(Centennial Fellow) There is a growing intensity among atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens (the four horsemen of the new atheism) and others who believe that materialism is the ultimate reality. Their writings are passionately opposed to promoting theism and specifically, Christianity.
Philosopher Alvin Plantinga states there are three reasons why philosophers accept materialism. "First, some materialists argue that dualism (the thought that a human being is an immaterial self) is incoherent. Second, naturalism entails that there are no immaterial souls. Third, materialism will ordinarily endorse Darwinian evolution."
This essay will examine the failures of materialism to simultaneously explain creation, the Anthropic principle (necessary for a life-permitting universe), the origin of life by chance, the origin of information by chance, the appearance of morality through chemical or biological evolution, and the prophetic evidence for the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. The joint probability of these events occurring by chance is less than one divided by the number of atoms in the universe.
I. The universe had a beginning.
Atheists believe that the universe is eternal. We see from Edwin Hubble's work at the Palomar Observatory (on Mt. Wilson near Los Angeles) that the universe is expanding. This expansion is confirmed through observation of the "red shift." In physics (especially astrophysics) redshift happens when light seen coming from an object that is moving away is proportionally increased in wavelength, or shifted to the red end of the spectrum. Albert Einstein traveled to see Hubble's work and famously said "I now see the necessity of a beginning." Since the universe is expanding, it follows that reversing the expansion would ultimately lead to a contraction or what physicists call "the singularity" known as the beginning of the universe. The Kalam Cosmological argument (widely accepted in professional philosophy and logic communities) states that:
1) Everything that began to exist, has a cause.
2) The universe began to exist.
3) Therefore, the universe has a cause.
Time and space came into existence at the singularity. Since there was a cause to bring the universe into existence, it has to be a cause that is outside of time and space. As a result, the cause is both immaterial and transcendent. This is God.
II. A life-permitting universe requires that cosmology and physics are exactly tuned to support life.
This concept is called "the Anthropic Principle." We currently understand that there are about 35 parameters that are perfectly harmonized to support life on our planet. These parameters must all be set within a very narrow range to support life. The probability of these 35 attributes being set at the correctly to support life is less than 1 in 10 40  equating to essentially zero probability. Some examples of these parameters include:
The unique properties of water
Earth’s atmosphere (nitrogen, oxygen, and small amounts of other gases)
Earth’s reflectivity or “albedo”
Earth’s magnetic field
Earth’s place in the solar system
Our solar system’s place in the galaxy
The color of our sun
The force of gravity
The density of matter must equal the critical density needed to prevent the Big Crunch
The earth must be angled in its orbit perfectly to prevent temperature extremes.
Our moon must be its exact size to support the earth's orbit.
The rate of universe expansion (cosmological constant).
This fine tuning requires a fine tuner. This is God.
III. The origin of life did not arise by chance.
There are 20 individual amino acids that are used in building proteins. Most proteins have a combination of approximately 450 amino acids. There are about 600 proteins in the most elementary cell. There are a total of about 30,000 proteins.
Darwin thought the cell was a globule and did not understand cell complexity. If you calculate the probability of individual amino acids combining to form one protein you would multiply (since sequence matters) 1/20 x 1/20 x 1/20 (for each protein) all the way out to 450 amino acids (an average protein length) equating to a probability of essentially zero. A protein that is 150 amino acids in length has a chance probability of 1 in 10 145 There is zero probability that the origin of life came about by chance. When one adds the additional complexity of DNA (which goes beyond the complexity of amino acid formation), we must further reduce the probability of chance creating life. Dr. Francis Crick, Nobel Laureate and co-discoverer of DNA, acknowledged that chance played no role in creating DNA. He was a philosophical atheist so he supported the idea of Panspermia (that life originated elsewhere in the universe and was transported through interstellar systems by some unknown space aliens.) Scientists agree that chance alone using matter alone has a zero probability of explaining life. The sequence hypothesis (DNA nucleotides) confirms this.
The origin of life requires both design and an animating force based on biogenesis. This force is God.
IV. The origin of information did not arise by chance.
Information is the immaterial foundation of all biological life yet it requires material to transmit through. Information requires an intelligent source. We saw this in the formation of proteins and DNA. How much does information weigh? It is a nonsensical question because information has zero weight since it has no physical properties. Highly intelligent people don't weigh more than others because they have more information. According to information scientist Dr. Werner Gitt, DNA is billions of times more densely packed information than is our most sophisticated technology. Darwin was ignorant about information coding. Neo-Darwinists believe that natural selection and mutation explain the advancement of new species. However, a new species requires new information. Mutations by definition are the loss of original information, not the creation of new information. Microevolution has existed for centuries (adaptation within a species, a.k.a. "breeding"). Macroevolution, one species creating a new life form, is without example in the fossil record (the Cambrian explosion showed a sudden appearance of all current life forms without transitional forms.) Darwin tried to use microevolution to explain macroevolution. His philosophical descendants today try the same trick. This deception is widely perpetrated throughout the American education system.
Information, by definition, requires a transmitter or source. There are 10 80 elementary particles (electrons, etc.) in the known universe. The oldest estimate of the age of the earth is 10 16 seconds, thereby creating 10 43 number of particle interaction possibilities or 10 139 maximum event probabilities in the history of the universe. 
The intelligence behind the information that created the enormous but finite universe, the 30,000 proteins, the complexity and wonder of DNA, and life itself is called God. There is no naturalistic/materialist explanation that can fit within the event horizon of probabilities. Information requires intelligence. This intelligence is God.
V. Morality did not evolve physiologically by chemical or biological evolution. Morality requires a transcendent measure.
Atheists pretend that God does not exist by using the intellectual arguments of science
while the root cause of their opposition to confessing God's existence is moral. By pretending that God doesn't exist, the atheist deludes himself into thinking that he is not morally accountable to the God that created him. Evolutionary ethicists state that there is no free will; we are the products of time and chance. There is no concept of right or wrong or ought in DNA. If our morality is evolved, who can say that torturing children for fun is wrong? Who can say that the Nazis were wrong in killing Jews? Evolutionists must say they are just doing what their genes programmed them to do. If evolutionary ethics were true, how do you explain acts of courage, valor, and sacrifice that appear noble but would not lead to reproduction (they die in battle for example.) If evolutionary ethics and morality were true, the biggest, strongest, and smartest would do anything to advance their cause. This has happened occasionally with horrors such as eugenics, Nazi Germany, and other examples of genocide, etc. If everyone chose their own morality, there would be chaos and evil rampant with no punishment and no justice. Necessary conditions for moral objectives are:
1) A transcendent standard of measurement
2) A human free will or freedom to choose.
3) The belief that humans have intrinsic, not instrumental, value.
Moral evolutionist/relativists can not ascribe right or wrong or the word "ought." They can't complain about justice or evil. Everybody would do just what their genes programmed them to do, based upon chemistry and evolution. The contrasting reality is that humans are free will creatures who recognize moral right and wrong and therefore are free to choose beyond their genetic endowment. This is clearly indicated in the economic and social mobility of classes and individuals who operate as moral agents. This moral awareness comes from God.
VI. The life, death, resurrection, and fulfillment of prophecy by Jesus of Nazareth requires theism.
The life and impact of Jesus is corroborated through the eyewitness testimony contained in the Bible. The biblical manuscript evidence attests to its authenticity. Extra-biblical sources, e.g., Tacitus, Thallus, Pliny the Younger, Suetonious, Phlegon, Lucian, and Josephus are just a few examples of those that wrote of the historical veracity of Jesus' existence. The evidence for the crucifixion, the empty tomb, the post-resurrection appearances, and the transformation of the early church all best explain the circumstances surrounding the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Finally, there are approximately 100 prophecies in the Old Testament that relate to the first coming of Jesus. Mathematics professor Peter Stoner, author of Science Speaks, assembled other mathematicians to calculate the probability of one man fulfilling 48 of the 100 Old Testament prophecies. The resulting probability was estimated at 1 in 10 157  This miraculous fulfillment is from God.
Conclusion The cumulative weight of evidence from cosmology, physics, biology, information science, ethics, and fulfillment of prophecy clearly establishes that God is the best explanation as the creator of the universe, of life, of information, of morality, and as the one who transcends time and space, thereby fulfilling prophecy without error.
The new atheists have to climb a formidable mountain of improbability to assert that there is no God. Not only is it impossible to assert a "universal negative" that there is no God but the joint probability of the foregoing events is less than one divided by the number of atoms in the universe (estimated at 1080 ). Clearly, the probability is overwhelming that God exists. It was over 350 years ago that the great French mathematician Blaise Pascal formulated "Pascal's wager". It posits that there is more to be gained from wagering on the existence of God than from atheism, and that a rational person should live as though God exists, even though the truth of the matter cannot be incontrovertibly proven. The evidence presented herein confirms that Pascal was perspicacious. The question before the reader now is what will be done with what we know to be true?
 Plantinga, Alvin "A New Argument Against Materialism." Philosophia Christi. Vol.14 No.1. 2012 p.12
 Craig, William Lane The Kalam Cosmological Argument. Eugene, OR. Wipf and Stock Publishers. 2000. p.63.
 Meyer, Stephen. "Does God Exist" TrueU. Focus on the Family. 2009.
 Gitt, Werner. In the Beginning was Information. DVD. Answers in Genesis. 2010.
 Stoner, Peter Science Speaks. Moody Press. Chicago, IL. 1969. p.110
(CCU Faculty) State and Church is the question of the hour in this season of life. It is wrong to believe that the concept of the state is pagan in origin and hence alien to the New Testament. Government is a New Testament idea that does not imply any particular form of state or society. Government is ordained by God.
However, I would reject those bases for government which project the state arising out of the character of man: i.e., Aristotle, medieval Catholicism, Hegelianism; as well as those theories based in man’s sin and need of government for restraint in a chaotic world: i.e., the Reformation tradition.
My view is one that I would maintain is more not less biblical, affirming that government is "from above" rather than organized "from below." I would also affirm Christ as the basis for all government because He is the mediator of creation, the goal of government, its Lord, and its source of authority and power.
Government has a divine character in its being. Think of those that sought freedom in the establishment of America’s government. The very nature of government, its task reflects its divine character in its mission whereby it serves Christ by the sword for punishment and justice and along with education (well-being) for goodness. A further divine implication is the claim of government on conscience, or obedience "for the Lord’s sake" (1 Pet. 2:13). The believer is bound to obedience until the government exceeds its commission, whereupon one must obey God rather than man - and this is happening again today.
This disobedience in a single area must not be generalized to all areas of government. Only an apocalyptic social/political series of events in which all obedience to government involved denial of Christ (see Rev. 13:7) would require total disobedience. But there have been governments in the past that have required the church to be totally disobedient. By some indications, we are moving rapidly to that point in America now.
Government has a relation to the other mandates. It serves to protect and sanction these areas, but in itself government is not creative. Marriage and the church stand independently of government, but always in the presence of government to show the holiness of God. The sanctity of life is also a mandate, both for the unborn and for those that are in need of voice - the aged, sick, those with disabilities. We the church stand with and for them.
Government has a claim on the church in obedience. Obedience to government is obedience to Christ – again IF it isn’t involved in the denial of Christ and obedience to Him. Likewise, the church lays a claim on government. She reminds government of their common Master. She calls all governments to fulfill its "worldly calling," its special task, and at the same time claims protection from the government. The government also has a claim on the church. Government must maintain neutrality with reference to exalting one faith (Christian or non-Christian) over another. It cannot originate new religions either! Similarly, the church has a political responsibility also, the church must warn of sin and call for righteousness which exalts a nation.
We find ourselves serving/living/operating in a constitutional republic form of Government. We are blessed because of how we were founded. But God does not opt for any particular form of government. This means that government must recognize its being from above. It means also that the government’s power will rest on its ability in fulfilling its role as the implementation of justice for all, defense against those that seek to destroy our union, on the rights of the family and of its people to live life and enjoy liberty, and on the ability to freely give the proclamation of the gospel.
If any government seeks to redefine that role (which it has been seeking to do in this country for over 80 years more often than not) and thus to usurp the role of the Church was Jesus’ body, then obedience to that government ends and the Church is required to respond openly in contradiction of the rebellion of the state against God. Today we see the effects of Obama liberation theology which believes Christianity gets in the way of his building his dominion brand of neo-socialism. At present the state is moving quickly to silence and take the role of the church.
"There is not a place to which the Christian can withdraw from the world, whether it be outwardly or in the sphere of the inner life," wrote Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Ethics. "Any attempt to escape from the world must sooner or later be paid for with a sinful surrender to the world.” We as the Church need to take responsible action. Responsible action is a highly risky venture, however. It makes no claims to objectivity or certainty. It is a free venture that cannot be justified in advance except to ask and receive wisdom and discernment.
Civil courage grows out of the free responsibility of free people. Only now, thankfully in fact, I am beginning to hear many Christians and others who were "busy", seem to be beginning to discover the meaning of free responsibility. That free responsibility depends on a God who demands responsible action in a bold venture of faith and who promises forgiveness and solace to a people who becomes a sinner in that venture. But, nevertheless, it is how we participate in the reality of Christ, i.e., it is how we act in harmony with the will of God. The demand for responsible action in history is a demand no Christian can ignore.
We are, accordingly, faced with the following dilemma: when assaulted by evil, we must oppose it directly. We have no other option. The failure to act is simply to condone evil. There isn’t such a world of utopian possibilities; it always leads to dystopian evil which has been the way through time and we are no different. The balance between the two is what is the best we can do as humans together who aren't all redeemed in Jesus till we who live in God's reality arrive in heaven.
We have to be Kingdom people and be that salt and light in a darkness that is present and strong. "Greater is He that is in you than he (darkness) that is in the world!” While I have a desire for everyone to know Jesus in faith, I am a realist to see it is a choice for all to make…it is a move of our free will - not destiny – nor determinism.
My hope is that we will through voting remove the rebellion, and that the courts will do their constitutional duty. Final thought: You cannot expect people of faith to leave faith at their door (home or church) otherwise it wouldn’t be faith (life).
At the conclusion of the Washington Week trip I am left physically exhausted though intellectually and civically energized! Led by Professor Schaller, Dr. Krannawitter, and Dean Saxby, students visited think tanks, memorials, monuments, historical battlefields, renowned authors, museums, both chambers of Congress, the Becket Fund, and other influential D.C. individuals. We learned about foreign policy, education, our founding, the civil war and the ideas that led to the conflict, political persuasion, and many more issues facing our generation. [More]
Wednesday night, Washington, D.C. – American Enterprise Institute & Heritage Foundation scholars, media members, writers, donors, Congressmen gather along with 20 CCU Washington Week students & faculty. The occasion; Arthur Brooks, president of AEI, is speaking about his new book, “The Road to Freedom”. The lecture focused on the battle between conservatives & liberals in the public square. Brooks explained that as president of AEI it is clear that the truth and statistical backing rests within the conservative ideas and policies. Despite this, the left is winning the battle. Brooks believes this quandary is caused by the failure of conservatives to make a strong moral argument for our beliefs and our ignorance of the neuropsychological proof that moral arguments affect human brains in a way far more powerful than solely logical arguments.
To illustrate the failure of strictly logical arguments versus a moral case Brooks tells a joke – ‘Three friends go out golfing; a psychologist, a priest and a free market economist. They find themselves playing behind two incredibly slow golfers. These golfers are painfully slow and are ruining the friends’ day at the golf course. After several holes of impatiently waiting behind these two men who are shooting upwards of 12 strokes per hole, the three ask the caddy to allow them to play through. The caddy replies “you guys are free to play through, but I want you all to be aware of how rude you’ve been… Remember the fire at the schoolhouse last year, and the two firemen who lost their sight while rescuing 13 children from the blaze? Well that’s them and this weekly golf game is their most coveted source of fun since losing their vision, and you three have been heckling them this entire time.” The psychologist replies, “Wow, here I’ve devoted my life to trying to help people and I just learned a valuable lesson today.” The priest says “Oh my, I have a contrite heart and I have been humbled by these two great men.” The free-market economist pauses for a moment, and then says, “It would be more efficient if they were to play at night!”’(Paraphrase Quote)
Clearly the economist in this joke has made a factual and relevant argument, but he has completely failed to address the moral reality of this situation and thus ignored an integral element of human nature. This anecdote masterfully illustrates the climate of political discourse between the right & left today. Brooks went on to show that the right is not devoid of moral substance. Rather he showed that every claim has moral implications, and that we must reach towards those implications in our argumentation in order to reach others with the truth where it so often is overlooked.
Economic distress is of pandemic proportions throughout western civilization. Greece, France, Spain, Portugal, Iceland, Ireland, and Italy are but a few international examples of countries under great economic distress. The United States, now facing a looming economic crisis of its own, has added over $5 trillion of new debt under the Obama Administration over the past three years, while being downgraded by Standard and Poors for the first time in history. The United States has moved from the top creditor in the world to the top debtor in the world over the past 30 years. The primary reason for the increasing economic distress in America and these other countries is the unwavering commitment to secularism. The belief in state solutions coincides with the abandonment of the Judeo-Christian worldview in western civilization. America had enjoyed the leadership position of being the greatest country in world history because it had elevated freedom and morality in its institutions, society, and government. As America has abandoned its commitment to personal liberty and morality, it has entered a period of moral decay and economic decline. The economics of capitalism and morality, thought by secularists to be handmaidens of imperial oppression, are actually the sine qua non of prosperity, progress, and peace. Moral decay precedes economic decay. Moral decay, left unchecked, leads to the concentration of state power that inevitably ends in either tyranny or collapse. A review of 20th century history speaks volumes about how distributed freedom, based upon a framework of Judeo-Christian morality, offers the single best hope for freedom and prosperity. If the evidence is so clear, why do we see such passion for secularism as the path to progress? Devotion to secularism is rooted in moral relativism. Moral relativism posits that no one is objectively right or wrong and therefore one should tolerate other behaviors, irrespective of aberration. Truth claims are based upon preferences, not reality, and moral authority resides within each individual. It is a moral framework that is self-refuting. One can not consistently be a moral relativist yet complain when their wallet is stolen. This is clearly manifest in the changing of American mores over the past several decades with respect to abortion, gambling, pornography, illegitimacy, divorce, same sex marriage, et. al. If nothing is wrong, all things are permissible. Ethicists call this the "logical slippery slope." There is a concept called "moral velocity", i.e., what is tolerated as unusual today will be widely practiced tomorrow. Civilizations inevitably decline in relation to their moral velocity. Individually, the majority of those who reject faith do so on moral grounds, e.g., they do not want to be accountable to a higher moral authority, i.e., God. Secondly, most secularists adhere to a philosophical construct that posits man is born good, has suffered due to the wrong institutional practices, and can be restored to a utopian state if institutions, i.e., government, can accomplish "heaven on earth." History teaches that totalitarianism begins with the promise of utopianism. Totalitarianism is always realized through the concentrated power of the state. Man has predominantly been ruled throughout history by this concentration of power through tyranny or monarchy. A democracy or republic represent the rare exceptions. America, as a constitutional republic, has been singularly exceptional. Until now, under this current administration. The founding fathers understood that absolute power corrupts absolutely long before Lord Acton gave voice to this truism. This is why they established checks and balances through the three branches of government, a bicameral legislature, shared power between the federal government and the states, the power of veto, and the restraints imposed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. They understood, as the Bible taught, that man was not born good when John Adams said “...our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” They also knew that creating obstacles to unilateral change was the key to protecting liberty. Secularism is the worldview that opposes what the founding fathers believed about the nature of man and the purpose of government. The secularist worldview has been on the march throughout recent history due to the writings of people like Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Julius Wellhausen, John Maynard Keynes, John Dewey, and Soren Kierkegaard. Their body of philosophical work from the 19th century found expression in the actions of 20th century secularists such as Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and Hitler. The 20th century was the bloodiest century in history with over 174 million killed through democide (death by government). (1) The full fruit of secularism is a horror to behold. Secularism was considered a religion by the U.S. Supreme Court in Torcaso v. Watkins when it stated "...among the religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God are Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, Secular Humanism, and others." The American Humanist Association secured an IRS religious tax exemption. (2) “[Secularism] is a philosophical, religious, and moral point of view.” (3) Secularism is a religion where man reigns supreme. Unfortunately, history teaches us that man repeatedly fails to govern himself. It is when Judeo-Christian principles, a constitutional republic, and free market capitalism are joined together as the three pillars of strength that civilization flourishes as it has in the United States. Why do secularists turn from a winning formula? The secularist worldview is based upon atheism, moral relativism, government interventionism, scientific naturalism, evolution, and legal positivism. This explains why secularists support the changing of the U.S. Constitution, the changing of marriage laws to support gay marriage, the changing of capitalism to support social justice, the changing of education to require teaching macro-evolution as fact, the changing of U.S. sovereignty to embrace international consensus, and so on. This is the change that secularists adumbrated in the campaign before 2008, attempted to over-reach in their execution post election, and now divide Americans against each other in an effort to perpetuate their power. Many adherents to the Judeo-Christian worldview are now waking up to the language of deconstructionism (words mean whatever the reader wants them to mean). Change has simply meant the abandonment of Judeo-Christian principles, the restriction of free market capitalism, and the abrogation of the constitutional republic. Has discernment arrived too late to reverse course? Recent elections in France, Greece, and Germany suggest that those secularized countries, reluctant to reverse their course, will no longer support austerity measures imposed by the morality of rational economic thought. Like the Euro zone (the most secular geography on the planet) America is now entering a period of great economic risk. Some of America's largest and most secular states (California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Oregon) have some of the lowest financial ratings by Standard and Poors, often due to bloated government payrolls, excessive union obligations, inability to control spending, and an emphasis on state provided solutions. California currently faces a $16 billion deficit yet has some of the highest tax rates in the country.(4) It is not a tax problem. It is a spending problem. It is a problem from following a secular worldview. The relationship between the addiction to state solutions and economic decline is irrefutable. Secularism promises hope and change but delivers widespread misery. It promises moral freedom but ultimately delivers economic bondage. Europe is learning slowly. Will America demonstrate it has learned the history of secularism? Vote against Barack Obama and the interests of secularism this November. The future of our republic depends on it. ------------- Footnotes
3. Humanist Manifesto I and II. Preamble.
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What we generally take for granted as "the world around us," the great John Bunyan described figuratively as a colorful, raucous, irresistible riot of carnal commerce called Vanity Fair. The whole thing, he warned, is set up to turn us from the love and rewards of God - yet in Bunyan's telling, every pilgrim journeying toward God is obligated to go there. One must push through, resist capture, break out and with divine help at last leave Vanity Fair behind. This appears, of course, in The Pilgrim's Progress, a Christian classic of the 1600s. Culturally literate people will recognize two latter-day echoes from Vanity Fair. Already by the 1800s, when Thackeray titled a novel after it, the fair had lost any explicit spiritual connotation, though it retained a keen moral edge.
Today, another two centuries on, as the fair's name has been revived in one of the smartest of all smart media voices, the moral edge is gone as well, leaving only a self-satisfied air of the in-crowd that all do what is right in their own eyes and contrary opinion be damned.
So far down the long road - the wrong road, John Bunyan would say, and I agree with him - has the civilization once as Christendom traveled. But look now, with this context having been established, at John Bunyan's word-picture of Vanity Fair, and ask yourself if it doesn't well describe the tangle of economics and politics and aspirations and distractions and obsessions and indulgences and spectacles that occupy 99% of the attention of most of us, even we who think ourselves good, serious, pious, upright folk: At this fair are all such merchandise sold as houses, lands, trades, places, honors, preferments, titles, countries, kingdoms, lusts, pleasures; and delights of all sorts, as harlots, wives, husbands, children, masters, servants, lives, blood, bodies, souls, silver, gold, pearls, precious stones, and what not. And moreover, at this fair there is at all times to be seen jugglings, cheats, games, plays, fools, apes, knaves, and rogues, and that of every kind. Here are to be seen, too, and that for nothing, thefts, murders, adulteries, false-swearers, and that of a blood-red color.
Bunyan begins his account of Vanity Fair with a line from Ecclesiastes 11:8, "All that cometh is vanity." We say to ourselves: Really? All? The Preacher, we have to conclude, meant exactly that; and so did John Bunyan.
(Denver Post, Jan. 1) “Let us eat and drink,” said the beautiful people at last night’s glittering parties, “for tomorrow we shall die.” Maybe they thought their insouciance fitting as 2011 ticked away, but they could not have thought it original.
It was Obama’s favorite economist, John Maynard Keynes, the original Mr. Stimulus, who remarked coldly in the 1930s that in the long run we’re all dead. And Keynes was echoing the dissipated elites of ancient Israel 2700 years ago, says the prophet Isaiah. Fatalistic irresponsibility endures though nations rise and fall.
Our fall may now impend, as 69 percent of those polled believe America is in decline and 57 percent expect our kids will live less well than we do. Yet you saw little evidence of that somber outlook in the prosperous holiday bustle at suburban malls and downtown theaters. A psychologist might call it cognitive dissonance. I’d call it either rank denial or good old American gumption. But which?
On this first day of a fateful election year the choice is entirely ours – and I choose gumption. Notwithstanding our fiscal and economic woes, political polarization, slumping demographics, nukes in Iran and North Korea, global jihad and sharia, the USA has the potential to come roaring back in 2012 and onward to 2020. It starts with deciding we can.
True, historians warn that great nations seldom make it to age 250, and we’re now 235. “Pessimism, materialism, an influx of foreigners, the welfare state, the weakening of religion, the love of money, and the loss of a sense of duty,” Sir John Glubb’s checklist for a country in decadence (from his 1976 book “The Fate of Empires”), fits us all too well. Our advantage, though, is that there has never been an America before.
Are we exempt from the undertow of history and the underside of human nature? Absolutely not. We do possess, however, resilient free institutions and an indomitable fighting spirit. From this fortunate combination – representing for our generation a trust to keep, not a charm to boast on or coast on – a victory for the United States over decadence and decline, against the odds, remains possible.
I’m no Pollyanna. Our state and nation are ill-led by Democrats and Republicans alike. Judges flout the Constitution, producing tyrannous rulings like Colorado’s Lobato school case, and making it unlikely the Supreme Court will annul the disaster that is Obamacare. The spiritual poverty in today’s public square would appall the pioneers who put “Nil Sine Numine,” nothing without the Spirit, on our state seal. We face a stormy year.
But like many Christian and Jewish conservatives, I enter 2012 with a survival kit of ideas and ideals that keep me buoyant, storms or not. Here on the shelf by my desk are wisdom-books giving timeless encouragement in the toughest times. Enemy attack, economic crash, electoral defeat? I hope and pray not. Still in such volumes as these, there is sustenance to persist regardless.
Of course my list of ten titles, compiled years ago for a friend, won’t match yours. But I do recommend compiling your own. It will ground you on bedrock and make 2012 go better. And what are the books on my shelf?
First is the Bible, alongside Chesterton’s “Everlasting Man” and Lewis’s “Mere Christianity,” for an anchor in eternity. Next, “The Federalist” for politics and Bastiat’s “The Law” plus Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom” for economics. Weaver’s “Ideas Have Consequences” and Goldwater’s “Conscience of a Conservative” diagnose America’s travails since 1945.
From literature, though a hundred come to mind, I complete my ten with Bolt’s “Man for All Seasons” and Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings,” epitomizing moral integrity. We’ll need a lot of that, and divine help besides, as beleaguered America turns the calendar page. Happy New Year.
As conservatives, we feel that we are right. We feel as though the leftist agendas have been practiced to failure, exhaustion, and are not even viable solutions. However, many conservatives lack the ability to communicate with those of opposing viewpoints. I have been to countless conservative speaking-engagements, summits, think tanks, classes, et cetera, but these venues shed a “preach to the choir” ambience. What about those who are different, who vehemently disagree with conservative policies, and/or who label us evil, bigots, fear-mongers, callous, immoral, and barrages of other words? If conservatives’ pervasive trait of “realism” is to be tapped, we must realize these are the real people who need to be reached—and the way we communicate with them is crucial. Now, in the wake of a climacteric political race, conservatives need these skills more than ever. I write this not to accuse conservatives, because all of us are different in many ways, but merely bring some thoughts to attention that may help augment our platform.
First, know that tone and listening are two invaluable communication tools. I once had someone tell me, “You have two ears and one mouth. Do the math.” Listening twice as much as you speak and keeping your tone to an acceptable, “non-threatening”, and un-condescending volume is a great way to carry yourself throughout a dialogue with a Leftist. Just as the left seems to enjoy discerning faults in the world, they also will find fault in your communication if done improperly or “threateningly”.
Second, understand what differentiates Left from Right. Conservatives believe in less government whereas the left believes in more. This is simple but must always be consciously remembered.
Third, be ready for an isolated example. Leftists consistently highlight the unfortunate scenario of a small number. For example, people in favor of Obama-Care, socialization of healthcare, and/or other variances of healthcare entitlement programs often use the “cancer-ridden homeless man” story. Essentially, there is a homeless gentleman who is diagnosed with cancer and goes to emergency rooms (since he cannot be turned away) regularly for some sort of panacea because he cannot afford an oncologist (which is what he needs). Two things are routinely pulled from this story by the left: (1) thousands of dollars are being spent treating the wrong problem and (2) this is an atrocity no one should have to go through. The conservative generally responds in a manner viewed as callus and insensitive in the leftist’s eyes—therefore, how can we, as conservatives, avoid less of these unsuccessful conversations? The answer is simple: articulation, tone, and engagement.
Thomas Lock’s “Second Treatise on Government” suggests that no civilization will ever be perfect as a result of the fall of man—sin. Sin corrupts all humanity. Therefore, if two humans cannot exist in a perfect Utopian society, how can 320 million? Bring something like this to the Leftist’s attention using tone and calmness and ask, “What do you think about this?” Leftists will generally respond uniquely, since, let us be honest and genuine, every person has a slightly different worldview, another detail that must be kept in mind.
All differences accounted for leftists will generally not find it moral to allow the “atrocity”. Maybe then suggest what NGO’s can do for these people and why pry at why this has to be the government. From here, use discernment and follow similar principles. Not using leading questions only, per se, but helping the leftist see how many of these Utopian dreams are merely unfeasible and that conservatism seeks to implement what works best as nothing will ever be “perfect”.
Fourth, strive to instill a sense of trust of humanity as opposed to the government. For absolute power corrupts absolutely. Always keep an understanding that leftists are going to consistently be compassionate, Band-Aids to the broken, and speaker forthe unspoken-for. Leftists may have a stronger desire to be humanistic, humanitarian, and philanthropic than many conservatives. Although this is not true in most cases, it helps going into a dialogue with a leftist assuming that is their perception; helping the Left understand that conservatives consistently fund non-profits but merely prefer the right to choose where their money goes if the next step. Leftists routinely argue that “corporate greed” will prevent money from being distributed and that humanity’s proclivity to sin inhibits our giving, hence why the government is needed. Here, I suggest the theories of expectancy and dependency. For example, a teacher wrote into the O’Reilly Factor saying (paraphrased), “I had a student today respond to what he wants to be when he grows up with, ‘live on welfare and get free healthcare’”. Unfortunately, the “hard-worker” who receives entitlements becomes lost amidst those who treat it as free-money, entitlement, and eventual dependency. Perhaps continue this conservative-leftist dialogue by catechizing a leading question such as, “Obviously this is not right, yes? What would work better?”
Last, as a conservative, you already feel as though self-responsibility is becoming a disappearing attribute of the common man and is being juxtaposed with a nurtured sense of entitlement and being “owed something”. Face it! We are owed NOTHING except life, liberty, and the ability to pursue happiness. Entitlement comes with an innate sense of “owed”, and entitlements breed dependency more often than not. The government of the United States of America was not established with the mission statement of granting happiness to all.
Fellow conservatives, when you return to your lives, embark with a sense of understanding toward the Left. Understand they want to help, fix, provide, and save but many their ideas are simply unrealistic. Telling them they are unfeasible is impractical and ineffective—as is throwing accusatory statements or putting them on the defensive. When Pilate accused Jesus, Jesus did not respond with the ferocity of the common-Roman-man’s perception of Him. I rest my case in that it is not what you say, it is how you articulate, engage, word, and say it.
Friday, 20 May 2011 15:23 by Admin
A dozen scholars and commentators convened as guests of the Centennial Institute on May 17 for a luncheon seminar on Benjamin Wiker's survey of modern intellectual history, Ten Books That Screwed Up the World.
After Wiker, formerly a professor of philosophy and ethics at several Catholic colleges, lectured about his book at CCU on April 15, Centennial director John Andrews suggested there should be a followup discussion to probe the validity of his thesis.Two CCU faculty members, political scientist Greg Schaller and historian William Watson, reflected afterward about some of the differing perspectives that emerged at the luncheon. Their comments included the following:
=======================SCHALLER:Some at the table seemed to desire the absence of state interference in soul-craft. In my opinion, this is not the same good they seem to think it is. While I certainly agree that the absence of brutal states is superior to the cruel dictator, I disagree that it is an either/or proposal. The state can and should play a role in the forming of social mores that are essential to self-government success.It is indeed a great thing that we have the liberty to debate and discuss these ideas, free from state persecution and I wouldn't want to live under a different regime. The problem with the absence ofguidance is that the liberty that was won, based on the principles of natural right, has been corrupted into license. And this is a terribly dangerous development, that does indeed connect back to Wiker's argument. There is no denying the fact that Hobbes does indeed refer back to Machiavelli, and Rousseau to Hobbes, and Marx to Rousseau, and Nietzsche to Marx. To ignore how this lineage has built on itself, and the negative impact it has had, is wrong.===========================WATSON: I was surprised there weren't more voices supporting Wiker's understanding of historical causation, that ideas have consequences. Have we dispensed with Intellectual History? Is there no historical development of ideas? Didn't Rousseau influence Robespeirre and Marx, or Darwin and Nietzsche influence HItler? Isn't there an assumption in teaching Western Civilization, in the way CCU is now doing, that Western ideas developed gradually over the centuries by the influence of Hebrews, Greeks, Romans, and Christians?
Didn't positive developments like the Magna Charta, Martin Luther, John Locke, Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, and the founding fathers culminate in the production of the rights, freedoms and democratic institutions we enjoy? Couldn't there also have been negative influences leading us astray of these values, influences like the authors mentioned by Wiker: Rousseau, Marx, Darwin, Hitler, Freud? I differ on a few particulars of Wiker's positions, but his general thesis of a drift away from the worldview that produced human dignity, rule of law, free markets, limited government and individual freedom cannot be written off. We should defend (and train our students to defend) the ideas that have produced our liberty.
It seems to me impossible to deny the historical development of ideas which had consequences --specifically, the catastrophes of the 20th century. If someone claims, for example, that there was little or no difference between Genghis Khan and Adolph Hitler, I would say there is a great difference for the worse on Hitler's side, not only quantitative in terms of the death toll, but also qualitative in terms of the evil ideology
As conservatives, unlike the left with its belief that material causation is all, we know that ideas have consequences. To gird for the battle of ideas, I recommend not only Richard Weaver's 1948 classic by that title, but also Benjamin Wiker's excellent companion volumes, Ten Books That Screwed Up the World (2008) and Ten Books Every Conservative Must Read (2010).
Centennial Institute brought Wiker to Denver for three lectures this week. He lit up the room every time - first with CCU students, then with donors and trustees, then with faculty and staff.
The titles on his bad list, actually 15 in all, include The Prince by Macchiavelli, Discourse on Method by Descartes, Leviathan by Hobbes, Inequality Among Men by Rousseau, Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels, Utilitarianism by Mill, Descent of Man by Darwin, Beyond Good and Evil by Nietzsche, State and Revolution by Lenin, Pivot of Civilization by Sanger, Mein Kampf by Hitler, Future of an Illusion by Freud, Coming of Age in Samoa by Mead, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male by Kinsey, and The Feminine Mystique by Friedan.
On Ben Wiker's good list are another 15, though he terms the last one an impostor. They include The Politics by Aristotle, Orthodoxy by Chesterton, New Science of Politics by Voegelin, Abolition of Man by Lewis, Reflections on the Revolution in France by Burke, Democracy in America by Tocqueville, the Federalist Papers, the Anti-Federalist Papers, Servile State by Belloc, Road to Serfdom by Hayek, The Tempest by Shakespeare, Sense and Sensibility by Austen, Lord of the Rings by Tolkien, the Jerusalem Bible, and (coincidentally timed with the new movie just out) Atlas Shrugged by Rand.
Your turn now: Which books don't belong where Wiker put them, and why? Which books would you add to the all-time bad list and all-time good list? Or on a more personal level, what are some titles that you would nominate as particularly magificent - or awful - because of what they have meant in your own life?
Let the games begin.
Benjamin Wiker at Colorado Christian University on April 15 lauding Jane Austen or excoriating Jean Jacques Rousseau; I forget which.