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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 7/5/15

Ah, Sweet Enlightened Reason

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Derryl Hermanutz
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Ah, Sweet Enlightened Reason

0177-5 Log cabin, Pioneer settlement, Swan Hill
0177-5 Log cabin, Pioneer settlement, Swan Hill
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The 18th century European Enlightenment was our intellectual ancestors' assertion of their human ability to rationally analyze and critique the authoritative pronouncements of people who dogmatically claimed to "know". At the time, the authorities were religious and claimed their certain knowledge came from God. If you wanted proof that God really said all that stuff, you could just look it up in the Bible. We're just the messengers, said the authorities. The message is written down right there in the book. God wrote it in there. Not men. Certainly not us.

Fast forward 250 years. We still believe in the authoritative pronouncements of people who dogmatically claim to "know". But now they call themselves "free market economists" rather than "Christian priests". And they claim their certainties come from faith in the beneficent workings of an invisible hand, not from faith in the written word of a beneficent God.

The Christian worldview believed in the real existence of God, heaven and our eternal souls. None of these realities could be visibly "seen". But most everybody believed in them, and acted as if they were very real. The priesthood were the experts who spent their lives studying the book and interpreting the Word of God to Christian civilization. Christians were to "obey" the Word of God, as interpreted by the priesthood.

So who is responsible for what happens here on Earth: God or us?

Some Christians believed we are moral agents with free will who are personally responsible for our own salvation. It is up to us to see the effects our choices produce, and adapt our beliefs, values and behavior to produce good outcomes. "You will know them by their works." Our "good beliefs and values" must be empirically demonstrated in our "good works".

Other Christians believed Jesus Christ atoned for all our sins, so we are not responsible for what we do and for the consequences of our actions. "Justification by faith alone!" Our "faith" is divorced from our "works". What we claim to believe in and value is divorced from our real world behavior. Beliefs are divorced from evidence. 'Values' are divorced from choices and behavior.

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I spent my working life as an independent small business owner/operator. My academic background is in philosophy and political economy. I began studying monetary systems and monetary history after the 1982 banking crash that was precipitated by (more...)

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