Atheism, Natural Law and Self-evident Truth

Atheism, Natural Law and Self-evident Truth

Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15 since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also big bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them. Rom 2:13-14

The natural law[1] of God is found everywhere you encounter man and is self-evident to any man who is in his right mind. It has been called a number of different things throughout the world and history. It has been call the Tao (the way) in the Orient, the Logos by the Greeks, wisdom by the Hebrews, self-evident truth by the founding fathers, and the first principles of philosophy or the cosmic order by the Europeans. It has been codified in every culture under heaven and is the bases of all values and morality. Of course, this impulse is stronger in some than others.[2] Some have hardened themselves to it to the point that the voice or impulse is very weak. However, this is abnormal and recognized as such. We call those who have a deficit of these impulses fools, idiots, and morons. Those who have no understanding of it we call psychopaths and label them as being mentally ill. The reason is that we recognize that this condition is totally abnormal. We tacitly recognize what is normal, which is a self-evident truth made known among all men by the cosmic order. For the sake of brevity, in this article we will call this phenomenon the Tao.

We find natural law or the Tao in every culture. The variation of Tao in different cultures comes from the culture filters, which mediate the values and principles of the cosmic order. Therefore, in each culture the Tao is colored by the mediators of the culture in which it is observed. These mediators work like sunglass, which protects the eyes of one looking at the sun, but at the same time can distort it. Jesus spoke of this when someone asked Him why God allowed a man to divorce his wife. He said it was because of the hardness of this man’s heart. In this He was telling the people that they could not bear looking directly at the sun. In other words, some cultures and men are simply not ready for all the implications of the natural law of God or Tao. So God speaks to them through mediators who filter the Tao.

If an unbeliever is a moral person, he himself is the evidence of natural law (principles) or self-evident truth (common sense),[3] for he does by nature what is in the law of God, even though his philosophy ultimately denies the cosmic order of the supreme truth and good. Even in his denial his reasoning cannot escape or silence the moral impulse to do the good and seek the truth. This impulse is so strong in some that it can actually drive one to madness. In conforming to this impulse, the unbeliever shares in the grace of God that comes through the wisdom of God which is known tacitly by all men.

Like the religious person, the atheist may interpret the impulse for the good to be a sign of his own goodness and therefore, falls under the illusion of self-rightness as do some religious people. This illusion of rightness, which is a perversion of the moral impulse, will further his alienation from God as it does the religious person and will reflect the very spirit that atheists hate in religious people, i.e., self-rightness. Self-rightness is nothing more than spiritual pride and is one of the most subtle hindrances to the moral impulse. It distorts one’s view of natural law in the religious individual and unbelievers.

What about the amoral atheists? The unprincipled unbelievers are no different than the amoral believers. They will both pay the price of breaking or ignoring the cosmic order. God’s moral law is much like His natural law. If one breaks the law of gravity enough times, it will catch up to him, and he will suffer some negative consequences. The same is true if one breaks the moral law or natural law. He will suffer loss, e.g., health, relationships, respect and such. In essence; one does not break the law. It breaks him, and he will suffer loss.

Because conformity to the Tao (the truth) is a prerequisite for a person being happy, anyone can experience happiness who does the truth and lives by the principles (wisdom) of God. If the unbeliever’s life is in more conformity to Tao than a believer’s, he will most likely be happier than a believer. I personally know an atheist who found one of the secrets of happiness in the Bible and started to practice it and found that it made him happier. At the same time, I know some religious people who have just enough religion to make them miserable.

[1] Self-evident truth or natural law can be weakened or even denied by people accepting an ideology or philosophy that is contrary to reality. Common people often refer to those in academia as having no common sense. In saying this, they may be more correct than they think.

[2] Self-evident truth is experienced corporately and is akin to a social consciousness. It is close to Freud’s group consciousness.

[3] The words and concepts of law and self-evident truth have been so neglected in Western culture that their meaning has been lost or distorted. One the best books on this concept is C.S. Lewis’s book, The Abolition of Man.