All law, even law as it developed in pagan societies, is based on a belief that some god or god-force is behind it all. Consider the Code of Hammurabi. A stone tablet that depicts the Babylonian ruler Hammurabi, who ruled Babylon from 1792 to 1750 B.C., is shown receiving the law from the god Marduk. Babylonian law, like all law, is inherently religious (Dan. 1–3). Even religions like Buddhism and Hinduism, belief systems that do not affirm a personal god, claim that something greater than man is keeping ethical score. Shintoism, the national religion of Japan, was originally a form of nature worship that stressed the supremacy of the sun goddess and the divine descent of the emperor. Again, law is of divine origin; it is law because the gods say it is law.
Even atheistic regimes like communism are inherently religious. The State assumes the role of a god once it officially declares there is no god. Ethics and morality are determined by the State. For example, French King Louis XIV (1638–1715) declared, L’Etat, c’est moi, “I am the State.” In 1685 Louis revoked the Edict of Nantes, which had protected the Huguenots, and cruelly persecuted these Christians. Nineteenth-century France was spoken of as “goddess France” by patriotic figures like Victor Hugo and Charles Maurras. Hegel, the philosophical patron saint of communism, wrote that “the State is the Divine Idea as it exists on earth. . . . We must therefore worship the State as the manifestation of the Divine on earth, and consider that, if it is difficult to comprehend Nature, it is harder to grasp the Essence of the State. . . .[T]he State is the march of God through the world.” Marx and Engels drank deeply from Hegel’s well.
The dictatorship of the proletariat in any Marxist Theocracy is not merely implementing a political program. They see themselves not as mere public officials but as the incarnations of the Will of History, carrying out its mandates. History, according to their eschatology, is progressing inexorably toward a perfect socialist state. This is held to be inevitable. How do they know? On what science is this based? Marx and Engels said so, they believe it, and that settles it.
Long before Hegel and communist leaders, Roman emperors elevated themselves to the status of gods. Gaius (A.D. 37–41) spoke openly about being a god. “By the time of Domitian (A.D. 81–96), it had become common to address him as dominus et deus, ‘my Lord and God.’”
There is no escape from God even in modern-day secular humanism since this atheistic faith cannot justify ethical norms of any kind. There can be no right or wrong in a chance universe. The secularist must be inconsistent with his core beliefs in order to justify even the concept of meaning, let alone propose a system of ethics. In effect, the secularist must borrow from the Christian worldview for the development of his ethical categories. There is no fixed touchstone proposition in atheism. All is in flux. What is right today could be wrong tomorrow. Without a fixed touchstone, there can be no law:
In the days of the gold rush men used a touchstone, a fine grained dark stone, such as jasper, to determine the quality of the gold which they had discovered. Today a Geiger counter is used to locate uranium and other precious metals. In baseball the umpire makes the decisions in the contest between the pitcher and the batter. In the court room the judge decides questions of law. In their respective fields the touchstone, the Geiger counter, the umpire and the judge speak with authority.
These examples of a touchstone represent a prior authority: An umpire must follow a set of rules set forth in a rule book; a judge can only adjudicate in terms of the written law; the jasper stone is not as accurate as an assayer’s scale; and a Geiger counter is only as good as the detecting apparatus. There is, however, a more fundamental set of principles that give meaning to these secondary touchstones. Ultimately there is a final touchstone proposition that stands behind rules for the rule book and the measuring devices of the assayer’s scale and the Geiger counter.