Are Humans Equal?
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22-03-2013, 03:25 AM
Are Humans Equal?
I'm new here, but I've been pondering this question for a long time.

I live in the United States, and the American Declaration of Independence states that "all men are created equal".

America has really fallen in love with the idea behind this quote, thinking that everyone deserves to be taxed, everyone deserves to vote, etc.

However, if you've taken a United States History class, then you know that the US was founded by Christians. To my knowledge, their argument is that all men (and women) were created in God's image and therefore all possess a quality know as human dignity, which dictates that all humans are inherently equal. But I'm having trouble finding any reason why human beings are equal when religion is ignored.

What are your thoughts on this? Is there a moral principle that dictates that everyone is equal? Or are certain people just inherently better than others in some way?
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22-03-2013, 04:38 AM
RE: Are Humans Equal?
(22-03-2013 03:25 AM)Chris7049 Wrote:  But I'm having trouble finding any reason why human beings are equal when religion is ignored.



I think you're going to have to explain this a little better before I comment.

But I will say that I believe what the founders intended is that all are equal under the law.
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22-03-2013, 04:51 AM
RE: Are Humans Equal?
(22-03-2013 03:25 AM)Chris7049 Wrote:  However, if you've taken a United States History class, then you know that the US was founded by Christians.

If that's what you understand of US history, then you've got it wrong. The Pilgrims were not the founders of the US government. The founders were, by and large, Deists and Secularists.
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22-03-2013, 05:16 AM
RE: Are Humans Equal?
The U.S was not founded as a christian nation.

Religion doesn't really treat people as equals, it creates divisions among people based on what fairy tale they believe. Equality in its practical sense can only emerge as equality under the law; something we've yet to achieve due to the double-standards that exist in society.

My view is that all life is precious and must be safeguarded equally. I revere nature, I guess you can classify me as a pantheist. As for humans specifically, every individual has his or her own unique qualities. People are not blank slates you can write on; what makes up "me" or "you" is mostly genetic. This is further shaped by the environment, circumstances and social factors that you were born in, brought up in and continue to experience throughout your life. Different people excel at different things. There's just too much variety.
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22-03-2013, 07:35 AM
RE: Are Humans Equal?
Hey, Chris.

The important thing to note is that the idea of equality predates the founding of the US. The idea, in the form they worked with, dates back to les Philosophes, the French thinkers of the Enlightenment.

Also, in terms of equality, they were, in part, reacting to the aristocracy; a system that was based on the notion that men are created differently. The aristocrats were created for their role and the poor were created to be their minions. The break with this idea was revolutionary, considering all of Europe was still ruled by monarchies.

Whether or not they were Christian is kind of irrelevant. The source of their understanding is not important because what survived them is their declaration.

The idea that all people are created equal is also fully supported by hundreds of subsequent years of philosophy and science.

Equal, of course, is not a synonym for identical. Humans are not identical. The simple reality of sexual dimorphism assures that. And it has nothing to do if certain people are better at math, or others are stronger, or others make great entrepreneurs, or others win Olympic gold medals, or some have a keen understanding of the human condition. The idea is that everyone deserves to be treated the same, have the same rights and benefits and treatment under the law.

They kind of forgot about black people for a while there (don't worry, I'm sure there's no hard feelings) but the enshrining of this idea was the philosophical basis for abolition and, later on, civil rights.

It's a pretty boss idea.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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22-03-2013, 07:43 AM
RE: Are Humans Equal?
(22-03-2013 03:25 AM)Chris7049 Wrote:  I'm new here, but I've been pondering this question for a long time.

I live in the United States, and the American Declaration of Independence states that "all men are created equal".

America has really fallen in love with the idea behind this quote, thinking that everyone deserves to be taxed, everyone deserves to vote, etc.

However, if you've taken a United States History class, then you know that the US was founded by Christians. To my knowledge, their argument is that all men (and women) were created in God's image and therefore all possess a quality know as human dignity, which dictates that all humans are inherently equal. But I'm having trouble finding any reason why human beings are equal when religion is ignored.

What are your thoughts on this? Is there a moral principle that dictates that everyone is equal? Or are certain people just inherently better than others in some way?

The United States was not founded by Christians, but by gentlemen of The Enlightenment, some of whom were Christians.

The primary thinkers were deists, not Christians.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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22-03-2013, 07:59 AM
RE: Are Humans Equal?
As has been mentioned, the intent was "equal under the law." Which of course is as much horseshit as the notion of human equality, but it sounds good, and is a decent paradigm for which to strive. Thumbsup

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22-03-2013, 10:39 AM
RE: Are Humans Equal?
Hey, Cantor.

I don't know why, but something you said made me want to talk about rights. I mean, equality is about rights at its core. About everyone having the same rights and protections. So here's my spiel:

Rights are bullshit. Not even joking.

Rights should be something we have. But they aren't. They're something, in law at least, that we're given. The reality of the situation is that in law, we begin with ZERO rights. The law then grants them to us. If it is not in the law then we don't have the right.

It's bass ackwards.

If we were all truly equal and had inalienable rights, then we would BEGIN with full rights and freedoms. The law would then RESTRICT our rights; in terms of things like killing people, defrauding them, fucking camels. Then, if it wasn't explicitly restricted, then we would have the right.

That would be the way to do it.

But our system is designed to be as restrictive as possible whenever possible. So we have to fight to have our rights enshrined in law. The elite (shorthand word) benefit from keeping us disempowered because they have to make their decisions centrally, and the easier we go along, the easier their job is/the more power they have.

The relationship between the rulers and the ruled is a constant dance for power in which they are always trying to restrict/remove our rights while we are trying to increase/add our rights. When we are in the lead, it's harder for them to push us around and make unilateral decisions. When they're in the lead, well, you get North Korea.

They have the advantage though, because the default position, no rights, is in their favour.

Rights, as we know them, exist on a spectrum:

<---No rights-----------------------balance of power-----------------------Full rights--->

(If rights were inherent, we'd begin at full rights. But we unfortunately begin at no rights.)

So you can plot any hierarchical human system on that spectrum. The system doesn't have to land all the way at no rights to suck, it just has to be left of balance of power.

So yeah. Rights, as understood from the Enlightenment straight through to today, are an illusion.

But when all is said and done, I'd rather have illusory rights than none at all.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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22-03-2013, 11:03 AM (This post was last modified: 22-03-2013 01:08 PM by TrulyX.)
RE: Are Humans Equal?
(22-03-2013 03:25 AM)Chris7049 Wrote:  I'm new here, but I've been pondering this question for a long time.

I live in the United States, and the American Declaration of Independence states that "all men are created equal".

America has really fallen in love with the idea behind this quote, thinking that everyone deserves to be taxed, everyone deserves to vote, etc.

However, if you've taken a United States History class, then you know that the US was founded by Christians. To my knowledge, their argument is that all men (and women) were created in God's image and therefore all possess a quality know as human dignity, which dictates that all humans are inherently equal. But I'm having trouble finding any reason why human beings are equal when religion is ignored.

What are your thoughts on this? Is there a moral principle that dictates that everyone is equal? Or are certain people just inherently better than others in some way?

Well, the founders were men of reason for the most part, unlike a lot of Christians, in general, or Christians today, who would like to convince everyone that the founders were exactly like them. It would be unfair to attempt to completely dismiss Christianity as influential in their ideas, however, as that would probably be equally as bad as modern Christian fundamentalists looking back and giving Christianity the credit for the liberal ideas of that time, ignoring that Christianity was also used to support the opposite.

To all humans being created equal: Imagine the guy in the NFL scoring a 50 yard touchdown and pointing to the sky from one knee. Humans aren't "created", as far as we know, and obviously are not equal, in a lot of different ways.

Rights and laws are both arbitrary and given and protected, justice carried out, by humans. Humans do have the ability to reason, however, and a fundamental, universal, absolute foundation, i.e. morality, can be established, in which, at least all applicable humans, i.e. moral beings, can be considered equal regarding morality and justice. Being rational and reasonable.

The Paradox Of Fools And Wise Men:
“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser men so full of doubts.” ― Bertrand Russell
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22-03-2013, 11:06 AM
RE: Are Humans Equal?
From a realistic standpoint, I don't think humans are equal. It's pretty obvious, I think.
Rights are bullshit, so is justice.

"The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason." - Benjamin Franklin
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