Mr. Lawrence M. Krauss, an atheist physicist, writing for The New Yorker, on behalf of the scientific community, claims that, “all scientists should be militant atheists,” on the grounds that God has never been mentioned in any scientific meetings he has attended. Krauss says, “In my more than thirty years as a practicing physicist, I have never heard the word ‘God’ mentioned in a scientific meeting. Belief or nonbelief in God is irrelevant to our understanding of the workings of nature—just as it’s irrelevant to the question of whether or not citizens are obligated to follow the law.” From this fact he deduces that since there is no God there is no moral standard from God. He states, “The government has a compelling interest in insuring that all citizens are treated equally. But ‘religious freedom’ advocates argue that religious ideals should be elevated above all others as a rationale for action. In a secular society, this is inappropriate.”
But why should the government have “a compelling interest in insuring that all citizens are treated equally?” To what standard outside of ourselves do we adhere to if we are all to agree that anything is “inappropriate.” Is it democratic majority rule? Since, in America, the voting majority makes the law, Mr. Krauss would seem to believe so. He poses, “To what extent should we allow people to break the law if their religious views are in conflict with it?” But what if the majority is wrong?
What if the majority of Southern states passed a law based on the following logic: Since children of uneducated people on welfare are more likely go to jail, shouldn’t we just put them to work in factories and farm fields at a young age? This would keep them off the street and break the cycle of negative stimulus that their environment has imposed on them. It would also be beneficial to the general population with reduced crime and cheaper textile and food prices. That would be the law. Is the law right or wrong?
Mr. Krauss essentially uses this “Southern states” logic in his justification of his position for using fetal tissue for scientific purposes when he says, “It’s clear that many of the people protesting Planned Parenthood are opposed to abortion on religious grounds and are, to varying degrees, anti-science. Should this cause scientists to clam up at the risk of further offending or alienating them? Or should we speak out loudly to point out that, independent of one’s beliefs about what is sacred, this tissue would otherwise be thrown away, even though it could help improve and save lives?” It is true that using the tissue of unborn babies could potentially be used to develop better medications for Alzheimer’s patients, but it is also true that taking children away from their welfare mothers could potentially keep them off the street. It is also true that most of the fetal tissue in question is welfare in origin – but I digress. If a law were passed allowing big agribusiness to harvest children from their mothers, the law would be wrong and so would the people who passed the law. To follow the law would make the law-abiding citizen evil. Who would have the guts to be “anti-agriculture” and oppose the wrong law?
Mr. Krauss appeals to this concept that right and wrong transcend culture when he says, “a jihadist whose interpretation of the Koran suggested that he should be allowed to behead infidels and apostates. Should he be allowed to break the law? Or—to consider a less extreme case—imagine an Islamic-fundamentalist county clerk who would not let unmarried men and women enter the courthouse together, or grant marriage licenses to unveiled women.” I guess he could only hope that our military would be strong enough to keep such extremists on the other side of a secure border. Otherwise, the American populace would have to submit to such law whether they agreed with it or not.
Therefore, I do agree with Mr. Krauss’ statement that belief or non belief in God is irrelevant to whether we should follow the law. If there is a higher standard from which the law is derived than we should follow the law. If the law is derived from the finite viewpoint of society than we should or should not follow it based on whether it conflicts with the higher standard. Again, Mr. Krauss indicates he too believes in a higher standard when he says, “The more we learn about the workings of the universe, the more purposeless it seems. Scientists have an obligation not to lie about the natural world.” Why do scientists have an obligation not to lie, if no higher standard says, “You shall not lie.” Especially, when the majority says, “you shall only tell little white lies and only when it benefits you.” How is it even relevant to mention that the universe is purposeless, unless somewhere deep inside of us our greatest hope is that the universe has a purpose and our lives are not meaningless? All people should evaluate whether a law is right or wrong before they adhere to the law.
As a physicist, Mr. Krauss is in the business of quantification. It either is or it is not. He should understand as well as the best moralist that right and wrong is not a both/and issue. It is an either/or issue. Because different religions stand in opposition to one another, they will not simply coexist. You cannot enter the Jewish Holy of Holies and sacrifice a pig on the alter to Zeus and expect that everyone will just coexist. Either we will do what is right or we will not do what is right. In Mr. Krauss’ majority law world, we cannot take the easy communist way out and make all religion is illegal, because most of the world is religious. We are forced to say either something is right or it is wrong, because to make morality relative is to allow everyone to do what is right in their own eyes. If such is the case, then scientists will only believe what is convenient to their own personal code of ethics thereby making science irrelevant. Either it is or it is not – elementary, my dear scientist.
Mr. Krauss indicates that scientists who declare themselves atheists have exonerated themselves from religion and rectified themselves to a “purely-scientific” viewpoint. This is impossible. In the same way that one cannot scientifically prove the existence of God, one cannot scientifically prove that He does not exist. My colleagues and I have never once had a conversation on how to hard boil an egg. Does this mean that hard boiled eggs do not exist? Hardly. Science, in itself, is simply a method of observation and recording of data. It has no jurisdiction in stating as fact something that is not observable. Mr. Krauss is asking his colleagues to take an unscientific and very religious position. Science cannot satisfy the deepest needs of our soul and therefore it is outrageous for a scientist to impose his religion on other scientists based on his faulty non-scientific observations.
The Kim Davis controversy exists not because, as Mr. Krauss claims, “as a culture, we have elevated respect for religious sensibilities to an inappropriate level that makes society less free, not more,” but because we have elevated sentimentality above Biblical concepts of right and wrong, because human emotion is seething against the protective restraints imposed by a loving, omniscient God.
God is not confined to the restraints imposed upon him by human imagination. I propose the antithesis of Mr. Krauss’ position that nothing is sacred and that the universe is meaningless: everything is sacred from the newest cell division of human life to the deepest suffering death imposes. Sex is sacred, and so is filling out government paperwork. All the heavens declare the glory of God, but only for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.
When the truth is obscured by relativity, society is in bondage to its capricious whims. We do not want a secular-brave-new-world-society as Mr. Krauss claims we have. We want a free society in which we believe that all people are created equal based on the fact that they are created in the image of God. We want a free society with no need for the law because the transcendent law of right and wrong is written on our hearts. The law is an imperfect instrument for imposing order, which works peacefully in a free society whose people love the beauty of order.
Democratic law was conceived by a people group who believed in an absolute standard of right and wrong. Our system of government was developed for a populace who, for the most part, mirrored that sentiment. People who believe that right and wrong are subject to what seems right in their own eyes are destined to democratically elect a tyrant who will impose order on the chaos that moral relativity brings with brute force. The law brings bondage, truth is the only thing that makes a free society free.
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