How Do We Explain Human Rights?

plaatje-christopher-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

There’s no morally neutral ground

ChjqrMhXIAE8YqlIf you’re placed in a situation where you suspect your convictions will be labeled intolerant, bigoted, narrow-minded, and judgmental, turn the tables. When someone asks for your personal views about a moral issue—homosexuality, for example—preface your remarks with a question. You say: “You know, this is actually a very personal question you’re asking, and I’d be glad to answer. But before I do, I want to know if you consider yourself a tolerant person or an intolerant person. Is it safe to give my opinion, or are you going to judge me for my point of view? Do you respect diverse ideas, or do you condemn others for convictions that differ from yours?” Let them answer. If they say they’re tolerant (which they probably will), then when you give your point of view it’s going to be very difficult for them to call you intolerant or judgmental without looking guilty, too. This response capitalizes on the fact that there’s no morally neutral ground. Everybody has a point of view they think is right and everybody judges at some point or another. The Christian gets pigeon-holed as the judgmental one, but everyone else is judging, too. It’s an inescapable consequence of believing in any kind of morality.

–Greg Koukl

Seven Things You Can’t Do as a Moral Relativist

Greg KouklSo you’ve decided to become a moral relativist. Good for you! What could be better than doing whatever feels right? What could be worse than letting someone tell you what you should and shouldn’t do? Plus, it’s one of the easiest worldviews to adopt: Just leave everyone else alone and demand that they do the same for you, and you’ll never have to worry again about whether your actions are right or wrong. In fact, there are really only seven things that you can’t do as a moral relativist. Simply follow the rules below, and you’ll be free from absolutes forever!

Rule #1: RELATIVISTS CAN’T ACCUSE OTHERS OF WRONG-DOING

Relativism makes it impossible to criticize the behavior of others, because relativism ultimately denies that there is such a thing as wrong- doing. In other words, if you believe that morality is a matter of personal definition, then you can’t ever again judge the actions of others. Relativists can’t even object on moral grounds to racism. After all, what sense can be made of the judgment “apartheid is wrong” when spoken by someone who doesn’t believe in right and wrong? What justification is there to intervene? Certainly not human rights, for there are no such things as rights. Relativism is the ultimate pro-choice position because it accepts every personal choice—even the choice to be racist.

Rule #2: RELATIVISTS CAN’T COMPLAIN ABOUT THE PROBLEM OF EVIL

The reality of evil in the world is one of the primary objections raised against the existence of God. The argument goes that if God were absolutely powerful and ultimately good, then he would take care of evil. But since evil exists, one of three possible scenarios has to be true: God is too weak to oppose evil, God is too sinister to care about evil, or God simply doesn’t exist. Of course, to advance any one of these arguments means that you also have to believe in evil, which relativists can’t do. In fact, nothing can be called evil—not even the Holocaust—because to do so would be to affirm some sort of moral standard.

–Greg Koukl

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Wishful thinking?

Some say Christianity is just a crutch. But let’s turn the question on its edge for a moment. Is atheism an emotional crutch, wishful thinking? The ax cuts both ways. Perhaps atheists are rejecting God because they’ve had a bad relationship with their father. Instead of inventing God, have atheists invented non-God? Have they invented atheism to escape some of the frightening implications of God’s existence? Think about it.

–Greg Koukl