Elasticity of Belief and Presuppositional Economics

In thinking about the relationship between Christianity and Economics, it is interesting to consider the possibility of adapting a style of Christian apologetics into an approach to economics thought. The particular style this article is concerned with is the idea of presuppositionalism.

In short, presuppositionalism argues for Christianity by attempting to prove the absurdity of the contrary. The presuppositionalist argues that we must presuppose the truth of Christianity to have any rational claim to knowledge, logic, and so on.

The approach I have generally taken in my previous discussions on Christianity and Economics is to look at one of two things:

  • Looking at Christianity and economics independently, do they overlap? If so, where, why, and how?
  • Looking at Christianity and economics dependently, does economics imply anything about Christianity? Does it provide evidence? Does it strengthen or weaken certain interpretations?

Presuppositionalist economics would take the following approach, which I have done from time to time as well:

  • Looking at Christianity and economics dependently, and assuming Christianity is true, does Christianity imply anything about economics? Does it strengthen or weaken certain theories or models?

This seems to be a complex and interesting subject. I think the answer is clearly, “Yes, Christianity implies certain things about economics.” However I certainly don’t have an exhaustive list at this point.

Two things crossed my mind early on:

  1. The Bible talks about hardeness of the heart. In the Bible the heart is used in part to signify where sincere beliefs are conducted. The idea of hardness of the heart, then, relates to what we might call in economics the elasticity of belief, or the willingness to change beliefs.
  2. The Bible talks about a form of utility where the person is not necessarily maximizing their own utility, but the utility of Christ in them. I have discussed this in previous articles.

We could envision an experimental design to see what sorts of things change this elasticity. In affect, do some things make a person more or less open minded? Two theories might be what I would call the isolation theory and the propaganda theory:

  • The isolation theory holds that a person becomes more open minded when they are away from other people, particularly in a state of nature.
  • The propaganda theory holds that if a person is exposed to only one kind of information, over time they are more likely to accept that information.

One experimental design would be to have subjects voluntarily engage in a weekend of isolation, or in a weekend of isolation with a single book.

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