An Unreasonable Belief in Equality: The Longstanding Tyranny of Religious Influence

The Declaration of Independence has something written in it that sounds a lot like it was tainted by religious ideas.  Here is the section.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.- Declaration of Independence 

I’m not going to use the Founding Fathers to prove to you that this is a Christian nation.   Glenn Beck ruined that argument for all of us. What I want to do here is look at this idea of equality.  What is it based on, and why do we believe in it today?

If I pick apart that snippet of the Declaration it reads like something that you probably wouldn’t find in a modern government document.  That part about a Creator being self-evident stands out to me.  Would our leaders write something so bold and offensive today?  Wouldn’t the network news channels be all over that, showing various negative responses from those who believe in the separation of church and state and who fear that our government officials are being brainwashed by religious beliefs?  Wouldn’t there be a call for reason over religious bias? No?  Yes?  Maybe?

It is self-evident that the Creator (God.  Accidental evolution has nothing to do with creation) made all people equal.   The people created by God are equal.  Alrighty.  What about the people who weren’t created?  Are they equal too?  Let’s explore.

To say that people are equal in relation to God is to recognize a quality of God and not people.  It says more about God to say that we are equal than it does about us.  In this way, we are equal because we are all under God’s authority and God’s law.  We all have the divine spark, the breath of life, the spirit given by God.  Under God we are all in equal need of God for life and purpose.  In relation to God our physical differences take a back seat, and we see ourselves as God sees us… as spiritual beings.  Equality makes sense in relation to God because it is a reasonable consequence of a belief in God.  If God is God, we are equal in our dependence on Him and we share an equal place in the Universe as His creation.  Where I get confused is why the reasonable non-believers believe in equality.

A popular saying among those who don’t believe in any divine creator is, “Show me the proof.”  Very well.  Now let me ask you to show me the proof that we are all equal.  Show me the evidence for equality.  How does your reason lead you to believe in such a faith-based idea?

Will you say that the government told you it was true?  Did the Constitution tell you it is so?  Has society beat it into your brain that all men and women are equal in the eyes of the state?  Did your parents tell you?  Why do you believe in equality when there is so little evidence for it?  Is it because it feels nice to say that we are all brothers and sisters?  Be careful, you’re starting to sound like a believer.

Open your eyes to the world around you.

Physically, people are far from equal.  Some are taller and stronger, and some are weak and sickly.  There are those whose brains don’t work so well, and those who understand calculus without much trouble.  Some don’t seem to be able to lose weight and some can just eat whatever they want and stay skinny.  You’ve got Mr. Muscles and Mr. Skinandbones living side by side believing they are equal.  Yet, clearly we are not equal in the physical realm.

Socially there isn’t much equality either.  You’ve got rich people and poor people.  You’ve got white-collar and blue-collar workers.  Some have millions and some live on the streets.  Certain groups of people experience  regular racial discrimination.  You’ve got the Haves and the Have Nots.  Where’s the proof that we are equal?  Don’t look to society for evidence.

So what are you basing this unfounded belief on?  Are we all equal in some abstract deep sense?   You believe in everyone’s right to happiness and a good life.  I’m no better than you and you are no better than me.  This sounds great, but where is it coming from?  Is it the belief that we are all just animals that came out of the ocean?  Once again, if that’s the case why base your belief on anything more than the  physical reality?  Why do you shun God because you can’t see or touch Him and then accept blindly something as  intangible as perfect equality?

I make this point because I fear weak belief.  A weak belief can be easily altered or tossed out.  If you are basing your belief on something that is abstract and “deep”, or simply taught to you by your government, what happens when the belief is challenged by some hard external pressure, or even the government itself?  When the Nazi’s took control of Germany, they did a great job of convincing the people of inequality.   Were the Jews equal to the Germans at that place and at that time?  Yes? No? Maybe?

Tell me, why?

Side Note:  My friend, Curtis Entenmann has decided to start his own blog in which he intends to respond to my wild conservative Christian ideas.  I will also be responding to him.  We will be posting links to each other’s blogs from time to time so I really think you should check it out.  It should be interesting to see two people with many opposing views reacting and challenging each other.    His blog is just starting out, but very soon he is sure to have many posts.   Here is the link to  Curt’s Blog.  I’m willing to bet he will say something about this last post in a few days.

3 thoughts on “An Unreasonable Belief in Equality: The Longstanding Tyranny of Religious Influence

  1. Very interesting ideas.

    I do not believe in equality very much. I believe in rank and hierarchy and that the only reason people have to treat one another with dignity, forbearance, and respect is Love, not the Enlightenment myth of equality. You’ve pointed out some of the fallacies of the idea of equality as something that can be demonstrated. And I think you’ve hinted that a different sort of equality, based on the gift of the creator, is the real equality in play.

    I would simply slice that up in the following way: we humans have some things in common with one another, and in other things we differ. Sanity is knowing which is which.

    What we all have in common is that we are members of Earth’s royalty, the human race. This means that we share the same (or “equal”) dignity and privilege with one another on some levels. But within that royal family, ranks differ. The lesser are the glory of the greater, and the greater the glory of the lesser. It is even so among angels.

    Equality under the law is a different matter, although philosophical equality was used by the founding fathers to bolster legal equality. (Another abhorrent idea to me: the practice of constituting a nation and basing law and custom on the ideals of a particular generation – what is more fantastical, arrogant, and potentially dangerous than this? It’s a sort of mental tyranny which is more insidious than enslaving the body.)

    Legal equality is reaction to the former practice in which people of rank were treated differently by the law than were people of common standing. Although it seems to me that the idea now being promoted in movies and so forth is that there are, or should be, some people above the law not based on the dignity of their rank but of the necessity or practicality of their function in society. I find this idea abhorrent. And I find, in brief historical survey, that when family-based hierarchy goes out the window, a different kind comes in, usually based on something much worse. People argue that government should not be laid on the shoulders of people selected on the basis of the “genetic lottery.” This is quite silly. If it is not based on the gift of birth it will be based on power-lust, ambition, ruthlessness, and money. Not only this, but the so-called genetic lottery need hardly be as random as all that, give the laws of attraction – and the power of a noble upbringing.

    Yes, I am a conservative Christian. Probably more conservative than just about any other American conservative out there. If I had lived when the Declaration of Independence was penned, I would have been one of the people on a boat back to England, watching my home burned behind my back by rabid patriots, mourning the disloyalty, misunderstandings, madness, sins, and intrigues that separated a king from his people.

  2. Pingback: Equal under God? Equal because you have free thought. «

  3. Pingback: Hackers: Holding the World Accountable Without Any Accountability « Thoughts of a Post-Grad TwentySomething

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