I'm curious how people think of this.

Jefferson proposed that it is a self-evident Truth that "all men are created equal" .  Let's leave aside the "created" bit.

Belief in this "truth" and its corollary that every human has inalienable rights are quite pervasive.  Large numbers of people in it, at least enough to use it as the basis for constitutional democracies and jurisprudence and taking personal action.  You may even be socially shunned for not believing it (unless, perhaps, you're a Trump supporter).

Yet there is not one iota of evidence for this Jeffersonian presumption.   In fact, there's less evidence for the statement than there is for the existence of God.  God we can't say much about except that He's unlikely.  B contrast, we have reams of evidence that all humans are not created equal.

We know their genetic codes are distinct.  That's measurable proof of inequality.

We know that their physical and mental abilities differ quite significantly.  More measurable proof of inequality.

We know their susceptibility to diseases is different.  Still more measurable proof of inequality.

That's before we get into the issues of nurture which young humans can't control.

We see the results of physical & mental inequality reflected in economic outcomes, with economic and social systems often multiplying the inequality.   Inequality, in fact, is obvious.

In short, any belief in the fundamental equality of human beings is a Myth, isn't it?  

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Interesting. Could you please specify exactly what you meant by the term 'created'? Do you mean 'at birth' without social imprint, or do you mean as a consequence of developing in any (or all?) societies.

Sorry, @Strega.  I'm one of those annoying Americans.  The phrase comes from our Declaration of Independence.  I didn't want folks here to get tripped up over "created", and I doubt Thomas Jefferson would have either.  

For Americans, it's a foundational principle of democracy which leads to one man, one vote, equality before the law, and the notion of "human rights".

Meant to say I got this discussion idea from this other thread.  Perhaps I was just caught up in the crazy way we Americans think about guns and everything else...

I suppose "created equal" is a politically lofty way of presenting the idea that we all deserve equal rights as afforded by government (unless you were a slave).

Or a woman.  Or native American. Or, for that matter, any man, white, black or otherwise, who didn't own land.

Very true. The "enlightenment" and writings of people like Locke did set changes into motion, a small step in the right direction.

Would it be more accurate for this discussion to swap the words “created equal” with “born equal”?

No, we are not born as equals.  However we should all be equal before the Law. The state should not act to favour one section of society over another section of that same society. It should intervene where necessary to ensure this.

For example the core premise of Secularism is that there should be a complete (wall) separation of Church and State.  Where one religion is trying to interfere in the affairs of State or gain an advantageous position over those of a different religion or those of no religion, the State should act as an independent and impartial referee to prevent this. All people, irrespective of their religions or beliefs, should be equal before the Law.

Any right given to one citizen should not be denied to another because they are different in some way to that person or to the majority.

We are all different but similar and all entitled to equal rights that respect those differences.

The state should not act to favour one section of society over another section of that same society. It should intervene where necessary to ensure this.

So no Social Security system which privileges the old over the young, and no health care system which transfers wealth from the healthy to the infirm?

No subsidizing education for the young or incentivizing clean energy technologies over older fossil fuel companies and workers?

I'm just trying to understand the parameters of how you're thinking about this.

We are all different but similar and all entitled to equal rights that respect those differences.

Why are we so entitled?   If some are more intelligent, shouldn't they be provided with more resources to the benefit of society?  

So no Social Security system which privileges the old over the young

The old have been paying into the social security system for their entire lives... by the time they actually use it, it's no longer "welfare", it's a paid-for service.

no health care system which transfers wealth from the healthy to the infirm?

Everybody has the opportunity to make use of a health care system. Even if you don't need it today, you will probably need one day. Why are you even talking about wealth transfer?

No subsidizing education for the young

That's an investment in the future of the country. Thankfully, I haven't needed to look into adult primary and secondary education, but I have a feeling it's probably also subsidised. So this is doubly a moot point.

incentivizing clean energy technologies over older fossil fuel companies and workers

Again, this is investment in the future. Technologies != people. Companies != people. The workers affected still have the same opportunity under the law as they did before. Maybe their skills are less marketable, but ultimately, it was their choice to enter the field they did.

Why are we so entitled?

This is an interesting question, because ultimately, we aren't. We entitle ourselves with rights to form a cohesive society... i.e. society offers these rights to its members, the rights are the reward of membership in society.

some are more intelligent, shouldn't they be provided with more resources to the benefit of society? 

Never heard of scholarships? The more intelligent ARE provided with more resources... allowing them to attend high school and university, then graduate and get a highly productive job. Everyone has the opportunity to apply for these scholarships (with the exception of "affirmative action" style scholarships).

You seem to think equality under the law necessitates communism. Is that the case?

The old have been paying into the social security system for their entire lives... by the time they actually use it, it's no longer "welfare", it's a paid-for service.

Just to take this first example, you have no legal ownership of the money you've paid in.  It hasn't been set aside for you, rather, it got shoved out the door as soon as they got it, to a different retiree.  The first retiree under the plan paid in exactly once before retiring, and collected much more than they paid in.  Nowadays the return it pays (if you pretend for a moment your money is being invested) is less than two percent per annum.  In spite of such a crappy return, if something isn't done the system will go bankrupt (i.e., be forced to raise taxes on the still working to pay to the people who are now retired) at some point--because the money those retirees paid in is long gone.  That is indeed a wealth transfer.  Now, you might approve of that system, but it's still a wealth transfer, from the young to the old, and the young won't get that money back later on.  Period.  Instead, if they're lucky the system won't collapse and  they'll take different money from the even younger.

Any private entity setting up a system like this would be hauled in for fraud.

I didn't say the system wasn't poorly implemented... it is the government, after all! The point is that today's retirees HAVE been paying into it, they deserve to be looked after. In 50 years time, I'll have been paying into it and then it will be my turn to take money out.

The wealth transfer is not in the idea, it's in the implementation.

EDIT: Damn, why are talking about wealth transfer again?

No. Its not self evident. It is if you base your morals on de ontological principles...but there's nothing inherently true or not true about it (hence why we almost always say "should be treated equally".

Religion has played one of the greatest roles in segregating men and women into different categories...often clearly and literally considered greater or lesser. That isn't to say that a handful of theologians trued to help secular society in fighting for greater equality or that churches accepted equality once it was established in a culture...but for the most part...as is happening now with gay rights...most churches start to accept it resisting while kicking and screaming. So it applies to dividing people by faith or culture etc. The catholic church still doesn't allow women into the inner circle of decision making or hold high positions...nor allow people to be in the category of married if they are LGTB. Clearly some people as not born equally as doors are shut for them and holy texts explicitly tells us so. There isn't a single established religion pre 20th century that doesn't refer to women directly or indirectly as less or worthy of things men were worthy of.

The idea that people should not be singled out or given favourable advantage due to race, class, gender or sexuality has grown over the last 400 years through humanist principles, philosophers at odds with church dogma and the retreat of religious control and power in the western world. As church influence has gone down...equality of people both in its incorporation into policy and constitutions and more importantly...in practice...have gone up. Hopefully this will continue to the point that African Americans stop suffering systemic discrimination or when Israelis and Palestinians stop occupying one another or blowing one another up.

But no...its not self evident. Its a principal that a nation much agree on by consensus and work hard to implement and even harder to make it truly work in practice. The world is a billion times a less miserable place because of it.

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