Chapters 1 and 2 of the book of Genesis describe the creation of the world and mankind’s place in it. The teachings within them form the bedrock of Western civilisation and, as discussed yesterday, seem completely incompatible with Socialism and its conforming ‘utopian’ principles.
Chapter 3 tells the story of Adam and Eve and states that once they had both eaten from the forbidden tree of knowledge, they became self-aware and able to recognise the difference between good and evil. Good and evil are therefore understood as objective facts. This assumption forms another intrinsic element of Western culture: that morality is not relative to the individual or to specific societies, but is a metaphysical given.
Moreover, without God and exogenous moral principles, there can be no clear understanding of what good and evil are. If morality does not exist independently of the material realm, then ethics descends into moral relativism. Individual opinions about what constitutes morality all hold equal sway. One may see murder as wrong, but without God and the Biblical commandments, it is only an opinion with no claim to higher authority.
The rest of the Bible is designed as a template to deal with the realities of a priori good and evil and the free will and responsibility God handed humanity. It attempts to explain how this free will should be exercised to enable the fulfilment of a good and rewarding life.
In 3:17, God explains the context within which we are to seek such an existence:
‘All the days of your life you will have to work hard and get food from the ground’ (3:17). ‘By hard work and a lot of sweat you will produce the food you eat. You were made out of the ground. And you will return to it. You are dust and you will return to it’ (3:19).
These passages explain how all of us must work hard to survive, that we will all experience death and misery, and that no amount of wealth or social privilege will allow us to escape these realities. The way the Bible tells us to deal with this knowledge is to accept it with good grace and to live without bitterness and envy.
The story of Cain and Abel in Chapter 4 illustrates this perfectly. Both Cain and Abel work hard yet through no fault of his own, Cain seems to do worse than his brother. His offerings do not please God, while Abel finds God’s favour. Understandably, this upsets Cain.
‘Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? . . . If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?”’(4:6-7).
Here, God essentially tells Cain not to be concerned with material differences, not to be jealous of his brother, but to continue to do the right thing. The story tells us that working hard and leading a virtuous life is more important than material inequality. Rather than become envious of those who have more than us, we should accept that inequality is a fact of life and concentrate instead on leading a purposeful existence.
Socialism, by contrast, teaches the exact opposite. Oppression and violence can be justified if they lead to greater equality. As Leon Trotsky once wrote: ‘The end may justify the means as long as there is something that justifies the end.’
These stories tell us a huge amount about what we have understood human nature to be over thousands of years. According to Genesis: We each have an equal moral standing and are sovereign over ourselves; we have free will, and consequently, a responsibility to use it justly; liberty and morality are inextricably linked; while we desire safety, we also have a thirst for knowledge and a compulsion to explore the unknown (even if that comes at the price of destroying paradise on Earth); the existence of ‘true’ morality is dependent on the existence of God; inequality is an inescapable consequence of providence and free will; and that jealousy and envy, far from creating utopia, can only ever generate evil.
Whether you consider yourself Christian or not, we would all do well to heed the wisdom of these teachings. They gave rise to a civilisation which has cherished the principles of freedom and responsibility above the oppression required to deliver material equality. These values and this way of life must be defended at all costs.