Citing the ancient Greek play Antigone Arlandson notes that in her defense of her actions against the King's law, Antigone calls to the King's attention natural law, which not even the gods dare to break. The argument is the same as we now make for civil disobedience. Legislatures, and courts may declare certain things, but in breaking natural law, and requiring citizens to accede in the folly, they sow the seeds of disaster. A legislature may declare that from now on, pi equals a finite 3.14. But pi actually is 3.1416...ad infinitum. Perhaps for a small scale calculations, 3.14 yields sufficiently precise answers, but as the scale becomes large, the errors become similarly large, and eventually may become disastrous.
Arlandson then lists a number of areas where our legislatures and courts have declared things to be true despite natural law. He makes the point that these things have been traditional for a reason, and that breaking with that tradition brings with it consequences that are as predictable as the sun rising in the east. For example:
1. No, I don’t want to reopen the same-sex marriage debate, but the great unwritten, unshakable traditions teach us that a man and a woman, whether artificially or in person, are the only way for humankind to reproduce, whether actual or potential. Therefore nature has always favored the opposite-sex couple—humans didn’t irrationally favor them. Nature did. Humans just used reason and followed what nature taught them. Homosexuality in ancient Greece? Yes, but they also knew where babies came from and arranged conjugal marriages accordingly. Now, however, an unwise committee of neo-monarchs on the Supreme Court has broken everlasting, living wisdom. Arlandson goes on to list six other areas where our political "leaders," to the applause of editors and academics have made declarations against natural law. We, as a society, are already reaping the nasty consequences, yet nobody seems to be willing to admit that these bad ideas should be changed. Instead, our politicians keep doubling down, making our inevitable disaster worse and worse.
I am reminded of a Rudyard Kipling poem entitled "The Gods of the Copybook Headings." Back when I was young, when the dinosaurs still roamed the earth, and we didn't have cell phones, personal computers, electronic calculators, twitter, facebook, or whatever passes for the latest fad. Instead, we used to have something called a "pen." A pen was a devise for marking on "paper." In order to make these marks legible, so that others could read them, it was necessary to practice what was termed "penmanship." The copybooks, in which penmanship was practiced, typically had uplifting sayings, from whence we didn't know. But we did recognize them as statements of profound moral teachings that were broken only with grave consequence. You can find Kipling's poem here. I will quote the last stanza:
And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins, As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn, The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!You can call it a prophesy if you want, I call it the predictable result of failing to head the gods of the copybook headings.