Contrary to Charles B. Thaxton and Stephen C. Meyer ("Human Rights: Blessed by God or Begrudged by Government," Opinion, Dec. 27), there is a scientific basis for human rights.
Supernaturalism, as the authors seem to realize, provides no basis for rights or for anything else. God-given "rights," like government-given "rights," are not rights at all but revokable privileges. And what theism induces is not a belief in human dignity but its opposite: humility, self-abnegation, a feeling that one's mind and life on earth are essentially worthless.
The scientific alternative described by the authors is clearly no better. A mechanistic, reductionist view of human nature (Marxist or biological) leaves man as rightless as earthworms or bacteria.
But this is a false dichotomy. In fact, the theistic and mechanistic views are two sides of the same coin: both deny the necessary foundation for human rights: man as a rational being.
It is man's biological nature--specifically his free will and ability to reason--that distinguishes him from other living things and, as Ayn Rand has shown, creates the need for a moral code, including rights. Just as man needs reason to survive, so he needs freedom to act on his judgment.
Human rights exist, not as mysterious gifts from a supernatural being, but as factual conditions of existence for man.
DR. MICHAEL S. BERLINER
Ayn Rand Institute
Marina del Rey