Imagine finding a briefcase in the middle of a cornfield. Today, one would not touch it for fear of it exploding. But let’s think back decades and you open it to find $100 bills neatly arranged for an aggregate sum of $1 million. You decide to take the case to the police, and after much searching on their part, they find no owner or no one claiming to be missing a bag with the money, so they give it to you. I believe that most people would agree that you could do with the money whatever you wanted—buy an expensive car, spend it all on ice cream, invest it in Bitcoin. Now, let’s imagine the same scenario, but in the briefcase there is a note with the name of the owner and contact details with a request that if the bag is found to please return it. I think that the vast majority of people would feel that the finder should make an effort to return the money. Simply taking it and doing the things listed above would for many be a form of stealing from the rightful owner of the case and its contents.
Unlike countries like Canada and those in Europe where rights are granted by a government—and can be taken away by the same—America was founded on our rights being G-d given. The implication obviously is that no body, no government can take away that which a Supreme Creator has endowed on His creation. But think about your discussing this matter with someone who works at Facebook. She grew up in a secular home, attended a secular college, lives in a big city where anything goes and has never thought much about religion. When she asks by what right you have that sidearm on you, you say that the rights in the Constitution were given to American citizens by G-d and cannot be abrogated by any government. Saying to her that your rights come from G-d is like saying that your rights come from your vacuum cleaner. She does not have a clue as to what this G-d thing is and in not believing that He exists, she concludes that neither do your rights. Thus, many of the hot-button issues of our day—freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, freedom of religious expression (which was flattened during Covid), marriage, not mutilating children, and much more—ultimately come down to the issue of G-d when all of the political and social constructs are peeled away. Whereas the founders were all religious men and whereas previous generations were well over 90% religious, today, we find ourselves with more and more of our fellow citizens not belonging to any organized religion and ultimately not accepting anything that is based on G-d or G-d given rights. Guys competing in women’s sports may be a social or legal issue, but it ultimately comes down to whether one accepts that G-d made a person in His image and as He wants him or her to be.
One caveat in any discussion of G-d is that there must always be the possibility of an alternative explanation, however unlikely the latter may be. Many would believe if there were only some massive arm in heaven firing off lightning bolts at people grabbing purses or pushing people onto NY subway tracks. But belief in G-d has value because there is an option not to believe. Think about how proud you are of your daughter cleaning up and organizing her room without your asking. Had she acted on a specific command with threat of punishment, why would you be proud? Was there another choice in the matter?
One thing that all parties can agree on is that at some point way back, and let’s not quibble about how far back, there was nothing—no Earth, no species, no nothing. We can also agree on our current condition as it can be measured and recorded. The ultimate scientific question is how we got from point A to point B. Before we discuss it, I want to include some statistics below. All of them are fully accepted in the scientific community, and one can easily look up the references to research supporting each assertion. I included the following in a pamphlet I wrote as an introduction to science.
*Total length of blood vessels (veins and arteries) in your body: 60,000 miles
*Alveoli, the 700 million little air sacs in the lungs that allow for oxygen to get into the
blood, if spread out would cover a surface area of 750 square feet
*Number of genes in the DNA: 20,000 spread over 46 chromosomes
*Fastest enzyme (an enzyme is a protein that can perform one or more chemical
reactions): carbonic anhydrase at 1 million reactions per second
*Total length of DNA in body—67 billion miles, enough for 150,000 trips to moon and back (from the NIH)
*Number of heart beats from birth to 80 years old: over 3 billion
So, how do you explain going from nothing to the scientifically-accepted numbers above? The easiest and in my opinion the correct explanation is G-d. An all-powerful Creator could do all of these things. Now let’s move to Science. I have yet to see a cogent explanation of how one starts with atoms or very small molecules and ends up with the outcomes shown above. And that is important. If a chemist makes a very complex molecule, he can show every single step in the process so as to allow an audience to fully understand how the molecule was made. But no one can explain how small molecules banded together and over time became so efficient and amazing as to give us the genes to produce enzymes that can do thousands of reactions per second or even 1 million reactions per second in rare cases. Science looks more like the myth maker than does religion, because no one can perform the reactions and experiments needed to take very simple molecules and create something that all would agree is a living, reproducing cell. Yes, we can magnificently alter DNA and make synthetic mimics of real molecules, but we cannot take non-living molecules and turn them into something undisputedly alive. And until science can do so, there is no reason to believe that their explanations, hand-waving, and invocation of millions or billions of years are necessarily correct.
So if we are a product of G-d’s creation, then we have rights, but we also have responsibilities. Many are recorded in religious documents, but as it says in the Jewish Talmud, “The law of the land is the law”. On the other hand, if you convince people that they are the great, great grandchildren of the baboon at the local zoo, those laws may be optional. So one can walk out of a Walgreens with hundreds of dollars of goods, or push some person onto a train track or carjack at will. And then the highly-credentialed DA will say that it was not really much of a crime and no bail needed. One may certainly not believe in G-d, but then by what authority should one follow the law? Obviously, non-religious people are overwhelmingly not criminals while not all those who profess to be religious are little angels. That is not the issue. The issue is that when one looks at the difficult social issues of our day, many of them boil down to the secular disbelief that we somehow have “G-d given rights” and obligations. During Covid, we could see the left-leaning media turn into Pravda—don’t go outside, and wear your mask between bites, and forget about religious assembly, and if you don’t take the jab, you must lose your job. While the situation during the pandemic was in extremis, the foundation of such behavior comes from a belief that it is the government, and not G-d, that give us our rights—and can freely take them away and tell you how to live your life (remember Obama’s cartoon Julia who was dependent on government largess from birth to old age, and this was considered a good thing?).
As stated above, for the individual, belief in G-d is a choice. For the health and success of the Republic, a moral polity is the baseline requirement for a successful, cohesive nation.