", is reasonable. By extension, it is also reasonable that we
accept all the logical conclusions that follow from belief in the Creator, of which Natural Law is one.
Natural Law is a doctrine that is based on human reason and the evidence found in
nature. It presupposes belief in the Creator, which is unreasonable to oppose or doubt, once one comprehends the supporting evidence. According to the words
of our nation's founders, Natural Law is the philosophical starting point for the American revolution. The founder's confidence in this doctrine was so strong, that
they memorialized in writing, for all posterity, that it was the principle justification for initiating the action that caused the United States to become an independent nation.
History has shown what has become of nations whose governments have denied, either implicitly or explicitly, the Creator. Depravity of many forms is often the
result. The brutality suffered by millions who have died in camps, gulags, or through deliberate starvation in the Soviet Union, NAZI Germany, Communist China and Korea testify to this.
It is therefore critical that Americans take stock of their history, and once again turn to basic principles of good government which were once widely accepted by past
generations. We should not fail to recognize that homosexuality is contrary to the nature of the human body, and therefore contrary to Natural Law, and that
therefore the sanctity of marriage, as a relationship between a man and woman only, should be upheld.