Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Locke, Darwin, and Man's Rights

You can either have the Darwinian theory of evolution or you can have natural rights. You can’t have both. According to Darwin, the creation of man is an accident of evolution; if that is the case, then there is nothing special about man, we are like every other creature on earth—this raises the question: How did John Locke get the idea that men have natural rights? After all, men are not born with the words “creature with natural rights” emblazoned on their body.

Men have never shown too much of an enthusiasm for exercising their natural rights and being free; people have always lived in small or big groups in which they have to surrender their rights to the leader. Till this day, a major chunk of humanity lives in totalitarian or semi-totalitarian countries. Even in countries that are regarded as free, most people seem unenthusiastic about their rights; they habitually vote for governments which intend to take away peoples rights.

Being without rights does not seem to harm people—natural rights are not a necessary condition for man’s survival. People in totalitarian countries live as long as people in free countries.

In man, there is no biological or behavioral trait to support the idea that he has natural rights. If the Darwinian theory of evolution is correct, then we have to accept that the idea of natural rights is Locke’s own rationalization—it's his philosophical opinion which is not based of facts. Moreover, if men have natural rights, then the other creatures (the birds, animals, bacteria) must also enjoy the same privilege because they too are an outcome of evolution—in fact, the animal rights activists make such arguments.

It's noteworthy that Locke does not talk about evolution while making a case for natural rights. His argument is theistic—he is saying that men have natural rights because such rights are conferred on him by god. This argument makes sense. If we believe that god has created man in his own image, then the case can be made that man is special and he has natural rights.

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