Atheist Takes Up Rubio Challenge, Explains Rights Without God

After I posted Rubio's comments to my Facebook page, lauding them as an excellent response, a handful of atheist friends took issue with my assessment. To them, Rubio's comments seemed condescending or worse. One wrote:

While I understand and appreciate that Rubio doesn't care that I refuse to accept God's grace (a bit condescending, but I digress), most nontheists don't [object to the fact] that a candidate has personal faith. The issue is that it's being discussed in a political way, not a personal [way].

There's a natural alliance between believers who care about individual rights and non-believers who care about individual rights. But the current state of discourse between the two serves as a barrier to progress. Each faction thinks the other condescending and derisive. In certain instances, such judgments prove correct. But there's much to gain by moving past disagreement on the importance of religion to coalesce around the importance of rights.

Believers need not discredit God to acknowledge Rand's logic. If anything, it strengthens the case for rights when we understand them to manifest from our nature as human beings. Whether that nature was created or not, we can agree on the rights that emanate from it. Many of those rights center on belief and expression, and they are content-neutral. It doesn't matter what you believe, or don't believe. What matters is that you remain free to do so.

Rubio made that point, and made it well. But it was lost on some who perceived his appeal to God-given rights as a kind of theocratic claim. Whether it was intended that way or not, that was the impression, and it proved damaging to a necessary coalition between believers and non-believers who are equally vested in preserving individual rights.