About Rights

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One reason that I have been a long-term reader of the blog One Hand Clapping is that Donald Sensing is an excellent writer (I should be so good). Another reason is that when he pulls out the stops, he is devastatingly effective in a logical argument. So it is today in discussing an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about some, frankly, evangelical atheists. Sensing has just a few things to say in addressing the article:

Dawkins, Wilson et. al. are what I call evangelistic atheists, not content with enjoying their own religion as they see fit but dogmatically trying to convert others to their belief.

Well, fine. There is no stronger defendant of the free marketplace of ideas than I. But I hope they understand that they have no right to do so.

Let me say that again so you know I am intentional: atheists have no right to promulgate their belief. They have no right to challenge me about my religion. They have no right to speak up in my community, no right to live in my community, indeed, no right even to life itself. They have no rights at all, in fact.

If atheists are true to their own creed, they must admit that the entire concept of human rights crumbles to dust according to that same creed. Dawkins, Wilson et. al. have no “right” to denounce religion, they just have the ability or power to do so. If persons are not “endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights” (in the words of a famous Enlightenment rationalist), then “rights” is nothing but a flatus vocis. The concept of rights then really means nothing but “who wins.” Right now, atheists are able to speak out (in America, anyway, not in Saudi Arabia) and attempt to persuade others only because the rest of us let them. But why should we let them? Why don’t we religious people simply persecute atheists out of existence?

I think atheists would reply that to do so would be contrary to our own creed (well, not contrary to Islamism, but I’ll not go there today). And they would be correct. But so what? An atheist also holds that there is nothing behind religious creeds, that there is no content to them. Since religious beliefs are smply the product of evolution, they may be changed or discarded as we might wish. So could not we religious people simply say, “Sorry, persecuting atheists is no longer against our religon?” If you think not, why not?

And don’t throw the US Constitution at me: the First Amendment and the rest of the Bill of Rights is nothing more than an agreement among religious people to let atheists be. But, as I’ve just said, we can change our minds. And heck, the whole document is nothing but a product of evolution and therefore worth no more than any other political manifesto.

Can anyone refute this argument without an appeal to transcendence? I think not. The reason America’s religious people don’t denouce their creeds – and Lord knows (oops, a virus of the mind crept it), we have a hard enough time living up to them at all – is that we (Jews and Christians, anyway) really do believe there is a God who is not only a God of mercy and compassion but also of moral law and judgement.

Never argue with a minister who knows how to use artillery. You will lose.

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