Our rights are important. As is what we perceive as our rights. Rights are where we derive so many of our other political and social concepts from. Rights, as defined, are those set of items or actions that are afforded due to just claim, legal guarantee, moral principle, or legal principle and authorities. And rights determine how we are to be treated, what actions we are allowed (and not allowed) to take, and what reactions are allowed. They form a basis of how we interact with others and the rest of the world.
When dealing with what is right and what is wrong, and by extension what rights we may or may not have as individual entities on this planet, I believe it only RIGHT that each and every atheist in the world begin by accepting the understanding that there are no rights, they have no rights, and that the mere concept of a right or wrong is a fallacy.
Lets break this down. If there is no “supreme being” (or beings as the case may be), although if we were to be clear here, the definition should be “creator“, so if there is no Creator then there can be no design. By definition there is no design (or we might say Intelligent Design). If you were to argue that the design lies within the physical and metaphysical laws of the universe, I suppose you could make a case that those laws constitute the design (or the description) of what we see physically around us. But to then take that and stretch it into some piece of matter’s right is quite a leap of logic and faith.
If I even begin by granting the atheist the line of reasoning that what we observe as design in the universe is the result of natural and physical laws playing out in some grand scheme over the vastness of time, there are still a lot of unanswered questions with regards to morality, justice, right, wrong, happiness, sadness, love, hate, or just the plain meaning of life. In the atheistic world view, there is no Creator, and by extension no designer, and thus there are no rights.
Very, very, very, few atheists are honest enough, principled enough, and reasoned enough, to admit and state that within their world view there is no meaning and no purpose. What can it be? You cannot have meaning or purpose without design. They simply cannot exist without design. A design exudes a purpose. And a purpose comes about by design. Thus, given the atheistic world view of no Creator, there is no designer, which leaves no design within the universe, which leaves the universe absolutely purposeless. And since there is no purpose, what then becomes the basis for right and for wrong? Why should there be any basis? After all, it doesn’t really matter much at all, does it? And since right and wrong are now regulated to mere concepts that have no meaning, what then becomes the foundation on which we build individual rights?
And yet the atheist and the theist alike will claim individual rights of humankind in the world. The atheist will claim some collective conscious that inherently bestows these rights upon individuals. But that, in and of itself, is a fallacy. When did we, as all of humankind, ever come together and agree upon and define those rights? We did not. To suggest that you or I have any ability to bestow rights upon another assigns a level of supremacy to one or another particular individual that then sets them apart from all the rest. This in and of itself breaks the very premise of the model. The only logical conclusion one may draw here is that those rights are granted and bestowed from outside of the system. This in its very nature lends credence to a Creator. A Supreme being who by design built a system that has certain inalienable rights woven into the very fabric of its existence.
This is the conclusion the framers of the U.S. Constitution came to and it is the foundation upon which they sought to establish the system of Government. Our rights, liberties, and happiness are not what is decided upon by society or humankind. Rather our rights, liberties, and our very happiness is what is granted and bestowed upon us by the Creator himself.
Given a theistic world view, conflicts are now resolved against the framework of the Creators design, not of our own. I do not have the right to then define your pursuit of happiness based upon my own framework of what would satisfy my own happiness or desires, but rather I must weigh your actions against the framework of the Creator himself.
This is why knowing and understanding the Creator is so important within our lives. And it is why Theology becomes the foundational science upon which we must base all other pursuits upon. Theology is the only pursuit in which we may find purpose and meaning to our very existence. And it that understanding that then begins to build the framework for our interactions with our fellow human beings around us.
When you seek to impose your morals upon the world you establish yourself as the source of right and wrong. You set yourself apart and above the rest of humanity.
The Christian does not set out to impose morality upon the world. The Christian rather recognizes the design of the moral code designed into the system by the Creator. It is not MY morality I espouse, but rather the morality designed by the Creator.
You may draw different conclusions as to the source of the morality within the system. You may even argue the interpretation and understanding of that morality. Indeed, Christians have various interpretations of right and wrong amongst themselves (as do theists of all venues).
What should not be at issue is the design of the rights. And that design cries out of the existence of a Creator, a God, a Supreme being who has bestowed upon all of humankind (his creation) the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And that is why my rights, your rights, and everyone’s rights are of the utmost importance. Because they did not come from you or from me or from society or from an accident of the physical laws of the cosmos. They came from God. And you may exert your own force of will and power against them as you see fit (as happens all over the world each and every day), but you can never take them away or alter them or make them your own. They are secured by God and he will administer them and regulate them as he sees fit.
Knowing this, pursuing this, understanding this, in its deepest and most intimate depths is key to happiness and peace with those around us and on earth.