On the truth of man’s rights under natural law

posted at 9:31 am on March 29, 2015 by Jazz Shaw

Yesterday, Ed wrote a lengthy essay on the subject of the rights of man as established by natural law. This was a companion piece to an article published by Matt Lewis speaking on the same subject. When the topic arose, I briefly mentioned my disagreement with Ed and promised to compose my own thoughts on this. He referenced that at the end of his piece, and this essay is the completion of that hastily arranged contract.

The first thing to address is what seems to be some varying opinions about what the word “rights” actually means. To me, a “right” is something which is essentially immutable and can not be dislodged without great effort. The establishment and maintenance of such rights can be largely (though obviously not always) achieved, but it takes a significant, concerted effort. Also, a “right” should, to my way of thinking, be essentially universal to all men, particularly if it is to be considered a natural right, as in something directly ordained by God or the natural order of the universe.

So what are these universal, “natural rights” which are so widely discussed? The right to life? That sounds like the easiest one we might all point to. And yet, while you may claim to have a “right to life,” my garrote, applied to you unawares from behind, disagrees. If you are unable to stop me, your right to life was overridden by something constructed from a piece of piano wire. How about liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Just look around the world. Many go without liberty and have no avenue to pursue any better life, say nothing of happiness. If there is any punishment coming to those denying them these rights, it often comes only when their oppressors shuffle off this mortal coil and go to meet their Maker. When Ed wrote his essay yesterday, he correctly quoted an immortal document which includes the phrase, “among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” If the phrase starts with “among these” then what are the others? Where are they delineated? Or am I left to pick and choose as I wish?

Then there are the rights listed in the Bill of Rights which Ed also mentions. All are near and dear to my heart. How about some of these other rights we cherish as Americans, such as the right to keep and bear arms, freedom of religion or of the press? Right here at home in many states your “right” to bear arms is suppressed if not nearly eliminated in larger, liberal cities. Our friends in the United Kingdom – one of our closest allies with whom we share a coveted, special relationship – have no such right to arms and can be locked up for unapproved speech in some cases. What of their rights? Has God forsaken them? And the people in Russia can only dream of the rights the British have.

Oh, you can insist that my definition of “rights” is ill conceived and that these are just universal truths. But without some concrete anchor to prove their infallibility, all you are really describing is a wish list. The Founders were wise to be sure, but they were the ones who claimed that these rights emanated from God and defined them for us. Where is that list of rights specifically documented? The last time I checked the Bible, the rights of man were not a large topic of discussion. The duties of man to God are very clearly spelled out, along with rules for how a God fearing, decent person should behave. But a list of the rights of man requires a rather significant leap of interpretation. In the end, while most all of us in the United States can surely agree on what these rights should be and that God would most certainly approve, they were defined and assigned by freedom loving men, not the Creator. And they are hardly universal.

Certainly these “natural rights” are things that most rational, decent people could agree upon as things that would be wonderful indeed. But if we are to accept that, then how do you deny someone else claiming a “right” which you don’t support? What of the liberal who claims they have a God given right to health care? Or even the right not to be offended by the speech of others? I can find you a library of examples of both with only a few moments on Google. Some of these same folks regularly point to the General Welfare clause and insist that this means they have a God given right to social security and any other number of safety net items. Are they right? Or are they misinterpreting the words of the founders? Oh, my… now we have another debate on our hands.

So which rights shall you claim are natural and God given while saying that the rights your neighbor claims are false? And who among you will provide us with the full list, “among which” are found life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? At this point I would revisit a portion of Ed’s essay which was well received by those supporting the concept of natural rights.

The combinations of an enforceable Constitution and the deliberative nature of the structure of our republic keeps our society from imposing its will by mob rule. Many nations have constitutions, both written or traditional, that carry little weight, and most of those only use them for window dressing for tyranny. Our tradition remained vibrant because we believed that our rights didn’t come from condescension by politicians, but from God and “unalienable” by human action, regardless of the power and corruption that may be presented. Our Constitution protects against both, however imperfectly, and will — until we stop believing in the philosophy that fuels its power.

Sound good? Excellent. Now let’s trim that down a bit and just look at the first two lines.

The combinations of an enforceable Constitution and the deliberative nature of the structure of our republic keeps our society from imposing its will by mob rule. Many nations have constitutions, both written or traditional, that carry little weight, and most of those only use them for window dressing for tyranny.

Who is enforcing that Constitution and holding off mob rule? It is the tenuous grasp of mortal men. Certainly you can fire back at me and say that this is only true and possible because of the will of God, but I could fill up an encyclopedia with examples of places where two people sitting in the same church pew on Sunday morning or a pastor and a priest standing at pulpits only a mile apart will disagree on the precise specifics of what the Lord wills.

The Constitution was not written by God, but by very good and largely God fearing men hoping to be guided in their work by His teachings. They were patriots, not prophets or saints. The founders were wise, but referring back yet again to what Ed wrote in his essay, they created a document which contained an unspoken acknowledgement that it was not flawless scripture. Our rights were set forth at that time but apparently we missed a lot of details as to what the Good Lord intended, since we continued adding to or modifying those rights as we progressed. (We were still editing the right to vote as recently as 1971.) The founders were not carrying tablets down from a mountain top, but debating – sometimes fiercely – precisely what our rights would be. And they built into that framework the mechanism for it to be altered, expanded and improved by the generations to come. The same can not be said of the Bible.

I do not quibble with the use of the word “rights” when it comes to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights or the actions of the government which I feel infringe on these same principles. Calling the first ten amendments the Bill of Rights is just fine by me. I only come into conflict with my friends on this topic when we begin talking about “natural rights” and “natural law” in relation to these concepts. On that score, I have my own views. And with that we come to the core of my own long held musings on an important philosophical point. I say this with the full knowledge that it sounds cold, harsh, and to a certain degree hopeless, but it seems undeniably true.

If we wish to define the “rights” of man in this world, they are – in only the most general sense – the rights which groups of us agree to and work constantly to enforce as a society. And even that is weak tea in terms of definitions because it is so easy for those “rights” to be thwarted by malefactors. To get to the true definition of rights, I drill down even further. Your rights are precisely what you can seize and hold for yourself by strength of arm or force of wit. Anything beyond that is a desirable goal, but most certainly not a right and it is obviously not permanent. And that’s why you must be eternally vigilant and careful in protecting those “rights” we have established for ourselves as part of our imperfect attempts to interpret the will of the Creator.


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The lesson continues…

I assume you mean in science. A law is a theory with so much evidence behind it nobody really questions it anymore.

On those rare cases where a law has actually be found to be wrong it’s always in some marginal way. Einstein’s relativity technically overthrew the newtonian laws of motion…but only for cases that involve extremely high speeds and or huge masses. In more typical cases relativity reduces to exactly the newtonian model.

Tlaloc on March 29, 2015 at 4:21 PM

That’s certainly what many uneducated dolts who also think that science can be settled, that consensus is scientific evidence, or that science has deniers in the same way religion does.

But here’s the actual reality:

A scientific law is not “better” or “more accurate” than a scientific theory. A law explains what will happen under certain circumstances, while a theory explains how it happens.

Remember Tlaloc, you’re an uneducated moron, and you and I are both fully aware of that.

Star Bird on March 29, 2015 at 7:22 PM

Someone is always deprived of something. A right to speech means depriving others of being able to silence you.

Tlaloc on March 29, 2015 at 4:18 PM

Which explains why the Collective wants control of the internet.

Star Bird on March 29, 2015 at 7:24 PM

There is no right to bestow rights, merely the capability.

Tlaloc on March 29, 2015 at 4:22 PM

You’re arguing semantics now, drone.

What qualifies a human to have the capability to bestow or withdraw rights from another human?

Star Bird on March 29, 2015 at 7:29 PM

That morality is partly a function of my upbringing in this culture and partly a result of my own thoughts.

Tlaloc on March 29, 2015 at 4:24 PM

You don’t have your own thoughts.

Your “thoughts” are merely an expression of the consensus of the Collective.

Star Bird on March 29, 2015 at 7:30 PM

We aren’t arguing what is the practical way, or the moral way. Simply the base reality. You having a right, any right, means taking something away from everyone else- namely the ability to prevent you doing whatever it is you have a right to.

Tlaloc on March 29, 2015 at 4:33 PM

Like keeping our doctors if we like them? Or keeping our plans if we like them?

Star Bird on March 29, 2015 at 7:33 PM

Interesting – so you are a science denier? Afterall, if π alone changes, many things no longer work out. If you believe that formulas, chemistry, physics, mathematics et al are in a constant fluid state of unpredictability, you lose all foundations for science.
So could you clarify your post modern position ?
Reuben Hick on March 29, 2015 at 6:58 PM

its not a post modern position – it’s scientific reality.

But if you REALLY understood science and not just slept at a Holiday Inn last night you’d know that.

Here’s a hint, watching Cosmos doesn’t qualify.

Skywise on March 29, 2015 at 7:35 PM

So you believe that some omnipotent god gives us rights…but lowly governments can take them away? We know for a fact that many places on earth your believed rights count for nothing.

Tlaloc on March 29, 2015 at 4:49 PM

Because men impose their own petty will without regard to the aspirations of others.

Star Bird on March 29, 2015 at 7:35 PM

Would someone please point out to Tlaloc and Jazz that natural rights are not the same thing as legal rights?

fadetogray on March 29, 2015 at 7:36 PM

I haven’t read the whole threat, but I will say that everyone who has an interest in the origin of our rights from Natural Law (or God, if you believe as I do) owes it to themselves to read John Locke, particularly his Two Treatises of Government.

Fair enough. As soon as someone proves god’s existence (or it proves it itself) then I’m happy to accept their moral strictures.

Tlaloc on March 29, 2015 at 7:08 PM

You’ll probably be waiting a while. As a believer, I’ve read a lot about apologetics, and it ultimately comes down to what the skeptic is willing to accept. Certainly there are arguments to be made from many different angles of approach, but each of us, theists and atheists alike have certain positions that we are unwilling to entertain (or indeed cannot entertain) unless something drastic happens to us (whether that be physical, mental, or whatever) to shake our belief system.

Christianity accepts this. Trying to reason somebody to God is like looking down at a grave and telling the body buried there, “Get up and walk!” Only by the power of God acting upon an unbeliever (the spiritually dead from our perspective), can that person change their mind and soul, and so become essentially a new creation.

Othniel on March 29, 2015 at 7:37 PM

Jazz, your entire essay is flawed in a most egregious manner.

In a more perfect world, the weight of words employed in law to specify the details of those rights which exist as self-evident, is a symptom of a larger problem, not a proof against those rights.

Beginning as you did, with the right to life. The natural order is that one person’s life is not another’s to destroy. Using the example of murder to suggest that the right does not exist is fallacious and shallow. When you forfeit, with your piano wire, someone else’s life, you do indeed forfeit your own right to yours. How, when, and whether, that is adjudicated during this life, or in the next, cannot be said with certainty, but it is so.

By descending order all of the other basic rights fall under the truth of that natural formula as well.

As to claiming that the British do not possess the same rights as we, you are also wrong. That their government refuses to recognize and guarantee those rights, and in fact violates them at their whim, is indeed a flaw in their entire system, but the natural right remains.

Let us take a step back. When two people converse, each should have an equitable opportunity to express themselves. Internally, each person knows this is RIGHT, and anytime any person refuses to acquiesce to this proper arrangement, they are being unlawful; not necessarily to the local societal laws, but to the laws of nature.

When people are waiting in a line for whatever reason, everybody knows that a newcomer to the line should take up their place at the back. Someone choosing to ignore the RIGHT of this way and insisting that they are somehow deserving of preference for no reason, is being unlawful. And whether they refuse to act so, they do indeed know that they are guilty.

In every possible circumstance which can be concocted, the humanly equitable, respectful, and RIGHT thing to do can be discerned with little effort. Oh, of course you can work to craft myriad “moral dilemmas”, that test the bounds of civil discourse through their absurdity, but it changes nothing.

In reality, there should be no reason in this nation, under the Constitution, for any anti-discrimination law to exist. Any such can be seen to be either a redundancy, or a destruction, of the recognized rights of life, liberty, and property. If a business owner sees fit to refuse service on any basis at all, it can be called discrimination by some. And if such behavior is significantly improper, the business will and ought to fail.

Government should not attempt to be the champion of every life or lifestyle; society at large is always what gets the thing done anyway. The Emancipation Proclamation did not make the slaves into equal members of society; it made chaining them a crime. Rosa Parks did more to truly free them than did Lincoln. We celebrate 50 years since the Selma march as a crowning achievement in civil rights. Was that planned and organized by government? Lincoln did the right thing, for the right reasons, but government cannot force any such thing without vast amounts of additional pain.

Humans are flawed creatures. We regularly demand rights we don’t truly possess, and ignore the proper rights of others without blushing. That is why the Constitution is necessary; to identify and state the guarantee of those rights, and establish boundaries by which disputes over such can be consistently adjudicated with real justice. However, our flaws have run so deep, that even the most cherished aspects of the founding of this republic have been corrupted by wicked people seeking, not justice, but power, always gained by denying the rights of others.

Liberty to choose how to behave is real. Demanding that the government force others to agree with your behavior, is an insidious, monstrous crime against the rights that government is sworn to protect.

Freelancer on March 29, 2015 at 7:42 PM

My guess is sooner or later the US will join the rest of th first world and provide a right to general healthcare.

Tlaloc on March 29, 2015 at 5:12 PM

Only if our slide into tyranny continues on its present course.

Star Bird on March 29, 2015 at 7:59 PM

. . . . . As to claiming that the British do not possess the same rights as we, you are also wrong. That their government refuses to recognize and guarantee those rights, and in fact violates them at their whim, is indeed a flaw in their entire system, but the “natural right” remains . . . . .
.
Freelancer on March 29, 2015 at 7:42 PM

.
That whole comment is well stated, but I singled out that short piece, for particular scrutiny.
.
‘Rights’ come from our Creator (aka “intelligent Designer”), and NOT from my/your/our/their/any GOVERNMENT, of man.

listens2glenn on March 29, 2015 at 8:02 PM

So you believe that some omnipotent god gives us rights…but lowly governments can take them away? We know for a fact that many places on earth your believed rights count for nothing.

Tlaloc on March 29, 2015 at 4:49 PM

.
Because men impose their own petty will without regard to the aspirations of others.

Star Bird on March 29, 2015 at 7:35 PM

.
I upset so many of my fellow Christian brethren, every time I say this … but … it’s mainly because GOD … IS … NOT … IN … CONTROL . . . . . of anything and everything that happens on this earth, right now.

listens2glenn on March 29, 2015 at 8:08 PM

Fair enough. As soon as someone proves god’s existence (or it proves it itself) then I’m happy to accept their moral strictures.

Tlaloc on March 29, 2015 at 7:08 PM

I like to argue from the reverse side of your kernel…..the day that science can actually take a 70 kg pile of native elements and by art, science, deduction and application of any and all scientific laws, fashion directly (not using already living templates) that pile of elemental dust into a living sentient man, then I will worship science and cease believing in God

clandestine on March 29, 2015 at 8:11 PM

‘Rights’ come from our Creator (aka “intelligent Designer”), and NOT from my/your/our/their/any GOVERNMENT, of man.

listens2glenn on March 29, 2015 at 8:02 PM

The Creator doesn’t have to have been “intelligent.” The natural rights are still there, and they still are what they are. A society pays a price for ignoring them and violating them.

Moral relativists believe natural rights do not exist. They think all cultures are morally equal regardless what kind of legal rights the culture chooses to give its individuals. Whatever they do, cultures/societies/countries cannot violate natural rights because there are no such things.

Moral relativists are quite insane, denying the evidence even when it is kicking them right in the teeth.

fadetogray on March 29, 2015 at 8:15 PM

You never had them. That’s kind of the point. You thought you did then a lowly earthly power completely abridged your supposed right, thus proving you never had it in the first place.

Tlaloc on March 29, 2015 at 5:28 PM

And here we see the drone unwittingly hot the crux of the argument.

Why do you suppose it is that the Founders chose to attribute the bestowal of rights to a supreme being, rather than to themselves?

Star Bird on March 29, 2015 at 8:16 PM

It is only because we live in a society that we need the concept of rights. A right allows for the ethics of the individual to be exercised while in a social context. While alone on an island it’s rather pointless to have a right to life. However while living among others, a designated right is essential.

Jazz, though rights are properly defended by force, they do exist as a matter of natural law in the same way that gravity is a fact of nature. Read more Rand- Selfishness is a Virtue and Capitalism the Unknown Ideal.

beselfish on March 29, 2015 at 8:18 PM

Well with EMTALA the federal government compels emergency room medics to treat patients. I don’t believe those medics can choose not to treat.

Tlaloc on March 29, 2015 at 6:41 PM

If they are compelled to perform such work against their will, then what are they?

Star Bird on March 29, 2015 at 8:22 PM

Fair enough. As soon as someone proves god’s existence (or it proves it itself) then I’m happy to accept their moral strictures.

Tlaloc on March 29, 2015 at 7:08 PM

.
I like to argue from the reverse side of your kernel…..the day that science can actually take a 70 kg pile of native elements and by art, science, deduction and application of any and all scientific laws, fashion directly (not using already living templates) that pile of elemental dust into a living sentient man, then I will worship science and cease believing in God

clandestine on March 29, 2015 at 8:11 PM

.
That’s not FAIR . . . . . it takes a hundred million, bazillion YEARS … for that “70 kg pile of native elements” to evolve … into a “sentient man.”

listens2glenn on March 29, 2015 at 8:23 PM

Interesting – so you are a science denier?

Reuben Hick on March 29, 2015 at 6:58 PM

There is no such thing in genuine science.

Only religion as disbelievers, infidels, heathens, heretics, and deniers, who must be targeted with punitive action for expressing ideas counter to the consensus of the Collective.

Genuine science has skeptics. Genuine science is absolutely dependent on skepticism. Without it, you don’t have a science.

Star Bird on March 29, 2015 at 8:25 PM

‘Rights’ come from our Creator (aka “intelligent Designer”), and NOT from my/your/our/their/any GOVERNMENT, of man.

listens2glenn on March 29, 2015 at 8:02 PM

.
The Creator doesn’t have to have been “intelligent”. . . . .

fadetogray on March 29, 2015 at 8:15 PM

.
?

listens2glenn on March 29, 2015 at 8:26 PM

clandestine on March 29, 2015 at 8:11 PM

Double standard much?

beselfish on March 29, 2015 at 8:29 PM

“AMERICA IS AWESOME BECAUSE I WAS BORN HERE!”

Hrrrm, not that convincing, actually.

Tlaloc on March 29, 2015 at 7:06 PM

I was looking forward to this predictable and uneducated comment. It always allows me to fully demonstrate the general cluelessness of the average drone.

Throughout 6,000 years of recorded human history, the rule has been that mankind has always lived solely in service of the state. In servitude to some liege or lord. But in America, a person could live in service to his own aspirations, rather than under the dictates of another.

Thus, America has been the exception to the rule; hence American Exceptionalism.

The concept of American Exceptionalism has nothing whatsoever to do with being better than anyone else. That’s an uneducated dullards misinterpretation of the verbiage which is commonly parroted by bad comedians and unthinking drones such as yourself.

Thank you for affording me this opportunity. It’s always enjoyable.

Star Bird on March 29, 2015 at 8:35 PM

Sure, so your “right” to inertia breaks down in a black hole. That’s very relevant.

Tlaloc on March 29, 2015 at 7:19 PM

Perhaps not. But what is perhaps relevant here, is that once again you and I together have demonstrated that you have no idea what you’re talking about.

Star Bird on March 29, 2015 at 8:36 PM

The Creator doesn’t have to have been “intelligent”. . . . .

fadetogray on March 29, 2015 at 8:15 PM

.
?

listens2glenn on March 29, 2015 at 8:26 PM

Though one may debate what natural rights are, exactly, and how one should translate them into specific legal language to create legal rights governments will be compelled to recognize, even an atheist of only moderate intellect should be able to see natural rights do, in fact, exist.

There are better ways of doing individual rights, and there are worse ways. Duh. A triple digit IQ ought to be more than sufficient, but people get the heads spinning with ideologies and causes, and their beliefs turn them into idiots.

I would have thought the Chinese experiment over the last 40 years would have permanently shut up the idiots. China loosened up a bit, recognizing some of the basic right of its citizens to the ownership of the product of their labor, and zoooooooooooooooooooooom, prosperity runs wild.

But there is no one so stupid as a True Believer, and moral relativists are True Believers on crack.

fadetogray on March 29, 2015 at 8:39 PM

alright alright alright…..maybe expecting science to be able to create de novo a living sentient man from 70 kg of native elements is excessive…..we need not hold science to such a high standard in order to confidently dismiss the existence of God…..instead I would be willing to forego God entirely if science could but de novo construct from a 0.75 kg pile of native elements a South American Conure that can sing Rigoletto ….that is considerably easier i should think

clandestine on March 29, 2015 at 8:55 PM

Someone is always deprived of something. A right to speech means depriving others of being able to silence you. That may be a perfectly fine trade, but it’s always a trade.

Tlaloc on March 29, 2015 at 4:18 PM

That is a rather idiotic comparison. One involves actively denying another their rights, while the other doesn’t. There is no trade off. I think you might be mentally defective.

NotCoach on March 29, 2015 at 9:16 PM

But here’s the actual reality:

A scientific law is not “better” or “more accurate” than a scientific theory. A law explains what will happen under certain circumstances, while a theory explains how it happens.

Remember Tlaloc, you’re an uneducated moron, and you and I are both fully aware of that.

Star Bird on March 29, 2015 at 7:22 PM

Pwnd.

CW on March 29, 2015 at 9:43 PM

There’s ample evidence of pacifistic societies which run contrary to your second point. As for the first we can point to self negating philosophies which, while rare, are not unheard of.

Tlaloc on March 29, 2015 at 7:05 PM

There are ample evidence of pacifistic societies… but name one that didn’t

1.Get wiped out by a violent one
2. Get enslaved by a violent one, or
3. exist completely enclosed by another society willing to be violent on that one’s behalf.

You see, if it’s not capable of existing in stable fashion on its own, it’s useless for purposes of basing law off of it.

What do you mean by a “self-negating philosophy”? And more to the point, can give give an example of a culture that is stable over the long term and is founded on it?

Keep in mind, the problem those people had wasn’t abstract. They had to produce a stable, peaceful society out of whole cloth, without benefit of any claims of “divine right”. Just because you can find an occasional isolated example of an exception doesn’t invalidate something being “universal” in terms of whether it should be treated as a constant when formulating a basis for a body of law.

GrumpyOldFart on March 29, 2015 at 10:33 PM

Someone is always deprived of something. A right to speech means depriving others of being able to silence you. That may be a perfectly fine trade, but it’s always a trade.

Tlaloc on March 29, 2015 at 4:18 PM

Bmore on March 29, 2015 at 10:58 PM

Your rights are precisely what you can seize and hold for yourself by strength of arm or force of wit.

Nietzsche smiles
No hope
No love.
Just will.

MHatch on March 30, 2015 at 12:00 AM

MHatch on March 30, 2015 at 12:00 AM

Nice.

Skywise on March 30, 2015 at 12:18 AM

So… why, exactly, did you feel the need to write an article that was already countered utterly by the things you reference in the opening paragraph?

CanofSand on March 30, 2015 at 4:59 AM

Similarly, nothing I said could be construed to deny equal rights are impossible. Even if two groups are not equally valued a society may easily decide to treat them identically.

Tlaloc on March 29, 2015 at 6:40 PM

Just because they are theoretically possible doesn’t mean there is a non-zero chance of them ever happening in such a social construct. You’ve already said that “rights” are nothing but the largesse of those in power. Therefore the only reason to grant you any rights at all is if your voluntary support has value, or if denying them has an unacceptable cost. Sure, in theory there could be such a thing as “equal rights,” but that would be solely at the whim of those with the power to force everyone else to play by their rules. That’s rather like flipping a coin and calling “edge.” Yeah, it’s possible, but…

So when all is said and done you consider all government to be despotism by the strongest, broken by periods of mob rule if no one person or faction has unequivocal power.

And you’re either okay with that or at least unwilling to even try to make it any different.

Remind me of this next time you complain about anyone who disagrees with you trying to get their way. I’ll have to remind you that jackbooted thugs are what they are supposed to be, by your definition.

Props for honesty though. Now I understand why you have the attitude you do about the casual criminality of Democrat leadership. According to your “biggest bully” theory of government, they could have executions on live TV and it wouldn’t matter. They’re the ones in power, therefore nothing they do is wrong or criminal, since “wrong” and “criminal” are defined as “things those with power object to in those who have no power.”

GrumpyOldFart on March 30, 2015 at 9:11 AM

The Creator doesn’t have to have been “intelligent”. . . . .

fadetogray on March 29, 2015 at 8:15 PM
.

?

listens2glenn on March 29, 2015 at 8:26 PM

.
Though one may debate what natural rights are, exactly, and how one should translate them into specific legal language to create legal rights governments will be compelled to recognize, even an atheist of only moderate intellect should be able to see natural rights do, in fact, exist.

There are better ways of doing individual rights, and there are worse ways. Duh. A triple digit IQ ought to be more than sufficient, but people get the heads spinning with ideologies and causes, and their beliefs turn them into idiots.

fadetogray on March 29, 2015 at 8:39 PM

.
I had to contemplate this one for a while, and this is what I came up with:

The people on the earth (us) don’t have to be intelligent, to figure out what is or is not a “natural right.

But I would still insist that the Creator/intelligent Designer must needs be intelligent, above and beyond anything we can grasp, to have established all standards of proper behavior, right vs wrong, acceptable vs unacceptable.

If this comment misses the point, then you’ll have to call me “dense”, and be done.

listens2glenn on March 30, 2015 at 10:15 AM

But I would still insist that the Creator/intelligent Designer must needs be intelligent, above and beyond anything we can grasp, to have established all standards of proper behavior, right vs wrong, acceptable vs unacceptable.

If this comment misses the point, then you’ll have to call me “dense”, and be done.

listens2glenn on March 30, 2015 at 10:15 AM

You would also insist the Creator had to be vastly intelligent to create bees and forests and mankind. The atheist doesn’t agree, but he still sees the bees and the forests and mankind, and he recognizes they exist.

The same thing applies to natural rights. They are there for anyone to see. Denying they exist is as dumb as denying there are forests.

My point is only that an atheist doesn’t have to agree with your argument about the intelligence of the Creator (the ‘Creator’ for an atheist could be evolution, for instance) to recognize the existence of natural rights. They are two separate arguments.

fadetogray on March 30, 2015 at 11:20 AM

I upset so many of my fellow Christian brethren, every time I say this … but … it’s mainly because GOD … IS … NOT … IN … CONTROL . . . . . of anything and everything that happens on this earth, right now.

listens2glenn on March 29, 2015 at 8:08 PM

This Christian brother is not upset by your statement. God is indeed in control, but this Earth is a very temporal place for all of us, and we each establish our choice of the eternal through the Free Will granted us by Him. With that Free Will comes the opportunity for evil, which He loathes, but will not prevent. He does not want automatons with Him in Heaven, but loving friends. Those who despise and reject Him choose eternity without Him, and He will not force them to choose otherwise. Those, like Tlaloc, who pretend to a superior intellectual position by demanding that God prove Himself before he believes, forcibly blinds himself to all the clear evidence of nature and man. That is his choice, and he cannot be lectured, bullied, shamed, or argued out of his willingness to not see. I know these things because I once held that position in regards to the Almighty.

It was precisely through an examination of the ways in which all people innately understand the exact same definitions of right and wrong, and the ways in which all people selfishly attempt to twist those definitions to suit themselves, that I began to recognize God. He hopes, and even commands, that we live in honor and service to Him; what He will not do is forcibly direct our movements or reverse our evil actions, because He will not deny us the gift of Free Will.

Freelancer on March 30, 2015 at 11:36 AM

You would also insist the Creator had to be vastly intelligent to create bees and forests and mankind. The atheist doesn’t agree, but he still sees the bees and the forests and mankind, and he recognizes they exist.

The same thing applies to natural rights. They are there for anyone to see. Denying they exist is as dumb as denying there are forests.

fadetogray on March 30, 2015 at 11:20 AM

Exactly. I have told more than one person that while yes, I believe in miracles, miracles rather lose their impact when there are half a million of them growing in the yard and you break out the mower and hack them all down every other week.

There is no way you can take the basic laws of physics and chemistry and go from there to something alive without encountering a whole string of statistical absurdities along the way.

And yet, here we are, and my lawn needs mowing.

GrumpyOldFart on March 30, 2015 at 11:55 AM

To me, a “right” is something which is essentially immutable and can not be dislodged without great effort. The establishment and maintenance of such rights can be largely (though obviously not always) achieved, but it takes a significant, concerted effort. Also, a “right” should, to my way of thinking, be essentially universal to all men, particularly if it is to be considered a natural right, as in something directly ordained by God or the natural order of the universe.

Any proper definition of the word “right” should remain constant, regardless of whether the discussion is about natural, civil, or political rights. A right is a legal claim. The only difference between various forms of rights, is the legal authority by which that right is instituted. A right is an action or activity in which a person is justified, or can be declared in the right, for executing. Using the right to life example Jazz provided, just because a person may take a life with relative ease, doesn’t mean that a person who takes a life is justified when they take that life. In what court of law would the following be considered an acceptable defense?

my garrote, applied to you unawares from behind, disagrees. If you are unable to stop me, your right to life was overridden by something constructed from a piece of piano wire.

Your garrote may disagree. However, the laws of the United States, and the various 50 states, say otherwise.

I we were talking strictly in the civil or legal sense, I doubt Jazz would make the argument that a person does not have a civil or legal right to life. Obviously, there are exceptions when the rights of person A and person B come into conflict, which would then bring the concept of justification back into the conversation.

If there is a civil and legal right to life, despite a weaker persons inability to protect that right from a stronger person, then why is there no natural right to life? The only thing that changes is the authority who is charged with ensuring that right. When a civil or legal right is in dispute, the decision of who is in the right comes after the fact, often in a court. Natural rights are no different. Natural law exists because there is a law giver who has the authority to create rights, and the power to enforce them.

HarryBackside on March 30, 2015 at 12:59 PM

But when considered from the other party’s perspective, those in effect become rights. For example, if I have a duty not to kill innocent people in cold blood, then it can be alternatively stated that they have the right to not be killed in cold blood by me. We then refer to this alternative consideration through the shorthand phrase ldquo;right to life.”

Stoic Patriot on March 29, 2015 at 10:07 AM

And you can see this transformation in Locke’s Two Treatises. Of course, this concerns ground he broke in his anonymous letters “Concerning Toleration”. Faced with a government that thinks its proper Christian role is to police orthodoxy concerning scripture, Locke assaults the current version of this theory, with a relentless scripture reading.

What people get wrong is that the Bible was written in a time of religious persecution. So the main emphasis is not how to get in everybody’s face about what “rights” everybody had under God, but how to live a godly life as salt and light.

The Lockean transition can only happen when thinking about how a godly society conducts itself. Locke starts out with the observation that the mind can not be reformed by force. Thus the nature of the mind is such that it is changed by conviction–and this is reflected in the principles of witness and confession in the Christian gospel. He cites Paul that each man should be convinced in their own mind.

Thus Nature/God, in its/his providence, did not make the mind to be forced to believe in a certain way. Just as scriptural Christianity has not required any other way than individual confessions of faith. (Historical Christianity strays from this pattern.) Thus Locke argues each person should be free to work to their conscience.

The expectation of the doctrine of conscience is that God would tell each man whether he had been true. But at one point Locke figures that he has exhaustively shown that the nature of the mind was not to be outwardly compelled, but convinced and convicted, and to hold to it on their own. He begins to discuss a society that is not built on compulsion.

Axeman on March 30, 2015 at 1:38 PM

Jazz, your misunderstanding can be summed up in a difference between simple words. Men can only enjoy those rights which he defends by force. Both the pre-existence of rights, and the requirement of force to maintain access to the fruits of those rights, is contained in the phrase:

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men

Governments, being, as the founders averred, force.

If you argue that you don’t possess them, until you fight for them, then you have nothing to fight for.

Axeman on March 30, 2015 at 2:37 PM

…and provide a right to general healthcare.

Tlaloc on March 29, 2015 at 5:12 PM

You have a right to the skill and labor of others, whether they consent or not?

So in short you’re pro-slavery.

GrumpyOldFart on March 31, 2015 at 7:46 AM

I upset so many of my fellow Christian brethren, every time I say this … but … it’s mainly because GOD … IS … NOT … IN … CONTROL . . . . . of anything and everything that happens on this earth, right now.

listens2glenn on March 29, 2015 at 8:08 PM

.
This Christian brother is not upset by your statement. God is indeed in control, but this Earth is a very temporal place for all of us, and we each establish our choice of the eternal through the Free Will granted us by Him

Freelancer on March 30, 2015 at 11:36 AM

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How are you defining “God is in control”?

By my definition, we can’t have free will.

listens2glenn on March 31, 2015 at 9:51 AM

Fair enough. As soon as someone proves god’s existence (or it proves it itself) then I’m happy to accept their moral strictures.
Tlaloc on March 29, 2015 at 7:08 PM

Evidence that Demands a Verdict” – by an atheist lawyer who set out to disprove God’s existence, and ends up becoming a Christian after seeing the overwhelming evidence FOR God’s existence.

READ IT… assuming you are a man of your word.

dominigan on March 31, 2015 at 11:58 AM

dominigan on March 31, 2015 at 11:58 AM

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HEY, Tlaloc ! . . . . . . . I’m taking a big, deep breath now, and holding it until you identify some disagreements you have with Josh McDowell.
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.
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THUMP … (passed out and fell on the floor) . . . . . oh well, I tried.

listens2glenn on March 31, 2015 at 12:13 PM

. . . . . Men can only enjoy those rights which he defends by force . . . . .

If you argue that you don’t possess them, until you fight for them, then you have nothing to fight for.

Axeman on March 30, 2015 at 2:37 PM

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WOW, don’t know how I overlooked this, yesterday.

Dead-nuts right-on, Axeman.

That’s exactly how we have to start looking at it.

listens2glenn on March 31, 2015 at 8:23 PM

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