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The Founding Fables of Industrialised Agriculture

October 30, 2013 2 comments

Once again, the debate over GMO’s is not a debate over how government should regulate the harmful effects of profit driven business. It is a debate over how government has enabled crony capitalism to crush competition:

So the best way by far to supply carotene (and thus vitamin A) is by horticulture – which traditionally was at the core of all agriculture. Vitamin A deficiency is now a huge and horrible issue primarily because horticulture has been squeezed out by monocultural big-scale agriculture — the kind that produces nothing but rice or wheat or maize as far as the eye can see; and by insouciant urbanization that leaves no room for gardens. Well-planned cities could always be self-sufficient in fruit and veg. Golden Rice is not the answer to the world’s vitamin A problem. As a scion of monocultural agriculture, it is part of the cause. Syngenta’s promotion of it is yet one more exercise in top-down control and commercial PR.

…The real point behind GMOs is to achieve corporate/ big government control of all agriculture, the biggest by far of all human endeavours… The technology itself is esoteric so that only the specialist and well-endowed can embark on it – the bigger the better. All of the technology can be, and is, readily protected by patents. Crops that are not protected by patents are being made illegal. Only parts of the EU have so far been pro-GM but even so the list of crops that it allows farmers to grow – or any of us! – becomes more and more restricted. Those who dare to sell the seed of traditional varieties that have not been officially approved can go to prison. Your heritage allotment could soon land you in deep trouble.

…Yet we have been assured, time and again, that there is no alternative; that without high tech, industrialized agriculture, we will all starve. This is the greatest untruth of all; though it has been repeated so often by so many people in such high places that it has become embedded in thezeitgeist. Whether the officially sanctioned untruths spring from misconception or from downright lies I will leave others to judge. But in either case, their repetition by people who have influence in public affairs, is deeply reprehensible…. Professor Hans Herren, President of the Millennium Institute in Washington, points out that the world already produces enough staple food to support 14 billion – twice the present number. A billion starve because the wrong food is produced in the wrong places by the wrong means by the wrong people – and once the food is produced, as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) has pointed out, half of it is wasted.

The Founding Fables of Industrialised Agriculture

Just one more example of the state creating a problem so they can pronounce themselves the only savior to the problem.

The resulting surpluses are then fed to livestock. Livestock that could, incidentally, be fed in more than adequate numbers if we made better use of the world’s grasslands, which account for about two-thirds of all agricultural land… “Demand” (in this scenario) is judged not by what people actually say they want (who ever said they wanted wheat-based biofuel, or cereal-fed beef rather than grass-fed beef?) but by what can be sold by aggressive PR and successfully lobbied through complaisant government.

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Categories: economics, health, politics

The Gospel Coalition’s Epistemology

October 22, 2013 Leave a comment

A Christian epistemology does not begin its systematic approach to theology and philosophy with a discussion of whether there is a god or how we know there is a god, and then seek to prove that this is the God of Scripture. The starting point in a genuine Christian epistemology is revelation. The doctrine of God follows epistemology. This is why the Westminster Assembly began its study of systematic theology with the doctrine of revelation. Chapter 1 of the Westminster Confession of Faith has to do with our source of knowledge: “Of the Holy Scripture.” The following 32 chapters are erected upon the axiom of Biblical revelation.

W. Gary Crampton, Scripturalism: A Christian Worldview

God as distinct from Scripture is not made the axiom of this argument. Undoubtedly this twist will seem strange to many theologians. It will seem particularly strange after the previous emphasis on the mind of God as the origin of all truth. Must not God be the axiom? For example, the first article of the Augsburg Confession gives the doctrine of God, and the doctrine of the Scripture hardly appears anywhere in the whole document. In the French Confession of 1559, the first article is on God; the Scripture is discussed in the next five. The Belgic Confession has the same order. The Scotch Confession of 1560 begins with God and gets to the Scripture only in article nineteen. The Thirty-Nine Articles begin with the Trinity, and Scripture comes in articles six and following. If God is sovereign, it seems very reasonable to put him first in the system.

But several other creeds, and especially the Westminster Confession, state the doctrine of Scripture at the very start. The explanation is quite simple: our knowledge of God comes from the Bible. We may assert that every proposition is true because God thinks it so, and we may follow Charnock in all his great detail, but the whole is based on Scripture. Suppose this were not so. Then “God” as an axiom, apart from Scripture, is just a name. We must specify which God. The best known system in which “God” was made the axiom is Spinoza’s. For him all theorems are deduced from Deus sive Natura. But it is the Natura that identifies Spinoza’s God. Different gods might be made axioms of other systems. Hence the important thing is not to presuppose God, but to define the mind of the God presupposed. Therefore the Scripture is offered here as the axiom. This gives definiteness and content, without which axioms are useless.

Gordon H. Clark, God and Logic

We also thought it was important to begin our confession with God rather than with Scripture. This is significant. The Enlightenment was overconfident about human rationality. Some strands of it assumed it was possible to build systems of thought on unassailable foundations that could be absolutely certain to unaided human reason. Despite their frequent vilification of the Enlightenment, many conservative evangelicals have nevertheless been shaped by it. This can be seen in how many evangelical statements of faith start with the Scripture, not with God. They proceed from Scripture to doctrine through rigorous exegesis in order to build (what they consider) an absolutely sure, guaranteed-true-to-Scripture theology.

The problem is that this is essentially a foundationalist approach to knowledge. It ignores the degree to which our cultural location affects our interpretation of the Bible, and it assumes a very rigid subject-object distinction. It ignores historical theology, philosophy, and cultural reflection. Starting with the Scripture leads readers to the overconfidence that their exegesis of biblical texts has produced a system of perfect doctrinal truth. This can create pride and rigidity because it may not sufficiently acknowledge the fallenness of human reason.

We believe it is best to start with God, to declare (with John Calvin, Institutes1.1) that without knowledge of God we cannot know ourselves, our world, or anything else. If there is no God, we would have no reason to trust our reason.

D.A. Carson & Tim Keller Gospel-Centered Ministry

Stephen M. Cope does a good job of explaining the problems with the foundation of the Gospel Coalition.

See also The Reformed Faith and the Westminster Confession

Categories: theology

Timeless Christian Books Sale

October 3, 2013 9 comments

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Categories: books

The American Economy is Not a Free-Market Economy

October 2, 2013 Leave a comment

The result of this governmental takeover of the economy has predictably been dire. “Many of the new mega rich of the 1990s and 2000s got their wealth through their government connections. Or by understanding how government worked. This was especially apparent on Wall Street. … This was all the more regrettable because, in a crony capitalist system, the huge gains of the few really do come at the expense of the many. There was an irony here. Perhaps Marx had been right all along. It was just that he was describing a crony capitalist, not a free price system, and his most devoted followers set up a system in the Soviet Union that was cronyist to the core.” (p. 17)

…Cronyism extends far beyond the financial sector. Lewis has for many years been active in the natural health movement, and he is thus keenly aware of the manifold ways in which crony capitalism risks our lives, health, and safety in pursuit of profit. Shunning a genuine free market, the predators strike at products that, if widely distributed, would threaten their ill-gotten gains. “In general, the FDA maintains a resolutely hostile stance toward supplements. It will not allow any treatment claims to be made for them, no matter how much science there is to support it, unless they are brought through the FDA approval process and become drugs. … Who can afford to spend up to a billion dollars to win FDA approval of a non-patented substance? The answer is obvious: no one. So the real FDA intent is simply to eliminate any competition for patented drugs, since these drugs pay the Agency’s bills.” (p. 171)

The American Economy is Not a Free Market Economy

Categories: economics, health