Monday, November 21, 2005

The Genesis of Freedom

Often times in modern society, the ideals of individual freedom and the belief in a God of some sort appear to be in conflict. At least, that is what those who believe in neither would argue. Before we can really discuss this issue though, we must define our terms. There are two popular meanings of the word freedom, so that all may understand the issue let us define them.

One meaning of freedom can be called the Hillary Clinton version of freedom. That is, the freedom she wants to guarantee all Americans is the freedom "from". Examples of this freedom are the freedom from discrimination, the freedom from starvation, the freedom from poverty, the freedom from disease, the freedom from consequences (with regard to sexual actions), the freedom from hurt feelings, etc. To assure these freedoms, politicians like Senator Clinton believe that the government needs to provide and enforce quota and other systems aimed at ensuring all colleges and workplaces "look" like America. They believe the government should provide food, shelter, and clothing to any who cannot or will not take responsibility for themselves. They believe health care is a "right" and should be provided to all Americans by the government. They believe no one should be insulted, whatever insulted means, and that nobody should have their lifestyle, or beliefs questioned or judged or argued against. This "freedom" is really just an attempt to redefine "entitlement". And, there is no way to achieve this freedom without maintaining the form of slavery(1) our country currently allows (assuming those goals were even achievable by government, most of history teaches us they are not).

This is not the sort of freedom the founders of our country sought, or created through the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. They were in search of the freedom "to". They wanted the freedom to own land, and to do whatever they pleased, so long as it did not infringe on the freedoms of others. They wanted to be free to practice whatever religion they chose, and to say whatever they wanted about anyone else's religion. The wanted to ensure they were free to live as they desired, regardless of the wishes of the majority. They wanted the freedom to have a voice in the political system through representative democracy.

This is all well known, and well argued by modern pundits and writers. What I think does not get enough attention, in our modern secular world, is the link between God and freedom. I believe strongly in "free will". God gave us a will of our own, and an understanding of what we need to do to please Him. With that said, one cannot compel or force another to please God, or lead a holy life. One can choose to exercise his free will by doing what he believes will please God, but trying to force someone else to do so is to try and take away the free will of another individual. That free will was given to each of us, by God, and I would argue that the free will we were given is the root of the freedoms sought and established by our country's founders. Attempting to supersede God's gift would be quite contrary to his purpose in giving us a free will, which was to have each of choose freely whether to accept his gift of grace, whether to reject evil, etc. Legislating "morality" does not bring about morality, as actions alone do not please God (assuming the mere act of legislation would bring about compliance), intention must be present as well. A line is easily drawn between the immorality that must be legally prohibited and that which must not. The line is quite simply, infringing on another's freedom. So, murder, robbery, assault, and such are easily identified as criminal, precisely because they are acts which deprive another of freedom. If something does not harm another (or if it does but the other is consenting), then to restrict it is to attempt to deny another the choice to do the right thing, and to accept whatever natural consequences there may be for doing the wrong thing.

Many of the Godless and those that do not understand the genesis of American freedom would argue the existence of a "social contract"(2) as some enlightenment era philosophers did. However, a "social contract" philosophy that argues that freedoms are given to all out of a desire to do the greatest good for humanity(3), from humanity itself, leads inevitably to all the evils we witnessed in the twentieth century. Indeed, the "greater good" is a concept that is constantly used to justify the erosion of individual liberty and freedom. The Nazis believed that it was in the best interest of the people to do away with the drain on society created by elderly and handicapped (imperfect by Nazi standards) people. The Maosits believed it in the best interest of the people of China to massacre and murder the greedy bourgeois and the rich. The Chinese believe it is in the best interest of the public to control their population through forced abortions and sterilizations. Atheists are fond of saying that more people have been killed in the name of God than for any other reason (prior to the godless communist massacres of the twentieth century). I would argue that most of those wars and killings were simply early attempts by greedy and power hungry people at subverting or denying the God-given right of free will to those who opposed them, a method now employed by the Godless left in the name of the "greater good".

There are two primary beliefs as to where our rights come from. One belief is that our rights come from ourselves, and are instituted by us through government. If that is the case, there is no moral or ethical problem with removing our rights, afterall, if they came from us, we can change them anytime we please. This belief that freedom comes from man is completely contradictory to the very concept of the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. "(4)

It is only through a belief in God given freedoms that we can argue for concrete and "unalienable" rights or freedoms.

The other belief is that our rights come from God. That it is by virtue of our being the children of God, in God's image, with the dignity implied by being one of God's children, that because of the freedom of will given us by God, our rights cannot be taken away or violated by man, or man-made institutions like government. To do so would be an affront to God, in that it would be like saying that we know better than God what rights to give ourselves. Because of this nature of freedom, attempts to limit our rights, as layed out for us by the Bill of Rights (a document that thoroughly appreciates free-will just as much as I do), by both the left and the right in our country, must be opposed and stopped.

(1) Modern western slavery discussed

(2) Social Contract

(3) Rousseau on the social contract

(4) Declaration of Independence