There was a fascinating discussion on atheism on the Medved Show today. It was Medved talking to Vincent Bugliosi, the author of "Divinity of Doubt: The God Question."
Worth, in my opinion, listening. I am not a Christian, but that doesn't mean that I neither recognize the value of Christ, nor the value of accepting that there are things in this universe that decry description. If only our elitist masters were willing to admit it.
I'm re-reading my grad school macro text, "Macro-Economics Theories and Policies,(Maisel, Norton & Company, 1982.) Fix the footnote yourself.
What is amazing is that the objections I had to fundamental Keynesian belief is akin to Bugliosi's description of atheism, thirty years later. The irreconcilable belief that Keynesianism is both all powerful and all good. (6:40)
S. J. Maisel is not a bad text if you're thinking about learning the study of macro-economics. There is a great deal of balance in the text, although I'm tempted to suggest that it tends to lean towards Keynes. But Maisel is fair in his admission that there are schools of thought within the body of economics that tends to be more quantitative, rather than normative. Quantitative analysis tends to rely upon modeling and statistical testing than normative economics, whose aim seems to be maximizing results to a socially acceptable paradigm, rather than accept that outcomes often vary, even with the best impulses of those within the system.
Listening to the complete interview will give you some compelling questions to ask yourself. Why would a god allow for bad? Why would a god not want us to spend all of our time in Happyville?
And why would God want us to live lives without challenge?
If you want ultimate control over the life of your neighbor, the first thing you'll want to remove is our conception of God.
Not easy to do, since centuries have passed since the beginning of the Christian Era to present, and embedded in many of those centuries was the belief that being a subject to the aristocracy as an upper class was consonant with fealty to an All Supreme God, that much of our custom, our language, our manners is based upon historical precedence. Another way to look at is, if you wanted to have an understanding of what or who God was, you needed an intercessor (priest) to help you understand your relationship to God. Religions, cults, philosophies sprang forth under the mantle of understanding your, individual, relationship to God, as you worked to provide yourself and your family with the tools and skills of mere survival. Just as we were two-thousand years ago, it is a lot easier to subscribe to a set of beliefs than it is to determine your own set of beliefs. And I think that that works, in the main, pretty well, today. If you find yourself, not clear about certain theological priors within the context of thinking or describing religion or God, finding a close approximation of how you've thought of God or religion, it isn't an unfair template upon which to rely.
But, Bugliosi gives an interesting interview.
From Big Bang to Creation, what is the nature of those who choose to hold extreme views of God and religion? I think this an important idea to question, to discuss, since so much of how we talk and debate about what is right or wrong is dependent in many ways on how we view certain beliefs. If I believe in the fallibility of Man, how much of that belief can be ascribed to belief in God, or of an atheism? In reduction, how important is it to either have a God or not?
Which gets me back to Maisel.
Thirty years ago, there was a divide between objective and normative economists, which regularly was dominated by the objectivists. This was simple. Objective economists didn't rely upon the economy delivering any certain outcome. Economists didn't need a priest, neither were they priests. Objective economics simply described the events, as closely as any theory could, and of how those outcomes arrived. We are a political society, so, the reasoning went, it didn't matter if any particular fiscal or monetary policy actually moved us one step closer to paradise, what mattered was, given the fact that we are members of a political society, and, given that politicians tended to interfere with how things work in order to derive a benefit in favour of their particular constituencies, how best to predict outcomes of policy, based upon postulation and observation, as to how well those intended policies resulted in the intended, predicted outcomes? That is, a total divorcement of economics as a descriptive enterprise, and those who practiced economics as a prescriptive enterprise.
Sure, a lot of discussion was economics as a post hoc, ergo propter hoc variety. But early classicists tended to shy away from this kind of, "as I see it, this is what happened" kind of discussion. Early classicists tended to believe that any man's, or any government's, control over any situation was a reach too far. As men, we lack the ability or omniscience to predict, without any outside authority, to know, less to guess, what the outcome of any action we take may end up being. What we do know, as classicists is, that men attempt to effect any economic situation as to maximize their own self-interest, with disregard for the interests of others.
So, what is the interest of the atheist? How is the interest of the atheist different from that of the Christian, Buddhist, Muslim or Jew? Well, if the classicists are correct, there is nothing different among those groups, or more importantly, nothing among the individuals of those groups, regardless of their aggregation. Of course, it's easier to identify with a group in the sense that aggregation of intent (outcomes) becomes more easily identifiable as a wished for outcome, than would be the mere statement of wishing for an outcome by an individual. Aggregation has rewards. If I hear voices, I may be wrong. If I and my friends hear voices, and, especially, we all hear the same voice, chances are that we're hearing voce Deus. But, without God, what does this coalescence of voices infer?
According to the atheist, it infers Science.
The Left doesn't want there to be a God, since that would mean that all of the meanings of reality, truth, existence, the physical world, the moral world, the ethical world, all could be subsumed by metaphysics that doesn't choose as conditional that which I believe. Any threat to the internalization of my independent world view becomes inconsequential, if not obsolete. The wildest ideas I choose to hold are no more important than those held wildly by others. The threat of the existence of God threatens more than mere anarchy. (Even if, as some hold, God Himself is an anarchist.) The threat of the external was recognized early on by the Existentialists. God cannot exist in terms of Man, without excluding the reality of Man which excludes God. You can't read Waiting for Godot with any understanding without recognizing that our tardy friend was nothing other than the Supreme Creator. So, expunging the last remnants of God is the primary focus of the Left. When you look into the mirror you aren't seeing your own face. Q.E.D., you can't see God. The reflection of God in Man is an error prior to the thought of seeing the face of God. Hell, you're not seeing your own face (in physical terms)!
It's almost cartoonish, with the Devil on your left shoulder, the angel on your right shoulder. Picking and choosing between actions, intent, thought, humour, speech; that there are, or could be, externalities from which you can gain or receive approbation, gain or receive condemnation. The advantage of the atheist is, there are no externals. Therefore, there are no priors. There are no mirrors.
Re-reading Maisel has been fascinating, since, in the ensuing years, there has been little or no advocacy of the normative values of failure. I joke about teaching my sons the first rule, "find someone else to blame." (Thanks to T. Bible.) Yet, it's refreshing to read about the impossibility of pushing string.
Following the Lakers loss in Game Four, I would ask you, who is responsible for their failure? I'm not. And there is no sense of Social Justice that demands that I attempt to make amends for their failure. You're not, although, if you a Lakers' fan, you may wish to impose a range of expediencies for the Lakers that involves personnel, coaching, ownership, or even, venue. The problem with God, with life, with the Lakers is, you can neither predict or be responsible for the outcomes or actions of others. The California legislature could have passed a resolution calling for the success of the Lakers, and nothing would have come of it. The federal legislature could have done same, all to the disgrace of the measure. But there is no one else to blame. Not the fans, not legislatures, nor Catholics, Muslims or atheists. There are some things that occur without regard to the best minds of our generation.
The Left doesn't want there to be a God, because their view of what would be a "good" God is inconsistent with their belief of what should be the outcomes of the world, or a god, as it affects individuals within this world. The Left doesn't believe that Liberty is more important than the struggle, and how we perform against that struggle. The Left views the world from a different lens than that which you and I share. The Left views the inequalities of the world as fodder for a certain demagoguery. It is the fact that there is inequality that proves the non-existence of a god. I joke about teaching my sons early to blame someone else. The Left does not. Outcomes matter to Leftists. Not the struggle to achieve outcomes. Not the perseverance of the individual. Nor overcoming obstacles. That there are inequalities disproves God.
Subsequently to Maisel, there has been a real push to equate outcomes with the performance of economic systems, not held previously to the mainstream goal of understanding economics in the academy.
Maisel writes about economic theory in the true professorial voice. He will be neither Keynesian nor objectivist, merely the vessel that carries the major arguments of each, with a background of statistical evidence that tends to suggest that certain beliefs and practices will have greater effects positively than the other. And, if you recall, 1982 was a watershed year. In 1983 we had the largest national deficit in history. Maisel was writing in advance of history, not consequentially. It makes the re-reading even more enjoyable. Maisel wrote about the attempts of policy to achieve certain outcomes, while giving evidence that however we worked to achieve "certain" outcomes, the system itself was beyond the control of one, two or several exogenous influences, and relied more upon those influences that occurred naturally within the model itself.
This is, I believe, the essence of Bugliosi. Note, Bugliosi is more akin to my own particular view of religion than most. While I may wish to describe the world, the Universe or existence in terms I find personally appealing, that doesn't give necessary, nor sufficient, reason to conclude that that Universe or existence should exist. So, I may be pleading in his behalf. Full disclosure. But what does the Left not disclose? It doesn't describe the existence of the the Universe as it is.
Just about everything else. But nothing about the existence of the Universe. That it is incomprehensible.
I don't need God to be a sentient Being, as you and I are sentient. To relegate God as merely another sentient being is hubris. What concept of God equates God with Man? But, if I believe that God created me in His Image, this is the kingpin of my recognition of God. Not that I am a god. Or, that I can even approximate God in His Being. It is not my adaptive behaviour. It is not my Hollywood good looks. It is in the fact that I can rationalize my thoughts to a point where I can punch a bunch of keys on a keyboard, that convey meaning, even if the meaning I wish to convey is pounced upon by others as being wrong, insipid, poorly expressed or simply wrong. I don't expect notes from trees, deer, crab, whale or elk. Or dogs.
God is Creation.
I am okay with the fact that God is an open-system. I don't think that God could be the product of a closed system, along the lines of a Big Bang Theory. But, along with Bugliosi, I think there are unintended consequences with a life without God. And it doesn't rely simply on the theological. It relies more upon the Rousselian or Newtonian ideas of those things which we cannot argue, but simply are. A lot of expense and effort is being expended upon proving the non-existence of God; few dollars are spent on proving God's existence. To suggest such an enterprise would be unscientific. And, I'm not advocating that line of scientific inquiry here. All I suggest is, that there is a degree of complexity in most, if not all, of our lives that exists beyond the boundaries of that which is simply explainable. To the unexplainable.
Yes, I am a fan of approximation theory. Engineers use it. We test. We break things. We test again and learn new ways to break things. We can build better houses, better buildings, better computers, better beer. But, can we build better theater? Better jokes? Better children? Better rugs?
And, if there is a God, what role would God play within that approximation theory? What constants would engineers rely upon? What would be the observations? Can you imagine a Universe with inconstancy? (I'm no fan of Berkeley, but isn't it amazing how "Hylas and Philoneus" regains a certain intellectual currency?) The Big Bang Theory attempts to put at rest religious inquiry. It does, as Bugliosi notes, instead open doors.
One of the anachronisms of Science Fiction has been its inability to accurately predict the future. Sure, Star Trek and phone that look more and more like communicators. A few medical advancements that come close to medical scanners. But do you actually believe that in the future we'll wear uniforms that let those around us know what our role in life is? (If you do, don't let your children ever wear red.)
The Left wants you to forget God. God's Purpose. God's Plan. All because those things are ineffable. Just as making wine from water. Or gold from dross. Sure, we can say that we want an efficient electrical grid based upon wind power, the problem is, those technologies are still years away from being cost-effective. To say that we need to take the plunge anyway is akin to saying we should scourge ourselves from our sins. It may make you feel better, but it's not reasonable to expect all of us to scourge ourselves, to merit your respect.
I respect myself. I have no reason not to respect you. All I ask from you is to share your common sense. If you choose to take an extreme view, I'm not going to scourge myself to simply share a kinship. That doesn't make sense. Nor, will I deprive myself from the realization that I'm simply not intelligent enough to know whether or not there is God. Not a god, but God. But, with God dead, there is no outside agency that we need be aware. There is not uncertainty that we must compensate for. And it is this last trait of God, the need to be aware and for which me must needs compensate, that most alarms the Left. If I must be aware of God, and the need to be aware and to live my life for God exists, then I cannot take guidance from any other source of authority.
And that is why the Left wants God to be dead. The God in me is His Path toward my own being. Without God, a path can be imposed upon me. That isn't right. Just as you are predisposed to finding your own path, God has lent Himself to me to find my path. And thanks to Christ, I think I'm closer to finding where God wants me to be than if I had remained within the Church. I don't have the organization of the Church, nor the wealth, which is a disadvantage. But, not enough of a disadvantage for me to stop believing that I have a better source, a priori, than that of any system of thought that attempts to impose itself on me, without my consent.
Somewhere over 90 percent of Americans view themselves as religious. And yet, the Courts have held that religion is anathema to the American Constitution. My sister, who has lived in China for around thirty years, has been the constant guest of Chinese schools in order to talk about Christianity. Imagine a United States where priests and clergy were invited into our public schools to talk about Christianity. Not to inculcate, but to educate.
No. Better to have God dead. Nothing to see here, move along.
The Left wants no god. To have a god would mean they have no authority.
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