Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Are “The Rich” Criminals?, II: Innocent Until PROVEN Guilty

Yesterday we raised the obvious question that arises when people claim that coerced redistribution of existing wealth belonging to “the rich” is the working of God’s law: how do we know that what we’re demanding is actually God’s law?  We concluded that, in accordance with reason, we cannot prove, that is, know, that something is, in strict fact, God’s law.  We cannot, therefore, claim to be enforcing God’s law when we cannot prove that it is, in fact, God’s law.

Today we look at the question, How do we know that the rich in every single case have obtained their wealth dishonestly?

Let us assume for the sake of the argument that we can prove (which we cannot) that what we’re claiming is God’s law truly is, in fact, God’s law.  We, of course, make no such concession except for the sake of the argument.  We stand by our contention that accepting something as God’s law is a matter of faith, not reason.  We’re just supposing that we can prove that what we’re talking about is God’s law to make another point.

The fact is, even if we can prove that redistribution of dishonestly gained wealth (or anything else) is God’s law, we have no proof that God’s law has been broken.  There is no evidence that “the rich” have, in strict fact, broken that law.

Again, the law, whether human or divine, absolutely requires proof, not opinion, supposition, or assumptions.  In both divine and human law, someone is innocent until proven guilty.

There is another “trick” here, or (at least) something that those who demand enforcement of God’s law tend to view as a trifling matter or needless quibbling.  It is fundamental to a just legal system that you cannot transfer the burden of proof from the accuser to the accused.  That is, we cannot demand the proof of a negative, e.g., “prove that the rich did not gain their wealth dishonestly.” 

Why is this a key issue?  The simple fact is, it is logically impossible to prove a negative.  “Proving a negative” is a contradiction in terms.

Non-contradiction is the first principle of reason.  It is the principle on which our knowledge of God’s existence and of the natural law is based.

That is, by our definition of God as a “Perfect Being” we know by reason that God cannot contradict Himself.  If God could contradict Himself, He would be “not-God,” which is impossible.  A perfect being cannot change or embody a contradiction.  Change or contradiction implies movement either toward or away from perfection, or imperfection, and therefore a perfect being cannot change or embody a contradiction.

We cannot, therefore, demand proof of a negative, e.g., “prove that the rich did not gain their wealth dishonestly.”  This is because a proof is a demonstration that something exists.  A negative is a statement that something does not exist.  We cannot prove non-existence by existence or vice versa; it is a contradiction in terms.

Thus, unless we have verifiable evidence that the rich did, in strict fact (again, the law, whether human or divine, requires facts, not opinions, suppositions, or assumptions) gain their wealth dishonestly, we are making a false accusation, i.e., calumny, a mortal sin.  Remember: the principle of both human and divine law is that someone is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

This is all well and good, but there is a final problem that crops up, and one that remains even if we can prove that what we demand to be enforced is God’s law, and that we can prove with absolute certainty that the rich are, in each and every case, guilty of breaking God’s law.  We will look at that in tomorrow’s posting.


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