Archive for February, 2012

Section Summary: In light of the fact that there may be multiple, plausible philosophical systems and that limited time and energy make it difficult for us to adequately assess them, we may wish to suspend making a judgment about which one is true and use out time for something that appears to promise greater rewards. But avoiding choice is not so easy as it may seem, for the decision not to make a choice is itself a choice. The choice to believe in Christianity may expose one to ridicule from those who hold that the Christian worldview is fraught with difficulties, but secular philosophies have significant problems of their own. Further, if Christianity offers answers to important philosophical questions where secular worldviews fail, and if it does so within a coherent, non contradictory system, there is no logical reason to deny Christians the use of their more promising first principle.

In the prior section of A Christian View of Men and Things Chapter 1, Clark discussed the place of axioms within the context of a philosophical system. Axioms, he told us, are unproven first principles that stand at the beginning of all philosophies. By definition it is impossible to prove an axiom. If an axiom could be proven, it would no longer be an axiom. For whatever argument was used to prove it, that argument would then be the axiom. But while axioms cannot be proven, they can be tested. If it can be shown that an axiom logically implies contradictory ideas, that axiom has failed the test of the coherence theory of truth and may be rejected.

Clark now raises the question, what would happen if, after applying the coherence theory of truth test, we are left with multiple, incompatible philosophical systems? How, then, do we decide which one is right? Do we even have to make a choice? Wouldn’t it be easier to simple let well enough alone and get about the business of life?

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Those Wacky Gold Bugs

A gold standard is the creationism of economics. – Larry Summers

Former treasury secretary Larry Summers, it seems, is more right than he knows. The quote above, widely attributed to him on the internet, apparently was his reaction to a question about the viability of a monetary gold standard. Summers, as do nearly all academic economists, considers the gold standard to be the barbarous relic of a bygone era. “Let us mange the currency for you,” say the Keynesians, “we’re so much more reliable than that yellow metal.” In a way they’re right, of course. You can always count on the Keynesians to push monetary policies that result in the debasement of the dollar at your expense. When it comes to robbing people blind, they’re a reliable bunch indeed.

The funny this is, Summer’s statement is actually correct, just not in the way he means it.  By likening the gold standard to creationism, Summers is being sarcastic and intends us to understand he thinks it is worst sort of crack pottery. But just as creationism is God’s revealed truth about the origin of the world, so too does the gold standard reflect God’s revealed truth about money. Money, the Bible tells us, must be honest. That is to say money must be full-bodied. This is the point of the many verses in Scripture on honest weights and measures. When a currency such as the dollar is defined by a certain weight of gold and can be exchanged for it without discount, you have an honest, full-bodied currency. When governments can manufacture money without limit, without convertibility into a commodity such as gold or silver, you have the prescription for the worst sort of monetary abuse. This is the situation throughout the West today: governments robbing their people by debasing their currencies with the printing press.

Yes, Summers is right about the gold standard in a fashion similar to Caiaphas who stated that it was better for one man to die than for the whole nation to perish: he says more than he knows.  The moral blindness evidenced by Larry Summers in his attack on God’s revelation is further evidence of just how far the West has strayed from the Biblical blueprint for government that was established in the West as a result of the Reformation. The “wisdom” of man has supplanted the wisdom of God.  My financial advice to readers? Hold onto your wallets. Buy gold and silver.

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A Greek Tragedy

You can’t get very far into the financial news without coming across a story about the European financial crisis. Riots here, bailouts there. Bureaucrats and politicians running hither yon. One day we’re told everything’s solved, nothing to see here. The next day the end of the world draweth nigh. It’s all very entertaining in a perverse sort of way.

But apart from the repetitious, bipolar financial news out of Europe, one thing does stand out about the crisis: the countries at the epicenter of the mess, Greece and Italy. Both these nations are ridiculously indebted as a result of reckless government spending and appear headed toward economic perdition. In other words, they’re really not any different than the rest of the western world, just getting there first.

But these aren’t just any nations. This isn’t Bulgaria we’re talking about. No, as secular scholars will tell you, Greece and Rome were the very cradle of Western civilization. If the West began with Greece and Rome, there’s a good chance it just might end there as well.





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Section Summary: 1) The traditional first step for establishing a theistic worldview, proving the existence of God, has been a failure. The various proofs offered by philosophers and theologians are invalid. 2) All systems of thought are built on first principles called axioms. These principles are unproven and by definition unprovable. 3) But while axioms themselves cannot be refuted or established, they can be tested. For example, skepticism is a view based on the axiom that truth is unknowable. But when skeptics assert that nothing can be demonstrated, they themselves are claiming to know that knowledge is impossible. Therefore, skepticism is absurd. It refutes itself. Man must know truth. 4) From this it follows that if a proposition – a proposition is the meaning of a declarative sentence – or philosophical system claims to show that knowledge is impossible, or if it can proven that a system is self-contradictory, we safely can reject that proposition or philosophical system as false. 5) The view that a philosophical system can be rejected if it is inconsistent with itself is an application of the coherence theory of truth, which states that a true philosophical system must be non-contradictory.

In this section, Clark mentions two important choices facing those who wish to establish a theistic worldview: 1) where to start and 2) what method to use. For many, the seeming best to start a defense of theism is to prove that God exists. “If we can just prove to the world that God exists,” they reason, “then people will be ready to hear the Gospel.” This isn’t a new idea. Anselm and Aquinas both labored under this idea and both developed intricate arguments to prove to unbelievers that God exists. What may come as a surprise many is that the first attempt to prove the existence of God was not made by a Christian theologian. Aquinas based his proof for the existence of God on a proof first articulated by the pagan Greek philosopher Aristotle. Clark refers to Anselm’s argument as the ontological argument for the existence of God and Aquinas’ as the cosmological argument. Although a detailed discussion is beyond the scope of Clark’s comments and this post, a few comments on these two methods are in order.

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