Paul Ryan: ‘Our Rights Come From Nature and God, Not from Government’ August 12, 2012

Paul Ryan: ‘Our Rights Come From Nature and God, Not from Government’

Mitt Romney‘s pick for VP has wasted no time in appealing to religious conservatives. Vice-presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan had some bold things to say in his acceptance speech Saturday about where exactly we Americans get our rights:

“Our rights come from nature and God, not from government. That’s who we are. That’s how we built this country. That’s who we are. That’s what made us great. That’s our founding. We promise equal opportunity, not equal outcomes.”

Here’s the video of his full speech, complete with Romney’s best gaffe yet, when he enthusiastically introduces Ryan as “the next President of the United States!”

And in case you’re still curious about Ryan’s voting record, has a full breakdown. We’ve all heard that Ryan’s not a big fan of the current Medicare system, but a summary of some other points to consider: he’s also not really into LGBT rights, a woman’s right to choose, hate crimes legislation, renewable energy, or the separation of church and state.

Good to know.

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  • oli kenton

    Is this going to be one of those 2004 situations? Where all we non-yanks look at the two candidates and conclude that the Us would never elect the republican because that would be crazy, and then you do and we are all like “WTF!” Please let Obama win. The world hasn’t yet recovered by Bush enough for another republican.

  • Margaret Whitestone

     You forget how many batshit insane and terminally ignorant people here are allowed to vote.

  • Margaret Whitestone

    Of course when he says rights come from god he’s talking about his god, and his interpretation of that god.   As to government, it’s only there to make sure the wrong people don’t get rights. 

    ” We promise equal opportunity, not equal outcomes.”

    Sadly I think he actually believes that crap.  Like some child in Appalachia has the same opportunity as one whose parents are millionaires.  

  • Margaret Whitestone

    Of course when he says rights come from god he’s talking about his god, and his interpretation of that god.   As to government, it’s only there to make sure the wrong people don’t get rights. 

    ” We promise equal opportunity, not equal outcomes.”

    Sadly I think he actually believes that crap.  Like some child in Appalachia has the same opportunity as one whose parents are millionaires.  

  • Hoosier Heathen

    Isn’t that pretty much what the Declaration of Independence says–that our rights are from Nature and of Nature’s God and that governments are instituted among men to protect these rights? Sure, he may be giving a spin on them, but the words themselves are in line with the founding documents of the US.

  • While I don’t agree with Ryan’s demagoguery, I will agree with the sentiment that the government does not give us rights. Rather, the government is established to protect our all ready existing rights.

  • Erm – if rights were given to you by something (even gods) then they are not rights at all.  Rights are innate.  The phrase “we the people” underscores it and informs the government power derived from the governed.

    Hitchens had it right – these people want to be serfs.

  • And here I thought rights talk was something the clever used to control the uncritical.

  • That was incorrect.  “Rights talk” is used to protect minorities from majorities.

  • It’s OK.  Your politics probably don’t make a lot of sense to us, either.  But we’ll always have the Olympics.

  • There’s not a lot of difference between saying your rights are innate and saying that they come from “nature.”  Rights are the protections or privileges that every person deserves simply for existing as a human being (in my view) and that accommodates either view.  And for the religious, it would make sense to say that they “come from God.”  They think everything does.

  • Most religious people define their god(s) as “supernatural”, but I take your point 🙂

  • Paul D.

    I agree with this. And by saying “nature and God”, he gives both a secular basis for human rights (natural law) and a religious one (God). I have no idea what his politics are and I’m not even American, but I think that is a decent statement to make.

  • Coyotenose

     But… but… but the Olympics don’t make any sense EITHER!


  • Coyotenose

     I knew a moron who claimed that miracles aren’t supernatural because “God is everywhere anyway”. Therefore, he claimed, there is no burden of proof for them; they just happen because Jeebus said they did. I’ve come to learn since then that he is far from alone.

  • Yes, clever minorities use rights talk to control uncritical majorities.

    Natural rights aren’t based on anything real, beyond the desires of those who want others to treat them better. They’re just another popular superstition (which explains why politicians have to cater to the idea).

  • Stev84

    He is a conservative Catholic, so there is nothing secular about what he says. It’s true that humans have rights that are inherent to them, but gods have nothing to do with it.

  • When you argue for some sort of natural rights, you have to be able to say where they come from. So where do you think they come from? Do these rights only extend to humans, or to all living things? Were entire cultures that operated under different ideas about rights than we currently do full of evil citizens?

    Sorry, but there’s absolutely nothing to suggest that rights even exist. They are merely the privileges that people claim for themselves, and they are only as effective as people’s ability to defend them.

  • But the interpretation of the words is very different. When Jefferson defined rights as natural, what he was primarily doing was challenging the ancient system that allowed the King, acting on behalf of God, to define the rights of his subjects.

    In practice, of course, all that the founding fathers did was choose a subset of privileges they wished for all citizens to have, and branded them natural rights. They created those things as rights no less than the King created other rights.

    The spin that Ryan is adding is immense.

  • The flaw as I see it comes from believing that there are innate rights at all. There’s not a shred of evidence for such a thing, and holding beliefs without evidence is supposed to be something atheists resist.

    We devalue human reasoning when we try to claim that rights are anything other than a human invention.

  • The Captain

    I honestly don’t understand how hard it is for people who say this to understand.

    Without government (or some society structure with enforcement properties) the entire concept of ‘rights” do not exist. Without that structure to grant rights all you are left with is individuals who thick it would deb nice if others would treat them in some way or another.

  • The Captain

    There is no such thing as “natural law” governing human behaviors toward each other.

  • The Captain

    “Rights” (or what you refer to as Natural rights) are in fact real, in that they are just an agreement on the basics of the societal contract. They are just as “real” as an other law within society.

  • The Captain

    Damn type correction… should be “think it would be nice”.

  • The Captain

    Was about to say this. Spot on!

  • Agnostic

    The well known atheist Peter Singer has suggested that animals should have same rights as human beings, I believe. Inversely, that is to say, according to him, humans should only have as much rights as animals.

    The way I see it, humans do not have rights unless they believe there is a source of their rights.
    In any given society, the stronger and smarter always manage to claim more rights for themselves. Looking at the history of and after world war 2, the despotic and communist regimes are all governed by atheists. The leaders never gave anyone rights.

  • The Captain

    “communist regimes are all governed by atheists. The leaders never gave anyone rights.” with the exception of the Sandinistas. And technically the communist regimes did grant rights, not just the same set we did in the west (and in some cases ours where not much better for some).

    Also the religious regimes like the Taliban, and Saudis  for instance “never gave anyone rights” in the way you mean it either and the christian regimes of the US south ddid give them to some people until decades after the war.

  • Kodie

    Interpret as our natural right to be born, our natural right to not not be born, our natural right to be heterosexual, our natural right to marry if we’re heterosexual. Unnatural, by implication, would be no natural right to birth control, no natural right to abortion, and no natural right to be gay.  And our rights come from “nature” and from “god” not from people governing us “special” rights to have access to pregnancy prevention and termination nor marry if you want to marry someone the same sex as you are. That is something Christians always say about marriage equality – that gay people shouldn’t have “special” rights, but they all have the same rights as everyone else – to marry someone of the opposite sex. And if you want your birth control access, you don’t have the “special” right to be a slut – engage in premarital sex or multiple partners (the only “reason” you’d want to prevent pregnancy would be to get off the hook for childbirth between you and someone you’re not interested enough in committing to marry, much less someone you may not know very well). You do have the “natural” right to keep sex between a husband and a wife where a child can be born and not prevented from being born because two responsible people have etched their relationship to each other on the universe. Gay people can’t “naturally” make children or expect children, and therefore have no “natural” reason to be married.

    Anyway, all those things they decide what is natural and what isn’t by also inserting god as who has decided for us what is natural and what is not. If it is not considered “natural,” they think it is special treatment, and by logic, while it is government’s job to protect the “natural” rights of humans, it is not government’s job to make up special rights, and not our entitlement as human beings to have special rights, only “natural” ones.

    It’s pretty awful.

  • Annaiagaw

    Our rights don’t come from nature or god, they come from people. In a democracy those rights are set down in a constitution and protected through government, in a place like Iran those rights are decided by the religious leaders and enforced through that government. Two countries may have people who worship the same god, but have very different rights. Nature evolved humans to be social animals who need to cooperate within a group to survive, but the rules of that cooperation are established by the people of that group. As we have diversified and become multi-group oriented in a modern society, we -the people have expanded rights for all.

  • Well, animals do have rights. They are the rights that we grant them, and are different than the rights we grant ourselves. Whether humans and animals should have the same rights is a philosophical question, of course. We can grant them the same rights if we so choose, but I doubt we ever will.

    I absolutely agree that humans don’t have rights unless those rights have a source. I just happen to consider that source to be ourselves. In a democratic society, rights are defined by the consensus of the people; in a despotic society, by a very limited subset of the people.

    Certainly, not all the despots of WW2 were atheists; Hitler wasn’t remotely one. But it doesn’t matter, since you confuse causation with correlation. Despots restrict and control the rights of the people, and it doesn’t matter whether they are atheists or not. That said, I know of no example in history where a despot claimed power on behalf of atheism, but there are endless examples of using religion as an excuse for despotism.

  • Sheridan44

    But, Ryan gets his paycheck from the government and the government is us – we the people. Also, his right to run for office is delineated in our Constitution which also delineates the rights of people in the Ten Bill of Rights.  His use of the God word is nothing more than a code word used to appeal to the religious right. 

  • If our rights come from nature and God, and not from government, then why is it so incredibly easy for governments to take those rights away? Properties that are innate cannot be taken away.

    If our rights come from nature and God, and not from government, then why do the people living under different governments appear to have different rights? Which rights are innate and which are not? Who decides?

  • Stev84

    The Soviet constitution guaranteed plenty of personal rights. On paper people had freedom of speech and freedom of assembly for example. It just wasn’t put into practice and there were no courts to protect these rights.

    Easter Germany decriminalized homosexuality decades before West Germany. On the other hand, they shot and imprisoned people trying to leave the country…

  • Justin Miyundees

    Sounds like something from the third reich if you ask me.  Natural order, dominant race, manifest destiny….

  • Daverytech

    Does nobody else see the inherent conflict in the statement ““Our rights come from nature and God, not from government. That’s who we are. That’s how we built this country…”
    Um, if rights come from a diety, not government, how do we build a country (government) with rights? Not sure that statement makes sense. Especially since our constitution goes out of its way to provide a set of laws and rights.

  • Guest

    Yeah, I hate it when people reference actual founding documents.  

  • Agnostic

    Hitchens .a bitter man with an axe to grind. He is like someone who sees a half full glass and says that someone else took away the water. He never thinks that the reason why there was any water in the glass at all was the person he accused was the one who put the water there or otherwise.

    As a former journalist, he should have known the missionaries started many schools where they went. They may not have saved all the souls of those they educated, they gave the opportunitity for the leaders of the countries to build up the countries and those countries to have educated workforces. Many of the countries are doing well and the children are coming to take up many of the places in your top universities. He also continently ignored the fact that in recent history most of the despotic regimes were governed by atheists. Do you think the rulers gave anyone rights?

  • Guest

    Hitler was a bizarre child of his age, mixing the occult, Christianity, 19th century philosophies, social Darwninsim, eugenics, and a dozen mixed up theories and ideals (not to mention racial superiority and nationalism).  As for the idea that power was declared on behalf of atheism?  It wasn’t.  It would be absurd.  Power was, instead, claimed by individuals because of their atheism: since there is no higher power than the human animal, strongest and smartest human animal is the source and summit of all rights and truth. 

  • Yes, legal rights are *just* as real as other legal constructs.

    Natural rights are rights which don’t rely on what your government happens to grant you. These are the more interesting (and imaginary) kind of rights.

  • Guest

    Oh, and you mean ‘a woman’s right to choose to abort unborn babies.’  Finish the sentence please.

  • The Captain

    Especially if it’s to claim a black person is worth 3/5th a white one.

  • Guest

    Now that gets the award for ‘Best Atheist Spin of 2012.’  Congrats! 

  • Guest

    By the way, based on ‘all rights come from people and all morality changes with time’ there is nothing to say that if in 500 years the world has embraced genocide in order to keep the population in check, and decides that Hitler was really a visionary and decent fellow, they could be called wrong. That would just be their own rights and truths based on whoever was giving them. Or you could say you are simply right and the rest of the human experience will forver be wrong unless they see things your way. There is that. Bold, but it is an option.

  • Stev84

    Hitler wasn’t nearly as much into the occult as Himmler and many other Nazis were bemused at Himmler because he took that stuff so seriously.

  • Guest

    Oh no, others were far more into it than he was.  But he still was, as were many around the end of the 19th century and throughout the earlier parts of the 20th century.

  • Guest

    Are you serious?  That’s like saying sure the Nazis gave rights.  They just weren’t the same as others.

  • Guest

    Actually, in terms of sexuality, many Communist states were very, what we would call, liberal.  But what they proved is that if you can only appeal to the strongest person, having a piece of paper that says anything is next to worthless if that person should change his mind.

  • In many ways the Soviet Union was more democratic than the USA.  I’m not saying they effectively had more freedom, but people had a greater direct say in their representation.  True, everyone on the ballot represented one party.  Which is one less than we the US have (for all practical purposes).

    I’d also say they had much more equality between the sexes, although as one Russian friend put it, Women’s day is the day American women won the right to work in the mines, and Russian women won the right to not work in the mines.

    Most doctors were women, but that was partly because being a doctor was not a particularly prestigious position.

    But at least they let their women go into space.

  • We define our rights not by what rights we are willing to defend for ourselves, but what rights we are willing to defend for others.

  • The Captain

    “Are you serious?” very, study the history and governments (specifically the eastern block it would seem) of the last century if you don’t believe me. 

  • The Captain

    Also your comparison of all communist governments and especially the Sandinistas to the Nazis shows you either have no idea what you are talking about, or are just trying to push an agenda.

  • The Captain

    But as you say natural rights are in fact imaginary, so as such do not exsist. I was just making the point that the rights people refer to as “natural rights” are in fact just legal constructs thats all.

  • “Nature and God?” Does Ryan believe that nature is sentient? How can nature give anyone rights? I can understand Christians believing that their deity bestows rights upon people, but they also believe their deity created all of nature. Nature isn’t a power by itself. Shouldn’t he just be saying that his god gave us rights, and leave nature out of it?

  • I think it’s “Rights of the gaps”.  They don’t like the idea of government granting rights, because then government can take them away.  And ‘society’ is just ‘government’.  And they think the rights have to come from somewhere.  We can’t just send a bunch of delegates to a convention somewhere for a summer and hammer out some agreed on basic rights.  That would be crazy talk.  And I think ‘nature’ is just so they don’t sound like theocrats.

    What I’d like to know is who granted women the right to vote.

  • VorlonGuyverOss

    Written like someone who actually understands history.


  • Guest

    No, I think the point is to look at those Communist regimes who were most passionately atheistic, and compare those.  Especially since his comment seemed to put the Sandinistas aside, and reference other Communist regimes

  • Guest

    I have.  Undergrad and grad.  The problem is, all the comment did was say, more or less, that the entire issue of rights is ultimately subjective.  By that, any government has had rights, no matter how they looked ‘to those in the West.’

  • Guest

    If the founding documents are so useless, then why use them to discuss things like, say, Separation of Church and State?

  • Guest

    Then why do you think there is any such thing as right and wrong, except that it just makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside to think so?

  • You may be right, though they don’t usually have a problem sounding like theocrats, LOL.

  • Are you a wizard?

  •  reminds me of the George Carlin bit about rights.–ao

    The Bill of Rights in America has 10 rights (not counting amendments). The British got 13. Germans have 29, Belgians have 25, Swedish only have 6, some have no rights at all. Either Paul Ryan’s “nature and God” are doing very sloppy work, or these are an entirely human invention.

    But the “rights come from nature and God” argument makes for a nice bumper sticker, and that’s what Republicans are best at. Inaccurate bumper sticker logic that just sounds nice.

  • The problem would be that said right and wrong gives you no rights whatsoever, because it lacks one thing: enforcement. There is no difference between an unenforceable right and no right.
    Usually, said enforcement is assured by the government, so we say it gives us the rights, but it may be assured by other organisations or people, in other societies. But ultimately the one who truly gives rights is the one who ensures respect of said rights.

  • Guest

    Then you are saying that reality is really Darwin: fittest.  That right and wrong or rights in any sense are simply the subjective of whoever is the strongest at the moment?

  • 3lemenope

    Sadly I think he actually believes that crap.

    Quite the opposite, I think he does not, and he can’t possibly be stupid enough to believe that the policies he champions provide “equal opportunity” while preserving differential outcomes based on merit. He just doesn’t care. It’s rhetoric, not sincere thought, as it tracks (and plays upon) the values of people who actually do think that merit should be rewarded in order to smuggle plutocratic crap under the radar and get them to vote for it.

    It’s about as sincere as “fiscal responsibility” coming out of anyone but Ron Paul’s mouth. (Whatever else one may say about him, at least on that, his position is unimpeachably sincere).

  • Whenever someone says ‘fittest’ it usually means they don’t understand evolution. And no, being able to kill someone doesn’t change the fact that it is morally wrong.

    It does mean that your right to free speech is meaningless if your government throws you in jail for tweeting “god does not exist”

  • Baby_Raptor

    A fetus is not a baby. Especially during the first trimester, when a huge percentage of abortions happen. There are already laws limiting abortion after viability to only cases of either the health of the mother or a fetus that won’t live anyway. 

    You can choose to believe in life at conception all you want, but that view is not based in fact, and you have no right to try and force others to live by your opinions. Don’t like abortion? Don’t have one. Leave the rest of us alone. 

    Also, Hemant’s sentence was fine. You didn’t score any points there by pretending he was wrong because he didn’t word it to align with your beliefs.

  • Stev84

    He alluded to the Declaration of Independence there, which did make statements about the origin of rights: natural law and an undefined creator god.

    The problem is that as a Catholic, Ryan may have thought of natural law in the Catholic sense, which is something very different from other philosophical views on natural law that were popular at the time.

  • Margaret Whitestone

     Your god embraced genocide–repeatedly.  Maybe you should stop pretending he’s such a righteous dude. 

  • Guest

    I used fittist because in the short space, you would know the reference.  And yes, the word may be overused, but the concept is there. 

    But more to the point: why is killing morally wrong?  Because you say so?  Is it always?  When is it OK?  Is it never?  And why?  On what basis do you make such a claim?

  • Guest

    See my response below.

  • Guest

    Why would you say that was wrong of God to do?  On what basis do you make such a claim?  How do you say that abortion is right but genocide is wrong?  Because you say so?  Because people who think like you say so?  Why isn’t he righteous?  Because your subject notions of morality say so?  Why should your morality apply to anyone else?

  • Guest

    Sure it is.  It will be one at least.  Just like each of my children, when left alone, turned into an actual human being. And since, given the last century, I’m a bit squeamish about defining what human life doesn’t and doesn’t count, I prefer to err on the side of caution.
    Oh, and don’t parade any ‘not based on fact’ rubbish.  There is no single agreed upon definition of human life and when it begins.  That’s why most pro-life folks think it’s better not to abort than to abort and someday find out ‘gee, maybe it was a human life after all.’ 
    Oh, and also the famous ‘don’t want a slave, don’t have one’ argument refitted for the modern abortion debate doesn’t do much to advance the cause.
    I didn’t say he was wrong, FWIW.  I said let’s say what it is: the right to choose to abort babies.  Or, if you prefer, the right to choose an abortion.   There.  That, at least, is agreed upon.

  • Atheisticallyyours

    “Nature” begats rights? And this “god” thing he speaks of, what rights does he think IT “confers”? I’d love to hear his detailing of this! 

  • Are you suggesting those without magical beliefs cannot educate children?  Because that would be rather foolish.

  • Dale

    I’m sure his  god gave him the right to kill liars (ten
    commandments), and kill adulterers (ten commandments), and kill kids who
    disobey their parents (ten commandments), and those kill those whose
    job requires them to work on Saturday (ten commandments).

    Let the bloodshed begin, in the name of rights from GWAD!

  • Dale

    Yes, I’m sure his  god gave him the right to kill liars (ten commandments), and kill adulterers (ten commandments), and kill kids who disobey their parents (ten commandments), and kill those whose job requires them to work on Saturday (ten commandments).

    Let the bloodshed begin, in the name of rights from GWAD!

  • Agnostic

    Only Hitler would know what he believed. Basing on what I have read he hated Jews and Christians. He could have a god made in his own image for all I know, unlikely to be one the other way round.

  • Agnostic

    Not at all. I do not know whether there is magic. I look up in the heavens and even ask myself if it is really as big as has been suggested or whether it is an illusion. I am just a skeptic who have not concluded if there is magic or not.

    Of course communities and philanthropy also provide education. But what missionaries did was to add on to that. The education provided was not local and had a link to other parts of the world which facilitated trade and commerce and so improved standard of living. I doubt many of those educated by the missionaries ever became Christians, but then I do not have basis for that. I am only saying the by- product was positive if those countries had leaders that knew how to make use of the opportunity given.

  • (Moving out)

    The rhetorical I responded to was “Then you are saying that reality is really Darwin: fittest.”

    And I used the simplistic “killing someone” to say that no, might doesn’t make right.  That you can kill someone has no effect on the morality of it.  And yes, in the simplified use, I presumed killing someone was always wrong.  Point being being able to do something has no bearing on the morality of it.

    Now you want to slide into relative vs. absolute morality.  “On what basis do you make such a claim?”  The false dichotomy of “we have absolute morals given to us or we have anarchy”.  I don’t presume to speak for you, but I’ve been down this road many times, and invariably that’s where it leads.  Maybe you have something else in mind, but one does not have to think morals come from God to have a sense of right and wrong.

    I’m tired, and I’m sure you’ve heard and rejected the arguments about morals being an evolved social agreement. 

     If you want you can assume that God gave my my morals and I just don’t believe it.  You wouldn’t be the first to come to that conclusion.

    And probably you’ll ask something like “so, since everyone in Nazi Germany agreed with it, was it moral to exterminate the Jews”.

    And I’ll answer something like “the fact that present reality is a relative morality doesn’t mean an absolute morality doesn’t exist, and independent of God.  Slavery was once commonly accepted, as was treating women like chattel.  Perhaps in the future our evolved morality will recognize that it is immoral to keep Chimpanzees in Zoos.  So today I condemn the genocide of any population, and slavery, and treating women like chattel all as immoral.  And maybe my great grand children will wonder at how I could eat meat.”

    But now I have to read my kid a bedtime story.  ttyl.

  • Margaret Whitestone

     You’re kidding, right?
    There are dozens of Bible translations, thousands of Christian denominations, millions of Christian clergy–all preaching a different message.  At one time people used the Bible to justify slavery and now they don’t.  Some people still use it to justify homophobia and denying LGBT people rights while others use it to promote LGBT equality.  Some people insist the Bible demands women be subjugated to men while others say that’s archaic BS. 

    What parts of the Bible are eternally true and which ones only applied to the time it was written?  Who decides and why should we take their word for it?  When people disagree whose opinion should win?   Why should we consider your god, your holy book and your interpretation of it any more authoritative than we would consider a Muslim’s, a Satanist’s or any other believers? 

    Face it, your attempt to pretend your god and holy book are some sort of “objective morality” is unadulterated bull.  The fact is it’s all purely subjective.  Morals are decided by society and they adapt as society evolves. 

  • Margaret Whitestone

     People like Ryan are notorious for believing the “just world hypothesis”; the notion that people who are in bad circumstances deserve them because of their own failings.  Poor people are lazy and/or morally deficient in some way, so they deserve their plight.   It’s stupid for society to keep giving them “handouts” because they’re given the same opportunities (allegedly) as everyone else so if they really wanted to succeed they would. 

  • What better person to pick but another fraud and greedy bastard just like himself.

    These two frauds are dangerous lunatics.  The people clapping and cheering them on should be rushed to a psycho ward.

  • Keulan

    Looking at his voting record, I have reached the conclusion that Paul Ryan is someone I don’t want to see near the White House ever. He is just terrible.

  • Agnostic

    Oh your friend still wants to stay in US. Why didn’t she go back?

  • Agnostic

    A right is an idea you don’t see. It is like a Christian telling an atheist he has a soul or a spirit which also cannot be seen. It has to be a believe.

  • A different Russian told me she gets so annoyed with how thin skinned Americans are that whenever people ask what she thinks of America, she just smiles and gives some platitudes.  Saying anything slightly positive about any other country when compared to the USA deeply offends many Americans who are waiting to hear confirmation about how great America is.  We have blue jeans and everything.

    The first friend still lives in Canada.

  • AxeGrrl

    We devalue human reasoning when we try to claim that rights are anything other than a human invention.

    You nailed it, right there.  Kudos 🙂

  • Agnostic

    Do you consider a cell with you DNA a living thing?

  • Agnostic

    Does a rich, well educated black person fit into that picture? Do you really believe it is color alone that separate people. If a white is in a train and there are 2empty seats- one next to a clean, well scrubbed dark skinned person and another a filthy, smelly white. Where do you think he’d rather sit. Do you believe that a wealthy, well educated black think of a poor, uneducated white as his equal?

  • Agnostic

    Do you consider a cell with your DNA a living thing?

  • Agnostic

    Since you think it is not right to kill, life must be something very special. Where does that idea come from. What is so special about life?

  • Jeremy Bentham

    I’m sorry, but I thought I had nailed this idea of Natural Rights way back in 1843 with my “Critique of the Doctrine of Inalienable, Natural Rights”.

    “Natural Rights” as I explained back then “is simple nonsense: natural and imprescriptible rights, rhetorical nonsense, — nonsense upon stilts”.

    I thought at the time that I might have to come back from the dead to deal with this one,  so I took the precaution of not being buried.  Instead I had my body embalmed and put on display in the entrance foyer of University College London”. Obviously I’m a bit stiff after all these years, but as soon as I can raise the cash for the air fare I’ll be over to sort this impudent Ryan fellow out.

  • @Guest: That an act be morally wrong do not gives you the right not to be subjected to said act if nothing is here to enforce it. That something need not be the strongest, nor is the strongest ensured he can flaunt enforcement unscathed (the weakest can always ally and might overwhelm the strongest), but there must be something apart from morality.
    And, really, from where would meaningful rights would come apart from their enforcer, i.e. the thing which ensures you can use your rights.

  • Equal in rights ? Yes. In opportunity or other metrics, perhaps not, but in rights, absolutely: he is a fellow human being which is, as far as I know a citizen of the country and his state of cleanliness or his politeness as nothing to do with his legal rights.

    P.S. : I am a wealthy, well-educated black, so I think I am fit to answer your question. Well, I am a wealthy and well-educated black in France, but my point still stands.

  • Glasofruix

    in recent history most of the despotic regimes were governed by atheists.

    The word is recent, also short, compared to the time it took us to shake christian ignorance away.

  • NickDB

    “Our rights come from nature…” Right there you can tell he’s batshit insane. As a volunteer game ranger in South Africa, this guy needs to get out a bit more if he thinks Nature respects any man made rights.

  • Glasofruix

    Not to kill is a basic concept, there’s no values given to “life”. It’s simple to understand, i don’t want to be killed therefore i should not kill (a fellow human). Every pre christian society had similar rules, skyfairy’s creators just borrowed (stole) those.

  • NickDB

     Just because a right doesn’t meet your definition doesn’t mean it’s not a right.

    The yanks have a right to bear arms, a lot of the rest of the world doesn’t, does that mean it’s not a right Americans have?

  • NickDB

     ^ this x1000

  • NickDB

     I’m beginning to think you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    “He also continently ignored the fact that in recent history most of the despotic regimes were governed by atheists”

    Ok let’s play a game

    Atheist Despots

    Pol Pot (Buddist by the way, but they don’t believe in god so will leave him here)
    Castro (Although this is in doubt too)

    Not Atheist Despots

    Idi Amin (Islam)
    Mugabe (Catholic)
    Saddam hussein (Islam)
    Gaddafi  (Islam)
    PW Botha ( Dutch Reformed Church)
    Hitler (Catholic)Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Islam)

    Your turn, and please feel free to prove me wrong.

  • NickDB

     Yeah, and the first missionaries that came and educated, where very nice and very welcoming and very helpful with educating the savages, but don’t you dare not accept their education or we have a rather large bonfire to put you heretics on.

  • NickDB

     No, because (like a fetus in the first trimester) if left alone in suitable conditions it does not continue to live.

  • NickDB

     Nothing really. What is special is the respect we give to other life (Humans and other life forms included) and that respect came from having to live in close proximity to each other.

    Society formed the right to not kill out of necessity, nothing else.

    Nature DOES NOT respect life; life forms only respect the life of those in their group, and that’s just when it suits them.

  •  There’s a great Dogbert New Ruling Class trope about the idea of recounting a story of someone being an idiot, letting it sink in how dumb they were, then following it up with “then (s)he voted”

  • Guest

    But why do you say they are wrong?  On what basis do you make such a claim?  Where is your source of moral authority?  That’s the question.  On what basis do you say these religions are evil, promoted evil, or that there is even such a thing as evil?  Or how do you say what you think is wrong is wrong, and anyone else is wrong who disagrees?  That’s the question.

  • Guest

    Don’t kid yourself NickDB.  If left alone in suitable conditions, you would not continue to live either. Does that mean you are not a human being?

  • Tainda

    I didn’t have time to read all the comments.  Yeah, I know, bad bad.  I did read something about how the gaffe by Romney got them all excited because Obama kind of did the same thing with Biden 4 years ago.  You know, back to superstitions and all lol

  • Guest

    In other words, let me say it like this.  You speak of homophobia as if that is a bad thing.  Why is it a bad thing?  What source of authority do you appeal to in order to say it is a bad thing.  It wasn’t 50 years ago?  Or was it?  That means majority opinion doesn’t make right or wrong.  So why do you say it is bad beyond your own personal opinion?

  • NickDB

    Um yes, if every single person except me died on the planet, I’d be able to survive fine. Lonely and miserable but still alive.

    Same goes for you, unless you can’t then I’d say you’re not a human being either.

  • amycas

     Nobody uses the Declaration of Independence to discuss separation issues. That wouldn’t make any sense. We use the constitution and court precedence to discuss separation issues.

  • Guest

    I said, like you said ‘in suitable conditions.’  Ah, but what are those ‘suitable’ conditions?  I meant alone in the Sahara with no food or water. 

  • amycas

     “Just like each of my children, when left alone, turned into an actual human being”

    Those children were not left alone. Somebody had to carry them, inside of her, for at least 9 months (if they weren’t premature) and devote her time and body resources to the growth of the fetus. Good job disappearing everything the woman goes through during pregnancy. “left alone” my ass.

  • Guest

    I always enjoy this type of rant.  As if I had no regard for what my wife went through.  It’s a great way to dodge the meat of the discussion, and one not uncommon with pro-choice advocates I might add.  Funny thing is, the point I made actually comes from my wife who frequently makes the argument.  That’s because most people get what she means (that is, nobody intruding into her body to suck the life out of the developing child).  For the record, my wife is no romantic about what she went through, but as she has said many times she wouldn’t trade it for the world, especially when we have such wonderful children who enhance our lives in so many ways.

  • Rwlawoffice

     Did you really say that people have the natural right not to be born?  What in the world does that even mean? That a baby has the right to be killed by his mother through abortion?


  • Guest

    I wasn’t the one who brought up the Constitution.  I was referring to the DoI in regards to Ryan’s paraphrase.  The Captain brought up the Constitution as if it was absurd to invoke such documents, which brought about my next response.  If the Captain so easily dismisses the Constitution when discussing the founding documents, it does seem to bring about the question ‘then why use them for anything, including the Separation of Church and State.’ 

  • Guest

    You haven’t spent much of your life studying philosophy, have you?

  • Guest

    There would have been differences, but the root sources going back to those ideals that were hashed out in Medieval Scholasticism, and developing over the course of the enlightenment, would have seen several points of agreement.  The actual roots, of course, go back farther than that.  But the point of commonality would have been there, and I think while there was certainly debate and differences, the similarities were able to be agreed upon, especially as they were expounded upon in the Colonial thinkers’ minds.  

  • Right and wrong are subjective and determined by societal consensus. Rights themselves are subjective, and determined by whomever is strong enough to enforce them.

    This doesn’t have much to do with Darwin or evolution, which deal with biology;  in matters of ethics we’re talking about social systems.

  • Kodie

    The only adverse effect of homosexuality, homosexuals having the ability to get married, or being a child of homosexuals is that homophobia exists and keeps them from having rights, destroys families, and sometimes delivers physical beatings. Making people feel bad and making worse or violent consequences for them for who they are and how they live, just because it doesn’t suit you or your god, is reasonably the wrong way to behave. 

    I don’t have to get that from a source of authority. And you have yet to prove yours. Do you think homophobia is good? What source of authority do you appeal to in order to say it is a good thing? Prove that exists, prove the negative consequences of being a homosexual other than harassment from people who don’t tolerate (aka “hate; bigotry”), prove your authority exists, prove any of that. You haven’t done that, so your “source of authority” is nothing, it’s not reason, it’s not compassion, it has no foundation of righteousness in reason. It’s not comparable and definitely not superior “authority” than reason just because you appeal to it.

  • Kodie

     No, of course that’s not what I said. Besides, I wasn’t speaking for myself. I was speaking for what Paul Ryan meant by it.

  • If he gets to chose where in the Sahara and his clothes he will, more probably than not. That would still be a lonely and miserable life, but not an impossible one.

  • Ayn Rand was an atheist, Paul.

  • Tom

    Not really.  A right is merely an idea, a concept.  More specifically, it is nothing more than a widespread, long-held mutual agreement to behave in a certain way toward one another, usually backed up by sheer weight of tradition.  It really does only exist if everyone believes it exists; that is, if everyone holds that agreement to be valid and honours it.

    Virtually all Christians think souls and spirits are a lot more than a mere concept; they insist that they exist whether or not you believe in them.  Not that there’s a shred of evidence that they do.

    The sneaky subtlety is that convincing a lot of people that rights do exist independently of anyone’s belief that they do can be a remarkably effective way of maintaining their existence via that belief, even though they don’t.  Religiously derived social and moral codes and money, in fact, work in much the same way, as a kind of gigantic white lie.

    Of course, whether or not you think gigantic white lies are a sensible or stable foundation for a civilisation, or whether you think things could be done in a better way that doesn’t require lying and collective delusions, is another matter.

  • Tom

    In short, rights only exist if enough people want them to, or think they do.  Souls don’t exist no matter how many people say they do.

  • Guest

    OK, seem to be missing it.  Let me put it this way, a 6 month old baby if left alone in suitable conditions will also perish.  By the above definition, that means the 6 month old baby is not human.

  • Well, I took “Intro to Philosophy” in college, but I wasn’t interested enough to study further. I’m much more interested in psychology and sociology.

  • I know Catholics have this belief in “natural law,” so perhaps that’s it. I’ve never had it explained satisfactorily, so I’m still not quite sure what they’re going on about. I think they believe their god reveals itself through nature, and that the “natural order of things” is evidence of divine will, but it still seems strange to me to hear them reference nature as giving something, as if nature has the power to do anything on its own. If nature can’t think or act, how can it give us morals? Wouldn’t it be their god giving us morals, and simply revealing those morals through nature?

  • Oh, I forgot. I also took “Moral Problems” and “Logic and Critical Thinking,” both listed as philosophy courses in the university catalog.

  • I don’t agree. Rights are in the same category as the Golden Rule — a useful cognitive tool/model that assists people to get along with each other.

  • Well, what about the right for gays to marry? Or the right to have  healthcare?

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