Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Neither Evidentialism nor Presuppositionalism

Willie Mays once made a dazzling over-the-shoulder catch of a fly ball off the bat of Vic Wertz.  That event is not the product of my mind.  I did not invent it.  Wertz would have flown out to Mays even if my mind never existed.  My mind cannot alter that event at all.  While I can know about that event, my mind is powerless to generate that event, to change that event, or to eradicate that event.  That event is independent of me.  It simply is what it is, regardless of what I might think about it.  Its reality as an event is settled.  It happened.  It happened whether I accept it or not, whether I know it or not, whether I like it or not, and whether I think about it or not.  It happened.
Obviously, the fans at the Polo Grounds that day did not invent Mays’s catch.  Rather, they responded to it.  They responded with wild, cheering approval.  It happened; they responded:  event, response.
With regard to that catch, I am in much the same position as the fans that day.  While I did not and cannot mentally produce Mays’s catch, I can respond to it.  I can applaud that event.  I can try to apply it productively.  For example, if I were a ball player, I might work to acquire Mays’ defensive skills, examining carefully how the feat was accomplished and might be repeated.  If I were a father or a coach, I might try to teach those skills to my child or to the Little League team I coach because Mays has shown us the remarkable heights to which defensive skills can be taken and the ways in which they might be memorably and wonderfully applied.
In other words, while I might alter the way that event is applied or not applied in my life, what I do with that event, if anything, has nothing at all to do with the reality of that event.  It is real; it happened.
Although I was not present at the ballpark that day, I know about that event.  I know about that event because a camera operator recorded it; because sports writers wrote about it; and because thousands of the fans who witnessed it talked about it.  The pitch, the swing, the ball’s flight, and Mays’s catch all were witnessed and recorded.   Of course, while someone else’s witnessing that event helps makes my knowing of it possible, the witnesses do not make the event.  They witnessed it; they recorded it; they passed it on.  But the reality of that historical event is independent of them, too.  They did not make it happen.  They witnessed what happened.  Witnesses do not make the event possible; the event makes witnessing possible.   
By contrast, assumptions, deductions, and presuppositions are all very different from the sorts of events I am describing, and they have a very different relationship with my mind than does an event like the Mays/Wertz event mentioned above, which is not a mind-generated event -- and that is the fundamentally important distinction:  One event is generated by my mind and the other is not.
Assumptions, deductions, and presuppositions all are something my mind generates.  They depend wholly upon my mind for their existence.  I can generate them, alter them, apply them, ignore them, or reject them.  Their existence, content, and use all are up to me.  While I might respond to the assumptions, deductions, and presuppositions I generate, they not are not independent of me in the way events outside my mind are.  We might say that while assumptions, deductions, and presuppositions come from me, events of the Mays/Wertz sort come to me.  I make the former; I am confronted by the latter.
By the same token, the ancient Israelites did not simply assume, invent, or project God’s self-disclosure on Mt. Sinai.  They were confronted by it.  They did not create it, devise it, or generate it.  They witnessed it; they responded to it (however foolishly); and they recorded it -- just as they did other events, like the plagues in Egypt and like crossing the Red Sea on dry land.  It happened; they responded:  event, response.
The apostles did not simply presuppose, concoct, or formulate the resurrection.  They were confronted by it -- by the empty tomb and by multiple encounters with the risen Christ, Who once was dead and now was alive.  It happened; they responded:  event, response. 
Here’s another event, an epistemological event:  God made Himself known.  Note carefully that the event in question is not my figuring things out about God.  The event is this:  God made Himself known.  I did not say that God made Himself knowable; I said that God made Himself known.  God has not merely made knowledge about Himself available to us; God has made Himself known by us, specifically by the elect.  That is how those who know God actually know God:  Our knowing God is the consequence of God’s doing.  We know because God did it.   For fallen human beings, knowing God is an externally, not internally, generated event.
When it comes to our knowing God, God is the Subject of our knowing, not merely its Object.  God can be the Object of knowledge by sinful human beings only because He first was its Subject.  When it comes to our knowing God, He did our knowledge.  He made it happen, not we.  That is the event.  God made Himself not simply knowable but known.  We do not generate the event.  It happened.  If we are among the redeemed, it happened to us.  Knowing God is a gift, not an achievement.
In that event, the Holy Spirit regenerates whomever He chooses and drives the Truth home to them with power and effect, just like Vic Wertz drove the ball to deep center field with power and effect.  Both events, the Mays/Wertz event and the God/elect event, are historical.  They happened.  They are not mind-generated.  The mind might respond to them, but the mind does not make them.
Had the Holy Spirit not regenerated the redeemed and made them able to receive this gracious gift of knowing God, and had He not actually put this knowledge of God into them -- had He not actually made God known -- neither they nor anyone else could ever have known God.  On our own, that is quite beyond us.  Such things are spiritually discerned, and we are radically unspiritual.
God made Himself known to some persons.  That is the event, and that is the particularity of the event:  God made Himself known to the elect.  They didn't do it; He did.
When the Holy Spirit regenerates you, He gives you knowledge of God.  He makes it so that you begin finally to relate properly and well to God, which is what knowing God really is.  Knowing God is a relationship based upon things said and done in history, whether by Yahweh for Israel or by Christ for the redeemed, things explained to us by the Holy Spirit in Scripture, and then applied to us by the Spirit through Divine activities such as regeneration and illumination.
In other words, we do not begin with humanly generated notions, or with evidences, or with unaided human reason, or with anything else.  We do not begin at all.  When it comes to knowing God, for us to begin is not to begin.  God begins.
Knowing God was never a matter of “How do I know?”  Knowing God always had to begin with Him or not to begin at all.  To start with us is simply a non-starter.  You can’t get there from here.  But He can get here from there, and He did.  God made Himself known to some persons.
We are talking about an event.  We are not talking about a presupposition, an invention, a fantasy, a wish, a deduction, or even a question.  We are not starting with any human activity whatever.  This event -- knowing God -- does not depend upon the knowers.  It depends upon the Known.  This event is a historical action.  Like other historical actions, it depends upon historical actors.  In this case, the Actor is God.  This event does not depend upon us presupposing it any more than does Mays’s catch.  It happened.  Like Mays’s catch, God’s making Himself known has lots of witnesses; and like Mays’s catch, it does not depend upon those witnesses for its reality.  Quite the opposite:  Their role as witnesses depends upon it happening.   The witnesses do not make the event possible.  The event makes the witnessing possible.  It happened.  It will continue to happen as long as, and as widely as, God wills.
By making Himself actually known, God takes the epistemological initiative.  He assumes upon Himself the epistemological responsibility for our knowledge of Him.  What we do with it, if anything, is a different issue altogether.  In making Himself known by us, God reveals Himself to the mind and senses He created and thereby grants to them the metaphysical validation and warrant we never could have granted them on our own.  We cannot produce metaphysical warrant of this sort from below or by ourselves.  Without His actions, we are reduced simply to metaphysical and epistemological cheating, to begging the question, to using our mind and senses to assert that mind and senses are the proper means to knowledge, even knowledge of God, or else reduced simply to invoking our own mind-generated presuppositions and following them wherever we deduce they lead.
Our knowledge of God is a God-produced event.  God made Himself known.  It happened.  Do with it whatever you will, but you cannot change that fact any more than you can make Mays drop the ball or make Wertz hit it over the fence.  God’s self-disclosure happened.  God made Himself known by the elect.  He did it.  He did it in space and time.  He did it (1) externally through events like the exodus, the incarnation, and the resurrection, and by inspired, explanatory words, like Deuteronomy, the Gospel of Matthew, and the epistle to the Colossians, events and words that were addressed to the mind and senses He gave us, thus granting them the transcendent validation they otherwise always would lack.  He did it (2) internally through events like regenerating us and illuminating us -- all of which leaves Aristotle and his ilk beyond the pale when the issue is not only knowing God, but knowing, period.  Their use of mind and senses is mere question-begging, pure and simple.  They assume that mind and senses are reliable means of knowing and simply proceed to use them, use them even when it comes to knowing What cannot be known by us on our own at all, namely God.
The knowledge of God given to the elect is not something the elect presuppose, deduce or establish.  It is an event, an event of God’s own doing.
There can be no knowledge of God that God Himself does not impart.  That is, you might know the answer to a difficult mathematical question either because you figured it out for yourself, or else because someone who knows the answer told you.  Either way, you can get the right answer.  But to the question of how one knows Elohim, the articulate, divine, unity-in-plurality, there are not two ways, but one:  God must tell you.  God must tell you because, “What is offered to man’s apprehension is not truth concerning God but the living God Himself” (Temple, Nature, Man and God, p. 322).  Read that sentence over again until its full force sinks in:   “What is offered to man’s apprehension is not truth concerning God but the living God Himself.” 
Unless God begins, no beginning is possible.  Those who deny this point fail to recognize that God has begun.  He made Himself known by us, and in so doing He (1) validated the mind and senses He made for us, and, more importantly, He (2) regenerated us so that we are able to receive the knowledge of Himself that He so graciously gives.  Without that regeneration, we would unleash our fallenness upon special revelation the way we do upon general revelation, and with the same deleterious and devilish effect.  God Himself, and only God Himself,  is the origin, content, Subject, and Object of our Knowing Him.  He is its root, ground and cause; we are its recipients.  He does it; He does it to whomever He wills, whenever He Wills.  He brings Himself to us; we do not bring ourselves to Him, not even if our name is Aristotle.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Science and Theology (5)

Fourth, we ought to be more skeptical than we are both of scientific taxonomy and of the translation of the world outside our heads into numbers.  That is, scientists do not simply deal with the world as they find it, they manipulate that world into words of their own choosing, into categories of their own making, into experiments of their own devising, and into numbers.  Forcing a creature into one or more categories based upon our intellectual manipulations and speculations regarding its body pattern and parts, or upon our understanding of its physical makeup and upon our conjectures regarding its biological descent, is at least partly arbitrary, partly subjective.  Such categories, though helpful and serviceable, are man-made.  They unintentionally, and sometimes unwittingly, collapse the distinction between what we discover and what we invent.  While the beings that populate such categories most emphatically do exist, the families, orders, classes and phyla into which we have pigeon-holed them do not.  Such pigeon-holings are a taxonomist’s useful fiction, but do not exist outside the taxonomist's mind.   That is, while those taxonomical categories are constructs based upon careful observation, they are constructs nevertheless.  Of course, I am not saying anything so silly as that there exist no genuine and recognizable differences between a dog and a man, or that “dog” and “man” are useless fictions devoid of all external reference or reality.  But let us not too quickly or uncritically identify “useful” as “true” or as “real,” categories that in many cases and ways are quite different.  
         Yet, not only are we required to accept the taxonomist's scheme of classification as both real and true, we are required to accept that the occupants of these various man-made categories are linked by a long series of non-living intermediate creatures (also duly classified and arranged), most of whom are not found to exist anywhere in the fossil record, a radically incomplete record we interpret according to the taxonomical grid provided for us.  (The circularity of this procedure seems to go unnoticed and unremarked.)  Furthermore, we are also required to believe that all the seemingly discontinuous and taxonomically divisible groups now alive are the descendants of a common ancestor, another phantom of which (or of whom) we have no direct evidence.  Please note that “ancestor” and “descendant” are part of a taxonomical scheme, and are no less so than is “phantom,” a word from which my scientist readers would naturally recoil.  Their own language, the scientists must remember, is the source of great recoil as well.  It rarely seems to occur to some scientists that the rapid evolutionary branchings posited in some theories are but a euphemism for mystical scientific leaps, though they are called by other names, such as Stephen Jay Gould’s “punctuated equilibrium.”  Of such leaps I am more than a little skeptical.
         Further, not only is taxonomical classification significantly theory laden, it is context dependent and subtly subjective.  That which we classify as the observed in one case fails to be so classified in another, even though the thing itself is the same.  That is, what is foreground and what is background vary according to the judgment of the observer, an observer who is never context-free or presuppositionless.  Thus, scientists are driven back, whether they acknowledge it or not, upon the problem “What is context and what is content?”,  the answer to which seems to vary from situation to situation depending upon the experimenter and the experiment, even though the aggregation of things involved might be basically the same.  Nor are the experiments themselves pristinely empirical and objective, for experiments are highly stylized sets of phenomena, sets from which as many variables as possible have been artificially eliminated by the will and work of the experimenter, however well or however poorly.  Of course, I am not saying that the data yielded by such experimentation are therefore untrue, only that they are not pristine.  In other words, some scientists need frequently to be reminded of the significantly non-literal and pragmatic nature of their experiments, of their theories, and of the language in which those experiments and theories are conceived and articulated.          
         Like taxonomy, quantification might itself be a movement away from the world around us, not into it.  The translation of things into numbers is, after all, a translation.  Neither the words nor the numbers in scientific theories are complete and exact re-presentations of the constitution and behavior of the universe, much less are they the things themselves which they are intended to describe in words or embody in numbers and formulae.  Newton had his numbers; Einstein had his; post-Einsteinians have theirs.  Newton’s and Einstein’s formulae worked (so to speak) and were the basis for considerable correct prediction regarding natural phenomena.  Nevertheless, on many important points, Newton and Einstein were also quite wrong, something from which their seemingly correct numbers did not and could not save them.  I am not reluctant to think that the same fate awaits many of their scientific descendants. 
         The classification of physical phenomena as suitable and useable scientific data, the arrangement of that data into groups, the translation of that data into numbers, the manipulation of those numbers via computation, and the transformation of the results of that computation into more data and new conclusions are all guided by philosophical deliberations that are prior to and apart from science’s alleged empirical nature and militate against it, all of which ought to cause us to hold science’s supposedly assured results with less assurance.  Judging from the philosophical and theological naiveté of most of the scientists with whom I have ever spoken, those intellectual deliberations might not have been deliberations at all, but merely the unexamined and unacknowledged a priori assumptions of a mind utterly untrained in a number of difficult but acutely relevant fields throughout the humanities.   
         The related assertion that science is measurement is, of course, a philosophical assertion, an assertion that is flatly unprovable.  Indeed, as even a moment’s reflection will demonstrate, because it is not itself measurable, this assertion is unscientific on its own terms.  It is, in fact, autophagic -- it eats itself up.  Nor can we prove this assertion by invoking the principle of prediction and thereby assert that a scientific hypothesis is true if it can be shown accurately and successfully to predict the action of physical phenomena.  The principle of prediction, while clearly important and serviceable, is at least as closely related to pragmatism as to truth.  That is, to be able to predict more accurately than all other theories means only that one’s theory is pragmatically preferable, not that it is necessarily true.  We must remember that false, or partly false, theories have demonstrated impressive powers of prediction in the past.  The ancient Babylonian astronomers, for example, by no means shabby forecasters, were working from premises and principles quite off the mark.  In other words, while prediction seems to be a necessary attribute of a true scientific theory, it must not be considered a sufficient attribute.  Prediction is not proof, no matter how impressive it seems.  Too many scientists, nevertheless, still think, write, argue, and teach as if accurate prediction demonstrated truth.  How many times this has been done, is being done, and shall continue to be done, only God knows.  But it seems not at all likely to stop.  Or, to make the case in a different direction, if prediction were really the reliable indicator of truth that some think it to be, then physics itself, which has an abysmal record of prediction with regard to some individual entities, would be radically undermined.  Furthermore, as clear thinking philosophers and theologians understand, pragmatic preference is an utterly insufficient basis for determining the virtue of an action.  If pragmatic preference is an exploded mode of justification in ethics, I am inclined to regard it as such in scientific epistemology.  Its epistemological failures are not magically eradicated simply because we now concern ourselves with a laboratory.  
         Those, at any rate, are my observations and caveats.  That is how the laboratory looks from the seminary, or at least to this member of it.  Having watched many of them in action, I think the scientists would be better served (and would serve better) if they were more humble and more eclectic in pursuit of their worthy enterprise.  I should hope that when they do their work the scientists would listen at least as much to those outside the laboratory as they would like those outside the laboratory to listen to them.  This, after all, is the golden rule of scholarship.
         Finally, though it is clearly beyond both my intention and my competence to dictate to the scientists exactly how their jobs ought to be conducted and in what specific direction they ought to proceed, let me offer but one outsider’s opinion, an opinion motivated by sincere goodwill for my laboratory colleagues.  I believe that what we need now is not something akin to an aimless collection of more data, but research (of every sort) directed by principles, illumined by ideas.  Those guiding principles and those illuminating ideas must, by their very nature, come to science from outside science, at least until we figure out how science ought to be restructured and redefined in order to avoid its current myopia.  Science, to be kept serviceable and humane, must be kept humble and teachable.  And it must acknowledge its debts, debts it always has. 
         To the question “Is science enough?” the answer is emphatically “No.”      

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Science and Theology (4)

Science is not an autonomous set of empirical disciplines.  Nothing about science properly, or actually, prevents philosophical or theological concepts from entering into it.  Science, like all intellectual disciplines, ought not to conduct its business in an imaginary, air-tight compartment, isolated from all other strivings of the human mind after knowledge.  Because too many scientists have cut themselves off from those other strivings, they condemn themselves to discovering all on their own many things already widely known by others.  For example, even though such ideas appeared new and revolutionary to some of the unphilosophical practitioners of science, most of Mach’s notions were already standard fare in the writings of a number of earlier philosophers.  The high price some scientists pay for their intellectual isolationism and prejudice is that they must repeatedly re-invent the intellectual wheel.
         But there’s more to theology in science than procedural agnosticism and atheism.  Our ape ancestors are treated with immense respect, even toadying homage, as the secular Adam and Eve.  No attacks upon their status, much less their existence, are tolerated.  Read Dawkins’ epigraph again.  (“It is absolutely safe to say that, if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid, or insane.”) Not to do obeisance to the fossil remains of ancient animals ranks as scientific sacrilege, as scientific heresy.  Religion, albeit pagan, has come to the laboratory, and the allegedly secular scientist has become its new high priest.
         Furthermore, many of those very scientists who insist on divorcing religion from science seem sometimes especially eager to use their science as a basis for theological (or at least extra-scientific) pronouncements.  The literature of science is replete with anti-theistic language and conclusions:  The universe was not designed; the universe has no purpose; human beings result from random and mindless natural processes, or so we are repeatedly told. 
         Put another way, to the adoration of God and of virtue, some moderns have added the adoration of science (or at least what goes by that name).  But you cannot deify the scientific method without at the same time devaluing or debasing both theology (the human understanding and application of revelation) and philosophy (the human understanding and application of reason).  Many scientists, therefore, without meaning to do so, undermine our only source of morality and freedom:  Revelation and the reason that springs from it it.  They do so by believing, writing, and teaching that only those things that are testable under controlled laboratory conditions qualify as hard knowledge; all else is merely opinion.  But even a moment’s reflection reveals that if every question of morality, of politics, of philosophy, and of theology is a matter of mere untestable opinion and not of fact because they cannot be tested under laboratory conditions, then they can be settled only by force, not by reason.  In that way (and in others) scientists sometime lead us to tyranny.  Fascism and pseudo-liberalism are the not-too-distant offspring of modern man’s widespread belief that science alone is trustworthy and that whatever lies beyond its pale is little more and little else than irrational prejudice, unsubstantiatable conjecture, and transitory emotion incapable of reasoned support.  This vision of life most modern and post-modern persons learned in the science classroom.  Too often scientists teach and write as if the only real options available to us are science or mysticism, empiricism or bias, fact or feeling. 
         Simply because no test tube yields either a “should” or an “ought,”  it does not mean that “should” and “ought” are thereby made suspect, much less banished; science is.  Moral questions -- questions about right and wrong or good and bad -- cannot be answered (or even raised) by the scientific methods now prevalent in either the natural or the social sciences.  That does not mean, however, that they cannot be answered, have not been answered, or have no answers.  It means only that with regard to the diagnostic and fundamental questions of life, science is impotent, though dangerous.  The one who has not learned to ask, much less to answer, the fundamental questions of life, is indeed no man at all, but still a child, still benighted.  To answer such questions, even to raise them, science is powerless.  Consequently, while technical schools and scientific laboratories are important and laudable things, to advertise them as colleges or universities, or to say that those who have passed through them are truly educated men and women, is a lie. 
         To put the point differently, God is the Lord of the entire world of knowledge, including science and technology.  Science and technology that are atheistic in both conception and conduct, that are consciously cut loose from all formal considerations about God and morality, are not your dream come true; they are your worst nightmare.  To utilize science and technology wisely or else to become their victims, that is the choice before us.  But the wisdom that saves us from our science and technology is no commodity derived from either of them or from both.  To paraphrase something C. S. Lewis said in another context, science ceases to be a demon only when it ceases to be a god.  It can never cease until it figures out a way to let God be God, even in the laboratory.                 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Science and Theology (3)

Third, scientists often fail to admit, sometimes even to recognize, that so many of the issues and findings of science are neither purely scientific nor genuinely empirical.  Because all empirical endeavors build upon, and proceed according to, various presuppositions, and because those presuppositions and procedures are inescapably philosophical, no scientist and no scientific procedure is truly philosophy-free.   Empiricism and the empiricalist procedures that arise from it are philosophy-laden world views and techniques, and not necessarily the best.  If ideas have consequences, and if (as some philosophers strongly argue) empiricism and empiricalism are highly suspect, perhaps even greatly flawed, then scientists are likely to be misled if they apply these notions uncritically to their work.  To put a point on it, if, as some scientists insist, real science is truly empirical and reduces only to empirical methods and to the conclusions reached by using them, then there is no real science, because the theory-independent observation, analysis, and conclusions needed to establish such empirical premises are simply not possible.  Because we are not, none of us, presupposition-free, and because (despite much contrary insistence) scientific theories often deal with the unobserved and the unobservable, the laboratory is no philosophy- or theology-free zone.  Scientific methods and conclusions cannot be purely empirical because the unavoidable philosophical and theological underpinnings upon which those scientific methods rely are not the result of those allegedly empirical methods. 
            Put another way, the claim to objectivity and empiricality falls down on both sides -- on the side of the scientist and on the side of science.  When eating their curry, many people like to build for it a nest of rice.  To employ a more American image, people like to mold a bowl in their mashed potatoes in order to hold their gravy.  Science, it seems to me, has its nest, its bowl.  Science always has its philosophical and theological underpinnings; physics always has its metaphysics -- always.3  To declare science a philosophy-free zone is to have a philosophy; to declare science a procedurally agnostic or atheistic endeavor is to have a theology; to claim that science ought to be value-free is to make a value statement.  The question is never whether or not the scientist in a laboratory has a philosophy, a theology, or an ethic when doing scientific work; the question is whether or not the philosophy, the theology, and the ethic the scientist has are any good and are worth having.  This problem they cannot escape.
            Even in the pursuit of something as fundamental as self-definition, science alone is utterly insufficient.  To the question “What is the proper definition of science?” one can give only a philosophical (and, by extension, theological) answer because the question itself presupposes and requires a vantage point from outside science.  Because we cannot tell who are the scientists and who are not until we know what science itself is, one cannot answer this question, as scientists too often do, by resorting to the tautology that science is that which is done by the scientist.  The question “What is science?” is a question about science, not a question of science.  Scientists want, indeed claim, to be empirical.  But please note:  “empirical” is a philosophical category.  Without the aid of the humanities, science cannot even identify itself, much less justify, or even invent, its procedures.
            To make the point in a different direction, science is not theology-free, and that is so precisely because science intentionally operates according to a procedural agnosticism, if not procedural atheism. That is, science operates as if God cannot be known or else as if He were altogether irrelevant, if not entirely absent.  By its means and its conclusions, science implicitly, perhaps even explicitly, denies that Christ is Lord of the universe, an inescapably theological denial.  What I, as a theologian, want to tell my scientific colleagues is that, as Lord of the universe and all that is within it, Christ is not something in addition to science, He is Someone in relation to it.  To operate as if He were utterly irrelevant to the laboratory is to answer, probably without careful analysis and theological acumen, the question raised long ago in the gospels:  “What think ye of Christ?”  Because Christ is foundational to the universe, He is foundational to science.  As Thomas Torrance once explained to me,
            . . . the countries of the Far East and of the Southern Hemisphere want our science and technology, but they have no doctrine of creation.  They do not realize that science and technology rest upon, indeed arise from, Christian foundations.  This is true both historically and epistemologically.  We must show them that it is the Creator God himself who stands behind everything, and that he provides the rational ground upon which the various sciences rest, as well as the world those sciences unlock and help to tame.   Theology and technology come as a pair.  We must be quite firm about both this and their function in serving and respecting the integrity of nature.4 
            Like it or not, the systematic and procedural denial, not to say the intended destruction, of metaphysics and of theology, is the death of scientific truth, if for no other reason than that it posits a dual or dichotomized universe, which we noted at the outset was untrue.  Answers to questions predicated upon that same bifurcated basis, while they are perhaps true as far as they go, do not go all the way, and are not the whole truth.  
            Perhaps an illustration will serve.  No physicist today can reckon with miracles and interventions from outside the material order, or with interventions that break that order open.  No theory they devise, no answer they propose, permits such ideas or recognizes such data, even though such data and ideas might be absolutely and comprehensively true.  That analytical inability reveals the limitations, indeed the willful blindness, of modern physics.  Modern physics does not reveal the limitations of God and his actions, much less God’s non-existence or irrelevance, assumptions implicit in scientific method as now understood and practiced.  God, if we need to be reminded, works in perfect freedom, and not according to the Kant-Laplace theory of determinedness, or to any of its current or future descendants. 
            Let me put it more graphically:  Any intellectual endeavor in which theology is segregated from the other disciplines and relegated to an intellectual ghetto is an instance of Jim Crow come again to the college campus because it explicitly asserts that the best intellectual paradigm is not well-informed academic integration but some framework of “separate but equal,” which, as we learned in the old South, meant separate but unequal, not because of actual inferiority, but because of bigotry.  By acting as if God Himself were irrelevant to the universe He has made and to our understanding of it, scientists, in effect, practice “disciplinism,” a widespread form of intellectual bigotry whereby the research and discoveries of other scholars are systematically disregarded simply because those scholars are members of another discipline.  The Queen of the Sciences has been banished to the back of the bus by her own bigoted descendants.  The fool has said in his heart that there is no God, and the scientist permits himself to operate as if the fool were right. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Science and Theology (2)

       Second, because scientists are human beings, and because human beings tend to resist the overthrow of their most cherished beliefs, scientific theories, once accepted, are often exceedingly difficult to supersede.  The shameful treatment of Pierre Duhem at the hands of his institutional superiors is a well known case in point.  All too often, the new, even when it carries great weight of evidence, gets routinely derided as outlandish.  That scientists are intellectually conservative, of course, is good.  Their conservatism helps protect them from the multiple embarrassments of intellectual trendiness.  But that scientists are unduly entrenched, when they are, is lamentable.  That entrenchment reveals that scientists sometimes are, like the rest of us, resolutely unteachable.  Scientists who think in that fashion seem to me to be what one dictionary defined as "proof-proof:"  the state of mind of one upon whom contrary evidence and argument have no persuasive effect, regardless of their strength.  I am not alone in this observation, of course.  Many writers, Kuhn and Laudan among them, have shown how dogmatism -- yes, dogmatism -- characterizes the periods of what we might call normal science.  Whether we want to admit it or not, there is a remarkably comprehensive scientific orthodoxy to which scientists must subscribe if they want to get a job, get a promotion, get a research grant, get tenured, or get published.  If they resist, they get forgotten. 
            Given how changeable previous scientific world views have been, one wonders how chimerical they would have proven without this dogmatism.  I am not here debating the relative merits or weaknesses of dogmatism; I simply say that scientists are by no means free from it and should not be treated as if they were, or permitted to speak and act as if dogmatism were a characteristic only, or even primarily, of theologians. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Science and Theology (1)

         We live in but one world.  Science and theology are united in that they both seek to understand that one world and to explain it.  They do so according to their own respective method (or methods) of knowing.  In that sense, both science and theology are a hermeneutic, or a way of interpreting, the world around us.  Because we have but one world to interpret, and not a scientific universe along side a theological universe, only one full and correct answer exists for any well-formed question relating to it.  A well-formed question is one that seeks, and helps to make possible, an answer that is both full (that is, comprehensive) and true (that is, accurate). The answer to a well-conceived question, whatever that answer might be, is correct because it comports fully with reality.  Answers that do not comport fully with reality are at least partly inadequate, if not flatly wrong.  An ill-formed question is one that makes comprehensive and accurate answers not only more difficult to find than they need to be, but might actually make them impossible, as do modern scientific questions, which seek only the material causes to physical phenomena.   But as Aristotle observed long ago, the one who would succeed in any intellectual pursuit must ask the right preliminary questions.  Questions arising from metaphysical materialism are “the right preliminary questions” only if matter is all that is, or only if matter is all that matters, two propositions that cannot be demonstrated, indeed that are patently false.
         The instances where scientists and theologians agree in their description of that one reality which we all inhabit are many and varied.  But they are not my concern.  Rather, I intend to focus attention on those places (they too are numerous) where scientists and theologians diverge.  I do so in order to offer some guidance on adjudicating between the respective truth claims of science and theology and in order to reduce the scope of their future disagreement, as well as its attendant animosity.  In the process, I intend to direct my criticisms primarily toward the scientists rather than the theologians.  I do so precisely because I am not a scientist.  That is, if scientists are to be undeceived about their own shortcomings or blindspots it probably will be because someone who did not share those blindspots was able to point them out.  That is my intention:  I want to suggest to the scientists that, at least to some outsiders, they sometimes appear narrowly informed, unteachable, and as dogmatic as any ecclesiastical or political inquisition could ever hope to be.  I leave it to others to identify for the theologians just what the theologians cannot see and where they fail.  Because I do not wish to hold the reader in suspense, much less to be vague or disingenuous, I tell you now that I think much of the adjustment and retrenchment in the sometimes heated dialogue between scientists and theologians needs to be done by the scientists, and that much of the error and unteachability in this dialogue seems to circle around the laboratory and not the seminary.  The burden of this essay, therefore, is to explain why I think as I do.  I offer but four observations, observations that are, at the same time, both caveats and pleas.
         First, the history of both science and theology as intellectual disciplines tends to make me significantly more skeptical about the allegedly secure answers offered by the scientists than I am about those offered by the theologians.  That is, science seems a far more fickle pursuit than theology, especially when viewed over time.  While Christian orthodoxy seems to have remained stable over two millennia, and while the constant refinement of Christian tenets in the crucible of hard reality seems not to have required any fundamental reorientation in orthodoxy,1 the record of science is far different.  The constant testing of fundamental scientific beliefs has yielded a long series of significant reorientations, some so far reaching as to topple many, sometimes most, of the supporting pillars of any and every previous (and ardently held) scientific world view.  The post-Einsteinian world view is beginning to succeed the Einsteinian, which succeeded the Newtonian, which succeeded the Copernican, which succeeded the Ptolemaic, which succeeded I know not what.  What shall succeed the post-Einsteinian (and what shall succeed that) we can only guess.  If the history of science is a guide to its future, we can be confident something shall and that, whatever it is, it shall depart quite noticeably from its antecedents both near and far.  As Austin Farrer once wryly observed, cosmological theories have a short life nowadays.
         But not so the Apostles’ Creed, which, though it has grown over time, has never required anything resembling a fundamental overhaul, much less several.  Liberal theologians of every age (aided by the not inconsiderable efforts of non-Christian thinkers of all sorts) have tried to argue differently and have tried to put orthodoxy under siege.  But their dissenting and often idiosyncratic schools of thought themselves have proved transitory and have passed into deserved obscurity.  But not the creed.  In other words, theological orthodoxy, unlike its several scientific counterparts, has undergone centuries of analysis and assault and survived largely and widely intact.  Christian orthodoxy has successfully sustained meticulous scrutiny by both its friends and its enemies and yet has shown itself, and continues to show itself, sufficient to many of the most brilliant minds in history, even over a period of centuries, a claim no scientific explanation of reality can yet make.  The scientists in every age, I imagine, suppose they can escape, indeed suppose they have escaped, the fate of their predecessors.  They fancy they shall avoid being greatly transcended, though none has yet managed the trick.  The face of scientific orthodoxy seems to have a nose of wax. 
         The transitoriness of scientific speculation and the uniformity and staying power of theological orthodoxy often get hidden behind both the wide diversity of theological beliefs prevalent at any one moment in time, on the one hand, and the absence of many public indications of division within the scientific community, on the other.  Widespread theological disagreement seems obvious to the man on the street, who sees the Presbyterian church, the Baptist church, and the Roman Catholic church all standing tall and serene on their respective street corners, their spires rising toward the heavens.  What the man on the street does not see is the underlying unity of the Presbyterians, the Baptists, and the Catholics (to name but a few).  He does not readily recognize their common belief in -- and devotion to -- the same God, the same Christ, the same creed, the same salvation.  Nor does the man on the street see the various schools of thought in science, which normally do not erect edifices of difference on tree-shaded side streets in every city and village in the free world.  He does not see hundreds, indeed thousands, of buildings (or television programs, for that matter), dedicated to Newtonian or Ptolemaic theories, standing next to the edifices of post-Einsteinianism.  Unlike their ecclesiastical counterparts, those Newtonian and Ptolemaic buildings were rarely ever built, and are not now being built, because the scientific world views they represent have been so fully overthrown that they are consigned almost entirely to the dustbin of history.  This is not to say that no valuable or enduring elements from within these systems have survived the collapse of the system from which they emerged; it does mean that those systems have been greatly and widely transcended. 
         Here is my point:  While a cross section of views at any one moment yields more agreement among the scientists of that age than among the theologians, a cross section taken over time yields the opposite result, and that result, I argue, is more significant because it reveals both the fundamental staying power of the theological interpretation of the world and the (to date) transitory nature of scientific speculation.  Science does not speak with one voice, especially over time.  That fact not withstanding, science still seems to me far less likely to take any cues2 from theology about in which direction to proceed than theology is to take advice from science, which might help explain the transitoriness of the one and the stability of the other.  So also might the fact that, unlike nature, God wills to be understood and actively reveals Himself to us. 
         We apparently are not near the end of scientific intellection, though we are closer now than when Aristotle or Galileo walked among us.  We do not know where the next grand turning in the road of scientific learning will lead us, or when it will come, any more than did Ptolemy, Newton, or Einstein.  We ought, as a result, to be far more hesitant than we have been to identify scientific results as final.  If you contend that scientists do not treat scientific results as final, I simply point to the theory of evolution, which gets treated almost universally not as theory but as established and unassailable fact requiring, at most, not proof, only further nuance.  The epigraph by Richard Dawkins, which heads this essay, is a telling case in point, and can be multiplied many thousands of times, both in print and in the classroom.  It seems to me, Dawkins’ arrogance aside, that we ought to be far more wary of Darwin and his hide-bound modern disciples than we now are, because even though those followers of Darwin now admit that Darwin was not entirely right, they too often refuse to admit that Darwin’s religious critics are not entirely wrong.  Or, to make the point from a different science, one of the positive effects of quantum theory on the dialogue between theology and science seems to be the increasing awareness we gain from it that virtually no physical or geometrical picture of scientific phenomena is wholly accurate, even though such notions or paradigms were (and still are) widely and enthusiastically set forth, whether as models or as heuristic devices.  We need to be more measured in the confidence we place in the scientist and in our estimate of what exactly the scientist has actually accomplished. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

"The Rise and Lies of Tele-politics"

         In technological societies like ours, many people spend as much as 35 hours per week in front of their television sets.  The average citizen, if he or she lives to be 70, spends as much as 15 years watching and absorbing -- however wisely or however uncritically -- whatever the tube presents.  All theorizing about morality and the media ought to bear that fact carefully in mind.  Simply by sheer domination of time, television influences the way we think, the way we act, and the way we spend our lives.
         Many years ago, Malcolm Muggeridge astutely observed that the pervasiveness and artificiality of television tended to turn life into fantasy.  Real life, he said, is now being judged according to the way it measures up to the (for many people) preferable world of television, where the good guys almost always win and where serious problems are raised and resolved in a half hour, minus eight minutes for commercials.  In the aftermath of television's conquest of our eyes and of our waking moments, its artificial reality became the measure by which we judge reality itself, much the same way a person standing on an Alpine peak, surrounded by breathtaking beauty on every side, can say something truly ridiculous:  "Why, it's as pretty as a post card!"  Rather than judging our fantasies by reality, we have reversed the process.
         The fantasy world of television even upends the way we vote.  Because we Americans are so used to seeing the good guys portrayed as clean cut and properly shaved, and because we are used to seeing the villain as dirty and somewhat scruffy, an entire presidential election was altered.  When Richard Nixon contested John Kennedy in the first nationally televised presidential debate in American history, Kennedy won the debate and the election precisely because he was the younger, more handsome man, and because Nixon neglected to shave again that afternoon before going in front of the bright lights and camera.  His sweaty brow and lip, his five o'clock shadow, did him in.  Among the small number of voters who merely heard the debate over the radio, Nixon was the clear winner.  But for the many who saw it on television the result was quite different.  By far the majority of television viewers rated Kennedy the clear winner.  Shortly afterward, Kennedy became the president of the United States in one of the closest elections of all time.  Nixon had, in fact, deprived himself of the presidency of the United States because he looked like the criminal he turned out later to be.
         But Nixon was a quick study.  He learned his lesson, and he learned it well.  By 1968, the presidency that eluded him earlier was his.  He won a second time four years later, which yields a further observation:  Ours is the age of tele-politics, not statesmanship. All too often, rather than being leaders, those in charge are followers -- followers of popularity polls and of television ratings, not followers of truth and of principle.  But they are exactly the kind of leaders we now desire, which is another way of saying that a nation often gets the leaders it deserves.
         In other words, because it engenders the rule of the telegenic and the aphoristic, tele-politics makes it far easier for the small-minded politician to come to power.  The makeup artist has replaced the wise political counselor as the advisor of choice in many campaigns and administrations.  Superficial news coverage and political commercials that are little more than drive-by verbal shootings reduce public policy to a sentence, to half-true truisms.  We now vote on the basis of shrunken political ideas so shallow they can fit on a bumper sticker.   In 1980, the average presidential sound bite on network news coverage was 45 seconds.  By 1988, it had shrunk to 15 seconds.  By 1992, it was reduced to seven.  By 2004 it was down to 6.  The number continues downward toward the irreducible minimum.  In 2008, it was down to 5 seconds.  How much more can you say in five seconds than "Vote for me in November.  I’m for hope and change"?
         Tele-politics produces a diminished candidate, one far more celebrity than statesman.  Indeed, we often look to celebrities for political advice, even turning professional wrestlers into governors and failed comedians into senators.  (What are they thinking in Minnesota?)
Tele-politicians are more geared toward public opinion and make up artists than to the enduring principles of right and wrong, and to the historically tested paths of political, economic, and moral prudence.  People who are most effective as television personalities are not thereby equipped to be leaders of great nations, or definers of public policy and virtue.
         Former British Prime Minister John Major once said that you cannot run a nation by sound bites.  No; but you can be elected by them -- and defeated by them -- as he later proved.  The power of communication is not the same as the power of analysis or of leadership.  While modern politics is television, we must never forget that statesmanship is something quite different.
         In America, we often repeat a very silly saying:  "The camera never lies."  The facts, however, are quite the opposite.  The camera does not bring the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  The camera lies.  The camera always lies.  It always introduces a degree of falsity, sometimes a very large degree.  Nevertheless, because the camera provides what film makers and news directors call "the illusion of presence," and because we viewers tend uncritically to adopt a naïve realism toward what we see on camera, we accept that visual falsity almost without question.  We tend automatically to take the perspective of the camera as our own, even though a television camera is an inherently superficial newsgathering device, not simply because it is inescapably perspectival, but because its very presence changes things.
         As your own eyes have shown you repeatedly, human beings do not behave normally in front of a camera.  Children, football players, talk show audiences, and mere passers-by all act differently, all act up, when the camera turns to them.  We now know that nearly everyone has a mother (Hi, Mom!"), and that nearly everyone is a champion (We're number one!).  We also have seen in multiple cases that rioting subsides when the cameras are removed.
         You must remember that politicians behave according to that same camera-based principle. When the camera turns to them, they act up; they stop talking normally and start acting and speaking for the camera.  Superficial snippets of perceived personality have replaced dispassionate analysis and discussion; on-stage demeanor has replaced deliberation and debate.  After the election, the same techniques apply; those in power operate by the same principles as those who seek it.  Because the media loom so large in contemporary politics, we are subjected to endless bouts of spin control and to government by leaks, the current democratic version of disinformation.
         Political advisors now think like television news directors:  If it bleeds it leads; if it thinks it stinks.  Political advisors know that tough pictures mean that tough policies cannot likely be widely accepted, or at least not for long, because the viewing public has no stomach for it.  To talk about the morality of war is one thing, to show maimed children and riddled corpses on television every evening, to broadcast the horrible reality of soldiers and civilians killing and being killed, is quite another, even in a fully justified war.  The viewing public cannot long endure the harsh face of combat. 
         This is the lesson:  If you want to stop a public policy from continuing in effect, or else prevent it ever from being so, then you must relentlessly broadcast its unpleasant effects -- and every policy, no matter how prudent, has them.  Almost no amount of sober analysis and cogent argumentation can overturn the conclusion that a policy is incurably evil once these graphic images have been seared into the minds of viewers, however contrived and anecdotal those images might be.  All too often, policies are defeated on the screen, not in Congress; in the news editor's office, not in the public square, in graphic, full-color pictures above the fold, not in delicate, difficult, and sustained deliberation.  Emotional potency, not reasoned deliberation, has become the political tool of choice.
         When we think clearly and carefully, we understand that anecdotal arguments are not as logically compelling as principled and logical demonstration.  But in issues of contemporary public policy and morality, that fact hardly matters because television is inherently geared toward anecdotes, towards gripping pictures and shallow, slanted stories, rather than rational discourse.
         I am not saying, of course, that all television news directors try consciously to deceive society (though doubtless some do).  I say only that the medium itself has a built-in falsification.  To get his or her story aired on a news broadcast, a reporter must show something gripping, something unusual.  Consequently, news reporters and photo-journalists tend to search for images with considerable visual impact, not for plain, unadorned fact.  News reporters crave face time on the tube.  They shape their stories in ways that make them an effective means of personal promotion.  Career considerations can, and have, made a casualty of truth.  And if, as we have been told on the highest authority, the truth sets us free (John 8: 32), then as long as we continue to subject ourselves to the enslaving errors and distortions of modern media, slaves we will remain.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tax the Unions

Perhaps you’ve noticed that while they howl for higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy CEOs who run them, and while they clamor endlessly for the rich to pay their fair share in taxes, Democrats do not howl for higher taxes on unions, which pay none at all on the money they take in.
A labor union is not a charity, not a church, and not a non-profit organization.  According to the IRS, a labor union is “an association of workers who have combined to protect and promote the interests of the members by bargaining collectively with their employers to secure better working conditions.”  Like the unions with which they must negotiate, corporations consist of persons who band together for their mutual benefit and advancement too.  It seems only fair, therefore, that if the advantage-seeking corporations with which the unions negotiate must pay taxes, then so also should the unions.  Like corporations, unions exist for their own and their members’ financial benefit.  If it’s fair to be taxed on the one side, then it’s fair to be taxed on the other.  Nevertheless, despite that fundamental requirement of fairness, one side is taxed and the other is tax exempt.
The reason for this obvious unfairness is not far to find:  Unions funnel many tens of millions of dollars each major election cycle to Democratic candidates across the nation.  In order to keep the money flowing in their direction, Democratic lawmakers grant unions a privileged tax status among the big profit makers.
They also grant to unions a privileged status among organizations with shareholders:  They grant them captive shareholders.  They do so by taking away the independent worker’s right to work.  If you want to make a living in a particular industry or in a particular business, you must buy the union product whether you want it or not.  If you don’t join, you don’t work.  Goldman Sachs, Wal-Mart, and Exxon-Mobil, for example, don’t have captive shareholders constrained to participate and to invest under force of law, but unions do.  Bought-and-paid-for politicians make it possible.
Bottom of FormIf you are concerned with the undue influence of big money on politics, then you should take a closer look at unions.  They spend many times more on the purchase of reliable politicians than do the financial institution, the big oil conglomerate, and the retail chain named above combined.  Unions are perpetual advocates for raising taxes on citizens and corporations alike, yet they are tax exempt on the money they make.  They want to prescribe tax medicine, but they refuse to take it.  Democrats see to it that when it comes to taxes, unions get a pass.
I’ll believe the Democrats are serious about reducing the deficit by making the rich pay their so-called “fair share” when they make the unions pay theirs.  I’ll believe Democratic rhetoric about “sharing the pain” when Democrats make unions hurt.  I’ll believe the Democrats are serious about closing tax loopholes the day they close the most flagrant loophole in the tax code -- union tax exemption.  When unions and their multi-billion dollars in assets and profits come under the tax code knife, things will have changed.  Until then, we know that such “change” is not something for which Democrats really “hope.”
With billions of dollars each year in membership dues at their disposal, unions can well participate in sharing the sacrifice.  But when Democrats talk about paying a “fair share,” when they talk about “shared sacrifice,” they don’t mean a sacrifice shared by unions.  They mean a sacrifice shared by everyone else.  They mean everyone ought to have “skin in the game” -- except the unions who fund Democratic re-election efforts. 
By maintaining this unfair tax exemption for unions, an exemption that puts more money in the hands of Democrats running for office and less money in the public treasury for running the government, Democrats are telling you explicitly that they favor personal advantage over public good.  Mr. Livinggreedy goes to Washington.  Mr. Unionfatcat buys the ticket.
Further, Democrats endlessly bewail the lack of sufficient funding for public education, yet refuse to tax unions in order to limit the shortfall.  They prefer re-election to better schools.
Partisanship, not civic mindedness, makes it happen.
It’s crass political advantage in return for shameless special privilege.

For the record, see:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Who Really Cares? The Five Most-Hated Corporations, that's Who

You hear a lot from the Occupy Wall Street mobs that corporations are greedy and evil, which can mean only that the Occupiers know as little about corporations as they do about politics, economics, history, and law. 
Habitually, the corporations that top the left’s list of the most hated in America include Wal-Mart, Goldman Sachs, Exxon, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo.  They include, respectively, a big box chain started by an evangelical Christian, a financial and investment institution, big oil, and three major banks -- the left’s usual suspects.
For the record, precisely those five most-hated corporations happen to be the most generous corporations of all, both in America and in the world, based upon their 2010 giving:

1. Wal-Mart: $319,454,996
2. Goldman Sachs: $315,383,413
3. Wells Fargo: $219,132,065
4. Bank of America: $207,939,857
5. Exxon Mobil: $198,692,197

In other words, the five most-hated American corporations donated more than $1.2 billion just last year.  By any objective standard, that’s a whole lot of charity; that’s a whole lot of giving.  Yet even that is not enough for the OWS park dwellers.  I forget how how much they donated. 
Leave it to the Libs to hate the best and most generous, and yet to think of themselves as the measure of virtue. 
It’s what you’d expect from folks who lionize Barney Frank as a champion of the poor, but who excoriate Paul Ryan as a grandma killer.
After all, it’s not like the Occupiers are known for their clarity, their charity, or their ability to make a viable contribution to the economic health of the country.  

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Euro Folly

Forgive my indelicate language, but what the Hell are world leaders and Wall Street investors thinking?  The Eurozone is on the verge of colossal financial collapse, and the Euro itself is in its death throes.  In order to save the whole doomed package, Europe turns to Washington, which is already more than 15 trillion dollars in debt, for a bailout, and Washington consents.  In response to this dance of folly, Wall Street goes up nearly 500 points in a day.  Tell me, please, how can one bankrupt business bail out 15 other bankrupt businesses, and why do otherwise sane people cheer the vain and ridiculous attempt?
The Euro is gone.  It cannot sustain the multinational overspending that Europe has indulged in for decades.  The time to pay up has come, and the only money they've got for payment is money from a nation that has none, a nation more than 15 trillion dollars in the hole, a nation that borrows money from China in order to pay its own staggering shortfall, a nation that actually buys its own debt and simply ramps up the government printing press to warp-speed in order to conjure more fake money by which to do it all. 
The issue that confronts us is this:  Crushing debt caused by unsustainable multi-government overspending, the absence of a gold standard, looming hyper-inflation, and the folly of tying radically different economies together under one centrally manipulated currency, especially when nations like Greece shamelessly lie about their financial condition and cook their books in order to sneak into the Eurozone in the first place – all coupled with the buffoonocracy in Brussels, which neglected its due diligence and simply didn't notice the Greek chicanery.
The system almost collapsed under the burden of saving Greece, which is not yet saved.  When it has to save Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Ireland too, the curtain will fall.  Then everyone will wish they were Switzerland, which declined a spot in the Euro’s mad march to self-immolation, and which now has perhaps the strongest currency in the world.  I’m not saying Switzerland won’t feel the rain and hear the thunder of the financial dungstorm that surrounds it on all sides; and I’m not saying it won’t feel the earthquake, both the tremors and the aftershocks.  It will.  But better to sustain those things in Switzerland than anywhere else on the continent.
The Euro and its zone were a doomed idea from inception.  It never could be made to work.  It cannot be made to work now, especially by economically-challenged community organizers from Harvard, who haven’t heard that Keynes was wrong, and who have not yet figured out that the more you invest trying to make an impossible idea work, the more you lose.
The best advice is to sustain the hit now, which will be painful but endurable, rather than tossing more (fake) money down that rat hole, which is just a one-way street to disaster.
The deeper you dig, the higher out you must climb.
Lay down your shovel, Mr. Obama.
Lay it down now.
You’ve rambled on wearily about shovel–ready jobs.
This is not one of them.