Law and Creation
Jonathan Sarfati chats with law professor, Dr Augusto Zimmermann, about Christian vs Darwinist influences on legal systems
Brazilian-born Dr Augusto Zimmermann is an internationally known legal scholar who teaches at Western Australia’s Murdoch University. Dr Zimmermann holds a LL.M. with ‘cum laude’ from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) and a Ph.D. from Monash University (Australia). He has published many academic articles in several languages and countries, and regularly speaks at conferences and seminars in Australia and overseas. Dr Zimmermann is a Vice-President of the Australian Society of Legal Philosophy, which publishes the prestigious Australian Journal of Legal Philosophy (AJLP).
Why would anyone want to become a lawyer? I asked. Augusto answered:
‘I decided to study law because I thought that a deeper knowledge of law would assist in helping people and society as a whole. I also wished to know how things work. The world is ruled by laws. Nations, as well as individuals, are ruled by laws. I wished to understand these different laws, how they are created, who has made them, and how legislation can be used to improve society and to protect the basic rights and freedoms of everyone.’
But even more important to Dr Zimmermann is his Christian faith. And he says that the biblical account of Creation is an historical event, foundational to the gospel:
‘Christianity can never be reconciled with Darwin’s idea that we were not created as special creatures of God, but evolved from animals. If Darwinism is right, then the Bible is wrong. There is no way of honestly bringing both ideas together.’1
Christian freedom vs statist tyranny
Dr Zimmermann believes that Christianity and law go together. He says:
‘According to the Bible, God created human beings in His image and likeness, commanding them to fill the earth and to subdue it. Based on this revelation, America’s founding fathers thought that all people receive their most basic rights directly from the hand of their Creator, not the State.’
But aren’t laws merely inventions of the State? Dr Z. points out the severe problems if the State replaces God as ultimate authority:
‘The State becomes a “god” unto itself every time there is no ultimate appeal against its laws. Then these laws are the ultimate source of all justice and legality and the State is enthroned as the all-powerful ruler over the life, liberty and property of the people. It’s really the case of saying: “The State gives, the State takes away; blessed be the name of the State!”’
Augusto argues that Christianity has been the foundation for Western freedom:
‘The recognition by law of the intrinsic value of every individual did not exist before Christianity. With the advent of Christianity it became common for people in Western societies to believe that laws shall always protect our basic rights and freedoms.
‘After all, in the Bible, God’s law is declared “the perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25) and believers are advised to “stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free” (Galatians 5:1).’2
Furthermore, Augusto explains,
‘Because Christ said that we must “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21), lawful resistance against governmental tyranny is another important aspect of an old tradition of Christian legal thinking. Thomas Aquinas commented that if the State abuses its power, there is no injustice if we depose or check those whom we have raised to political leadership, nor can we be charged with a breach of law for abandoning an evil ruler.’
But don’t some people think God’s law is too restrictive? Augusto explains that the opposite is true:
‘God’s law makes possible the free and healthy functioning of people and their societies. It protects us from tyranny by affording an eternal moral code to which societies can live in freedom. The summary statement of God’s moral law is found in the Decalogue (the Ten Commandments), and Christ did not come to abolish these eternal commands but rather to fulfil them.’
He supports this point by showing what happens when the Law of Christ is abandoned, in these days of multiculturalism and postmodernism:
‘Without God’s law, anything goes. There is no protection against tyranny and social oppression that, in the long run, can be sustained without the higher standards of justice and morality that were brought into the texture of Western societies by Christianity. We are currently seeing the legalization of things once widely regarded as evils and perversions, such as abortion and gay “marriage”.’
Dr Zimmermann has also deeply studied how today’s major anti-God system has already had baneful influences on society …
Darwinism’s harmful influence on law
When Darwin’s theory of evolution supersedes creation by God, what happens to the idea of human law being subject to God’s higher Law? Dr Zimmermann explains:
‘As a result of Darwinism, many lawyers embraced the doctrine of legal positivism and interpreted law as a mere result of sheer force and social struggle. Consequently, law was reduced to a mere managerial skill used in the service of social engineering, which is the dominant view in the legal profession today. But legal positivism stands in opposition to the Christian tradition of natural law.’
How so? Augusto argues:
‘Legal positivism implies that law can be separated from ethics and that the question of legal validity has no essential connection with matters of morality or justice. Instead, laws are understood according to the different State legal systems, without drawing any direct conclusions about their essential justness or merit.’
The problem with this, Augusto says, is:
‘With legal positivism even the most basic laws of society are no longer fixed laws, so law itself loses certainty and predictability, and has no tie to right and wrong.’ In fact, there is no longer any rule of law, in the sense of people knowing in advance what is right and wrong, permitted and forbidden. There are instead unpredictable edicts from the most powerful.’
But has this been a problem in practice? Most definitely, as Augusto points out: ‘Evolutionary influences are especially visible in Marxist legal theory. Because Marx rejected the God of Creation, he was deeply scornful of the doctrine of human sinfulness and convinced that the “evolution” of human nature would lead to its absolute perfectibility.’
As Augusto points out, ‘Marx sought to displace God’s laws and create his secular utopia on earth. Marx believed that laws are always the product of human will and, more specifically, the arbitrary will of the ruling social class.’
The results? In every communist regime around the world, the attempt to enforce the Marxist dream of equality of wealth has led to gross inequality of power (and in reality to equality of poverty among the masses)—in fact to governmental ‘deification’, as Augusto puts it, and continues:
‘Thus, in the twentieth century alone, Marxist-inspired governments killed at least 100 million people. Such a bloodbath is the mere by-product of a worldview that perceives that the most powerful humans are the ultimate authority of right and wrong.’3
Further, if laws are just relative to the State, then how can we criticize the monstrously evil laws of Hitler’s Third Reich? Indeed, Dr Z. documents that even after WWII, many legal theorists argued that the Nazi laws were valid under legal positivism, ‘because these unjust laws had been “posited” by the government of the day.’4
Augusto argues that the Darwinian approach is still pervasive in the West. He explains:
‘Many judges believe that their countries’ constitutions should be interpreted as if they were “living documents”, instead of being understood according to their original meaning. This apparently “progressive” view of law regards the constitution of liberal democracies such as Australia and the United States as old-fashioned documents that should be regularly “revised” and “updated”, according to the “enlightened” decisions of a few unelected judges. So the “rule of law” is replaced by the “rule of judges”.’
Dr Z. points out that these ‘progressive’ jurists might be surprised to know that ‘one of the earliest advocates of the “living constitution” approach was the pro-slavery leader Alexander H. Stephens (1812–1883), a barrister from Georgia and Vice-President of the Confederate States during the American Civil War. In his most famous political speech in 1861, he describes the pro-slavery confederation as a “progressive” society, the “very antithesis of a traditional society”. To him, “progress” implied the regular reinterpretation of the “old constitution” to bring it up to date with the ongoing, “evolutionary” needs of society.’
Furthermore, ‘even the Nazis themselves developed a concept of a “living constitution”,’ says Augusto. ‘According to Nazi legal theorists, the legal system should not be based on fixed rules of law but evolve in a continuous flow as a “living law”. The Nazis thought they were very progressive and acting on behalf of “evolutionary science”. They wanted to “advance evolution” by giving a helping hand to its guiding principle: the “survival of the fittest”.’5
How important are creationist publications?
Dr Zimmermann points out:
‘Believers of Christ are told to “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). They must be careful not to be taken “captive through hollow and deceptive philosophies, which depend on human tradition and the basic principles of the world” (Colossians 2:8).
‘This and other publications such as CMI’s Journal of Creation are fundamental for these purposes because they expose the allegedly “scientific truths” of arguments that are based on hollow and deceptive philosophies.’
- Wieland, C. Darwin’s real message: have you missed it? Creation 14(4):16–19, 1992; creation.com/realmessage. Return to text.
- Zimmermann, A., The Christian foundations of the rule of law in the West: a legacy of liberty and resistance against tyranny, Journal of Creation 19(2):67–73, 2005; creation.com/christianlaw. Return to text.
- See also Hall, R., Darwin’s impact—the bloodstained legacy of evolution, Creation 27(2):46–47, 2005; creation.com/darwinimpact. Return to text.
- See also Zimmermann, A., The Darwinian Roots of the Nazi Legal System, Journal of Creation 22(3):109–114, 2008. Return to text.
- Weikart, Richard, From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany, p. 9, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, USA, 2004; see review by Sarfati, J., The Darwinian roots of the Nazi tree, Creation 27(4):39, 2005; creation.com/weikart. Return to text.