A friend writes on Facebook:
“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and “with liberty and justice for all” still seem like pretty good concepts to build a country around. Lets start living it. Happy 4th everyone!
To which I responded that I agree wholeheartedly. But I would add that both of the quotations have context that is essential. Where do the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness come from? Men are “endowed by their creator” with those rights. And we are a nation “under God,” with liberty and justice for all.
All politics is downstream from culture. Culture is downstream from shared views about fundamental metaphysical ideas. And ideas about the existence of God are the most fundamental of all. Richard Dawkins, the world’s most famous atheist, says: “The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”
Dawkins is wrong about that. The universe we observe is full of evil. But evil can exist only if good — of which evil is the privation — also exists. And good can exist only if God exists. I have spent decades debating these issues. Today, I am more firmly convinced than ever that our rights are secure only if they rest on a foundation of God’s existence. For if God does not exist, Dawkins is surely right and all of this rights talk amounts to nothing but soothing noises one animal makes to another.
Some might respond: We can have good without God. Of course, that depends on what you mean by “good.” If “good” means only “that which at a given point in time a particular society calls good,” then a 21st century liberal democracy is “good.” But so is a 15th century Aztec society that captured, enslaved, and ritually sacrificed members of other tribes. We can call Aztec human sacrifice evil and the principles of the Declaration good in any meaningful sense of those words only if there is an objective standard of measure by which to judge between the two. And that standard exists only if a God who has endowed His image bearers with certain inalienable rights exists.
And thankfully He does. As Sam said, happy 4th!