Weekend Reads – June 25, 2011

Here are four articles/posts from this week that you should read. These are the best of the best of what I’ve read in the areas of politics, economics, Christianity, and leadership:

Man Reading In Park

Politics and Economics – “Turing Tests” – In a turing test, a computer tries to pass for human.  A human judge engages in natural language conversation with another human and one machine, each emulating human responses.  All participants are separated from one another.  If the judge cannot reliably tell the machine from the human, the machine is said to have passed the test.  This week, there were a myriad of articles about ideological turing tests.  The first was Paul Krugman (of the New York Times), who said in an interview,

If you ask a liberal or a saltwater economist, “What would somebody on the other side of this divide say here? What would their version of it be?” A liberal can do that. A liberal can talk coherently about what the conservative view is because people like me actually do listen. We don’t think it’s right, but we pay enough attention to see what the other person is trying to get at. The reverse is not true. You try to get someone who is fiercely anti-Keynesian to even explain what a Keynesian economic argument is, they can’t do it. They can’t get it remotely right. Or if you ask a conservative, “What do liberals want?” You get this bizarre stuff – for example, that liberals want everybody to ride trains, because it makes people more susceptible to collectivism. You just have to look at the realities of the way each side talks and what they know. One side of the picture is open-minded and sceptical. We have views that are different, but they’re arrived at through paying attention. The other side has dogmatic views.

This drew many responses from other people, including economist Bryan Caplan, who issued a turing test challenge to Krugman, economist Brad DeLong, and atheist Leah Anthony Libresco, who came up with an interesting religious turing test, if anyone wants to participate.

Christianity – “The Basis of Christian Assurance” – by Tim Challies at Informing the Reformed.  This is actually the second part of a two-part series on the Christian assurance of salvation.  The first part is here.  In the series, Challies gives three statements about the assurance of salvation, and then gives a biblical basis for assurance.  I believe that many atheists have an incorrect view about this topic (as evidenced in comments on this site), and these two posts would be very helpful to understand the topic.

Leadership – “Good Fathering Is Not Defined by Playing Catch” – by Tim Stevens at Leading Smart.  Stevens says that there is sometimes a false perception of good fathers—that what makes them good fathers is that they occasionally take their boys out and play catch with them.  He offers a different key for being a good dad: intentionality.  If you’re a father, what do you do to be a good father?

Questions: Do you struggle with your faith?  Do you have doubts?  Would you take part in an ideological turing test?  You can leave your comments by clicking here.

  • Anonymous

    “Challies gives three statements about the assurance of salvation, and then gives a biblical basis for assurance.  I believe that many atheists have an incorrect view about this topic (as evidenced in comments on this site)”, and these two posts would be very helpful to understand the topic.” [emphasis added]

    Really? Then why is it that you didn’t correct those of us who have an  “incorrect view”, namely, specifying which parts we have incorrect? I understand my refutation of your doctrine to be based on just that…i.e…your doctrine.

     Let’s try it this way:  “God” either has *prescience of who he will “elect” to be “saved”, or he doesn’t. It’s binary. Pick one, and we’ll go from there. Fair enough?

    * prescience: 1.  knowledge of events before they take place; foreknowledge

    • Anonymous

      Maybe the next instalment will be “The Limits of Logic”. In the meantime, I wonder if  “God”….no, wait, scratch that……I mean, I wonder if biblegod is truly “omniscient”, which, of course, would include having *pre-science of who he “elected” to be on his roster for “Salvation”. Hmmm….