The Circular Nature of Laws

Jim Mason
2 min readJun 4, 2024
Photo by Luca J on Unsplash

“Laws” of god(s), of nature, and of humans are all ultimately enabled by our language ability.

Our concepts of “laws” involve our understandings of the consequences of our actions. We use them to guide our behavior with expectations of possible reward or punishment, cooperation or conflict.

As children we begin to learn such “laws” from our parents (“Don’t steal. Share. Don’t lie. Tell the truth.”) and from direct experience (Hitting causes pain. Falling can hurt. Living things die. Lying and stealing can sometimes be rewarding.) And as our brains grow, we learn new laws — of nature, of humans, and (as some people believe) of god(s).

We also learn that some laws are more powerful than others. For many people, laws of god(s) are the most powerful of all. For them, god(s) are responsible for laws of nature and can even override them by performing “miracles”.

For other people, who do not believe in super-natural god(s), laws of nature are the most powerful laws. The law of gravity rules us here on earth, despite whatever contrary laws people might declare, and laws of physics, chemistry and biology determine that we all die, despite our desires.

Both theists and atheists seem to agree that human laws are secondary, either to laws of god(s) or to laws of nature. The Ten Commandments are an example…



Jim Mason

I study language, cognition, and humans as social animals. You can support me by joining Medium at