(Trying to unpack the words)
(Updated from a post of March 14, 2014*)
Every so often, my Christian friends wax patriotic about natural law, and I have to take a time-out to calm myself. Here’s why:
1. God’s continual lament1 about human nature is that man is an egocentric, rebellious, wayward creature whose natural inclination is to self-will, gain, and domination. Yet we ignore God’s analysis of our natural inclinations while our philosophers invert the definition of natural, confounding history and observation. When we buy into this inversion, we buy into all the confusions and conflations that follow.
2. In individual and corporate application, natural law,2 despite its inverted romantic definitions, more often than not, looks and acts like the Law of Nature.
3. When one lives near a wilderness (or anywhere, for that matter), one quickly observes that the observed Law of Nature is “red in tooth and claw,”3 as in
fight or flightkill or be killedsurvival of the fittestsurvival of the most cunningeye for eye, tooth for toothmight claims rightprides and packscompetitionhording theftambushzero-sumdominationoppressionsuppressionwarabuseetc.
4. In our world of opposites and opposition,4 red in tooth and claw” is an opposite of the Golden Rule—an opposite first chosen (and romanticized5) by a chap named Cain.
5. Yet, many believers in the Golden Rule (in likeness of many non-believers) seem to run their businesses and achieve their prosperity as if the Law of Nature were the chief and only law.
6. The Law of Nature is the law favored by the Natural Man; and this is the word on the natural man:
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.6
For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint [an unnatural man?] through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.7
And here is an example of the Natural Man:
And many more such things did [Korihor] say unto them, telling them that there could be no atonement made for the sins of men, but every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime. And thus he did preach unto them, leading away the hearts of many, causing them to lift up their heads in their wickedness, yea, leading away many women, and also men, to commit whoredoms—telling them that when a man was dead, that was the end thereof.8
7. Natural Law is also oft equated with Natural Rights, except, these so-called, “Natural Rights” of life, liberty (freedom of speech, religion, association, press; etc), and the pursuit of happiness don’t seem to be very natural, as in: usual, normal, ordinary, expected, common, likely, etc—especially considering the déjà vus of history and the blood spilt to get or keep them. (Just ask Iranians, Iraqis, Egyptians, Syrians, Koreans, Russians, Americans—North & South, Chinese, et al. al. al.) So, could we stop calling our Rights “Natural”! How about Innate? There is a vast difference—chasm size—despite the equated synonyms. But no, that doesn’t feel quite right either. Maybe the best word is simply Human Rights.
8. The Law of Nature (or what is deemed natural) is not the source of “Human Rights”; rather, it is the nemesis. No one in our fallen world gets to freely exercise “Human Rights,” UNLESS the-powers-that-be transcend the Law of Nature / Natural Law into a Higher Law that honors “Human Rights.” (Just ask the world’s refugees, citizens of tyrannies, employees of out-sourced factories / farms, persecuted minorities, survivors of genocides, or pretty much anybody who observes the world.)
9. When “Rights” are touted as being grounded in the Law of Nature or Natural Law, it tends to encourage and justify the “ME-MINE” mentality romanticized by Ayn Rand’s Objectivism.9
10. The Law of Nature in the grip of the “rational10/natural” man becomes a wolf in sheep’s clothing, “pulling the wool” to justify disparity, avarice, inequity, excess, meritocracy and all that stuff in 2 above.
11. The opposite of (the observed) Natural Law (each creature/man for himself) may perhaps be termed “Unnatural Law” (love / respect for thy neighbor as thyself). Just observe the Natural Law of the average 2-year old or corporate CEO; or ask Ayn what is unnatural? (Could she mean altruism?) Or ask God. Strange as it may seem, Ayn and God seem to agree that altruism is unnatural the Natural Man.
12. In short, all life is protected and prospered in their Human Rights only when “eye for eye”11 is transcended by “eye to eye”12—the Law of Nature transcended by the Law of Love—the Way of Love.
13. Alfred, Lord Tennyson said it poetically:
Who trusted God was love indeed
And love Creation’s final law
Tho’ Nature, red in tooth and claw
With ravine, shriek’d against his creed.(From Canto 56)13
So, how about we “believers” get over our infatuation with the inverted Natural Law and all its confusions, conflations, and justifications and work toward the Unnatural Law of
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.14
Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil [with evil]: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.15
How unnatural is that? loving our enemies, blessing them, praying for them? How about each person freely choosing to adopt a gift economy16 instead of being forced into a competitive (capitalist) or a state-controlled (socialist) one? Perhaps these are just two faces of a single coin vying for heads-up domination in this fallen realm?
Let us be more conscious in observing ourselves and our favorite pundits. Do our / their words, views, actions, and economics favor the manifest Law of Nature or the higher Way of Love?
Old Testament | Isaiah 1:2, 23 ~ Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. … Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.
Old Testament Isaiah | 53:6 ~ All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Old Testament | Isaiah 56:11 ~ Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter.
Yet, despite God’s lament, He sees divine potential within our dual nature where, with agency, each can choose a way better than the entropic tendency toward self-will, competition, and zero-sum.
3. From Canto 56 of In Memoriam A. H. H., 1850 by Alfred, Lord Tennyson at http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/In_Memoriam_A._H._H.
See also Thomas Hobbes, “State of Nature” and “war of all against all” observations at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Hobbes (under “Leviathan” subsection).
4. Book of Mormon | 2 Nephi 2:11-30 ~ For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my first–born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility. Wherefore, it must needs have been created for a thing of naught; wherefore there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation. Wherefore, this thing must needs destroy the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes, and also the power, and the mercy, and the justice of God. And if ye shall say there is no [Divine?] law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away. And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon. And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and in fine, all things which are created, it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter. Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other. And I, Lehi, according to the things which I have read, must needs suppose that an angel of God, according to that which is written, had fallen from heaven; wherefore, he became a devil, having sought that which was evil before God. And because he had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind. Wherefore, he said unto Eve, yea, even that old serpent, who is the devil, who is the father of all lies, wherefore he said: Partake of the forbidden fruit, and ye shall not die, but ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil. And after Adam and Eve had partaken of the forbidden fruit they were driven out of the garden of Eden, to till the earth. And they have brought forth children; yea, even the family of all the earth. And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh; wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and their time was lengthened, according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men. For he gave commandment that all men must repent; for he showed unto all men that they were lost, because of the transgression of their parents. And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end. And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin. But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things. Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy. And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given. Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself. And now, my sons, I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit; And not choose eternal death, according to the will of the flesh and the evil which is therein, which giveth the spirit of the devil power to captivate, to bring you down to hell, that he may reign over you in his own kingdom. I have spoken these few words unto you all, my sons, in the last days of my probation; and I have chosen the good part, according to the words of the prophet. And I have none other object save it be the everlasting welfare of your souls. Amen.
5. Pearl of Great Price | Moses 5:33 ~ And Cain gloried in that which he had done, saying: I am free; surely the flocks of my brother falleth into my hands.
6. New Testament | 1 Corinthians 2:14
Book of Mormon | Helaman 12:4-7 ~ O how foolish, and how vain, and how evil, and devilish, and how quick to do iniquity, and how slow to do good, are the children of men; yea, how quick to hearken unto the words of the evil one, and to set their hearts upon the vain things of the world! Yea, how quick to be lifted up in pride; yea, how quick to boast, and do all manner of that which is iniquity; and how slow are they to remember the Lord their God, and to give ear unto his counsels, yea, how slow to walk in wisdom’s paths! Behold, they do not desire that the Lord their God, who hath created them, should rule and reign over them; notwithstanding his great goodness and his mercy towards them, they do set at naught his counsels, and they will not that he should be their guide. O how great is the nothingness of the children of men; yea, even they are less than the dust of the earth.
9. See http://www.dejavu-times.blogspot.ca/2014/03/me-me-mine.html or
10. A rational decision is one that is not just reasoned, but is also optimal for achieving a goal or solving a problem. (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rationality ) This blogger’s comment: And the self-serving reasons, goals, solutions for holding to the “Law of Nature” seem endless. Just ask the boys and girls on Wall Street, all their investors, and the proliferating HyPEs (Highly Paid Employees).
11. Old Testament | Exodus 21:23-25 ~ And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
12. Book of Mormon | Mosiah 16:1 ~ … The time shall come when all shall see the salvation of the Lord; when every nation, kindred, tongue, and people shall see eye to eye and shall confess before God that his judgments are just.
Book of Mormon | Alma 36:26 ~ For because of the word which he has imparted unto me, behold, many have been born of God, and have tasted as I have tasted, and have seen eye to eye as I have seen; therefore they do know of these things of which I have spoken, as I do know; and the knowledge which I have is of God.
Book of Mormon | Mosiah 12:22 ~ Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing; for they shall see eye to eye when the Lord shall bring again Zion;
13. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/In_Memoriam_A._H._H. Additional, enlightening Cantos by Alfred, Lord Tennyson are found in blog post “Earth & Sky” to supplement this second post of March 14, 2014 at https://dejavu-timestwo.blogspot.com/2014/03/earth-sky.html.
14. New Testament | Matthew 22:37-39
15. New Testament | Matthew 5:38-45 ; Also Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 12:38-45 ~ [B]ehold, it is written, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth; But I say unto you, that ye shall not resist evil [with evil], but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also; And if any man will sue thee at the law and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also; And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn thou not away. And behold it is written also, that thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy; But behold I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father who is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good.
16. Gifts-without-guile economy: https://dejavu-timestwo.blogspot.com/search/label/GiftEconomy