Pope Francis Shows-Off His Fallibility Factor

The Many Ways the Pope Is Wrong About Capitalism

By David Gordon

It is hardly a secret that Pope Francis opposes the free market. On what grounds does he do so? Do any of these grounds have merit? What are the sources of his ideas? How similar are his views to those of previous Popes? These are among the questions addressed by the contributors to an important new book, Pope Francis and the Caring Society, edited by Professor Robert M. Whaples.

The Pope maintains that the free market encourages the false ideology of “consumerism.” People under capitalism want more material goods, but their pursuit ends not in happiness but in futility. Whaples, Professor of Economics at Wake Forest University, points out that in “[his encyclical] Laudatio si’, Francis argues that this excessive, self-destructive consumption on the part of the rich is partly the fault of markets. ‘[T]he market tends to promote extreme consumerism in an effort to sell its products, [and] people can easily get caught up in a whirlwind of needless buying and spending. . . This paradigm leads people to believe that they are free as long as they have the supposed freedom to consume.’ The market caters to people’s emptiness. ‘When people become self-centered and self-enclosed, their greed increases. The emptier a person’s heart is, the more he or she needs things to buy, own, and consume. It becomes almost impossible to accept the limits imposed by reality.’” (pp. 10-11)

The Pope has missed the target. The free market is a means by which consumers can satisfy their preferences. It does not dictate what these preferences must be. An advocate of the free market can with complete consistency favor a simple style of life. If people want more and more material goods, the market will supply these; but “consumerism” and capitalism are very different things.

Consumerism, the Pope alleges, merits condemnation not only because it leads people astray about the nature of the good life. It also makes people treat with indifference the plight of the poor. In arguing in this fashion, the Pope turns a blind eye to a fundamental point. The rise and development of capitalism has resulted in a massive decrease in global poverty. As Lawrence J. McQuillan and Hayeon Carol Park aptly note, “Wealth must first be created before it can be given to others. Capitalism is the greatest wealth creator the world has ever seen, lifting billions of people out of abject poverty. The pope’s anti-market fervor stands at some distance from the facts.” (p.95)

Whaples reinforces this point. “According to economists. . .the numbers simply don’t support this [anti-capitalist] position. Branko Milanovic has traced out the worldwide income distribution in recent decades as people in countries around the world have used markets to expand trading and as technology—largely developed by the world’s profit-driven firms— has spread to poorer countries. His numbers are stunning and show that the whole world is getting richer.” (p.25)

Opponents of capitalism might respond in this way. Even if it is true that capitalism has helped the poor, this fails to prove that capitalists are beneficent. The benefits to the poor arise from the superior productivity of capitalism. The entrepreneurs who drive the system aim for as much profit as possible. Self-interest, not good feelings for the needy, motivates them.

This argument is vulnerable at two points. First, even if self-interest motivates capitalists, so what? Would not the poor care much more about their better lives than the purity of the capitalists’ motives? (By the way, why is it taken for granted that self-interest is “bad”?)

In his failure to take adequate account of this point, Pope Francis ignores a line of thought stressed by the seventeenth-century Jansenists. As A. M. C. Waterman explains: “The market economy. . .is a powerful instrument for bringing ‘personal interest’ and ‘the interest of society as a whole’ into ‘fruitful harmony.’ Jansenists of the late seventeenth century were the first to see this confluence clearly, and their insight was fully developed in the classical political economy of the English School. Jansenist theology was deeply Augustinian. . .The institutions of human society, such as the market economy, are conceived in sin and must always be imperfect. Yet under Divine Providence they may become a remedy for the ‘wound of original sin’ by recruiting self-interest to the common good.” (p.148)

The second point at which the response of the opponents of capitalism is vulnerable challenges more directly their main contention. It is false that capitalists are motivated entirely by self-interest. The opponents of the free market ignore charity. In fact, McQuillan and Park note, “There is ample evidence that capitalism and its core institutions—private-property rights and economic freedom—are key drivers of private charitable giving. The link is important because private charity is the most effective form of charity for uplifting the poor, whereas government redistribution is inefficient, largely ineffective, and often counterproductive.” (p.111)

Pope Francis criticizes the free market for yet another alleged failure. It despoils the environment. Precisely the opposite is the case, as Robert Murphy reminds us in a characteristically excellent article. ”How can we ensure that unborn future generations have access to tin, copper, natural gas, and so on?. . .The short answer is that so long as there are secure property rights—a condition that rules out the government imposing a ‘windfall profits’ tax when resource prices rise—-then normal market operations, especially in advanced economies with sophisticated futures markets, provide an elegant solution to the problem.” (p.209)

Murphy answers alarmism about “climate change,” another feature of the Pope’s encyclical. Drastic restrictions on production are defended as “insurance” against an environmental catastrophe. Murphy responds: “Yet if the proper justification for aggressive climate change policies is insurance for unlikely events ‘just in case,’ then it should be clear that the public has been misled all this time. Nobody sells a homeowner fire insurance by saying, ‘We can see the ravages of the fire on your property as we speak!’” (p.218)

However well-meaning Pope Francis may be, he has failed to understand how a free economy works. Economics is a science, and to ignore economic law is futile. As Mises trenchantly observes, “it is futile to approach social facts with the attitude of a censor who approves or disapproves from the point of view of quite arbitrary standards and subjective judgments of value. One must study the laws of human action and social cooperation as the physicist studies the law of nature.” (Human Action, Scholar’s Edition, p.2)


David Gordon is Senior Fellow at the Mises Institute, and editor of The Mises Review.

Article from Mises.org. See, https://mises.org/wire/many-ways-pope-wrong-about-capitalism



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Intersectionality: A Divisive Movement of Bigotries

Intersectionality, Tribalism and Farrakhan

By Daniel Greenfield

“A movement of bigotries can only divide us”

A funny thing happened on the way to the intersectional future. The proverbial knapsack was unpacked in the Women’s March and inside wasn’t just racial tribalism, but racial and religious supremacism.

Why do Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour of the Women’s March like Farrakhan and his hate group?

The Nation of Islam preaches that black people are the master race. It doesn’t just hate white people, Jews and a whole bunch of other folks. It hates them out of a conviction in its own superiority. According to its teachings, “the Blackman is the original man” and lighter skinned people were “devils” created by an evil mad scientist to rule over black people until they are destroyed by UFOs. It even teaches that monkeys are descended from white people.

Progressive media essays defending Obama, Rep. Keith Ellison, Rep. Danny Davis, Mallory and other black leaders for their Farrakhan links have urged concerned liberals to look at the positive aspects of the Nation of Islam, its love for black people, not the negative, its hatred for white people.

But it is the “positive” that is the problem.

Intersectionality promises to package tribal identity politics into a utopia of social justice. But the essence of tribalism is the superiority of your people and the inferiority of all other groups. Tribalism doesn’t have to be violent, hostile or hateful. Most peoples are tribal after all. But when you combine the most radical identity politics elements, as the left does, then bigoted supremacism is certain.

The clown car of identity politics runs smoothest when it has a common enemy: white people. Coalitions like the Women’s March assemble an array of groups who are united by their hatred of Trump, white people, Israel and root beer. And it works as long as no one lifts up the hood and looks at the engine.

Black nationalism is racist, sexist, anti-Semitic and homophobic. The Nation of Islam isn’t an exception. From Jeremiah Wright, “Italians… looked down their garlic noses”, to Eldridge Cleaver, “rape was an insurrectionary act” to Amiri Baraka, the ugliest possible supremacist bigotry is its natural state.

“We are all beautiful (except white people, they are full of, and made of s___),” Amiri Baraka wrote. “The fag’s death they gave us on a cross… they give us to worship a dead jew and not ourselves.”

“I got the extermination blues, jew-boys. I got the Hitler syndrome figured… So come for the rent, jew-boys,” the Guggenheim fellowship, PEN and American Book Award winner, and former Poet Laureate of New Jersey ranted.

Baraka was one of the country’s most celebrated black nationalist poets and he was a former member of the Nation of Islam. Baraka’s Black Mass circulated the NOI’s racist creation myth.

It was the NOI’s conviction of black superiority and white inferiority that attracted Baraka and so many other black nationalists. The NOI is one of a variety of black supremacist religious groups, from the similarly exotic Moorish and Black Hebrew churches, to NOI splinter groups such as Five-Percent Nation and black nationalist churches like the one attended by the Obamas and presided over by Jeremiah Wright. But religious black supremacism is only a component of a larger cultural movement that lies at the heart of black nationalism and mingles historical conspiracy theories with racial supremacism.

The comingling of black nationalism with intersectional politics has produced a new generation (often of second-generation radicals) that dresses up its racism not only in the lyricism of the old black nationalism of Wright and Baraka, but in the obtuse academic jargon of intersectionality.

That’s where Tamika Mallory and Ta-Nehisi Coates come from. But political word salads and poetry only conceal what you choose not to pay attention to. And that’s why we’re talking about Louis Farrakhan.

The mass of progressive media articles, essays and explainers deployed to protect the Women’s March can be summed up as, “Stop paying attention.” And what we’re not supposed to be paying attention to is the slow death of liberalism and its substitution by the intolerant tribal extremism of identity politics.

It’s why the echo chamber of progressive media has turned against the New York Times editorial page where too many articles questioning identity politics and political censorship have appeared. Bari Weiss and Quinn Norton, articulate young women, are the most immediate targets, but the larger target is James Bennet, the page’s gatekeeper, who is unwisely giving liberals a glimpse of where they’re headed.

The remaining liberals still wandering the open plains of a dying ecosystem don’t understand that they are becoming extinct. When they endorse vocal identity politics movements, it is because they believe that addressing the grievances of their extremists is a necessary step to a tolerant colorblind society.

They haven’t grasped that a tolerant multiracial society is the last thing supremacists of any race want.

And the left tells them what they want to hear, that the strident tone of the activists is a momentary phenomenon triggered by their fury at injustice and oppression. Once we’re all intersectionalized and truthfully reconciled, the pain underlying the appeal of a Farrakhan or a Wright will dissipate.

It’s a lie. And they know it’s a lie.

Intersectionality is a lie. Like the Nation of Islam, it’s not just a lie in its negative hateful aspects, but in its promise of a utopia once the “white devils” and their “white privilege” are out of the way.

Groups of identity politics extremists and their white cishet lefty allies can only be briefly united by the negative, not the positive. The “call-out culture” meant to spread social justice through the movement isn’t just a form of political terror; it fails to reach the innate bigotry of each identity politics group.

The meltdown of the Women’s March shows why intersectionality was always a Potemkin Village.

Identity politics movements can’t fight bigotry, because they are naturally bigoted. Instead of actually rejecting bigotry, they project it on a convenient target like Trump, and then pretend that by destroying him, they can cleanse society. The more targets they destroy, the more they need to find to maintain an alliance whose only true unifying principle is a mutual denial of each other’s supremacist bigotries. And so the battle against racism becomes a war against micro-aggressions and structural white supremacy.

The whole thing is a ticking time bomb. And it keeps going off every few years. When it blows up, lefty activists rush out, as they are doing now, to plead, wheedle and warn that the real enemy is “white supremacy” and everyone needs to stop paying attention to the racist or sexist views of their own allies.

These “rainbow coalitions” of racist radicals don’t fight bigotry; they mobilize bigots for racial wars.

Tamika Mallory praising Farrakhan isn’t shocking. It would be more shocking if she didn’t. It’s hard to find major black figures in politics and the entertainment industry who don’t hang out with him.

Both Jesse Jackson and Barack Obama, the first two serious black presidential candidates, did. The Congressional Black Caucus hosted him. London Mayor Sadiq Khan acted as his lawyer. The list of black entertainers is all but endless. Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube (both members), Michael Jackson, Eddie Murphy, Spike Lee, Arsenio Hall, Common, Kanye West, Mos Def, Young Jeezy and Erykah Badu to name a few.

Not every individual who meets up with Farrakhan necessarily shares all his bigoted views, but many find his tribal affirmation of black superiority appealing and they value that more than they do any kind of tolerant society. That’s what Tamika Mallory, in her own awkward way, was trying to tell us.

Black nationalism is a tribal cause. It will always put its people first. The same is true of the rest of the hodgepodge of political identity groups that form up the intersectional chorus. No amount of calling out will change that. That’s why the calling out is mostly directed at safe targets, preferably white.

There is no larger unity at the end of the rainbow. Only smoother versions of Farrakhan. Barack instead of Baraka. Rants about “white devils” and “satanic Jews” filtered through academic jargon.

A movement of bigotries can only divide us. And that’s all identity politics has to offer America. Instead of equal rights in a united nation, we will be members of quarreling tribes. And those tribes, like Farrakhan’s fans, will be incapable of seeing members of other tribes as having the same worth they do.

And people who don’t believe that the “other” has the same worth, won’t grant him the same rights.

The left claims that it’s fighting for equality. What it’s actually fighting for is a tribal society where the notion of equal rights for all is as alien as it is in Iraq, Rwanda and Afghanistan, where democracy means tribal bloc votes and where the despotism of majority rule invariably ends in terror and death.


Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical left and Islamic terrorism.

Article from https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/269596/intersectionality-tribalism-and-farrakhan-daniel-greenfield


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Democratic Party vs. Catholicism

Prominent US Cardinal:

Democratic Party ‘Now Slams the Door’ On Catholics

By Lauretta Brown

New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal Thursday with the title “The Democrats Abandon Catholics.” The archbishop of New York made the case that due to the Democratic party’s position on issues like abortion and education for low-income communities, “the party that once embraced Catholics now slams the door on us.”

Cardinal Dolan reflected that the “dignity and sanctity of human life, the importance of Catholic schools, the defense of a baby’s civil rights—were, and still are, widely embraced by Catholics. This often led Catholics to become loyal Democrats. I remember my own grandmother whispering to me, “We Catholics don’t trust those Republicans.”

He says this is “no longer the case,” and that is “a cause of sadness to many Catholics, me included.” “The needs of poor and middle-class children in Catholic schools, and the right to life of the baby in the womb—largely have been rejected by the party of our youth,” he said.

Dolan pointed out that pro-life Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) “effectively was blacklisted by his own party” in his recent primary. The national Democratic party refused to back Lipinski in the primary largely due to his pro-life position.

Dolan also cited Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, saying last year that “every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman’s right to make her own choices about her body and her health. That is not negotiable and should not change city by city or state by state.”

Cardinal Dolan pointed out that the problem of Democrats shutting out Catholics was particularly bad in New York. “In recent years, some Democrats in the New York state Assembly repeatedly blocked education tax credit legislation, which would have helped middle-class and low-income families make the choice to select Catholic or other nonpublic schools for their children,” he wrote. “More sobering,” he added, “what is already the most radical abortion license in the country may soon be even more morbidly expanded. For instance, under the proposed Reproductive Health Act, doctors would not be required to care for a baby who survives an abortion. The newborn simply would be allowed to die without any legal implications. And abortions would be legal up to the moment of birth.”

Dolan said that the once “big tent” of the Democratic Party “now seems a pup tent.” “I’ve certainly had spats and disappointments with politicians from both of America’s leading parties,” he acknowledged, “but it saddens me, and weakens the democracy millions of Americans cherish, when the party that once embraced Catholics now slams the door on us.”


Article from: https://townhall.com/tipsheet/laurettabrown/2018/03/23/cardinal-dolan-says-democratic-party-now-slams-the-door-on-catholics-n2464133


Sweden’s Plans to Kill Religious Schools Infuriates local Catholics

By Joshua Gill

The Social Democratic Party in Sweden announced a plan ostensibly to combat segregation by shutting down all religious schools, to the chagrin of Catholic educators.

Catholic educators denounced the plan and called it an overt “aggressive assault” on Sweden’s Catholic community and a further breach of religious rights in the country, according to Crux Now. The Social Democratic Party (SDP), which leads a minority government and has formed a coalition with the Green Party, pledged to make the banning of religious schools a priority if they are re-elected.

“In our schools, teachers and principals should make the decisions, not priests or imams,” Minister for Upper Secondary School and Adult Education and Training Anna Ekstrom said, according to Crux.

Paddy Maguire, principal of Notre Dame Catholic School in Gothenburg, said that Ekstrom’s argument is completely unnecessary since all school administrations, religious or not, must comply with Swedish laws concerning education. “We have to (abide by) Swedish law, they don’t understand that. They just think we’re run by priests and imams, as they put it,” Maguire told Catholic News Agency (CNA).

Maguire also openly denounced the party’s plan as an attack on Catholics and asserted that their real goal was to combat problems in Islamic schools, “but they are too cowardly to say so.

Maguire argued that the segregation which the SDP pledges to fight is happening only in Islamic schools, built as a result of an influx of immigrants from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran, which segregate students according to gender. Kristina Hellner, communications officer for the Diocese of Stockholm, told CNA that she shared that assessment. “The absolute majority of the religious schools in Sweden show excellent results but a small number of them (and these are Islamic schools) have had different kinds of problems. Instead of doing something about these specific schools, certain politicians would like to solve it by closing all religious schools,” Hellner said.

The bill is unlikely to pass, in Hellner’s estimation, since the SDP has lost a lot of political support to the Moderate Party and the balance of power in Sweden has shifted to favor right-wing parties. Still, Christian groups in Sweden are banding together with the help of Cardinal Anders Arborelius of Stockholm to oppose the plan through the Christian Council and to bring the fight all the way to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary. Meanwhile, the SDP, the Left Party, and certain members of the Liberal Party have expressed support for the plan. The Green Party, despite their coalition with the SDP, and the Centre Party remain neutral on the issue.


Sweden has 71 religious schools, 59 of which are Christian, 11 are Muslim, and one is Jewish.

Article from: From the Daily Caller News Foundation:


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Modern Science: A Rigorously Consistent Mythology?

The One, the Many, and the Mythology of Science

By John B. King, Jr., Ph.D.

The objective of the present article is to compare the worldviews of ancient mythology and modern science in order to show the deep mythological structure of the latter.1 Such a comparison is both interesting from an academic point of view and has great apologetic value. In particular, since opponents of Christian theism have tended to dismiss Christianity as mythological and unscientific, establishing the linkage between mythology and modern science returns the charge upon these naturalistic detractors, thus providing both defensive and offensive value. To this end, therefore, it will be shown that, unlike Christianity, ancient mythology and modern science share deep philosophical structures and that Christianity, by contrast, presents a distinct and demythologized view of the cosmos. To begin this discussion, it will be necessary to consider some implications of God’s triune nature.

Formal Considerations (Philosophical Structure)

Because God is a triune being, God is eternally one and eternally three. Accordingly, within God’s being the one (unity) and the many (particularity) are coeternal, equally ultimate, and mutually conditioning. Moreover, since God’s image is necessarily impressed upon His creation, the one and the many are equally derivative within the created order and thus equally basic to a Christian epistemology. However, when God’s triune nature is denied, one loses the metaphysical basis upon which unity and particularity harmoniously relate and is, therefore, driven to one of three basic philosophical frameworks: radical particularity, radical unity, or a dialectical tension between unity and particularity. Consequently, since these limited options are quickly exhausted in human thought, mythology, and science necessarily utilize the same basic paradigms and, therefore, share common philosophical structures.

If the first option (radical particularity) is chosen, the universe is conceived as an aggregate of disconnected parts (or events) subject to no unifying law and, therefore, driven entirely by chance. As a result, the universe reduces to a sea of brute particulars, involving a radical conflict at each and every point. On the mythological plane, this is the worldview of ancient polytheism (such as Babylonian mythology) in which the various gods battle one another for supremacy. On the scientific plane, this outlook becomes manifest in Darwinian evolution and the survival of the fittest. Thus, due to a common rooting in chance, Darwinism and ancient polytheism share a common mythological structure with both views positing an upward evolution from the waters of chaos. Needless to say, for such a viewpoint, the lack of an objective order destroys any basis for human knowledge.

If the second option (radical unity) is chosen, the universe is conceived as a seamless whole devoid of concrete particulars and thus devoid of any real tension or mechanism. Accordingly, in this perspective, the universe reduces to a blank and amorphous unity, which erases all distinctions and thereby eliminates the uniqueness of each and every event. On the mythological plane, this is the view of Vedantic Hinduism in which the various particulars be they gods or daily events are reduced to phenomenal manifestations of the Brahman, the all-pervading, universal spirit. On the scientific plane, this is the view of Einstein’s unified field theory which attempted to collapse all events into phenomenal manifestations of a single deterministic field. Thus, due to a common monism, Einstein’s field theory and Vedantic Hinduism share a common mythological structure with both views reducing events to surface phenomena of underlying deterministic (and cyclic) fields. Needless to say, for such a viewpoint, the lack of objective differences destroys any basis for the observation and correlation of discrete particulars (i.e., data). This lack of distinctions also produces a confusion between the subject and object of knowledge. Thus, scientific data becomes both illusory and subjective due to a lack of discreet objects and subjects. Since scientific theories are thereby stripped of their substance and reduced to a mind game, the basis for a meaningful science again vanishes.

Finally, if the third option (dialectical tension between unity and particularity) is chosen, the universe becomes the product of an eternal struggle between order and chaos which operates through a dialectical tension. Thus, such a theory posits a fractured universe which derives from the interplay of antagonistic forces. After all, in such a universe there is a basic tension at each and every point as order seeks to mold the chaos, and chaos seeks to burst the forms of order. On the mythological plane, this is the worldview of Taoism in which the events of life arise from a dynamic struggle between yin and yang. On the scientific plane, this view is encapsulated in the Copenhagen interpretation (i.e., complementarity) of the wave-particle duality in quantum mechanics. Thus, due to a common dualism, both Taoism and the Copenhagen School of quantum mechanics share a common mythological structure in which events reduce to a dynamic struggle between order and chaos. For such a viewpoint, of course, the presence of two equally basic, independent, and antagonistic principles destroys any unity of conception. Moreover, since this position is simply a schizophrenic composite of the two positions outlined above, neither of these principles (order or chaos) could provide an adequate basis for knowledge even when taken by themselves. To the extent that chaos dominates, concrete reality opposes all order, and to the extent that order dominates, such order dissolves all concrete reality. Thus, even if one could escape the tension of these opposing principles, he would still be faced with the alternative of knowing nothing about anything (chaos) or else knowing everything about nothing (order). Needless to say, the basis for a meaningful science vanishes completely on such premises.

As should be evident from the preceding discussion, ancient mythology and modern science share common philosophical structures. Thus, despite its pride in rationality and objectivity, modern science is simply a repackaging of ancient myth. The reason for this identity is simple. When the Trinity is denied, one’s thinking is driven toward one of three basic philosophical frameworks, and since these limited options are quickly exhausted in human thought, science and mythology necessarily utilize similar paradigms.

Material Considerations (Cosmic Impersonalism)

However, the connections between science and mythology run deeper than the formal considerations of philosophical structure and extend to a material identity as well. In particular, when science and mythology are substantively considered, both are seen to posit an ultimate impersonalism (cosmic impersonalism). After all, in its attempt to personify nature, mythology necessarily confuses God with creation. Accordingly, since God is thereby made dependent upon a finite and impersonal world, what mythology actually achieves is not the personification of nature but rather the ‘impersonification’ of deity. Since mythology is therefore fundamentally impersonal and naturalistic, modern science is simply a more consistently impersonal species of myth. When the reason for this common impersonalism is traced to its root, it is seen to derive, once again, from a rejection of the Triune God. Thus, in addition to the formal similarities of philosophical structure, the material identity of cosmic impersonalism also springs from a denial of the Trinity. To demonstrate this point, it will be necessary to examine some deeper implications of God’s triune nature.

In this regard, the primary consideration is the recognition that God’s triune nature establishes His infinite personality and thus a philosophy of cosmic personalism. Because God is both one and many, He has community within His own being and is both personal and rational. Since the Triune God can compare (oneness) and contrast (many-ness) within His being, He is internally benchmarked and thus internally self-defined. Accordingly, since God defines Himself in terms of Himself alone and not in relation to a finite, impersonal world, He does not become dependent upon such a world and is not thereby reduced to a finite, impersonal level. On the contrary, since God emerges as an infinite person, He possess infinite knowledge and power and is capable of affecting a rationally ordered creation. Thus, by preventing a mythological confusion between God and creation, God’s triune nature guards His infinite personality and simultaneously establishes a demythologized and well-ordered cosmos. So understood, God’s triune nature establishes the necessary and sufficient basis for an objective science grounded in an ultimate cosmic personalism. Given this fact, the denial of the Trinity not only accounts for the common philosophical framework (formal identity) between mythology and science, but also accounts for their common impersonalism (material identity). Thus, modern science is mythology due to its identical combination of formal (philosophical structure) and material (cosmic impersonalism) characteristics.

That impersonalism is the hallmark of mythology can be seen from the fact that in every case considered above, concrete personal existence derives from abstract impersonal principles. After all, despite the surface differences between the various mythologies, they are merely different variations upon the impersonal themes of being (spiritual unity and order) and nonbeing (material plurality and chaos). Thus, in Babylonian cosmology there is an upward evolution from nonbeing to being as the feminine waters of chaos give birth to a masculine spiritual order. In Hindu mythology, by contrast, there is a downward fall from being to nonbeing in which a masculine spirit produces a feminine material world through a process of differentiation. Finally, in Taoist cosmology, there is a continuous struggle between being and nonbeing with a masculine heaven and a feminine earth locked into an eternal, procreative tension. In all cases, however, the underlying principles are abstract and impersonal with the adjectives “masculine” and “feminine” providing no more than a poetic overlay. In short, regardless of which theory is chosen, personality has no rooting in such a universe and, therefore, reduces to an epiphenomenon. Consequently, since modern science moves in terms of these same philosophical structures and imbibes the same cosmic impersonalism, modern science is mythology.

Historical Considerations (Theological Degradation)

Moreover, beyond this thematic and topical analysis, the common impersonalism of mythology and science can be seen by considering the historical development of mythology and thus its gradual transformation into the latter. To begin this discussion, it will be helpful to consider the work of the world-renowned historian of religions, Mircea Eliade. According to Eliade, archaic cultures evidence a devolution from monotheism to polytheism in which the new gods are identified with immanent forces in the universe (Eliade, 118-128). Initially, these primitive peoples worship a personal god who is a celestially structured supreme being, in other words a god of the sky or the heavens. However, over time the supreme being becomes more remote and less important as a result of man’s increasing preoccupation with the immanent “natural” forces of his daily life. As these forces become progressively more important, man divinizes them with the result that his religion degrades into a crude and impersonal polytheism:

We may add that the same situation is found in the religions of more civilized peoples, that is, of peoples who have played an important role in history. The Mongol name for the supreme God is Tengri, which means sky. This Chinese T’ien means at once the sky and the god of the sky. The Sumerian term for divinity, dingir, originally meant a celestial epiphany clear, brilliant. The Babylonian Anu also expresses the idea of sky. The Indo-European supreme god, Dieus, denotes both the celestial epiphany and the sacred (cf. Sanskrit div, to shine, day; dyaus, sky, day; Dyaus, Indian god of heaven). Zeus and Jupiter still preserve in their names the memory of the sacredness of the sky. The Celtic Taranis (from taran, to thunder), the Baltic Perkunas (lightning), and the proto-Slavic Perun (cf. Polish piorun, lightning) are especially revealing for the later transformations of the sky gods into storm gods.

There is no question of naturalism here. The celestial god is not identified with the sky, for he is the same god who, creating the entire cosmos, created the sky too. This is why he is called Creator, All-powerful, Lord, Chief, Father, and the like. The celestial god is a person, not a uranian epiphany. But he lives in the sky and is manifested in meteorological phenomena thunder, lightning, storm, meteors, and so on. This means that certain privileged structures of the cosmos the sky, the atmosphere constitute favorite epiphanies of the supreme being; he reveals his presence by what is specifically and peculiarly his majesty (majestas) of the celestial immensity, the terror (tremendum) of the storm.

The history of supreme beings whose structure is celestial is of the utmost importance for an understanding of the religious history of humanity as a whole. We cannot even consider writing that history here, in a few pages. But we must at least refer to a fact that to us seems primary. Celestially structured supreme beings tend to disappear from the practice of religion, from cult; they depart from among men, withdraw to the sky, and become remote, inactive gods (dei otiosi). In short, it may be said of these gods that, after creating the cosmos, life, and man, they feel a sort of fatigue, as if the immense enterprise of the Creation had exhausted their resources. So, they withdraw to the sky, leaving a son or a demiurge on earth to finish or perfect the Creation. Gradually their place is taken by other divine figures the mythical ancestors, the mother-goddesses, the fecundating gods, and the like. The god of the storm still preserves a celestial structure, but he is no longer a creating supreme being; he is only the fecundator of the earth, sometimes he is only a helper to his companion (paredros), the earth-mother. The celestially structured supreme being preserves his preponderant place only among pastoral peoples, and he attains a unique situation in religions that tend to monotheism (Ahura-Mazda) or that are fully monotheistic (Yahweh, Allah). (Eliade, 120-122)

It is useless to multiply examples. Everywhere in these primitive religions the celestial supreme being appears to have lost religious currency; he has no place in the cult, and in the myths he draws farther and farther away from man until he becomes a deus otiosus. Yet he is remembered and entreated as the last resort, when all ways of appealing to other gods and goddesses, the ancestors, and the demons, have failed. As the Oraons express it: “Now we have tried everything, but we still have you to help us.” And they sacrifice a white cock to him, crying, “God, thou art our creator, have mercy on us.”

The divine remoteness actually expresses man’s increasing interest in his own religious, cultural, and economic discoveries. Through his concern with hierophanies of life, through discovering the sacral fertility of the earth, and through finding himself exposed to religious experiences that are more concrete (more carnal, even orgiastic), primitive man draws away from the celestial and transcendent god. The discovery of agriculture basically transforms not only primitive man’s economy but also and especially his economy of the sacred. Other religious forces come into play sexuality, fertility, the mythology of woman and of the earth, and so on. Religious experience becomes more concrete, that is, more intimately connected with life. The great mother-goddesses and the strong gods of the spirits of fertility are markedly more dynamic and more accessible to men than was the Creator God.

And yet their worshippers’ primitives and Hebrews alike had the feeling that all these great goddesses and all these vegetation gods were unable to save them, that is, to ensure them existence in really critical moments. These gods and goddesses could only reproduce and augment life; and they could perform that function only during normal times; in short, they were divinities who governed the cosmic rhythms admirably, but who proved incapable of saving the cosmos or human society in moments of crisis (historical crisis among the Hebrews).

The various divinities who took the place of the supreme beings were the repository of the most concrete and striking powers, the powers of life. But by that very fact they had become “specialists” in procreation and lost the subtler, nobler, more spiritual powers of the Creator Gods. In discovering the sacredness of life, man let himself be increasingly carried away by his own discovery; he gave himself up to vital hierophanies and turned away from the sacrality that transcended his immediate and daily needs. (Eliade, 125-128)

As can be seen from Eliade’s discussion, pagan religions degenerate into polytheism in an attempt to fill a void left by an overly transcendent god. In particular, since such a god is thought to lack immanence and hence relevance, this transcendent god is pushed into the background and replaced through an attempted divinization of the more immanent and concrete forces in the world. Moreover, since these immanent forces remain natural and impersonal, they lack the “subtler, nobler, more spiritual powers of the Creator Gods” and therefore become subject to human manipulation through magic, the pseudo-science of the ancient world.

However, as the philosophical development tends toward a greater and more conscious impersonalism, these so called “divinities” are later collapsed into phenomenal manifestations of impersonal fields. Thus, in India the crude polytheism of the Vedic period (2000 – 1500 B.C.) gave way to a more philosophical monism of the Upanishads (800 BC 500 A.D.) and of such later writers such as Sankara (eighth century AD) and Ramanuja (eleventh century AD).

P.T. Raju writes:

Taking both geography and history into account, it is now the practice of writers to trace Hinduism to the Mohenjo-daro civilization (4000-3000 BC), an adequate picture of which is still not easy to give. All that is assertable in a general way is that the civilization very likely knew some form of yogic meditation, that it had some form of Shakti (Mother Goddess) worship, and that it had the cult of animal worship also. The Aryan tribes began invading India sometime between 2000 and 1500 BC, conquered the early settlers, driving them toward the South, and then conquered the South also. At the same time, they began to superimpose their own religion on the religions of the conquered, which were many, as the different tribes followed their different religions and worshipped different gods and goddesses. In this process of superimposition, the religion of the Aryans themselves began to be transformed. The gods of the non-Aryans, like Shiva, became identified with the gods of the Aryans, like Rudra, through similarity of forms and functions. But the original Vedic gods continued to occupy a higher place than those of the non-Aryans. When the Aryans finally established their monotheism of the Brahman, this pure demythologized religion was given the place of the highest prestige, and ritualistic, were interpreted as subsidiary to the worship and realization of the Brahman.

The evolution of the worship of the Brahman reveals an interesting development of the religious life and thought of the Indo-Aryans. They were first polytheists, worshipping through sacrifices (not necessarily animal sacrifices) to gods such as the Fire-god, Wind-god, the god of death, the Dawn, Varuna the god of the Waters enveloping the world and ruling in the highest heaven, the god of clouds called Indra, and so on. They Aryans were what are philosophically called hylozoists, consubstantiatists who made no distinction between spirit and matter, or animatists who worshipped the natural forces as living, thinking beings like themselves without distinguishing between the animating and thinking spirit and the body. This religion may be called animatism as distinct from animism, in which man distinguishes between spirit and body and worships the former. Both animatism and animism are forms of polytheism. But the latter, when the spiritual conception is enlarged, elaborated, and developed into that of the Brahman, can become monotheism or even monism. The idea of the anima in a body is found in the concept of presiding deity or simply deity of the earth, sound, eye, and so on of the Upanishads.

Next, as logical development of religious thought and practice, we find what Max Muller called henotheism or the worship of each one of some of the gods as the highest and supreme. This tendency shows the Indo-Ayran mind was wavering between one god and another in the attempt finally to fix one as the Supreme. Such gods are Varuna, Prajapati, and so on. From this henotheistic conception of the Brahman, which was taken by some religious thinkers like Guadapada (c. sixth century), and Sankara (eighth century), as nonpersonal and monistic. (Raju 2,3)

On the basis of the preceding discussion, the historical development and philosophical trajectory of mythology can be readily assessed. As shown by the respective works of Mircea Eliade and P.T. Raju, mythology is seen to degenerate from a personal monotheism through a crude polytheism to a more abstract monism (or dualism) and thus toward an increasing impersonalism. In terms of this orderly progression, therefore, there is only one development consistent with the internal logic of mythology, namely the impersonal world of modern science. Consequently, when considered from the perspectives of philosophical structure, impersonal content, and historical development, ancient mythology and modern science are seen to be identical in all vital and crucial respects. Thus, modern science is mythology since it partakes of the same philosophical structure, is animated by the same impersonalism, and forms the logical telos of mythology’s historical development.


Consequently, it is both hypocritical and short sighted for modern scientists to dismiss Christianity as myth. After all, since modern science is the most rigorously consistent form of mythology, such a change reveals a profound lack of awareness. Moreover, such a dismissal is also short sighted since it is precisely Christianity which sets forth the demythologized world upon which true science depends. However, in setting forth the cosmos as ultimate, modern science implicitly divinizes the universe (i.e., produces a mythological confusion between God and creation) and therefore sets forth an ultimate impersonalism. In so doing, it destroys the personal basis for a rational cosmic order and a receptive human mind, both of which are essential to the scientific enterprise.

In Christianity, by contrast, God’s triune nature ensures that God is self-dependent and therefore independent of the created order. God’s infinite personality is not reduced, nor is the creation divinize by a mythological confusion between God and creation. God remains God, and the cosmos remains the demythologized product of His handiwork. It is rationally ordered as a result of God’s fully conscious (omniscient) and all powerful (omnipotent) personality. Moreover, since man is created in God’s image, it is precisely God’s infinite personality which establishes man’s finite personality, and thus a receptive, scientific mind. Accordingly, science works precisely because Christianity is both true and personal. Given this fact, the long-term health of modern scientists to renounce their current mythology and embrace the Triune God.

May God be pleased to grant such repentance for the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen.



  1. Frutjof Capra, The Tao of Physics (Boston: Shambhala, 2000).
  2. Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane (New York: Harvest, 1957).
  3. P.T. Raju, The Green Asian Religions: An Anthology (New York: Macmillan, 1969).

Additional Comment

In the years since R.J. Rushdoony wrote The Mythology of Science, the apologetic target has shifted somewhat. Previously, apologetic encounters with scientists centered around the philosophy of Western materialism. Today, however, Eastern spiritualism is gaining an increasing foothold in the scientific community. Indeed, while a strong current of Western materialism still remains (as evidenced by the never-ending search for “fundamental particles”), there is an ever-growing tendency to interpret the results of cosmology and quantum mechanics in terms of various fields. Moreover, since these fields are thought to be nonmaterial, and all embracing, the attempt is often made to harmonize these field interpretations with Eastern spiritual concepts. Thus, due to the fact that the apologetic target has broadened somewhat, a broader approach will be needed in future discussions of faith and science. It is the problem in order to highlight some of the necessary considerations involved in a broadened apologetic. For the reader wishing to learn more about this new trend in science, Fritjof Capra’s The Tao of Physics is strongly recommended since it is masterfully written and constitutes perhaps the first popularly written synthesis of physics as Eastern mysticism.


Article from chalcedon.edu

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Social Justice, Equity, and Revelation

The Law, the Gospel, and Social Justice

By John B. King, Jr., Ph.D.

Within a Biblical framework, the term “social justice” refers to a situation in which the equity of God’s law prevails, leveling society. As understood by liberals, however, “social justice” becomes a mere buzzword with racist and Marxist overtones. “No justice; no peace,” they cry as they fuel the flames of racial hatred and class envy to solidify their grip on power. As seen by this emphasis on class antagonism, the liberal view of social justice has definite economic implications. In particular, “social justice” is thought to include “economic justice” and thus a so-called “equitable distribution of wealth.” In other words, the liberal view is thoroughly socialist and therefore unbiblical to the core. Since God’s Word alone forms the necessary and sufficient basis for a just society, the liberal program produces a result that is neither social nor just.

That socialism is unbiblical follows from the fact that the forced redistribution of wealth violates both the law of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. With respect to the law, socialism violates the Eighth Commandment by allowing a person to claim another’s property. With respect to the gospel, socialism undercuts the concept of grace by holding that benevolence may be constrained by considerations of need. In other words, socialism entails a mindset in which salvation (in this case economic salvation) is a needs-based right rather than a gracious gift. Thus, in seeking to constrain salvation within a man made legal system, the liberal notion of social justice attacks both the law of God and the gospel of Christ. It is simultaneously antinomian and legalistic.


 The liberal view is antinomian because its program of wealth redistribution violates the equity of God’s property laws. For instance, according to the Eighth Commandment, a man may not steal his neighbor’s property (Ex. 20:15; Dt. 5:19). Since one may not steal even to sustain his life (Pr. 6:30, 31), it follows that even extreme need does not constitute a claim upon another person’s property. Biblical law bases property claims on ownership rather than need. Since one cannot use his need to claim another’s goods, it follows that the liberal view of social justice violates the equity of God’s law. Of course, some will argue that socialism is not stealing since the government has the power to tax. However, the legitimate taxing power of government pertains to functions like civil justice and common defense, from which everyone benefits and so must pay their fair share (Rom. 13:1-7). Programs like socialized medicine and public education involve an attempt to appropriate another’s property for one’s own personal use, and any such attempt is covetous and larcenous, even if the government acts as the middleman. Christians must oppose welfare, public education, and related socialist schemes in principle, and not just because of their high cost and ineffectiveness.

In levying property taxes, the government claims ultimate ownership of the land within its domain. In theory and in fact, home ownership is nullified by state ownership, and the supposed homeowners in fact rent from the state. A failure to pay property taxes results in a government lien against one’s property that has priority over all private claims. Continued failure to pay these liens eventually results in government foreclosure and sale of the home, thereby revealing the true locus of ownership. Thus, in assessing a property tax, the government implicitly claims ownership over the property itself thereby robbing the homeowner of his rightful claim. Since such a claim is implicit in every property tax (no matter how small), it is the principle of such a tax and not its amount that is so dangerous. Christians must oppose property taxes in principle, and not just quibble over the amount. The legitimate taxing authority of the government must operate through other means.

If the property tax implies state ownership of land, the income tax implies state ownership of people. After all, in working for a wage, a person is simply trading his knowledge, skill, and/or strength for money. Implicit in such an exchange is the assumption that the person owns himself first of all, and, therefore, the talents he possesses. Owning himself and his talents, he is free to exchange a specified use of them for a specified wage. However, when the government steps into this transaction and demands a share of the wages, it asserts its ownership over the person and his talents. Since the amount of the tax is determined strictly by the whim of the government and could therefore rise to 100%, the claim to state ownership is total in principle. Of course, since God is the ultimate owner of everyone, He is entitled to charge the income tax that He requires in the tithe. The state, however, is not God and therefore has no business imposing an income tax. In doing so, it asserts state ownership of people as units of production, thereby reduces its citizens to the status of slaves. Since such an assertion is implicit in every income tax (no matter how small), it is the principle of such a tax and not its amount that is so dangerous. Christians must oppose government income taxes in principle, and not just quibble over the amount. The legitimate taxing authority of the government must operate through other means.

The Social Gospel

In addition to violating the law of God, the liberal socialist program also violates the gospel. In particular, by seeking to constrain economic salvation by considerations of need, it turns such salvation into a needs-based right, rather than a gracious gift. Since charity and the gospel both rely on the principle of unconstrained benevolence, they are alike manifestations of a common principle of grace. In seeking to constrain benevolence, the liberal program directly attacks the very principle of grace upon which both charity and the gospel rest. Of course, the salvation to which the gospel refers is eternal, regenerative and, therefore, deeper and broader in its effect than a merely economic salvation (although in its regenerating power the gospel has economic implications as well). In advancing the principle that physical salvation is a needs-based right, socialism attacks the very character of grace and, therefore, lends itself to a parallel notion that eternal salvation is also a needs-based right. Thus, on the basis of socialist logic, one should shake his fist in the face of the Almighty, demanding eternal salvation apart from grace and apart from Christ simply because he needs it! As horrid as such a thought is, it is a direct consequence of the socialist idea. Christians must oppose socialism in principle since its core idea is antithetical to the gospel and, thus, to the central reality of the Christian Faith.

In opposing socialism, however, one must remember the legitimate and pressing needs of the poor. After all, God commands His people to remember the poor and give generously to them through tithes and offerings (Dt. 14:2-29; 16:10-14). Because the needs of the poor must be met, the state will naturally step in to fill the gap whenever Christians fail to meet legitimate social needs. In fact, it is precisely because Christians have largely abandoned their social responsibilities that the welfare state has arisen in the first place and then assumed such great authority.

To fight socialism it is necessary not only to oppose various welfare schemes, but even more basically to encourage tithing among all Christians so that the church has sufficient resources to meet various social needs. After all, when the church implements such a program, she, unlike the state, will be in a position to minister to the whole person and to provide loving guidance in addition to financial assistance. Because of this more personal approach, she will be able to give people a hand up and not just a handout. The social need, which is used to justify the welfare state, will wither away so that government programs implode from the lack of clients. At such a point, the electorate will be more receptive to political arguments calling for the elimination of such programs that will have become superfluous. Thus, the welfare state will be supplanted by a godly social program that will truly minister to the poor out of love and compassion.

Of course, such a program will be a far cry from current policies that imply that the poor can demand the property of others on the basis of physical need. After all, since Biblical charity is based on giving rather than taking, it is rooted in the concept of grace rather than coercion. And while it is true that God commands charity, it is at the same time free and voluntary since it is not enforced by the state. In contrast to the liberal view, the Biblical notion of social justice produces a result that is both social and just. It is social because people of varying economic means are drawn together through godly concern rather than wrenched apart by class warfare. It is also just, because a system based on giving rather than taking honors the property rights of the giver. Within the framework of Biblical law, true social justice prevails because mercy and justice come together to form a just society. May God give us clergy with the insight and integrity to declare these simple truths.


Article from: https://chalcedon.edu/magazine/the-law-the-gospel-and-social-justice


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Christian Individualism Vs Pagan ‘Common Good,’ (1)

Christian Individualism Vs. Pagan ‘Common Good’

Part 1

By Roger McKinney

“Marx Understood Benefits of Capitalism More Than Modern Socialists”

People in the West are confused about capitalism because they don’t know enough about socialism. Karl Marx had a greater respect for capitalism than do modern socialists or conservatives.

Karl Marx fabricated the term “capitalism” and defined it as the private ownership of the means of production. He did not conflate capitalism with commerce, as do most historians today who see shoots of capitalism sprouting throughout human history. Neither did the monasteries of medieval Europe birth capitalism as some historians claim. Is it really necessary to remind historians that monks owned no property and took vows of poverty? Monasteries were closer to the many small socialist experiments, like the kibbutzim of Israel. Marx saw the origins of capitalism in the 17th century.

Marx pretended to have discovered the secret forces of history that had led mankind from tribal economies through feudalism to capitalism and ultimately will usher in socialism. And he insisted that society must follow that sequence. They could not jump from feudalism to socialism because only capitalism could produce the wealth necessary for its socialist heirs to live in abundance. Trying to shorten the path would perpetuate poverty and misery. That’s why Marx was skeptical about the possibility of backward nations such as Russia succeeding with socialism.

Marx got everything else wrong, but he wasn’t so stupid that he couldn’t see the explosion of wealth created by capitalism since the 17th century and the poverty of backward nations that had not enjoyed the capitalist revolution. Deirdre McCloskey calls it the hockey stick of per capita income in his trilogy on the bourgeois virtues because according to economic historians, income had remained stagnant from the beginning of history until the rise of capitalism. World GDP didn’t begin to rise until the industrial revolution, but it began centuries earlier in the Dutch Republic, which was too small to impact world figures.

Reverse engineering Marx’s definition of capitalism it’s clear that he had in mind the economic system that caused the explosion of wealth in the UK and Western Europe since the 17th century and drove the rapidly rising wages of English workers of his day. If capitalism is just commerce, as historians write, then we don’t have a word for the system that caused the hockey stick wealth effect. What was that system and how did it come about?

The economic system in the UK that Marx wrote about resulted from the attempt to instantiate Adam Smith’s notion of a “system of natural liberty.” Marx relied on Smith for much of his knowledge of capitalism and derived his labor theory of value from Smith. But Smith didn’t invent capitalism. He was the last in a long line of scholastics dating back to Thomas Aquinas who studied “economics” as a sub-discipline of ethics. Smith’s first book was A Theory of Moral Sentiments. Smith inherited his economics from the Catholic theologians at the University of Salamanca, Spain of the 16th and 17th centuries. Possibly inspired by the Reformation, the Salamancan theologians ruptured 1,500 years of Church teaching on wealth and business. But the Church had not derived its economics from the Bible or the Judaism from which Christianity sprung, but from pagan philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, and the Cynics, all of whom held commerce in contempt. Plato’s Republic deploys the Spartan system and Sparta was the first socialist state.

The Salamancan scholars abandoned the pagan philosophers and distilled their market principles from the Bible and natural law. Beginning with the Biblical sanctification of private property, they reasoned that property can exist only in a free market because property requires control by the owner and only free markets allow that control. Property and free markets also require limiting the state to only the protection of the life, liberty and property of the citizens.

The ideas of the Salamancan scholars were radical for their day, so radical that no country adopted them except the Protestant Dutch Republic. The Dutch had such a limited state that many observers claimed they didn’t have one. The great economic historian Angus Maddison said that the Dutch were the first people in European history to enjoy real protection for private property. As a result, the Dutch quickly became the richest nation in the world with the most powerful military. The French and British regularly attacked the Dutch for two hundred years but the Dutch successfully defended their tiny nation in every war. The Dutch were still a major power when Adam Smith wrote his Wealth of Nations and he cites the Dutch as having most fully implemented that system of natural liberty.

A first attempt at a definition of capitalism would say it is the system that makes property rights real through free markets and limitations on state intervention into the economy. But that is only a necessary condition, not a sufficient one. A system could protect property and still not be capitalist or enjoy rising wealth. Several other institutions are needed to make a system capitalist and create the explosive growth the West has enjoyed. Respect for business by most people, mass production and individualism are also necessary. Those will be discussed in Part 2 of Christian Individualism vs Pagan ‘Common Good.’


Article from: https://finance.townhall.com/columnists/rogermckinney/2018/02/09/marx-understood-benefits-of-capitalism-more-than-modern-socialists-do-n2446839


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Christian Individualism Vs Pagan ‘Common Good’ (2)

Christian Individualism Vs. Pagan ‘Common Good’

Part 2

By Roger McKinney

 “Freedom Is Not Enough: Prosperity Requires A Pro-Commerce Culture”

[The previous installment] in the series defining free market capitalism, we reverse-engineered Karl Marx’s definition of capitalism and found that it referred to the economic system that produced the hockey stick effect in per capita GDP beginning in the Dutch Republic of the 17th century, picking up England and Anglo nations, then the rest of Western Europe. The first principle of that system was protection of private property. That was a necessary, but by itself insufficient cause of the hockey stick. The remaining necessary traits are 1) respect for commerce, 2) mass production, and 3) individualism.

Deirdre McCloskey has expressed well the importance of respect for commerce in his trilogy about bourgeois virtues. If a country protects property but has contempt for commerce, the people won’t go into business but will do what most people in the world have always done: get into government or the military where the “respectable” means to wealth attainment reside. This was one of the main reasons most of Europe remained as poor in 1700 AD as it was in 2000 BC.

People in government extracted wealth from the masses through heavy taxation and enriched themselves. Generals grew rich through looting in war. Until the advent of capitalism, looting in war, kidnapping for ransom, and taking bribes as a government official were the respectable means to wealth. Commerce held as much appeal as prostitution.

In spite of the fact that much of Europe was predominantly Christian after, say, the year 500, the Church taught people to hold commerce in contempt. And they did. Businessmen were told that the sins inherent in their profession were so great that it would be impossible for them to go to heaven. So businessmen who grew wealthy in trade would give half of their wealth to the Church in hopes of buying their way into heaven, and spend the other half buying land and titles to nobility so they could rob their fellow citizens.

But the Church fathers didn’t get their views of commerce from the Bible or the Judaism from which Christianity sprang. Many of the Church fathers were recruited from among the nobility because of their education, political influence, and wealth, according to Peter Brown in Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350-550 AD. Many were new to the faith and filled in the holes in their Biblical knowledge with the writings of pagan philosophers from Plato to Cicero, all of whom held commerce in low regard.

Pagan philosophy dominated the theology of wealth from the 2nd through the 15th century. In fact, pagan intellectuals have always dominated Church teaching on social issues with few exceptions. E. R. Norman drives home that point in Church and Society in England 1770 – 1970. The only exceptions took place when the leading intellectuals were also Christians, such as the Salamancan theologians, the founders of the Dutch Republic and the “clerical” economists in the UK and US during the 19th century. In the late 19th century most intellectuals were atheists and socialists, so Protestant and Catholic theologians became socialists as well.

The theologians of the University of Salamanca had the courage to break with the pagans and distill their economics from the Bible and natural law. McCloskey described the radical change in European values from the pagan contempt for commerce to the bourgeois virtues but fails to offer a convincing reason for the change. But the teaching of the Salamancan scholars explains it well. Their theology gave people permission to be pro-business and godly at the same time.

All of the poor countries today have failed to make the change in values that would give them respect for business as a means to wealth. The great economist Thomas Sowell details the trials and tribulations of “middleman minorities” in his Black Rednecks and White Liberals. Jews in Europe are the prototypical middleman minorities. Christians persecuted them relentlessly because Christians restricted them to business as their only means of support, barring them from government or the military. As business people, they became wealthy, and inflamed the envy of Christians.

Christians in Muslim nations, Chinese in Southeast Asia, Lebanese in West Africa, and Koreans in Los Angeles recently have all been middleman minorities engaged in commerce that made them wealthier than their neighbors. That wealth and their hated professions ignited envy, which boiled over into frequent riots and murder.

The issue of mass production is simpler. Many historians locate the origins of capitalism in the commercial cities of Northern Italy, such as Venice. Those cities did enjoy a healthy respect for commerce, but they lacked mass production. All production except for ship building in Venice, which was state-owned, was craft production in guilds. Craft production has always existed and so cannot explain an explosion in wealth like the ‘hockey stick’ because it never produced large increases in productivity. Such wealth creation can only take place when business people invest their wealth in new and better machines to aid workers and boost productivity. Ludwig von Mises wrote in Planned Chaos, “There is no means by which the height of wage rates can be raised for all those eager to earn wages other than through the increase of the per capita quota of capital invested.”

Craft production was always small production for the wealthy. Capitalism is mass production for the masses and that requires investment in capital goods. Hence the appropriate name, capitalism. That began to happen first in the Dutch Republic.

Capitalism requires 1) protection of property and free markets, 2) respect for commerce, 3) mass, capital-intensive production, and 4) individualism. I saved individualism for last because it is the most difficult, and we’ll discuss it next time.


Article from: https://finance.townhall.com/columnists/rogermckinney/2018/02/21/freedom-is-not-enough-prosperity-requires-a-procommerce-culture-n2452216


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