Arthur Asuncion


Articles -- Created Equal? (Nov 2003)

Before tackling the topic of human equality, I want to welcome everybody back to another year of happiness (or headaches) at UCI. For those who have not read my previous articles on social and moral issues, the archived material is on the Irvine Review web site.

Evidenced by a variety of ethnic clubs at UCI, state measures like Prop. 54 (which would eliminate racial querying on state forms), and Supreme Court rulings on affirmative action, racial issues continue to dominate our campus, state, and country. Undoubtedly, the most important racial issue is human equality.

Are all people and all races equal? Where one stands on this question has great implications since other issues like cloning and the treatment of different races hinge on the answer. Prior to answering, I must define the criteria used to measure equality.

Suppose I defined equality based on outward factors like height, skin, or eye color. On this basis, not only could I argue that different races are unequal but I could also define, based on my perceptions, which traits are superior. Over human history and notably in old Nazi Germany, this criterion has been widely used in evaluating equality.

Another criterion to consider is physical ability. Different people have different natural talents. While some have a knack for athletics, others are gifted in areas like singing (and the truly talented have the endurance to sit on a couch all day long).

Intelligence can be another standard in measuring equality. There is certainly no lack of smartness at UCI (a.k.a. the "University of Central Intelligence"). Some people, like Albert Einstein, are just gifted geniuses; however, I would also argue that those who are not as gifted can make up for it with effort. For example, consider Thomas Edison with his numerous failures before eventual successes. During America's slave days, this criterion of intelligence was unfortunately applied to the extreme when some tried to prove that slaves had smaller brain sizes and were “sub-human.”

Although one could argue that people are roughly equal even with the previous criteria, I choose not to utilize these benchmarks in assessing human equality for the following reasons. A person's superiority in an area (or in a combination of areas) does not translate into general superiority as a person. Is a better runner or a smarter person a more superior human? Furthermore, these criteria do not take into account a person's inward being (including personality, soul, spirit, and character) which is unquantifiable and hard to compare.

Emphasizing the importance of a person's inward nature, the illustrious C.S. Lewis once quipped, "You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body."

Instead of the previous criteria, I employ the same standard that Thomas Jefferson used in The Declaration of Independence : the rights bestowed by the Creator. With this criterion, all humans are equal because they are "created equal" and are given "inalienable rights" from the Creator.

In fact, the concept of human equality is inexorably tied to the idea that the Creator both gives incontrovertible rights to each person and views each without impartiality (regardless of skin color, mental ability, etc). Serving as Jefferson's principle justification for rebelling against the King George III, this dogma of human equality is the basis for American freedom and rights.

From an evolutionary perspective, no legitimate basis for human equality exists (at least to my knowledge). If Darwinian evolution did occur, what prevents one from arguing that certain races are more highly evolved and therefore more superior to others?

With tragic results, some in history have made that very argument. According to an eyewitness who lived in Germany during the Nazi regime, the Nazis “believed that natural selection could and should be actively aided , and therefore instituted political measures to eradicate the handicapped, the Jews, and the blacks, whom they considered evolutionary between stages” (Wilder-Smith, Beate, The Day Nazi Germany Died , p. 21).

Yet others see inequality inherent in the evolutionary progression charts between ape to man that typically portray darker-skinned characters.

While the creation model provides a solid basis for human equality (and hence American freedom), the evolutionary theory tends to make the case for the inequality of different groups of humans. In essence, the evolutionist is restricted to using criteria like appearance, ability, or acuity. Recognizing the rights given by the Creator, a creationist like me can affirmatively answer the question of human equality. A quote from a 20th century writer named G.K. Chesterson eloquently culminates this topic.

“The Declaration of Independence dogmatically bases all rights on the fact that God created all men equal; and it is right; for if they were not created equal, they were certainly evolved unequal. There is no basis for democracy except in a dogma about the divine origin of man.”