Where Do Our Laws Come From?

by Greg Leitschuh

Have you ever wondered where your conscience comes from? What about this sense of right and wrong within each of us? Where did that originate? Most of us would agree that inside us there is will and a conscience that governs our lives and gives us personality. Furthermore we would admit that in our conscience there is a deep sense of "I oughtness" that tells us to do this or not to do that. Where does this quiet inner voice come from? Is it the product of matter, plus time, plus chance as many evolutionists would have us believe or does it come from a source or power outside ourselves? What role does education play in our moral development?

Last month I wrote about the problem facing educators in setting up moral standards for schools and some of the questions that were raised. In this issue I would like us to take a deeper look at finding the source of where our laws come from. Have they evolved socially over the centuries, as an accumulation of men's ideas, or do they originate from a source that is outside of our world? What are the implications of these views? Moreover, I would like us to seriously examine whether or not our "social conditioning" has any effect on the moral behaviour of society.

The Moral Code

Many sociologists and educators have for years believed that if we can educate ourselves properly we then will be able to live lives that are in keeping with the moral precepts accepted by most societies. In a sense they are saying "if we know, we are therefore able to do". Innocence only needs to be educated. They are assuming there is a moral code of right and wrong that everyone will agree upon if they know of it. Does this not beg the question, "who ultimately decides on what is right or wrong and where does this ethical code come from? For a law to be binding, it must not make itself weak for the weak and take into account our shortcomings, heredity and upbringing. It demands that we fulfil it completely. If this were not the case, all moral and civil law would not work. The final standard of authority is one that can be owned and recognised by all men.

"I Oughtness"

Have you ever wondered where our laws come from? What about this feeling of "I oughtness" that is within each of us that we call our conscience? Each of us has an imperative something within that makes us say "I ought". Even in the most degraded specimens of humanity this inner voice of conscience is there. Who or what caused it to be there? Is it merely the result of an accidental coming together of atoms billions of years ago which many evolutionists put forward as the beginning of our universe and life as we know it? If so, we are then forced to conclude that there is no real basis for morality and goodness. Aristotle said that without absolutes, there can be no morals. Jean Paul Sartre, the late French playwright, epitomises this when he said that "it makes little difference whether you help an old lady cross the road or run her over with your car". As we see an increased blurring of moral absolutes, it does not surprise us why there is a growing confusion as to what is right and wrong. The final standard of law must be one that can be owned by all mankind. Is there another explanation as to where this inner voice of conscience or moral law comes from?

"An Infinite Reference Point"

Last month I quoted a philosopher who once said "Every finite reference point must have an infinite reference point for there to be meaning in life". This finite reference point or "inner light" is what Socrates says is "an un-get-at-able, indefinable spirit". This "conscience" is what tells a person what is right or wrong and must originate from an infinite reference point in order for law and morality to have meaning. The Bible gives us a definite clue as to what this infinite reference point is. It is not an impersonal accidental collision of atoms in a matter, plus, time, plus chance happening aeons ago but comes to us from a Personal Being who is the author of everything that exists. There has to be a foundation stone or source outside ourselves for our laws and morality to have substance or they are meaningless. The moral conduct and laws mentioned in the Bible with the ten commandments given to Moses as well as Jesus' sermon on the mount, are the basis for most of societies' ethical code and what we regard as the standard we would like to see people live by.

Whether we realise it or not, the values we esteem to be the highest appear to come from within us rather than from our education or background. The Bible gives a reasonable explanation as to where this conscience or "inner man" originated. If we choose to ignore the Biblical explanation, we are left with little to stand on. We cannot take lightly the claims that the Bible makes regarding how we should live. But there seems to be another issue that is a very real concern whether we accept the Biblical view or not and that is the problem of being able to do what we know is right. Why do we find it difficult to do good and easy to do evil? I would like us to look at this problem in the next issue and examine the different answers given by society as well as look at the answer the Bible gives to this mysterious yet common dilemma.

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