How Do We Explain Human Rights?


I have often asked myself why human beings have any rights at all. I always come to the conclusion that human rights, human freedoms, and human dignity have their deepest roots somewhere outside the perceptible world. These values . . . make sense only in the perspective of the infinite and the eternal.
– Václav Havel,
Former Czech President

When man is reduced to a mere animal—when the force of one’s worldview logic demotes humans to mere biological machines—morality and human rights die and power is all that remains. This has happened with every communist regime, and happens with all governments as they get increasing secular. It cannot be otherwise.
– Greg Koukl,
The Story of Reality

It’s exceedingly difficult to see how we move from a valueless series of causes and effects from the big bang onward, finally arriving at valuable, morally responsible, rights-bearing human beings. If we’re just material beings produced by a material universe, then objective value or goodness (not to mention consciousness or reasoning powers or beauty or personhood) can’t be accounted for.
– Paul Copan,
Passionate Conviction

It is impossible to develop a secular account of human dignity adequate for grounding human rights.
– Prof. Nicholas Wolterstorf,
Yale University