Libertarians Love Homesteading Theory Except If God Exists

I don’t want to link to our comments because nothing he said was unusual, but last week I got into it with a critic here about God violating people’s natural rights. In other words, my critic was claiming that we can use our reason to derive rights that human beings possess, and that’s how we can know it’s wrong to murder, steal, etc. We certainly don’t need a God in order to understand right from wrong. Moreover, my critic continued, the God as described by the Christian Bible (or at least, as vocal Christians today talk about Him) violates such rights all the time, if He actually does the types of things Christians attribute to Him.

I think this is balderdash. If you want to say, “C’mon Murphy, your ‘God’ doesn’t exist, give me a break!” OK I understand that; at least your objection is coherent. But it makes no sense for someone who believes in Rothbardian-type natural rights to say that the Christian God initiates aggression against humans.

If the Christian God exists, then He created everything; He is the author of the entire physical universe, as well as our very souls or essences. He created the very idea of you and me. In this context, it makes sense to say He gave us reason, and using that we can define our natural rights. It would be immoral and a crime for James to shoot Billy out of the blue. However, no matter how Billy dies, there is a sense in which God made that happen. So either God murders no one in a criminal sense, or He murders everyone; but zapping someone at age 31 because he dropped the Ark of the Covenant, instead of zapping the guy’s heart at age 120 because he was a pretty obedient servant all his life, doesn’t really give a reason for libertarians to condemn one and praise the other.

For an analogy: It makes sense to say that Anakin Skywalker committed an atrocity when he wiped out his colleagues. It makes absolutely no sense to say that George Lucas committed an atrocity when he “made” Anakin “choose” to do that.

Look, guys like Walter Block love posing extreme thought experiments to make the point. Suppose some guy creates a new planet out of material that he justly acquired. He owns every molecule on that planet. Then you find yourself on that planet somehow (we’ll be vague on how you got there). Yes, perhaps the guy can’t shoot you. But he can certainly say, “Stop breathing my oxygen and stop standing on my rock. Get off my planet or I’ll evict you.”

Thus he ends up killing you, especially if it turns out he owns the whole physical universe except people’s bodies. And I’m pretty sure the straightforward application of standard libertarian theory says this hypothetical guy who owns the entire non-sentient physical universe, violates no one’s rights if he decides to let them all perish. Depending on the circumstances he’s probably a huge jerk of course, but he’s not violating anybody’s rights.

So if homesteading theory means anything, God arguably owns everything including your body, but for sure He owns every non-sentient thing. Thus He is perfectly within libertarian rights to set whatever rules He wants for our use of His property.

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