Wednesday, October 23, 2013

On "Secular Theism"

As a result of reading every scrap of libertarian/free market/Austrian economics scribbling that I can get my hands on, I've been thinking more and more about the idea of "Secular Theism". 

First, a few definitions...  A Deist is someone who believes that there is something called "god" and that god may or may not have set the world in motion.  Deists usually reject the Trinitarian formula of Father/Son/Holy Spirit.  Deists simply believe that there is a powerful entity out there called "god", and that there's just one of them.  And that's about it. 

Theists take it up a notch.  They believe that there is a god, and that god cares and god gets involved.  You could say that Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and most of the other rigmaroles are all Theistic religions. 

The term "Secular Theist", as I've seen it used, is somewhat of an insult. 

I have friends and acquaintances on the left who are rabidly anti-Christian.  They are proud to tell you that they don't believe in ghosts, goblins, gods, spirits, witches, the afterlife, or anything supernatural.  So that makes them secular, right? 

But they also have a charming, creationist-style belief that nothing happens unless guided from above.  They are the first to ask "But who would build the roads in a libertarian society?", almost like the guy in the fundamentalist fable who finds a watch on the beach, and knows that if there is a watch, there must be a skilled watchmaker.  Roads wouldn't be built without god government. 

They can't imagine a free market medical system, a system whose costs and prices would plummet (like the costs associated with lap-band surgery, liposuction, boob jobs, etc.) in an environment where government stayed the hell out.  People would be left to die without god government.

My buddies on the left look at the success of somewhat deregulated countries like Korea, Taiwan, and China in the same way that Pentecostal preachers look at 65,000,000-year-old Brontosaurus bones.  It just doesn't compute for them.  Countries can't truly prosper without more god government.

Most of my liberal friends are Theists, and when I say this, I truly mean that they are Theists of the most superstitious sort. 

Does that sound kinda harsh?  Well, here's some Luddy Von Mises, quoted by Don Boudreaux:
Organization is an association based on authority, organism is mutuality.  The primitive thinker always sees things as having been organized from outside, never as having grown themselves, organically.  He sees the arrow which he has carved, he knows how it came into existence and how it was set in motion.  So he asks of everything he sees, who made it and who sets it in motion.  He inquires after the creation of every form of life, the authors of every change in nature, and discovers an animistic explanation.

"Nobody" made the internet.  It happened.  The process, no matter what Al Gore says, was an evolutionary process involving billions and billions of both good and bad decisions. 

The same can be said for our current healthcare system, your house, your first tricycle, your car, the device you're using to read this post, and every stitch of clothing you're now wearing.  Nobody made it.  Everybody made it.  (Unless you live in a Worker's Paradise like North Korea, where, if you're lucky and have a few of these items, they were provided for you as part of a process dictated by the gods at the top of the system.) 

The older I get, the less I believe in gods - secular or theological.  They're given too much credit for things they had little or no part in. 


Daniel said...

I have come to a similar realization. Richard Dawkins is fond of saying that most everyone is an atheist with respect to a vast majority of gods; atheists simply go one god further. I believe this is the same with liberty-minded types. Everyone is a libertarian with respect to some spending programs. Those who believe in a voluntary society simply go one god further.

MingoV said...

Secular Theists can be subdivided. Some simply consider governments (or their leaders) to be benevolent gods who shower us with goodies while requiring us to obey the ten million commandments and regulations.

The other group of secular theists are magical thinkers who believe that government is like a rich uncle (just as young children believe that under-pillow money is from the Tooth Fairy). The secular magical thinkers expect their rich uncle to shower them with presents if they are nice to him. They obey the rich uncle, suck up to him, and butt in front of any other nieces or nephews who might get to uncle first.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

I wrote this as sort of a throwaway post, but it's gone around the world quite nicely.
I appreciate your comments.

Marshall said...

I actually believe in God, and think He gets credit (and blame for that matter) for things He had not part in...
this position sometimes amkes it difficult to have reasonable discussions at church...

Anonymous said...

He Above Lord Willin Is Real n True

read n believe to see i hope n pray PLGB For GOD SO LOVED the world HE GAVE HIS ONLY SON