Where do your rights come from?


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Drjones
December 26, 2002, 11:53 PM
This is a continuation of a TFL thread.

This is a particularly interesting question for me, since I am not religious.

Actually, it should be of equal interest even to religious people who believe God gave them their rights, because even if god himself gave you your rights, they are still not totally "inalieable"; if god gave them to you, he can also take them away.

We would agree that what man can give, man can take away. Same goes for god.

So....chat away!

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Calamity Jane
December 27, 2002, 12:23 AM
Ayn Rand addresses this well:

"The Declaration of Independence stated that men 'are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.' Whether one believes that man is the product of a Creator or of nature, the issue of man’s origin does not alter the fact that he is an entity of a specific kind-a rational being——that he cannot function successfully under coercion, and that rights are a necessary condition of his particular mode of survival." ~ "Man's Rights"

“The source of man’s rights is not divine law or congressional law, but the law of identity. A is A-and man is man. Rights are conditions of existence required by man’s nature for his proper survival. If man is to live on earth, it is right for him to use his mind, it is right for him to act on his own free judgment, it is right to work for his values and to keep the product of his work. If life on earth is his purpose, he has a right to live as a rational being: nature forbids him the irrational.” ~ Atlas Shrugged

Blackhawk
December 27, 2002, 12:30 AM
I already told you on the TFL thread. Go get what I said and drag it over here. Go on now! :D

Mark Benningfield
December 27, 2002, 02:05 AM
Hello All.

(Aside to Oleg, Fantastic Job!!:D )

Dr. Jones:

Since I do believe in God, I know that my rights as well as my life were given to me by Him, to use according to His purpose, not mine. Now, you say that this makes my rights not truly "inalienable", since He can take them away. This is not technically true. Inalienable means that whatever it is cannot be made separate from yourself -- it is in your nature. If God were to remove your rights from you, it would be a fundamental alteration of your nature (which He created in the first place).

Okay, what about if someone says, "Well, you need to give up your rights or life because it is God's will." Well, I didn't see that in my Bible and not having had a personal revelation from God about it, you can bet that they will wish they hadn't tried!! HTH.

Schuey2002
December 27, 2002, 04:05 AM
Blackhawk,
I went and did it. Here you go.Sorry,but I couldn't resist. :D :D

"YOUR rights come from others recognizing that you have them. That's where a baby's rights come from as well.

To those who say that the one true God gives humans the right, for example, to free speech, why didn't those who were born and died under the USSR regime have them? How about property, and why don't Cubans today have the right to the fruits of their labors. Why don't Americans, considering that we work for the "government" for the first 5 months of each year?

Think of rights as you think of money. The ONLY reason you value otherwise relatively useless pieces of paper over an actually more utilitarian piece of blank paper you can at least jot something down on or absorbent paper you can use otherwise is because others value those $20, $50, or $100 "Federal Reserve Notes" the same way. The concept of "money" was invented, and it's been pretty useful. Otherwise, we'd have to barter for everything upon acquisition.

Rights are similar in that their existence depends on the agreement of others, especially those possessing forces of compulsion. Violating my "right" to life by killing me isn't as attractive if others will surely kill you, is it?

As for your God given right to life: imagine you have to parachute into the jungle, and you can pick the continent. Jaguars, cheetahs, pythons, or other big hungry critters aren't going to be your problem. Insects and pernicious microbes will be. You'll be okay IF they recognize your inherent right to life. Otherwise, you're just an opportunistic meal to be biodegraded."

dave
December 27, 2002, 04:41 AM
Originally posted by Calamity Jane
Ayn Rand addresses this well:

"The Declaration of Independence stated that men 'are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.' Whether one believes that man is the product of a Creator or of nature, the issue of man’s origin does not alter the fact that he is an entity of a specific kind-a rational being——that he cannot function successfully under coercion, and that rights are a necessary condition of his particular mode of survival." ~ "Man's Rights"

“The source of man’s rights is not divine law or congressional law, but the law of identity. A is A-and man is man. Rights are conditions of existence required by man’s nature for his proper survival. If man is to live on earth, it is right for him to use his mind, it is right for him to act on his own free judgment, it is right to work for his values and to keep the product of his work. If life on earth is his purpose, he has a right to live as a rational being: nature forbids him the irrational.” ~ Atlas Shrugged



I believe that just about sums up my feelings as closely as anything I've read.

Jim March
December 27, 2002, 05:51 AM
It's important to start with where they DON'T come from: governments or any other human source. The people who founded America mostly believed (or claimed to believe) that they came from God.

I have had a serious Constitutional scholar/lawyer tell me that the "political reliability" in Constitutional terms of an atheist was, in his view, suspect.

My belief? I don't know. The "God angle" may very well be there, but there's an alternative, what I call "innate biological morality".

See, man is fundamentally a social animal. Our nearest ancestors in the animal kingdom are pack animals, and most of the smartest mammals also have pack/herd/pod/whatever social structures.

(For simplicity's sake I'll call all of these "packs" below.)

Those social structures exist to preserve the "rights" of the individual members: the right to live, breed, even own property. You think animals don't know anything about property rights? Go try and take a dead Caribou off of an Alaskan wolf pack, and you'll find they have a different opinion, and will enforce it. Many "pack animals" have territories that they protect against other packs.

What about mutual defense? That's the most common of all - herds of Llamas will gang-charge pumas or dang near anything else. Tribes of teensy little African pygmy mongoose will gang up on 20ft snakes :). Watch any nature show.

Within the pack, killing of other pack members is limited to very specific events, usually ritual battles for dominance. If individual members of the pack could be randomly attacked by others in the pack, they'd leave - and reduce their odds of survival. One wolf can't take down a caribou.

All of the basics of what we call "morals" can be found in animal societies. These principles are therefore ingrained right into our genes - all human societies have broadly similar patterns of "morality" and when this is deliberately violated on a mass scale (Stalinism for example) the society becomes massively disfunctional and will eventually collapse.

Anyways. The lawyer who distrusted atheists paid attention to the above, and did his own research. He soon found out that many published biologists have the same view.

------------

Both the "Darwin Approach" and the "God Path" take you to the same place in terms of a practical view of rights: even if the entire Bill Of Rights is *repealed*, it means nothing because rights are only recognized, not granted. If our rights are threatened, including the right to personal and mutual self defense, we must fight to take 'em back - politically if at all possible.

Our civil rights don't come from a piece of paper.

Jim March
December 27, 2002, 05:54 AM
One other thing: the "Darwin view" above doesn't conflict with Rand; it just explains the origins in more detail but the "current state of the situation" is the same.

m.i.sanders
December 27, 2002, 06:35 AM
I think Jim has hit the nail on the head. If I remember correctly, it seems that the FF basically said the same thing. That when man lived outside of civilazation he had basic rights (life, selfdefenese, etc...) that couldn't be taken away if/when he joined a community. There also were some rights that were "reduced", but not that were given up. I wish I could remember the exact qoute, and I'm sure someone here does. It deals with natural rights.

80fl
December 27, 2002, 06:49 AM
Jim: I hold an opposite viewpoint.

See, man is fundamentally a social animal. Our nearest ancestors in the animal kingdom are pack animals, and most of the smartest mammals also have pack/herd/pod/whatever social structures.

To believe that man is, fundamentally, an animal, and that our closest ancestors are from the animal kingdom, you, by default, cannot believe in a higher power. That certainly leads to the question of wheter you're an atheist or not.


Those social structures exist to preserve the "rights" of the individual members: the right to live, breed, even own property. You think animals don't know anything about property rights? Go try and take a dead Caribou off of an Alaskan wolf pack, and you'll find they have a different opinion, and will enforce it. Many "pack animals" have territories that they protect against other packs.


To believe that animals have established "rights" strikes me as very strange. I think the animal kingdom is the epitomy of a society with NO RIGHTS. If I'm bigger and tougher than you, you have no rights. As soon as I become aged and weak, then I have no rights.


cont'd

80fl
December 27, 2002, 07:13 AM
What about mutual defense? That's the most common of all - herds of Llamas will gang-charge pumas or dang near anything else. Tribes of teensy little African pygmy mongoose will gang up on 20ft snakes . Watch any nature show.

Again, mutual defense has nothing to do with "rights" but everything to do with "survival".
When the Lion is chasing down the herd of Cape Buffalo, then catches one, does the herd stand to defend the beleagured CB, or do they continue to run? Is the herd willing to die to protect the "rights" of said Buffalo?


All of the basics of what we call "morals" can be found in animal societies. These principles are therefore ingrained right into our genes - all human societies have broadly similar patterns of "morality" and when this is deliberately violated on a mass scale (Stalinism for example) the society becomes massively disfunctional and will eventually collapse.

The idea that "morals" can be found in the animal society is quite interesting. If you are attempting to say that animals and humans are basically driven by the same set of rules, how would you define basic dog behaviour? When I toss a piece of meat on the ground to dog#1, does dog#2 decide that it would be wrong to steal that piece of meat based on a moral guideline?
The principle of morality must have a benchmark. Without that benchmark, what would prevent me, morally, from killing my neighbor for his food? After all, in your beloved animal kingdom, they do just that.

Kamicosmos
December 27, 2002, 09:33 AM
Originally posted by 80fl
Again, mutual defense has nothing to do with "rights" but everything to do with "survival".
When the Lion is chasing down the herd of Cape Buffalo, then catches one, does the herd stand to defend the beleagured CB, or do they continue to run? Is the herd willing to die to protect the "rights" of said Buffalo?

I've seen lots of people stand around and watch fellow citizens being beaten killed, stolen from. Does that make it okay morally? I don't see the point here.



The idea that "morals" can be found in the animal society is quite interesting. If you are attempting to say that animals and humans are basically driven by the same set of rules, how would you define basic dog behaviour? When I toss a piece of meat on the ground to dog#1, does dog#2 decide that it would be wrong to steal that piece of meat based on a moral guideline?
The principle of morality must have a benchmark. Without that benchmark, what would prevent me, morally, from killing my neighbor for his food? After all, in your beloved animal kingdom, they do just that.

Again, I'm not sure of the point here. Domesticated dogs, and even cats, appear to know some right from wrong. They know not to wet the carpet usually. Yeah, we can argue pavlov here, but really, what's the difference? A dog wets on the carpet, gets spanked, knows not to do it in the future, feels guilty (or not) if he wets the carpet again. On the other side of the same coin, a man steals from another. Gets jail time, knows not to do it again in the future, feels guilty (or not) if he steals again.

Rights, Morals, and Laws have nothing in common with each other. Rights are an individuals 'rules and morals' Laws are societies 'rules and morals.'

The conflict comes when an individuals actions based on his rules and morals contradicts societies rules and morals.

Like that American kid who got nearly caned to death in Korea for grafeti a few years back...was he right or wrong, was the punishment just?

Like Einstein said, It's all relative. Or something like that. :)

Kamicosmos

King
December 27, 2002, 09:36 AM
I agree mainly with Schuey2002 and Blackhawk. Rights are what we, as a people, agree to. In other words, the rights that I have are afforded to me mainly because others have granted them to me.

Our founding fathers paved the way for us to have them. That's what makes America the most unique and certainly the best place to live on earth. Since our rights are afforded to us by the agreement of others, we must work always to protect them.

I believe that it is in accordance with God's law that we use them well.

By example, I have the RKBA because that right has been given me by our founding fathers constitutionally. But I do not have the right to kill (in terms of murder) because God says that I can not. I do have the right to kill in defense of my life because God expects me to defend the precious gift of life that he's given me.

That's IMHO of course..

80fl
December 27, 2002, 10:05 AM
Scary stuff:

I agree mainly with Schuey2002 and Blackhawk. Rights are what we, as a people, agree to. In other words, the rights that I have are afforded to me mainly because others have granted them to me.

If "others have granted them to me", what will stop "others" from taking them away from you?
The entire Bill of Rights is proclaiming that these rights are from God, and the .gov CAN'T take them away. If you surrender your rights TO the .gov, instead of CLAIMING them FROM GOD, you have eliminated your CLAIM on them. The foundation of not only the 2nd, but all others is that these rights existed long before the USofA; long before England, and LONG...LONG before you are even born.
If you're under the impression that a bunch of farmers in the 1700's GAVE you rights, what's to stop a bunch of ex Lawyers in 2003 from TAKING your rights...You don't have a leg to stand on.
If I didn't believe that my rights came from God, I would have no problem coming in on the side of pure Democracy; one year they decide to give me rights, the next year they decide to take some away

Again, I'm not sure of the point here. Domesticated dogs, and even cats, appear to know some right from wrong. They know not to wet the carpet usually. Yeah, we can argue pavlov here, but really, what's the difference? A dog wets on the carpet, gets spanked, knows not to do it in the future, feels guilty (or not) if he wets the carpet again. On the other side of the same coin, a man steals from another. Gets jail time, knows not to do it again in the future, feels guilty (or not) if he steals again.

Said dog does not hold off peeing on the carpet out of a sense of morality. They are driven by FEAR. If you have an opportunity to steal, knowing full well that you would never get caught, would you? Mabey you would, but you would still know it to be WRONG.

King
December 27, 2002, 10:24 AM
80FL...the Bill of Rights were written by men (blessed by God I believe). They are not of the Bible per se. As human beings, we have God's blessing, and expectations about how we should live and conduct ourselves when we connect with our fellow man. That supercedes all laws written by men and goverments.

I don't know that God specifically mandated the RKBA, unreasonable search and seizure, the right to a speedy trial, etc. I believe that smart men realized that goverments had the potential to unreasonably control and oppress their people and to perhaps take away those gifts that God has given "all" mankind. These were lessons learned from experience in the "old country).

Maybe I just wasn't saying it correctly. Or, perhaps we have different views of the world. If so, viva la difference.

Double Naught Spy
December 27, 2002, 10:39 AM
Rights are a byproduct aspect of self actualization of a given culture or society, but not necessarily inherent, consistent, or long lived.

A nice reality check of this aspect is provided by the experiences of individuals who have been stranded in some manner away from society and find their rights quickly become nothing more than that of any other animal trying to survive in that environment. In short, one's rights become nothing more than the law of the jungle.

One of the more blatant misunderstandings I have read concerning our rights comes from those who refer to our "God-given Constitutional rights." Here, there is a very definite conflict of terminology as the Constitutional rigths are a matter of government and the government rarely operates in a manner consistent with being blessed by God. Furthermore, it is odd that Americans would get specific God-given rights that other largely Christian countries don't receive. In other words, either God is playing favorites with various countries or the stipulations of the Constitution really are not God-given per se, only attributed to being God-given. If these rights were God-given, then crossing borders would not alter these rights.

Invoking a supernatural entity such as God is a manner by which governments (or individuals) try to give more credibility to a given claim or ideal by noting that it is a will or factor of an entity above that of us lowly humans and that as lowly humans, we are simply acting on that will or factor as the deity would have us do.

Kamicosmos
December 27, 2002, 10:40 AM
Originally posted by 80fl

Said dog does not hold off peeing on the carpet out of a sense of morality. They are driven by FEAR. If you have an opportunity to steal, knowing full well that you would never get caught, would you? Mabey you would, but you would still know it to be WRONG.

I think we are basically saying the same thing here:

Who determines that it is wrong to do 'X' thing?
God?
Man?
Yourself?

That is the core of the debate, at least to me.

Kamicosmos

RikWriter
December 27, 2002, 10:42 AM
Freedom gives you your rights. You lose it, you lose them as well. That's why most people for most of history had none of what we now consider "inalienable" and "natural" rights.

2nd Amendment
December 27, 2002, 11:12 AM
Ummm, Rik, they still had those same Rights. The fact government wrongly restricted their exercise doesn't change the fact we have these Rights by virtue of our very existence. Rights aren't granted by gubbermint, I think we have all agreed, and thus they can't be taken away. Cowing people into submission isn't the same thing.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I edited for spelling, now lemme alone.

RikWriter
December 27, 2002, 11:19 AM
Originally posted by 2nd Amendment
Ummm, Rik, they still had those same Rights.

Yeah? Couldn't have proven it by them. They not only never HAD those rights, they never even heard of them. In fact, most people throughout history had never heard of them. If those rights are indeed given by God, they are pretty easily abridged by man.

80fl
December 27, 2002, 11:23 AM
Who determines that it is wrong to do 'X' thing?
God?
Man?
Yourself?

In the case of domesticated animals, man-generally.
In the case of wild animals, stronger animals.
In the case of men, God.



A nice reality check of this aspect is provided by the experiences of individuals who have been stranded in some manner away from society and find their rights quickly become nothing more than that of any other animal trying to survive in that environment. In short, one's rights become nothing more than the law of the jungle.

I don't think you understand what God has promised us. He has never promised us comfort, safety, security, justice, food, protection, happiness, clothing, etc.
He has only promised us eternal life, through his grace.


80FL...the Bill of Rights were written by men (blessed by God I believe). They are not of the Bible per se. As human beings, we have God's blessing, and expectations about how we should live and conduct ourselves when we connect with our fellow man. That supercedes all laws written by men and goverments.

I believe the BOR was written by men INSPIRED by God. God absoulutely granted us FREEDOM in the Bible. He did not gurantee us freedom FROM oppression, however.

If, as seems the case here, you believe that the "rights" we have, as outlined in the BOR, are GRANTED by men, the entire 2nd ammend. debate is over. You should have no argument with .gov for taking the privelages away that were noted in the 2nd. The Patriot Act should not be a concern either, as the men in charge were duly elected, and therefore, have the authority to remove and/or revoke any rights (privelages) that you may have.

The foundation for the BOR is GOD. Gods rules never change.
If the foundation was MAN, Man has the freedom, as granted by God, to change the rules.

I believe, in the future, this will play a very important role in undermining the BOR. God is constantly on the defensive in this country. At some point the very notion that God influenced the writers of the BOR, will, in and of itself, preclude the legality and authority of the document. Undoubtedly there will be something to replace it,but it will be, I'm sure, a watered down PC version.


I agree mainly with Schuey2002 and Blackhawk. Rights are what we, as a people, agree to. In other words, the rights that I have are afforded to me mainly because others have granted them to me.

Again I say, very scary stuff. Are you in favor of the GCA, and the Crime Bill on a national level? How about the Assault Weapons ban in CA? Or the Smart Gun Bill in NJ?
If you are happy with your lot in life, ie: "the rights I have are afforded to me by others", you should never complain, nor do you have the RIGHT to complain when your rights are stripped from you. After all, these are men who have been legally elected, and supported by the voters.

2nd Amendment
December 27, 2002, 11:47 AM
Either there are Rights or merely privileges. The discovery of ones Rights may have been an ongoing process, and the suppression of those Rights an eternal gubbermint pursuit but the Rights still exist. Any government can(and probably will) sooner or later usurp Rights of individuals but if they don't still exist, ie we merely need to reclaim them, then they were enver more than privileges to start with and thus the Euro-Trolls are right.

RikWriter
December 27, 2002, 11:50 AM
Originally posted by 2nd Amendment
Either there are Rights or merely privileges. The discovery of ones Rights may have been an ongoing process, and the suppression of those Rights an eternal gubbermint pursuit but the Rights still exist. Any government can(and probably will) sooner or later usurp Rights of individuals but if they don't still exist, ie we merely need to reclaim them, then they were enver more than privileges to start with and thus the Euro-Trolls are right.

Whether they are rights or merely privileges depends entirely on our willingness to fight and die, if necessary, to preserve them.

2nd Amendment
December 27, 2002, 12:03 PM
So, you're saying there are no Rights left in America, just a few privileges they have yet to take away?

That's not Flame Bait. I'm dead serious.

RikWriter
December 27, 2002, 12:05 PM
Originally posted by 2nd Amendment
So, you're saying there are no Rights left in America, just a few privileges they have yet to take away?


There are no rights at all UNLESS you are willing to fight for them.

Blackhawk
December 27, 2002, 12:09 PM
Thanks, Schuey! You have done well! :D

80fl
December 27, 2002, 12:12 PM
I guess I really believe it's a simple premise:

A Right is granted from a supreme deity:
A Privilege is granted from man:

To boil the BOR down, it simply says we have rights, granted to us from God, to say what we want to say, to protect ourselves, and to not be bothered by those who wish to oppress us.

If you were to get an opinion of a servant living under a communist regime what they would view as a perfect world, it probably would roughly mirror our own BOR.

I personally am very uncomfortable having my "Rights" in the hands of "Demoncraps" or "RepublicRATS".

King
December 27, 2002, 01:59 PM
quote from 80FL concerning my statements.......
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Again I say, very scary stuff. Are you in favor of the GCA, and the Crime Bill on a national level? How about the Assault Weapons ban in CA? Or the Smart Gun Bill in NJ?
If you are happy with your lot in life, ie: "the rights I have are afforded to me by others", you should never complain, nor do you have the RIGHT to complain when your rights are stripped from you. After all, these are men who have been legally elected, and supported by the voters.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------


You read me wrong 80FL....end of discussion for me. You're making incorrect inferences about what I'm for or not for in terms of my definition of "rights". I'll simply say that I'm in agreement with Schuey and Blackhawk from back near the beginning of this thread.

One who disagrees with you doen't necessarily subscribe to national crime bills, smart guns, assault weapon bans, etc.

Indeed I own assault rifles and do not support any of those other initiatives. And, I will do whatever I have to to help preserve my rights and yours.

Whether generated by wise men or God or inspired by God, we are entitled to them constitionally. End of story............

ExpatGator
December 27, 2002, 02:30 PM
From the barrells of my firearms.

I am not being trite or discounting the interesting comments in previous posts. I just feel, after decades of philosophical research and soulsearching, that my rights come from my desire and ability to exercise and defend them. They exist as long as I exist and am willing to defend them.

Betty
December 27, 2002, 03:28 PM
Moving to Legal & Political.

HS/LD
December 27, 2002, 03:42 PM
Doesn't matter who gave them... it only matters who is trying to take them away.

Would you carry concealed if you were unable to get a permit?
Would you carry in England?
Hide your guns in Australia?

I would.

Regards,
HS/LD

dd-b
December 27, 2002, 06:18 PM
Originally posted by 80fl


To believe that man is, fundamentally, an animal, and that our closest ancestors are from the animal kingdom, you, by default, cannot believe in a higher power. That certainly leads to the question of wheter you're an atheist or not.



Well, I am definitely an atheist; no question about it.

But, ad arguendum, it's completely possible that a god created the universe with the laws of physics as we observe them in place, and everything else resulted from that by means of evolution. Quite possibly with an occasional miracle along the way.

Evolution is in no way incompatible with religion, or Christianity in specific. It's incompatible with certain forms of Biblical literalism -- but those are inherently self-contradictory, that is, nonsense, anyway, since the bible contradicts itself all over the place.

dd-b
December 27, 2002, 06:25 PM
The concept of "rights" in an absolute sense is only meaningful as a restriction on your own actions.

If I believe another person has a right, for example, not to be gunned down without clear cause, and I act on my belief, then his right as I understand it has at least some validity -- I respect it.

If I believe I have a right to something, which somehow obligates all other people to respect that right -- I'm dreaming. My belief that I should not be gunned down without clear cause does nothing whatsoever to actually protect me from being gunned down. If I fully buy the "right" rhetoric, it can even lead me to be fatally careless, believing my "rights" protect me.

The terminology of "rights" can usefully be used to describe aspects of the law, or in a somewhat fuzzier sense, the "social contract", but absolute claims are rhetorical, not factual.

Drjones
December 27, 2002, 07:26 PM
Someone on the Michael Moore forum said

"Rights are simply wants disguised."

What do you make of that?

Edward429451
December 28, 2002, 12:55 AM
I am not being trite or discounting the interesting comments in previous posts. I just feel, after decades of philosophical research and soulsearching, that my rights come from my desire and ability to exercise and defend them. They exist as long as I exist and am willing to defend them.

Well said. Land of the free, Home of the brave. God granted us birthrights but I think its up to us to keep them or give them up.

mack
December 28, 2002, 03:48 AM
Here we go again.

Either you "believe" in inalienable rights or you don't.
There I said it; it is a matter of faith.

Inalienable rights are rights that are inherent to our existence, and therefore they cannot be taken away or alienated from us.

Yes, the exercise of those rights may be denied, but that does not mean that the right does not exist.

As it states in the Declaration of Independence, we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, and that among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Now Ayn Rand argues that God is not a necessary part of the equation, that there is a rational foundation to inalienable rights.
However, I find that argument unconvincing, as I believe it falters under the rational arguments of Utilitarian philosophy, (to simplify - the greatest good for the greatest number).

C.S. Lewis identified the crux of the matter when he wrote - "If individuals live only seventy years, then a state, or a nation, or a civilization, which may last for a thousand years, is more important than an individual. But if Christianity is true, then the individual is not only more important but incomparably more important, for he is everlasting and the life of a state or civilization, compared with his, is only a moment."

Therefore, I submit that inalienable rights are not only given by God, but that they are only relevant or of primary importance if they come from God. One does not have to believe in God to have inalienable rights. God has given man as part of his existence freedom of choice; therefore one is free to accept or to reject God.

However, if you don't believe in God given inalienable rights, then at least be intellectually honest and recognize that you embrace a world view that says that inalienable rights do not exist and that all things are relative, or in Rand’s case that they do exist, but that those rights are not necessarily relevant or always of primary importance, i.e. those situations where the needs of the many may conflict with the needs of the individual, (I know Rand did not accept this, but I believe that Utilitarian philosophy makes that case).

Our world today is run on the basis of a utilitarian type philosophy, where what is "perceived" to be the greatest good for the greatest number usually determines policy. Even many self identified Christians run there lives according to this philosophy, totally unaware that they are so doing.

Jeff Snyder, (he wrote Nation of Cowards), does an excellent job of demonstrating how many in the gun rights community fall into this trap, of basing their argument for gun rights on the false premise of utilitarian philosophy and thus unwittingly playing into the hands of gun control advocates, because they are trying to defend inalienable rights while accepting and arguing from a utilitarian foundation, (which is like trying to justify one's faith on the foundation of behaviorism).

B.F. Skinner's book, "Beyond Freedom and Dignity," is an excellent primer for those who do not believe in God given inalienable rights. His views and those similar to his are beginning to carry the day and they will eventually even supplant the now dominant utilitarian view.

In such a world we will truly be beyond freedom and dignity for the concept of the individual and fee will, will have be deconstructed.

Lastly, yes God given rights implies that God can take them away, but God has promised not to do so, therefore that point is moot.

tyme
December 28, 2002, 04:04 AM
I'd say rights come from a nexus of what people are willing to die for, what people are willing to dedicate their lives to, and some general social acceptance of the right. I think all three have to be present in sufficient quantities for a right to exist.

It seems that we have no rights anymore, at least none in the form that they are set forward in the founding documents, because just about nobody is willing to die for anything these days, except as a member of the armed forces.

Does a robber gain the right to steal because he is willing to use force to do so?
The Creator works in excessively mysterious ways if he gives rights to us but not to chimps.
The majority of the people certainly wouldn't have the right to $36k/yr each just because they believed they should get their share of the GDP.

80fl
December 28, 2002, 05:35 AM
Spot on Mack:)

Schuey2002
December 28, 2002, 05:54 AM
Please note....
I agree mainly with Schuey2002 and Blackhawk.
The quote in my post on the first page is by Blackhawk! They
are HIS words,not mine. I merely "Cut & Pasted" this quote by Blackhawk from TFL over to this forum.

Please don't take offense,but I felt that I needed to clear up the air.

OK, please continue on with this debate. :)

Schuey2002
December 28, 2002, 06:08 AM
Thanks, Schuey! You have done well!
Thanks, Blackhawk! That was awefully kind of you to say.;)

RikWriter
December 28, 2002, 09:42 AM
Originally posted by mack
Here we go again.

Either you "believe" in inalienable rights or you don't.
There I said it; it is a matter of faith.

Inalienable rights are rights that are inherent to our existence, and therefore they cannot be taken away or alienated from us.

Yes, the exercise of those rights may be denied, but that does not mean that the right does not exist.


So...the rights can't be taken away...but they may be denied???
Have you ever heard of the saying "A difference which makes no difference IS no difference?"

Edward429451
December 28, 2002, 02:15 PM
Well, I think that those people who can not have faith in anything are doomed to lives dominated by doubt.

Hope that clears things up...;)

mack
December 28, 2002, 10:40 PM
The phrase I am familiar with is: A distinction with no difference.

But, My Dear Sir,

It makes all the difference, for he who recognizes himself as a free man endowed by his creator with inalienable rights, may never be a slave. A free man will fight for the exercise of his rights. One who considers himself a slave cannot be set free. He must first choose to accept that he is not a slave but a free man, and he will not fight for his rights until he recognizes what they are and that they are his rights, not state granted priviledges, not custom, not the fickle will of 51 percent of the people.

Governments do not create rights, governments are justly created by men to ensure the free exercise of their God given rights.

RikWriter
December 28, 2002, 10:48 PM
Originally posted by mack
It makes all the difference, for he who recognizes himself as a free man endowed by his creator with inalienable rights, may never be a slave. A free man will fight for the exercise of his rights. One who considers himself a slave cannot be set free. He must first choose to accept that he is not a slave but a free man, and he will not fight for his rights until he recognizes what they are and that they are his rights, not state granted priviledges, not custom, not the fickle will of 51 percent of the people.

Governments do not create rights, governments are justly created by men to ensure the free exercise of their God given rights.

The fact remains, unargued and unarguable, that for most of history, both recorded and unrecorded, NO ONE had any inkling of what we now consider our "unalienable" rights and would have had no idea of what you were talking if you spoke to them of it. No one fought for those rights---not 51%, not 49%, ZERO percent---because they had no idea they existed.
Even the most famous rebellions of history---the slave rebellion under Spartacus just for instance---had no idea of God-given or even gods-given rights. If their rebellion had succeeded, they would have instituted their own kingdom but this time with THEM in charge.
No, what we today consider as inalienable rights were only enumerated in the last few hundred years. You can believe whatever you like about their pre-existence before that, but I will just say this: if God gave us those rights, He sure waited a heck of a long time to let us know about them.

nualle
December 29, 2002, 12:51 AM
Ephesians 6:5-9
5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free. 9 And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.
Verse 9 is especially interesting. Through the (ostensibly) inerrant transmission of instruction from God to his scribe, Paul, God could easily (and according to the thesis that rights come from this same unchanging God, should have) demanded that masters immediately set their slaves free upon becoming believers. There is no hint of that here. Slavery is considered in the bible (old and new testaments) to be as natural a social organization as the nuclear family.

— If rights exist,
— if they are unalienable (which means they must not, not that they cannot, be infringed), and
— if liberty is among humans' unalienable rights,
then the only possible conclusion is that those rights were not granted by the God whose unchanging, inerrant word includes the quote above. Granted, that leaves plenty of room for less doctrinal approaches to the relationship of God to text.

I suppose a Deist might claim that unalienable rights were part of the nature of the world that the Prime Mover set up and started going. That might even have been what some (certainly not all) of the founders had in mind.

I still think humans are a sufficient origin for human rights. I made that case in the TFL thread that spawned this one.

RikWriter
December 29, 2002, 01:02 AM
Very good points, Nualle. I would take the Deist position a step further...humans are developing socially as well as technologically.
We took a quantum leap forward socially in the last few hundred years, just as we did technologically. As we have discovered more advanced and efficient ways to heat our houses, grow our crops, etc so have we discovered more efficient ways to LIVE TOGETHER. Human rights are indeed a human discovery---through trial and error and millenia of thought, man has discovered that the best way to live together is to respect the rights of the individual.
Now perhaps, if there is a Creator, this was His intent all along...but apparently He left it very much up to US both to discover and implement this idea. He seems to have taken a hands-off approach in the whole matter...

mack
December 29, 2002, 02:36 AM
"5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free. 9 And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him. "


Taken to the extreme this could be interpreted to also mean that if one's master ordered that all in his house should worship the god Apollo then one must do so, but it is clear that Paul did not support that, and it is clear that what is meant is that one should first follow Christ. Paul is not speaking about politics, except to say that politics are secondary to following Christ. Therefore, one should obey authority so long as it does not prevent one from following God's will for them. Many people at the time wanted to use a Messiah and religion as a political tool to advance their personal political agendas, like the Zealots who lead a rebellion against Rome. However this issue was clarified by Martin Luther and his understanding that one must follow God's will first and foremost, even when it conflicts with earthly authority. The Declaration of Independence notes that rebellion against long established authority is not to be taken lightly, but only after a long series of unredressed abuses. It certainly does not imply that slavery is good and in fact states that all are equal in the eyes of God, as "there is no favoritism in him."


"The fact remains, unargued and unarguable, that for most of history, both recorded and unrecorded, NO ONE had any inkling of what we now consider our "unalienable" rights and would have had no idea of what you were talking if you spoke to them of it."

I could as easily say that for most of recorded history no one had any inkling that the Earth revolved around the Sun, but that doesn't mean that it didn't revolve around the Sun. Our understanding of God's will for us and inalienable rights has evolved, just as has our understanding of the Cosmos.


If you don't believe in God given inalienable rights, that's okay by me, but our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution clearly are based on that belief, even modern Supreme Court decisions reference the fact the our rights pre-exist our government and are not granted by our government.

If you don't believe in such rights then I would suggest that one use a different term instead of rights to avoid confusion; something that more clearly reflects your personal beliefs, such as: government granted privileges, personal desires, legally established precedent, survival of the fittest, law of the jungle, the greatest good for the greatest number, ect...

G-Raptor
December 29, 2002, 03:25 AM
The assertion that our rights come from God, as set down by the founders, is a political rather than a religious statement. What they were expressing was their political belief that no person could claim ultimate authority over any other person. By stating that our rights came from God, they were explicitly rejecting any authority claimed by the king.

Rights are a consequence of consciousness and self-awareness and they are inalienable. This is true whether or not you have a religious belief in God.

Rights can only be defined in their opposition to Wrongs. It's like Light and Darkness. One is meaningless without the other. Yin and Yang - that kind of stuff.

Wrongs are determined through our self-awareness, which is why rights are inalienable. Wrongs can be said to be universal therefore the corresponding Right is also universal (inalienable) whether or not that right is recognized by others. Even the smallest child understands "wrong" before they have any concept of "right".

It is "Wrong" for another person to injure or kill me, therefore it is my "Right" to defend my life.

It is "Wrong" for another person to imprison me and force me to do their labor, therefore it is my "Right" to be free.

It is "Wrong" for another person to prevent the expression of my thoughts, therefore it is my "Right" to speak.

Rights are inalienable because they ALWAYS exist even when they are not recognized. I still have a right to speak, even if you do not allow me to; you have simply infringed on that right through the threat of force or "social pressure".

However, the exercise of a right may be constrained or regulated by society when the exercise of that right would infringe on the right of another; i.e. your right to swing your fist ends with my right to defend my nose. :cool:

Jim March
December 29, 2002, 05:00 AM
80fl: first point, you have no right to judge what my spiritual views are, or label me an atheist if my spiritual beliefs don't match yours.

Second: I have personally seen great amounts of "nobility" in various animals. I've seen a ferret weighing all of 1.5 pounds get threatened by a large, snarling, growling dog, and her sister about 15 feet away come charging to her defense, closing in on the dog's flanks and driving it off when he realized he was up against two tiny critters who knew how to fight as a team. I've seen groups of mixed dogs, cats and ferrets form "social groups", cheerfully sharing food, water and bed.

It's not insulting to man to say that we are a further development of earlier beings and social structures.

IF that's the case, it would explain why people all over the world understand why murder, theft and other violations of basic civil rights are "wrong", in the same ways...there's a genetic underlying drive behind what's "wrong".

It's not the only possible origin of "rights" - direct from God under a strict creationist theology is another.

It doesn't matter which - the point is, either way, we all have personal basic human rights. They cannot be "taken away" - they can be VIOLATED by criminal action on the part of criminal gov'ts or individuals, but that doesn't take 'em away.

And that means that revoking the BoR (or just ignoring 'em as the courts are eager to do sometimes) doesn't take away our rights.

Mack: what CS Lewis didn't understand was that there's no such thing as "collective rights". ALL rights are individual. A thief has no "right" to rob you, not even if he gets together with a dozen of his buddies and decides to get you as a group...the fact that the 12 of them "outvote you for your property" doesn't make their theft moral. (That in turns undermines the entire *concept* of a "government", especially where taxes are concerned.)

It also takes apart Lewis' example, especially since a state that lasts 1,000 years and violates individual rights isn't "something worthy of preservation", it is instead an abomination to be destroyed at the earliest opportunity.

80fl
December 29, 2002, 07:12 AM
Jim:
80fl: first point, you have no right to judge what my spiritual views are, or label me an atheist if my spiritual beliefs don't match yours.

There is no need to get defensive on this. I'm merely stating my opinion based on the statements that were rendered.
I believe that it's a very important benchmark in the entire discussion to determine if you're coming at this from the "God Angle" as you put it, or from an atheistic viewpoint.

Can you be a Christian and still believe that the BOR were not inspired by God? I suppose so.

If, as I do, you believe that the "God Angle" is relevant to the foundation of the BOR, and that the writers were indeed inspired by God, then that is the moral basis from where I will fight this fight.

If you are coming at the BOR from the classic atheistic viewpoint, you will have a much tougher time finding the moral high ground.

If you truly believe your own words:
but there's an alternative, what I call "innate biological morality".

what gives you the Right to kill and eat an animal? What gives you the right to keep an animal in slavery, ie: draft horses/ cattle/ chickens/ pack horses and mules etc.?

Are you not going against that same "innate biological morality" that you hold dear?

To ascribe the word "morality" to an animal I, quite frankly, find ludicrous.

The initial question in the post was "where do your rights come from"?

You are obviously linking "rights" and "morality". Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems you are intimating that animals inherently know what there rights are, and are of high enough character to act with "innate biological morality".
An interesting theory that might get you prime time on Art Bell.

Again, you are ascribing human behavior to an animal:
I have personally seen great amounts of "nobility" in various animals.

just the same old PETA, Greenpeace, Tree Hugger philosophy re-wrapped in a different new age bag.

Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not accusing you of being in bed philosophically with the above mentioned groups. I'm simply stating that without the "God Angle", you don't have a solid foundational principle on which to hang your hat.

Without the "God Angle", it's all relative theory, based on where our society at large happens to be at this moment in time.



:)

80fl
December 29, 2002, 07:52 AM
nualle:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free. 9 And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Please keep in mind that what were referred to as "slaves" in the writing of the KJV,are today known as "employees".

The practice of "being employed" is a fairly new idea. Even at the commencement of our own country, employment, in the now conventional sense, was virtually unheard of.

If you change "slave" to "employee", and "master" to "boss", it creates a message not often heard in todays world.

Jim March
December 29, 2002, 08:50 AM
There are indeed some critters I'd have to be damned hungry to chow down on...particularly animals with advanced social structures such as wolves, the higher primates, dolphins and such. But hey, that's me, and I don't push that on anybody else.

Yes, I eat chicken, fish, beef, pork, etc with no problems. I see awareness as a "spectrum" versus on/off. Maybe that's a minority view...so be it. There's a freakin' Gorilla out there with over 300 words of sign language that can carry out conversations and answer questions...would you feel comfy about eating THAT? I sure as hell wouldn't. Shoot it in dire self defense, sure, but...

Like the vast majority of hunters (which I'm not yet, due to lack of time/money) I believe in preserving ecosytems wherever possible as the highest priority, species as the next priority below that, and individual critters a distant third. I do NOT believe in trampling private property rights or other human rights to do it, and THAT is the biggest difference between myself and the PETA/Greenpeace idiots.

80FL, have you had pets, esp. a dog or a ferret? (Cats are harder to read, IMHO.) Have you paid attention to what you're seeing? They dream. Literally. It's easiest to see with a ferret, because they'll sleep right on your lap laying on their back and don't wake up easily. I've seen one make walking motions with his legs straight up, eyes moving under closed eyelids, then it stopped "walking" and started making lapping motions with his tounge, obviously "drinking" - it then started "walking" again. It was dreaming. Literally.

OK, let's take another example. Of the two small female ferts my brother had years ago, one had a habit of playing with people's feet, gently nibbling, nothing too nasty but annoying - he'd been trying to train her out of it. So one day, I'm watching from a ways away while he lay asleep on the couch, and sure enough Samia goes and messes with his feet. He told me later that he was dreaming that his feet were being tweaked, and then in mid-dream realized it WASN'T a dream, it was Samia chewin' on toes again, so he lurches awake to catch her at it.

She squirted off towards the bed-basket where her sister was already sleeping, darting under their blanket. I heard my brother say "Samia, you bad weasel, I caught ya this time!" and he went over to their bed. I joined him as he pulled the blanket back.

What we saw were two sleeping ferrets. 'Cept the ferret on top is breathing hard, and cracks one eyelid...and slams it shut when she sees us.

Get it yet? She wasn't just aware she'd been "bad", she was coming up with an ALIBI!

:D

Not bad for something that fits in a jacket pocket, or can sleep curled up on my outstretched palm and fingers.

Heck, ask ANY ferret owner about the "ghost poopies" phenomenon. See, when you take your ferret out for a walk, and it takes maybe half hour to get to the park or whatever, any ferret owner knows they have a small bladder and colon and therefore should "go" before you leave. Fine. So you pick up the skinnykitty and put it in the litterbox.

They *know* what this means, same as a dog will get excited when you get the leash out - "oh boy, we're going out!". So you'll see the fert back into a corner of the litterbox, raises it's tail, heaves it's belly, all the signs of ferret do-do in progress...then comes running out and looks up at you expectantly.

Uh huh. Right. Check the box. Nuthin' there. It's in a hurry, so it fakes it :D. Stick it back in until you really see something :D.

This is ALL pretty human behavior :p.

RikWriter
December 29, 2002, 10:57 AM
Originally posted by 80fl


Please keep in mind that what were referred to as "slaves" in the writing of the KJV,are today known as "employees".

The practice of "being employed" is a fairly new idea. Even at the commencement of our own country, employment, in the now conventional sense, was virtually unheard of.

If you change "slave" to "employee", and "master" to "boss", it creates a message not often heard in todays world.

No, sorry, that is certainly NOT so. Yes, some few people sold themselves into slavery to avoid starvation but the VAST MAJORITY were either born into slavery or captured during military operations. It was NOT voluntary for the vast majority of slaves and they could not "quit" whenever they wanted.

nualle
December 29, 2002, 12:07 PM
mack wrote:
Paul is not speaking about politics, except to say that politics are secondary to following Christ.
This entire section (from the middle of Ephesians 4 to the quoted bit of Ephesians 6) is precisely about politics... that is, how believers are to act and treat others in this world. In chapter 5, Paul exhorts believers not to be greedy and not to make lewd jokes. He notices those yet somehow misses that believers ought not to enslave others? (Paul's dictum is even more permissive of slavery than the Mosaic law. Leviticus 25 forbids believers from having fellow believers as slaves, or even working them, as employees, as if they were slaves. [Yes, even then, they could tell the difference.])

biere
December 29, 2002, 12:19 PM
That michael moore quote says it all. The people who fought to make this the USA, they dreamed of a government where there was a BoR. They dreamed of elected officials that were elected in a fair manner. They wrote their wants down on paper and made the country they wanted. However, writing it down did not make it so. God did not make it so. The men fought, killed, suffered, and died to make the USA.

RikWriter
December 29, 2002, 12:20 PM
Originally posted by biere
That michael moore quote says it all. The people who fought to make this the USA, they dreamed of a government where there was a BoR. They dreamed of elected officials that were elected in a fair manner. They wrote their wants down on paper and made the country they wanted. However, writing it down did not make it so. God did not make it so. The men fought, killed, suffered, and died to make the USA.

Well said.

Lancel
December 29, 2002, 12:24 PM
"No one can take away your right to never surrender." - Cory Hart

RikWriter
December 29, 2002, 12:25 PM
Originally posted by Lancel
"No one can take away your right to never surrender." - Cory Hart

As long as you wear your sunglasses at night anyway...

biere
December 29, 2002, 12:50 PM
I actually looked up "give" just to see how many definitions my little dictionary had. There are several. And other than the ones that deal with "giving up" none require the receiver to do anything. Somehow, if God gave man rights I don't think he "gave them up" or conceeded them to man.

For me a right is something that is, or is not. It can not be taken away, it can not be suppressed, it is mine to use any time I want.

And of course since I think what I typed above I really disagree with the idea that a right can be made dormant, like the rights of the jews and others burned in big furnaces.

On cartoons a carrot on a stick was always used to get the donkey going. Now every now and then you had to let the donkey get a carrot so it would want another one. For those who think a right can be suppressed, I wonder if you are looking at your carrot. See a carrot is a cheap reliable way to get the donkey to pull your cart to market or where ever. And I bet the donkey is pretty content since it must like carrots. However, if I step back and see the entire picture I see reality is not what the donkey thinks. Now sometimes, not knowing reality makes things easy because you are content with what you have. If you see true reality, often you get upset and find out how hard it is to change things. And now you are unhappy. This is the pill concept from the matrix.

I think blackhawk hit it with the idea that rights are simply what society around you gives you. I think many who feel rights are given are still riding on the people in the past who fought the make the country, defend the country, and defend our way of life that does not really exist anywhere else on earth.

Now, I do think there is a creator. I also think every human born has the ability to fight for their freedom. So many people post that their brain is the weapon and a gun is a tool.

Even if you are born into slavery, you have the ability to rebel. It may mean death, it may mean pain. But you have the brain that can reason things out. I also agree animals are not stupid.

A person is smart. People as a whole are dumb. An animal is smart. Animals as a whole are dumb.

A bell curve will show you some are always smarter than others.

I think for all animals, humans are way up in the smart part. But rights are a privledge the past humans have fought for.

Nothing other than society allows me to vote, speak out, have a firearm, or anything.

Rights come from the threat and usage of force. So it has always been. So it will always be.

80fl
December 29, 2002, 06:28 PM
Rik:

No, sorry, that is certainly NOT so. Yes, some few people sold themselves into slavery to avoid starvation but the VAST MAJORITY were either born into slavery or captured during military operations. It was NOT voluntary for the vast majority of slaves and they could not "quit" whenever they wanted.

Although we disagree on many issues, this is a case of misunderstanding.
I am fully aware that slavery was widespread in Biblical times. What I'm attempting to convey is that it was extremely rare to work for someone in an employee/employer relationship.
There were two dominant structures in Biblical times; and actually up until the industrial revolution.
You had Slavery, which was a matter of course; and you had "self employment", which was also a given.
It would have been rare for a man to live in his own home with his family and "go to work" for someone else.
The context that the Bible was written in was, in effect, pointing out the employer/employee relationship; it just happened to be written at a time of master/slave. I happen to believe that I, as an employer, am directed by God to treat my employees fairly and with respect.

The same moral principle holds true, whether you are a slave, master, self employed plumber-carpenter-etc, or a consumer who is hiring said plumber.
As said self employed plumber, you are, in effect, the "slave", who is working for the "master" (consumer).

RikWriter
December 29, 2002, 06:40 PM
I'm sorry, 80FL, but I just can't agree with your interpretation of the passage in question.

mack
December 29, 2002, 11:46 PM
"Mack: what CS Lewis didn't understand was that there's no such thing as "collective rights". ALL rights are individual. A thief has no "right" to rob you, not even if he gets together with a dozen of his buddies and decides to get you as a group...the fact that the 12 of them "outvote you for your property" doesn't make their theft moral. (That in turns undermines the entire *concept* of a "government", especially where taxes are concerned.)

It also takes apart Lewis' example, especially since a state that lasts 1,000 years and violates individual rights isn't "something worthy of preservation", it is instead an abomination to be destroyed at the earliest opportunity. Jim March "

Jim you miss his point, it does not turn on rights and who has them. He is addressing the utilitarian argument. After all, a utilitarian would say: so what if individuals have rights, so what if they are inalienable, so what if collective rights don't exist, it doesn't in the least matter, all that matters is what is the greatest good for the greatest number. Lewis' point is that this utilitarian view, (that values the needs of the many over the needs or rights of the individual), fails its own value test if Christianity is true.


nualle, I assume you agree with the rest of my post, since you confine yourself to addressing the first five words of a sentence in the middle.

Jim March
December 30, 2002, 05:41 AM
Well Mack, then he's wrong.

Because to try and twist humanity in a way that we aren't wired to go inevitably leads to moral and legal abominations.

Gun control is one such instance. How many people here have heard of cases of cops looking the other way despite illegal gun carry on the part of somebody the cop figured to be "OK"? I know of a PILE of such events. A uniformed California city cop once advised my brother (then a cabbie) to pack. Sounds great, 'cept then carrying becomes a crapshoot based on which cop you happen to run into, and whether the cop likes your race/socioeconomic status/fashion sense/etc. It makes a mockery of the entire concept of "nation of laws, not of men".

And it happens because the law directly contradicts basic human rights, which in my opinion is wired all the way to biology.

Russia today has a MASSIVE crime problem because for over 70 years, you *had* to break the law (and morality, same as the government) just to survive. So lawlessness became ingrained in the culture.

Got it? These civil rights violations always have measurable, direct "downsides" because they violate our basic sense of right and wrong.

They're not just "theoretical wrongs".

Bainx
December 30, 2002, 11:31 AM
According to the sheeple, from our elected officials.

nualle
December 30, 2002, 11:47 AM
mack asked:
nualle, I assume you agree with the rest of my post, since you confine yourself to addressing the first five words of a sentence in the middle.
I quoted an entire sentence of your post and addressed it. As to the rest of your post, I agree that Paul tells slaves at several points to gain their freedom if they can. But at no point that I know of does any Christian authority of the era (nor of any era thereafter for centuries) tell slaveowners to free their slaves as a requirement of the faith or as evidence of growth in the faith.

I reiterate: in both testaments of the bible, slavery is as natural an institution as the nuclear family. If the text is presumed to be the inerrantly transmitted will of God, then human enslavement is acceptable to that God, even if it is distasteful. That same God cannot, by definition, contradict Himself in being the origin for the unalienable right of human liberty.

I believe humans have rights relative to each other. I find sufficient origin for those rights in the foundational principle of human equality. That's it and all about it.

That foundational principle does pre-exist this government (and in an ethical sense, all governments). In this, I think we agree.

Viking6
December 30, 2002, 02:04 PM
Y'all do a lot more thinking than I do. Rights are a human construct, almost like proving a negative. Do you know you have a right unless it's threatened? In my mind it's like time, another human construct. Rights mean you can do certain things and can't do others. What particular rights are we talking about? Do I have the right to spew filthy language in front of your spouse and children? Certain societies place more value on individual responsibility than individual rights. Human developed from groups for protection, procreation/survival. Humans in earlier times had deep dependency on each other, moreso than now. Could you go off in the wilderness with your rifle, knife and some salt to survive? Yes, but all three are the result of a group of people in some factory manufacturing them. So did early humans have rights or a responsibility to their survival group? In my humble opinion and decayed understanding of the Bible, the passage about slave obey the master and another about render unto Caesar.... are within the context of earthly life being short and the soul/Kingdom of God (Heaven or Hell) being eternal. Again I applaud everyone's thought and opinion on this one and turn it back over to the pros.

G-Raptor
December 30, 2002, 06:16 PM
Originally posted by nualle
I reiterate: in both testaments of the bible, slavery is as natural an institution as the nuclear family. If the text is presumed to be the inerrantly transmitted will of God, then human enslavement is acceptable to that God, even if it is distasteful. That same God cannot, by definition, contradict Himself in being the origin for the unalienable right of human liberty.


I seem to have heard this argument somewhere before. I guess that's why more blacks are becoming Moslem. :(

But then, there was that whole Exodus thing with Moses and Pharoah. So, I'm a bit confused over the contradiction. :confused:

RikWriter
December 30, 2002, 08:14 PM
Originally posted by G-Raptor
But then, there was that whole Exodus thing with Moses and Pharoah. So, I'm a bit confused over the contradiction. :confused:

The problem with the Egyptian captivity wasn't the institution of slavery but the subjugation of God's chosen people by another nation.

labgrade
December 30, 2002, 09:40 PM
Not even a chance to read through likely a very interesting thread (here & at TFL) ...

I have rights simply because I can recognise that fact. I'm human.

Being American, likely I've had some historical precedence/education along these lines & can be quite uppity about the whole affair.

Very simplistic for me, really. I could go on & be quite a bore. You don't want to hear it & I ain't taking the time. ;)

G-Raptor
December 31, 2002, 12:22 AM
Originally posted by RikWriter
The problem with the Egyptian captivity wasn't the institution of slavery but the subjugation of God's chosen people by another nation.

Let's see, work seven days a week, no time off, don't get paid, can't quit your job. Uuuhhh, that still sounds a bit like slavery to me. :rolleyes:

RikWriter
December 31, 2002, 12:26 AM
Originally posted by G-Raptor
Let's see, work seven days a week, no time off, don't get paid, can't quit your job. Uuuhhh, that still sounds a bit like slavery to me. :rolleyes:

Roll your eyes all you want, but if you can't read the post coherently then don't respond.
I never said there was no slavery in the situation, I said that the PROBLEM with the situation which caused the Israelites to rebel and leave Egypt wasn't that Egypt practiced the institution of slavery, it was that a foreign country had subjugated God's chosenb people.

nualle
December 31, 2002, 12:46 PM
G-Raptor, your Exodus example illustrates my point rather than contradicting it. There is a double standard throughout the old testament. God's chosen believers are not to suffer slavery by foreigners and they are not to enslave each other. OTOH, they are allowed to be masters over—to enslave—foreigners and unbelievers. Abraham had at least one Egyptian slave we know about. It was standard practice to enslave the noncombatant populations of Canaanite towns the Israelites conquered.

All of this argues for a special status for God's believers over all other humans. This is incompatible with universal human equality and universal human rights.

The new testament seems to drop the requirement of believers not enslaving each other. This would tend to equalize believers with everyone else, but it still tolerates forced bondage. Possible human equality (even noises in that direction), but no universal human rights. No cigar.

So we're back to the human origin of human rights. No contradiction, no problem.

mack
January 1, 2003, 02:52 AM
Jim and nualle, I appreciate your responses. I have been off line the last couple of days due to electrical problems; half the power to our house was off and on due to a bad line connection. Although we agree on the primacy of individual rights, we disagree on their origin.

Unfortunately, I see all secular arguments in favor of individual rights as doomed to fall to the behaviorists and Prozac if you will. As a Christian, I do not see this as a problem, except that the rift between the world of faith and the secular worldview will continue to grow. Governments worldwide will move more and more to the corporate state model, where the unholy alliance of business and government will continue with their gradual encroachment on individual rights and liberties, marginalizing the individual. This will result in a faux form of individual liberty that is really a series of carefully licensed government privileges. The preferred method of control being property rights, taxes, government handouts, and corporate/state control of information through a loose monopoly on information, (primarily state run education, election reform, and marketing and commercial advertising). No high conspiracy to be sure, just a simple convergence of money, power, and interests. Think of the similarities between running a successful election campaign and a successful advertising campaign for soda pop. Both are looking for ways to shape their message to sell their product, both use focus groups and polls, both shape their product to appeal to their market, both look for ways to increase their market share while minimizing their competitors. No concern for individuals, just a purely behavioral approach, this pitch with this product will net this number of dollars or votes. The concept of the individual is being deconstructed and with it individual rights. Heck, you can even see this cancer in many so called religious organizations.

I hope I am wrong about the direction things are going, but when man is the measure, and science is the judge, then I fear we will truly find ourselves beyond freedom and dignity – with nothing is sacred or forbidden and individuals are merely collections of DNA and physiological responses to be manipulated.

I know we disagree, but I see God as the only salvation, that will save man from himself.

RikWriter
January 1, 2003, 12:21 PM
Unfortunately, I see all secular arguments in favor of individual rights as doomed to fall to the behaviorists and Prozac if you will.

No, that depends entirely on the ability of those making the arguments.
But let's examine your statement a minute: are you saying that there IS no defense of human rights possible through secular argument? That the ONLY defense is a religious one?
If that's true, we've lost already because not all religions believe the same. The fact is, if we can't mount a secular argument in support of our rights and our freedoms, we HAVE no argument.

G-Raptor
January 1, 2003, 04:11 PM
I never said there was no slavery in the situation, I said that the PROBLEM with the situation which caused the Israelites to rebel and leave Egypt wasn't that Egypt practiced the institution of slavery, it was that a foreign country had subjugated God's chosenb people.

So God only objects to slavery when it applies to his chosen people? I was taught that he was everybody's God. But I guess you're saying that if one of the "unchosen" people enslaves some other "unchosen" people, that's ok with him? Considering the difficulty in getting chosen, I guess that pretty much leaves the rest of us out.

IMO, slavery in an institution of man, not God. As has been pointed out, it was the "normal" state of affair in ancient time. However, the fact that it existed did not justify it. If you want to believe that God sanctions it, you're free to do so.

However, my original argument was not about the nature of God or a particular set of religious beliefs. As I said, the founders invoked God as a political statement, not a religious one.

RikWriter
January 1, 2003, 04:50 PM
G-Raptor said:
So God only objects to slavery when it applies to his chosen people? I was taught that he was everybody's God. But I guess you're saying that if one of the "unchosen" people enslaves some other "unchosen" people, that's ok with him? Considering the difficulty in getting chosen, I guess that pretty much leaves the rest of us out.


I am not arguing religion with you. I was responding to SOMEONE ELSE who was using religious arguments. If you want to argue with him, feel free.


IMO, slavery in an institution of man, not God. As has been pointed out, it was the "normal" state of affair in ancient time. However, the fact that it existed did not justify it. If you want to believe that God sanctions it, you're free to do so.


I don't believe God had anything to do with it. I AM stating that you CANNOT use the Bible to condemn the institution of slavery, as it most certainly does not do so.


However, my original argument was not about the nature of God or a particular set of religious beliefs. As I said, the founders invoked God as a political statement, not a religious one.


Perhaps so.

nualle
January 1, 2003, 06:24 PM
G-Raptor: answered in PM as too far afield of topic.

Wiz
January 1, 2003, 06:34 PM
IMHO, your rights are "allowed" by your society. If you were alone on the planet, or on an island, you would have the "right" to do what ever you please, because no one else would be there to care. Since we live in a society, we have that society's values imposed upon us. Thus, to carry that thought a bit further, when you are born (created), you only have the rights that other people GIVE you. If you were not born in the US, for example, you might not have the "right" to voice your opinion on a forum such as this. Just my .02.

- Wiz

nualle
January 1, 2003, 07:34 PM
mack wrote a thoughtful post... here are parts of it:
Jim and nualle, I appreciate your responses. I have been off line the last couple of days due to electrical problems; half the power to our house was off and on due to a bad line connection.
Glad to see you back online, mack. I hope the technical problem has been resolved safely and permanently.

[snip] Unfortunately, I see all secular arguments in favor of individual rights as doomed to fall to the behaviorists and Prozac if you will.
This is a valid worry, but one that can be alleviated by defining "human" physically and grant the full quota of rights to all humans. Obviously, those humans who cannot answer for themselves (e.g., infants, those with severe mental deficiencies...) must have someone with full capacities protect and answer for them. But they don't lose all rights to the guardian. They must retain legal standing against an abusive guardian, even if initiative against the abuser must come from a third party.

If by “behaviorism,” I understand you correctly to mean “nurture determinism” or the “blank slate” theory of human development… I think we’d disagree as to how that connects with religion. We might even disagree about how much of a danger it is (that is, how well or badly it, as a theory, reflects reality.) It’d be a fascinating discussion, but OT here.

[snip] Governments worldwide will move more and more to the corporate state model, where the unholy alliance of business and government will continue with their gradual encroachment on individual rights and liberties, marginalizing the individual.
I share your distress at seeing this happening. I also look back on literally thousands of years of abuses shown by the unholy alliance of religion and government. Neither is acceptable. But the problem with corporations, large as it looms now, is orders of magnitude less than the problem with religions. Let me explain how.

Corporations are human inventions, devised to serve human, real-world ends. They are tools. The problem is that they have been granted legal capacities beyond those of tools. By means of these, their wielders and beneficiaries accrue more profit to themselves while protecting themselves from the harm they do through their corporate practices. This is wrong, but it stems from a wrong understanding of who is a human and some people's use of the "corporation" tool, not from anything inherent in the nature of the tool.

Most religions (especially the modern ones) are essentially other-world focused. All the best efforts of their best believers are aimed somewhere other than this world.
Matthew 6:19-24
19 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
This means that, soon or late, all their believers (except those in theocracies run by their own sect) end up in conflicts of interest.

As far as the rest of us go, that's not really a problem until, in order to reduce their conflicts of interest, believers start "establishing" their own religion, moving the government toward theocracy. Governments, like corporations, are tools devised and designed by humans toward human ends. Insofar as a government favors one religious view over others, it disfavors the humans within it who have other views. It is therefore not serving its function relative to them.

I am not a Utilitarian. I do not believe that the desire of the many outweighs the need of one. All humans have rights that all humans are bound by ethics to respect. No majority can ethically overwhelm that.

[lots of good, but archived, background snipped] No concern for individuals, just a purely behavioral approach, this pitch with this product will net this number of dollars or votes. The concept of the individual is being deconstructed and with it individual rights.
When only individuals have legal rights—when individuals who make decisions are held liable for the harm their decisions cause, regardless of the fact that the actors were employees following orders—end o’ problem.

I hope I am wrong about the direction things are going, but when man is the measure, and science is the judge, then I fear we will truly find ourselves beyond freedom and dignity – with nothing is sacred or forbidden and individuals are merely collections of DNA and physiological responses to be manipulated.
Science is not a judge. Science is a collection of methods. We each are judges and we choose the tools we find work best for us. Only by centering our public interactions on the principle of humans as ends in themselves, not as means—even God’s means—will we be deterred from thinking ourselves ethical while stepping on our neighbors’ rights.

G-Raptor
January 1, 2003, 08:13 PM
I don't believe God had anything to do with it. I AM stating that you CANNOT use the Bible to condemn the institution of slavery...

That... I agree with. ;)

mack
January 2, 2003, 03:25 AM
nualle, thanks for the thoughtful post, I know that we probably agree on more things than we disagree.

Since my last post wandered into some off topic ground, I will try to bring this back to topic.

I believe that the primary problem is that the concept of the individual, and therefore individual rights, is increasingly marginalized.

While I agree that organized religion and the synergy of organized religion and government has lead to terrible atrocities, I also find that so called secular philosophy and government has lead to the equal or greater atrocities - witness the soviet union, communist china, fascism, and pol pot.

The solution as always is a set of shared unchanging values that respect the rights of the individual. Our society is big on espousing individual freedoms, but as you point out fails miserably when it comes to accepting or demanding individual accountability. Like children we want everything we desire, but don't want to be held accountable for our choices. That is a prescription for disaster and the note is coming ever closer to being due.

Obviously, I find those unchanging values, which proclaim the primacy of individual liberty and responsibility through my faith in God. In my way of thinking, if God gives us the freedom to choose him or to reject him, (the most important decision one can make), then individual liberty must be respected in all those areas of life that involve lesser decisions; essentially the rest of life.

Therefore individuals who reject God, must be respected to make that choice, and one should have no issue with them or their choice, as it is not any other person's to judge.

This ties into individual rights when people from a secular or from a religious viewpoint decide to violate another individuals right to choose and to reap the rewards or consequences of their choices.

This is where individuals who respect individual liberty can agree, regardless of their belief or nonbelief in God.

My concern is that with the advance of science, we will use that knowledge without constraint. When I alluded to science as the judge, I did not mean that science made moral judgements, quite the opposite, science makes no moral judgement. But that is the problem, in a society that is increasingly unable to make moral judgements or reach a moral consensus, whatever science makes possible, will come to fruition. Our absence of judgement becomes our judgement.

An amoral man with sticks, stones, or a gun can kill a few of his fellow humans. An amoral man with a nuclear or biological weapon can kill millions. The death of individual liberty lies in that equation, many will claim we can no longer afford to live in a world which respects inalienable rights, when the cost of respecting those rights could result in the death of millions. They already make the argument when it comes to the right to keep and bear arms, where the cost, (per their point of view), is in the thousands of lives nationwide, not in millions.

Science will also enable governments to access the information they need to keep the majority fat and happy, identify potential troublemakers and keep tabs on them and their activities. Laws will be passed and corporate polices enacted that are for the good of the people and that will through advances in technology be minimally intrusive to the uneducated because technology will make them transparent and just a part of daily life.

By behaviorism I generally mean the amoral application of science, that views human beings as no more than a collection of DNA and a combination of innate and learned behaviors. Not a blank slate, but a combination of hardware and software, that can through the informed use of the right stimulus and chemicals be made to respond in the preferred manner ninety percent plus of the time. This is a viewpoint that is increasingly being adopted at all levels of society, particularly secular society; life and individual liberty are no longer sacred.

The pervasive attitude in government, in business, and in society in general is not whether something is right or wrong, but does it yield the desired result. That is the Holy Grail of business, government, and much of secular society. Religious faith that values right and wrong, that rejects relative values, that concerns itself with why; is seen as quaint at best and dangerous if it leads to a challenge of the powers that be. See what happens when homeschooling is viewed as a threat to the education establishment, or people try to actually live by their faith. I half joke with my wife that because we live in the country in an old farm home, have guns, and believe in God, that we per current newspeak, are religious fanatics with an arsenal of weapons living in an isolated compound.

Fight the good fight.

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