Posted by: John Vandivier | September 14, 2013

Two Key Tests for Caeconomics as a Theory

In this article I will look at caeconomics as a series of theories and prescribe two key tests by which we might validate or invalidate those theories.

Caeconomics can be thought of as a unique field of study. However, it can also be thought of as a series of theories within other fields of study. I have previously defined caeconomics as, “the study of optimal decision making from the viewpoint of economic analysis under the presumption that Christianity is true while recognizing that interpretation of Christianity is inevitably done on a personal basis.”

The alternative way to look at caeconomics is to look at it as an already established field with a series of new supplemental theories or hypotheses. These theories should then be tested like in any other field. I’ll be using the field of economics.

What I want to show or test with caeconomics is the idea that “better is better” and “good is good.” What I mean is that people like to qualify the term good to specify in what manner it is good. People often distinguish between something which may be morally good, such as helping the poor, and something which may be good in economics, like eliminating minimum wage.

Map of the distribution of Christians of the world

Map of the distribution of Christians of the world (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Individual morality, which becomes cultural morality when aggregated, affects the economy. I would like to prove it to myself as well as everyone else and therefore certain elements of methodical testing are needed. I also hope to show that Christianity is the most positive of these moralities and therefore somehow craft an argument for Christianity. The argument would go something like this:

  • Operational worldview impacts economics
  • Operational Christianity has the most positive effect
  • Operational Christianity is desirable
  • If we prefer operational Christianity, it makes sense to prefer real Christianity.

I am using the term “operational” to mean in accordance with an operational definition, the result of a process known as operationalization. An operational Christian would be someone who fits an operational definition we create. In other words the term operational Christian, when the phrase is used this way, does not necessarily mean a Christian. The operational definition must be based strictly on observable phenomenon, rendering it useful for hypothesis testing purposes.

While I think it is difficult or impossible for any normal person to know with certainty whether or not another person is a Christian, if we have done a good job of creating our definition then status as an operational Christian should correlate with status as a real Christian to some degree. In theological circles, we often call this “outward Christianity.”

We could do a survey-based testing method which includes the question, “Are you a Christian?” That, however, begins a host of research validity issues which are less problematic when we look strictly at economic actions and practice the applicable tried and true methodology.

The two key tests are to test whether propensity toward operational Christianity produces either:

  1. An improved economy as measured by any standard and accepted economic indicator of economic strength.
  2. An increased production of the so-called Fruit of the Spirit, the observable attributes of the Christian life according to Paul in Galatians.

As I continue to develop caeconomics in this style I will need to develop a robust operational definition of a Christian, select which economic school of thought I will draw upon and construct and execute appropriate studies.

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Responses

  1. I applaud your work to conceive and voice a theory that appears to have significant potential in usefully advancing economic theory to include strategic insights, predictive capabilities, and best practices instead of simply reporting on economic behavior that has already happened (something that is long overdue). No intellectually honest economist should shy away from contributing to this effort, no matter their orientation or worldview.

    Those in your field who may be personally uncomfortable with your worldview should nontheless be willing to scientifically confront any and all biases and go where truth and science take them.

    If anyone is interested in disproving the validity of Caeconimcs as a viable economic practice, I believe they should be encouraged to do so. That is to say, I believe God is more than willing to concede a better way if one exists.


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