Religion first gave philosophy a concept of divine law; early prophets built their churches upon the hierarchy of a family, established God as the ultimate Father, and extended their human government to the King of all Kings. This ideology has affected the way we worship. Before the unconventional prince who was Jesus Christ, the Jews literally thought that God would lead the “kingdom of heaven” with a ban of angels and swords. While this concept died in its literal application, it continued to subconsciously shape our practices. Prayer now happens on the knees, a position first used in tribute to royalty. The catholic word “basilica” actually means “house of the king”, and God sits on the throne of the alter with his assistants at his side. Even in Protestantism, furniture resembles court houses, with boxes for the jury and the judiciaries, and the minister wears the same clothes as a judge, a dreary, black robe.
The job of any monarch is to make the laws; in this case, the laws of the universe. In an extreme display of “because I said so”, we subjects respond to the moral law and allow it to dictate our actions. Under the rule of such a figure, we grow extremely humble, and begin to feel guilty for existing, for opposing by our nature a threat to the Word.
When Western thought turned towards atheism, thinkers rejected the idea of the law maker but kept the laws; they noticed patterns of behavior and established from those observances the laws of physics, a different type of Order, but one that still determines our fate. In removing the law maker from the picture, we thus imagined reality as a machine, predictable and cold. Humans were only hick-ups, accidental products of random swerving. We lost our subjugation under the King and, wishing to dispel the burden of freedom and responsibility, thrust ourselves into determinism, comfortable with the familiarity. In this I feel a great error of logic was made.
Americans often feel (although they do not think it) that the sun rises because of the clock ticks, or, in extension, that the clock ticks because of time. However, time does not move the clock. The clock forms our conception of time. In a similar manner, the laws of physics do not govern the universe but instead describe it. So cheer up! The laws of physics are conceptions, not existence. One may not see or touch them. Not even God. We are therefore free in the one and only nowness which is creation, and all actions, as all happenings, simply happen of themselves.