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Showing posts from June, 2012

The "Great Switch"

I have been slowly making my way through Jacques Barzun's From Dawn to Decadence: 1500 to the Present. In his treatment of George Bernard Shaw he describes the political confusion that took place during the 19th and 20th centuries such that labels and realities often do not match.

What Shaw and all the other publicists who agitated the social question helped to precipitate was the onset of the Great Switch. It was the pressure of Socialist ideas, and mainly the Reformed groups in parliaments and the Fabian outside, that brought it about. By Great Switch I mean the reversal of Liberalism into its opposite. It began quietly in the 1880s in Germany after Bismarck “stole the Socialists’ thunder”—as observers put it—by enacting old-age pensions and other social legislation. By the turn of the century Liberal opinion generally had come to see the necessity on all counts, economic, social, and political, to pass laws in aid of the many—old or sick or unemployed—who could no longer provide…

We are all students of law

Harold J. Berman argues that law is so fundamental to life that we have all been law students since a very young age.
A child says, "It's my toy." That's property law. A child says, "You promised me." That's contract law. A child says, "He hit me first." That's criminal law. A child says, "Daddy said I could." That's constitutional law.

The Interaction of Law and Religion

I recently acquired the above mentioned book by the highly esteemed legal scholar, Harold J. Berman. A quick perusal of its introduction makes me think I'll enjoy it even more than I originally expected.

Just a brief quote and a few quick comments: The principal affirmation is that law and religion are two different but interrelated aspects, two dimensions of social experience--in all societies, but especially in Western society, and still more especially in American society today [1973]. Despite the tensions between them, one cannot flourish without the other. Law without (what I call) religion degenerates into a mechanical legalism. Religion without (what I call) law loses its social effectiveness. [Italics added] Indeed. Law is a necessary and inescapable part of life in this world. Civilization cannot function without it. For Christians to ignore or deny God's law and its ongoing applications both for the individual as well as for society at large is to consign the Christi…

Will atheism triumph in 2038?

Nigel Barber wrote a piece this week for the Huffington Post in which he predicted that atheism will defeat religion by the year 2038. He appeals to what he calls “the existential security hypothesis” in order to make his case. This is the idea that,
“as people become more affluent, they are less worried about lacking for basic necessities, or dying early from violence or disease. In other words they are secure in their own existence. They do not feel the need to appeal to supernatural entities to calm their fears and insecurities.”
Barber studied data from the nine “most godless countries” (Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom), specifically looking for each country’s GDP per capita when it made the “atheist transition” (moving from majority religious to majority secular). He discovered that on average the figure was $29,822. Then, applying current global economic growth patterns, he arrived at 2035 as the pivotal ye…