A critique of Mark Passio's documentary on the Science of Natural Law
I've spent so much time in the last thirty-plus years arguing against post-modern relativism that it was very refreshing to watch Mark Passio's documentary and see that maybe (just maybe!) the concept of objective morality is being taken more seriously. This is a conversation that all humans, everywhere, ought to be having, especially at a time when a Luciferian New World Order looms large. Is there really anything objectively wrong with a handful of Globalists seeking to either kill or subjugate the mass of humanity? If so, why? Who says?
These questions do have solid, defensible answers, and it's good to see Mark Passio taking a stab at answering them. However, if you are willing to bear with me, I would like to explore what I believe to be some fairly serious problems endemic to his system of “natural law”.
“Cause and Effect” as a transcendent foundation for moral law.
Mark Passio defines natural law as “an existing condition that is both binding (having an effect that cannot be escaped) and immutable (unchangeable).” It is “a set of universal, non-man-made binding and unchangeable conditions which govern the behavioral consequence of beings with the capacity for holistic intelligence”, and it “ governs by manifesting the consequences of what we choose.” This objective natural law, according to Mr. Passio, is “built into the fabric of reality – like gravity”. Moral law, then, can be reduced to a simple concept of cause and effect, according to Mr. Passio's system.
But here's his system's fundamental problem: There is an enormous difference between laws of physics and laws of ethics, and it is in the confusion of these categories where Passio's philosophy makes a fatal mistake. Laws of physics explain the natural properties that matter and energy intrinsically possess, but there is no obligation imposed: they are merely descriptive. The law of gravity, for example, tells us that an object of lesser mass will be drawn to an object of greater mass. Hence, when an apple breaks free from its supporting branch it is necessarily drawn toward the center of the earth, and it falls to the ground. There is no prescription, only description, and neither the apple nor the branch nor the earth have done anything right or wrong.
Laws of ethics, on the other hand, are prescriptive: they prescribe how sentient, volitional beings should behave, not how they do behave (unfortunately). The eighth of the Ten Commandments, for example, tells us “do not steal”. Suppose a would-be thief sees an apple in a vendor's cart and covets it ( a Tenth Commandment violation). He has a choice: he can give in to temptation and take the apple, or not. If he chooses the former, then he has made an ethically wrong choice. But if laws of ethics can be reduced to cause and effect (physics), then he would simply have done what matter does – no volition, and no violation. The Eighth Commandment is not descriptive (it doesn't merely describe what thieves do), but prescriptive (it tells us what we should do to avoid becoming thieves). Laws of ethics impose obligation ; laws of physics do not.
There can, therefore, be no meaningful correlation between “cause and effect” and “the golden rule”. The former is descriptive; the latter is prescriptive. If ethics were simply an extension of physics then this entire discussion on natural law would be irrelevant: there would be no such thing as impunitive immorality. The “natural order” would see to it that crime (cause) would be met with just reprisal (effect), just as surely as the apple breaking free from the branch (cause) would be met with a judicious fall to the ground (effect).
To reduce morality to cause and effect undermines the appropriate establishment of any sort of judicial system, including militias, jural assemblies and common law courts. If the only penal recourse under natural law is consequence, then que sera sera, let nature run its course. Without intentional judicial action that falls outside of the parameters of natural cause and effect, I think we would be forced to accept the fact that the most probable natural consequence of theft would be that the criminals grow richer while their victims grow poorer.
It’s tempting, of course, to argue that when a criminal is guilty of theft (cause), his prosecution is the consequence (effect). So, prosecution of intentional crime is a matter of naturalistic cause and effect after all. Not so; a more careful examination reveals that this only compounds the problem. What this argument is saying is this: that the judicial prosecution of sentient criminals by sentient jurors is nothing more than one link in a chain of cause and effect. This being the case, the theft (cause) that produced the effect (prosecution) is itself nothing more than the effect of some other antecedent cause, making the criminal no less a victim of circumstance than the poor amoral apple whose stem detached. In other words, if the volitional actions of the jurors are no more than the effect of an antecedent cause, then the same must be true of the volitional actions of the criminal they’re prosecuting. He could rightly defend himself thus: “I had a natural desire for what was someone else’s (cause), so I took it (effect). Simple as that; nothing more than a matter of physics. Laws of physics are descriptive, not prescriptive; my ‘theft’ was no more objectively right or wrong than an apple falling from a tree!”
No meaningful correlation can be made between physics and ethics respecting any concept of moral law. The two are very different categories. Passio’s system confuses these categories; it reduces volitional human behavior to a chain of cause and effect. This is a very serious mistake. Physics offers a detailed description of the God-given properties intrinsic to matter and energy; ethics offers a prescription for how sentient, volitional beings are supposed to behave, and what to do with them when they don’t. There is an irreconcilable difference between physics and ethics.
In his documentary Passio seems to denounce any exercise of authority by one human over another as objectively unethical. He suggests that all claims to authority are illegitimate and immoral. I certainly understand. The imposition of human authority can, without a doubt, be abused – often heinously. In fact, I think that even a cursory review of world history would show that brutality has been the norm, not the exception. This has become particularly evident of late, as we watch a diabolically evil New World Order agenda unfold globally.
When he denounces all authority as immoral, however, Passio’s system quickly sinks into the morass of self-defeating philosophy. Bear with me as I explain how.
He claims that objective morality is “elusive at best….”, that there are few people who truly understand it. Yet, he seems quite sure that he does: in his documentary he makes one dogmatic claim after another about the particular nature of objective morality, and I find myself agreeing with most of these claims. But how does he know these claims are true? What makes him think that he has anything approaching a clear understanding of something that is so elusive that very few people are able to grasp it? Why should we listen to Mark Passio?
His answer is twofold: first, because he has access to “hidden knowledge” gained during his former involvement with the dark occult, and second, that we can access this same knowledge by listening to our consciences (following our hearts, some might say). After all, this seems to be what his documentary is all about: helping us discover the same hidden knowledge that he has discovered. In other words, he is in possession of very important knowledge that most of us don’t have, but need, and he wants us to have it too. Who better for the ignorant masses to listen to than someone who was once ignorant himself, but no longer is, who now possesses deeper insight into the intricasies of this hidden knowledge?
Passio tells us that knowledge of objective natural law can be accessed through the conscience, which is something that we all possess (to some degree at least). But, again, he also tells us that this knowledge is elusive, and that very few people truly find it. This means that conscience is obviously not an entirely trustworthy guide. So, who gets to define the parameters of objective morality for us? Those who have trustworthy consciences, of course. We would be fools, for example, to entrust the definition of these parameters into the hands of a sociopath.
And what should a society of freedom-loving people do with those who inevitably refuse to live according to the definition of natural law that has been established for them by those who have access to hidden knowledge, and who have properly functioning consciences? Prosecution in Common Law courts? Do you see where this is going? That’s right! Followed to its conclusion, Passio’s system can’t help but establish a structure of human authority. In fact, the very production of his documentary is a de facto establishment of epistemic authority: he assumes the right to instruct us because he claims to know things that we don’t. He is a supposed authority on natural law.
Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not suggesting that Passio’s system in any way abuses authority, but only that it makes claims to authority, perhaps without his even realizing it. Neither am I saying that I find any fault with his ethical ideals (mostly, at least). I’m simply pointing out that his system depends upon the reality of authority in some form, and that any society living under his ideals could not exist without it.
I can anticipate this rejoinder: “Passio is not condemning all authority, but only coercive authority by which humans are forced to act against their wills. All human interactions should be voluntary. He’s not denouncing authority in every sense; he’s denouncing the use of coercive force.” But even this misses the mark. His system actually depends upon coercion.
One of the ethical claims that Passio made in his documentary is that forceful self-defense is perfectly acceptable under natural law. But self-defense is coercive. Suppose a thief produces a knife and tells me that he will put it away only after I have given him my wallet. Whether or not the knife is bloody when he puts it away is up to me.
Thief: “I intend for you to do something that you do not want to do: I intend for you to give up your wallet, and I intend to use coercive force (knife) to see to it that you comply!”
Me: “I intend for you to do something that you do not want to do: I intend for you to leave me alone, and I intend to use coercive force (9mm) to see to it that you comply.”
Both the would-be thief and I, in this hypothetical, have used coercive force, but I contend that my actions were ethical, and his were not. Imagine the same thief in a Common Law court being told that he needs to make restitution for crimes committed against others. He is being coerced. He is being told to do something that he does not volunteer to do. Under Passio’s system, the application of natural law against the thief becomes, itself, a violation of natural law.
Here is where Passio’s system descends into self-defeat: it denounces the exercise of authority by one human over another as objectively immoral, yet it depends upon the exercise of authority by one human over another. According to his own definition of moral corruption, his concept of natural law is morally corrupt.
Please allow me to suggest a more excellent way: that authority (even coercive) can be used for good or for ill. Sometimes it is exercised ethically, sometimes not. The use of authority (even coercive) can be ethically right, or it can be very wrong-- often diabolically evil. This, of course, leads to a very important question: who gets to decide which is right and which is wrong? And this question provides the perfect segue into the next section of my critique
The Problem of Subjectivity
In his documentary, Passio argues that, contrary to popular opinion, morality is objective. In fact, he makes this assertion very dogmatically. He says that natural law is both immutable and binding, meaning that it is unchanging, eternal, and places obligation upon everyone everywhere, whether they realize it or not. I was glad to hear this; I agree with him. However, I question his system’s ability to defend this claim. I contend that, under his system, morality necessarily descends into pure subjectivity, and further, into nihilism.
He seems to understand the fact that, in order to morality to be objective, it requires justification that transcends human subjectivity. Of course, he is right. In order for morality to be immutable and binding, it obviously needs to be much more than just a matter of personal opinion. If there is no transcendent standard, then morality cannot be immutable: it would be hopelessly subject to the whim of evolving popular opinion; if there is no transcendent standard, then morality cannot be binding: there would be as many variations as there are opinion-holders and none of them would have any right to force their opinion on anyone else. But it’s in his attempts at discovering and defining this transcendent justification where Passio’s arguments begin to fail. Let’s take a look at them.
‘Cause and Effect’ as a justification for objectivity
Passio’s appeal to Science is an obvious attempt to supply the transcendent justification that any concept of objective ethics requires. He seems to realize that we can’t escape the trap of subjectivity without some higher standard that all humans are accountable to. Otherwise, morality would be reduced to a matter of personal opinion, and no one would have any right to tell anyone else how to live. This, of course, would include Passio’s axiomatic definition of objective morality: “do not initiate harm.” Without a higher standard to which we are all accountable, the thief could rightly defend himself thus: “I like initiating harm; leave me alone-- I’m not doing anything wrong! In my view of ethics, stealing is perfectly acceptable. Go force your morality on someone else!”
Passio recognizes this need for a transcendent standard, so he appeals to science-- to “cause and effect”. But here’s the problem: as pointed out earlier, laws of physics are simply descriptive; they do not impose obligation. The law of gravity doesn’t say “all apples that break free from the branch are duty-bound to fall to the ground, and any that choose not to are sinning.” The law of gravity simply describes what matter does-- in this case, detached apples in relation to the earth.
Laws of ethics, on the other hand, are by definition normative; they do impose obligation. This is the whole point of ethics. To redefine morality as an expression of “cause and effect” is to deny the existence of normativity, and therefore, to redefine ethics into non-existence. Without obligation there is no such thing as morality, and “cause and effect” imposes no obligation. To attempt to make ethics an extension of physics is to sink into the hopeless quagmire of ethical nihilism.
Suppose I drive my loaded log truck through a crowded neighborhood at 75 MPH and crest a hill to discover a little girl playing on the middle of the road. Laws of physics (inertia, specifically) might have something to say about whether or not the exertion of force by the brake pads on the drums can produce enough friction to overcome the forward momentum, and “cause and effect” might shed some light on what happened next and how it happened. But neither the law of inertia, or causality, or any other aspect of physics has anything to say about what should have happened-- whether or not I should have been driving a loaded log truck through a crowded neighborhood at 75 MPH. To answer this question we need to turn to ethics, and in order to turn to ethics we need to turn to the clear revelation of a transcendent law-giver.
An Appeal to “Hidden Knowledge” as a Foundation for Objectivity
Passio’s documentary opens with a brief narrative explaining how he came to become acquainted with objective moral law. It was during his former involvement with the Dark Occult that he gained access to hidden knowledge about natural law, which in his system forms the foundation for ethics. I believe that this is a hopelessly unstable foundation, and I intend to take a stab at showing why. But first, please allow me to take a minute to offer a brief word of very serious caution. The dark occult is self-consciously Satanic, and Satan is a master deceiver. We are fools, all of us, if we think we are above being taken in by his deceptions. Satan’s modus operandi has always been subtlety: he presents himself publicly as an angel of light, love, and goodness. Within a beautiful-sounding message that contains some truth, he conceals a lethal dose of poison. I believe that this is the case here, and I intend to write more about this in another essay. But for now, let’s get back to the point and focus on the inability of the appeal to hidden knowledge to supply a stable foundation for objective ethics.
Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that Mark Passio has in fact rediscovered knowledge of natural law that the dark occult claims to have kept hidden from us. So what? Passio’s claim to hidden knowledge provides absolutely no justification for the supposed objectivity. Why should I obey this version of morality, instead of my own subjective concept? Why should I care about this hidden knowledge? When we apply what I like to call The Grand Epistemological Question (“who says?”), the only answer that Passio provides is “Physics says”(‘Cause and effect’).But, as pointed out above, this simply isn’t true. Laws of Physics have nothing at all to say about morality one way or the other. Physics is necessarily silent about matters of ethics. So why should I take seriously obvious misinformation that came out of the Dark Occult, of all places?
An honest quest for truth often finds us wading in epistemologically turbulent waters; discerning right from wrong can sometimes be a difficult affair. I’m certainly not saying that we should dismiss truth-claims without examining them, even those that are drawn out of very dark places (although a great deal of caution is in order). But, while access to hidden knowledge may have value in piecing together the particulars of the jigsaw puzzle of objective truth, it cannot supply the epistemological foundation necessary for the justification of objectivity in the first place. In other words, before we even begin piecing together the details of what objective morality looks like, we need to first be sure that there is such a thing. Passio’s appeal to hidden knowledge does not even come close to establishing this necessary foundation.
If our ethic rests on any other foundation than clear revelation from a transcendent law-giver, then we find ourselves lost in a hopeless maze of subjectivity that necessarily reduces to nihilism. Without God, morality is reduced to a matter of personal opinion, and no one has any higher claim than anyone else. Passio’s claim to hidden knowledge does not change this fact. Without God, there is no such thing as objective morality. If there is no God, then I’ll thank Mark Passio to keep his hidden knowledge to himself; his hidden knowledge gives him no right to tell me what to do. If I want to initiate harm, then leave me alone; go force your morality on someone else.
Conscience as a Foundation for Objectivity
In his documentary, Passio says that objective moral law can be discerned by listening to our consciences. Very true; I wholeheartedly agree; the conscience does play a vital, but limited, role in helping us discern good from evil. If we ever find ourselves wondering whether or not something we’re doing is right or wrong, then a fine diagnostic question would be: “What is my conscience telling me?” Another would be: “how would I like it if someone else did this to me?” To learn to better hear the gentlemanly voice of conscience in our own hearts is something that we would all do well to strive after.
However, an appeal to conscience alone cannot escape subjectivity. I realize that passio is not recommending conscience as a transcendent foundation for ethics-- his foundation seems to be “science”. But, just like hidden knowledge, the conscience plays a key role in his system in defining morality for us. How can we know that objective morality exists? Because our consciences tell us so. But I contend that, by itself, human conscience cannot be used to justify any concept of objectivity.
An appeal to conscience looks like this: “if you want to know what’s right or wrong, just follow your heart.” This claim is, by definition, subjective. People’s hearts lead them in all sorts of different directions. In fact, many times over the years I’ve seen people’s hearts lead them into places where they have initiated harm, and so are in violation of Passio’s definition of natural law: theft, adulterous affairs that have torn families apart, NAMBLA representatives who justify paedophilia on the grounds that they are following their heart-felt convictions, etc.
So, how do we get from “follow your heart” (an entirely individualistic and subjective experience) to an objective, immutable, universally binding ethic? If the human heart is to be a criterion for objective morality, then an obvious question unavoidably comes to mind: “whose heart?” Whose heart gets to define ethics universally for everyone else, and why? Why not my heart, or Adolf Hitler’s, or Klaus Schwab’s? Maybe the N.W.O. globalists are right after all. My heart leads me in a decidedly different direction than theirs, but who’s to say that their hearts aren’t right and mine wrong?
If natural law is both binding and immutable, and we discover it by following our hearts, then the above question (“whose heart?”) demands a defensible answer. This answer might seem to be, “The hearts of those who accept this definition of natural law: do not initiate harm.” But why? Why not the hearts of others who arrive at a different definition? And doesn’t this present an argument that runs a vicious circle? Here’s how it might go: “How do you know that your definition of natural law is the correct one?”
“Because my conscience has led me to this definition.”
“But how can you be sure that your conscience is not defective?”
“Because it led me to this definition of natural law.”
Although I don’t remember seeing this in Passio’s documentary, an appeal is often made to majority consensus. How can we know whose hearts are leading them aright and whose hearts aren’t? Most people (a healthy majority) agree on the basic principles of morality.
But there are some serious problems with an appeal to consensus. First, majorities can often be very wrong about very important things-- quite likely more often than not. In fact, an appeal to consensus (at least in our culture) forms an argument that has a tendency to defeat itself, since it is generally accepted that it is wrong for a majority to impose its will upon a minority.
In the second place, popular opinion is still opinion, and will always remain so without objective justification. When seeking after objective truth, its simply isn’t true that there is safety in numbers. If there is such a thing as objective moral law, then it could be a tiny minority who are actually getting it right. “Do not initiate harm” Could be all wrong.
It is sometimes argued that a consensus of sorts can be arrived at through the hard work of deliberation. We just need to all put our heads (and hearts) together and arrive at some definition of morality that is agreeable to everyone. Atheists have referred to this process as the forming of what they called “social compacts”. But the problem remains: what do we do with dissenters? No matter how many people agree with its defining terms, the social compact could still be all wrong. It could, in fact, be the tiny minority who disagree who are actually getting it right. And again, isn’t it wrong for a majority to force its will on a minority? “Social compacts” are little more than “might makes right” repackaged with more pleasant-looking trimmings.
There is no avoiding it: without a standard that transcends human subjectivity morality cannot be objective; it is reduced to a matter of opinion, and mine is no better or worse than the predatory paedophile’s. Hello, nihilism!
Yet, we all know in our hearts that there is a transcendent moral standard. Even the most hardened sociopath knows what wrong looks like when he’s the one being wronged. We also all know in our hearts (at least on some level) that this standard exists not merely in nature, or physics, or an impersonal higher life force, but in the character of a personal law-giver.
A Faith-Based Belief System
Mark Passio tells us that objective ethics are found, not in any faith-based belief system, but instead in a “science of morality that requires no belief or faith”. He then presents a “science of morality” that is a faith-based belief system. I get the impression that, since he invokes “science” as his final authority rather than God, he thinks he has somehow escaped religious dogma, but he hasn’t. Please allow me to attempt to briefly expose the faith-based foundation that his system of natural law is built upon.
Science is simply a method of induction. It is a careful, disciplined, painstaking way of investigating the world around us, in an effort to better understand it. Here’s how it works: a theory is posited, and then investigation commences, usually involving rigorous testing and experimentation, in an atempt to either validate or discredit the theory. Real science doesn’t object to having its paradigms challenged; it invites and benefits from peer review and criticism.
But what happens when science stops behaving like a method of investigation and begins to present itself as an epistemological final authority? A brand new religion is born. The humble, inquisitive quest for truth is replaced with decidedly unscientific religious dogma: “the science has spoken”. Appeals are made to blind faith: “trust the science”. Dissenting thought is squashed with heavy-handed censorship. Authoritative religious organizations are erected (like the World Health Organization) for the purpose of revealing to the masses the will of the science god. A priesthood is established, complete with priestly garb (white lab coats).
Of course, a monolithic religious movement never stays monolithic for very long. Dissenters inevitably arise who seek to preserve the foundational belief system, while purging the structure of its excesses and abuses. Here is where we find Mark Passio, it seems. I get the impression that he would be loathe to bow before the high priests of the World Health Organization, but the fundamental religious ideals remain: he treats science like a god, instead of the simple method of investigation that it is.
In his documentary, Passio makes one dogmatic claim after another, without a single shred of real justification; all of these claims need to be taken on faith. No doubt feeling the need to point to something beyond his own opinion, he appeals to science as a final authority. I won’t take the time to pick apart all of these claims, but instead let us take a minute or two to examine just one of them.
At the beginning of the section where he defines many of the details of his concept of natural law, Mr. Passio first tells us what it isn’t. Objective natural law isn’t “survival of the fittest”, or “the law of the jungle”, or “dog-eat-dog”, or any such thing. In fact, it is exactly the opposite: “do not initiate harm”.
But why? Who says? If we examine nature, we find evidence that natural law may, in fact, be exactly the opposite of what Mr. Passio says it is. “The law of the jungle” is the rule in nature, where we find theft, murder, rape, subjugation, brutality, and cruelty of unimaginable sorts as a matter of course. If humans were truly to behave consistent with any law found in nature, then we would be an unthinkably uncivilized lot! Mr. Passio’s concept of natural law seems decidedly unnatural to me.
So, how is it that this concept can be accepted without faith? To what apparent conclusion would a true scientific investigation lead? Who says that “do not initiate harm” is an immutable, binding, moral law that is woven into the very fabric of a reality where initiating harm with impunity is perfectly natural? How is it that this concept of natural law can be accepted without faith? “Be still and believe the science! The science god has spoken!”
If you know how to ask the right questions, then you can expose the fact that every worldview depends upon faith on the foundational level. This includes Mr. Passio’s system. The question is: what is the object of that faith, and does it lead us toward or away from objective truth? Does it lead us to or away from the personal law-giver? Fodder for another essay…
When this critique was in its formative stage, and I was feverishly scratching out disorganized notes while listening to Mr. Passio’s documentarnb 3y, I planned to end with a fairly lengthy conclusion in which I contrast Passio’s system with what I believe to be a very sound objective ethic. This conclusion would form probably half of my essay. I’m realizing now that I can’t do that; I’ve already rambled on long enough. So, another essay will follow, Lord willing.
I do believe very strongly that there is such a thing as an immutable, binding, ethic to which all people are accountable, and that a good summary of this ethic (at least as it relates to human interactions) would be “do not initiate harm”. Another way to put it would be “love your neighbor as yourself.” In fact, I would argue that to reject the concept of objective ethics would be to commit philosophical suicide. But I would also argue that any concept of objective morality demands justification that transcends human subjectivity: without a personal, transcendent God, there is no objective ethic. I am prepared to defend this claim; please bear with me while I feverishly scratch out the makings of a second installment.
Blessings, dear friends. I love you all.