Terence Jeffrey briefly reviews Mark Levin’s new book, Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto.
Fundamentally, Levin explains, conservatives recognize that there is an immutable natural law ordained by God that all men and nations must obey. He also makes clear that while human beings have a God-given right to individual liberty, they are also imperfect by nature and, thus, if given too much power, are likely to abuse the God-given rights of others.
But that’s not quite the whole story. In history and by doctrine, Christianity must limit not only individual power but individual liberty. Human nature is fallen and corrupt, according to Christian dogma, and thus must be controlled. That is why most conservative Christians endorse the drug war, immigration controls, legal discrimination (if not outright persecution) of homosexuals, censorship, abortion bans, and even a welfare state. Christianity reigned in the West from the 300s, when Rome forcibly banned other religions, for centuries. The United States arose not when Christianity dominated, but in the wake of the Enlightenment, with its emphasis on human reason and earthly success.
Jeffrey quotes Levin:
Some resist the idea of a Natural Law’s relationship to Divine Providence, for fear it leads to intolerance or even theocracy. They have it backwards. If man is “endowed by (the) Creator with certain inalienable rights,” he is endowed with these rights no matter his religion or whether he has allegiance to any religion. It is Natural Law, divined by God and discoverable by reason, that prescribes the inalienability of the most fundamental and eternal human rights — rights that are not conferred on man by man. It is the Divine nature of Natural Law that makes permanent man’s right to “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
But it is Levin who has things backwards. I quite concur that we are endowed by our Creator with with certain inalienable rights — and our creator is simply the natural forces that produced humanity. We have rights, and we deserve liberty, even though God does not exist. Natural Law is just that — the laws of nature — and it neither has nor needs a “Divine nature.”