Monday, 4 April 2011

The origin of human rights?

I have often wondered where the concept of human rights emerged from and how it has become so widely accepted in the western world.  This is not to say that I in any way disagree with the concept.  It is just not totally obvious to me where the idea came from.  It does seem clear though that the concept is not from Christianity or Islam, both of which singularly failed to reject many forms of discrimination.

Does the evolutionary trait of altruism stretch this far?  It seems to be altruism taken to the extreme.

I was reminded of these musings while listening to this weekend's episode of the excellent Pod Delusion (episode 78) where Nick Boorer touched on the topic.  I get the impression that he is not a fan of Italian society, but setting that aside he told an interesting story, paraphrased below.

The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human rights recently judged that the compulsory presence of crucifixes in Italian classrooms does not consistitute a violation of Article 2 of the First Protocol to the Eurpoean Convention on human rights.  How did they decide this?

They confirmed the judgements of the Italian Supreme Administrative Court.  It said that he modern principle of secularism and the importance that that principle was granted in Italy and in Europe was entirely predicated upon, and a direct product of Christianity and Europe's inherently Christian heritage.  The values the enlightenment espoused, liberty and freedom of every person, the declaration of the rights of man and ultimately the modern secular state are all based on the Christian concept of the world.

That might be legally true but I find it hard to accept that it is literally true.  As I always say - "In the EU there is no smoke without mirrors".

Abrahamic religions require the utter submission of one's moral conscience to one ultimate authority and explicitly reject tolerance and in fact demand discrimination

One mystery remains.  Which of the items on the Pod Delusion was the April Fool joke?  I'm pretty sure it was not this one though, as the topic was covered by the Religion Law Blog on March 21st.


Robbiekj said...

I have heard the argument (by believers) that the excess water came from underground. I don't believe in the story, for obvious reasons, but I am curious as to any truth behind the possibility of underground water coming up. Can you recommend any writings or videos from experts in the field?

Robbiekj said...

Hmm my comment was somehow put on the wrong article haha. It was intended for the noahs flood article.