A Secular Proof of God-given Rights
The entire nation holds that our laws should not promote any particular religion. That’s a good thing. However, the secularists have had their way with our laws and our religious symbols for many decades. They have won the arguments because, as nonbelievers, their ideas seemed inherently secular. The rest of us have been troubled by the feeling that something was wrong, something was missing. And there was: a way to meet the secularist on his terms so he could be beaten at his own game.
What was needed was a secular proof of our inalienable, God-given rights claimed in our Declaration of Independence. This would empower the believer by eliminating the assumption that the secularists held a superior position. What would be really exciting for the believer, is a way to go on the offensive with those rights and reverse the trend that has plagued him for decades: maybe even find a bullet-proof argument against socialism. Read on.
The Inalienable Rights Questions
Since all disagreements across that perceived wall of separation of church and state boil down to questions of fundamental rights, we can address them all with two simple but crucial questions:
- What produces a natural, inherent, inalienable, immutable right?
- What is the most transcendent of the natural rights of man?
The Secular Answers
1. What produces a natural, inherent, inalienable, immutable right?
A right is an abstract legal concept of power and authority to act. This power and authority is derived from the natural capability of the rights holder. For example, a living man has a right or authority to live because he has the power to live. To violate his authority to live is to do violence to him by violating his power to live. An excellent demonstration of this principle can be found, of all things, in a stone and its right to its space. A stone occupies space and exercises its property right by so doing. This will be a bit of a conceptual leap for many believers, a little like realizing that the earth is not the center of the universe. It does not stop God from being the giver of rights, it only explains how he did it. Here is a detailed treatment that shows that even rocks have rights.
2. What is the most transcendent natural right of man?
The capability possessed by a human that most sets him apart from all other things in the universe is the power to separate stimulus and response and thus to pause, think, plan, and decide. The highest or most fundamental of these is the power to choose. Given he has that power, he also has the authority we call a right, to do so.
This is a key concept because it places our rights in a hierarchy where the most important right comes to the top. Since this is the highest and most ennobling right of man, his government must protect it as its top priority. Any other priority will enslave and restrain and prevent man from reaching for his highest, most equitable and fulfilling destiny. This is the rock bottom basis of freedom. It is also the nemesis of socialism because socialism holds the state at the top of all the food chains that feed the individual citizen’s needs and inherently violates this highest right.
The Missing Link
Here is an unprecedented basis for human rights: a simple, powerful perspective that has been hiding in plain sight: a basis that both the secularist and the religionist can accept. The believer will recognize immediately that this new basis does not directly depend on God but instead upon his creation. The secularist has already committed himself to science as the only trustworthy basis for political principles. So both sides are at last on equal ground where the secularist and the religionist have a clear path to equal rights.
Happily, this secular basis also points to the highest natural right of man, the protection of which demands that all citizens be treated equally and with the greatest possible freedom. This is a breakthrough for Constitutional liberty, religious freedom, and an antidote for socialism. All forms of government that try to use the force of law to advance human progress violate freedom of choice because laws restrict and/or direct behavior.
Is This a Step Down?
Believers will may think this way of leveling the playing field is a step down. I think it is a step sideways for the believer because he doesn’t have to abandon anything in the process. However, it is a step to a place where both parties can speak freely because they can agree on a secular basis for rights. Meanwhile, it is a wonderful step up for our social and political world. We cannot continue to struggle against one another and hope to maintain the rights of all mankind. The pendulum will just continue to swing from one side to the other so long as we have a difference of opinion on the source of the power that gives rise to the authority we call a “right”.
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