Thursday, May 15, 2008

Francis A. Schaeffer and Senator Obama

Years ago, Francis A. Schaeffer argued that "modern men" (as he put it then) had fallen into a "divided field of knowledge." Having given up on reason to deliver meaning, they instead put meaning into an "upper story" immune from argument, proof, or disproof:

Upper story: meaning, universals, faith, values, religion
Lower story: reason, evidence, history, facts, science

(For the development of this thesis, see Escape from Reason [1968] and The God Who is There [1968]. Nancy Pearcey has further applied these ideas wonderfully in Total Truth [2004].)

Many considering the presidential election are held captive by a similar dichotomy:

Upper story: "hope," Obama as savior figure
Lower story: Obama's actual policies, track record, (in)experience

There is no good reason, no evidence from his life, beliefs, associations (think: Jeremiah Wright, NARAL endorsement) or voting record, that Obama can deliver hope (based on a coherent policy or presidential resume) at home or abroad. All he presents is an "upper story" mysticism sans logic, reason, or evidence.

America, wake up! Romantic and irrational idealism is not the stuff of American politics in a post-9/11 world. Don't take a leap of political faith. Think through all the issues rationally. Pursue political knowledge.


Scott said...

And John McKain does offer hope? Where is the "logic, reason, or evidence" that John McKain offers hope?

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...

It is spelled McCain!

McCain doesn't peddle vacuous "hope." He offers his policies and this record, which are better than Obama's (although not what a principled conservative wants).

McCain has no charisma; Obama has only charisma. I'll take McCain.

Heath Countryman said...

I'd like option 3 please... A McCain victory will most likely destroy conservatism in the USA for the next 40 years. When conservatives give in to moderation and accept the lesser of two evils, we send the message that the only way we can win is to compromise our message. We need to defeat liberalism by espousing conservatism, not by embracing the middle.

We may have to go through 4 more years of Jimmy Cater to get our next Reagan. I cannot in good conscience vote for Obama, but I am not certain I can vote for McCain either.

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...

Vote for McCain! Unless you want:

1. Far more abortions, and your tax dollars paying for it.
2. Defeat in Iraq and Afganistan.
3. Coddling terrorists.
4. "Talking" to dictators.
5. Race based politics at every level.
6. Another 9/11 attack in the US.
7. Further legitimation of homosexual "unions."
8. More state spending and bigger national debt.
9. Unlimited support for embryonic stem cell research.
10. No securing of the national borders.

The price is far too high.

pgepps said...

I'm not able to cheerfully support McCain, but if that's the most effective way to oppose Obama, let's go for it.

Option 3 would be nice.... if it existed.

Gary Starbuck said...

No one will see all the conservatives holding their noses while pushing the button for John McCain. Should Obama win, we may never recover from the long term damage (Supreme Court Justices alone). But if McCain wins, what should conservatives be doing NOW to make sure worthwhile candidates are on the ballot in the future? If you wait until the next election, you will face another "lesser of two weavels" dilema.

Anonymous said...


"Talking" being put in quotes does not imply that others (McCain in particular) would not also talk to terrorists in the literal sense. Rather, the "hope machine" (Obama) wishes to use mere kind words to try to sway those who intentionally blow up their own children. Terrorists laugh at the absurdity of this type of "war avoidance", much like Hamas did after Jimmy Carter met with them to "discuss peace". McCain shows a greater likelihood (i.e. more than none) of actually backing up terrorist talks with something other than more talking.

Heath Countryman said...

I will take 4 years of a liberal president who will stumble badly and perhaps bring about a second 1994 election rather than elect a modearte Republican who will only enact liberalism at a slower pace.

Sorry, Doug, but your list of 10 is not very thoughtful.

The Daily Fuel said...


"Rather, the "hope machine" (Obama) wishes to use mere kind words to try to sway those who intentionally blow up their own children."

That is ridiculous! And how would you know?!? Because you read it on the Constructive Curmudgeon. Give me a break!

Casey Shutt said...

This doesn't contribute much to the dialogue that has erupted over this post, but it does relate to the post itself. The upper story/lower story dichotomy also reared its nasty head following the ABC debate about a month ago. The Obama camp and media were perturbed, boderline hostile, to the "irrelevant" questions coming from Gibson and Stephanopoulos. Some of the questions probed the Jeremiah Wright controversy. After all, what does Obama's private life have to do with the real "issues"? Quite a bit if you bridge this upper story/lower story divide; the questions' relevancy would fall right into place.

Thanks for the post on this. It's a good reminder with election season quickly approaching, a time when this dichotomy sprouts up often.

Jake said...

Dr. Groothuis -

Is there proof that the number of abortions increases under a pro-choice president and decreases under a pro-life president? I've heard that the number of abortions actually dropped more sharply under President Clinton than under President Bush.

Also, don't you think it's a bit of a stretch to suggest that there will be "defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan [and] another 9/11 attack on the US"?

I'm totally open to the fact that Obama's foreign policy might be flawed, but surely you're not suggesting that President Bush's has been good?

One final question - The three issues you seem to have with Obama are his foreign policy, his economics, and his stance on issues related to bio-ethics. But hasn't this president's policies been absolutely disastrous in those first two areas? I mean, all our political capital has been destroyed in the past eight years and the national debt has sky-rocketed. So how are the plans of Senator McCain - who seems to be advocating more of the same - any better than the potentially-flawed policies of Senator Obama?

The Daily Fuel said...


Instead of asking how McCain's foreign policy is better than Obama, can't you just fall in line with all the good Curmudgeonites, and vote for McCain, the P.O.W. who was filmed singing "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" to the tune of Barbara Ann? If you can't trust that maverick's instincts, can't you at least be swayed by his uncommon sense of humor?

(I wonder if McCain's Vietnamese captors were singing "Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill McCain" as he was lying in a rat-infested cage, maybe that's where he got the idea.)