Most people would agree that there is such a thing as human rights, but what do we appeal to when we make that claim? Is it a religious conviction that stems from an idea that humans are divine creations, or is it a secular idea of morality that doesn’t require a belief in God?

In this provocative essay in the New York Times, Israeli philospher Anat Biletzki, argues that a religious grounding for the sacredness of life and of the human person is deficient. Those of you who heard the lectionary from Genesis a few weeks back describing Abraham and Isaac may have some thoughts on this part of her argument:

“A deep acceptance of divine authority — and that is what true religion demands — entails a renunciation of human rights if God so wills. Had God’s angel failed to call out — “Abraham! Abraham!” — Abraham would have slain Isaac.”

Read the whole essay here.

0 Responses

  1. I don't think anyone can argue selflessly, and that is perhaps one of the best arguement for God (or a god). Morals are applicable only in and for the billions of universes of "one."

    If I as a "humanist" say you should be free or have liberty, then am I not playing the decider? If I say this is right and that is wrong, how can I do so other than through the filter of my own being? If I agree that we should feed the hungry, cloth the naked, love the unloved, because I think it's right in and of itself then I'm just doing it because it pleases me. I stand on no greater grounds than the person who says you must be my slave, you must do this or that, that those who want should meet their own needs.

    I don't see any logic in saying there is a neutral non-religious grounds for rights, or justice, or goodness. So, when Biletzki posits on human life's "sacredness:"
    "But that could just be a manner of speaking…" well, yes and no, but it means something very different and amoral if it is.