Friday, January 07, 2011

My Response to Joel Salatin

"We don’t need a law against McDonalds or a law against slaughterhouse abuse--we ask for too much salvation by legislation. All we need to do is empower individuals with the right philosophy and the right information to opt out en masse" ~~Joel Salatin, "Christian-libertarian-environmentalist-capitalist-lunatic-Farmer"

My response to Joel Salatin:

The Greek/pagan/Modernist/Enlightenment crowd tends to elevate human reason and ignore/downplay/reject human sinfulness. For them, education is the way to overcome vice, because all vice is simply a matter of a person's ignorance of what is... good. Thus, "All we need to do is EMPOWER individuals with the RIGHT PHILOSOPHY and the RIGHT INFORMATION."

Long ago, St. Augustine exploded this idea by writing a little piece in his Confessions about stealing pears. The point here is that he KNEW it was wrong to steal and throw them; but he did it for the sheer ENJOYMENT of sinning. Philosophers call this the problem of akrasia, or "weakness of will."

Some philosophers, like Socrates, say that weakness of will is psychologically impossible. Other philosophers (often Christians) would say knowledge is a NECESSARY , but not SUFFICIENT cause for right/good behavior.

The trick here is the balancing of intellect and will, and the ideal government (Plato's "soul writ large") aims to achieve that. As a parent and teacher, I fully support the intellectual and spiritual formation of youth, but I have no illusions that they will not continue to sin, as youth and even more as adults. As a Christian, I affirm Romans 7:21-25, having experienced it for myself. As a citizen, I realize that it is possible to mistake government for God, and for government to mistake itself for God, but I am also constrained by
1 Peter 2:13-15, Titus 3:1, Romans 13:1.

Perhaps the reason government has to impose laws is because so many citizens have weak wills. The recent Wall Street debacle provides me with enough empirical evidence of what happens to a society when it when it ignores/downplays/rejects the effect of sin on the will.

Paulson admits deregulation has failed us all
(Wall Street Journal)

Don't blame the New Deal for today's financial crisis (New York Times)

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