Two excellent talks were given this week on topics that were similar. Elder Dallin H. Oaks spoke at BYU-Idaho in a talk called, “Witnesses of God.” And R. Albert Mohler, Jr. gave a forum speech at Brigham Young University in Provo called “Strengthen the Things that Remain: Defending Human Dignity, Human Rights, and Human Flourishing in a Dangerous Age. (You can watch the video here.) Dr. Mohler is president of the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Here is but one example of the common threads of thought expressed in these bold discourses:
From Dr. Mohler:
There is no secular ground that can support and defend human rights. Furthermore, there is no secular system that can adequately rank the claims to various rights that human beings present. Just look at our current situation. Demands for erotic liberty — the unrestrained right to full individual sexual expression, fulfillment, and legitimacy — now routinely trumps religious liberty.
Professor Mary Ann Glendon of the Harvard Law School has warned of the collapse of all human rights when everything is transformed into secular “rights talk.” Right and wrong collapse as meaningful categories when everything is a matter of competing “rights.” But without right and wrong, there is no way to say that the denial of basic human rights is wrong.
From Elder Oaks:
The denial of God or the downplaying of His role in human affairs, which began in the Renaissance, has become pervasive today. The glorifying of human reasoning has had good effects and bad. The work of science has made innumerable improvements in our lives, but the rejection of divine authority as the ultimate basis of right and wrong by those who have substituted science for God has many religious people asking this question:
“Why [is] the will of any of the brilliant philosophers of the liberal tradition, or, for that matter, the will of the Supreme Court of the United States . . . more relevant to moral decisions than the will of God”?
Those who have used human reasoning to supersede divine influence in their lives have diminished themselves and cheapened civilization in the process.