The Existence of Equality

April 5, 2009

About a month ago, I read this, and have been ruminating about it ever since:

 If you are a Christian, you cannot rationally believe in equality, except in the belief that all are fallen short of the glory of God. If you are a rational materialist, you cannot believe in equality except for that of the grave. If you are, on the other hand, an irrational materialist like most self-proclaimed rational materialists are, you probably believe very firmly in equality despite the fact that there is almost infinitely more evidence for God and the immaterial than for the idea that two human beings are, or could ever be, equal in any way.

Now, I think these assertions go way too far, but they do challenge me to back up my heretofore assumed and undefended notions of “equality”.  I think human beings are of equal value and worth to God, though Christians of various theological traditions might disagree with that. 

I also think humans are deserving of “equal rights”, not in the positive rights sense (“I deserve to be given X”), but in the negative rights sense (“the government ought not interfere with my freedom to X”).  But are all people equally deserving of such negative rights?  A felon has forfeited his right to freedom of movement, and thus we as a society, through our government, deprive him of that freedom by throwing him in jail.  Because he forfeited that right, he is no longer deserving of it.  Since there will always be criminals, there will never be complete equality in the right to be free.  On the other hand, even for prisoners, I might argue we all have a right not to be wantonly abused or treated inhumanely, and that right applies to all persons “equally”.  Still, I find it a provocative notion that equality might not exist, since America was founded on the notion that all men are “created equal”. 

I will add that those who pursue equality of results (as in, economic equality through redistribution of wealth) are playing a fool’s game.  Such equality cannot and will not ever exist, and I have yet to see any person, even the most liberal, try to determine the average amount of wealth per person (whether worldwide or nationwide) and donate everything they have beyond that amount to the poorest among us.

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