“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone– God speaking to Job (38:4-6)
The current vision of ‘rights’ held by Progressives (the “anointed”) as contained in a quote from Thomas Sowell, economist:
“The anointed want to eliminate stress, challenge, striving, and competition. They want the necessities of life to be supplied as “rights” ~ which is to say, at the taxpayer’s expense, without anyone’s being forced to work for those necessities, except of course the taxpayers.
Nothing is to be earned. “Self-esteem” is to be dispensed to school children as largess from the teacher. Adults are to have their medical care and other necessities dispensed as largess from the government. People are to be mixed by race and sex and whatever else the anointed want to take into account, in order to present whatever kind of picture the anointed think should be presented.
This is the vision of human beings as livestock to be fed by the government and herded and tended by the anointed. All the things that make us human beings are to be removed from our lives and we are to live as denatured creatures and directed by our betters. (emphasis mine)
Those things that help human beings be independent and self-reliant ~ whether automobiles, guns, the free market, or vouchers ~ provoke instant hostility from the anointed.”
Today I am asking questions. Explore with me the idea of ‘rights.’
The fundamental notion of Human Rights comes from…random genetic behavioral adaptations, the social constructs of a group of dabbling socio-political philosophers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, and John Stuart Mill, or as emanating from Kant’s Golden Rule-like categorical imperatives or as ad hoc thoughts based on current information… or ultimately and essentially from a Sovereign God?
Let’s start with what we do know about rights and where they emanate from?
Our US Declaration of Independence states that God Himself bestowed our rights and liberties upon us:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”.).
Hold the “self-evident” thought for a second. Before discussing that a priori concept, I think we can all agree that all men are created equal (some people being more equal than others if you accept materialism’s income inequality as a proper test of justice. The concept of collective envy ruminating as social justice which soon demands tyranny, is wonderfully portrayed in George Orwell’s Animal Farm.)
An “inalienable right” defined: a right according to natural law, a right that cannot be taken away, denied, or transferred. In other words, you don’t own the right to rights. They are a priori, naturally occurring.
Where does natural law come from? We understand legal rights as being those rights determined by man-made laws. But natural law, where does natural law come from?
Some ideas of natural or inalienable rights at the very least dates back to the Greek Stoics – Hellenistic Philosophers were concerned about cosmic determinism and free will. They maintained that proper behavior, not words alone but well-meaning-self-limiting actions, revealed one’s non-predetermined or free will “rights.”
Later, Catholic law would take up the strophe. Then it passed to the Middle Ages after which it coursed through the Reformation then the Enlightenment and right up to my post today. I write this post within a God-bestowed natural law and a man-made legal right of free speech. How convenient!
Are natural rights only generated from reason as Immanuel Kant ‘reasoned’ or are they God-given and then realized? Atheists might prefer man-made reason as opposed to an Intelligent Designer. But the source of their own reasoning is left outside the premises (yeah, I know).
But, If we start with a Intelligent Designer who spoke the Big Bang into existence and then, as most scientists do, recognize an orderly precisely tuned universe held together by four fundamental physical constants called gravity, the strong and weak nuclear forces and electromagnetism and the thought that perhaps all four constants are manifestation of a single underlying and unifying force then we eventually and evidentially return to an Intelligent Designer.
This Intelligent Designer (ID) decided, that after everything had cooled down from the monstrously hot plasma occurring from the Big Bang, that out of the annihilating ’battle’ between the equal forces of matter and anti-matter, that matter would ‘carpe diem’ –seize the day.
This programmed mismatch of matter over antimatter became our physical Genesis, our physical beginnings. We came forth out of God’s spoken word as Remnants of an exploding universe. And, this genesis is recorded in the elements and compounds that compose our very bodies. But there is more to us than what you see and carry around with you.
Now, this same Designer wrote the book on His universe – the Holy Scriptures. This book doesn’t lay out the physical constants. The Book assumes them to be already at work.
It is from man’s earliest recorded philosophy book The Book of Job that we learn about God’s ways with mankind. The discourse between God and man ultimately leads to Job’s sevenfold blessing but not without a lot of hard lessons learned about a human’s ‘rights’ along the way. The Intelligent Designer didn’t have to speak at all but he did speak and made Himself known. He gave Job the right to speak but up to a point. This is natural law in early human drama.
In Genesis we learn that God gave man and woman the ‘right’ to eat of every tree in the garden except for a certain tree. “Don’t go there,” God said. “That is not your right.” This is natural law revealed in the earliest human drama known to man.
Boundaries, like physical constants that keep us from spinning out of control, were set in place for mankind. Do most anything but don’t do ‘these’ things I have told you about. You have this right but not this right. There are only God-known reasons for specific dos and don’ts. This is natural law.
Example: God decided that if the weak nuclear force, this specific one out of the four physical constants, if it varied at all from its constant ‘duty’ it would mean the instant destruction of our planet by the sun. I’m glad God is not fickle. He deals in constants.
Well, man’s free will, unlike gravity, is free to transgress some of God’s prescribed boundaries. So, knowing this beforehand, God wrote things he wanted his people to know in stone – the Ten Commandments. This is natural law.
“Thou shalt…” is not a warranty list of dos and don’ts that would keep the manufacturer happy and out of the picture if you practiced them. This list is an acknowledgment of our natural rights within prescribed boundaries, within constants. This list is the first Bill of Rights and it is not open-ended. It is constrained by justice in dealing with your fellow man.
Something to think about: “We hold these truths to be self-evident…”
Self-evident truth? Like the four physical constants that scientists have discovered and then verified and now count on to be the same day after day?
As stated above, mankind is endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that are self-evident. Truths, inalienable rights, natural law…self-evident. Sound familiar?
The Apostle Paul wrote about self-evident truth in Romans Chapter 5:
For the wrath of God is unveiled from heaven against all the ungodliness and injustice performed by people who use injustice to suppress the truth. What can be known about God, you see, is plain to them, since God has made it plain to them. There are, of course, things about God which can’t been known and seen: namely, his eternal power and deity. But ever since the world was created, they have known and seen in things that he has made. As a result, they have no excuse: they knew God, but didn’t honor him as God or thank him. Instead, they learned to think in useless ways, and their unwise heart grew….they did not see fit to hold on to a knowledge of God, God gave them up to an unfit mind, so that they would behave inappropriately. (emphasis mine)
“They learned to think in useless ways…”
Johns Stuart Mill proposed that truth and virtue originate from unconventional wisdom and by living as a non-conformist also known as his ‘experiments in living. Mill didn’t reflect on the Big picture.
Self-centered individualism and thinking in useless ways with unwise hearts while refusing acknowledgment of God have become the ‘constants’ of our souls. It has made us self-indulgent and ‘preachy’ about Human Rights while denying the self-evident truth.
At all times we are free to acknowledge God and discourse with Him or not. God’s grace as revealed in Jesus’ death and resurrection allows us to have a discussion with Him about our sin. The natural law is still in place but be we are now able to abide by it using the Constant power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus did not come, as he said, to destroy the law and the prophets. The natural law he planted as a cornerstone is still there.
Man’s pride, his ‘right’ to be atheistic may keep him from discourse with God, but God is Constant. He is righteously faithful to his word.
It is important to note that the single underlying, unifying assumption behind the list of “Ten” is that mankind has been given freedom to do whatever he wills, even fly, (but only within the constants of physics).
We all agree that Man was created with natural rights ~ a freedom to act. But after the Fall man’s rights lost their constant factor, their electromagnetic compass needle which always pointed toward God.
Inalienable rights are great but to be of any meaning they need the boundaries and the foundation cornerstone of natural law already in place whereby we align our lives with self-evident truth.
Without that compass needle or the cornerstone our ‘rights’ have become “values”, values that ‘search’ much like valence electrons looking for a place to park in a hook-up culture. One’s identity is no longer elementary and stable. And, our human rights crusades end in cruel and foolish anti-human jokes such as Global Warming.
The idea of Human Rights. Does it come from…random genetic behavioral adaptations, a French philosopher, from ‘experiments in living,’ ad hoc thoughts based on current information, an inordinate desire to “want the necessities of life to be supplied as rights” or from an Intelligent Designer who set them in place in order to show His love for us?
A nation that returned to God would be a nation that returned to Intelligent Design, to its cornerstone… and to its right mind. And, Human Rights could then be lazar-aligned from a fixed place in the universe.
Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his maker?
Job, 4. 17
Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.
Job, 13. 15
“Mortals, born of woman, are of few days and full of trouble.
They spring up like flowers and wither away; like fleeting shadows, they do not endure.
Job, 14. 1
Miserable comforters are ye all.
Job, 16. 2
“Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades? Can you loosen Orion’s belt?
Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs?
Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?
“Can you raise your voice to the clouds and cover yourself with a flood of water?
Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’?
Who gives the ibis wisdom or gives the rooster understanding?…
Who provides food for the raven when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of food?
Job, 38. 31-41
“Look at Behemoth, which I made along with you and which feeds on grass like an ox.
Job, 40. 15
“So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning.”
Job, 42. 12