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Secular Law and Natural Law

QUESTION: Secular Law – Denial of Natural Law


Natural law and natural rights are therefore incompatible with the ideology of Secular Humanism. Delos McKown asks the pointed question, “When, one wonders, in evolutionary history did hominids first acquire natural rights?”1

Kurtz denies natural rights entirely when he says, “Am I not bringing in a doctrine of natural rights that are prior to political policy? No, I reject any such fiction.”2 For Kurtz, rights come into being through human systems: “Most...rights have evolved out of the cultural, economic, political, and social structures that have prevailed.”3

Secular Law – Denial of Natural Rights
Secular Humanism’s denial of natural rights leads to a denial of natural law. This denial stems from the Humanist belief that we are not subservient to any force apart from our own human understanding. Law must be human-centered, rather than God-centered. John Herman Randall, Jr., explains, “The Humanist temper has always protested against any subservience to an external law, whether religious or mechanical, imposed upon man from without.”4

Kurtz also denies the existence of natural law, saying, “How are these principles [of equality, freedom, etc.] to be justified? They are not derived from a divine or natural law, nor do they have any special metaphysical status. They are rules offered to govern how we shall behave. They can be justified only by reference to their results.”5 Secular Humanists, then, approach law from the standpoint that laws are not derived from natural law, but from our own reasoning and judgment.


Rendered with permission from the book,Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews(Rev. 2nd ed), David Noebel, Summit Press, 2006. Compliments of John Stonestreet, David Noebel, and the Christian Worldview Ministry at Summit Ministries. All rights reserved in the original.

1 Delos McKown, “Demythologizing Natural Human Rights,” The Humanist (Nov./Dec. 1989): 22

2 Paul Kurtz, The Fullness of Life (New York, NY: Horizon Press, 1974), 162.

3 Paul Kurtz, Forbidden Fruit (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1988), 196.

4 Paul Kurtz, ed., The Humanist Alternative (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1973), 59.

5 Kurtz, The Fullness of Life, 162.

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