The Daily Hatch

Milton Friedman’s religious views

John Lofton noted: “DR. FRIEDMAN an evolutionist with ‘values’ of unknown origin but he said they were not ‘accidental.’ “

If anyone takes time to read my blog for any length of time they can not question my respect for the life long work of Milton Friedman. He has advanced the cause of freedom more than any other person I know of in the last 100 years except for Ronald Reagan who I give credit to for the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

I only had onc chance to correspond with Milton Friedman and he quickly answered my letter. It was a question concerning my favorite christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer. I had read  in the 1981 printing of The Tapestry: the Life and Times of Francis and Edith Schaeffer on page 644 that Edith mentioned “that the KUP SHOW  in Chicago, a talk show Francis was on twice, once with the economist Milton Friedman, with whom he still has a good correspondence.”  I asked in a letter in the late 1990’s  if Friedman remembered the content of any of that correspondence and he said he did not.

1947: Economists representing the emerging Chicago School: Milton Friedman, George Stigler, and Aaron Director,


Published on Dec 3, 2013

1969 edit of Judy Garland’s 1967 appearance on Chicago based “Kup’s Show.”


I was hoping the answer would have been yes because I also wanted to talk to Friedman about some religious subjects. I knew that Friedman had rejected religion at an early age. James A. Nuechterlein noted in 2007, “Milton Friedman grew up in Rahway, New Jersey, the son of Hungarian Jewish immigrants. (His parents were moderately observant, but Friedman, after an intense burst of childhood piety, rejected religion altogether.)

It is my understanding that Friedman did express more interest in religious subjects later in his life.  Here is a portion of an article from Human Events that led me to believe that:

Milton’s mind was bright and alert to the end, although he suffered from pain in his legs and he had a hard time walking. He also had gone through two open-heart surgeries in the 1980s. This year, when he turned 94, I asked him, “Do you think you will live to be 100?” His reply: “I hope not!” But Milton was almost always upbeat about life, even to the end. He was not a particularly religious man, but he expressed interest in religious topics near the end of his life.

John Lofton, editor of noted in “An Exchange: My Correspondence With Milton Friedman About God, Economics, Evolution And “Values”:

One of the saddest things to see is a truly brilliant individual, with a keen intellect, but who does not believe in God, in Jesus Christ, in the Bible. A case in point: Dr. Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize-winning, libertarian, free market economist. In a letter-to-the-editor to the “Wall Street Journal” (10/30/92), Dr. Friedman made the point that he is a “radical,” get-to-the-root-of-the-problem kind of guy. So, although I knew, generally, what his answer would be, but not exactly, I wrote Dr. Friedman, at the Hoover Institute at Stanford University, and asked him:

Do you believe in God? And what, if anything, does God have to do with economics? He replied, in a handwritten note on my original letter:

“I am an agnostic. I do not ‘believe in’ God, but I am not an atheist, because I believe the statement, ‘There is a god’ does not admit of being either confirmed or rejected. I do not believe God has anything to do with economics. But values do.”

Okay. So, I write Dr. Friedman again, thank him for his prompt response, and ask: What is the distinction you make between ‘agnosticism’ and ‘atheism?” And where do these ‘values’ you say you believe in come from? Again, Dr. Friedman writes back, quickly:

“(1) Agnosticism ‘I do not know.’ (2) Atheism ‘I know that there is no god.’ (3) I do not know where my values come from, but that does not mean (a) I don’t have them, (b) I don’t hold them as strongly as you hold your belief in God. (c) They turn out — not accidentally, I believe — to be very much like these held by most other people whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, atheist, agnostic, or abstract. (d) Which leads me to believe that they are a product of the same evolutionary process that accounts for the rest of our customs as well as physical characterizations.”

John Lofton rightly notes that “Dr. Friedman was an evolutionist with ‘values’ of unknown origin but he said they were not ‘accidental.’ I encountered the same approach from Carl Sagan. He wanted to say their was no afterlife and we were all products of chance but then he wanted to jump back and grab words like “precious” to describe us as if we could attain lasting meaning to our lives without God in the picture.

Milton Friedman had no valid basis for his morality. He was borrowing from a Judeo-Christian basis.

I will give agnostics credit when they realize that without God in the picture everything is left to chance. I posted earlier. Neo-Darwinist Richard Dawkins recognized the purposelessness of such a system:

In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.22

Without God in the picture life is meaningless ultimately.  Also without God providing punishment in the afterlife for evil then there is no reason to do good without an enforcement factor.

H.J.Blackham below

I would love to hear from any atheist that would present a case for lasting meaning in life apart from God. It seems to me that H. J. Blackham was right in his accessment of the predictament that atheists face:

On humanist assumptions [the assumption that there is no God and life has evolved by time and chance alone], 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 another they fall into the abyss. The bridge leads to 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 . . . such a situation is a model of futility (H. J. Blackham et al., Objections to Humanism (Riverside, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1967).)

I do not accept evolution at all. Adrian Rogers noted three problems with evolution:

1. The fossil record. Not only is the so-called missing link still missing, all of the transitional life forms so crucial to evolutionary theory are missing from the fossil record. There are thousands of missing links, not one!
2. The second law of thermodynamics. This law states that energy is winding down and that matter left to itself tends toward chaos and randomness, not greater organization and complexity. Evolution demands exactly the opposite process, which is observed nowhere in nature.
3. The origin of life. Evolution offers no answers to the origin of life. It simply pushes the question farther back in time, back to some primordial event in space or an act of spontaneous generation in which life simply sprang from nothing.


Arthur F. Burns with Milton Friedman below


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.

Solomon is said to be the wisest man who ever lived.Solomon went to the extreme in his searching in the Book of Ecclesiastes for this something more,  but he did not find any satisfaction in pleasure (2:1), education (2:3), work (2:4), wealth (2:8) or fame (2:9). All of his accomplishments would not be remembered (1:11) and who is to say that they had not already been done before by others (1:10)?   Also Solomon’s upcoming death depressed him because both people and animals alike “go to the same place — they came from dust and they return to dust” (3:20).

In 1978 I heard the song “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas when it rose to #6 on the charts. That song told me thatKerry Livgren the writer of that song and a member of Kansas had come to the same conclusion that Solomon had. I remember mentioning to my friends at church that we may soon see some members of Kansas become Christians because their search for the meaning of life had obviously come up empty even though they had risen from being an unknown band to the top of the music business and had all the wealth and fame that came with that. Furthermore, Solomon realized death comes to everyone and there must be something more.

Livgren wrote:

“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.”

Both Kerry Livgren and 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 youtube today. Livgren lives in Topeka, Kansas today where he teaches “Diggers,” a Sunday school class at Topeka Bible Church. Hope is the head of Worship, Evangelism and Outreach at Immanuel Anglican Church in Destin, Florida.

Solomon’s experiment was a search for meaning to life “under the sun.” Then in last few words in the Book of Ecclesiastes he looks above the sun and brings God back into the picture: “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: Fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.”

You can hear Kerry Livgren’s story from this youtube link:

(part 1 ten minutes)

(part 2 ten minutes)


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