Saturday, November 5, 2011

Rousseau: The State as Messiah

One of the most important things that distinguishes conservatives from liberals is that the latter tend to believe more government is the answer to everything. Rousseau was one of the first (at least in modern times) to champion this delusional notion.
He wrote ‘those who control a people’s opinions control its actions.’ Such control is established by treating citizens, from infancy, as children of the State, trained to ‘consider themselves only in their relationship to the Body of the State’.  ‘For being nothing except by it, they will be nothing except for it. It will have all they have and will be all they are.’  Again, this anticipates Mussolini’s central Fascist doctrine: ‘Everything within the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State.’ The educational process was thus the key to the success of the cultural engineering needed to make the State acceptable and successful; the axis of Rousseau’s ideals was the citizen as child and the State as parent, and he insisted the government should have complete charge of the upbringing of all children.  Hence – and this is the true revolution Rousseau’s ideas brought about – he moved the political process to the very centre of human existence by making the legislator, who is also a pedagogue, into the new Messiah, capable of solving all human problems by creating New Men. ‘Everything,’ he wrote ‘is at root dependent on politics.’ Virtue is the product of good government. Vices belong less to man, than to man badly governed.’ The political process, and the new kind of state it brings into being, are the universal remedies for the ills of mankind.  Politics will do all. Rousseau thus prepared the blueprint for the principal delusions and follies of the twentieth century. (Paul Johnson, Intellectuals, pp. 23-24).

Friday, November 4, 2011

Creation in six days?

Is it best to understand creation as six literal days?

Yes it is, and I think it’s apparent to anyone reading the text without any preconceived notions to defend, that the author intends his account to be taken as a literal historical narrative, and not merely in a figurative sense.

Many try to combine the biblical account of creation with the theory of evolution and of course to do that you need to greatly extend the length of time that appears in the Bible. Taking the chronology of the Bible at face value only gives us about 6,000 years, not nearly enough time for evolution to take place. So where do we find the necessary time? We insert it into the account of creation, by taking the days of the creation week not as literal 24 hour days, but as symbolic of very long periods of time.

But Dr. Ken Gentry, who has written extensively on this subject, gives several reasons to take each of the days of the creation week as a literal 24-hour period.

First, he mentions what he calls the “Argument from primary meaning.” In the vast majority of instances in which the word “day” appears in Scripture it refers to a normal 24-hour day; and this usual meaning ought to be retained unless there is some compelling reason from the context that requires us to take it in a different sense. And there is no such reason in the Genesis 1.

Gentry mentions, secondly, the “argument from explicit qualification.” He says, “Moses carefully qualifies each of the six creative days with the phraseology:  ‘evening and morning.’ The qualification is a deliberate defining of the concept of day. Outside of Genesis 1 the words ‘evening’ and ‘morning’ occur together in thirty-seven verses. In each instance it speaks of a normal day.” (He cites Exodus 18:13 and 27:21 as examples.)

Thirdly, Gentry mentions the “argument from ordinal prefix.” He means the enumeration of the days of the creation week. The text refers to the first day, the second day, the third day, and so on. There is not a single instance where such an enumeration of days refers to anything other than literal days.

He also mentions what he calls the “argument from divine exemplar,” by which he means that God patterned man’s work week after his own:  “Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God… For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day” (Ex. 20:9, 11).

Gentry also mentions the “argument from alternative idiom.” The idea here is that there were other more natural ways of expressing the notion that creation took place over vast eras of time.

There are still other problems with taking a non-literal view of the six days of creation. Most importantly, it turns the whole New Testament teaching concerning sin and redemption on its head. Paul teaches that sin entered into the world through one man, and as a consequence, death entered as well (Rom. 5:12-21). And it was not just man that it affected. He says that the creation itself was “subjected to futility” and “bondage to decay” (Rom. 8:20-21). But the theory of evolution, even theistic evolution, requires millions of years of death and decay before the appearance of man, and so before the appearance of sin. Death, then, is not a result of sin; it’s inherent in the world as God made it.

In addition, the idea of theistic evolution, presents God as bumbling old fool. It took him years of trial and error before he finally got things right, if indeed he has gotten them right. We have who knows how many millions of species he developed through the process of evolution, only to become extinct because they were not fit enough to survive. And finally through all the eons of time, when he eventually found a form for man that pleased him, he endowed him with a soul.

Is this really the picture of God that we get in Scripture, a God who creates by trial and error? No! God created the world good. It was perfect in form from the beginning. It was the handiwork of an infinitely wise and powerful creator. But he created man with the ability to serve him freely or not, with great rewards if he chose wisely, and terrible consequences—not only for himself but for all creation—if he chose poorly.

We know that he chose poorly. He disobeyed his God; and as a consequence of sin, death and decay entered the world. Man grows old. He gets sick. He dies. Species go extinct—not as the result of a haphazard process of creation through evolution—but because the entire creation was subjected to the curse.

I will not deny that there are otherwise good Christian people who take a different view of the matter; but they are making a sinful and needless compromise by departing from the plain meaning of Scripture.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Class warfare new and old

I have been posting excerpts from Paul Johnson's book Intellectuals. Here's another about Rousseau, the great icon of the French Revolution, the source of all our modern ills. See if it doesn't sound like certain occupiers and ne'er -do-wells (and their elected accomplices fomenting class warfare) you've heard about lately .
[Rousseau's] writings also a bound with radical bitterness.  ‘I hate the great, I hate their rank, their harshness, their prejudices, their pettiness, all their vice.’ He wrote to one grand lady: ‘It is the wealthy class, your class, that steals from mine the bread of my children,’* and he admitted to a certain resentment against the rich and successful, as if their wealth and happiness had been gained at my expense’. The rich were ‘hungry wolves who, once having tasted human flesh, refuse any other nourishment.’ His many powerful aphorisms, which make his books so sharply attractive especially to the young, are radical in tone. ‘The fruits of the earth belong to us all, the earth itself to none.’ ‘Man is born free and is everywhere in chains.’ His entry in the Encyclopedie on ‘Political Economy’ sums up the attitude of the ruling class; ‘You need me for I am rich and you are poor.  Let us make an agreement: I will allow you to have the honour of serving me, provided you give me whatever you have left for the trouble I shall take to command you.’
* You know...the five children he abandoned.