The BrianFrantz.com Weblog

Browsing Posts tagged reason

As someone who leans libertarian in a lot of areas, I’ve been asked if I was happy about the recent government shutdown and gridlock over the debt ceiling.  Just so we’re clear, I think it’s unacceptable that our government operates at a sizable deficit when it already owes around 75% of what the entire country produces in a year.  But there’s a right way and a wrong way to do things, and lately the “conservative” contingent in Congress has been doing things all wrong.  Some on the right defend the Tea Party’s scorched earth tactics, citing Democrats’ unwillingness to compromise on entitlements and the fact that the Tea Party candidates’ constituents elected them to be tough on government spending and growth.  I get that, and I suppose there’s a point at which the situation is so dire that a “win at all costs” approach is our final option.  But the problem is that such an approach is almost certainly destined to fail if employed by a shrinking minority of stubborn partisans.

Those who sympathize with the Tea Party ideals of limited government and a balanced budget need to be realistic about the way they engage those who disagree.  Our goal should not be short-term victories won only by using hardball tactics and alienating everyone who either disagrees or doesn’t understand our position.  While this may slow the bleeding for a year or two, if it comes at the cost of eroding popular support, it will have been a won battle but a lost war.

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As an engineer, I work with a lot of smart people who are logically- and scientifically-minded.  I share this perspective, so it makes for a comfortable and enjoyable environment for me.  However, many at my workplace and in the larger scientific community hold to a naturalistic worldview akin to that espoused by its more vocal proselyte, Richard Dawkins.  While I do not intend in this post to present a complete rebuttal to this perspective, I do want to explain how I, a self-considered “reasonable” man, can be both a devout Christian and an honest lover of science.  I’ve already presented much of this in a video series that I’m almost done uploading (ran into a snag with Blip.tv and I’m migrating to Vimeo), so feel free to check it out.  But I thought it’d be valuable to give a more succinct summary in writing.  I considered writing an original post, but then read through an exchange I had with an atheist friend of mine a while back, and thought I’d just post it.  I’ve paraphrased his comments so as not to reprint them without permission.

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I’ve begun reading Timothy Keller’s book The Reason for God at the recommendation of a pastor friend of mine.  The following excerpt from the introduction describes exactly the viewpoint I’ve come to consider to be profoundly important for our society.  I honestly believe that the failure to take this approach in forming one’s beliefs is one of the greatest problems facing Americans today.  It affects how we interact with and respect one another, and how we determine those beliefs upon which our worldview is based.

“A faith without some doubts is like a human body without any antibodies in it. People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic. A person’s faith can collapse almost overnight if she has failed over the years to listen patiently to her own doubts, which should only be discarded after long reflection. Believers should acknowledge and wrestle with doubts—not only their own but their friends’ and neighbors’. It is no longer sufficient to hold beliefs just because you inherited them. Only if you struggle long and hard with objections to your faith will you be able to provide grounds for your beliefs to skeptics, including yourself, that are plausible rather than ridiculous or offensive. And, just as important for our current situation, such a process will lead you, even after you come to a position of strong faith, to respect and understand those who doubt.

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