Kierkegaard, Krugman and the Fundamental Failure of the Separation of Church and State.
The recent passage of the Cap and Trade legislation before the House of Representatives gives us prima face evidence that a key component of our representative democracy has failed. More accurately, we could argue that the valued Constitutional principal that church and state shall be separate has been implicitly circumvented.
While I, and many other people, value the Christian Religion and work at our eternal salvation in an imperfect manner, we mostly recognize the condign wisdom of rendering separately unto Caesar and to The Lord. This, in my humble opinion, is for two reasons. The first is obvious. Pick any particular religion and enshrine it above all others, and we fundamentally violate our founding principal that all men are created equal.
The second advantage of the separation proves more subtle to grasp. Yet, in its absence, it can be teased out and shown to be necessary for the continued commonweal of America’s citizenry. Legislation and lawmaking should be primarily based upon empirical rather than faith-based cognition.
In the rampant moral criminalization of “Deniers”, a frighteningly large population of law-makers in The House of Representatives have suborned scientific debate, over what is a physically deterministic issue, to normative, faith-based, essentially religious thinking. They have taken what Christian-Existentialist thinkers would describe as a Kierkagaardian Leap of Faith
When Soren Kierkagaard wrote The Concept of Anxiety, he posited the conjecture that all of us face a certain anxiety at wielding the power and responsibility of free choice. In essence, we don’t feel this dread or anxiety until we actually have a certain level of freedom.
A more modern approach to this is to argue that we really feel dread when we are forced to choose under circumstances of imperfect information. We mostly believe that we’ll do pretty well when we make choices concerning a known body of fact. That’s why we are pretty much okay with NASA putting satellites up in space to measure atmospheric pollution and radioactive flux through the planetary atmosphere. We would prefer to know, not believe, that there is, or is not, a significant component of climate change driven by the activities of human societies.
In the absence of this definitive knowledge, a bill that seeks to dictate the behavior of our society based on a fear of anthropogenic climate change, forces lawmakers to decide their vote using imperfect information. This, in turn causes these lawmakers to feel decided unease. To make this decision, the lawmaker may choose to take a leap of faith.
To religious believers, unable to resolve the fundamental paradox of our being, this leap of faith, or the empirically-founded lack of belief, are the only possible resolutions to the Cartesian Theological Gamble. Although the OR Analyst within my soul evaluates the possible end of life payoffs and keeps my butt in the pew most Sundays, I can see why reasonable and intelligent people choose otherwise.
Thus, when Al Gore announced that “the science was settled,” he wasn’t claiming to have solved for the definitive cloud climatology that most of the IPCC models still lack. He was announcing that he had made his leap of faith on the issue. Therefore, he intended to break some heads until the US Government made an equally uncertain leap of regulatory policy. As a former divinity student, the former Vice President should have known better.
Yet as Al Gore leapt, others remained more carefully rooted on terra firma. They debated the likelihood that science is ever truly canonically settled. Even Albert Einstein (Re: “GOD DOES NOT PLAY DICE WITH THE UNIVERSE!”) could occasionally get one spectacularly wrong. This left the environmental movement perched on the horns of an inconvenient dilemma.
Thus, the environmental movement could deal with the continued apostasy of the unbelievers in one of two ways. They could slow down the drive athwart the climate change apocalypse and make sure they got their science right. Otherwise, they could launch a secular inquisition against those who refused to believe.
In fairness, the environmental science community has a large population of members smart enough to realize that burning Freeman Dyson at the stake would only make their cause look unhinged, rather than justifiable. However, the normative undercurrent of the environmental movement has swept major proponents aside from the currents of ratiocination. Thus Paul Krugman reprises Cotton Mather and opines. “Burn the Denialists!”
And as I watched the deniers make their arguments, I couldn’t help thinking that I was watching a form of treason — treason against the planet.
To fully appreciate the irresponsibility and immorality of climate-change denial, you need to know about the grim turn taken by the latest climate research.
In order to justify this calumny, Krugman of course has to denigrate the intellect and professionalism of anyone who criticizes the so-called “consensus”.
But if you watched the debate on Friday, you didn’t see people who’ve thought hard about a crucial issue, and are trying to do the right thing. What you saw, instead, were people who show no sign of being interested in the truth. They don’t like the political and policy implications of climate change, so they’ve decided not to believe in it — and they’ll grab any argument, no matter how disreputable, that feeds their denial.
Thus, in defense of the true belief, the opponents of the Cap and Trade bill must be branded as traitors. This is because, in the minds of the believers, they are apostates. Krugman closes his column with a predictably dyspeptic defamation.
Yet the deniers are choosing, willfully, to ignore that threat, placing future generations of Americans in grave danger, simply because it’s in their political interest to pretend that there’s nothing to worry about. If that’s not betrayal, I don’t know what is.
The last point necessary to make concerns the so-whatness of the madman maunderings, espoused by the mendacious Nobel Laureate. Under the jurisprudence promulgated within the US Constitution, treason has a very specific definition with a clearly unambiguous criminal penalty attached thereunto.
Assuming Paul Krugman is a smart enough Nobel Laureate to have cognizance of this, how far is Paul Krugman from the unambiguous, faith-based position of Arnaud Amalric? The rest of us should rightly wonder which of us the secular god of Krugman’s delusional green religion would truly find to be his own.
This profound degradation of the philosophical basis of American society, as well the fear of the established church’s of the 18th Century, led the Founding Fathers to wisely separate these churches from the affairs of state. The question we now need to address is how to defend America from the philosophical depredations of discorporated faith-based thinking, unfettered by the restraints that most major religions will decently impose on their practicing believers.