February 28, 2016 by David K. Sutton
If We Believe Rights Come From God, We Diminish Our Agency
It is curious that religious conservatives say our rights come from god when the constitution does not mention god or creator. Yes, this is an inconvenient truth for some, but nonetheless it is indeed a truth. So, how about this instead.
Rights. And that’s it. Period.
The existence of a god is not prerequisite for the existence of human rights. Our rights exist because of a mutual truth of humanity. God didn’t bestow us with rights. Instead, human beings (like the Founding Fathers) recognized that nobody should overrule the agency we each have for our own existence. We can choose whatever religion or god we want, or no god at all, but that choice does not diminish or enhance our rights as human beings. We have rights, and god is not part of the equation. Because we each have rights bestowed to us through a mutual human understanding, and clarified in the text that is the framework of our government.
When human beings choose to dismiss this truth, god suddenly appears inept. Because it is at this moment when it is revealed that our rights do not come from god or tradition, but instead from reason and rational thought, like that of the enlightenment period. And it is from this period which the Founding Fathers of this country were both student and scholar. See, it’s not a mistake that god was omitted from the U.S. Constitution. It was intentional.
Okay, so if conservatives have stuck around until now, they will point out that the Declaration of Independence says the following:
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.
Indeed it does. And the Declaration of Independence is most certainly an important document in American history. But, this document is not the foundation of our government. The constitution is the framework for which this country was built. Furthermore, conservatives conveniently forget what follows the above excerpt from the Declaration of Independence.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
In other words, if rights were bestowed from god, there would not be a need for a Declaration of Independence in the first place. It took the actions of people, not god, to secure these rights. If there is a god (there really isn’t), he was merely a spectator.