Faith in Reason?

Bill Moyers notes a  study from the University of Michigan “deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information.”    The study found that when people who had been misinformed “were exposed to corrected facts in new stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs.”

We often base our opinions on our beliefs … and rather than facts driving beliefs, our beliefs can dictate the facts we chose to accept. They can cause us to twist facts so they fit better with our preconceived notions.”

This explains a lot about politics.

I would also like to point out something about faith and reason, from a Christian point of view.

It is not an empirical reality that people in fact live according to reality and make decisions according to reason.  Reason is an ethical imperative.  We ought to live according to truth, reason, and reality.  The common human refusal to face reality is another name for sin, collusion in willful self-deception.

Faith, in the Christian sense, is not about clinging to irrational beliefs in spite of facts.  Faith is a commitment to living according to justice, peace, and truth.  Life according to justice, peace, and truth is the Way of Jesus Christ; and it includes making decision according to reality.

One fact of recent history is that the Wall Street High-rollers reckless ways destroyed the economy, forced middle-class taxpayers to bail them out, and made billions in personal profits in the process.  People are justifiably angry but they have no way to pour out their wrath on the guilty.  So they look for a target nearer at hand and they find the people who cut our meat, harvest our vegetables, changes the sheets in our hotels and perform other dangerous, difficult, or menial tasks that we prefer not to do ourselves.

We can’t punish them directly, so instead we choose to punish their children.

The children of undocumented workers have broken no laws.  The state representatives today voted to punish them by tripling their tuition rate if they chose to go to college in the only home state they know.

This is not a solution to any real problem.  It will not increase revenue, it will only prevent the kids from getting an education and contributing to the state economy.

Maybe our state senate will show more wisdom.

Presidents Day

I liked it better when we celebrated Lincoln and Washington’s birthdays.  I’m not sure a president should be celebrated just for getting elected.  He should have to do something, take a courageous stand maybe.

But I’m celebrating Presidents Day anyway, because I am glad we have 4-year, two-term max, presidents rather than hereditary monarchs, Presidents for life, Beloved Leaders or whatever else dictators call themselves.

The citizens of Wisconsin are showing there governor that he is an elected public servant subject to the laws of the land.  He cannot arbitrarily cancel contracts or take away the rights of teachers and other state employees to representation.

I am ashamed at house of representatives in my state who think that punishing the children for the sins of the fathers and mothers will somehow improve the economy.

Maybe the state senate will be wiser and more compassionate.

Children who came to this country under the age of 18, regardless of the circumstances, broke no law.   They grew up here, they have no other home.  If they stayed in school, stayed out of trouble, and graduated from high school, they should be welcome in our state’s colleges.

I hope one of our state legislators will introduce a law requiring citizenship class in high school for students who do not have legal citizenship.  I suppose states cannot grant U.S. citizenship, but they could grant a certificate of state citizenship to all students who graduate from high school in one of the state’s public schools.