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Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

How Society is Regressing: Pushing Equality over Excellence

Are people smarter today than in centuries prior? That's the assumption of many today, including those atheists who assert that the modern era of science and technology proves our society has progressed to a higher position than previous eras. I'm not so sure. While we have greater control over our environment, we have been intellectually stunted by emphasizing feelings over reason. We live in the Age of Feeling, and that has caused society to regress, not progress.

To support my position, I've already offered two points of evidence that this society holds feelings above facts. The first was we are relinquishing our rights instead of offending and the second is in our current political climate, sympathy trumps science. Today I would like to offer a third proof: modern culture pushes for equality over excellence.

Destroying Opportunity

Bigotry is wrong. I think most people would agree with that statement, especially if they fall victim to bigotry themselves. But just what do we mean by bigotry? What do we mean by discrimination? Today, the term bigot is usually associated with a person who is racist or prejudiced because of inconsequential factors. The OED states that a bigot is "A person considered to adhere unreasonably or obstinately to a particular religious belief, practice, etc."1The key in this definition is the concept or unreasonableness or obstinacy. One may be charged with an act of unfair discrimination if they exclude one person from an employment position because they pre-judged a person based on nothing more than their ethnic heritage or the amount of melanin contained in their skin.

People all have an equal inherent worth because they are made in God's image. If one person is better able to perform a task than another, he or she should be allowed the opportunity to perform it, all else being equal. Today, though, people have distorted the idea that all people have equal worth to try and say that anything but equal outcomes is discriminatory. For example, the United States congress passed the Title IX act in 1972 to try and make any discriminatory exclusion of girls from participating in things like school sports. But the legislation has had terribly unintended consequences. Instead of merely opening the door of opportunity for women's sports program to flourish, it had the opposite effect of destroying many men's sports teams, especially in college. Men's teams were cut simply to achieve parity; the in the number of men participating in college sports must equal the number of women participating in sports at the same institution.2 Forget the fact that far fewer women in college desire to participate in sports, if the counts are off, sports teams for men are eliminated.

Equalizing Mediocrity

One of the clearest and most egregious examples of how the drive for equality actually destroys excellence is how philosopher Adam Swift began studying the questions of social justice, equality, and opportunity for children. In an ABC interview he states:
I had done some work on social mobility and the evidence is overwhelmingly that the reason why children born to different families have very different chances in life is because of what happens in those families…

What we realised we needed was a way of thinking about what it was we wanted to allow parents to do for their children, and what it was that we didn't need to allow parents to do for their children, if allowing those activities would create unfairnesses for other people's children. 3
Basically, what Smith is asserting is parents who try to provide the best opportunities for their children by doing thing as like reading to them at night, engaging with their schooling and possibly even sending them to private schools or hiring tutors are giving those children an unfair advantage over children whose parents don't provide such attention. The article goes on to record Smith saying:
Private schooling cannot be justified by appeal to these familial relationship goods. It's just not the case that in order for a family to realise these intimate, loving, authoritative, affectionate, love-based relationships you need to be able to send your child to an elite private school.4
This kind of thinking is insanity. We should cripple all children's education because some don't have parents who can give them the same learning tools as others? Why should we limit the minds of all kids? Shouldn't we encourage excellence and reward hard work no matter how the person was able to achieve it? Do you care whether your doctor went to a prep school in order to be an excellent surgeon or do you want all doctors to be equally but only moderately skilled? Why quash excellence for equality?

In his satiric response to Swift's arguments, Hans Fiene says that we might encourage additional ways of leveling the playing field for children by not bathing them or not feeding them fruits and vegetables when junk food will do. Personally, I thought Adam Swift's suggestions were so ludicrous to be satire themselves. I had to check twice to make sure his name was Adam Swift, not Jonathan Swift. He truly wants us to consume our children's opportunities for the sake of making the least common denominator the standard.

I realize that Adam Swift's modest proposal will not go anywhere. However, the fact that Swift can even offer it seriously in our culture says volumes about just how warped our culture has become on issues of equality and discrimination. We feel for the disadvantaged, but such solutions prove that we aren't thinking about the damage done in following those feelings. Society is truly regressing and when every child must receive a medal for their accomplishments, the medals become as worthless as the accomplishments they were awarded for.


1. "bigot, n. and adj." OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2015. Web. 14 May 2015.
2. "NCAA Men's Athletic Programs Cut To Comply With Title IX." College Sports Scholarships. College Sports Scholarships, 2012. Web. 14 May 2015.
3. Gelonesi, Joe. "Is Having a Loving Family an Unfair Advantage?" Radio National. Australian Broadcasting Company, 30 Apr. 2015. Web. 11 May 2015.
4. Gelonesi, 2015.

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