Tech and economic growth in the Book of Genesis

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, worth reading as an integrated whole.  Here is one excerpt:

The stories have so much religious significance that it is easy to miss the embedded tale of technology-led economic growth, similar to what you might find in the work of Adam Smith or even Paul Romer. Adam and Eve eat of “the tree of knowledge, good and evil,” and from that decision an entire series of economic forces are set in motion. Soon thereafter Adam and Eve are tilling the soil, and in their lineage is Tubal-Cain, “who forged every tool of copper and iron.”

Living standards rise throughout the book, and by the end we see the marvels of Egyptian civilization, as experienced and advised by Joseph. The Egyptians have advanced markets in grain, and the logistical and administrative capacities to store grain for up to seven years, helping them to overcome famine risk (for purposes of contrast, the U.S. federal government routinely loses track of assets, weapons, and immigrant children). It is a society of advanced infrastructure, with governance sophisticated enough to support a 20 percent tax rate (Joseph instructs the pharaoh not to raise it higher). Note that in modern America federal spending typically has run just below 20 percent since the mid-1950s.

Arguably you can find a story of quantitative easing in Genesis as well. When silver is hard to come by, perhaps because of deflationary forces, the Egyptian government buys up farmland and compensates the owners with grain.

Most of all, in the Genesis story, the population of the Middle East keeps growing. I’ve known readers who roll their eyes at the lists of names, and the numerous recitations of who begat whom, but that’s the Bible’s way of telling us that progress is underway. Neither land nor food supplies prove to be the binding constraints for population growth, unlike the much later canonical classical economics models of Malthus and Ricardo.

There is much more at the link.

Comments

premodern tower of babel reads
a lotta lika postmodern monetary theory

Beautiful column!

Agreed.

+1, it was a good column.

+1

As a follow up the transition of the Jewish people from farmers into traders, merchants and artisans (in communities spread around the world) after the fall of the western Roman Empire continues to the story emphasizing human capital accumulation. It many ways it is a continuation of the biblical text but written rather in the book of nature.

This is a pretty interesting account:

http://www.bu.edu/econ/files/2012/11/dp124.pdf

One more theme that is richly conveyed through Genesis (and elsewhere) and is relevant to Tyler’s position I think... is the sacred status of the family. It is the preeminent form of human social structures and the proper point of reference of every human institution.

Everything is subservient to the family. That’s what all the geneologies and whatnot is about.

The nation state serves the family, which alone is granted sacred independence and dignity.

What speaks more clearly to the importance of family that a preparedness to burn your child alive?

On the contrary...

I think you might be missing the point of that story.

If the family is the penultimate and Abraham is willing even to comply with sacrificing his own son (whom he waited for for a century, per the narrative... and in the culture of the time human sacrifice was not unheard of) then he is truly doing the will of the father alone. This was a test narrative. How many of these are there in the Bible and don’t they always teach pretty much the same thing.

It’s pretty strange to see the same people arguing that parents ought to be able to sacrifice their fetal children on the alter of economic connivence with complete legal immunity, question this story for its cruelty.

It's a shame, then, that modern capitalism destroyed the family in order to have more compliant workers.

You are aware of the Late Bronze Age Collapse that post dates the traditional dates of the Israeli exodus from Egypt and therefore Genesis. Not that Genesis has any historical value at all. I'm sure you know all of this, but you want critical acclaim now and facts are secondary.

Completely irrelevant to Tyler's point. Of course the Genesis has no historical value and the events and characters there, as far as we know, never happened or existed. We all know it was written much later than the supposed time of those events (not only true for the book of Genesis, but for all the Pentateuch, and also a large part of narratives in the ancient testament).

What Tyler's points out is that the book of Genesis reveals a vision of the world where economic progress plays a role. This is in contrast for instance with for example the mythical Greek vision, which, while it acknowledges that Iron was discovered after Bronze, see the Iron era as fundamentally inferior as the Bonze era, itself inferior to prior eras.

Not that its "historical", but oral traditions can be very old and can preserve some interesting things.

Yeah, and they can be entirely bogus.

If I wanted to learn the history of Egypt I wouldn't read a book assembled by people who evidently knew very little about it.

Well, the Garden of Eden is certainly considered a better place to live than the one where the sweat of one's brow is necessary. In other words, most societies always seem to have a better period they refer to in storytelling.

got it
so now one of the oldest books around has "no historical value"

The book of Genesis is by no means one of the oldest books around. Of course it has major historical significance, but that is not because of its age in comparison to other written texts. Though still not definitive, the written Book of Genesis is not thought to be any older than 1000 BCE, and more likely written several centuries later.

" the written Book of Genesis is not thought to be any older than 1000 BCE, and more likely written several centuries later."

yeah, thats actually pretty old

all these nonentities claiming that the people in Genesis didn't exist ...

But it does not make anywhere near one 'of the oldest books around.' It doesn't even make onto the top ten list of oldest religious texts, for that matter - http://www.oldest.org/religion/religious-texts/

And likely it isn't older than Hesiod or Solon, either.

so one of the oldest 10-20 books in history?
on a old book timeline that would meet our criteria
for "one of the oldest books around"
in our book

'so one of the oldest 10-20 books in history?'

Not even close. It doesn't even break the top 50, being generous with the dating - and while ignoring Chinese texts.

Being ungenerous with the dating, it is just one book of many from around 500 BCE.

surlyjoes rule of thumb
is if a book is older than
joe biden it is a really old book

pedant!
https://www.bmj.com/content/364/bmj.l245/rr-1
wow 85% that's seems like a lotta children changing their minds!!
the sociology dept. has made a lotta bad choices lately
are we sure giving hormones to kids routinely is really such a good idea?

malcom? donald? harvard?

surlyjoe, the book of Genesis has historical value about the time it was written and what people thought or wanted other people to think at that time. But it has no historical value for the much earlier events and characters it describes. No other source confirms any of those events and characters (though the flood is mentioned in some other middle-eastern legends as well). There might be some quantum of truth in it, but it is very hard to know what.

not too many history of religion survey courses would omit
genesis-

That there exist history of religion survey courses that omit the epic of Baal, but include Genesis. Says more about the weakness of those courses than the greatness of Genesis.

would imagine most old testament survey courses would not omit baal
since baal is mentioned pretty often in the old testament

I said the epic of baal not baal Hadad himself. Rider on the clouds, Dagan's son, baal.

+1 creepy
+1 also scary

You forgot the part where they are punished by God for disobeying his commands to not eat from the tree of knowledge. One can read into that that obedience is a higher virtue than knowledge! China, the USSR, and the USA have in many instances unfortunately taken the idea of forbidden knowledge to heart.

The more obvious interpretation is that of course Adam and Eve would eat the fruit, which represents the elevation of human beings onto a moral plane of right and wrong that doesn't apply to animals, and humans would live lives of suffering unknown to animals as part of the bittersweet bargain. Something like this actually happened, and it was significant.

I always thought of it as a story about the dangers of carbohydrates.

Brian, exactly.

On a more light hearted note, my favorite speculation of what the fruit of the tree knowledge of good and evil was (even though I think Brian is right... it means our ability to reason, our will, our consciousness, what later Christians like Aquinas would call the soul) is that it was fermented fruit/grain (beer). The group effort of civilization began with seasonal communal activities like religious services and temple (or grain storage) construction fueled by the prospects of roasted meat and fermented beverages. It’s the story of buddies helping each other move in exchange for pizza and beer.

I like your interpretation but it is less obvious than the OP's. Obedience to God is THE big theme of the Old Testament.

Obedience by choice... that is the theme.

If Genesis didn't leave out Chinese and Indian people, you know, 30-40% of humanity, it would be a much better book. No White people either.

What makes you single out Genesis for this? Do the Vedas include Chinese people? Does Confucius talk about "White people"?

Oh, you want attention? There, have some.

"Neither land nor food supplies prove to be the binding constraints for population growth, unlike the much later canonical classical economics models of Malthus and Ricardo."

It's been 2000 years since Jesus. Historians estimate King David reigned ~3000 years ago. There are great uncertainties in dates but the long list of pharaohs in the Bible are from 200-3500 years before present. The point is that the Bible portraits the Middle-East between 2000 and 3500 years before present.

That's a long period where the long cycles of the Earth, such as glaciations, start to matter. The Last Glacial Maximum has been dated to 26,500 years before present and since that inflection point rainfall has been less abundant in the Middle-East. Forest and steppes reduce, the desert enlarges. There may be a human component to desertification (overgrazing, deforestation, irrigation+erosion) but the baseline desertification is driven by the glacial cycle.

Neither land nor food supplies were binding constraints for population growth in the Middle-East 2000 years ago. The Bible captured the events of that time and it may be the right interpretation of those events. 2000 years later we know that rainfall becomes scarcer on the region for the next ~50-100K years. Update your priors?

"2000 years later we know that rainfall becomes scarcer on the region for the next ~50-100K years."

No, human technology trumps nature. We are terraforming the planet. Expect a wetter, hotter future than nature would otherwise provide. Humans survived the ice ages, but it doesn't mean we prefer them.

Yes, human technology trumps nature. When it makes economic sense.

+1, an important caveat

'No, human technology trumps nature.'

As demonstrated at the Salton and Aral Seas.

Seems like an awful econ history take to take any of economic structures described as literally true. Multiple layers of later compilation, exaggeration, translation, etc. "Why a book of myths prove 'We wuz kangz'!" level.

"Tower of Babel myth as anti-globalization fairy tale" is an interesting take. Partly for the fact of it's combination of the obviousness of reading that subtext and the fact that it is novel to me. And that combination demonstrates the weak Biblical mythic foundation of present day Western culture (if the Bible was that important, we'd all have heard that read hundreds of times by now).

Scarcity, important concept in economics and if we look at the Bible and the history of the Middle-East, it's been there with us the whole time.

Agriculture may have been an adaptation of early Middle-East people to seasonal food scarcity. If the ecosystem was that productive, why bother why the backbreaking job of agriculture. They could have thrived as hunter-gatherers-roamers. Fast forward to the present and look at the efficient water use to produce food in Israel.

Water scarcity is unmentioned in the Bible until "the end of times". The Jordan river is only a lush green scenario were miracles happen. Jesus was baptized there, John the baptist never said anything about the river disappear. Today we know the Dead Sea is drying because all the water from the Jordan river is diverted for human use. The Six-Day war was a fight for the Jordan river water.

So, is the Bible underlying model of economics optimistic or naive in the sense of making judgments without considering resource scarcity?

The Genesis provides an imaginary narrative of the history of the world, which tries to be compatible with what its writers know of the past -- not much. It certainly doesn't remember the invention of agriculture, which happened in the area 10,000 years before it was written. It remembers though of conflict between herders and crops growers (Abel and Cain).
In remembers the past glory of the city of Babylon/Babel (beginning of the second millenium BC). It registers the advanced and powerful civilization of Egypt. And of course it is naive economically -- "But as for you, be fruitful and multiply; spread out across the earth and multiply upon it", it says, without considering the long-term problems this is bound to create (problems that are happening under our eyes now).

Was supposed to be an answer to Axa above.

Spread across to earth = all those times God said to kill the wicked and take their land in the Old Testament.

I thought libertarians presume that human mind is the ultimate resource and resources are no constraint

It's a very big galaxy.

"I’ve known readers who roll their eyes at the lists of names, and the numerous recitations of who begat whom, but that’s the Bible’s way of telling us that progress is underway."

I would like to point, however, that Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren; and Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; and Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon; and Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; and Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias; and Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa; and Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias; and Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias; and Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias; and Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon; and nd after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel; and Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor; and Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud; and Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

I am pretty sure Mathews was actually engaging in fillibustering Herod's Children are the Future (Unless We Stop Them Now) Act.

Perhaps Genesis is the tale of one particular man and woman and their lineage. Perhaps this one man, Adam, was chosen by God to truly possess, and be possessed, by His Spirit.

And perhaps this is when "technology" really accelerates. Prior to Adam, men and women existed, as in Genesis Chapter 1, created on the 6th day. But then, after God rested on the 7th day, He formed a new man on the 8th day and breathed His Spirit into Him, and that's when things got interesting. This is when Genesis, in Chapter 2, begins using the word hu-man, as hu is the sound of breathe.

And these humans began intermarrying with the pre-existing men and women, introducing the Spirit of God into those bloodlines. This is how Cain was able to find a wife outside of Eden and why they were afraid of others beyond Eden after the fall.

And perhaps "the fall" was not really a fall of all, but the plan of God to release HIs Spirit onto this still infant planet, to grow up a civilization to join the many other advanced civilizations He perhaps has created elsewhere?

God's way's are not our ways. He is the technology we have yet to fully discover. Like electromagnetic radiation, we cannot see, touch, and taste it directly, but certainly all see the wonders of His creation.

Our civilization is evolving, socially as well as physically. God's way is incremental progress most of the time, and dramatic change as needed at times, such as in the person of Jesus Christ.

Yes, the power of markets, from Genesis to today. Here's Cowen's colleague Veronique de Rugy schooling Marco Rubio on the power of markets: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/05/opinion/china-marco-rubio-republicans-industrial-policy-.html

'and from that decision an entire series of economic forces are set in motion'

Not to mention inevitable death - many people really don't understand why Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden. 'The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”'

The Lord God of Genesis is completely opposed to having human beings become like 'us' (one can reasonably assume this means angels, and is not a polytheistic reference), and not dying.

Polytheistic references do occur in the OT, most obviously in "Thou shalt have no other gods before me". That's not a claim to be the only god, it's a claim to be the boss-god, like Odin or Zeus.

'Polytheistic references do occur in the OT'

Yes they do, but religious Jews claim to be completely monotheistic, and it seems silly to get into a debate about the point.

To put it differently, when it comes to matter of faith, I let the faithful express whatever opinion they want, without feeling that it has any relevance to me, and as long as it does not contradict any facts (I am not an atheist because I lack the faith to dismiss what seems to be close to a human universal - that is, belief in something that cannot be proven).

And to save This Guy some time in weakening my brand - 'clockwork_prior is a pathetic religious bigot. Feel free to ignore his hateful posts.'

While your interpretation is plausible I think it is fallacious. The God of Abraham knows He is the one, true God and there are many false gods being worshipped in the world. The statement is explicitly monotheistic. "You can't worship me and also have other 'gods.'"

The original Hebrew translates more precisely to "There shall be not to you the gods of others." This translation rules out God as merely the king of gods. It commands that the children of Israel shall have NO OTHER gods.

"For purposes of contrast, the US federal gov't..."

We need the ability to post gifs of rolling eyes here.

Yes, especially as regards the government "losing" immigrant children. That is surely not a bug but a means of making sure they go forth, and are fruitful, and multiply. The God-shaped hole has been ably filled.

Another perfect opportunity!

"Arguably you can find a story of quantitative easing in Genesis as well. When silver is hard to come by, perhaps because of deflationary forces, the Egyptian government buys up farmland and compensates the owners with grain."

It is also a story of successful socialism.

"Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt.
Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years.
And let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities.
(...)
And the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of all his servants.
And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?
And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art:
Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.
And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.
(...)
And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt."

It was the first five-year plan in history, which was so successful it lasted 14 years.

Well if you equate socialism with feudalism, then sure. In both cases, the ruling elite control the means of production. Generally, the significant difference is determining how you get to be a member of the ruling elite.

Joseph and his cronies were the Egyptian Gosplan. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gosplan
Like Mr. Lincoln Steffens, whose middle name was Joseph, Joseph saw the future and it worked.

I suppose if one were trying to impress upon the masses of economic illiterates the importance of economics, this would be a good story. Economics is timeless and universal. We could just as easily, if not moreso, discuss the economics of Star Trek.

What does the article prove? That there is commerce and choices and growth going on amongst a people who have dropped through the sieve of survivor bias?

I was raised a Jew. I have an economics degree. Sure I find some interest and appeal in this column. I just don't know why others should. In truth, everything about the world is one big optimization model that we could call Deep Thought. Cool story bruh.

The tax rate argument had eluded me. Very interesting.

Are you saying that the answer is 42?

No, he's saying he doesn't no what the question is.

The 20% tax rate (actually, 19.5%) is known as Hauser's Law, and is based on his observation of our historical tax rate (not a theoretical rate). But that's not the total "tax" rate if one includes the tithe (which means "tenth") in the Law of Moses. Thus, the total tax rate is 30%. Since the church has no power to assess the tithe, however, those who fail to tithe cause the tax rate imposed by government to be higher than it otherwise would be.

"It is a society of advanced infrastructure, with governance sophisticated enough to support a 20 percent tax rate (Joseph instructs the pharaoh not to raise it higher). Note that in modern America federal spending typically has run just below 20 percent since the mid-1950s."

Come on Tyler, that's an apple to oranges comparison. First, you are comparing total governmental taxes to Federal taxes. Second, the 20% rate in ancient Egypt didn't attempt to capture nearly as much economic activity as our current taxes do. It was a 20% tax on grain production.

Interesting, like Jordan Peterson but from an econ perspective.

Did Prof. Cowen mention lobsters?

Or would we have to wait for Prof. Cowen's take on Leviticus?

A few extra observations.

(1) The story of the Tower of Babel seems a rejection of technological progress. I am on the side of the tower-builders; apparently the Hebrew God is not.

I have to wonder if the Middle Easterners who decided to destroy the World Trade Towers were not implicitly inspired by God's destruction of the Tower of Babel: religious fanatics against economic progress.

(2) As for Malthus, when the Hebrews left Egypt and arrived in the Promised Land, they slaughtered the natives of that land. Apparently, land is the source of wealth and is very scarce. That mindset did not diminish until the Industrial Revolution.

(3) I have to wonder if child sacrifice, which was common among the Semites, was not a method of population control to prevent a Malthusian equilibrium of near-starvation. Child sacrifice is banned in Genesis (story of Isaac) and that change in attitude may have helped the Hebrew population grow and spread.

(4) As for Egypt, it is notable that Keynes seemed to suggest that building pyramids was a technique of fiscal stimulus, putting idle men to work, creating capital which did not compete with private capital. Maybe building the Temple in Jerusalem was a similar ambition. We may see some pyramid-building when AOC becomes president.

#1 https://www.quotes.net/mquote/90625

To add to Tyler's point, the relationship between economic power and political power is very clear in the story of Joseph and the Pharoah. One can imagine the relationship between land ownership and political or even military power was much stronger back then than now. The landowners back then likely had private armies, for example. By helping him take over the land, Joseph helped Pharoah further centralize his authority. After this happens, a new Pharoah shows up and the Jews are stuck.

I also must happily point out that Professor Cowen chose to link to a Quillette magazine article in his Bloomberg Column. Very Nice.

Does it not strike you as ironic that he would self-promote as an economist when the proceeds of the sale of Stubborn Attachments is gifted with a Christian spirit? I think Kirkegaard would be proud.

+1quillette
this one also interesting
https://quillette.com/2019/03/02/lies-damned-lies-and-stem-statistics/

This just shows that you can interpret the Bible any way you want. If something is so elastic that it predicts seemingly anything at all, what use does it have?

Tyler isn't saying the Bible was prophetic. He's saying that the much of the economic phenomena that we observe today was already apparent to the ancient Hebrews.

Maybe I shouldn't have said predict. But he is interpreting the texts in a way that reads in a lot that's not explicitly there. e.g. "the lists of names, and the numerous recitations of who begat whom, but that’s the Bible’s way of telling us that progress is underway. "

I agree that the list of names is a weak point in Tyler's column. A list of names from succeeding generations doesn't indicate progress, it's just an indicator of the passing of time.

Genesis: a cautionary tale. At least according to Daniel Quinn's "Ishmael."

If you look critically at Genesis, you see the world's suckiest creation myth. Short version: everything started out great, but we humans showed up, did something dumb and evil, and so we suck. Contrast that with just about any other known creation story.

I remember that bothering me way back in bible school. I could never figure out how that story resonated with people, it's pretty much a downer, and leaves the listener inclined to feel small, scared and guilty.

Quinn's theory: the story was invented by displaced hunter-gatherer/nomads to describe these newcomer farmers. Who were greedy, violent, wanton, fat, and bred like rabbits. They took control of the water holes and chased off the game. And they got wiped out periodically by avoidable events such as floods, famine, and pests. At which point, they got extra greedy and violent.

Must be an insult to God.

In a great irony that anticated the modern era's lack of sense of irony... the farmers adopted this story for themselves.

First time the Genesis story made sense to me.

'you see the world's suckiest creation myth'

And yet, the second time round, it turns into one of the world's most elegant creation myths, at least this beginning - 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The same was in the beginning with God.

All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.'

And to save This Guy some time in weakening my brand - 'clockwork_prior is a pathetic religious bigot. Feel free to ignore his hateful posts.'

No, that groovy part is the preamble. An ode to earth before humans.

God was on a roll, but didn't know when to quit.

The humans show up and start blowing stuff up, pissing off the boss, killing each other, and begatting like its going out of style.

Basically, it's the original NIMBY story.

Quinn sounds like someone acquainted with the Genghis Khan school of settled societies.

If you think about it, Genghis was pretty much the last stand of the nomads.

The American Plain's Indians were making last stands centuries after Genghis was buried.

Indeed.

moor covfefe plz

...or Khan was a bump along the long path of humans domesticating humans, a project that continues unto today, albeit with little appreciation for the long, painful struggle and the elements of biology that rebel against such domestication.

How is it possible to write "an entire series of economic forces are (sic) set in motion" and get the grammar past both the writer and the (supposed) editors at Bloomberg?

Isn't this just the use of a collective noun that emphasizes the individual elements (forces) in a collective? Hence it rightly takes a plural verb.

"God then scatters the humans and takes away their common language, to limit their productive capacity. There is a hint that people are seeking to become the rivals of God, who needs to keep their ambitions in check." I'm going to take up a theological point, even if that's a silly thing to do here. I don't interpret that God wants to limit productive capacity just to spite humanity.

I have always heard this story explained with an emphasis on the motivation of the builders. They aren't building 20-story towers for affordable housing in San Francisco. They are building a giant statue to themselves, like a gigantic idol. Chances are that the activities therein would be nasty and abusive, but that's just my speculation based on the history of the time.

In contrast to scattering and confusing the tower builders, the miraculous account of Pentecost implies that God wants people of all languages and cultures to hear the truth. I count both helpful scientific advances and whatever is actually true about God to be truth. Whether you believe the miracle happened or not, the intention is clear. Different languages are a barrier to being unified around good things. The Ultimate Plan is for everyone to be materially blessed, and together, and to know the same Gospel.

Fun article.

Genesis is a very optimistic story. Population grows, new cities appear, new technologies. In Genesis there is no limit to growth. Later figures seem to be smarter than the former. Exactly opposite of the pessimistic weltanschauung of the Ancient Greeks, who considered the past much better than their present, the current population degenerate and weak in comparison with Homer's heroes.

Indeed. Genesis = Foxconn Wisconsin

I’m just wondering if the ‘embedded tale of technology’ in a book of social and spiritual relations took a tumble with the Granovetter’s rational-man-economics embedded with social relations, whether we would find an optimal overlap in some economic system. If one is embedded in the other and the other is embedded in the one, are we not really melding the two?

How do you fail to notice that all of that was considered as a FALL?

It is more like the minor fall, the major lift,
the baffled king composing "Hallelujah"

No, it was a cardinal fall. The original fall. And one we will spend eternity trying and failing to recover from until the End Times.

There is no fixing it, only begging to be forgiven for it. Over and over.

It is not that simple. There is more than meets the eye.

So basically we're post-scarcity and MMT is right. Why am I still paying taxes?

Because the King has had a dream and his advisors has told him to employ an army of bureaucrats do control the business cycle. You know seven years of plent, seven years of famine, the occasional internet bust and plague of locusts ans so far and so on.

Perhaps in 2020 I may extend upbeat greetings to the people of Brazil and their President Captain Bolsonaro, buoyed by the yangbucks in my account courtesy of Mr. President Sir Andrew Yang.

Or Goddess, who will usher in the Aloha Golden Age.

Is this a good time to talk about money lenders, usury, etc?

No.

So peace love and understanding are right out too I suppose

Time Preference, you want a $ today, or a year from now?

Good column and excellent choice of translation.

This is a good column. Nicely done.

I've always been interested in the tension point between the fundamentalists who do believe Genesis has some historical value yet take part in all the technological advancements that arose from Adam and Eve's original sin. God's only proscription in the Garden of Eden was against knowledge. Do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. As you point out, this disobedience set in motion a technological revolution At least from the point of view of Genesis. Since every evil (and good as well) attributed to human technology can be said to arise from disobeying God’s original proscription, how is it that the fundamentalists continue to partake in the legacy of that original sin (knowledge, technology, markets, etc.) yet never ask whether or not they should?

It does seem to me that there is an incongruity in accepting Genesis as literal truth and yet continuing to operate in a world where knowledge is THE tool of survival. In fact, arguably they propagate that original sin by using the technology of knowledge and rationality to defend their faith. Which by its very nature should not require defense. As it is a belief in the unseen, perceived purely on a subjective level by the individual.

If, for Christians, Christ came to close that gap through grace, then his most important admonition was to give unto Caesar what was Caesar’s. In other words, operate lawfully in the markets that are provided by secular governments. Grace covers the original sin of obtaining knowledge against God’s proscription.

If that gap is closed, then there is no longer a legacy of sin attached to knowledge and its outcome, technological advancement. Christians are free to pursue knowledge and technology as long as they operate lawfully in Caesar's market. Whomever Caesar may be.

Which leads to the question of why are fundamentalists against knowledge, and more specifically the advancement of science? If Christ has cleansed technology through his sacrifice, why fight the advancement of scientific thought?

While that may not be a fair characterization to all fundamentalist Christians, we must remember that they count “Creation Scientists” among their number. Many of their objections to immoral actions are grounded in what they view to be rational and scientific study.

It would seem to me that one or the other is true. Participation in modern life by using knowledge and technology is against God’s original proscription to Adam and Eve and to continue practicing it is to “live in sin,” or Christ’s sacrifice at the cross cleansed humanity's technology through knowledge allowing them to partake in any advantage it has to offer. As long as they follow Christ's admonition to lawfully operate in the markets they created and interact with.

Essentially, the grace exhibited at the cross means that all believers are free to access the cumulative knowledge and technology of all of humanity. Which means everything from swords to plows, the theories of evolution to relativity, from the planets to the stars. Any further proscription against knowledge is against the grace of Christ. It sets the authority of the fundamentalist against God’s forgiveness.

The conclusion is that to continue the proscription against knowledge not only continues to contribute to ignorance and darkness, but it undermines the very faith that fundamentalists profess.

Pithy write-up, you're a machine Mr Cowen.

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