Tuesday, June 2, 2009

the east, the west, and human rights

The rights of women, and men, must be established with sufficient basis or else they will be violated in some form or another. Only from the broader category of basic human rights are the rights of women and men derived. Neither secular humanism, in the west, nor eastern mysticism, in the east, can provide a sufficient basis for human rights. Thus, the only reliable and sufficient basis for human rights and dignity is biblical Christianity.

Secular humanism, which is foundationally atheism and philosophic naturalism, cannot rationally provide the basis for human rights.[1] Francis Schaeffer, concerned with the advances of humanistic sciences, summarizes Francis Crick's position on the origins and worth of humanity:
"If man is what Francis Crick says he is, then he is only the product of the impersonal plus time plus chance; he is nothing more than the energy particle extended. And,therefore, he has no intrinsic worth. Our own generation can thus disregard human life. On the one end we will kill the embryo with abortion--anytime anyone wishes--and on the other end we will introduce euthanasia for the old. The one is here and the other is coming."[2]
Crick agrees with Darwin in that man is merely a chance event of chemical reactions that caused an upward progress to the current day where natural selection through the fittest of the species is the deciding factor in the continuing upward direction of what has come to be known as humanity. Hitler, who merely applied natural selection and survival of the fittest to anthropology, and his holocaust are prime examples of secular humanism's view of man. Crick, however, was writing in the nineteen seventies; he is not a member of the Third Reich. Shaffer further says that, with Francis Crick, "the concept [of the biblical understanding of man] is gone. We are in the post-Christian world. Man is junk,and man can be treated as junk. If the embryo is in the way, ditch it. If the old person is in the way, ditch him, if you're in the way and that's what lies before us."[3]

One would think that this form of thinking would be dead today, but it is not. Recently, at a meeting of The Texas Academy of Science, Dr. Erick R. Pianka stated that the earth's population should be reduced by ninety percent through the use of the Ebola virus! What is his foundation for such a statement? He believes that man is "no better than bacteria."[4] From a humanistic foundation, sadly, his claim logically follows.
While secular humanism cannot provide sufficient basis for human worth, eastern mysticism also does not have sufficient basis for human rights. This lack of basis is due to five concepts which form two official reasons.

The first three concepts which form the first reason for a lack of basis are karma, reincarnation, and the caste system. Karma is a fatalistic system of rewards and punishments based on current actions and past life status. In conjunction with karma is reincarnation, which causes the soul to migrate, after death, and become reborn. The new life is higher or lower--better or worse--based on the person's karma. In Hindu thought, the caste system utilizes karma and reincarnation to place someone in the next life in a series of socio-economic categories called castes. People in lower castes are used to do more menial tasks and must strive to ascend the caste system. Lower caste members, however, are treated poorly by members of higher castes. In practice, these three concepts cause a great apathy towards human lives. One dare not interfere with cosmic justice and help another person out thereby blocking judgment upon the needy and adding further bad karma to the almost good Samaritan. If a person dies, they will only come back around again in another life.[5]
The final concepts are pantheism--that everything is divine--and monism--that everything is actually metaphysically one--combine to form the next reason that eastern thought cannot support human rights.[6] The Bhagavad-Gita contains the story of Arjuna who found himself on the front lines of a battle between kinsmen. He began to think that war was needless when Krishna appeared to him and told him to not hold back in battle. His vacillation was only due to his lack of understanding that everything is one. Add to this fact the concept of reincarnation, and there is no reason to hold back from fighting since death--not to mention life and its attachments--is meaningless.[7] The foundations of eastern mysticism do not provide sufficient foundation for human rights. It is in this context that the Hindus practiced sati: the live, self cremation of the surviving woman with her dead husband. This would not only increase his chances of coming back in a higher caste, this would allow her the possibility to come back as a man![8] One should ask with Schaeffer, "but where did our sense of man's dignity come from?" It came from the Judeo-Christian mentality. [9] Only through Christianity's assertion that humanity is created in the image of God can humanity find true worth and value. Women's rights only follow human rights and human rights only follow biblical Christianity.

[1] Though there may be examples of human rights within secular humanistic bodies of thought, these examples are not logically derived from that thought but are mere trappings left over from an older worldview.
[2] Dr.Francis A. Schaeffer, Back to Freedom and Dignity (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1972), 23.
[3] Ibid, 23.
[4] Dr.Forrest M. Mims III, "Meeting Dr. Doom," The Citizen Scientist, March 31, 2006,http://www.sas.org/tcs/weeklyIssues_2006/2006-04-07/feature1p/index.html.(accessed April 3, 2006).
[5] Winfried Corduan, Neighboring Faiths: A Christian Introduction to World Religions (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998),194-196.
[6] Although the caste system is unique only to the Hindus, pantheism and monism are foundational to almost all eastern metaphysics.
[7] Barbara Stoler Miller, trans., Bhagavad-Gita,by (New York: Bantam Classics,2004), 31-42.[8] Winfried Corduan, Neighboring Faiths: A Christian Introduction to World Religions (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998),214.
[9] Schaeffer,Back to Freedom and Dignity, 23.

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