This is both an interesting and troubling post. Interesting, because I, too, believe that for a society to survive and thrive, there must be some common belief, some unifying core; troubling, because if it must be “God” as the Bible describes, then even amongst my neighbors on my block we have no chance for survival.
I will add: I believe the Bible is the Word of God – not the words of men that were godly, but God’s word. For this reason, I find it fortunate that there is much concurrence between Biblical and libertarian / Austrian thought. If not, I imagine my brain (or soul) would explode.
Back to “interesting” and “troubling”: I guess I come down on the side of troubling….
I will go in order from least troubling to most troubling:
“In the eyes of God, the lowest person on the social scale is equal in his God-given rights to the highest and most exalted anywhere in the world, whether he be a captain of industry, king, or president.”
Too many Christians look at the interpretation as it is presented here – the lowest is equal to the highest. This is true enough; however, the counter interpretation is equally valid, and should be equally emphasized – the highest is also equal to the lowest. In other words, concepts like progressive taxation are not Biblical.
“Some totalitarian regimes recognize state-controlled or state-authorized religion, in sometimes elevating the tyrant to god-like status.”
Nowhere mentioned is the state with perhaps one of the most effective unifying state-religions – the United States of America. The myths supporting the “exceptional” American dream are phenomenal in their effectiveness, beginning with Washington not being able to tell a lie and continuing today with they hate us for our freedom. In between, we have examples such as Lincoln, the (so-called) Good War, and 911.
“Magna Carta is the best known example of this statement, for the king was forced to admit that all men had rights that could not be taken away, regardless of social rank.”
It is too bad that the Magna Carta is regularly viewed as a turning point from the evil of the Dark Ages to the liberalism of the modern age. It stops an appropriate examination of the relatively libertarian and effectively decentralized Middle Ages, especially during the Merovingian Period, but continuing in Britain until the 11th century, in France until perhaps the 13th century, and in Germany until at least the 15th century.
“Nevertheless, here’s the argument: if man is formed in the image of God, then all individual men are equal to one another in their rights, which derive from God and cannot be derived from other men.”
But does this automatically result in the counter? “…if man is [NOT] formed in the image of God, then all individual men are [NOT] equal to one another in their rights…” I don’t see why. Even if man sprang up from the squid (which, as should be clear, I do not believe), what makes one man today more equal than another?
“It is no wonder that most communist regimes forbid organized religion. They must deny that man has any God-given rights, only state-given rights…”
These are not the only two options. Man has rights as man. Even without God, there is no reasonable argument to suggest that some men are more equal than others.
“Whether the West and the rest of the world can remain economically liberated in the absence of a belief that man is made in God’s image remains to be seen. I have my doubts.”
I have my doubts as well – but not so specifically about the absence of “God” as described in the Christian Bible. Most religions throughout the world hold some view similar to the Golden Rule. Even with this worldwide recognition, the Rule has not prevailed.
It isn’t a rejection of the Christian God – it is a rejection of a moral basis common to all men, regardless of faith.