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*Image: The Voyage of Life: Youth by Thomas Cole, 1842 [National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC]

By David Carlin,  The Catholic Thing, July 8, 2022

David Carlin is a retired professor of sociology and philosophy at the Community College of Rhode Island, and the author of The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America and, most recently, Three Sexual Revolutions: Catholic, Protestant, Atheist.

I suppose people have believed from time immemorial that there are certain non-man-made rights of some kind.

In the old days – e.g., when Thomas Jefferson was a young man – these rights were commonly called “God-given rights” or “natural rights.”  Mr. Jefferson himself seems to have given both names to these rights.

More recently, we have been taught to call them simply “human rights” or, better still, “fundamental human rights.”  Pace Jefferson, these names make sense today. We are living in a highly secularized age.  Many of our contemporaries – who are no doubt more “on the right side of history,” at least in their own minds – have given up on the idea of a lawmaking God and the idea that Nature (God-made Nature) can dictate moral norms. …

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