Oct
17
2011

Why Capitalism Glorifies God

By Katie Kieffer

Houston skyline

Image credit: Houston “Skyline” by Christine on Flickr via Creative Commons.

I contend that if you profess to believe in God, you must also embrace capitalism.

Lately, many religious shepherds are abandoning reason in favor of sentiment. Catholic nuns are joining Occupy Wall Street revelers, like zombies witnessing to rapturous fans. Meanwhile, Jewish activist and commentator Jake Goodman is hailing the Manhattan demonstration (which includes numerous blatantly anti-Semitic protesters) as a group of people “philanthropizing with their feet.”

Even within the same religion, emotional progressives are clashing with rational believers. Dominican Sister Pat Daly of New Jersey told Catholic News Service, “I’m thrilled to see this momentum as more and more people are taking to the streets.” Conversely, Father Robert Sirico of Michigan told CNS, “The ethos of this all is the rage against wealth for wealth’s sake. … You don’t alleviate poverty by redistributing wealth, you alleviate poverty by creating wealth.”

If you believe that God created the universe, then you must assume that he wanted man to live differently from animals. Otherwise, man would not have reason. Upon realizing that reason both defines and differentiates man, wouldn’t you set logic—not sensation—as the moral compass for human activity? Or would you “shepherd the flock” by encouraging young people to bully job creators, embrace sloth, strut topless in Manhattan and openly mate in parks?

Squirrels scamper about and get frisky in public parks. Squirrels are also feral; they will never cultivate the land, own property, develop iPhones or create a monetary system. I think that humans who reject reason by acting like squirrels have no business preaching about God.

I find that atheists admit the metaphysical more than progressives who claim to believe in God. For, atheists revere reason while progressive “believers” adore emotion: They shop around until they find a church that washes them mindless with foolishly sentimental and entertaining services. They make themselves feel charitable by marching two-by-two past wealthy residences in midtown Manhattan with signs like “No Billionaire Left Behind.” They interpret the eighth commandment that God gave to Moses as: “Thou shalt share.”

Progressive “believers” cite charity when they call for the redistribution of wealth. But is charity the same thing as stealing? Because stealing violates the eighth commandment. If these zealots used reason instead of emotion to formulate their moral codes, they would never demand that the government confiscate private property from their wealthier brothers in the name of love.

Aristotelian philosopher and theologian Thomas Aquinas contends that all men are governed by a natural law that is rooted in reason, not emotion. He argues thus in his Treatise on Law: “As, in man, reason rules and commands the other powers, so all the natural inclinations belonging to the other powers must needs be directed according to reason. Wherefore it is universally right for all men, that all their inclinations should be directed according to reason.”

Capitalism acknowledges reason and natural law whereas socialism denies natural law. By reason, we know that we have the right to own private property and the fruits of our labor. Capitalism is rational because it allows you to keep the fruits of your labor.

As John Locke points out, reason tells you that you own your body. No one else owns your body—not your neighbors, your family or the government. If you use your body to till the land and make it useful by growing wheat, then logic tells you that you own the land and any profits from the wheat, not the hungry passerby who comes across the land and steals the wheat that you grew.

Capitalism also allows for rational generosity whereas wealth redistribution fosters poverty. Reason says that you should be able to freely share your wheat with a person whom you know to be in genuine need or whom you wish to employ—not the able-bodied bum whom the government deems worthy of assistance.

Rational men glorify God just as glowing candles glorify a candlestick maker; men must behave rationally in order to completely function and prosper—just as candles must hold a flame in order to fulfill their purpose of brightening a room. Said differently, a man that acts like an animal must be as disappointing to his maker as a candle that cannot hold a flame.

I believe in one God, the creator of the universe. I believe that renouncing capitalism is irrational and that to deny reason is to deny the existence of God.

Chicago at night

Image credit: “View from 40 East Oak” by Ian Freimuth on Flickr via Creative Commons.

To bring Katie Kieffer to speak at your professional event or college campus, please follow this link to inquire about booking a speech.

Book Katie to speak Join e-List Purchase a book

Comments...

  1. D.B. says:

    "Capitalism" actually boils down to a pretty small nutshell of imperatives, which can be summarized thus:

    Humans are individuals with Free Will (G_d-given, Natural Law, or otherwise).
    Don't Steal. (This, of course, implies that private property is not only allowed, but sacrosanct.)
    Don't Lie. (This includes misrepresentation. Do what you say you're going to do.)
    Don't Covet. (And don't steal or lie to get something you want.)

    That's *it*. All the deviations from capitalism that we see in markets, finance, and taxation stem from the failure to adhere to these basic precepts. When two people honestly trade actual physical goods, without using unjust weights and measures, with full disclosure of the relevant features, and coming freely to an agreement on precisely what is to be exchanged, both parties improve their situation. The instant in which that exchange is agreed to under those terms *is* a free market — "the" free market is simply the aggregate of these honest exchanges.

    *The* fundamental, worldwide deviation from honest exchange is the current world monetary system. Governments and central banks have given themselves a blank check, drawn on accounts of non-physical "assets" (i.e. currency based on lies about money they don't have, resulting in theft via inflation.) These non-existent funds are invariably used to fund warfare, welfare, the police state, and any number of other misallocations of resources that people would NEVER pay for if it actually had to come out of their own pocket.

    It is impossible for there to be honest exchange without honest money, and this is THE primary tool that Satan (Prince of this World) uses to achieve his ends — or for those uncomfortable with such a personification, the primary mechanism whereby Evil (or even merely Wrongness) is bought and paid for. It is not money that is the "root of all kinds of evil" — it is covetousness, the *love* of money, supported by its minions, lies and theft.

    This is the main reason that Cain is a non-starter. The former head of the Kansas City Fed is apparently clueless as to the fact that a "central bank with all credit creation in the hands of the State" is the fifth plank of the central platform of the Communist Manifesto. Except for the fatal flaw that it's a ponzi scheme, central banking is absolutely fundamental to Socialism/Communism — how else can it be financed?

  2. RyeMan says:

    Capitalism may glorify God but it doesn't glorify Jesus. The money changers would represent the banking system of today. And as we've seen, the big banks love capitalism when it comes to profits but want to socialize their debt. While greed and corruption are part of any system, the conservative philosophy seems to look the other way. I think capitalism is the best system on earth given the other choices but capitalism can never be pure. It will always be weaved with socialism because a republic is a mix of all philosophies. In America's case, people, in general, want to give a helping hand to others who are less fortunate than themselves. But like anything it can be taken too far as is the case with every area of our government.
    Personally, I'm a Ron Paul supporter for his fiscal and foreign policy views. I cannot, with good conscience, vote for any other republican candidate because of their foreign policy beliefs. One of the problems that a super-power gets into is trying to control other parts of the world. The Romans did it, the Germans did it and the Soviet Union did it but none were successful and we are steadfastly following in their footsteps.

  3. dchalker says:

    Katie, I want to thank you for your fair treatment of the non-religious in your article. I came across a link here from Facebook and didn’t know what to expect. It is especially uncommon to find Christians willing to discuss our common ground without launching into condemnation and judgment regarding “spiritual” differences. I fear it was overly generous, however, to claim that “atheists revere reason.” Certainly this is true of libertarian atheists, but the rank-and-file atheist is the same brand of irrational and immoral anti-capitalist as the “progressive believers” you go on to criticize.

    Two years ago I polled a fairly representative sample of a few hundred atheists and found only 15% libertarian, compared to 33% liberal, 16% socialist, and 8% communist. The libertarian percentage is higher than the general population, but so is the percentage of communists. The majority of atheists are as irrational as the majority of believers. (I think it’s just the majority of people.)

    Anyway, I think there is great common ground between rational theists and rational atheists. The word “logic” is derived from Logos, Greek for “word.” John identifies Jesus as Logos incarnate, the living Word of God. I believe in logic, of course, but I do not imbue Logos with supernatural qualities or consciousness. The question of whether Logos has a mind of its own and a history of communicating with certain people is completely irrelevant to moral reasoning. The moral reasoning behind natural rights remains the same whether God exists or not. The simple logical consistency of self-ownership and reciprocal non-aggression doesn’t require any supernatural justification. Just Logos.

    Capitalism is certainly derived from Logos. And capitalism is a glorious expression of Logos! But I fear that you haven’t quite made your point “Why Capitalism Glorifies God” until you express the relationship between (unconscious, impersonal) Logos and (conscious, personal) God. How do you get from “this is logical” to “this is divine”?

  4. BillMcPherson says:

    Hi Kate, I thought your article was great. Nice, simple and to the point. I myself became a libertarian as my faith in God grew deeper in my mid 20’s. I see God as the ultimate example of classical liberalism. God has given us free will to choose for ourselves our own fate. He has created the natural order and allows people to make their own choices. His objective is for all to come to him with love and acceptance him as the creator. He does all of this by a gift of choice.

    Before, when I was a party line Republican, I never understood all the inconsistencies between the Empire and my faith. Overtime, with frustration and a lot of study on God, history, economics, and government I can fortunately say I now hold a philosophy that is no longer inconsistent and is based in reality, natural law, and human nature. I love every bit of it.

  5. joshualipana says:

    Interesting take, I think this is a similar position to that of some of America’s founding fathers; God created the universe, gave man reason, and that’s it.

    You should check out Craig Biddle’s article on Ayn Rand’s “Theory of Rights;” which contrasts Rand’s theory with others such as God-given, Government-granted and Natural Rights.
    http://www.theobjectivestandard.com/issues/2011-fall/ayn-rand-theory-rights.asp

    You might also like to check out Craig Biddle’s “Capitalism and the Moral High Ground” which lays out a comprehensive moral defense of capitalism.
    http://www.theobjectivestandard.com/issues/2008-winter/capitalism-moral-high-ground.asp

    Looking forward to reading more of your work.

  6. Kudos Katie on highlighting and discerning between stealing and charity.

    I also recommend: “Marginalizing Christianity” by Robert Meyer (http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/meyer/111010) which I think backs up the evidence of your insights. Also, I have a page titled Mandating Charity that provides further insights: (http://www.earstohear.net/Separation/MandatingCharity.html)

  7. Mark-Anthony says:

    I disargee, Capitalism is rooted in anarchy which is the complete opposite of what the bible advocates about how society should be structured. The bible is all about autocratic rule, and controlling the behavior of the masses through the treat of retribution from god if you don’t follow his rules as interpreted by whomever is in control. Capitalism is about people owning themselves as you pointed out, and the freedom to make choices in your self interest whether or not it is in harmony with society moral codes.

    Mark-Anthony

    • Sophocles says:

      Capitalism in its most basic understanding is simply a system in which capital (i.e. things capable of producing wealth or simply things that are useful such as a hammer) is the mediator of business and economic relations. I do not see how anarchy or totalitarianism or anything in between could possibly be the root of capitalism (in its basic sense) other than they all make use of capital unless of course one proposes that anarchy is the basis of things such as hammers, shovels, automobiles etc.
      However, capitalism as Ms. Kieffer is clearly referring to it (different people define it different ways) is the state of government in which there is a rule of law based upon the natural law (i.e. an ordering of creation intelligible to the creatures via their reason) that governs the transactions between people involving capital, as well as the rest of their actions in relation to their fellow man. The natural law is written into the fabric of the universe (for lack of a better phrase) and man is free when he governs himself according to this law. For freedom, unlike anarchy, necessarily implies actions chosen that are inherently good; these actions are good because they in harmony with the ordering of the universe which was ordered by an infinitely good being. I wouldn’t exactly call spraying HCl into one’s eyes an act of freedom; for this I would use words such as perverted or foolish or crazy.
      On the other hand, societies’ moral codes isolated from the natural law (if you believe there is such a thing as natural law) are based in anarchy. Observe the various moral codes around the world and throughout history for a taste of their variability and permutability. But if you do not believe in a natural law based upon immutable truth, or do not believe in our ability to know this law with our reason or do not believe we have reason to begin with then I am certain anarchy is just as suitable as anything else.

  8. Lodzia says:

    Katie I see you write on a weekly basis for the Townhall. It is really uplifting to see how many people posted that they like your recent article. The same one you have on this website. There are over 600+
    people who posted they like it. I encourage you to keep up this writing of yours and reaching out to everyone; young/old, left/right, whatever we all might be. Haha.

  9. closte says:

    Well said.

    Your point of reason is well made. In fact, aspects of your argument were reminiscent of Goodkind’s message in ‘Faith of the Fallen’.

  10. bw says:

    Thank you, Katie, for a god message. Please continue to write as it is good for thinking people to be challenged on the level which you have done so in this article.

    It is amazing to see the vitriol towards you. But you/we should expect nothing less. Stand strong.

    Bob Watson

Choose your avatar

Please choose an avatar by clicking above. If an avatar is not selected, the bottom-right default icon will be chosen.

Custom avatar

* Use Arrow Keys to Navigate Comment Box *
** Your email address will not be published **

Thanks for visiting KatieKieffer.com! Please know that your comments are your sole opinion and they are not endorsed by Katie or KatieKieffer.com even if they are posted. Please remember you are a visitor on this site and your commenting and posting privileges may be revoked if you fail to comply with the Terms of Use.