Editor’s Note: While perusing the Bad Quaker website, I came across an extremely interesting article by Ben Stone. Much like Paul Rosenberg, Ben has an interesting perspective on the subject of Jesus and his anarchism. Of course, one’s religious beliefs don’t much matter as it pertains to vonu, but I believe this subject matter is worthy of investigation. -Shane
A General Theory of Liberty, Tyranny, and Sin
Because of the nature of the topic, allow me to be perfectly blunt so there are no misunderstandings to clear up later.
I am not writing nor re-writing scripture. I am not establishing an edict. Though I refer to the Christian Bible and both Jewish and Christian beliefs, this is not about any particular faith. An open-minded atheist should be able to see my point as easy as a theist. Finally, if your own personal faith is so dogmatic that you can’t consider any variation from it, please read no further.
To understand any given discussion it’s necessary to understand the terminology being used. In this situation I have chosen four words that can be and are understood in very different ways by different people. Therefore it will be helpful if the reader is clear as to my intended meanings of freedom, tyranny, sin, and God.
- Freedom: A condition free from control, interference, obligation, restriction, intimidation, or aggression. The power or right of acting, thinking, and speaking, according to one’s own choice, so long as aggression is not used to accomplish your goals.
- Tyranny: A condition where an individual or a group exercise domination over another individual or group using aggression or the threat of aggression.
- Sin: That which displeases God or is contrary to the will or design of God.
- God: That which created what is. For this discussion I don’t necessarily refer to an individual person or entity. Therefore, the overall concept I am trying to get across is not dependent upon a belief system like Christianity. God, in this context, can be whatever you see as the source of our existence. It fits the atheist as well as the theist.
Freedom, Tyranny, and Sin
Let’s start with the basic Judeo/Christian creation story: After everything else is made, God makes Adam and Eve, and by the way, Adam simply means man and Eve means peer or complement. There were no capital letters in Hebrew and there’s no reason to believe those were individual names. Anyway He places them in a place called The Garden of Eden (which simply means a well-watered plain), tells them to be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth, and gives them only one rule. Namely, don’t eat the fruit of The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Of course they eat the fruit and sin is introduced into mankind’s heart. God then ejects mankind from Eden, however there’s a gap in this story. From the point that God commands them to be fruitful and multiply to the point that they ate the fruit, something must have happened. Some time must have expired, but nothing indicates how many hours, days, years, or eons of time pass. (More on this later.)
What I propose to do is identify the fruit of that tree. What I will not do is dispute the volumes of traditional theological teachings about that fruit, so for the purpose of this discussion, please accept the possibility that I can be both right and wrong. This is just presented as a thought exercise.
Now consider this tree. It’s a tree of knowledge. By eating its fruit you suddenly start to judge what is good and what is evil. In the case of Adam and Eve, they saw they were naked and made a judgement call that being naked was a bad thing. So, they created their own law that had never existed before, namely; you must wear clothing. This was never a natural law, or a law from the Creator, it was a made up law that they created right there at that time. By eating the fruit, making a judgement, and enforcing a new law, they became law givers, and that’s a title only rightfully held by the Creator. They were literally making gods of themselves.
God’s will and sin:
The book of 1st Samuel Chapter 8 tells roughly this story: After about 500 years (the chapter doesn’t actually record the time, you have to do the math separately) in “The Promised Land” there was some unrest among the Israelite tribal elders. You see, during that time they had no central government. A series of “judges” resolved disputes both within the Jewish tribes and with their neighbors. These judges had no authority in the modern sense. People sought the judgment of these judges in private and public matters, and voluntarily agreed to accept them as arbitrators in conflicts. It was a time described in the scripture when “every man did that which was right in his own eyes”. In other words, there was no legal authority representing laws of a government.
Generally speaking, the Israelites were free to come and go as they wished and trade with whomever they wished for whatever reasonthey wished. When the need arose to confront foreign aggression the judges, being natural leaders, would rally volunteers and fight defensive battles. Near the end of these 500 years of relative freedom, the Israelite tribal elders began to murmur and complain among themselves. It seemed Israel was situated between several great empires. These empires had magnificent cities where powerful kings sat on thrones of splendor. Many of the elders became covetous of the power of these empires, so they began to demand a king, each of them quietly hoping they would be the one chosen. The judge Samuel, at first, took this as a personal insult. But God corrected Samuel and said, “It’s not you they reject, it’s me.” You read that correctly, when the Israelites rejected freedom and demanded a government they were rejecting God. Read it for yourself, its right there.
So after 500 years of freedom, Israel subjected itself to tyranny. To make a long story short, within a couple generations the nation was split into two kingdoms and a couple generations later the northern half of the nation disappeared into the sands of time, never to be heard from again. Jerusalem, the capital of the southern kingdom, was sacked and burned, the male royalty were mostly castrated, and many of the people were taken into bondage as slaves of the very empire they had envied. They wanted all the fun part of tyranny but what they ended up with was what tyranny always produces. Slavery.
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Isn’t that a lovely story? Here’s what I think. It’s the same story as the one told in Genesis about Eden and the tree, just told in a different way about a different people in a different time.
The Interaction of Law and Sin
Here I ask your indulgence. Let’s consider natural law as opposed to man-made law.
- Question: What is the source of man-made law?
- Answer: Of course, it’s man.
- Question: What is the source of natural law?
- Answer: That which made man, God. (Again, however you perceive that which created what is.)
If we can agree on the above, then we can agree that to break natural law breaks the law of God and is a transgression against God. Therefore to break natural law is to sin against God, the Law Giver. That being the case, logic demands that whatever breaks man’s law is a transgression against man. A “sin” against man. This train of thought then requires the question; isn’t it the case that when man creates law he takes on the role of God?
Let’s jump back to the scripture for a moment.
In the book of Ezekiel, Chapter 28, one finds the description of a creature generally believed to be the devil. But the scripture never actually says it’s the devil. That’s just a doctrine that has been taught since the dark ages. Part of this description of the being says he was “perfect in beauty”, gifted in music, “perfect in his ways”, and originally located in Eden. This being had developed a flaw in his nature and eventually fell from grace, and was cast down and rejected by God. His transgression was that he attempted to make a god of himself. Does this story sound familiar? I propose that story is in fact not about the devil, it’s the story of man. It is the same story told two other times in this discussion.
I propose that when man chooses tyranny over freedom, man chooses sin. Freedom is the original natural state of man, and when man takes it upon himself to regulate the behavior of other men he places himself in the position of God, the Law Giver. I propose that when “Adam” chose to make up his own law he chose man as his god. He placed himself in the position of God and proclaimed himself a god.
In other words, there are natural laws that rightly restrict humans from aggressing upon other humans and their property. But when humans make laws according to their will, and enforce them upon other humans by way of aggression, man kicks God, The Law Maker, off the throne and proclaims himself a god. The beautiful creature with the wonderful voice who was perfect in his ways becomes ugly and hideously twisted by the desire for power. I think Ezekiel Chapter 28 says that very thing as clearly as the author could have said it. And I think that’s the creation story summed up. The story has nothing to do with a devil, mankind is the demon it describes.
The End of Time
Christians have a variety of beliefs about the end of time. I propose that “time” as we normally call it won’t end in the way most Christians think. For this exercise, let’s substitute the word “history” for “time”. Consider history from the moment God told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, until the moment Adam ate the fruit. Where is this history? Was there no “time” or just no history? How many minutes or millions of years went by unrecorded?
Now think about history. What is history? I propose that history is the recording of the accomplishments and deeds of tyrants. When there are no tyrants, no history is written. Without tyrants, heroes are unnecessary, people are not counted like objects of possession, taxes are not collected, and wars don’t happen. Time ticks on but there is no reason to record anything other than the passing of seasons for the purpose of planting and harvesting. History is propaganda used to keep the masses believing that government is great and heroes are required for people to flourish.
So what of the end of time? Change that to “What of the end of history?”
Many religions believe that someday there will be a return of sorts, to an Eden. I believe that if humanity rejects tyranny and the law of man, humanity will enjoy freedom and God’s natural law will be universally adopted. That being the case, why would any history of that time be recorded? Time, in a way, will have ended and eternity will have begun.