The Mission of the Acton Institute is to promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles.... The work produced at Acton Research includes the disciplines of philosophy, economics, theology, and history, among others....
Our week will be focused on applying the Christian worldview to the field of economics. How do we create a just society? How do we best help the poor? How have other worldviews influenced current economic ideas, and what are/will be the consequences?
You may find this surprising, but economics is actually a fascinating subject because at its core, it's the study not of numbers, but of human actions--that is, all the millions of interactions and decisions made in the marketplace every day. Because of this, economic theory must be based on a proper view of human nature--who we are as human beings, what motivates us, and how we behave. Get this starting point wrong, and the result will be at best a struggling economy, and at worst, human misery.
The president of Acton, Father Robert Sirico, spoke last night about this very need to put the human person at the center of economic theory--both as the subject of concern and as the key to understanding how the marketplace works best. Anything less will eventually lead to policies that degrade human dignity.
A common error about human beings that many people believe and then build on when making economic policy is to view the human person mainly as a consumer of resources--a view that often leads to fears about population growth, which in turn leads to attitudes and/or policies designed to limit that growth.
That approach does not properly value or understand human beings. Because we're made in the image of God, the human person is not merely a consumer of resources, but is, in fact, the greatest source of wealth and the biggest asset of any nation. As Father Sirico pointed out, "when we mix our ideas and intelligence with the world" something new is created. A policy that recognizes this truth about human nature is one that will create a flourishing society.
A very readable and immensely interesting book that explains this and more is Money, Greed, and God by Jay Richards (formerly of the Acton Institute). I encourage you to read this book, especially if you disagree with his conclusions and are interested in hearing an excellent, reasoned argument for the other side.