Monday, August 6, 2012

Fairness & The Performance Enhancing Deity

I've been thinking a lot lately about fairness. For a society that values fairplay, I can't help but wonder, what in life is fair? It is not fair to ask the rich to pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes. On the other hand, it is not fair that the wealthy to have more opportunities than the poor. It isn't fair for someone to be born an English Royal while another child is born starving in Africa. Beyond a birthright of luxury, some are born with the genetic potential to succeed over others. I.Q., physical beauty, an ambitious personality--all kinds of attributes contribute to one's eventual success of failure. It isn't fair.

Conservatives want us to believe that success is all about elbow grease, and most of it is, but not nearly all. No one trains for success more than the athletes competing in the Olympics. A friend of mine was a near Olympic-level cross skier. He was in better shape than I could ever hope to be and constantly skied in the winter and ran in the summer. Yet, he was only near Olympic-level. Truth is, I could never be the best cyclist or the best swimmer because I don't have Lance Armstrong's lung capacity or Michael Phelps' body shape. I'm too short to play for the NBA and too tall to jockey. I'd me mad if I didn't understand, but I do. Life isn't fair. Life is random.

If God exists, why is life random? Why set some up for heaven on earth and leave others to suffer? The "blessed are the" whatevers argument has us to believe that the meek and poor will inherit heaven while to rich will need to work hard to find their place. Truth is, those who suffer on earth are more likely to suffer in the afterlife as well, assuming Christian doctrine is correct. The poor are the more likely to set down a path of commandment-breaking actions if only to survive. The deck is stacked against them in this life and the next. If life isn't random, then what is the apologetic answer for God's haphazard cruelty?

Some must think God helps counter his previous bad decisions by deciding to help those who ask. Let's double back to the Olympics for this example. There are strick rules against athletes using human growth hormones because they give an unfair advantage. Even though I have argued that certain athletes already have a natural unfair advantage, I totally agree that man should not add to the problem. Why is it okay for God to add to the problem? Why should some athletes have a supernatural advantage? The faithful's impulse to pray to God for a win isn't practically unfair--because, of course, it does nothing--but it certainly shows the athlete's intension to be unfair. The only reason that the Olympic Committee and the people of the world allow this holy appeal is because we all know it doesn't work. Belief, in this case, is topical. It's right there on the surface, but deep down, we know. We know prayer doesn't work. We know life is random. Deep down, we're all atheists.


  1. Interesting points, although I must admit I don't care much for the last bit. I would guess that most Christians think that God does answer prayers, that he does help athletes sometimes when they ask for help, and they are ok with it. To come to the conclusion that they allow this type of cheating and therefore they must not really think it works seems silly to me.

    I found a post I did about this in my archive

  2. I have trouble reconciling the conservative love of rugged individualism with prayer. When they resort to prayer, they aren't really doing it by themselves anymore (at least not if one believes what they claim to believe).

  3. Atheists can't expect the world to be a fair place because that implies that some force is pulling strings behind the scenes to predetermine people's lives. All that we can do is accept that there's no rhyme or reason why certain things happen to some people and not to others and try not to get distracted about "why". On a more positive note,what each of us can do is try to improve our circumstances and those of others.

  4. But DS, you don't understand. Nothing is unfair when God does it because it all works out for His greater planned good! ;-)

    Great points, though. I've been mentally putting together a post touching on that unfairness, too.

  5. Good points. The Christian view of the world is decidedly unfair, ye they claim that god is responsible for all that. What kind of benevolent deity would create such a scenario?

    As for the prayer of athletes, I am not sure I see in the manner you describe: athletes looking for an unfair advantage. Perhaps I am wrong on that. However, one thing it does point out is how foolish prayer is. So many athletes from many different religions are all asking for the same thing. At best, if god(s) existed only one of them could be granted the prayer. Should we keep a tally of what religions wins the most gold and all convert? Yeah....I didn't think so...

  6. I like this post, and can see how the Olympics brought it up. When I ask about the fairness question, I think more along the lines of religious circumstances. Why would a god(s) put someone in a place or time where they couldn't know him/her, and then punish them for it? Or why does he "harden hearts" according to the bible? That's pretty messed up. It's like blinding someone, forcing them to run along a busy freeway, and then blame them for getting hit.