Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Christianity, gay rights, and human rights

Many churches are speaking out for the gays. But not all of them. 

Demographic tendencies don't prove what most people think they do. Not everyone is able to see the full implications of their position. I presented the "Where's your evidence" argument that atheists use on God to the question of human rights. Instead of getting stout defenses of human rights on secular grounds, the first two responses I got were two atheists who immediately said that the argument works against human rights: there is no evidence that they exist. Governments may protect them or not protect them, but there is no justification for arguing that people just have human rights if the people with the biggest guns keep them from exercising them. The existence of human rights entails the existence of objectively binding moral obligations on the part of the powerful to allow people to exercise those rights. What it means to say that a Jew has the right to life in a Nazi concentration camp is not to say that the Jew will survive the camp. It means that regardless of what Hitler says, they ought not to be taken to the gas chambers. In fact, since they have the right to liberty, they ought never have been put in the camps in the first place. If morals are subjective in the final analysis, then the doctrine of human rights becomes untenable. I can't make the least bit of sense out of human rights apart from moral objectivity. But moral facts fit like a hand in a glove in the Christian worldview, but really don't go very well with atheism. In a materialistic atheist world-view, where do objective moral facts fit? Are they physical facts? Where are they located in time and space? 

I have a sneaking suspicion that secularists like gay rights because this is a way of taking Christians down a peg. On the other hand, the most homophobic people I have ever met have not been Christians. Christians, unless they accept the "God hates fags" ideology that says that God makes you gay so he can send you to hell more readily, believe that people, regardless of sexual orientation, are loved and valued by God. Regardless of who someone happens to be, God created you and has a profound interest in your salvation. There is no such thing as human refuse. This is the basis of which women, slaves, and the poor came to be treated better under the influence of the Church than they were treated in the Roman Empire. 

I looked at a list of anti-gay violence incidents, and with maybe one exception, none of the perpetrators were strongly religious or even claimed to have done it for Jesus. This is a fact that no one ever seems to mention. 

Hitler turned against homosexuals, and the Soviet Union, probably the first great experiment in secularist statecraft, did not permit same-sex marriage. Lenin decriminalized homosexuality, and the Stalin recriminalized it. What if you have a secularist political leader who "just doesn't like queers" and wants to kill them all? What argument can be made that he has an objectively binding moral obligation not to do that?

5 comments:

Mortal said...

I have a sneaking suspicion that secularists like gay rights because this is a way of taking Christians down a peg.

It's more than a "sneaking" suspicion with me.

Jimmy S. M. said...

"It means that regardless of what Hitler says, they ought not to be taken to the gas chambers. In fact, since they have the right to liberty, they ought never have been put in the camps in the first place."

And yet they were, and it took the bigger guns to stop them, just as if human rights were a human construct

Mortal said...

I don't understand your argument, Jimmy. If Bill has the right to free speech, and Joe punches him in the mouth every time Bill tries to exercise it, that in no way means the right doesn't exist - it merely means that Joe has violated Bill's rights. But more importantly (and more to the point), it says nothing about where that right came from. Whether it was "endowed by our Creator" or a human construct, the result is identical. Bill had a right, and Joe violated it.

Jimmy S. M. said...

Victor describes what the world would look like if human rights didn't exist in the sense he means, "objectively, externally":

"Governments may protect them or not protect them, but there is no justification for arguing that people just have human rights if the people with the biggest guns keep them from exercising them. "

And to me, that's basically what the world and history look like. Occasionally, peaceful dialogue and persuasion win the day. Human rights are a human construct, and they only "exist" to the extent that they are asserted, and defended.

David Brightly said...

What argument can be made...? None whatever. Even if one could be made a Stalin or an Abu Bakr could readily cobble together a counter argument from Marx or the Koran. The success of the secularist human rights movement post WW2 is partly due to an equivocation on 'right'. Initially states are encouraged to sign up to an airy declaration couched in terms of abstract but supposedly innate rights. Not to do so puts one outside the pale of civilised nations. Subsequently states that fail to embody these abstract rights in concrete legislation and justicial practices, that is they fail to grant their citizens real rights rather than virtual ones, can be shamed and embargoed for not living up to their word. This stratagem worked against even the USSR, but sadly not against North Korea.