Human Rights… The Source and Why They Are Up for Grabs

“Once a culture abandons the convictions that all humans are created in God’s image, human rights are up for grabs. Any category of humans is fair game to be excluded or even eliminated.” Nancy Pearcey

Any worldview that says human life has no inherent value or dignity (regardless of age or development) will never lead to utopia, no matter how advanced the tools and technology. Philosopher Luc Ferry—surprisingly, in a book promoting atheism—says it was Christianity that introduced the concept of equal rights. Christianity overthrew ancient social hierarchies between rich and poor, master and slave.

“According to Christianity, we were all brothers on the same level as creatures of God,” Ferry writes. “Christianity is the first universalist ethos.”

The above and below are excerpts from Nancy Pearcey’s book, Love Thy Body, I’m posting this due to the importance of understanding where human rights and freedoms have their source. Any thoughts added from me are italicized.

Another atheist, Richard Rorty, agrees. In a lecture to UNESCO, he noted that throughout history, societies have come up with various ways to exclude certain groups from the human family. Those who belonged to a different tribe, clan, race, or religion were labeled “subhuman”. By contrast, Rorty notes, Christianity gave rise to the concept of universal rights derived from the conviction “that all human beings are created in the image of God.”

In the modern age, however, Rorty says, due to Darwin we no longer except the idea of creation. Therefore we are no longer morally bound to maintain that everyone who is biologically human has equal dignity.

The implication is clear:  once a culture abandons the convictions that all humans are created in God’s image, human rights are up for grabs. Any category of humans is fair game to be excluded or even eliminated.

Today we see history repeating itself before our eyes. Those who fail to comply with or adopt the new LGTBQ ideology are pointed out, ridiculed, or excluded. Although touting “inclusivity and love”, their actions prove insistence on accepting their new worldview or face anger, violence, and exclusion. Click HERE for an example. And climate-change advocates simultaneously push their incessant forged worldview ideology which will crush many. Society once again has come up with ways to exclude or even eliminate certain groups, (i.e. those who don’t agree) from the human family. Universal human rights disappear.

That’s why the stakes in this debate are so high. As Wesley Smith writes, “If human life does not matter simply and merely because it is human, this means that moral worth becomes subjective and a matter of who has the power to decide.” And we already know what happens then:  “History shows that once we create categories of differing worth, those humans denigrated by political power structure as having less value are exploited, oppressed, and killed.”

The history of chattel slavery in America and the totalitarian systems of the 20th century give stark evidence of the morally horrific consequences of treating humans as mere things. The slave holders argued that Africans were less than fully human… then sold, whipped, hunted, raped, and killed them. 

Nazi propaganda dehumanized Jews, calling them “rats” and “the vermin of mankind” and then murdered 6 million of them.

In the Red Terror, Lenin called whole categories of people “former persons”, or more colourfully, “bloodsuckers”, “vampires”, “parasites”, and “class enemies”. That made it easier to ship them off to concentration camps or simply shoot them.

In the 1994 Rawandan massacre, the Hutus were incited to violence by government radio discourse calling the Tutsis “cockroaches” that must be “exterminated”.

In addition to the testimony of history, the impact of personhood theory has been tested experimentally.

The personhood theory claims that biological human existence is separate from “personhood”. There is a split. Personhood is a worth or value put on a person to justify our being allowed to live. If one’s existence doesn’t measure up to an imposed societal standard, he/she can be done away with. Currently we see this societal standard widening with abortion and euthanasia, and the increased demand for MAID (Medical Assistance in Dying) at any age—now even for mental depression. Additionally, confusion around sexual identity also falls within this theory as many struggle with an ostensible inner-outer conflict of being. Pearcey expands on the personhood theory in her book. The biological/personhood split came as a result of shifting away from God as creating all humans equal, male and female, and a moving towards believing what Darwin suggested in his theory of evolution, that certain humans are more developed than others. Flowing from that, if we are evolving, why not attempt to develop humans further yet to our own whimsical desires?

In an ingenious sociological study, John H. Evans measured the moral views of Christians against those who accept personhood theory. The experiment found that personhood theory is indeed associated with lower support for human rights. Members of the public who agree with personhood theory are more supportive of buying organs from poor people, of experimenting on prisoners against their will, of torturing people to potentially save lives—and are less willing to sacrifice to stop genocide.

We tend to work out the logic of our basic convictions. Because of Darwin, many people no longer have a moral basis for universal human rights. We should expect to see the logical consequences played out in the denial of human rights to those deemed to be non-persons.

Our beliefs inform how we see the world, and how we see the world informs our beliefs. We live out of what we believe. But there is always room to make change and improvement if we see our worldview as inconsistent, and more particularly if we see our worldview as damaging to fellow humans and human rights. I appreciate the Christian worldview, that we are all created in God’s image uniquely and distinctly as He designed, with purpose. This is the source of all human rights. I have yet to see another.

Jesus himself stated our overall purpose in summary, “to love the LORD your God and your neighbour as yourself”, and then inspired a whole book, called the Bible, to unpack what that loving looks like, including the realities of all of life’s messiness.

How does your worldview support humans and human rights? Does it erode them or embrace them?

How is your worldview being lived out by you and others? Does anything need to change?

Imagine if enough people push back on the erosion of our human rights and embrace the source, we would protect the beauty of what is slipping away.

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