God-Given – Part II

Although few want to admit it, the reason why “rights” are so often attributed to a deity is because it endows them with a sense of being elevated beyond mere people. This also why commandments and morality are usually tied to religion and presented as being from a superior being. After all, what value is there in rights or moral values because Sam Nobody or Sara Somebody said it they were the way in which people should conduct themselves?

But in fact, the vast majority of legal codes practiced today, while tied to some form of religious faith, either loosely or strictly, were set forth and presented to the people by other people [with the possible exception of the ten commandments, but even then we only have the word of Moses that God inscribed those stone tablets]. As some commenters have pointed out, even the Founding Fathers deferred to a deity, but in fact they were the ones who wrote the actual language of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Why do we have such a problem in admitting that the beliefs and laws that, for the most part, govern us and our behavior were devised by other people? Is it because we don’t like admitting that someone else had a better idea? We certainly accede to the fact that others are physically stronger, or that “might makes right” in terms of war or the threat of largest battalions.

Yet, the idea that someone else might have a better code of behavior, especially one not based on religion, is an anathema to most Americans, and certainly to most Islamic believers. I suspect the only reason most Americans are leery of a theocracy is not because of the idea of a theocracy itself, but because there’s the real danger of the religious values being imposed just might be those of some other faith. That was most certainly the concern of the Founding Fathers.

Then, too, there’s the question of how any deity could grant us “rights.” Proclaiming that such rights are “God-given” doesn’t make it so, although it may legitimize those rights in the eyes of the faithful. But then, maybe that’s the point of the claim. The problem with such “legitimacy,” however, is that when the laws of a country don’t reflect what a given group of believers think is in accord with their faith, they want to change the laws to reflect their faith, regardless of the conflict such changes causes with the beliefs of others.

In practice, human “rights” only exist so long as human beings recognize such rights and conduct themselves in a way that supports those rights. All too often in history, the rights of one group or another, and often their very existence, have been destroyed through intolerance of differences and in the name of another belief, a rather strong indication that no deity created those rights and that no deity actively defends them, only people of both character with the will to act and to oppose injustice.

1 thought on “God-Given – Part II”

  1. Daze says:

    I once whiled away a long ferry ride from Piraeus to Sifnos by letting a young god-botherer question me on how I could possibly know what to do in the world if a god wasn’t guiding me. After a lengthy debate around the Golden Rule – as explained to me in extreme youth by the goddess Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby – she finally exclaimed, “there, you’re following god’s rules, even if you don’t know it!” I replied: “I prefer to think of it that he’s following my rules.” At which point she walked away.

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