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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It's a little late for Spain or Latin America to have towns named "Matamoros" or "Matajudios", don't you think?

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.

Nor a single secular government as far as I know.  I'm not sure it's possible to find a single poet for that matter.  That was just the culture.  Though to be fair, women were also placed on a chivalrous pedestal in some cases.

The evidence seems to suggest these cultures are the economic result of plow agriculture, which leads to brideprice economics in marriage and thence to patriarchal societies.  Unfortunately, plow agriculture also led to the development of larger and more prosperous civilizations.

At least that's what I get from the anthropologists.

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. 

Yes, the Soviet Union, China, Pol Pot's Cambodia, North Korea.   Get rid of church influence and we'll all be singing "Everything is Awesome". ;-)   The discrimination against African-Americans in the U.S. is hardly religious; in fact the majority of African-Americans share the Baptist religion with the most egregious white racists.  And the ongoing low-grade war between Israel and Palestine is fundamentally about territory.

Discrimination is the result of economic inequality, isn't it?   And economic inequality is the inevitable result of the observable fact that we are not born equal.

Yes, the Soviet Union, China, Pol Pot's Cambodia, North Korea.   Get rid of church influence and we'll all be singing "Everything is Awesome". ;-)  

That is such bull Dr Bob, you know better. It's not like the citizens decided to become atheists and as a result there was the degradation and they ended up as the "examples" you gave. No, these were dictators who used unrest to take control and then got rid of their competition, the celestial dictator and his church.

Yes, I expect to read such tripe on a dominionist board.

At least we now know what Bob really thinks.

No, these were dictators who used unrest to take control and then got rid of their competition, the celestial dictator and his church.

I agree.  Just go back and look at the statement I quoted, though:

As church influence has gone down...equality of people [has] gone up.

I think my examples convincingly refute that theory.  As church (and "celestial dictator") influence declined in the Soviet Union, equality of people did not go up.  Experiment done, data collected, conclusion reached.

Followed by the experiment being replicated in different cultures with the same result.

We must rationally reject the hypothesis.

I think my examples convincingly refute that theory.  As church (and "celestial dictator") influence declined in the Soviet Union, equality of people did not go up.  Experiment done, data collected, conclusion reached.

Followed by the experiment being replicated in different cultures with the same result.

We must rationally reject the hypothesis.

Cambodia under Pol Pot  1970-1979   9 years

USSR  1922-1991  69 years

N. Korea  1948-present   68 years

China  1949-present   67 years

Total number of cultures represented: 4

Total years of history represented:  213

Meanwhile, thousands of cultures and societies steeped in fervent religious faith have been dividing each other, killing each other, and demonizing one another, stacking up bodies and atrocities in the names of their various and sundry gods since at least ancient Sumeria.

Number of cultures represented:  Thousands

Number of historical years:  At least 5000.

Even if I accept your hypothesis, that there is a causal relationship between the decline of equality in societies  and the suppression of religiosity--I don't, but let's just say I did--you still have not presented sufficient data to reach the sweeping conclusion that you present here.  You haven't presented a convincing case at all.

Your sampling size is entirely too small, and your longitudinal data does not cover a sufficient amount of time to prove anything conclusively. 

I daresay, I think your obvious bias toward religiosity has made you unable to view your own data with any rationality or objectivity.

DoK

You know you are at the very bottom of the argument barrel (where the mucky sediment rests) when you have to resort to what is effectively a 

"oh yeah...we'll non religious societies have also done all of the horrible dispicable things that religious societies have done".

You've pretty much lost any respect your losing side might have had per the moral highground. If there ever was a point to this thread...it's certainly beyond salvaging Dr. Bob.

Ugh. Equality requires not just the diminishing of religious control but also requires an open society Dr. Bob and you know it. Are you really that childish to throw in Soviet Russia as if that somehow generates a wrench in the argument? Notice how I said "agreed to by consensus". In a non-open society none of the rules apply be it a religious or atheist one. If consensus isn't even possible (totalitarian societies) then religious claws or no...equality is a foregone impossibility. Nice try. Any more slippery arguments to throw in there?

I doubt most of us believe you started this discussion just to see what we think. Why don't you get to the point?

Yes, the Soviet Union, China, Pol Pot's Cambodia, North Korea. Get rid of church influence and we'll all be singing "Everything is Awesome". ;-) The discrimination against African-Americans in the U.S. is hardly religious; in fact the majority of African-Americans share the Baptist religion with the most egregious white racists. And the ongoing low-grade war between Israel and Palestine is fundamentally about territory.

So, without religion, you get the USSR, China, Cambodia and North Korea, but the conflict between Israel and Palestine is really about territory and not really about religion at all? This just sounds like you trying to have your theoretical cake and eat it, too. On the one hand, religion is so powerful and essential to a just society that it's absence results in murderous regimes, but on the other it is such a non-issue that centuries-old wars between peoples of opposing faiths are not really about religion at all?


Discrimination against African-Americans is as much about religion as it is about economics. The KKK is a religious organization, it has always justified itself biblically. Most white supremacist groups are as discriminatory against Jewish people as they are toward other races. That is absolutely discrimination based on religion. Discrimination of all kinds and types has historically been justified by faith. The Huguenots were slaughtered because they were protestant, and not Catholic. The Crusades were fought to take the Holy Land back from the heathen Muslims. The Spanish and later the English settlers in America justified their treatment of Native peoples by claiming them savages who needed to be converted; the Spanish, in particular, felt that they had a duty to convert the indigenous people and save their souls. This was one of the clearly stated goals of colonization: to claim the New World for the glory of God and the Holy Roman Church. Hitler believed he was doing the Lord's work.


All manner of discrimination has been justified in this way. If you want to claim that religion isn't "fundamentally" the reason for these things then I don't think you can realistically also claim that lack of religion is "fundamentally" the reason that Russia became the USSR. Were there economic components to these things. Yes. Were economic and political factors sometimes the more driving force? Yes. Does that mean religion was not a factor? No.


You seem to be implying that a society cannot be a just or effective one without religion, while disavowing completely that any negative societal impact is attributable to it. The only way to achieve that is to minimize and deny the very real role that religion has played in providing justification for atrocities of all kinds and types. I am not one to advocate for the demonization of religion. I have, in fact, during my brief time here, already defended religiosity as possibly having a useful purpose in the development of our species, but this utter denial that religion has ever been responsible for anything negative, or that it continues to fuel hatred and divisiveness, is no more realistic than claiming that the answer to all mankind's problems is the eradication of religion.

Cheers!

DoK

Remember the context; the colonies were rebelling against a monarchy with a nobility, people who had privileges just because of who gave birth to them (more specifically, what mattered was whom was presumed to be the father).

I don't think Jefferson, or anyone else at Independence Hall, thought people were so alike as to be interchangeable, of equivalent value, ability, intelligence, strength, health, competence...rather just that they should be equal before the law.   That was a huge step forward. 

Of course, their notion of "people" was white men.  Which meant there were additional huge steps to be taken after this one.  But this step needed to be taken.

Hi, Dr. Bob

I am not sure where you are going with this. 

If you are simply asserting that human beings are not all equal, equal being the same, physically, emotionally, mentally, economically, etc. etc. etc., then I suppose you are correct.  Human beings are all different.  They are not equal by that measure.

If you are asserting that not all human beings are worthy of equal treatment under the law, or are not deserving of being treated with equal dignity, regardless of their station or circumstance, due to the obvious and inherent differences amongst human beings, then I would argue that is not the case.

If you are arguing that Jefferson was wrong to assert that all men are created equal, then I would argue that you are applying a lot of 20th century concepts to the words of someone who was very much a product of 18th century thinking.  I don't know that you can realistically take Jefferson's words out of their context.  The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, The Bill of Rights--none of it was created in a vacuum.  Jefferson's assertion that all men are created equal was a direct reaction to governmental and societal systems that did, in fact, hold that some men were created superior to others, most notably the aristocracy and royalty in particular, who for centuries ruled Europe by divine right.  Jefferson was consciously rejecting the notion that any particular group had such a right.  But, I don't think for a minute that you don't know this.  So, again, I am wondering what point you are actually trying to get at.

So, I guess that I would have to disagree that "any" belief in the fundamental equality of human beings is a myth.  There are so many ways to interpret the statement.  I mean, we are all fundamentally human beings, right?  You are no more nor any less human than I am.  We are equal in that sense, yes?  I would not be wrong in asserting that you and I and everyone who responds to you are equally human.   

But, we are not the same.  I am female.  You presumably are not.  We are not the same, ie not equal, in that sense.  But, then how to determine whether my value is equivalent to yours?  I have a child with Autism.  Is he equal to you? Perhaps not intellectually, developmentally, not in many ways.  But, I would argue that his value is equivalent to yours, because you and he are equally human.  And because I am his mother.  You are unlikely to ever be as equally valuable to me as he is! :)

Cheers!

We need an upvote button; this is what I was trying to say, and you said it better.

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