Reason Magazine’s rightly praises Milton Friedman but makes foolish claim along the way

I must say that I have lots of respect for Reason Magazine and for their admiration of Milton Friedman. However, I do disagree with one phrase below. At the end of this post I will tell you what sentence it is.

Uploaded by on Jul 28, 2011

There’s no way to appreciate fully the contributions of Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman (1912-2006), who would have turned 99 years old this weekend, to the growth of libertarian ideas and a free society.

This is the man, after all, who introduced the concept of school vouchers, documented the role of government monopolies on money in creating inflation, provided the intellectual arguments that ended the military draft in America, co-founded the Mont Pelerin Society, and so much more. In popular books such as Capitalism and Freedom and Free to Choose, written with his wife and longtime collaborator Rose, he masterfully drew a through-line between economic freedom and political and cultural freedom.

Yet his ultimate contribution to freedom and liberty is found less in any of the specific argument he made and more in the ways he made them. Friedman provided an all-too-rare example of a public intellectual who was scrupulously honest, forthright, and fair in every debate he entered. Whether he was duking it out with fellow Nobel Prize winners and other high-profile economists or making the case for the morality of capitalism with TV hosts such as Phil Donahue and angry students, he always argued in good faith, admitted when he was wrong, and enlarged the circle of debate.

Long after some of his technical points and social insights have been superseded, that commitment to relentless inquiry and search for truth wherever it takes us will survive.

Milton Friedman gave us something much better than revealed truth: He showed us the process by which we might continue to indefinitely learn about our world and the human condition. In this sense, the Friedman Century is far from over; indeed, it’s just getting started.

Written and narrated by Nick Gillespie. Produced and edited by Jim Epstein, with help from Jack Gillespie.

About 2.30 minutes.

For Reason’s coverage of and interviews with Milton Friedman over the years, go here now.

_________

Here are the words that I take exception to: “Milton Friedman gave us something much better than revealed truth: He showed us the process by which we might continue to indefinitely learn about our world and the human condition.”

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I am an evangelical christian. The fact is that we can’t possess ultimate answers apart from the reference point of the infinite personal God himself. Without this “revealed knowledge” then we are left in a hopeless case that gives us no chance at having any lasting meaning to our lives. 

I had the chance to correspond with Carl Sagan in the last year of his life. Sagan insisted that  prophecies from the Old Testiment were too vague but I have have not found that to be the case. (Also the evidence from archaeology backs up the historicity of the Bible.) Carl Sagan could not rid himself of the “mannishness of man.” Those who have read Francis Schaeffer’s many books know exactly what I am talking about. We are made in God’s image and we are living in God’s world. Therefore, we can not totally suppress the objective truths of our unique humanity. In my letter of Jan 10, 1996 to Dr. Sagan, I really camped out on this point a long time because I had read Sagan’s  book Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors  and in it  Sagan attempts to  totally debunk the idea that we are any way special. However, what does Dr. Sagan have Dr. Arroway say at the end of the movie Contact when she is testifying before Congress about the alien that  communicated with her? See if you can pick out the one illogical word in her statement: “I was given a vision how tiny, insignificant, rare and precious we all are. We belong to something that is greater than ourselves and none of us are alone.” 

Dr Sagan deep down knows that we are special so he could not avoid putting the word “precious” in there. Schaeffer said unbelievers are put in a place of tension when they have to live in the world that God has made because deep down they know they are special because God has put that knowledge in their hearts.We are not the result of survival of the fittest and headed back to the dirt forevermore. This is what Schaeffer calls “taking the roof off” of the unbeliever’s worldview and showing the inconsistency that exists. 

In several of my letters I quoted this passage below:

Romans 1:17-22 (Amplified Bible)

17For in the Gospel a righteousness which God ascribes is revealed, both springing from faith and leading to faith [disclosed through the way of faith that arouses to more faith]. As it is written, The man who through faith is just and upright shall live and shall live by faith.(A)

    18For God’s [holy] wrath and indignation are revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who in their wickedness repress and hinder the truth and make it inoperative.

    19For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God [Himself] has shown it to them.

    20For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defense or justification],(B)

    21Because when they knew and recognized Him as God, they did not honor and glorify Him as God or give Him thanks. But instead they became futile and [a]godless in their thinking [with vain imaginings, foolish reasoning, and stupid speculations] and their senseless minds were darkened.

    22Claiming to be wise, they became fools [professing to be smart, they made simpletons of themselves].

 

Dr. Francis Schaeffer – The Biblical flow of Truth & History (intro)

Uploaded by on Oct 3, 2010

__________________

Some wise words below I got off the internet:

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Infinite-Personal God: Thoughts from Francis Schaeffer’s Escape from Reason

 

Perhaps you are familiar with the indie band Arcade Fire. Their most recent album is entitled Neon Bible. The songs on Neon Bible certainly reflect something of the Bible itself in so far as it raises some of life’s biggest questions. Some of these questions are about fear, faith, love and disappointment. On the album is an update version of their song “No Cars Go” in which we hear the eerie tone of the line “Don’t know where we are goin.’ The line gives the listener the sense that there is no certainty to what our end is. This captures much of what I think indie music captures about our fragmented culture where the greatest questions are asked, but with very few answers.Because we live in a postmodern culture where many are not afraid to ask honest questions about life, the concept of faith is quite popular. Francis Schaeffer’s work and his book Escape from Reason have made a tremendous contribution to an understanding of Christian faith in this type of cultural context. In Escape from Reason, Schaeffer is clear in pointing out that the Bible reveals that God is both infinite and personal.He is the infinite-personal God whom created all things out of nothing and therefore the creation is finite or limited. Only God alone is the infinite Creator, the Creator without limitations. On the side of infinity, Schaeffer points out that, humans are “as separated from God as is the machine.” (pg. 26)On the side of human personality, Schaeffer is clear that humans, being made in the image of God, were made to have a personal relationship with God. Schaeffer states, “On the side of personality you are related to God. You are not infinite but finite; nevertheless, you are truly personal; you are created in the image of the personal God who exists.” (pg. 26-27)

As Schaeffer fleshes this idea out in Escape from Reason, he presents a clear Biblical view of human persons. About the Biblical view of the whole of a human being, Schaeffer states,

“It is not a Platonic view. The soul is not more important than the body. God made the whole man and the whole man is important. The doctrine of the biblical resurrection of the dead is not an old-fashioned thing. It tells us that God loves the whole man and the whole man is important. The biblical teaching, therefore, opposes the Platonic, which makes the soul (“the upper”) very important and leaves the body (“the lower”) with little importance at all. The biblical view opposes the humanistic position where the body and autonomous mind of man become important, and grace becomes very unimportant.”(pg. 28)

God made the whole human being and cares about the whole human being.Schaeffer goes on to point out the importance of understanding historically the philosophical schools that have help to shape where we are today. He points out that in Western philosophy, from the rise of Greek philosophy until now, the commonly held belief that the hope of finding complete answers which would encompass all of thought and life would come through rationalism plus rationality rather than rationality and faith in the God of the Bible. In his book Death in the City Schaeffer states,

The Bible puts its religious teaching in a historic setting. It is quite the opposite of the new theology and existential thought, quite the opposite of the twentieth century’s reduction of religion to the “spiritual” and the subjective. Scripture relates true religion to space-time history which may be expressed in normal literary form. And that is important, because our generation takes the word religion and everything religious and turns it into something psychological or sociological…a holy and loving God really exists, and He works into the significant history which exists” (Death in the City, pg. 17)

The philosophical thought during the time of Kant and Rousseau in the late 1700’s was a time of fighting for freedom. The freedom that was sought after was an autonomous freedom in which human freedom would have no restraint or limitations. The quest for this kind of freedom took place during a time when Western philosophy was rationalistic, rational, and sought to find a unified field of knowledge.Rationalism as Schaeffer puts it in Escape from Reason is “man begins absolutely and totally from himself, gathers the information concerning the particulars and formulates the universals.” (pg. 34) The term “rational” on the other hand has no relationship to “rationalism.” This term “rational” is the act in which “man’s aspirations for the validity of reason are well founded.” In other words, if something is true the opposite is not true. Schaeffer states,

The basic position of man in rebellion against God is that man is at the centre of the universe, that he is autonomous – here lies his rebellion. Man will keep his rationalism and his rebellion, his insistence on total autonomy or partially autonomous areas, even if it means he must give up his rationality.”(pg. 42)

With this quest for autonomy, humans began to view reality in which there is a large gap between nature and universals. Schaeffer states,

“The hope of a connecting link between two spheres has completely disappeared. There is a complete dichotomy between the upper and lower storeys. The line between the upper and lower storeys has become a concrete horizontal, ten thousand feet thick, with highly-charged barbed-wire fixed in the concrete…Below the line there is rationality and logic. The upper storey becomes the non-logical and the non-rational.”(pg. 46)

With this dichotomy, on the basis of reason human have no meaning, purpose, or significance. On the basis of the non-rational and non-reasonable humans obtain a sense of optimism. But from this worldview humans are left with the need to take a leap of faith because they cannot rationally search for God.

Francis Schaeffer – The Biblical Flow of History & Truth (1)

The search for significance is intrinsic to who we are as people made in the image of God. Humans made in the image of God cannot live as though they are insignificant. But humans cannot live in the lower storey and find adequate answers concerning meaning, purpose, and significance. Yet as Schaeffer states, “in our day, the sphere of faith is placed in the non-rational and non-logical as opposed to the rational and logical.” (pg. 75)

Schaeffer points out some consequences of pitting faith against rationality. First, if we separate the upper storey or the world of universals from nature there is no way of establishing a relationship between the upper storey and everyday life in regard to morality. Schaeffer states, “You cannot have real morals in the real world after you have made this separation.” (pg. 80) The second consequence is that the separation creates no adequate basis for law. God revealed something real in the common world of life. Third, the separation, “throws away the answer to the problem of evil.” Schaeffer states,

“the True Christian position is that, in space and time and history, there was an unprogrammed man who made a choice, and actually rebelled against God…without Christianity’s answer that God made a significant man in a significant history with evil being the result of Satan’s and then man’s historic space-time revolt, there is no answer but to accept Baudelaire’s answer [‘If there is a God, He is the devil’] with tears. Once the historic Christian answer is put away, all we can do is to leap upstairs and say that against all reason God is good.”(pg. 81)

Without Christianity’s answer to the problem of evil what we have left is an irrational leap of faith.Christianity thoroughly provides an answer, but rationalism must be renounced and rationality embraced. Christianity provides a world and life view with a unified answer. Schaeffer states,

“On the side of infinity…we are separated from God entirely, but on the side of personality we are made in the image of God. So God can speak and tell us about Himself—not exhaustively, but truly. (We could not, after all, know anything exhaustively as finite creatures.) Then He has told us about things in the finite created realm, too. He has told us true things about the cosmos and history. Thus, we are not adrift.” (pg. 83)

I do recognize now that doubt is real and that doubt’s role is significant in our lives and yet at a fundamental level we have answers to our cry, “Don’t know where were goin.” Although we cannot have ultimate answers without something revealed about God and God indeed is made known in the person of Jesus Christ. The person and work of Christ is communicated to us in the story that the Bible tells. It is the story of the infinite-personal God drawing near because he cares. God cares about the whole of a human being. There is not an area of our life that he does not care about and there is not an area of our life that is autonomous. The Bible says first that there is an infinite-personal God who created all things. Because he created all things the universe begins as personal. Because it is personal the longings of love and communication are intrinsic to all of humanity.God has also always existed and has created all things. Not only has God created all things, but created them outside of himself. Because he created all things outside of himself the world is objectively real and therefore there is a true history and a true me. Schaeffer states,

“If the intrinsically personal origin of the universe is rejected, what alternative outlook can anyone have? It must be said emphatically that there is no final answer except that man is a product of the impersonal, plus time, plus chance.” (pg. 87)

Humanism or rationalism says that humans can built bridges to ultimate answers apart from anyone else, apart from an infinite-personal God. But this is impossible given that humans are finite. Humans cannot point to anything with ultimate certainty. Regarding human quests for answers Schaeffer states,

“beginning only from himself autonomously, it is quite obvious that, being finite, he can never reach any absolute answer. This would be true if only on the basis of the fact that he is finite; but to this must be added the Fall, the fact of his rebellion.” (pg. 89)

We are not only finite and limited, but by nature our own quest for true significance and meaning takes place in autonomous rebellion against the God who is there.But we have hope. The Bible states clearly that humans are made in the image of this infinite-personal God and this gives us a starting point at which to seek for ultimate answers.The Bible says even as lost and broken as we are, seeking to live life apart from the life source, the image of God is still exhibited in humans. We are not like from machines or plants as beautiful as they might be, because we are personal. But how can we seek the infinite-personal God if we ourselves are finite humans?We cannot possess ultimate answers apart from the reference point of the infinite God himself. The humanist or rationalist puts himself at the center of the universe in order to seek ultimate meaning and answers. Schaeffer says this persons “insists on being autonomous with only the knowledge he can gather, and has ended up finding himself quite meaningless.” (pg. 90) The knowledge we can gather is limited and if it comes only from within we have no hope for ultimate answers regarding meaning and life.

Christianity does provide a worldview in which to wrestle with ultimate questions in not simply a theoretical way, but in a personal way. Schaeffer states,

“Christianity is a system which is composed of a set of ideas which can be discussed. By ‘system’ we do not mean a scholastic abstraction, nevertheless we do not shrink from using the word. The Bible does not set out unrelated thoughts. The system it sets forth has a beginning and moves from that beginning in a non-contradictory way. The beginning is the existence of the infinite-personal God as Creator of all else. Christianity is not just a vague set of incommunicable experiences, based on a totally unverifiable ‘leap in the dark.’ Neither conversion (the beginning of the Christian life) nor spirituality (the growth) should be such a leap. Both are firmly related to the God who is there and the knowledge He has given us – and both involve the whole man.”

I would add that the Bible is not just a system, but also a story. It is a story where God is the ultimate actor and also the one who has written the script. It is a story that reveals that the infinite-personal God is there and has drawn near to his people with a passionate pursuit. He is infinite and he is personal. As finite persons we can have hope that God has drawn personally near in the person of Jesus in whom the whole story points to. Jesus is also the one who grants us the privilege of being included in this great story as well. Jesus through his death and resurrection from death provides a way to live personally with this infinite-personal God. Our response to his grace in drawing near ought to be acknowledging our rebellion as we have insistence on being autonomous. The meaningful life comes through acknowledging our dependence on the God who is there and in Jesus Christ as The Way, The Truth, and The Life.The story continues to move forward unfolding toward a day when lost people from all nations will have their story included in the great story of God’s personal restoration of his people and the world. The story unfolds until one day we will know fully the God who is there. No longer must we live out our own story without a script. No longer must we live out our own story by the line, “Don’t no where were goin!”

 
Posted by Mark Peach at 10:31 AM

 
 

Francis Schaeffer – The Biblical Flow of History & Truth (2)

 

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  • David Lloyd-Jones  On April 8, 2013 at 7:31 am

    “Here are the words that I take exception to: “Milton Friedman gave us something much better than revealed truth: He showed us the process by which we might continue to indefinitely learn about our world and the human condition.”” you write.

    Everette,

    Your problem is that your revealed truth is inside your mind and anybody else’s is inside their minds, and they may or may not resemble each other.

    Many of the different religions tend to agree on Kant’s imperative, usually as something like “Don’t do to others what you don’t want done to you.” Beyond that, all bets are off.

    Different Christians cling to different favorite bits of Scripture, and no particular view of who or what God is attracts more than about ten percent of the population.

    Obviously we all have to live by and upon our own faiths. But don’t for a moment think that your faith is the same as anybody else’s.

    For coopeation, for dealing with other people, for family and community life, verifiable, arguable and falsifiable empirical reality is the way to go. To insist on anything else is just to set yourself up as everybody’s judge.

    Best wishes,

    -dlj.

    • Everette Hatcher III  On April 9, 2013 at 6:24 am

      Let me ask you a simple question and see if you can answer it with justification from your own view. If you saw the movie “Crimes and Misdemeanors” then on what basis would you condemn Judah for killing his mistress in order to avoid jail if there is no afterlife there to judge him? If you are not familiar with the film then read this short review that I wrote about the film. Here is a link to my earlier post that has some film clips. https://thedailyhatch.org/2012/07/11/discussion-of-woody-allens-1989-movie-crimes-and-misdemeanors-part-1/

      DISCUSSING FILMS AND SPIRITUAL MATTERS
      By Everette Hatcher III

      “Existential subjects to me are still the only subjects worth dealing with. I don’t think that one can aim more deeply than at the so-called existential themes, the spiritual themes.” WOODY ALLEN

      Evangelical Chuck Colson has observed that it used to be true that most Americans knew the Bible. Evangelists could simply call on them to repent and return. But today, most people lack understanding of biblical terms or concepts. Colson recommends that we first attempt to find common ground to engage people’s attention. That then may open a door to discuss spiritual matters.

      Woody Allen’s 1989 movie, CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS , is an excellent icebreaker concerning the need of God while making decisions in the area of personal morality. In this film, Allen attacks his own atheistic view of morality. Martin Landau plays a Jewish eye doctor named Judah Rosenthal raised by a religious father who always told him, “The eyes of God are always upon you.” However, Judah later concludes that God doesn’t exist. He has his mistress (played in the film by Anjelica Huston) murdered because she continually threatened to blow the whistle on his past questionable, probably illegal, business activities. She also attempted to break up Judah ‘s respectable marriage by going public with their two-year affair. Judah struggles with his conscience throughout the remainder of the movie. He continues to be haunted by his father’s words: “The eyes of God are always upon you.” This is a very scary phrase to a young boy, Judah observes. He often wondered how penetrating God’s eyes are.

      Later in the film, Judah reflects on the conversation his religious father had with Judah ‘s unbelieving Aunt May at the dinner table many years ago:

      “Come on Sol, open your eyes. Six million Jews burned to death by the Nazis, and they got away with it because might makes right,” says aunt May

      Sol replies, “May, how did they get away with it?”

      Judah asks, “If a man kills, then what?”

      Sol responds to his son, “Then in one way or another he will be punished.”

      Aunt May comments, “I say if he can do it and get away with it and he chooses not to be bothered by the ethics, then he is home free.”

      Judah ‘s final conclusion was that might did make right. He observed that one day, because of this conclusion, he woke up and the cloud of guilt was gone. He was, as his aunt said, “home free.”

      Woody Allen has exposed a weakness in his own humanistic view that God is not necessary as a basis for good ethics. There must be an enforcement factor in order to convince Judah not to resort to murder. Otherwise, it is fully to Judah ‘s advantage to remove this troublesome woman from his life.

      The Bible tells us, “{God} has also set eternity in the hearts of men…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV). The secularist calls this an illusion, but the Bible tells us that the idea that we will survive the grave was planted in everyone’s heart by God Himself. Romans 1:19-21 tells us that God has instilled a conscience in everyone that points each of them to Him and tells them what is right and wrong (also Romans 2:14 -15).

      It’s no wonder, then, that one of Allen’s fellow humanists would comment, “Certain moral truths — such as do not kill, do not steal, and do not lie — do have a special status of being not just ‘mere opinion’ but bulwarks of humanitarian action. I have no intention of saying, ‘I think Hitler was wrong.’ Hitler WAS wrong.” (Gloria Leitner, “A Perspective on Belief,” THE HUMANIST, May/June 1997, pp. 38-39)

      Here Leitner is reasoning from her God-given conscience and not from humanist philosophy. It wasn’t long before she received criticism. Humanist Abigail Ann Martin responded, “Neither am I an advocate of Hitler; however, by whose criteria is he evil?” (THE HUMANIST, September/October 1997, p. 2)

      The secularist can only give incomplete answers to these questions: How could you have convinced Judah not to kill? On what basis could you convince Judah it was wrong for him to murder?

      As Christians, we would agree with Judah ‘s father that “The eyes of God are always upon us.” Proverbs 5:21 asserts, “For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He ponders all his paths.” Revelation 20:12 states, “…And the dead were judged (sentenced) by what they had done (their whole way of feeling and acting, their aims and endeavors) in accordance with what was recorded in the books” (Amplified Version). The Bible is revealed truth from God. It is the basis for our morality. Judah inherited the Jewish ethical values of the Ten Commandments from his father, but, through years of life as a skeptic, his standards had been lowered. Finally, we discover that Judah ‘s secular version of morality does not resemble his father’s biblically-based morality.

      Woody Allen’s CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS forces unbelievers to grapple with the logical conclusions of a purely secular morality. It opens a door for Christians to find common ground with those whom they attempt to share Christ; we all have to deal with personal morality issues. However, the secularist has no basis for asserting that Judah is wrong.

      Larry King actually mentioned on his show, LARRY KING LIVE, that Chuck Colson had discussed the movie CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS with him. Colson asked King if life was just a Darwinian struggle where the ruthless come out on top. Colson continued, “When we do wrong, is that our only choice? Either live tormented by guilt, or else kill our conscience and live like beasts?” (BREAKPOINT COMMENTARY, “Finding Common Ground,” September 14, 1993)

      Later, Colson noted that discussing the movie CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS with King presented the perfect opportunity to tell him about Christ’s atoning work on the cross. Colson believes the Lord is working on Larry King. How about your neighbors? Is there a way you can use a movie to find common ground with your lost friends and then talk to them about spiritual matters?

      (Caution: CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS is rated PG-13. It does include some adult themes.)

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