Megan McArdle points out that the thought that one can have innovative pharmaceutical companies delivering new drugs at low cost under government direction is a fantasy. You can have lower costs, perhaps—though the military procurement process is hardly encouraging—but you cripple innovation, slowing progress against disease.
Archive for January, 2008
George Weigel names the enemy, and asks why so many are so unwilling to do the same:
That is what we are fighting: jihadism, the religiously inspired ideology which teaches that it is every Muslim’s duty to use any means necessary to compel the world’s submission to Islam. That most of the world’s Muslims do not accept this definition of the demands of their faith is true—and beside the point. The jihadists believe this. That is why they are the enemy of their fellow Muslims and the rest of the world. For decades, an internal Islamic civil war, born of Islam’s difficult encounter with modernity, has been fought over such key modern political ideas as religious toleration and the separation of religious and political authority in a just state. That intra-Islamic struggle now engages the rest of humanity. To ignore this, to imagine it’s all George W. Bush’s fault, or to misrepresent it because of a prudish reluctance to discuss religion in public, is to repeat the mistakes the advocates of appeasement made in the 1930s.
He has a suggestion: we must fight philosophically as well as militarily:
This is a war of ideas, pitting two different notions of the good society against each other. The jihadist vision claims the sanction of God. The western vision of the free society, in which civility involves engaging differences with respect, has both religious and philosophical roots. Some Americans have lost touch with the deepest cultural sources of the nation’s commitments to religious freedom, tolerance and democratic persuasion, thinking of these good things as mere pragmatic arrangements. But if the United States can’t explain to the world why religious freedom, civility, tolerance and democratic persuasion are morally superior to coercion in religious and political matters, then America stands disarmed before those who believe it their duty to impose a starkly different view of the good society on us.
Shrinkwrapped takes a balanced look at some deep and disturbing questions about the compatibility of Islam and democracy, and notes the complexity of the issues involved. Cultural as well as religious issues seem important to this question. Islam in Indonesia and in East Africa has, setting aside recent radical influences, seemed to evolve in relatively peaceful directions, while Islam in most Arab countries has generally been accompanied by tyranny and aggression. In some places and times, Islam has been a religion of peace; in others, it has been and continues to be a religion of war. Since 1973, the latter places have had the resources to cause trouble on a global scale, and that doesn’t seem likely to change anytime soon.
A quote from Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling:
In the old days they said, “What a pity things don’t go on in the world as the parson preaches”—perhaps the time is coming, especially with the help of philosophy, when they will say, “Fortunately things don’t go on as the parson preaches; for after all there is some sense in life, but none at all in his preaching.”
Is ‘progressive’ a subsective adjective? I would have thought so, but on Sunday I learned about so-called “progressive Christianity,” which, as far as I can see, isn’t a kind of Christianity at all. Officially, it consists of a few features that amount to a marriage of Christianity and left-wing politics:
1. A spiritual vitality and expressiveness
2. An insistence on Christianity with intellectual integrity
3. A transgression of traditional gender boundaries
4. The belief that Christianity can be vital without claiming to be the best or the only true religion
5. Strong ecological and social justice commitments
The kick is in the postmodern understanding of intellectual integrity. Here’s how one advocate explains it:
God is not a supernatural being outside of the world/creation/universe. Neither is the word G-o-d the proper name of a supernatural being. It is a metaphor used to address the sacred in life, often, but not exclusively, using anthropocentric language….
As a progressive/liberal theologian I understand and experience ‘G-o-d’ as a universal creative process, continuously at work in the world, in the ordinary, giving rise to new forms of existence. Thus the new metaphor I find helpful in speaking about the sacred is “serendipitous creativity” (Kaufman 2004:42) as suggested by theologian Gordon Kaufman. Kaufman says:
“The concept of creativity… enables us to connect important theological concerns with central features of modern/post-modern thinking about the cosmos, the evolution of life, and the emergence of biohistorical development of human life and culture on planet Earth” (Kaufman 2004:76).
Thus its features are expressed and experienced in three strands or trajectories:
creativity1 – cosmic evolution
creativity2 – biological evolution
creativity3 – cultural/symbolic evolution
“Intellectual integrity”? “Modern/post-modern thinking about the cosmos”? Hmmm. I think I already had a name for this view. It was ‘atheism.’ Why anyone who believed it would be interested in going to church is beyond me.
Does anyone have any familiarity with “progressive Christianity” in practice?
By the way, I’m not impressed with this example of intellectual rigor:
“In the synoptic gospels, Jesus speaks in brief, pithy one-liners and couplets, and in parables… In John, by contrast, Jesus speaks in lengthy discourses or monologues, or in elaborate dialogues prompted by some deed Jesus has performed” (Funk & Hoover 1993:10).
Both can not be historically accurate.
On this blog appear some pithy one-liners and couplets. My books are lengthy discourses. Should one infer that I can’t possibly have written both?
My daughter and I were reading Patrick Henry’s famous March 25, 1775 speech that concludes, “Give me liberty or give me death!” We were both struck by the contemporary relevance of his second paragraph:
Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.
Our wish is that each employee of the U.S. State Department read and take to heart the following when they think that further negotiations will resolve problems with North Korea or Iran over nuclear weapons:
They are meant for us: they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which [they] have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves. Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the[ir] tyrannical hands…. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne! In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free– if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending–if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained–we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us!