OPEN LETTER TO WOODY ALLEN on the movie “Café Society”

Café Society – Official Movie Review

Café Society Official International Trailer #1 (2016) – Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart Movie HD

 

LETTER DATED 8-28-16

The last time I wrote you about the film IRRATIONAL MAN and today I want to give my thoughts on the film CAFE SOCIETY.

I was able to catch it in Chicago in July and again I caught it in Vegas where is presently running.  Bobby Dorfman (Jesse Eisenberg), Marty (Ken Stott), and his mother, Rose (Jeannie Berlin), Phil Stern (Steve Carell), and  Vonnie (Kristen Stewart), are splendid in their roles.

Bobby and Vonnie both turn out to be the same kind of superficial people they earlier ridiculed. Ironically, a song in the movie,  I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU, which according to Billboard magazine, was a #2 hit for Ben Selvin in 1934, is really the story of both Bobby and Vonnie’s lives. Though they marry other people they keep longing for one another.

Now for the more serious themes in the movie which surround Bobby’s Uncle Ben who kills several people. As a result Ben is caught and executed, but one of Ben’s last victims was  Leonard’s neighbor because he was rude to Leonard and Ben’s sister. The atheist Leonard says, “BLOOD SIN IS ON OUR HANDS!” This reminds me of the agnostic Judah in CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS who also exclaims, “I believe in God because the world would be a cesspool without God.” Judah is haunted by his father’s words, “God will punish the wicked and God sees everything.”

Now the twist in the film occurs when Ben converts from Judaism to Christianity because Christians believe in an afterlife and the Jewish religion does not. This troubles Ben’s mother Rose tremendously and she comments, “Too bad the Jewish religion doesn’t have an afterlife because they would get more customers.” Actually at the time of Christ the liberal Jews did deny the afterlife and their leaders were called Sadducees. That was the main difference between  them and the Pharisees and that is why they were so SAD YOU SEE!!!!

Rose did not know what the Bible said about the afterlife and evidently she did not take the Bible seriously when it said the 10 plagues hit Egypt or the other assertions that are made.  These guys really existed and these are true historical events. Take for instance Caiaphas who is the most famous Jewish High Priest who served from 18 A.D. to 36 A.D.

John 11:49-50 “And one of them, [named] Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.” A remarkable discovery in Israel is shedding new light on life on Bible times. The discovery is also allowing scientists and the rest of us to get to know an important New Testament character.

Israeli archaeologists believe they may have discovered the bones of the high priest Caiaphas. If these bones do indeed belong to Caiaphas, it would be the first discovery of the remains of any major figure mentioned in the New Testament. The discovery was made accidentally in 1990 as workers were widening the road through the Peace Forest.

Researchers didn’t want to release their announcement until they had satisfied themselves that such a momentous announcement was justified. The burial cave has three mentions of the name “Caiaphas.” An ossuary, or bone box, within the cave was inscribed, “Joseph, son of Caiaphas.” Other records identify the “Caiaphas” who condemned Jesus as Joseph, son of Caiaphas. A coin found in the cave was minted between 37 and 44 A.D. The ossuary contained the bones of six people. There were two infants, a child, a youth, an adult female and a male about 60 years old, believed to have been Caiaphas himself.

It was from political expediency that Caiaphas said it would be better for one man to die for the people than for the entire nation to perish. He was unknowingly prophetic. Jesus Christ did die to save us from the eternal consequences of our sin.

Let me further respond with the words of Francis Schaeffer from his book HE IS THERE AND HE IS NOT SILENT (the chapter is entitled, “Is Propositional Revelation Nonsense?”

Of course, if the infinite uncreated Personal communicated to the finite created personal, he would not exhaust himself in his communication; but two things are clear here:
 
1. Even communication between once created person and another is not exhaustive, but that does not mean that for that reason it is not true. 
 
2. If the uncreated Personal really cared for the created personal, it could not be thought unexpected for him to tell the created personal things of a propositional nature; otherwise as a finite being the created personal would have numerous things he could not know if he just began with himself as a limited, finite reference point. In such a case, there is no intrinsic reason why the uncreated Personal could communicate some vaguely true things, but could not communicate propositional truth concerning the world surrounding the created personal – for fun, let’s call that science. Or why he could not communicate propositional truth to the created personal concerning the sequence that followed the uncreated Personal making everything he made – let’s call that history. There is no reason we could think of why he could not tell these two types of propositional things truly. They would not be exhaustive; but could we think of any reason why they would not be true? The above is, of course, what the Bible claims for itself in regard to propositional revelation.

The answer to find meaning in life is found in putting your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. The Bible is true from cover to cover and can be trusted.

Thank you again for your time and I know how busy you are.

Everette Hatcher, everettehatcher@gmail.com, http://www.thedailyhatch.org, cell ph 501-920-5733, Box 23416, LittleRock, AR 72221, United States

Review: ‘Café Society’ is minor, enjoyable Woody Allen

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FRIEDMAN FRIDAY Milton Friedman on Immigration Part 1

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Milton Friedman – Illegal Immigration – PT 1

Milton Friedman – Illegal Immigration – PT 2

Milton Friedman stated , “you can’t have free immigration and a welfare state.” Below Dan Mitchell links back to this quote in one of his earlier posts:

As a general rule, I like immigration and I don’t like redistribution.

As such, I share the late Milton Friedman’s concern about the risks of having a welfare state combined with open borders. And based on many conversations all over the country, I think that’s a big reason why many people oppose amnesty (augmented by Republican partisans who fear, probably with some validity, that changing the political landscape of America is the real reason Senator Schumer is a big advocate of amnesty).

So how can we reap the benefits of immigration without the risk of a bigger welfare state?

In part, we should have programsdesigned to attract people with skills and education.

I’m a big advocate and defender, for instance, of the EB-5 program that gives a preference for foreigners who invest in America’s economy and create jobs.

And if you peruse Mark Perry’s chart, we must be doing something right. Look at all these immigrant groups that are boosting per-capita income for the United States (including people from Lebanon, home of the Princess of the Levant).

I’ve always thought far more Americans would be sympathetic to immigration if they could be convinced that people were coming to America for the right reasons – i.e., to earn money rather than mooch off taxpayers.

With that in mind, Professor Tyler Cowen of George Mason University has aBloomberg column about Denmark that cites the great work of Nima Sanandajiabout how Americans of Nordic descent have much higher incomes than the people remaining in Nordic nations. Tyler’s entire article is worth reading, but I want to focus on a quasi-open-borders proposal that he puts forth in his conclusion.

For all the anti-immigrant sentiment that is circulating at the moment, would it hurt the U.S. to have fully open borders with Denmark? It would boost American gross domestic product and probably also improve American education. History teaches that serious assimilation problems would be unlikely, especially since many Danes already speak English. Open borders wouldn’t attract Danes who want to live off welfare because the benefits are so generous at home. How’s this for a simple rule: Open borders for the residents of any democratic country with more generous transfer payments than Uncle Sam’s.

I can’t think of any reasonable objection to this idea. Everything Tyler says makes sense. People like “Lazy Robert” won’t be lining up to get plane tickets to America. Instead, we’ll get the young and aspirational Danes.

For what it’s worth, I even think he understates the case since the type of people who would migrate to America wouldn’t just boost GDP. They almost surely would do something arguably more important, which is to boost per-capita GDP.

Just think of all the productive entrepreneurs who would take the opportunity to escape over-taxed Denmark and come to the United States. Along with ambitious and skilled people from nations such as Italy, France, and Sweden (though our welfare state is very expensive, so I admit I’m just guessing at nations which would be eligible based on Tyler’s rule about “more generous transfer payments”).

By the way, Denmark apparently has learned a lesson about the risks of being a welfare magnet.

A story from Spiegel Online has the details.

Denmark’s strict immigration laws have saved the country billions in benefits, a government report has claimed. …The extremely strict laws have dramatically reduced the flow of people into Denmark in recent years, and many government figures are delighted with the outcome. “Now that we can see that it does matter who comes into the country, I have no scruples in further restricting those who one can suspect will be a burden on Denmark,” the center-right liberal integration minister, Søren Pind, told the Jyllands Postennewspaper. Pind was talking after the ministry’s report — initiated by the right-wing populist Danish People’s Party (DPP) — came to the conclusion that by tightening immigration laws, Denmark has saved €6.7 billion ($10 billion) over the last 10 years, money which otherwise would supposedly have been spent on social benefits or housing. According to the figures, migrants from non-Western countries who did manage to come to Denmark have cost the state €2.3 billion, while those from the West have actually contributed €295 million to government coffers.

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FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE PART 126 Will Provine, Killer of the myth of Optimistic Humanism Part D (Featured artists are Elena and Olivia Ceballos )

I was sad when I learned of Will Provine’s death. He was a very engaging speaker on the subject of Darwinism and I think he correctly realized what the full ramifications are when accepting evolution. This is the fourth post I have done on Dr. Provine and the previous ones are these links, 1st, 2nd and 3rd. In the article below I read these words:

In a 1994 debate with Phillip Johnson, a leading figure in the intelligent design movement, the late evolutionary biologist William Provine insisted: “No ultimate foundations for ethics exist, no ultimate meaning in life exists, and free will is merely a human myth. These are all conclusions to which Darwin came quite clearly.”

Starry_Night_at_La_Silla.jpg

In a video on YouTube, University of Chicago evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne states that science has demonstrated that

the universe and life are pointless….Pointless in the sense that there is no externally imposed purpose or point in the universe. As atheists this is something that is manifestly true to us. We make our own meaning and purpose.

He went on:

Evolution is the greatest killer of belief that has ever happened on this planet because it showed that some of the best evidence for God, which was the design of animals and plants that so wonderfully matched their environment could be the result of this naturalistic, blind materialistic process of natural selection.

Coyne is by no means alone in claiming Darwinism, with its insistence that all organisms have arisen through chance events (mutations) without plan or purpose, leads logically to the position that human life has no meaning or purpose. In my book The Death of Humanity: And the Case for Life, I provide many examples of evolutionary biologists and other intellectuals who argue Darwinism sweeps away the benighted notion that human life has meaning.

DeathofHumanity3D.jpgIn a 1994 debate with Phillip Johnson, a leading figure in the intelligent design movement, the late evolutionary biologist William Provine insisted: “No ultimate foundations for ethics exist, no ultimate meaning in life exists, and free will is merely a human myth. These are all conclusions to which Darwin came quite clearly.”

However, as I also explain in detail in my new book, many Darwinists are unable to really live in accord with their own philosophy. For instance, Coyne has stated that evolution “says that there is no special purpose for your life, because it is a naturalistic philosophy. We have no more extrinsic purpose than a squirrel or an armadillo.” But, in a different blog post, Coyne waxed indignant at those who have blamed mass shootings, such as those at Columbine, on Darwinism. (Coyne will likely be enraged that I explain Eric Harris’s Darwinian motivations in The Death of Humanity.) But why does Coyne care about these people, whose lives — according to his philosophy — have no meaning or purpose? He evidently recognizes that the lives of those teenagers gunned down at Columbine did have some point or purpose after all, greater than squirrels or armadillos.

Duke University philosophy professor Alex Rosenberg shows the same inconsistency. He co-authored an article in 2003, “Darwin’s Nihilistic Idea: Evolution and the Meaninglessness of Life,” in which he dismissed morality as an illusion. However, Rosenberg assured us that we have nothing to fear, because nihilism has no effect on our behavior, since “Most of us just couldn’t persistently be mean, even if we tried.” Rosenberg needs to take some of my history courses — or just read the news — if he doesn’t think many people could be mean to each other.

In a 2013 debate with William Lane Craig, Rosenberg objected to some of Craig’s arguments as “morally offensive,” because some of his relatives were murdered in the Holocaust. But if life is meaningless and morality is an illusion, why does it matter if Hitler killed millions? That would be just another meaningless event in the meaningless flow of history. Rosenberg apparently knows better.

Despite what they may say, many Darwinists are fully aware that human lives have meaning and purpose, no matter how loudly they deny it.

Dr. Weikart is professor of history at California State University, Stanislaus, and Senior Fellow with Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture; his new book, The Death of Humanity: And the Case for Life, has just been released.

Photo credit: ESO/H. Dahle [CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Francis Schaeffer “BASIS FOR HUMAN DIGNITY” Whatever…HTTHR

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Woody Allen on Ingmar Bergman and the death.

Woody Allen et Marshall McLuhan

Woody Allen et Marshall McLuhan : « If life were only like this! »

What Makes Life Worth Living? – Answered by Woody Allen.

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Diane Keaton et Woody Allen dans "Annie Hall"

Diane Keaton et Woody Allen

What Makes Life Worth Living?

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How Should We then Live Episode 7 small (Age of Nonreason)

#02 How Should We Then Live? (Promo Clip) Dr. Francis Schaeffer

10 Worldview and Truth

Two Minute Warning: How Then Should We Live?: Francis Schaeffer at 100

Francis Schaeffer Whatever Happened to the Human Race (Episode 1) ABORTION

Francis Schaeffer “BASIS FOR HUMAN DIGNITY” Whatever…HTTHR

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Diane Keaton et Woody Allen dans "Annie Hall"

Woody Allen – Sleeper (final scene)

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I have spent alot of time talking about Woody Allen films on this blog and looking at his worldview. He has a hopelessmeaningless, nihilistic worldview that believes we are going to turn to dust and there is no afterlife. Even though he has this view he has taken the opportunity to look at the weaknesses of his own secular view. I salute him for doing that. That is why I have returned to his work over and over and presented my own Christian worldview as an alternative.

My interest in Woody Allen is so great that I have a “Woody Wednesday” on my blog www.thedailyhatch.org every week. Also I have done over 30 posts on the historical characters mentioned in his film “Midnight in Paris.” (Salvador DaliErnest Hemingway,T.S.Elliot,  Cole Porter,Paul Gauguin,  Luis Bunuel, and Pablo Picassowere just a few of the characters.) Francis Schaeffer also discussed Woody Allen several times in his writings on modern culture. Here is a section that again mentions the nihilistic conclusions that Schaeffer says that Woody Allen has come to and Schaeffer salutes Allen for being consistent with his Godless worldview unlike many of the optimistic humanists that I have encountered.

Materialistic Humanism: The World-View of Our Era
What has produced the inhumanity we have been considering in the previous chapters is that society in the West has adopted a world-view which says that all reality is made up only of matter. This view is sometimes referred to as philosophic materialism, because it holds that only matter exists; sometimes it is called naturalism, because it says that no supernatural exists. Humanism which begins from man alone and makes man the measure of all things usually is materialistic in its philosophy. Whatever the label, this is the underlying world-view of our society today. In this view the universe did not get here because it was created by a “supernatural” God. Rather, the universe has existed forever in some form, and its present form just happened as a result of chance events way back in time.
Society in the West has largely rested on the base that God exists and that the Bible is true. In all sorts of ways this view affected the society. The materialistic or naturalistic or humanistic world-view almost always takes a superior attitude toward Christianity. Those who hold such a view have argued that Christianity is unscientific, that it cannot be proved, that it belongs simply to the realm of “faith.” Christianity, they say, rests only on faith, while humanism rests on facts.
Professor Edmund R. Leach of Cambridge University expressed this view clearly:
Our idea of God is a product of history. What I now believe about the supernatural is derived from what I was taught by my parents, and what they taught me was derived from what they were taught, and so on. But such beliefs are justified by faith alone, never by reason, and the true believer is expected to go on reaffirming his faith in the same verbal formula even if the passage of history and the growth of scientific knowledge should have turned the words into plain nonsense.78
So some humanists act as if they have a great advantage over Christians. They act as if the advance of science and technology and a better understanding of history (through such concepts as the evolutionary theory) have all made the idea of God and Creation quite ridiculous.
This superior attitude, however, is strange because one of the most striking developments in the last half-century is the growth of a profound pessimism among both the well-educated and less-educated people. The thinkers in our society have been admitting for a long time that they have no final answers at all.

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Take Woody Allen, for example. Most people know his as a comedian, but he has thought through where mankind stands after the “religious answers” have been abandoned. In an article in Esquire (May 1977), he says that man is left with:
… alienation, loneliness [and] emptiness verging on madness…. The fundamental thing behind all motivation and all activity is the constant struggle against annihilation and against death. It’s absolutely stupefying in its terror, and it renders anyone’s accomplishments meaningless. As Camus wrote, it’s not only that he (the individual) dies, or that man (as a whole) dies, but that you struggle to do a work of art that will last and then you realize that the universe itself is not going to exist after a period of time. Until those issues are resolved within each person – religiously or psychologically or existentially – the social and political issues will never be resolved, except in a slapdash way.
Allen sums up his view in his film Annie Hall with these words: “Life is divided into the horrible and the miserable.”
Many would like to dismiss this sort of statement as coming from one who is merely a pessimist by temperament, one who sees life without the benefit of a sense of humor. Woody Allen does not allow us that luxury. He speaks as a human being who has simply looked life in the face and has the courage to say what he sees. If there is no personal God, nothing beyond what our eyes can see and our hands can touch, then Woody Allen is right: life is both meaningless and terrifying. As the famous artist Paul Gauguin wrote on his last painting shortly before he tried to commit suicide: “Whence come we? What are we? Whither do we go?” The answers are nowhere, nothing, and nowhere.

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The humanist H. J. Blackham has expressed this with a dramatic illustration:
On humanist assumptions, life leads to nothing, and every pretense that it does not is a deceit. If there is a bridge over a gorge which spans only half the distance and ends in mid-air, and if the bridge is crowded with human beings pressing on, one after the other they fall into the abyss. The bridge leads nowhere, and those who are pressing forward to cross it are going nowhere….It does not matter where they think they are going, what preparations for the journey they may have made, how much they may be enjoying it all. The objection merely points out objectively that such a situation is a model of futility.79
One does not have to be highly educated to understand this. It follows directly from the starting point of the humanists’ position, namely, that everything is just matter. That is, that which has existed forever and ever is only some form of matter or energy, and everything in our world now is this and only this in a more or less complex form. Thus, Jacob Bronowski says in The Identity of Man (1965): “Man is a part of nature, in the same sense that a stone is, or a cactus, or a camel.” In this view, men and women are by chance more complex, but not unique.
Within this world-view there is no room for believing that a human being has any final distinct value above that of an animal or of nonliving matter. People are merely a different arrangement of molecules. There are two points, therefore, that need to be made about the humanist world-view. First, the superior attitude toward Christianity – as if Christianity had all the problems and humanism had all the answers – is quite unjustified. The humanists of the Enlightenment two centuries ago thought they were going to find all the answers, but as time has passed, this optimistic hope has been proved wrong. It is their own descendants, those who share their materialistic world-view, who have been saying louder and louder as the years have passed, “There are no final answers.”
Second, this humanist world-view has also brought us to the present devaluation of human life – not technology and not overcrowding, although these have played a part. And this same world-view has given us no limits to prevent us from sliding into an even worse devaluation of human life in the future.
So it is naive and irresponsible to imagine that this world-view will reverse the direction in the future. A well-meaning commitment to “do what is right” will not be sufficient. Without a firm set of principles that flows out of a world-view that gives adequate reason for a unique value to all human life, there cannot be and will not be any substantial resistance to the present evil brought on by the low view of human life we have been considering in previous chapters. It was the materialistic world-view that brought in the inhumanity; it must be a different world-view that drives it out.
An emotional uneasiness about abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, and the abuse of genetic knowledge is not enough. To stand against the present devaluation of human life, a significant percentage of people within our society must adopt and live by a world-view which not only hopes or intends to give a basis for human dignity but which really does. The radical movements of the sixties were right to hope for a better world; they were right to protest against the shallowness and falseness of our plastic society. But their radicalness lasted only during the life span of the adolescence of their members. Although these movements claimed to be radical, they lacked a sufficient root. Their world-view was incapable of giving life to the aspirations of its adherents. Why? Because it, too – like the society they were condemning – had no sufficient base. So protests are not enough. Having the right ideals is not enough. Even those with a very short memory, those who can look back only to the sixties, can see that there must be more than that. A truly radical alternative has to be found.
But where? And how?

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Francis Schaeffer in Art and the Bible noted, “Many modern artists, it seems to me, have forgotten the value that art has in itself. Much modern art is far too intellectual to be great art. Many modern artists seem not to see the distinction between man and non-man, and it is a part of the lostness of modern man that they no longer see value in the work of art as a work of art.” 

Many modern artists are left in this point of desperation that Schaeffer points out and it reminds me of the despair that Solomon speaks of in Ecclesiastes.  Christian scholar Ravi Zacharias has noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term ‘under the sun.’ What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system, and you are left with only this world of time plus chance plus matter.” THIS IS EXACT POINT SCHAEFFER SAYS SECULAR ARTISTS ARE PAINTING FROM TODAY BECAUSE THEY BELIEVED ARE A RESULT OF MINDLESS CHANCE.

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Francis Schaeffer pictured below:

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God and Carpeting: The Theology of Woody Allen by David Mishkin of Jews for Jesus

March 1, 1993

This is an archived article. It originally appeared on March 1, 1993. Some information may be outdated.

A red-haired boy sits next to his mother in the psychiatrist’s office. She is describing her son’s problems and expressing her disappointment in him. Why is he always depressed? Why can’t he be like other boys his age? The doctor turns to the boy and asks why he is depressed. In a hopeless daze the boy replies, “The universe is expanding, and if the universe is everything…and if it’s expanding…someday it will break apart and that’s the end of everything…what’s the point?”

His mother leans over, slaps the kid and scolds: “What is that your business!”

This scene from Annie Hall typifies Woody Allen’s quest for understanding! Allen touches on various topics and themes in all his cinematic works, but three subjects continually resurface: the existence of God, the fear of death and the nature of morality. These are all Jewish questions or at least theological issues. Woody Allen is a seeker who wants answers to the Ultimate Questions. His movie characters differ, yet they are all, in some way, asking these questions he wants answered. They are all “Woody Allens” wrestling with the same issues. He explains:

Maybe it’s because I’m depressed so often that I’m drawn to writers like Kafka, Dostoevski and to a filmmaker like Bergman. I think I have all the symptoms and problems that their characters are occupied with: an obsession with death, an obsession with God or the lack of God, the question of why we are here. Almost all of my work is autobiographical—exaggerated but true.1

But Woody Allen does not allow himself to dwell too long on these universal problems. The mother’s response to her red-haired son’s angst is typical of the comedic lid the filmmaker presses over his depressing outlook to close the issue. True, Woody Allen has made his mark by asking big questions. But it is the absence of satisfactory answers to those questions that causes much of the angst—and humor—we see on the screen. Off screen we see little difference.

Allen’s (authorized) biography, published in 1991, sheds some light on his life and times. Woody Allen, whose given name was Allan Konigsberg, was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Allen describes his Jewish family and neighborhood as being from “the heart of the old world, their values are God and carpeting.”2 While he did not embrace the religion of his youth, his Jewishness is ever present in his characters, plots and dialogue. Jewish thought is intrinsic to his life and work.

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One can see this in the 1977 film Annie Hall, where Allen’s character, Alvy, is put in contrast to his Midwestern, gentile girlfriend. In one scene he is visiting Annie’s parents. Her grandmother stares at him, picturing him as a stereotypical Chasidic Jew with side locks, black hat and a long coat. The screen splits as Alvy imagines his family on the right and hers on the left. Her parents ask what his parents will be doing for “the holidays”:

“We fast, to atone for our sins,” his mother explains.

Annie’s mother is confused. “What sins? I don’t understand.”

Alvy’s father responds with a shrug: “To tell you the truth, neither do we.”

Nothing worth knowing can be understood by the mind.3

Allen suggests that the greatest thinkers in history died knowing no more than he does now.

In Crimes and Misdemeanors Woody Allen tackles the issue of morality on a much more serious level. Wealthy ophthalmologist Judah Rosenthal has been having an extramarital affair for two years. When he attempts to end his illicit relationship, his mistress threatens to tell his wife. When backed into an impossible corner and offered an easy way out, Judah finds himself thinking the unthinkable.

Judah’s moral confusion is presented against a backdrop of the religion of his youth. Though he has long since rejected the Jewish religion, he is continually confronted with memories that activate his conscience. He remembers the words of his childhood rabbi:

“The eyes of God are on us always.”

Judah later speaks with another rabbi, a contemporary of his. The rabbi remarks on their contrasting worldviews:

“You see it [the world] as harsh and empty of values and pitiless. And I couldn’t go on living if I didn’t feel with all my heart a moral structure with real meaning and forgiveness and some kind of higher power and a reason to live. Otherwise there is no basis to know how to live.”

These words are ultimately pushed aside, as Judah succumbs to the simple solution of hiring a hit-man to murder his demanding lady in waiting. After the crime, Judah experiences gut-wrenching guilt. Judah Rosenthal finds the case for morality so strong that after the murder he blurts out:

“Without God, life is a cesspool!”

His conscience pushes him to great despair as, again, he examines the situation from a past vantage point. He envisions a Passover seder from his childhood. The conversation becomes a family debate over the importance of the celebration. Some of the relatives don’t believe in God and consider the ritual a foolish waste of time. The head of the extended family stoutly defends his faith, saying, “If necessary, I will always choose God over truth.”

Perhaps this is why Judah rejected his religion—he could not see faith as anything other than some sort of noble delusion for those who refuse to accept life’s ugly truths. As Judah continues to dwell on his crime, he has another vision in which his rabbi friend challenges him with the question: “You don’t think God sees?”

“God is a luxury I can’t afford,” Judah replies. There is a final ring to the statement as Judah decides to put the entire incident behind him.

Judah almost turns himself in; however, the price is too high and so he chooses denial, the most common escape. “In reality,” he says in the last scene, “we rationalize, we deny or else we couldn’t go on living.”

Another character, Professor Levy, speaks on morality in one of the film’s subplots. Levy is an aging philosopher much admired by the character played by Woody Allen, a filmmaker. The filmmaker is planning a documentary based on Levy’s life, and we first see the professor on videotape, discussing the paradox of the ancient Israelites:

“They created a God who cares but who also demands that you behave morally. This God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son, who is beloved to him.…After 5,000 years we have not succeeded to create a really and entirely loving image of God.”

Levy eventually commits suicide. Despite his great learning, his final note discloses nothing more than the obvious: “I’ve gone out the window.”

Professor Levy’s suicide leaves Allen’s character stunned. Still, his humor ameliorates the situation as the filmmaker protests,

“When I grew up in Brooklyn, nobody committed suicide; everyone was too unhappy.”

The final comment on Levy’s suicide is a surprising departure from Allen’s security blanket of humor:

“No matter how elaborate a philosophical system you work out, in the end it’s gotta be incomplete.”

Remember, all of the dialogue is written by Woody Allen. Though his own character supplies comic relief to this dark film, his conclusions are just as bleak. Everyone is guilty of something whether it’s considered a crime or a misdemeanor.

Yet, Allen’s theological questions rarely address the nature of that guilt. The word “sin” is reserved for the grossest offenses—the ones that make the evening news—or would, if they were discovered. Judah Rosenthal’s crime is easily recognizable as sin, while various other infidelities and compromises are mere misdemeanors.

Sin against God is not something Allen appears to take seriously in any of his films. When evangelist Billy Graham was a guest on one of Allen’s 1960s television specials, the comedian was asked (not by Graham) to name his greatest sin. He responded:

“I once had impure thoughts about Art Linkletter.”24

However, when he distances himself from the personal nature of sin and looks to crimes or sins against humanity, Allen speaks with a passion.

In Hannah and Her Sisters the viewer is introduced to the character of Frederick, an angry, isolated artist who is disgusted with the conditions of the world. Of Auschwitz, Frederick remarks to his girlfriend:

“The real question is: ‘Given what people are, why doesn’t it happen more often?’ Of course, it does, in subtler forms.…”

In Allen’s theology, all have fallen short to a greater or lesser degree, but ironically, his view of human imperfection never appears in the same discussion as his thoughts about God.

He does admit to being disconnected with the universe:

“I am two with nature.”25

But he doesn’t mention a connection with a personal God because he doesn’t see a correlation between human failures and the question of connectedness to God.

While Allen is a unique thinker, he seems to be pedestrian when it comes to wrestling with problems of immorality and even inhumanity. While he calls the existence of God into question, he does not deal with our responsibility in acknowledging God if he does exist.

It is simple to analyze sin on a human level. The more people get hurt, the bigger the sin. But the biblical perspective is quite different: Any and all sin causes separation from God. One cannot view such a cosmic separation as large or small based on degrees of sin. Ironically, one of Allen’s short stories underscores the foolishness of comparison degrees of sin:

“Astronomers talk of an inhabited planet named Quelm, so distant from earth that a man traveling at the speed of light would take six million years to get there, although they are planning a new express route that will cut two hours off the trip.”26

The biblical perspective of separation from God is similar. Having “better morals” than the drug pusher, the rapist or the ax murderer makes a big difference—in our society. We should all strive to be the best people we can be, if only to improve the overall quality of life. But in terms of a relationship with God, doing the best one can is like being two hours closer to Quelm. God is so removed from any unrighteousness that the difference between “a little unrighteous” and a lot is irrelevant.

The question his films and essays never ask is: Could being alienated from God be the root cause of our alienation from one another…and even our alienation from our own selves?

“It’s hard to get your heart and your head to agree in life. In my case they’re not even friendly.”27

Woody Allen has a unique way of expressing the uneasy terms on which many people find their heads and their hearts. Perhaps that is why he has received 14 Academy Award nominations. Allen will shoot a scene as many as twenty times, hoping to capture the actors and scenery perfectly. His biographer says “he doesn’t like to go to the next thing until what he’s working on is perfect—a process that guarantees self-defeat.”28

Is filmmaking Woody Allen’s escape from the world at large? His biographer notes, “He assigns himself mental tasks throughout the day with the intent that not a moment will pass without his mind being occupied and therefore insulated from the dilemma of eschatology.”29

It is a continual process—writing takes his mind off of the ultimate questions, yet the characters he creates are always obsessed with those very same questions. Allen determines their fate, occasionally handing out a happy ending. And he seems painfully aware that he will have little to say about the ending of his own script.

There is much to be appreciated and enjoyed in Woody Allen’s humor, but it also seems as if he uses jokes to avoid taking the possibility of God’s existence very seriously. Maybe Woody Allen is afraid to find that God doesn’t exist, or on the other hand maybe he’s afraid to find that he does. In either case, he seems to need to add a comic edge to questions about God to prove that he is not wholehearted in his hope for answers.

Will Woody Allen tackle the problem of his own halfhearted search for God in a serious way in some future film or essay? Maybe, but if the Bible can be believed, it’s an issue that God has already dealt with. The prophet Jeremiah quotes the Creator as saying: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13).

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Endnotes

  1. Eric Lax, Woody Allen, (New York: Knopf Publishing, 1991), p. 179.
  2. Ibid., p. 166.
  3. Manhattan, 1979.
  4. Lax, p. 141.
  5. Stardust Memories, 1980.
  6. Lax, p. 150.
  7. Sleeper, 1973.
  8. Hannah and Her Sisters, 1986.
  9. Woody Allen, “My Speech to the Graduates,” Side Effects, (New York: Random House Publ., 1980), p. 82.
  10. Sleeper.
  11. Lax, p. 183.
  12. Woody Allen, “Death (A Play),” Without Feathers, (New York: Random House Publ., 1975), p. 106.
  13. Woody Allen, “My Philosophy,” Getting Even, (New York: Warner Books, 1971), p. 25.
  14. Allen, “Early Essays,” Without Feathers, p. 108.
  15. Allen, “Selections From the Allen Notebook,” Without Feathers, p. 10.
  16. Allen, “My Apology,” Side Effects, p. 54.
  17. Stardust Memories.
  18. Allen, “My Speech to the Graduates,” Side Effects, p. 82.
  19. Sleeper.
  20. Allen, “Selections From the Allen Notebook,” Without Feathers, p. 8.
  21. Allen, “Examining Psychic Phenomena,” Without Feathers, p. 11.
  22. Lax, p. 41.
  23. Love and Death, 1975.
  24. Lax, p. 132.
  25. Ibid., p. 39.
  26. Allen, “Fabulous Tales and Mythical Beasts,” Without Feathers, p. 194.
  27. Crimes and Misdemeanors, 1989.
  28. Lax, p. 322.
  29. Ibid., p. 183.

Artists of the Day: Elena and Olivia Ceballos

Elena and Olivia CeballosElena and Olivia Ceballos are 19-year-old twin sisters from Georgia who work as visual development artists at Big Ideas Entertainment on the Veggie Talesfranchise. Their development as artists is as intertwined as the name they use online—Elioli—which is the first three letters of each of their names combined. The sisters work individually and together on projects; perhaps they have carried their collaborative habits into their professional work since they both are employed by the same company.

Elena and Olivia CeballosElena and Olivia CeballosThe sisters are notably prolific, even considering their advantage of being two people. Their constant output gives the impression that they are dedicated to self-improvement and studying the techniques of their art form.

Elena and Olivia CeballosElena and Olivia CeballosElena and Olivia CeballosElena and Olivia CeballosElena and Olivia CeballosElena and Olivia CeballosElena and Olivia CeballosYou can see more work from Elena and Olivia on their Tumblr and EliOliArt.com, where you can travel back in time and see work such as the drawing below by then-16-year-old Olivia, already showing burgeoning skills beyond her years:

Elena and Olivia Ceballos

Chris McDonnell

Chris McDonnell

Chris McDonnell is the editor of Cartoon Brew’s Artist of the Day feature. A founding member of the Meathaus comics/art collective, he has created animation for shows such as Yo Gabba Gabba and Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job! His books includeSasquatch’s Big Hairy Drawing Book and Unfiltered: The Complete Ralph Bakshi.

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John MacArthur on fulfilled prophecy from the Bible Part 2

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WOODY WEDNESDAY “Cafe Society” Video Movie Review

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Café Society – Official Movie Review

Café Society Official International Trailer #1 (2016) – Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart Movie HD

Review: ‘Café Society’ is minor, enjoyable Woody Allen

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RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! Part 92 Colin Blakemore, neurobiologist, University of London, “I believe that I am the sum total of all the causal influences on me at the moment”

On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said:

…Please click on this URL http://vimeo.com/26991975

and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them.

Harry Kroto

I have attempted to respond to all of Dr. Kroto’s friends arguments and I have posted my responses one per week for over a year now. Here are some of my earlier posts:

Arif Ahmed, Sir David AttenboroughMark Balaguer, Horace Barlow, Michael BatePatricia ChurchlandAaron CiechanoverNoam Chomsky,Alan DershowitzHubert Dreyfus, Bart Ehrman, Stephan FeuchtwangDavid Friend,  Riccardo GiacconiIvar Giaever , Roy GlauberRebecca GoldsteinDavid J. Gross,  Brian Greene, Susan GreenfieldStephen F Gudeman,  Alan Guth, Jonathan HaidtTheodor W. Hänsch, Brian Harrison,  Hermann HauserRoald Hoffmann,  Bruce HoodHerbert Huppert,  Gareth Stedman Jones, Steve JonesShelly KaganMichio Kaku,  Stuart Kauffman,  Lawrence KraussHarry Kroto, George LakoffElizabeth Loftus,  Alan MacfarlanePeter MillicanMarvin MinskyLeonard Mlodinow,  Yujin NagasawaAlva NoeDouglas Osheroff,  Jonathan Parry,  Saul PerlmutterHerman Philipse,  Carolyn PorcoRobert M. PriceLisa RandallLord Martin Rees,  Oliver Sacks, John SearleMarcus du SautoySimon SchafferJ. L. Schellenberg,   Lee Silver Peter Singer,  Walter Sinnott-ArmstrongRonald de Sousa, Victor StengerBarry Supple,   Leonard Susskind, Raymond TallisNeil deGrasse Tyson,  .Alexander Vilenkin, Sir John WalkerFrank WilczekSteven Weinberg, and  Lewis Wolpert,

Colin Blakemore

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sir Colin Blakemore
FRS FMedSci
Blakemore.jpg

Blakemore photographed in London in 2012
Born 1 June 1944 (age 70)
Stratford-upon-Avon,Warwickshire, England
Fields Neurobiology, Ophthalmology
Institutions University of Cambridge
University of Oxford
University of Warwick
Duke University and National University of Singapore Graduate Medical School
School of Advanced Study,University of London
Alma mater Corpus Christi College,University of Cambridge
University of California, Berkeley
Notable awards Robert Bing Prize (Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences), Prix du Docteur Robert Netter (Académie Nationale de Médecine, France), Cairns Memorial Medal, Michael Faraday Prize (Royal Society), Osler Medal (University of Oxford), Ellison-Cliffe Medal, Alcon Research Institute Award, Charter Award (Society of Biology, Baly Gold Medal (Royal College of Physicians), Edinburgh Medal, Science Educator Award (Society for Neuroscience), Harveian Oration(Royal College of Physicians),Ferrier Award (Royal Society),Friendship Award (People’s Republic of China), Ralph W. Gerard Award (Society for Neuroscience)

Sir Colin Brian Blakemore, FRSFMedSci (born 1 June 1944[1]), is a British neurobiologist, specialising in vision and the development of the brain, who is Professor of Neuroscience and Philosophy in theSchool of Advanced Study, University of London and Emeritus Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Oxford. He was formerly Chief Executive of the British Medical Research Council (MRC).[2][3][4] He is best known to the public as a communicator of science but also as the target of a long-running animal rights campaign. According to The Observer, he has been both “one of the most powerful scientists in theUK” and “a hate figure for the animal rights movement”.[5]

In  the first video below in the 5th clip in this series are his words and  my response is below them. 

50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 1)

Another 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 2)

A Further 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 3)

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Below is my response to Dr. Blakemore’s quote:

April 13, 2016

Professor Colin Blakemore, Institute of Philosophy, University of London,

Dear Professor Blakemore,

In the You Tube video “A Further 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 1),” you asserted::

I believe that I am the sum total of all the causal influences on me at the moment and that is not a trivial issue. If it [weren’t] true we would have to abandon everything that we believe about the causal universe, about one event causing another, by all events having antecedent causes. And say that human beings are set aside from the rest of the physical world and yet we know we’re made up of the bits and stuff that the rest of the world is made up of. All the molecules in you were once upon a time were in a star somewhere and they’ve ended up in you by chance. So why not believe that we could also give an account of how those molecules working inside them produce their actions and produce this curious impression that we have of the sense of self and choice as if there’s this kind of helmsmen inside there really deciding absolutely what they’re going to do irrespective of what the world tells them.

You are a humanist and a proponent of determinism.    First, does your view of secular humanism and science have a way to come up with optimism and values while embracing the materialistic naturalistic view? Second, you are a defender of DETERMINISM in your statement above.

Let me start with your views on humanism.  I know that you are active in the  BRITISH HUMANIST ASSOCIATION. H. J. Blackham was the founder of the BRITISH HUMANIST ASSOCIATION and he asserted:

On humanist assumptions, life leads to nothing, and every pretense that it does not is a deceit. If there is a bridge over a gorge which spans only half the distance and ends in mid-air, and if the bridge is crowded with human beings pressing on, one after the other they fall into the abyss. The bridge leads nowhere, and those who are pressing forward to cross it are going nowhere….It does not matter where they think they are going, what preparations for the journey they may have made, how much they may be enjoying it all. The objection merely points out objectively that such a situation is a model of futility“( H. J. Blackham, et al., Objections to Humanism (Riverside, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1967).

On John Ankerberg’s show in 1986 there was a debate between  Dr. Paul Kurtz, and Dr. Norman Geisler and when part of the above quote was read, Dr. Kurtz responded:

I think you may be quoting Blackham out of context because I’ve heard Blackham speak, and read much of what he said, but Blackham has argued continuously that life is full of meaning;

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Harold J. Blackham (1903-2009)

Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984)

 

 

With that in mind I wanted to ask you what  does the BRITISH HUMANIST ASSOCIATION have to offer in the area of meaning and values? Francis Schaeffer two months before he died said if he was talking to a gentleman he was sitting next to on an airplane about Christ he wouldn’t start off quoting Bible verses. Schaeffer asserted:

I would go back rather to their dilemma if they hold the modern worldview of the final reality only being energy, etc., I would start with that. I would begin as I stress in the book THE GOD WHO IS THERE about their own [humanist] prophets who really show where their view goes. For instance, Jacques Monod, Nobel Prize winner from France, in his book NECESSITY AND CHANCE said there is no way to tell the OUGHT from the IS. In other words, you live in a totally silent universe. 

The men like Monod and Sartre or whoever the man might know that is his [humanist] prophet and they point out quite properly and conclusively what life is like, not just that there is no meaningfulness in life but everyone according to modern man is just living out some kind of game plan. It may be knocking 1/10th of a second off a downhill ski run or making one more million dollars. But all you are doing is making a game plan within the mix of a meaningless situation. WOODY ALLEN exploits this very strongly in his films. He really lives it. I feel for that man, and he has expressed it so thoroughly in ANNIE HALL and MANHATTAN and so on.

According to the Humanist worldview Jacques Monod the universe is silent about values and therefore his good friend Woody Allendemonstrated this very fact so well in his 1989 movie CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS. In other words, if we can’t get our values from the Bible then  the answer is MIGHT MAKES RIGHT!!!!

I CHALLENGE YOU TO TAKE 90 MINUTES AND WATCH THE MOVIE “CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS” AND THEN ANSWER THE QUESTION: “What reason is there that Judah should not have his mistress eliminated if there is no God and afterlife of judgment and rewards?”

King Solomon closed the Book of Ecclesiastes (Richard Dawkins’ favorite Book of the Bible) with these words, “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with[d] every secret thing, whether good or evil.” With that in mind I have enclosed a short booklet called THIS WAS YOUR LIFE!

Now to the second point concerning DETERMINISM. I just finished reading the online addition of the book Darwin, Francis ed. 1892. Charles Darwin: his life told in an autobiographical chapter, and in a selected series of his published letters [abridged edition]. London: John Murray. There are several points that Charles Darwin makes in this book that were very wise, honest, logical, shocking and some that were not so wise. The Christian Philosopher Francis Schaeffer once said of Darwin’s writings, “Darwin in his autobiography and in his letters showed that all through his life he never really came to a quietness concerning the possibility that chance really explained the situation of the biological world. You will find there is much material on this [from Darwin] extended over many many years that constantly he was wrestling with this problem.”

This quote at the beginning of this letter from you made me think of you when I read the book Charles Darwin: his life told in an autobiographical chapter, and in a selected series of his published letters because of what Darwin said the phrase MAN MUST DO HIS DUTY. I am going to quote some of Charles Darwin’s own words and then include the comments of Francis Schaeffer on those words. I have also enclosed a CD with two messages from Adrian Rogers and Bill Elliff concerning Darwinism.

Darwin, C. R. to Doedes, N. D.2 Apr 1873

I am sure you will excuse my writing at length, when I tell you that I have long been much out of health, and am now staying away from my home for rest.It is impossible to answer your question briefly; and I am not sure that I could do so, even if I wrote at some length. But I may say that the impossibility of conceiving that this grand and wondrous universe, with our conscious selves, arose through chance, seems to me the chief argument for the existence of God; but whether this is an argument of real value, I have never been able to decide…….Nor can I overlook the difficulty from the immense amount of suffering through the world. I am, also, induced to defer to a certain extent to the judgment of the many able men who have fully believed in God; but here again I see how poor an argument this is. The safest conclusion seems to me that the whole subject is beyond the scope of man’s intellect;but man can do his duty.”

Francis Schaeffer commented:

What he is saying is that at this point I have no answer. You find Darwin already in a modern hell. On his own position ruling out an answer but yet not being able to live without an answer.  What he (Darwin) is saying is that at this point I have no answer, but the interesting thing is he puts a semicolon after that and then says, “but man can do his duty.” Darwin understands, he is a brilliant man,  what he has said undercuts all duty and all morals. So he adds as a faith sentence, “but man can do his duty.” It doesn’t fit really, but he adds it because he sees that he must say this because otherwise what happens to man? You can switch on further down the road and Darwin would be appalled to see where his own position has been taken, through Freud and Deterministic psychology. Modern Man has a dilemma because the word “duty” doesn’t have a meaning anymore. (Determinism: The doctrine that human action is not free, but results from such causes as psychological and chemical makeup which render free-will an illusion.)

You will remember the thing I have quoted to you about Richard Speck and the psychologists who would stand in the evolutionary stream of Freud. Let me read to you from Newsweek September 25, 1967, a review of the book by Marvin Ziporyn BORN TO RAISE HELL interestingly enough printed by Groth Press, which is this psychologist’s analysis of Richard Speck in Chicago who killed these nurses in Chicago. It runs like this:

Ziporyn who lost his post at Chicago for publishing his work with Speck, diagnosed his patient as a man unable to control himself as a result of his own medical and emotional past. You weren’t any more responsible for what you did than a man is responsible for sneezing. he said to Speck at one point.  That is Zoporyn’s biggest problem which is convincing Speck there is no difference in a sneeze and eight murders. Ziporyn admits he is a strict determinist and he is an adherent to Freud’s dictum that biology is destiny. He advocates rehabilitation. Determinists strive to change or regulate conditions rather than men but to avoid such tragedies as Richard Speck the scope of change it requires staggers the imagination.

The bigger dilemma is that man disappears. Who is hurt? The eight nurses are hurt, including their pain, terror and their sexual violation and it becomes nothing, zero in this type of analysis. Society has a terrible problem because there is no right and wrong in society, and that will deal with Darwin’s words “but man can do his duty” because those who take Darwin’s theory and extend it have eradicated the possibility of the word “duty.” …Darwin I think senses this but he doesn’t know how to handle it.

In Chapter 7, “THE MAN WITHOUT THE BIBLE,” of the book DEATH IN THE CITY, Schaeffer writes concerning Richard Speck and “Determinism”: 

This view raises three serious questions. First of all, what about the nurses who were killed, some of them in a very violent fashion? These must then be written off. With this kind of explanation they become zero. Second, what about society? Society and the problems of ordering it also are written off. In such a situation, order in society is merely like a big machine dealing on a machine level with little machines. Third, what about Speck himself? The psychologist’s explanation does the most harm to him, for as a man he disappears. He simply becomes a flow of consciousness. He, too, becomes a zero.

In our generation there is a constant tendency to explain sin lightly and think that such an explanation is more humanitarian. But it is not. It decreases the importance and significance of man. Consequently, we can be glad for the sake of man that the Bible’s explanation is so emphatic.
Paul repeats it in verse 25: “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature [that which has been created] rather than the Creator.” This is the second of the three repetitions.

Paul was thinking of the gods of silver and stone and also the worship of the universe or any part of it. He says men have made such gods rather than worshipping the living God. Even on the basis of what they know themselves to be, they should have known better. Isaiah said 700 years before, ‘Aren’t you silly to make gods that are less than yourself. You must carry them; they don’t carry you. Now isn’t it silly to make an integration point that is less than you yourself are.’ Paul used precisely the same argument on Mars Hill. Men who refuse to bow before God take the facts concerning the universe and man, push these facts through their own presuppositional grid, fail to carry their thinking to a reasonable conclusion, and so are faced with an overwhelming lie. Idols of stone are obvious lies because they are less than man, but so are non-Christian presuppositions such as the idea of the total uniformity of natural cause and effect in a closed system, the final explanation of the impersonal plus time plus chance, which ultimately makes man only a machine.

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Below is the larger biblical passage of scripture that Schaeffer was referring to in Chapter 7, “THE MAN WITHOUT THE BIBLE,” of the book DEATH IN THE CITY:

Romans 1:18-32New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Unbelief and Its Consequences

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 becausethat which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

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Why is determinism dangerous? Francis Schaeffer in his book HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE? tells why it is dangerous:

Modern determinists have not presented only abstract theories.  Rather, there have been two practical results.  First, and most important, as their ideas about what people are have been increasingly accepted, people consciously or unconsciously have opened themselves to being treated as machines and treating other people as machines.  Second, each theory of determinism has carried with it a method of manipulation.  So even though many — even most — people may reject the concept that man is totally a product of psychological, sociological, or chemical conditioning, manipulation by these methods is still very much a live possibility.  In fact, these techniques are all at the disposal of of authoritation states, and they are in some degree already being used.

Paul Chopan has rightly noted:

Naturalism takes for granted the following tenets:

  • Nature is all there is.
  • All reality is comprised of or rooted in matter.
  • There is no supernatural—no Creator, no miracles, no souls,
    no angels, no life after death.
  • Science becomes the only (or best) means of knowledge.

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What is the answer to the problem of DETERMINISM? It is found in the Biblical view that the Bible is true and there was a place named THE GARDEN OF EDEN and the fact that God did create this world and it was not created by impersonal chance plus time. 

Francis A. Schaeffer on Human Free WillTHE GOD WHO IS THERE, (DOWNERS GROVE, IL: INTERVARSITY PRESS, 1968), P 131.

The historic Christian position is that man’s dilemma has a moral cause. God, being nondetermined, created man as a nondetermined person. This is a difficult idea for anyone thinking in twentieth-century terms because most twentieth-century thinking sees man as determined. He is determined either by chemical factors, as the Marquis de Sade held and Francis Crick is trying to prove, or by psychological factors, as Freud and others have suggested, or by sociological factors, such as B.F. Skinner holds. In these cases, or as a result of a fusion of them, man is considered to be programmed. If this is the case, then man is not the tremendous thing the Bible says he is, made in the image of God as a personality who can make a free first choice. Because God created a true universe outside of himself (or as an extension of his essence), there is a true history which exists, man as created in God’s image is therefore a significant man in a significant history, who can choose to obey the commandments of God and love him, or revolt against him.

THE CRUX OF THE ISSUE IS DID MAN HAVE A CHOICE AND IS MAN RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS CHOICES?

REMEMBER THAT GREAT PASSAGE FROM ROMANS CHAPTER ONE THAT I QUOTED EARLIER IN THIS LETTER AND DARWIN’S WORDS IN THE APRIL 2, 1873 LETTER TO  Doedes, N. D.?

Darwin noted, It is impossible to answer your question briefly; and I am not sure that I could do so, even if I wrote at some length. But I may say that the impossibility of conceiving that this grand and wondrous universe, with our conscious selves, arose through chance, seems to me the chief argument for the existence of God; but whether this is an argument of real value, I have never been able to decide……”

Franicis Schaeffer observed: 

So he sees here exactly the same that I would labor and what Paul gives in Romans chapter one, and that is first this tremendous universe [and it’s form] and the second thing, the mannishness of man and the concept of this arising from chance is very difficult for him to come to accept… You will notice that he divides it into the same exact two points that Paul does in Romans chapter one into and that Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) will in the problem of existence, the external universe, and man and his consciousness. Paul points out there are these two steps that man is confronted with, what I would call two things in the real world. The universe and it’s form and I usually quote Jean Paul Sartre here, and Sartre says the basic philosophic problem is that something is there rather than nothing is there and I then I add at the point the very thing that Darwin feels and that is it isn’t a bare universe that is out there, it is an universe in a specific form. I always bring in Einstein and the uniformity of the form of the universe and that it is constructed as a well formulated word puzzle or you have Carl Gustav Jung who says two things cut across a man’s will that he can not truly be autonomous, the external world and what Carl Gustav Jung would call his “collected unconsciousness.” It is the thing that churns up out of man, the mannishness of man. Darwin understood way back here this is a real problem. So he says “the impossibility of conceiving that this grand and wondrous  universe,” part one, the real world, the external universe, and part two “with our conscious selves arose through chance” and then he goes on and says this is not “an argument of real value.” 

Francis Schaeffer noted that in Darwin’s 1876 Autobiography that Darwin he is going to set forth two arguments for God in this and again you will find when he comes to the end of this that he is in tremendous tension. Darwin wrote, 

At the present day the most usual argument for the existence of an intelligent God is drawn from the deep inward conviction and feelings which are experienced by most persons.Formerly I was led by feelings such as those just referred to (although I do not think that the religious sentiment was ever strongly developed in me), to the firm conviction of the existence of God and of the immortality of the soul. In my Journal I wrote that whilst standing in the midst of the grandeur of a Brazilian forest, ‘it is not possible to give an adequate idea of the higher feelings of wonder, admiration, and devotion which fill and elevate the mind.’ I well remember my conviction that there is more in man than the mere breath of his body; but now the grandest scenes would not cause any such convictions and feelings to rise in my mind. It may be truly said that I am like a man who has become colour-blind.

Francis Schaeffer remarked:

Now Darwin says when I look back and when I look at nature I came to the conclusion that man can not be just a fly! But now Darwin has moved from being a younger man to an older man and he has allowed his presuppositions to enter in to block his logic. These things at the end of his life he had no intellectual answer for. To block them out in favor of his theory. Remember the letter of his that said he had lost all aesthetic senses when he had got older and he had become a clod himself. Now interesting he says just the same thing, but not in relation to the arts, namely music, pictures, etc, but to nature itself. Darwin said, “But now the grandest scenes would not cause any such convictions  and feelings to rise in my mind. It may be truly said that I am like a man who has become colour-blind…” So now you see that Darwin’s presuppositions have not only robbed him of the beauty of man’s creation in art, but now the universe. He can’t look at it now and see the beauty. The reason he can’t see the beauty is for a very, very , very simple reason: THE BEAUTY DRIVES HIM TO DISTRACTION. THIS IS WHERE MODERN MAN IS AND IT IS HELL. The art is hell because it reminds him of man and how great man is, and where does it fit in his system? It doesn’t. When he looks at nature and it’s beauty he is driven to the same distraction and so consequently you find what has built up inside him is a real death, not  only the beauty of the artistic but the beauty of nature. He has no answer in his logic and he is left in tension.  He dies and has become less than human because these two great things (such as any kind of art and the beauty of  nature) that would make him human  stand against his theory.

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Can you still look at God’s beautiful creation and say that it just appears to be the work of an intellect? If so then you like Darwin  can say, “I am like a man who has become colour-blind.”

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IF WE ARE LEFT WITH JUST THE MACHINE THEN WHAT IS THE FINAL CONCLUSION IF THERE WAS NO PERSONAL GOD THAT CREATED US? I sent you a CD that starts off with the song DUST IN THE WIND by Kerry Livgren of the group KANSAS which was a hit song in 1978 when it rose to #6 on the charts because so many people connected with the message of the song. It included these words, “All we do, crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see, Dust in the Wind, All we are is dust in the wind, Don’t hang on, Nothing lasts forever but the Earth and Sky, It slips away, And all your money won’t another minute buy.”

Kerry Livgren himself said that he wrote the song because he saw where man was without a personal God in the picture. Solomon pointed out in the Book of Ecclesiastes that those who believe that God doesn’t exist must accept three things. FIRST, death is the end and SECOND, chance and time are the only guiding forces in this life.  FINALLY, power reigns in this life and the scales are never balanced. The Christian can  face death and also confront the world knowing that it is not determined by chance and time alone and finally there is a judge who will balance the scales.

Both Kerry Livgren and the bass player Dave Hope of Kansas became Christians eventually. Kerry Livgren first tried Eastern Religions and Dave Hope had to come out of a heavy drug addiction. I was shocked and elated to see their personal testimony on The 700 Club in 1981 and that same  interview can be seen on You Tube today. Livgren lives in Topeka, Kansas today where he teaches “Diggers,” a Sunday school class at Topeka Bible ChurchDAVE HOPE is the head of Worship, Evangelism and Outreach at Immanuel Anglican Church in Destin, Florida.

The answer to find meaning in life is found in putting your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. The Bible is true from cover to cover and can be trusted.

Thank you again for your time and I know how busy you are.

Everette Hatcher, everettehatcher@gmail.com, http://www.thedailyhatch.org, cell ph 501-920-5733, Box 23416, LittleRock, AR 72221, United States

Is the Bible historically accurate? Here are some of the posts I have done in the past on the subject: 1. The Babylonian Chronicleof Nebuchadnezzars Siege of Jerusalem2. Hezekiah’s Siloam Tunnel Inscription. 3. Taylor Prism (Sennacherib Hexagonal Prism)4. Biblical Cities Attested Archaeologically. 5. The Discovery of the Hittites6.Shishak Smiting His Captives7. Moabite Stone8Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III9A Verification of places in Gospel of John and Book of Acts., 9B Discovery of Ebla Tablets10. Cyrus Cylinder11. Puru “The lot of Yahali” 9th Century B.C.E.12. The Uzziah Tablet Inscription13. The Pilate Inscription14. Caiaphas Ossuary14 B Pontius Pilate Part 214c. Three greatest American Archaeologists moved to accept Bible’s accuracy through archaeology.

Jacques Monod (1910-1976), Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1965)

CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS was written and directed by Woody Allen

Judah has his mistress eliminated through his brother’s underworld connections

Anjelica Huston

Colin Blakemore pictured below:

Charles Darwin pictured below:

 :

Richard Speck

Ladies Richard Speck murdered below:

Kerry Livgren, author of the song DUST IN THE WIND seen below:

The group KANSAS BELOW:

_

You can hear DAVE HOPE and Kerry Livgren’s stories from this youtube link:

(part 1 ten minutes)

(part 2 ten minutes)

Kansas – Dust in the Wind (Official Video)

Uploaded on Nov 7, 2009

Pre-Order Miracles Out of Nowhere now at http://www.miraclesoutofnowhere.com

About the film:
In 1973, six guys in a local band from America’s heartland began a journey that surpassed even their own wildest expectations, by achieving worldwide superstardom… watch the story unfold as the incredible story of the band KANSAS is told for the first time in the DVD Miracles Out of Nowhere.

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Adrian Rogers on Darwinism

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This crucial series is narrated by the late Dr. Francis Schaeffer and former Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop. Today, choices are being made that undermine human rights at their most basic level. Practices once considered unthinkable are now acceptable – abortion, infanticide and euthanasia. The destruction of human life, young and old, is being sanctioned on an ever-increasing scale by the medical profession, by the courts, by parents and by silent Christians. The five episodes in this series examine the sanctity of life as a social, moral and spiritual issue which the Christian must not ignore. The conclusion presents the Christian alternative as the only real solution to man’s problems.

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I have gone back and forth with Ark Times liberal bloggers on the issue of abortion, but I am going to try something new. I am going to respond with logical and rational reasons the pro-life view is true. All of this material is from a paper by Scott Klusendorf called FIVE BAD WAYS TO ARGUE ABOUT ABORTION .

The people using the usernames DeathByInches, Venessa and Jennifer Coates Johnson all basically said on 2-8-13 “If you are not a woman then shut up about abortion.” Here is the exact quote from “DeathByInches”: “Saline! You’re points are always about 20 degrees off center. Do you really think it’s a smart idea to print out the ramblings of a MAN’S thoughts and opinion on abortion….which happens 100% of the time to WOMEN, not MEN?”

____________________

Here is my response:
 Scott Klusendorf responded to this kind of thinking by stating:

Men are told, “You can’t get pregnant, so leave the abortion issue to women.” Besides its obvious sexism, the statement is seriously flawed for several reasons. First, arguments do not have genders, people do.30 Since many pro-life women use the same arguments offered by pro-life men, it behooves the abortion advocate to answer these arguments without fallaciously attacking a person’s gender.

Second, to be consistent with their own reasoning, abortion advocates would have to concede that Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case legalizing abortion, was bad law. After all, nine men decided it. They must also call for the dismissal of all male lawyers working for Planned Parenthood and the ACLU on abortion related issues. Since abortion advocates are unwilling to do this, we can restate their argument as follows: “No man can speak on abortion—unless he agrees with us.” Once again, this is a classic case of intolerance.

Third, lesbians and post-menopausal women cannot naturally get pregnant; must they be silent on the issue? Think of the bizarre rules we could derive from this argument: “Since only generals understand battle, only they should discuss the morality of war.” Or, “Because female sportscasters have never experienced a groin injury, they have no right to broadcast football games on national television.”

Again, abortion advocates must offer arguments to support their position. Attacking people personally, even if those attacks are true, will not make their case or refute ours.

___________________

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MUSIC MONDAY Washed Out: ‘I wish I could have a 9 to 5 life’ Ernest Greene’s debut album confirms his place at the forefront of the chillwave scene. So why is he so worried?

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Washed Out – Life Of Leisure (Full Album) | HD

 

Ernest Greene’s debut album confirms his place at the forefront of the chillwave scene. So why is he so worried?
Washed Out, aka Ernest Greene
Ernest Greene, aka Washed Out: ‘At no point was I actively reaching out to people.’ Photograph: Felix Clay for the Observer

If there’s a more reluctant pop star than Ernest Greene, I feel for them. Here is a guy who planned on having “a normal career” and who responded to early offers of live shows by feeling “anxious”. Today, sunning himself in the garden of a stylish east London B&B, the man better known as Washed Out is elaborating on his reticence.

“There are parts [of being a musician] I really enjoy,” he says in a dreamy southern drawl. “But there are also parts where I wish I could just have a 9 to 5 thing. I could count the minutes on one hand where I’ve had time to myself recently so I can just, like, check my email. That’s pretty sad.”

Ah yes, that old longing for the 9 to 5. No doubt it’s what the Stones were thinking as they headed to Nellcôte to record Exile on Main Street. We jest, of course, for if you’ve heard a note of Washed Out’s music, you’ll already have a fair idea that he’s no hellraiser. The 28-year-old makes weird, woozy and – yes – washed-out music from samples and loops and is at the forefront of the “chillwave” scene.

Conjured up largely by shy young men in their bedrooms, chillwave has all the hallmarks of ambient, post-clubbing fodder, yet it is frequently far smarter than that. At its best, the genre plays tricks with our emotions, using sounds that evoke nostalgia for a period that the listener has never lived through. But Greene has always seemed one step ahead of the chillwave crowd. His amateur photography, which was used for his promotional pictures, set the genre’s sun-bleached visual aesthetic and early records such as “Belong” – a kind of reggae-infused mirage – were astonishing, not least because their author wasn’t even trying to get noticed.

“Not at all,” Greene admits. “It was just a very pure pursuit. It was rare I would even share the songs. At no point was I actively reaching out to people.”

Greene grew up in Perry, Georgia, where he immersed himself first in grunge then dance music. By the time he’d moved to college, aged 18, he was making instrumental hip-hop, employing techniques he’d eventually make use of for Washed Out.
It was through his friendship with Chaz Bundick (aka fellow chillwave artist Toro Y Moi) that his songs became the talk of the blogosphere, after Bundick posted one of Greene’s songs on his MySpace page in 2009. He almost grimaces at the memory: “Within a couple of weeks, my songs were all over the internet. Then came the offers to play shows around the world. I was living with my parents and had no money. I was about to get married but had no real idea what to do with my life and I felt quite anxious about things in general. I think the music was a way of dealing with that, which is why the early songs are all about trying to keep a positive outlook on life. But when the live invitations came through, I got anxious again because I had this amazing opportunity but no idea how to start fulfilling it.”

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Greene reckons he’s only now reaching the point where he’s comfortable with his vocation. Which is just as well, really, considering this month sees the release of his debut album, Within and Without.

During the two years since he emerged, however, the chillwave scene has faced something of a backlash, making the success of Within and Without far from a given. Certainly, the album contains some great songs – “Amor Fati”, “A Dedication” – but, at times, it’s so soporific that it borders on background music. A particularly vicious review on the Australian website Collapse Board makes the case that Within and Without is music for the kind of kids you’d find in a Bret Easton Ellis novel. Greene, however, is pragmatic about the less positive reviews.

“Any criticism about the songs sounding the same… there might be some truth to that. I wasn’t trying to write big pop singles. But, to me, the songs come from a very pure place.”

There have been plenty of positive reviews, too, and you do have to feel for Greene a little. One minute, he’s the messiah of a new scene; the next, he’s riding a backlash, while his music has barely changed. Then there’s the controversy around his album sleeve – a shot of an amorous couple that originally accompanied a Cosmopolitan article headlined: “Is this the most satisfying sex position?”

“People thought it was meant to be a provocative statement… but, for me, it shows a very simple, innocent moment between two people.”

I tell Greene that, to me, the photo is almost too clinical to seem innocent – the couple are so beautiful, the moment so perfect, it seems kind of cold.

“I’m comfortable with that interpretation, because it plays even deeper into how I see the album.”

He sees his own album as cold?

“It is a bit cold, the general tone… moving forward, I will try to come up with a warmer sound, because it does seem a bit sterile when I listen now.”

It seems odd that an artist might describe his own music as “sterile”, but Greene likes to analyse his records. He’s a detail fiend, immersing himself in the tiniest rhythmic tricks.

“My wife thinks I’m crazy the amount of times I listen to my songs,” he says. “The way I work is by infinitely playing a very simple loop over and over and then I start layering things. Four hours later, when the same loop is playing…”

You start to hate your own music?

“When you work this intensely on something, the recording process becomes a bit like cabin fever. I shut everything out and, for a while, I totally lost perspective. To an outsider, I imagine the whole recording process sounds like torture.”

To an outsider, it maybe does. But Ernest Greene is no longer an outsider. Perhaps this shy, reluctant pop star is suited to a musician’s life more than he makes out.

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Milton Friedman on Immigration Part 2

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Milton Friedman on Immigration Part 2

Milton Friedman – Illegal Immigration – PT 1

Milton Friedman – Illegal Immigration – PT 2

 

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My previous post dealing with whether citizenship should be automatic for babies born to illegals generated a lot of commentary, so it is with some trepidation that I wade back into the issue. But the Wall Street Journal column excerpted belowseems to strike exactly the right chord and should (at least I think!) meet with approval from both sides of the immigration debate. And by “both sides,” I’m referring to the debate on the right (with some conservatives and libertarians on both sides of the issue) regarding the benefits of immigration generally and the treatment of illegals specifically.

…a larger welfare state is not conducive to comprehensive immigration reform. If foreigners start coming for handouts instead of economic opportunity, tighter restrictions will be justified. … A 2005 World Values Survey found that 71% of Americans see poverty as a condition that can be overcome by dint of hard work, while only 40% of Europeans share that viewpoint. …Belief in social mobility has informed welfare and immigration policy from colonial times. In 1645 the Massachusetts Bay colony was already barring paupers. And in 1882, when Congress finally passed the country’s first major piece of immigration legislation, it specifically prohibited entry to “any person unable to take care of himself or herself without becoming a public charge.” A problem that immigration reformers face is the public perception—fed by restrictionists and exacerbated during economic downturns—that the U.S. welfare state is already a magnet for poor immigrants in search of government assistance. It’s true that the U.S. attracts poor people, but it’s also true that they come here to work, not to go on the dole. We know this because the data consistently show that foreign nationals in the U.S. are more likely than natives to be employed and less likely than low-income natives to be receiving public benefits.  …While there’s no evidence that immigrants come here for public assistance, that could change as the U.S. welfare state grows. And one consequence could be less-welcoming immigration policies. The European experience is instructive. In countries such as France, Italy and the Netherlands, excessively generous public benefits have lured poor migrants who tend to be heavy users of welfare and less likely than natives to join the work force. Milton Friedman famously remarked, “you can’t have free immigration and a welfare state.” There is a tipping point, even if the U.S. has yet to reach it.

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Milton Friedman on Immigration Part 1

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Milton Friedman – Illegal Immigration – PT 1

Milton Friedman – Illegal Immigration – PT 2

 

Milton Friedman stated , “you can’t have free immigration and a welfare state.” Below Dan Mitchell links back to this quote in one of his earlier posts:

As a general rule, I like immigration and I don’t like redistribution.

As such, I share the late Milton Friedman’s concern about the risks of having a welfare state combined with open borders. And based on many conversations all over the country, I think that’s a big reason why many people oppose amnesty (augmented by Republican partisans who fear, probably with some validity, that changing the political landscape of America is the real reason Senator Schumer is a big advocate of amnesty).

So how can we reap the benefits of immigration without the risk of a bigger welfare state?

In part, we should have programsdesigned to attract people with skills and education.

I’m a big advocate and defender, for instance, of the EB-5 program that gives a preference for foreigners who invest in America’s economy and create jobs.

And if you peruse Mark Perry’s chart, we must be doing something right. Look at all these immigrant groups that are boosting per-capita income for the United States (including people from Lebanon, home of the Princess of the Levant).

I’ve always thought far more Americans would be sympathetic to immigration if they could be convinced that people were coming to America for the right reasons – i.e., to earn money rather than mooch off taxpayers.

With that in mind, Professor Tyler Cowen of George Mason University has aBloomberg column about Denmark that cites the great work of Nima Sanandajiabout how Americans of Nordic descent have much higher incomes than the people remaining in Nordic nations. Tyler’s entire article is worth reading, but I want to focus on a quasi-open-borders proposal that he puts forth in his conclusion.

For all the anti-immigrant sentiment that is circulating at the moment, would it hurt the U.S. to have fully open borders with Denmark? It would boost American gross domestic product and probably also improve American education. History teaches that serious assimilation problems would be unlikely, especially since many Danes already speak English. Open borders wouldn’t attract Danes who want to live off welfare because the benefits are so generous at home. How’s this for a simple rule: Open borders for the residents of any democratic country with more generous transfer payments than Uncle Sam’s.

I can’t think of any reasonable objection to this idea. Everything Tyler says makes sense. People like “Lazy Robert” won’t be lining up to get plane tickets to America. Instead, we’ll get the young and aspirational Danes.

For what it’s worth, I even think he understates the case since the type of people who would migrate to America wouldn’t just boost GDP. They almost surely would do something arguably more important, which is to boost per-capita GDP.

Just think of all the productive entrepreneurs who would take the opportunity to escape over-taxed Denmark and come to the United States. Along with ambitious and skilled people from nations such as Italy, France, and Sweden (though our welfare state is very expensive, so I admit I’m just guessing at nations which would be eligible based on Tyler’s rule about “more generous transfer payments”).

By the way, Denmark apparently has learned a lesson about the risks of being a welfare magnet.

A story from Spiegel Online has the details.

Denmark’s strict immigration laws have saved the country billions in benefits, a government report has claimed. …The extremely strict laws have dramatically reduced the flow of people into Denmark in recent years, and many government figures are delighted with the outcome. “Now that we can see that it does matter who comes into the country, I have no scruples in further restricting those who one can suspect will be a burden on Denmark,” the center-right liberal integration minister, Søren Pind, told the Jyllands Postennewspaper. Pind was talking after the ministry’s report — initiated by the right-wing populist Danish People’s Party (DPP) — came to the conclusion that by tightening immigration laws, Denmark has saved €6.7 billion ($10 billion) over the last 10 years, money which otherwise would supposedly have been spent on social benefits or housing. According to the figures, migrants from non-Western countries who did manage to come to Denmark have cost the state €2.3 billion, while those from the West have actually contributed €295 million to government coffers.

Sounds like Danish lawmakers don’t want to add even more passengers to the nation’s already-overburdened “party boat.”

And who can blame them. The nation already has a crippling problem of too many people depending on government.

P.S. If you want to enjoy some immigration-related humor, we have a video about Americans migrating to Peru and a story about American leftists escaping to Canada.

P.P.S. For those interested in the issue of birthright citizenship (a.k.a. anchor babies), I’ve shared some interesting analysis from Will Wilkinson and George Will.

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FRIEDMAN FRIDAY Security from CRADLE TO GRAVE never quite works out!!!

 Security from CRADLE TO GRAVE never quite works out!!!

Free to Choose Part 4: From Cradle to Grave Featuring Milton Friedman

I’m like a broken record when it comes to entitlement spending. I’ve explained, ad nauseam, that programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, and Social Security must be reformed.

In part, genuine entitlement reform is a good idea because you get better economic performance when you replace tax-and-transfer schemes with private savings and competitive markets.

Demographic 2030But reform also is desperately needed because ofchanging demographics. Simply stated, leaving all the entitlement programs on autopilot is a recipe for a Greek-style fiscal crisis.

If you want a rigorous explanation of the issue, my colleague Jeff Miron has a must-read monograph on the topic. You should peruse the entire study, but here’s the key conclusion if you’re pressed for time.

…this paper projects fiscal imbalance as of every year between 1965 and 2014, using data-supported assumptions about gross domestic product (GDP) growth, revenue, and trends in mandatory spending on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs. The projections reveal that the United States has faced a growing fiscal imbalance since the early 1970s, largely as a consequence of continuous growth in mandatory spending. As of 2014, the fiscal imbalance stands at $117.9 trillion, with few signs of future improvement even if GDP growth accelerates or tax revenues increase relative to historic norms. Thus the only viable way to restore fiscal balance is to scale back mandatory spending policies, particularly on large health care programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Jeff’s report is filled with sobering charts. I’ve picked out three that deserve special attention.

First, here’s a look back in history at the growing fiscal burden of entitlement programs.

Second, here’s a look forward at how the fiscal burden of entitlement programs will get even worse in coming decades.

Keep in mind, by the way, that the two above charts only show the fiscal burden of entitlement programs (sometimes referred to as “mandatory spending” since the laws “mandate” that money be given to anyone who is “entitled” based on various criteria).

When you add discretionary (annually appropriated) spending to the mix, as well as interest that is paid on the national debt, the numbers get even more grim.

Jeff adds everything together and shows, for each year between 1965 and 2014, the “present value” of the gap between what the government is promising to spend and how much revenue it is projected to collect.

These numbers are especially horrific because “present value” is a measure of how much money the government would have to somehow obtain and set aside in order to have a nest egg capable of offsetting future deficits.

Needless to say, the federal government did not have access to $118 trillion (yes, trillion with a “t”) in 2014. And if there were updated numbers for 2015 and 2016 (which would probably be even higher than $118 trillion), the federal government still wouldn’t have access to that amount of money either.

Especially since the total annual output of the American economy is about $18 trillion.

So now you can understand why international bureaucracies like the IMF, BIS, and OECD estimate that the fiscal challenge in the United States may be even bigger than the problems in decrepit welfare states such as France and Italy.

Let’s get another perspective on the issue. James Capretta of the Ethics and Public Policy Center warns about the scope of the problem.

Despite what presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have been saying on the campaign trail, the need to reform the nation’s major entitlement programs cannot be wished away. The primary cause of the nation’s fiscal problems, now and in the future, is the rapid rise in entitlement spending. In 1970, spending on Social Security and the major health care entitlement programs was 3.6 percent of GDP. In 2015, spending on these programs was 10.3 percent of GDP. By 2040, CBO expects spending on these programs to reach 14.2 percent of GDP. …entitlement reform is needed to put the federal government’s finances on a more stable foundation.

He outlines his preferred reforms, some of which I heartily embrace and some of what I think are too timid, but the key point is that he succinctly explains the need to act soon to avoid a giant long-term problem.

…reforms are not intended to create budgetary balance in the short-run. Large-scale change cannot be implemented in the major programs without significant transition periods, which means the reforms need to be enacted soon to reduce costs in fifteen, twenty, and twenty-five years. Skeptics may say it’s pointless to worry about fiscal problems that are more than twenty years off. They’re wrong. …The result is a misallocation of resources that undermines long-term economic growth. …Entitlement reform is an absolute necessity, as will soon become evident to everyone, one way or another.

The recent testimony by Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute also is must reading.

In just two generations, the government…has effectively become an entitlements machine. …transfers have become a major component in the family budget of the average American household-and our dependence on these government transfers continues to rise. …Fifty years into our great social experiment of massive expansion of entitlement programs, there is ample evidence to indicate that the unintended consequences of this reconfigutation of American political and economic life have been major and adverse.

You should read the entire testimony, which is a comprehensive explanation of how entitlements are eroding American exceptionalism.

And I’ve previously shared some of Eberstadt’s work on the growing dependency crisis in America.

In effect, our “social capital” of self reliance and the work ethic is beingreplaced by an entitlement mentality.

At the risk of understatement, that won’t end well. Heck, I don’t know which part is more depressing, theever-growing burden of spending or the fact that more and more Americans think it’s okay to live off the labor of others.

All I can say for sure is that this combination never was, is not now, and never will be a recipe for national success.

Let’s conclude with some sage observations by George Melloan of theWall Street Journal. He summarizes the problem as being a combination of too much spending and too little political courage. Here’s the too-much-spending part.

…we seem richer than we actually are because we have borrowed so heavily from future generations. …the nation’s slow growth and rising debt are already reducing the opportunities for upward mobility. …Recent projections of the future cost of current government obligations certainly won’t relieve…people’s worries. Those promises have expanded far beyond any reasonable projection of the government’s ability to extract enough revenue to cover them. …The Congressional Budget Office projects a steady rise in “mandatory” (i.e., entitlement) costs as a share of GDP out into the distant future. …The upshot: Americans are deep in debt, mainly thanks to government excesses.

And here’s the too-little-political-courage part.

The only real answer is that the entitlement programs will have to be reformed, and sooner better than later, because the longer reform is postponed the greater the fiscal imbalance will become and the greater its drain will be… Donald Trump is out to lunch on this issue, as he is on most questions that require more than a fatuous sound-bite answer. As for Hillary…, forget about it.

Sigh, how depressing. It seems like America will be “Europeanized.”

For additional background on the issue of debt, unfunded liabilities, and present value, this video is a great tutorial.

P.S. I must have taken LSD or crack earlier this year. That’s the only logical explanation for saying I was optimistic about entitlement reform.

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FRIEDMAN FRIDAY More Great Moments in Federal Government Incompetence April 2, 2016 by Dan Mitchell (with video from Milton Friedman)

The War on Work Testing Milton Friedman: Government Control – Full Video More Great Moments in Federal Government Incompetence April 2, 2016 by Dan Mitchell I used to think the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was the worst federal bureaucracy. After all, these are the pinheads who are infamous for bone-headed initiatives, such as: The EEOC making […]

FRIEDMAN FRIDAY The Left’s Inequality Fixation Is Economically Foolish and Politically Impotent April 22, 2015 by Dan Mitchell (with videos from Milton Friedman)

Dr. Walter Williams Highlights from – Testing Milton Friedman Milton Friedman PBS Free to Choose 1980 Vol 8 of 10 Who Protects the Worker The Left’s Inequality Fixation Is Economically Foolish and Politically Impotent April 22, 2015 by Dan Mitchell I don’t understand the left’s myopic fixation on income inequality. If they genuinely care about the […]

FRIEDMAN FRIDAY Walter Williams, Freedom Fighter March 23, 2011 by Dan Mitchell (with videos featuring Walter Williams and Milton Friedman)

Dr. Walter Williams Highlights from – Testing Milton Friedman Milton Friedman PBS Free to Choose 1980 Vol 8 of 10 Who Protects the Worker Walter E Williams – A Discussion About Fairness & Redistribution Testing Milton Friedman: Equality of Opportunity – Full Video Walter Williams, Freedom Fighter March 23, 2011 by Dan Mitchell I’ve been fortunate […]

FRIEDMAN FRIDAY Three Cheers for Profits and Free Markets April 7, 2015 by Dan Mitchell (with input from Milton Friedman)

__ Milton Friedman – The Four Ways to Spend Money What establishments are you most unsatisfied with? Probably government organizations like Dept of Motor Vehicles or Public Schools because there is no profit motive and they are not careful in the way they spend our money. Three Cheers for Profits and Free Markets April 7, 2015 […]

FRIEDMAN FRIDAY Dan Mitchell on Milton Friedman and Adam Smith’s perspective on spending other people’s money!!!

Dan Mitchell on Milton Friedman and Adam Smith’s perspective on spending other people’s money!!! Milton Friedman, Adam Smith, and Other People’s Money May 8, 2016 by Dan Mitchell From an economic perspective, too much government spending is harmful to economic performance because politicians and bureaucrats don’t have very good incentives to spend money wisely. More specifically, […]

FRIEDMAN FRIDAY If Milton Friedman was here he would attack Trump’s proposal for a 45 percent tax on Chinese products!

Milton Friedman – Free Trade vs. Protectionism If Milton Friedman was here he would attack Trump’s proposal for a 45 percent tax on Chinese products! Dissecting Trumponomics March 22, 2016 by Dan Mitchell At this stage, it’s quite likely that Donald Trump will be the Republican presidential nominee. Conventional wisdom suggests that this means Democrats […]

FRIEDMAN FRIDAY While attacking TRUMP Larry Elder quotes Milton Friedman concerning Protectionism!!!!

  Milton Friedman – Free Trade vs. Protectionism Free to Choose Part 2: The Tyranny of Control (Featuring Milton Friedman Donald Trump: Clueless about free trade Larry Elder rebuts candidate’s ‘they’re taking our jobs’ claim Published: 02/03/2016 at 6:39 PM One of Donald Trump’s talking points and biggest applause lines is how “they” – Japan, […]

FRIEDMAN FRIDAY Milton Friedman destroys Donald Trump on issue of PROTECTIONISM!!!

  Milton Friedman – Free Trade vs. Protectionism Free to Choose Part 2: The Tyranny of Control (Featuring Milton Friedman Mark J. Perry@Mark_J_Perry March 5, 2016 9:26 pm | AEIdeas Some economic lessons about international trade for Donald Trump from Milton Friedman and Henry George Carpe Diem Trump vs Friedman – Trade Policy Debate In […]

FRIEDMAN FRIDAY Free Market Conservatives like Dan Mitchell and Milton Friedman would destroy TRUMP and SANDERS in a debate on PROTECTIONISM Part 2

  Milton Friedman – Free Trade vs. Protectionism Free to Choose Part 2: The Tyranny of Control (Featuring Milton Friedman Eight Questions for Protectionists September 23, 2011 by Dan Mitchell When asked to pick my most frustrating issue, I could list things from my policy field such as class warfare or income redistribution. But based on […]

FRIEDMAN FRIDAY Free Market Conservatives like Dan Mitchell and Milton Friedman would destroy TRUMP and SANDERS in a debate on PROTECTIONISM Part 1

  Milton Friedman – Free Trade vs. Protectionism Free to Choose Part 2: The Tyranny of Control (Featuring Milton Friedman Trump, Sanders, and the Snake-Oil Economics of Protectionism March 19, 2016 by Dan Mitchell John Cowperthwaite deserves a lot of credit for Hong Kong’s prosperity. As a British appointee, he took a hands-off policy and allowed […]

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