natural disasters

Squeezing the Middle Class

There is little doubt that the buying power of the average person and family—those in the “middle class”—is shrinking. Democrats and Republicans each believe the other party’s policies are the cause and that their party’s policies are the cure. Then the main story in the business section of USA Today last week said that drought, flooding, a harsh winter, and disease caused some of the shrinkage, at least in terms of increased cost for food. And I began to think, “Who or what is really putting the squeeze on the middle class?”

This is an important question. If we don’t know the cause of a problem, we will never know how to solve it. The answer to our question (and really every question) requires that we first determine the kind of universe in which we live. In other words, how does our universe operate?

How Things Operate

The “scientific man” says that the universe operates according to fixed laws. Gravity causes a dropped ball to fall to the ground, the laws of arithmetic produce a correct sum, and certain “laws” of economics produce a certain economy.

In short, those of this philosophy believe we live in a merely Darwinistic, mechanical universe: a certain input always produces a certain output. In theological terms, we call this atheism.

Oddly, many Christians fall into this camp as a practical matter. To see that this is true, all you have to do is look at how many Christians think that if we just get the right party into office that will then adopt the right government policies, then we will all prosper.

In contrast to the atheistic view is theistic worldview. That view says that the nature of the universe is not merely mechanical, but is ethical and is governed by a sovereign God.

The ethical aspect of the theistic worldview states that when we keep God’s ethical laws, such as the Ten Commandments, things go well, and if we make a habit of breaking them (or ignoring them), then things do not go well. If this is the nature of the universe, then the economic policies of neither Republicans nor Democrats can ensure economic prosperity. Something beyond mere monetary policy, tax rates, and government regulations is at play.

The article in USA Today proves the point. Even assuming we had the “right” government policies in place, events in nature can play havoc with our economy. And government really has no control over the environment, though the “scientific” man is beginning to think it can through environmental policies. But that’s another thought for another day.

Who’s in Charge?

The USA Today article leaves us, then, with the question C.S. Lewis asked in his essay The Laws of Nature: “Where, then, do actual events come from?” Lewis answered the question this way:

In the whole history of the universe the Laws of Nature have never produced a single event. They are the pattern to which every event must conform, provided only that it can be induced to happen. But how do you get it to do that? How do you get a move on? The Laws of Nature can give you no help there. All events obey them, just as all operations with money obey the laws of arithmetic. Add six pennies to six and the result will certainly be a shilling. But arithmetic by itself won’t put one farthing into your pocket.

 

The laws are an empty frame; it is He who fills that frame—not now and then on specially “providential” occasions, but at every moment.

Another Way of Saying It

In other words, things are ultimately under God’s control, not man’s. This is not to say that every natural disaster is God expressing some kind of ethical judgment against a group of people; it is not. But for those who take the Bible seriously, we do know God judges the nations, and we know He has done so through natural events.

I know such a thought—that God might still act in the ways He has in the past—will make the scientific man of today laugh, as well as many Christians, Republicans, and Democrats. That’s all right. They probably laughed and ridiculed Noah, too.


David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.

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