Our established religion

Yuval Levin says that the religious liberty issues raised by the response to the Indiana Religious Freedom law involves not just the First Amendment’s right to the “free exercise” of religion, but maybe even more so to the clause forbidding the “establishment” of religion.  What we have today being imposed is a single, authoritative religious ideology, equivalent to a state church:  that of progressive liberalism.

Levin then delves into James Madison on this subject and contrasts his position to that of John Locke, who advocated “toleration” of different views on the part of individuals but would not allow their institutional expression, since that had to be limited by the ideology of the state church. [Read more...]

Totalitarianism reconsidered

Some intellectuals are arguing that democracy cannot effectively address climate change–and, indeed, makes it worse–and that what we need to save the planet  is to eliminate political freedom and to turn towards a totalitarian government.  Others don’t go quite that far, but they hold up as the role model for effective government the People’s Republic of China.  (Never mind that China has the worst pollution on the planet!)

After the jump, an excerpt that demonstrates this from a study of the “Sustainability” ideology by the conservative academic organization the National Association of Scholars.

[Read more...]

When children played

Did you know there was a time when children on their own played games, sang songs, collected things, and had fun outside?

The Intercollegiate Review has posted an excerpt from the estimable Anthony Esolen’s book on child-raising (and how not to do it), Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child. [Read more...]

Evangelicals who believe in Purgatory

It has long struck me how many evangelicals–including some of the most anti-Catholic–actually hold to a Roman Catholic soteriology, though without the sacraments, putting a big emphasis on the role of the will, good works, and moral perfection in salvation.  Now some evangelicals are advocating belief in Purgatory.  Scott McKnight reviews a book that makes the case for an evangelical doctrine of Purgatory. [Read more...]

Authoritarian envy?

The dictator of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, died recently, to nearly universal praise in the West for the way he built his country into an economic powerhouse.  Columnist Richard Cohen thinks that we have “authoritarian envy” because “too much democracy” keeps government from being able to do what it needs to do.

Mr. Cohen, a liberal, decries Lee’s harsh rule and his running roughshod over any kind of human rights, but he seems to share that envy, expressing frustration over our government’s inability to get things done, due to all of these political conflicts and checks and balances.

Conservatives, I would think, would be glad of the limits on government and would especially dislike an authoritarian like Lee, even though he did promote free markets and economic growth.  But as the presidential election season gets under way, I worry that all sides may be investing too much hope that what we need is a powerful leader and are expressing frustration with our constitutional system that, by design, checks and balances an activist government.  Might America be getting more and more open to authoritarianism?  [Read more...]

Language as “Darwin’s problem”

Noam Chomsky is not a conservative Christian but is rather a leftwing radical.  But in his day job, he is a pioneering linguist, having shown how all languages depend on “deep structures”–complex grammatical processes that are built into the human mind–that all languages have in common and that children can master almost without effort.

He has teamed with a famous anthropologist, Ian Tattersall, and other scholars (Johan J. Bolhuis and Robert C. Berwick) to pose the question How Could Language Have Evolved? They certainly believe in evolution and they try to find a minimalistic feature that might have evolved, but the article shows that language, with its irreducible complexity (the intelligence design term, not theirs), is very difficult  to explain in terms of random selection over time, to the point that the authors describe language as “Darwin’s problem.” [Read more...]


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