RE: [asa] The ASA and the Soft Sciences (ASA focus for the future- Christian economics)

From: Alexanian, Moorad <>
Date: Sat Jan 03 2009 - 14:59:01 EST

One ought to distinguish between legal regulations and moral regulations. I do agree with economics being amoral, very much like science. What we need is moral regulations some of which are already in the Ten Commandments. No system of government can survive without moral regulations. This is what I wrote in a recent letter to the editor in our local newspaper:
Letters to the Editor Dec. 7, 2008
Published: Saturday, December 6, 2008 at 9:40 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, December 6, 2008 at 9:40 p.m.
EDITOR: We are currently suffering the consequences of an almost nonexisting ethical standard in our society as attested by our current economic woes and political corruption owing to greed and lack of morality.
Nothing is being done to break this vicious cycle, which is being continually fed by new citizens who have no concept of right and wrong ("Lie, cheat, steal: Students see no wrong," Dec. 1).
Whatever happened to the Christian cardinal and theological virtues of: prudence, justice, restraint or temperance, courage or fortitude, faith, hope, and love or charity, once part and parcel in our schools and society?
Good grades were once the by-product of learning. Today, good grades are the main product. A strong academic curriculum was once the norm. Now outcome-based education is in vogue (that is, given enough time, all students can learn). Therefore, a core of academic requirements cannot be part of the evaluation criteria. This is an educational sham.
In the past, people in our nation were bound to obedience of higher laws and in so doing automatically obeyed all the statutory laws. A society based solely in obedience of statutory laws is doomed to fail. Pray that is not the fate of our nation.
Moorad Alexanian

From: [] On Behalf Of Dehler, Bernie []
Sent: Saturday, January 03, 2009 12:51 PM
Cc: asa
Subject: RE: [asa] The ASA and the Soft Sciences (ASA focus for the future- Christian economics)

David said:
“I certainly could identify something as Catholic social teaching.”

Here’s a test. Some people say the current market meltdown is because of not enough regulation.

Suppose someone says we need no regulation at all- the markets are self-correctable. Please identify for me the religious position of that (Catholic, Baptist, atheist, mormon, etc.)

Suppose someone else says the banks should be heavily regulated. Please also identify the religious position for that (Catholic, Baptist, atheist, mormon, etc.).

My claim is that economics is amoral. That is why “Focus on the Family,” for example, doesn’t harp on the issue, as they do for stem cell research and abortion.

Is living in a commune (sharing all things in common) “Christian?” Most Americans would likely say no, but that is how the first Christians lived according to Acts.


From: David Opderbeck []
Sent: Saturday, January 03, 2009 6:58 AM
To: Dehler, Bernie
Cc: asa
Subject: Re: [asa] The ASA and the Soft Sciences (ASA focus for the future- Christian economics)

Bernie -- I certainly could identify something as Catholic social teaching. I could also identify a neo-Calvinist perspective. These are comprehensive worldviews. The modern "science" of economics generally is associated with neo-classical economics. This is one fairly narrow view, based strictly on utilitarianism and a somewhat positivist view of the ability to quantify and measure things like human preferences. One can simply have a "Christian perspective" on neo-classical economics, but one can also have a broader, comprehensive, Christian view of commerce, trade, and justice.

David W. Opderbeck
Associate Professor of Law
Seton Hall University Law School
Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology

On Fri, Jan 2, 2009 at 11:19 PM, Dehler, Bernie <<>> wrote:

David- you are suggesting that I could give you an economic worldview and you could identify it as Catholic, Mormon, Muslim, Baptist, etc.? Sure, Catholics and others can apply Christian principles to economics, but I don't think it is based on creeds- more like general attributes of sharing, love, justice, etc., which cuts across all religions.

About my comment that no one cares unless there's a crisis. Look at all the current talk of excessive CEO salaries and private jets they use, etc. During the good times, people say "Yeah- that's the American dream! How much is too much? The sky's the limit! They deserve every penny!" In bad times, they say "All this greed got us into this mess!"



From: David Opderbeck [<>]
Sent: Thursday, January 01, 2009 1:27 PM
To: Dehler, Bernie
Cc: asa
Subject: Re: [asa] The ASA and the Soft Sciences (ASA focus for the future)

1 -- yes, there are a variety of religious / Christian distinctives on economics. There is an enormous body of Catholic social teaching on economic justice; there's another strand of vigorous social critique running from the early anabaptists to Bonheoffer to MLK to Yoder to Hauerwas; there is the neo-Calvinist tradition which largely undergirds many current evangelical approaches; and so on. If you don't care about this from a theological / spiritual perspective before it hits your 401K directly, then your theology and spirituality probably need some work.

2 -- I'm so tired of hearing that the Church is in crisis because of evolution. The Church of Jesus Christ in many ways has never been more robust in all the history of Christianity. The gospel is exploding in Asia, Africa and South America; the average Christian has never been more educated and literate (at least in North America); there is wealth, aid, and support being transferred to needy people in the name of Jesus in greater volume than ever; and so on. Crisis-talk is myopic and is usually mediated by our own personal sense of crisis.

The science of evolution is presenting a painful challenge to one small segment of the Church at present -- educated Western evangelicals. This is an important segment of the Church, arguably, because it is so wealthy and influential. And it is important to those of us who live and minister in well-educated Western contexts. But it's hardly a "crisis" in the Church universal.

David W. Opderbeck
Associate Professor of Law
Seton Hall University Law School
Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology

On Thu, Jan 1, 2009 at 2:09 PM, Dehler, Bernie <<>> wrote:

One of the problems with economics is that no one cares about it until there is a crisis or meltdown. I also don't see how religion plays a part in the economy- does an atheist, Mormon, Baptist, or Catholic have any faith-based issues or distinctives?

In addition, Christianity is in a crisis right now, over the issue of evolution and how to deal with it (is it atheist and ungodly, or God's way of design?). I'd suggest that the ASA put more effort into resolving this conflict for the churches and scientists. It is easy and tempting to avoid the conflict, but I think this conflict is what gives the ASA its prime directive. Some people are on the forefront of this evolution battle, like Denis Lamoureux and Francis Collins… and they are persecuted by the church for it. Will the ASA help and offer discernment? I know the ASA has done a lot- just saying it should be a prime focus and even more focused. I'd love to see some ASA sponsored debates over YEC, OEC, TE, etc. Has the ASA done this yet? If not, that's my suggestion.



From:<> [<>] On Behalf Of Rich Blinne
Sent: Wednesday, December 31, 2008 11:03 AM
To: asa
Cc: Randy Isaac
Subject: [asa] The ASA and the Soft Sciences

The Washington Post just did a massive three-part series on what happened with AIG. I found it very fascinating. Since this is off topic please direct all comments off list. The issue of economics does bring to mind a comment Randy made in the Jan/Feb newsletter:

We have few economists in the ASA, and we have no particular expertise or mission to critique economic policy.

What are we doing to attract people in the so-called "soft sciences" into the ASA? Many areas of interest of the ASA does intersect economics and sociology and in my opinion we should do better here.

Rich Blinne

Member ASA

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Received on Sat Jan 3 14:59:19 2009

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