We only have seven years left

Carlos Pascual and Strobe Talbott of the Brookings Institute declare in the Washington Post that the End is near, that we only have 7 more years to stop global warming and world devastation. From 7 Years to Climate Midnight;

The world may have only seven years to start reducing the annual buildup in greenhouse gas emissions that otherwise threatens global catastrophe within several decades. That means that between Inauguration Day in January 2009 and 2015, either John McCain or Barack Obama will face the most momentous political challenge of all time.

Reflecting a consensus of hundreds of scientists around the world, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has affirmed that greenhouse gas emissions are raising the Earth’s temperature. The Earth is on a trajectory to warm more than 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit by around mid-century. Exceeding that threshold could trigger a series of phenomena: Arable land will turn into desert, higher sea levels will flood coastal areas, and changes in the convection of the oceans will alter currents, such as the Gulf Stream, that determine regional weather patterns. Manhattan and Florida would be under water, while Nevada would have no water at all.

A suggestion: Don’t set dates. When you do and the date passes with the prediction not happening–as Christian end-of-time millennialists have learned–you look really foolish.

But I don’t think the world is going to do very much about this problem in 7 years. Maybe the world should, but it won’t. So perhaps we should all make plans to face our doom. Move out of Manhattan, Florida, and Nevada. Stockpiling supplies will only buy you a short time. Accept death with dignity. Above all, make peace with your Maker.

How to argue rightly?

tODD raises an important point. In case you missed his comment on the “Why the Vitriol?” post, he says, among other things,

Dr. Veith, it’s good for you to call out the “knee-jerk HATE” that
some liberals have leveled at Palin. However, your entry seems to have
ignored the knee-jerk hate that some here on your own site spread
about Democrats.

OK, so where should Christians–enjoined to love even their enemies, obey the 8th commandment (the one about False Witness, for those who number differently), and “put the best construction on everything” (as Luther’s “Small Catechism” puts it in the explanation to that commandment)–draw the line in their discourse?

An argument is meant to persuade, but when it degenerates into merely attacking the opponent, the opponent becomes defensive and so will never let you persuade him. Thus, besides being ethically problematic, that approach is just ineffective arguing.

I also think there is a difference between complaining in the abstract–against a distant opponent, addressing someone who already agrees with you–and addressing a “neighbor,” an actual person who holds that belief you oppose. In the former case, one is free to rant and rave, which is why blog discussions can get so overheated; but in the latter case, we must argue vocationally, that is, in love and service to our neighbor.

What other principles ought we all to consider? What is fair game and what is out of bounds?

Obama on absolute truth, continued

Here is the review of Barack Obama’s “The Audacity of Hope” by my former student, Caleb Jones (a.k.a. “The Jones”). Obama’s rejection of absolute truth goes beyond the passage we discussed yesterday, and in fact seems to be a theme of the whole book. I’ll just post the entire review for our consideration. Other people who have read the book, please weigh in. Notice that the issue here is the presidential candidate’s underlying philosophy, worldview, and political theory:

Well, it happened. I was sitting in BWI airport, 2 hours before my flight left, with nothing to do or read. So I went to the mini-bookstore, a collection of New York Times bestsellers and paperback novels, and tried to pick something out. After deciding that I didn’t want to solve Sudoku until my head exploded, read a Steven King novel about a mysterious evil force coming to town, or read another Steven King novel about another mysterious evil force coming BACK to town, I decided to go with…. ….oh man, this hurts…. …The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama.

Now Obama’s book was being sold in a Literary Fluff Bookstore, and honestly, he delivered for a while. He talked a lot about the difficulties of running for office, how we shouldn’t have to hate people while we disagree with them (which I agree with, and why ironically, I really like John McCain), and a good bit of other heartwarming stuff. I was actually enjoying myself. He starts talking about our Constitution, however, and it got on my nerves where he explicitly agrees with Justice Breyer’s “Living Constitution” theory. But then, on page 93, he really ticks me off. He is talking about the views of the Founders and the writing of the Constitution when he says:

“It’s not just absolute power that the Founders sought to prevent. Implicit in its structure, in the very idea of ordered liberty, was a rejection of absolute truth, the infallibility of any idea or ideology or theology or “ism,” any tyrannical consistency that might lock future generations into a single, unalterable course, or drive both majorities and minorities into the cruelties of the Inquisition, the pogrom, the gulag, or the jihad. The Founders may have trusted in God, but true to the Enlightenment spirit, they also trusted in the minds and senses that God had given them. They were suspicious of abstraction and liked asking questions, which is why at every turn in our early history theory yielded to fact and necessity.”

This is very odd to me. Especially since just a few dozen pages before this, Obama sees it very important to quote the Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” (and although not in the book, this next phrase is important, too.) “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Now let’s seriously look at these two statements, Obama says that the Founders said and according to our American system of government, it is IMPOSSIBLE to have absolute truth and ordered liberty. But look at the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self evident,” which means that anyone, through reason, logic, and truth, can know this stuff. It says that we are endowed by our Creator, not any government or majority or human authority, with certain UNALIENABLE rights. Unalienable, it means that you can’t take them away. You can pretend they don’t exist. No matter what kind of authority you set up on earth, no matter how powerful your nation or your empire or your totalitarian state, regardless if you have brainwashed the entire population into believing that they do not have these rights and silenced every opposing voice through force, a government is still WRONG for taking these rights away. No matter what anybody says, no matter what anybody else thinks, this universal maxim holds true. “That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among Men,” meaning the only reason government has ANY legitimacy, is because it affirms (not creates) these rights which were given by God. If a government does anything else, they are silly tyrants, moving men and armies about for selfish gain and vanity, which has no just authority under heaven.
That is the foundation of our Republic, and it is a strong absolute belief. Sorry, Obama. You’re wrong.

After reading this section, I think I figured out a lot of other things in the books. Obama says throughout the book that he “respects” opposing views. The view of original intent. The view of limited government and independence, etc, even though he disagrees with them. No, Obama. You don’t respect these views. If you respected them, you would have deference to them. You would include them in your policies and your legislation. Obviously, you respect the PEOPLE giving these views. That’s why you have deference to them. You try not to demon-ize them as you disagree. But you disagree. You totally reject the view after (hopefully) you have taken those views in and put them through an honest and thoughtful reasoning process. Once you see that they do not logically have any grounding, you reject them. That’s what disagreeing is.

But Obama has a problem with absolutes: Absolutes that derive from religion or even logic, hence the “respecting views.” You see, the non relativistic way of going about this is to appeal to something which everybody shares: logic and reason. These things exist outside of ourselves, because even if we trick ourselves into believing something that is absurd, it doesn’t mean we’re right. We just need a more logical, more reasonable, or more rightly-oriented person to correct us from our fallible human natures. An appeal to logic is an appeal to God and his order, to immutable laws that are written in the foundations of the universe and that exist outside of human thought, emotion, or inclination.

At one point in the book, Obama even says he can’t even bring himself to the absolute rejection of absolutes! (page 97) He can’t bring himself to call some someone else wrong. He has totally rejected reason based on truth. If Obama can’t appeal to that, what does he appeal to? Well, himself, for what else does he have? And that is audacious. Before, this whole thing was silly; now its getting scary. And it once again begs the question, “Who does this guy think he is?”

Barack Obama on absolute truth

From Barack Obama’s book, The Audacity of Hope:

“It’s not just absolute power that the Founders sought to prevent. Implicit in its structure, in the very idea of ordered liberty, was a rejection of absolute truth, the infallibility of any idea or ideology or theology or “ism,” any tyrannical consistency that might lock future generations into a single, unalterable course, or drive both majorities and minorities into the cruelties of the Inquisition, the pogrom, the gulag, or the jihad. The Founders may have trusted in God, but true to the Enlightenment spirit, they also trusted in the minds and senses that God had given them. They were suspicious of abstraction and liked asking questions, which is why at every turn in our early history theory yielded to fact and necessity.”

Now this is just historically wrong. The Founders did believe in absolute truth and further believed that having a free society required it. (See, for example, the opening paragraph of the Declaration of Independence.) The notion that belief in absolute truth is the foundation instead of tyranny is wrong historically, philosophically, politically. It is, however, postmodernist cant. It is how postmodernist professors sell relativism to ignorant and want-to-please college Freshmen. But it is demonstrably wrong (though showing something is wrong is hard to do to someone who has swallowed the relativist bait).

Relativism comes from the anti-Enlightenment philosopher Hegel, whose dialectical materialism is the foundation of Communism! Relativism’s highest expression is surely to be found in Nietzsche, whose constructionism (there are no absolute truths or morality, so the superman can create his own truths and morals) is the foundation of Fascism! [As well as of postmodernism itself, as I show in my book Modern Fascism: The Threat to the Judeo-Christian Worldview (Concordia Scholarship Today)]

HT: Caleb Jones. Tomorrow I will post what he says about this point.

England needs a Sarah Palin

A British pundit, Melanie Phillips, says that her country needs a Sarah Palin. In doing so, she makes some intriguing points:

so-called ‘progressives’ on both sides of the Atlantic have gone into paroxysms of rage and panic over Sarah Palin.

For she has taken the supposed characteristics of the Left  -  youth, dynamism, change, excitement and social conscience  -  and presented them as conservative virtues.
Since the Left habitually shores up its own position by demonising conservatives as nasty, backward-looking, mean-spirited, lifedenying, prejudiced, stupid and boring, it recognises her as a mortal threat  -  not just to Obama but to its whole political platform. . . .

Like McCain and Obama, [Tory leader David] Cameron too has grasped the public’s anti-establishment mood.

But he made the error of assuming that the reactionary old order to be overturned was conservatism, while change, hope and progress resided on the Left.

But this is a caricature which, although an article of faith among the media, bears scant relation to reality.

It is the Left which upholds the miserable social and educational status quo which causes such misery and harm to so many at the bottom of the heap.

It is the Left which preaches despair by believing that nothing can be done to stop social ills such as crime, drug addiction or teenage pregnancy.

Instead, it sets up vast infrastructures at public expense to mitigate their worst effects  -  which has the effect of entrenching and deepening those very social ills.

By contrast, any hope of real change for the better lies in the restoration of this country’s tradition of morality rooted in Christian religious conscience, exemplified by the Tories’ Social Justice Commission.

From Alaska’s First Dude

Great quote from Todd Palin, the husband of the G.O.P. vice presidential candidate:

If I had a crystal ball a few years ago, I might have asked a few more questions when Sarah decided to join the PTA.


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