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About religious freedom…

I keep reading and hearing talk of religious freedom but never is there a definition of what it means. As I see it, it means that a person may choose to believe whatever theory of the supernatural and its earthly prescriptions or to believe none. It also means that a person may practice his/her beliefs in premises that he/she has the sole right to control, such as home. vehicle, boat, and so on. This includes premises that are owned by a congregation of the faithful, such as a church, retreat grounds, etc. On premises that are owned in common by all citizens the allowance for religious practice or displays will be determined by consensus and by respect for fundamental rights which are defined on an individual basis. For example, loudspeakers that advertise religious messages would assault the ears of non- believers within range and therefore would not be allowed. Ostentatious religious apparel could displease the majority of citizens who have the right to ban such apparel from areas that they have the right to control and we have seen that in France. We could see that in other countries if the politicians knew the foregoing principles but unfortunately, they are consumed with the mission of designing society as a whole without the discipline of thoroughly respecting rights.

Filed under: Uncategorized | July 13th, 2016

U-Tube Course in Human Rights

A condensed version of “Human Rights, What Are They Really?” has been uploaded to U-Tube as a short course in human rights. It is in 3 segments-

Segment 1: Elements of a right and natural rights

Segment 2: Subsidiary rights

Segment 3: Comparison with prevailing human rights doctrine

Go to:

      Segment 1:

      Segment 2:

      Segment 3:

A 4th segment is planned and will appear later in the year.


Filed under: Notices, Uncategorized | July 13th, 2016

Reply to “Fundamentalist intolerance is degrading assembly and association rights worldwide – UN expert”

As I see it the main fundamental problem in the world is the failure by so many people to distinguish optional beliefs from firm reality. Pythagoras theorem is an example of firm reality because it can be shown to be true. Astrology is an example of an optional belief. It cannot be shown to be true. In all walks of life, in every culture, people hold optional beliefs that they do not distinguish from fact. Some make decisions affecting many people, causing unnecessary hardship or strife. Children are indoctrinated throughout their young lives to believe that certain optional beliefs are fact and they grow up to be irrational adults. They misjudge the issues at hand on the basis of optional beliefs instead of firm principles. Some commit or support murder on the basis of their optional beliefs.
All schools in the world should teach epistemology, the branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of knowledge. When nearly everybody is adept at distinguishing optional beliefs from firm principles there can be intelligent conversation between people regardless of religion, culture, political or economic philosophy, or loyalties. There can be a talking out of differences in wants and then compromise, and the identification of true rights.

Filed under: Comments on News Stories | June 20th, 2016

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About The Author

Robert Stephen Higgins was born into a coal-mining family in Nova Scotia but grew up mostly in Southern Ontario. In 1964 he graduated from the University of Toronto in Mechanical Engineering and began his engineering career in the aero engine and aircraft fields. This included a period at the Boeing Airplane Company in Seattle as a material stress analyst on the 747 jetliner project. Worried that aircraft design projects were too discontinuous for raising a family he moved to the power industry. Through the 1970’s he was a design and project mechanical engineer on new oil and coal-fired power stations in Canada and the USA. Much higher pay and adventure called to him in taking a project engineering position for the construction of a nuclear power station in Argentina. He remained in the Canadian nuclear power industry as a design engineer until taking early retirement in 1999. Afterwards, he completed two consultant contracts in the nuclear field, the latter taking him to South Africa to manage a mechanical engineering department on a project to design and build a demonstration pebble-bed modular reactor (nuclear) which, unfortunately, was cancelled in 2008.

Robert was not just an engineer, however, but an interested student of the whole human story. History and archaeology were fascinating subjects, but closer to home the direction in which politicians, judges, and others in positions of power were taking society was of more serious concern. A public confrontation with the president of the large company (23,000 employees) for which he worked was a tipping point. Robert suggested that the employment equity program which the president was promoting would discriminate against white males. The president replied that he did not care if it did, he was going to implement it anyway. Reflecting on this interchange afterwards, Robert concluded that employment equity programs were more about designing society than about individual rights.

After retirement, he applied his long experience with objective analysis to discover what human rights really were. His book Human Rights, What Are They Really? was published in late 2008. More writing is ahead amid efforts to advance his own technical projects.

In April, 2014, Robert became a member of the board of the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa.