Wanting and Doing

posted at 10:55 am on March 19, 2011 by Steven Den Beste

How many teleologists does it take to change a light bulb?

None. The teleologist wants the light bulb to make light, so the light bulb never burns out.

Teleology is a world view that says that the world makes sense, and must work in a way which is intellectually and esthetically pleasing to humans. It assumes a mind-body duality and places the mind, the spiritual, above the body and the physical. If an idea is  pleasing then it must be true, for ultimate truth will always be pleasing.

That isn’t really how teleology began, but that’s what it’s become in the modern era. Modern transnational progressivism is, at its core, based on that rather warped and degenerate version of teleology at a deep, a priori level. It may seem strange to talk about the “spiritual” when talking about a movement which prides itself in being secular, but progressivism embraces many contradictions.

To a teleologist, the way you stop war is to put a sticker on your car that says “Imagine world peace”. If enough people just want it enough, it’ll happen. Indeed, anything is possible if you just want it enough. You can power modern industrial civilization exclusively using “green” energy, for instance. If it isn’t happening, it’s the fault of all the people who refuse to get on board to help with the wanting.

To a teleologist, socialism is obviously the way things should be. The ideal socialist utopia is such a pleasing image that it must be the way to go. Never mind that every time socialism has been tried, it has always failed badly; empirical results don’t matter to a teleologist.

As a true man of the left, our president is fundamentally teleological, and this is the explanation for a lot of things about him that people find puzzling. Again and again, Obama makes speeches about how important some thing is, but doesn’t seem to do anything about them. But that’s not puzzling if you realize that to a teleologist, wanting something is doing something.

Or take his behavior regarding Libya. John, at Powerline, writes:

Despite the urgency, it appears that the Libyan insurrection likely will be over before the Obama administration makes any decision as to what to do about it. It may well be that the best course has always been to do nothing. But if that is the case, what was the point of Obama’s pronouncement that Qaddafi “must” go? If it is important that Qaddafi go, then why is the United States unwilling to lift a finger to bring about the event that “must” happen? And how can a situation simultaneously be urgent, but not worth doing anything about?

For a teleologist, expressing your desire is how you bring about the event. If enough people say that Qaddafi “must go”, he will vanish in a puff of smoke. That’s why you work for a world consensus, for it is that consensus which alters reality.

(A slightly less implausible way to put it is that if there is strong enough international disapproval, Qaddafi will bow to peer pressure and voluntarily go into exile. But clearly that isn’t going to work with him.)

To a teleologist, it isn’t necessary, and it is obviously wrong, to use military force to depose a corrupt and brutal dictator. Soft power is obviously better.

Except for the minor fact that it isn’t very effective. But as mentioned, to teleologists, empirical results are not persuasive.

The Obama administration, combined with two years of strong Democratic majority in Congress, has caused incalculable damage to this country and the world. But we’ve recovered from worse, and it will discredit the left for a generation. The left finally gained control for two years, and now Americans have seen what that truly means. In November of 2010 American voters gave the left a stinging rebuke, and it’s going to keep happening.

This post was promoted from GreenRoom to HotAir.com.
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The Obama administration, combined with two years of strong Democratic majority in Congress, has caused incalculable damage to this country and the world.

We can only hope and pray all will be kicked out in 2012.

Bambi on March 19, 2011 at 11:01 AM

That’s a first!

Bambi on March 19, 2011 at 11:02 AM

To a teleologist, the way you stop war is to put a sticker on your car that says “Imagine world peace”

How does this differ from the theist who imagines he can bring about a desired end through prayer?

MJBrutus on March 19, 2011 at 11:03 AM

For a teleologist, expressing your desire is how you bring about the event. If enough people say that Qaddafi “must go”, he will vanish in a puff of smoke. That’s why you work for a world consensus, for it is that consensus which alters reality.

Spot on, this is actually how these morons think. Skittles & Unicorns, Hope & Change.

Tim Zank on March 19, 2011 at 11:03 AM

You are 100% correct, bho and team have done ‘incalculable damage to this country and the world’! That appears to have been the plan from day one of the election.
L

letget on March 19, 2011 at 11:04 AM

As my mother used to tell me, “You can want in one hand and pee in the other and see which one fills up first.”

Disturb the Universe on March 19, 2011 at 11:09 AM

MJBrutus on March 19, 2011 at 11:03 AM
One relies on the collective consciousness; the other relies on God.

Disturb the Universe on March 19, 2011 at 11:11 AM

One of my all time favorite bumper stickers:

“Imagine Whirled Peas”

stefano1 on March 19, 2011 at 11:12 AM

Teleology … teleprompter … hmmm.

gh on March 19, 2011 at 11:14 AM

If enough people just want it enough, it’ll happen.

Yeah. Sure. But the idiots fail to acknowledge that all it takes is one prick to upset the apple cart.

GarandFan on March 19, 2011 at 11:16 AM

How does this differ from the theist who imagines he can bring about a desired end through prayer?

MJBrutus on March 19, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Because Christianity is more about doing than praying. You pray for strength and guidance. It’s not a child’s wish list.

disa on March 19, 2011 at 11:18 AM

MJBrutus on March 19, 2011 at 11:03 AM
One relies on the collective consciousness; the other relies on God.

Disturb the Universe on March 19, 2011 at 11:11 AM

For certain values of theist, that’s quite true; Islam, for example, has exactly the idea that every atom of the Creation only is what it is because Allah directly and constantly wills it to be that way. In’shallah.

Christianity and Judaism don’t roll that way. Even in Christianity, which has produced the idea of groups of believers cloistering themselves for worship as undistracted by the outside world, there is never an idea expressed that every believer should be doing this. God created the rules by which the Universe is, and then stood back, preferring to mostly act in the world through human agents each of whom may have differing ideas about how to worship. That is why Christ, when sending out the Disciples, said “If a town rejects the teaching, don’t try to force them. Just leave.” Neither Islam nor Socialism have that concept of leaving people the hell alone.

SDN on March 19, 2011 at 11:27 AM

And now, The National Anthem of Teleologististan

Knott Buyinit on March 19, 2011 at 11:29 AM

Teleology … teleprompter … hmmm.

gh on March 19, 2011 at 11:14 AM

Or, teleprompterology.

I think Steven wrote something about this in years past. After years in the software industry, I developed a saying: ideas are easy and cheap – implementation is hard and expensive.

Teleologists are all about ideas, and so not about execution.

beatcanvas on March 19, 2011 at 11:31 AM

MJBrutus on March 19, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Practically, it doesn’t. But isn’t that the point? The reality based world of progressives is based on wishing a wish very hard and having it magically happen. Heh.

Aquateen Hungerforce on March 19, 2011 at 11:31 AM

Why do we have so many explanations for Obama and his actions? Why isn’t it enough to point out that he is inexperienced and pretty stupid to boot? Doesn’t that explain his actions better than most of what’s floating out there?

Aquateen Hungerforce on March 19, 2011 at 11:32 AM

That is why Christ, when sending out the Disciples, said “If a town rejects the teaching, don’t try to force them. Just leave.” Neither Islam nor Socialism have that concept of leaving people the hell alone.

Well said. And why would the town reject the teaching? Because some of it is not, in the teleological sense, ‘pleasing’ – yet another difference.

Knott Buyinit on March 19, 2011 at 11:34 AM

To a teleologist, the way you stop war is to put a sticker on your car that says “Imagine world peace”

How does this differ from the theist who imagines he can bring about a desired end through prayer?

MJBrutus on March 19, 2011 at 11:03 AM

I’d say that the typical theist doesn’t decide that his work is done once he’s finished praying. He doesn’t tend to just sit around and wait for God to do all the work. I imagine that the typical prayer is “help me,” not “do it for me.”

Aitch748 on March 19, 2011 at 11:34 AM

Seriously, the man is an idiot. He learned how to raise his voice on stress words and drop his voice at the end of sentences. That’s what got him elected. But he knows next to nothing about anything. Sure, he can explain Alinsky to stupid undergrads and he can convince people who need no convincing that America is bad, but big whoop. He’s just your average, run of the mill dumb-dumb.

Aquateen Hungerforce on March 19, 2011 at 11:35 AM

Because Christianity is more about doing than praying. You pray for strength and guidance. It’s not a child’s wish list.

disa on March 19, 2011 at 11:18 AM

I’m not a Christian, but I once had a friend of mine explain that some Christians refer to a verse that said something like “God gives us the desires of our heart.” She explained that too many Christians read that as obligating God to give us things we desire. Not true, she said. A true Christian lets the spirit give them the very desires that are in their heart. Too many desires are never of God in the first place.

beatcanvas on March 19, 2011 at 11:36 AM

Another example:

Regarding the ICE officials who were killed in Mexico, Obama stated that despite this, they couldn’t have guns to protect themselves, because “People have the right to be safe in their countries.” (May not be exact wording.)

In other words, the solution to the agents being killed in Mexico is – that they should not be killed.

And that’s it. That’s all of it.

“I have stated it, now let it be so.”

Alana on March 19, 2011 at 11:37 AM

My life long wish is to be very rich. Now come on people want me to be rich, you can make it happen!

Herb on March 19, 2011 at 11:45 AM

“I have stated it, now let it be so.”

Alana on March 19, 2011 at 11:37 AM

This really is Obama’s method. He doesn’t want to get his hands dirty. But the credit and blame belong to the man in the arena. It’s as if he doesn’t want his hypotheses or theories proved wrong. He’s a Leftist, but isn’t willing to put his beliefs on the line, to see if they will prevail. He seems to just proclaim, “My beliefs will prevail”.

Obama — “Let me be clear. This is wrong. I’ve said this all along.”

That’s his problem. All he does is say it. He won’t stand behind his words. He won’t go into the arena. He doesn’t want to get his hands dirty.

Paul-Cincy on March 19, 2011 at 11:48 AM

Teleologist = lazy, pandering, lightweight, liar!

= OBlaBLah!

dhunter on March 19, 2011 at 11:55 AM

With various attributions, the problem with modern day teleologists and socialism is based on one simple idea:

In Theory there is no difference between Theory and Practice.
In Practice there is.

This miraculous belief in the undefined third step is now famous in the 3-step plan of the dot com era like:

Step 1 – Imagine World Peace
Step 2 – ?????
Step 3 – World Peace!!!

It is in the process step, the Act step of the OODA loop that the modern Left and socialists of all eras fail as they have no idea of how complicated an economy is and that it is not something amenable to overall direction as it is based on the lowest possible decisions made on a moment-to-moment basis. The industrial system that Marx saw at the family owned factory was not the capitalism that would exist in 20 years, 50 years, or 100 years as the process had to change to adapt to social and personal feedbacks along with competitors that found better ways to compete by doing things along different lines that encouraged prosperity.

Unions are stuck in the Taylor-era of mandatory step/time procedures with certain times given for ‘breaks’ and other changes to the work cycle. Those businesses that changed to more flexible and adaptable systems broke Taylorism and yet the Unions refuse to leave that quaint era of the 1920′s. It isn’t the evil capitalists who want time to stop in some bad old era, it is the modern Left that now pines for a society and system that stopped existing decades ago and yet still mouth the chants from that by-gone age as if they have some modern meaning.

They are happy with perfecting a known process that is, unfortunately, outdated and burdensome and unworkable in a modern workforce and distributed era. Perfecting ideas of 19th century socialism to 19th century capitalism really doesn’t mean very much in the 21st century… and yet who clings to those ideas so as to try and turn back the clock to a harsher era with less freedom and less productivity? If only they could get a time machine and ‘fix’ everything in the 1910′s!

Too bad they won’t face up to the hardship of implementing those decrepit ideas in the modern world to the poor and middle class that they are, supposedly, all for. The rich don’t care about skyrocketing energy costs… the single mom with two kids and two jobs most definitely does and will be hurt more than the Soros’ and Gates’ of the world. Or the Obamas and most of the Elite Left and Right. It’s all for the ‘greater good’ that you suffer from this process of ‘perfection’. They will always tell you about the eggs and the omelettes, and yet never produce the breakfast that results.

ajacksonian on March 19, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Liberalism is what Ayn Rand called “subjectivism.” Basically, that means seeing the world in terms of its effect on one’s own feelings. It’s basically the politicalization of the personal trait of narcissism.

What that boils down to is that every liberal decision is made based on a singular criteria: “Does doing or saying this make me feel good about myself?”

That is the beginning, middle and end of every liberal thought. What rational people refer to as “reality” is completely irrelevant to that process.

logis on March 19, 2011 at 12:07 PM

My life long wish is to be very rich. Now come on people want me to be rich, you can make it happen!

Herb on March 19, 2011 at 11:45 AM

Wasn’t there some black tele-evangelist,with a huge following in the 1970s, who use to preach this? God wants you to be a millionaire or something.

Blake on March 19, 2011 at 12:08 PM

How does this differ from the theist who imagines he can bring about a desired end through prayer?

MJBrutus on March 19, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Isn’t it obvious? Collective hive mind as opposed to God.

csdeven on March 19, 2011 at 12:10 PM

Practically, it doesn’t. But isn’t that the point? The reality based world of progressives is based on wishing a wish very hard and having it magically happen. Heh.

Aquateen Hungerforce on March 19, 2011 at 11:31 AM

And when that doesn’t work, threats, chalk outlines, murdering babies, and forcing people to buy health insurance will do. And when that fails (and it always does), there is always the Hitler/Stalin way. Violence and murder until the people accept what is “best” for them.

csdeven on March 19, 2011 at 12:14 PM

OK let me try this deal….

I dhunter want OBlahBLah to resign the Presidency, to stay in Rio De Janeiro and for a turnip truck to fall on OBidens head!

Now what do I gotta do to get That?

NOTHING?

See this teleology gig is easy, peasy and kinda fun, but hard too so I better have a beer summitt or golf or a vacation!

dhunter on March 19, 2011 at 12:14 PM

Isn’t this nice.

I’ve been waiting for someone to point out the essential weakness in the kind of stuff Ed, AP and the inhabitants of the Groan Room seem addicted to posting: None of it leads toward solutions.

Yes, it’s all nice and polite, and it raises all sorts of interesting-but-useless points, but how many times do we have to suffer through babble about semantics when Osama Obama, his regime and the lunatic left are screwing things up royally?

The Traitor-in-Chief is in Brazil mouthing platitudes while Libya burns, Japan tries to recover and, in general, the world looks for leadership to replace that once provided by the USA.

Who gives a damn about “teleology?” It means nothing, is just a topic for time-wasting gossip.

The HA crowd — and “conservative” pundits in general are like frogs in a pan of hot water. They will soon be boiled, but won’t see it until it’s too late.

Meanwhile, those who want to turn our nation into a Third World hellhole are planning and acting.

Sad.

MrScribbler on March 19, 2011 at 12:15 PM

It is convenient to target øbama with these explanations. But he is a figurehead of what? Millions of Americans who think the same way.

øbama is a big problem, no doubt. But the millions of credulous American voters guarantee the problems will recur. Decent education could minimize it some, but like the poor, the credulous are always with us. Besides, we don’t have decent education.

jodetoad on March 19, 2011 at 12:22 PM

Isn’t it obvious? Collective hive mind as opposed to God.

csdeven on March 19, 2011 at 12:10 PM

Not to me. But I suppose to one who is either a theist or teleologist it could be. I see prayer as simply a form of teleology, aka wishful thinking.

MJBrutus on March 19, 2011 at 12:23 PM

How does this differ from the theist who imagines he can bring about a desired end through prayer? MJBrutus on March 19, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Because prayer is effective. Doctors will tell you that.

Akzed on March 19, 2011 at 12:49 PM

Seriously, the man is an idiot. He learned how to raise his voice on stress words and drop his voice at the end of sentences. That’s what got him elected. But he knows next to nothing about anything. Sure, he can explain Alinsky to stupid undergrads and he can convince people who need no convincing that America is bad, but big whoop. He’s just your average, run of the mill dumb-dumb.

Aquateen Hungerforce on March 19, 2011 at 11:35 AM

Yep, his speaking style is obviously learned recently and strained. Example is the way he says ‘United States of America’, where the last ‘ca’ is barely there. In one of ‘his’ books he says he learned a speaking style by listening to tapes of black preachers, and that probably means you-know-who.

slickwillie2001 on March 19, 2011 at 12:51 PM

Who gives a damn about “teleology?” It means nothing, is just a topic for time-wasting gossip. The HA crowd — and “conservative” pundits in general are like frogs in a pan of hot water. They will soon be boiled, but won’t see it until it’s too late. Meanwhile, those who want to turn our nation into a Third World hellhole are planning and acting. Sad. MrScribbler on March 19, 2011 at 12:15 PM

Ain’t you part of the “HA crowd”?

Why are you wasting time posting here, genius?

Akzed on March 19, 2011 at 12:51 PM

The problem with your analysis is that it suffers a bit from its own teleology.

The Left is not at all only about wanting; it is assiduously

doing

, or rather undoing, at many levels. In fact, the suavity of its surface teleology is the key to its below-surface depredations.

Obama and the Left are attacking every institution and its premise in daily, specific and concrete ways. That ain’t teleology.

rrpjr on March 19, 2011 at 12:54 PM

Because prayer is effective. Doctors will tell you that.

Akzed on March 19, 2011 at 12:49 PM

Same for other forms of teleology. They’re both placebos and placebos are among the medical profession’s most powerful tools.

MJBrutus on March 19, 2011 at 12:57 PM

MJBrutus on March 19, 2011 at 12:57 PM

A placebo can’t make a tumor disappear.

Akzed on March 19, 2011 at 1:05 PM

Not to me. I see prayer as simply a form of teleology, aka wishful thinking.

MJBrutus on March 19, 2011 at 12:23 PM

Then you do not understand scripture.

csdeven on March 19, 2011 at 1:16 PM

God created the rules by which the Universe is, and then stood back, preferring to mostly act in the world through human agents each of whom may have differing ideas about how to worship. That is why Christ, when sending out the Disciples, said “If a town rejects the teaching, don’t try to force them. Just leave.” Neither Islam nor Socialism have that concept of leaving people the hell alone.

SDN on March 19, 2011 at 11:27 AM

You’re mixing things up here a bit. Catholic theologians believe that nothing happens in the Universe that isn’t caused by God’s will. Nothing.

The Old Testament even mentions that God knows all the hairs on your (and everyone’s) head. He tells Abraham that his descendants will outnumber the sands on the shores.

Isaiah mentions that all things, good and evil, happen because God wills them to happen. This isn’t a God who sits back and let’s things happen, this is a God Who makes things happen, without Whom nothing can or will happen.

That doesn’t mean that man doesn’t play a part in this. Man, by his own will, decides to sin. But the results of those sins, the outcome in this physical world, happens because God wills it to happen. This is called God’s permitted will.

But those things that happen like the recent earthquake and floods are God’s ordained will.

I’m not well read enough in the Bible to recall Jesus saying “just leave” to His disciples. If He did, He was most likely pointing out that man’s will is such that he will refuse to listen to the Word. If that is the case, than His disciples should just move on. God doesn’t force man to believe; that is man’s choice and part of man’s free will. But that doesn’t mean that God is sitting back except where it involves man’s will.

I guess what I’m saying in my own long-winded way is that God does let human things proceed via human interactions. But everything that happens as a result of man’s decisions or because of God’s ordained will happens because God wills it happen. That’s pretty direct action as far as I see it.

karl9000 on March 19, 2011 at 1:21 PM

Then you do not understand scripture.
csdeven on March 19, 2011 at 1:16 PM

Well that like saying “you don’;t believe in Scripture because you don’t believe in Scripture,” since Scripture (the Bible in our case) is he basis for prayer.

He’s a materialist, i.e., one who has determined that what can’t be observed, measured, or touched etc, cannot exist.

This leaves open the question of how he arrived at his conclusion, of course.

Akzed on March 19, 2011 at 1:23 PM

To a teleologist, the way you stop war is to put a sticker on your car that says “Imagine world peace”

How does this differ from the theist who imagines he can bring about a desired end through prayer?

MJBrutus on March 19, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Congratulations on hijacking the thread, troll. Theists don’t imagine that the things they pray for have come about just because they prayed. But if you weren’t a half wit, you could figure that out.

Basilsbest on March 19, 2011 at 1:23 PM

Because prayer is effective. Doctors will tell you that.

Akzed on March 19, 2011 at 12:49 PM

They might say prayer alone is ineffective, but they would not say prayer itself is wrong. The medical profession does recognize the need to address a patient’s spiritual needs.

Blake on March 19, 2011 at 1:24 PM

I don’t know about anybody else, but I’ve been tremendously disappointed that we don’t have groups of naked liberal women around the country curling up on the ground to spell out “PEACE” — like we did just before IRAQ 2. That would have stopped all that bloodletting in Libya mucho pronto.

After all, it worked so well back then!!

Narniaman on March 19, 2011 at 1:24 PM

The teleological viewpoint may be a natural outcome of a certain kind of academic education – what we in engineering used to call “fuzzy subjects.”

In these fields, there are few objectively right or wrong answers. Instead, reality in the university is anything you can get professors and peers to agree on. The same paper in sociology that is rejected by one professor may be declared a work of genius by another, and there’s no objective authority to tell them any differently. Success or failure can depend on whether or not the people judging your thesis got up on the right side of the bed or not.

This is where “consensus” becomes a Worship Word to the “fuzzy” academic. Not so in engineering or other scientifically-based studies. There is no such thing as a “consensus” on the yield stress of a particular kind of steel. It is what it is. You may have to arrive at an agreement among engineers on the best way to apply the laws of reality, but the laws themselves are not mutable. In particular, they are not mutable to majority rule.

It’s so easy to move from a non-objective academic environment to a political realm where nothing is more important than the opinions of others, and reality is whatever you can get everyone in the room to say it is.

tbrosz on March 19, 2011 at 1:28 PM

Wishful thinking. I shake my head ruefully and say bad words aloud whenever a right-of-center blog or column claims the Left is hopelessly discredited, that Americans will see these people and their policies for what they are and keep socialists and other Utopian-minded idiots out of power for years to come, and so on.

You forget: true believers of the Left own the mainstream media and–for the most part–control the public school system, as well as most of the universities. What the majority of Americans are hearing and seeing and learning from earliest childhood is what a small and influential network of hardcore ideologues want them to see and hear and learn.

I know, I sound conspiratorial. Pardon me while I adjust my tin-foil hat. But propaganda works. Neo-marxist inculturation works. Reality is based on facts: facts of physics, facts of biology, cause-and-effect, but perceptions are malleable. In politics, the side better able to shape perceptions almost always wins. I write ‘almost always’ because I love my country and refuse to believe all people can be fooled all the time.

troyriser_gopftw on March 19, 2011 at 1:30 PM

Sad.

MrScribbler on March 19, 2011 at 12:15 PM

Why are you wasting your time here if you feel that way?

ladyingray on March 19, 2011 at 1:30 PM

Monty Python nailed Modern Teleology in 60 seconds!

Play a flute – check
Split an atom – check
Construct a box-girder bridge – check
Irrigate the Sahara desert – check
Rid the world of all known diseases – check

Peri Winkle on March 19, 2011 at 1:32 PM

Akzed on March 19, 2011 at 1:23 PM

And people who do not understand scripture have no standing to discuss it intelligently.

csdeven on March 19, 2011 at 1:38 PM

Basilsbest on March 19, 2011 at 1:23 PM

Yeah, yeah I know, say something Basilsbest disagrees with == Troll. Yawn.

MJBrutus on March 19, 2011 at 1:40 PM

csdeven on March 19, 2011 at 1:38 PM

I know that if you think that prayer affects anything other than your state of mind you are practicing a type of teleology.

MJBrutus on March 19, 2011 at 1:47 PM

And people who do not understand scripture have no standing to discuss it intelligently. csdeven on March 19, 2011 at 1:38 PM

But those who do, do…

Akzed on March 19, 2011 at 1:49 PM

Why take the perfectly reasonable term “teleology” and load it up with so many negative connotations? Is it because you couldn’t think of any better term, or is this just a veiled way of asserting something that goes way beyond criticism of a particular brand of political wishful thinking?

Indeed, there are those who are politically unreasonable (who act like magical-thinking children, actually). Why does this become an occasion for veiled assertions of atheism?

Matteo on March 19, 2011 at 1:49 PM

Liberals in general tend to become very aggressive when their teleological efforts fail to produce the proper results, though it creates more of a conundrum on the foreign policy front than on the domestic side. Were they to get their way on their trillion-dollar spending plans and Nirvana failed to arrive, it wouldn’t be because it was their fault, it would be because we’re not taxing at the late-World War II confiscatory 90 percent rates on the rich. And if they did that and things still failed to improve, it would be because the mega-rich were somehow hiding their money, or too man people were disobeying the other rules.

Obama, we should be thankful, is a non-aggressive teleologist, in the he’s perfectly willing to verbally attack Republicans, but doesn’t have the backbone to take the lead in taking any forceful action against them, either via nakedly partisan legislation or actual violence. That’s the job for the minions, from Reid and Pelosi down to the SEIU thugs. But the foreign situation is tougher.

Obama against sought out minions to make the tough decisions he fears doing, which is why we ended up with the U.N. action on Libya. But Khadaffi, Ahmedinejad and other ruthless leaders around the world who hate the U.S. now don’t easily fit in the liberal teleologists’ template, because they hated the U.S. when Bush was president (or when Reagan was president, in Khaddafi’s case). They were supposed to turn around once they were bathed in the healing love of Barack Obama but haven’t, and it hurts the president and his supporters.

In their minds there must be some sort of secular redemption possible for these men, because they opposed George W. Bush — there must be some good in there, which is why Obama almost seems saddened whenever he has to say or do something against states like Libya or Iran.

jon1979 on March 19, 2011 at 1:56 PM

A placebo can’t make a tumor disappear.

Akzed on March 19, 2011 at 1:05 PM

Would you care to explain how you think that prayer can?

MJBrutus on March 19, 2011 at 2:02 PM

I know that if you think that prayer affects anything other than your state of mind you are practicing a type of teleology.

MJBrutus on March 19, 2011 at 1:47 PM

No. You have faith that prayer affects only my state of mind.

csdeven on March 19, 2011 at 2:09 PM

But those who do, do…

Akzed on March 19, 2011 at 1:49 PM

:-)

+1000

csdeven on March 19, 2011 at 2:10 PM

No. You have faith that prayer affects only my state of mind.

csdeven on March 19, 2011 at 2:09 PM

Oy. Must we really have this argument? You know the one where I tell you that it is not an act of faith to reject a claim of the paranormal and you pretend not to understand?

MJBrutus on March 19, 2011 at 2:13 PM

A placebo can’t make a tumor disappear.

Akzed on March 19, 2011 at 1:05 PM

Would you care to explain how you think that prayer can?

MJBrutus on March 19, 2011 at 2:02 PM

Sorry for the delay, I’m on itunes…

Of course, prayer is an act of faith, so I cannot by reason alone convince you that what you have no faith in can be materially effective. But here’s what I believe.

God exists, and wants His creatures’ love and devotion. To secure it, His Son died on the cross as our sacrifice for sins. This -to the faithful- means that He gave as much as possible to secure our faith, rather than merely doing some cheap tricks to convince of of His existence. All of the miracles of the OT combined are insufficient to demonstrate His love for us. But submitting to slow death by torture -at our hands- should.

Therefore, having given us a gift of infinite value, we should -by faith- expect any lesser thing from when when it accords with His will.

this last point is important. You may see it as an escape hatch, i.e., when prayer isn’t answered as we wish then it is not God’s will, ipso facto, God answered our prayer by saying no.

However, not giving my 16 year-old son a new Corvette despite his importunity could reasonably be understood as an act of love for Him. Not granting the wish was better for him in some way inscrutable (to him) than granting the wish, and the hope would be that some day he would understand this.

Not knowing God makes this seem like excuse making for unanswered prayer to you, but those who know God understand it as a reasonable response by an omniscient God who knows better than we do.

When God grants exactly what we ask for, which I have experienced many times, it is confirmation of, not only His love for me, but also of the wisdom of the request that I have made.

I hope this is helpful.

Akzed on March 19, 2011 at 2:26 PM

Would you care to explain how you think that prayer can? MJBrutus on March 19, 2011 at 2:02 PM

Oh, so to answer your question directly, the God of the Bible, the only living and true God, can do anything!

Akzed on March 19, 2011 at 2:28 PM

Akzed on March 19, 2011 at 2:26 PM

Thank you for recognizing that it is your belief and a matter of faith. I respect the rights of others to believe what they will. Your answer was not quite what I was asking, but I appreciate the effort you took to explain what you believe. Where I was going was if, in your explanation we reach the point where your god decides to grant your request, how does he/she go about removing a tumor?

MJBrutus on March 19, 2011 at 2:33 PM

MJBrutus on March 19, 2011 at 2:33 PM

Physicians have seen tumors shrink to nothing after sending patients away to die. I dunno the how of it, but when people are praying for such a thing and it happens, it should give pause.

Miracles in the Bible, particularly in the NT, are just sped up processes in many instances. God feeds the world with bread and fish, so it’s only a sped up process when a few loaves and fishes are multiplied to feed a few thousand. Any untended grapevine will produce a crude wine by a combination of yeast and bacteria acting on the unharvested grapes: so, turning water into wine is a natural process God has already established, which
Jesus sped up at Cana. (By “sped up” I’m not trying to be glib, just using shorthand.)

You should read the Gospel of John, if for no other reason than if you care to be a well read westerner you should be familiar with the Bible.

Akzed on March 19, 2011 at 2:52 PM

Akzed on March 19, 2011 at 2:52 PM

That’s about as specific as one could get, I think when talking about religion. It’s one reason why I find it such an unsatisfying pursuit. As I see it, suppose one did take the leap of faith to believe in a superior being. We learn nothing more about the world and in fact hit a dead end, because the how is completely impenetrable. We transition from I don’t know how a placebo works to I don’t know how god works.

At least when we view prayer as form of placebo we still have avenues of inquiry open to us :-)

MJBrutus on March 19, 2011 at 3:02 PM

You should read the Gospel of John, if for no other reason than if you care to be a well read westerner you should be familiar with the Bible.

Akzed on March 19, 2011 at 2:52 PM

PS: I might. I have nothing against cultural literacy :-)

MJBrutus on March 19, 2011 at 3:04 PM

ajacksonian on March 19, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Excellent. This is why I refer to Progressives as Regressives. They want to take us back to 19th century technology and standard of living. And for a bonus, Marx will be so much easier to follow.

txmomof6 on March 19, 2011 at 3:10 PM

Everything looks great from the putting green…-

RalphyBoy on March 19, 2011 at 3:58 PM

I discard Den Beste’s entire premise. The classic philosophy of Socrates/Plato, Aristotle, Augustine and Aquinas, the bedrock of western democracy and liberty, are based on a teleological view of God and the universe. They saw order and beauty in Natural Law and the world around them. And, yes, Socrates spoke of “the God” as opposed the “the Gods”. He died because of it.

That the reductionists in academia see no order of end. They have altered the meaning and perverted the argument to belittle classical definitions of virtue.

Steven, you’d make a good Republican politician. You abandon your strongest position before the debate even begins.

rcl on March 19, 2011 at 6:33 PM

Oy. Must we really have this argument? You know the one where I tell you that it is not an act of faith to reject a claim of the paranormal and you pretend not to understand?

MJBrutus on March 19, 2011 at 2:13 PM

By what proof do you reject there is no God? You can neither disprove, nor I prove. Therefore both positions are acts of faith.

csdeven on March 19, 2011 at 7:33 PM

But is he a teleologist when it comes to basketball?

Dhuka on March 19, 2011 at 7:47 PM

well now I have my answer next time some moron mentions Climate Change.

I want the climate to get better.

Slowburn on March 20, 2011 at 1:23 AM

csdeven on March 19, 2011 at 7:33 PM

Do you reject the notion of leprechauns? Is it an at of faith to do so?

MJBrutus on March 20, 2011 at 7:22 AM

I think Steven wrote something about this in years past. After years in the software industry, I developed a saying: ideas are easy and cheap – implementation is hard and expensive.

Teleologists are all about ideas, and so not about execution.

beatcanvas on March 19, 2011 at 11:31 AM

I think I remember there being a “Den Beste’s Law” that went along the lines of:

“Everything’s easy for the man who doesn’t have to do it himself.”

Truer words never written.

Blacksmith on March 20, 2011 at 11:40 PM

But… it brought Tinkerbell back!

taznar on March 21, 2011 at 9:58 AM