Monday, November 05, 2018

Quantification, Metricization, and the Church

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One of atheism's intractable problems is its inability, in principle, to provide a foundation for morality. If atheism = philosophical naturalism, then morality is nonexistent. See a book I am now immersed in - Science and the Good: The Tragic Quest for the Foundations of Morality, by James Davison Hunter and Paul Nedelisky (both professors at the University of Virginia).

One of the main tools atheism wields in its futile attempt to bring morality into its camp is metrics. In our secular culture, everything gets metricized. (If the only tool you have is a hammer, you see every problem as a nail.) Hunter and Nedelisky write:

"The idiom and sensibilities of the new moral science are also the idiom and sensibilities of the managerial elite of the dominant technocratic regime. It is especially influential with the middle strata of policy administrators, who desperately need a common language with which to speak authoritatively across so many differences. Yet we also see it in other spheres in the reduction of performance, effectiveness, efficiency, and significance to the idiom of quantification, whether in business (metrics of performance for individuals, divisions, corporations), in education (metrics of literacy and numeracy, graduation rates, college acceptance, etc.), in medicine and health care (metrics of efficiency), in higher education (rankings of colleges and universities, rankings of departments and programs in fields, rankings of scholarly output and influence, etc.), in philanthropy (metrics of performance and influence), and so on. (Kindle Locations 309-314)

This also includes, of course Church. The big questions for many pastors and people are: How big is your church? (metrics of numbers of people) How large is your church building? (metrics of acres and square footage) How big is your budget? (metrics of dollars to keep the business going) Note how these questions sync with secular utilitarianism, which calculates (Bentham's "hedonic calculus") "morality" by reducing it to pain and pleasure, unhappiness and happiness.

Leonard Ravenhill wrote (in 1959):

"Can any deny that in the modern church setup the main cause of anxiety is money? Yet that which tries the modern churches the most troubled the New Testament Church the least. Our accent is on paying, theirs was on praying. When we have paid, the place is taken; when they had prayed, the place was shaken." (Ravenhill, Why Revival Tarries, p. 27)

Why the Church's worry and emphasis about numbers, acres, square footage, and dollars? Because the Church has been colonized by metricization and quantification. 


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