Where Do Rights Come From?
Here’s an article from some twit named Frank Pastore: A Leftist Declaration of DE-pendence. The article opens with:
Despite a 45-year monopoly on public education, the Left has been unable to persuade most Americans to abandon their belief in God and creation and replace it with a belief in atheism and evolution.
The rest of the first half of the article continues along that line. Ordinarily, I’d make fun of that. What I found more interesting, however, are his assertions later in the article, which is what I’m going to examine here. His basic premise is that the rights we enjoy in this country are granted by God:
The Bible is the foundation, the Declaration [of Independence] is the “why,” and the Constitution is the “how” of this wonderful experiment in liberty and self-government known as the United States of America.
And the “how” is telling you to keep your grubby “foundation” out of government!
Because each man is equally responsible before God, he is to be free, and each man is responsible for the use of that freedom in governing himself. The principle of self-government roots in our equality before God.
No, the principle of self-government roots in the fact that we overthrew our tyrannical overlords. The Declaration of Independence only references a vague, generic, undefined “creator”. It says nothing about “God”, let alone “The Christian God”. Virtually all cultures have a creation myth, with some sort of creator. The Declaration of Independence was deliberately inclusive of all people, no matter what their beliefs.
Another thing to remember is that philosophy evolves. In the 18th century, most people were hung up on the concept of there having to be a creator. In the centuries since, non-theistic philosophies have become more sophisticated and can better explain the great philosophical questions. Just because the Declaration of Independence mentions a creator (without defining it), are we to be forever rooted to 18th century beliefs?
It took 18 centuries of Christian thought to produce the Declaration.
Isn’t the phrase “Christian thought” an oxymoron? (Well we know the moron part is correct!)
Many things needed to be worked out, among them the separation of church and state…
Wow. Pastore admits that the Constitution includes the separation of church and state!
If no God, then no Creator, no natural rights, and no equality.
WTF? He’s hung up on this idea of God granting rights. Rights are granted by the people themselves.
When the first humans decided to live in groups, they agreed (although not consciously or explicitly) to surrender some of their rights to the group, for the purpose of group survival. Anybody who didn’t like that arrangement could wander off and be a tribe of one.
Societies evolved in various fashions over the millennia. By 1776, we (the American colonists) were sick of the rights that had been seized by society, specifically the king. We declared independence (i.e., wandered off on our own). By 1786, we had come up with a Constitution that granted the government certain rights. All other rights were reserved for the people. I don’t see God in this anywhere. The rights are from the people.
If no Creator, then evolution.
He’s suffering from that either/or myopia of creationists. What if there is a creator who used evolution as the process?
If evolution, then all rights are positive rights, expressions of power rather than authority.
That’s the concept of Social Darwinism, which is usually used by conservatives of various stripes to justify their perpetuation of all sorts of social ills. Civilized human society did not evolve on a strictly power structure. His view of evolution is overly simplistic.
And, if evolution, then no equality since the different races evolved separately…
Race is not a scientifically valid concept, so we toss this argument straight into the dumpster.
…and no human exceptionalism—man is but an animal. Meaning, if man were to consider himself on a higher moral plane than the brutes, he would be guilty of the highest form of racism: speciesism.
Another ironic fundie statement. Fundies are the most guilty of speciesism, because they believe in special creation. There’s humans, and then there’s everything else.
Ultimately, rights come from either God or Government.
Wrong. Rights ultimately come from the people. The government then comes from the people.
If rights come from God, then government is under God, since it is the role of government to secure those rights. But, if government is the source of rights, then what is granted can be withdrawn. Rights would be alienable, only temporary.
Except we’ve just established that rights come from the people, so his argument is bogus. Furthermore, any government can overstep its bounds and seize rights, whether those rights are granted by God or the people.
Consider slavery. Lincoln argued slavery was immoral though legal. Douglas argued it was both moral and legal. Both men accepted the divine origin of rights.
Well that settles it then. If both Lincoln and Douglas accepted the divine origin of rights, nobody who came after them is allowed to disagree.
But, if rights were mere positive rights, as the Left contends…
I never heard the Left contend that. I only heard Pastore contend that the Left contends that.
…then that which is legal is that which is moral.
I don’t know what he’s smoking. Morality evolved for the survival benefit of the species and society. Laws are an attempt to implement that morality in a practical way. Laws are written by politicians, who have all sorts of conflicting pressures upon them. Immoral laws are frequently passed.
For example, the death penalty is opposed by many people on the left as immoral. Most fundies support it, citing the Bible as their primary justification. This gives us the opposite of what Pastore just claimed.
This is why to the Left, nothing is higher than the law, not even morality.
Again, he’s making that up. Just as I don’t claim to speak for the left, how can he—a conservative fundie—speak for the left? He needs to cite who on the left is making that claim. I sure haven’t heard it.
Which is why there could be no leftist moral argument against slavery, they would be limited to merely a legal appeal.
This is the exactly the same statement as the last sentence, just said in a more retarded way.
He then quotes “an Atheist’s Declaration of Dependence”, which he clearly made up. It’s a feeble rewording of the real Declaration of Independence, but filled with what he thinks the left thinks. He finishes his article with:
It is a high, noble and an especially American thing to do to reject secularism, atheism, evolution, and other ideologies of the Left…
It’s only “especially American” because of our high fundie population. Any other modern country would embrace these things.
…for such thinking could never have drafted the Declaration of Independence.
Wrong. The modern ideas of secularism could not only have produced the Declaration of Independence, but they would have written a better constitution—one without slavery or the disenfranchisement of most of its population (non-whites, women, non-property-owners).