Monday, July 18, 2011

"Where Do Human Rights Come From?": Secular vs Divine Grounds for Human Rights

Most people would agree that there is such a thing as human rights, but what do we appeal to when we make that claim? Is it a religious conviction that stems from an idea that humans are divine creations, or is it a secular idea of morality that doesn't require a belief in God?

In this provocative essay in the New York Times, Israeli philospher Anat Biletzki, argues that a religious grounding for the sacredness of life and of the human person is deficient. Those of you who heard the lectionary from Genesis a few weeks back describing Abraham and Isaac may have some thoughts on this part of her argument:

"A deep acceptance of divine authority — and that is what true religion demands — entails a renunciation of human rights if God so wills. Had God’s angel failed to call out — “Abraham! Abraham!” — Abraham would have slain Isaac."

Read the whole essay here.

1 comment:

styler said...

I don't think anyone can argue selflessly, and that is perhaps one of the best arguement for God (or a god). Morals are applicable only in and for the billions of universes of "one."

If I as a "humanist" say you should be free or have liberty, then am I not playing the decider? If I say this is right and that is wrong, how can I do so other than through the filter of my own being? If I agree that we should feed the hungry, cloth the naked, love the unloved, because I think it's right in and of itself then I'm just doing it because it pleases me. I stand on no greater grounds than the person who says you must be my slave, you must do this or that, that those who want should meet their own needs.

I don't see any logic in saying there is a neutral non-religious grounds for rights, or justice, or goodness. So, when Biletzki posits on human life's "sacredness:"
"But that could just be a manner of speaking..." well, yes and no, but it means something very different and amoral if it is.

Mad Padre

Mad Padre
Opinions expressed within are in no way the responsibility of anyone's employers or facilitating agencies and should by rights be taken as nothing more than one person's notional musings, attempted witticisms, and prayerful posturings.


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