In the comments section of another blog post elsewhere, someone made the provocative remark that a liberal arts education is basically worthless for getting one a job, which is the really important thing in today’s world. It’s really important, he said, to have technical and vocational skills, to be able to manipulate things mechanically. The same individual then added that at his church, there is a little “co-op” of guys who get together to encourage a “biblical worldview” by drinking beer and pursuing “the dominion mandate” – and he gave as his example of said “mandate” building your own gatling gun.
This made me wonder about the poverty of much of Reformed talk about “biblical worldview” and “dominion.” This individual raves about having the technical skills necessary to build his own gatling gun, yet he demeans the liberal arts, which, among other important things, would teach you to ask yourself WHY you should build a gatling gun in the first place. Ancillary questions arise, particularly: What sort of “biblical worldview” is it that is pursued in primarily mechanical manner? What sort of “dominion mandate” includes building gatling guns? Just because we CAN build gatling guns, does that mean we SHOULD build them? How is drinking beer with a bunch of 20 something wannabes who think it’s way cool to build their own gatling gun in any way advancing “the dominion mandate”?
Inquiring minds want to know, but unfortunately, the merely mechanical worldview espoused by this person doesn’t have the tools to inquire. Inquiry is hard work, and detracts from putting the screws in the right place on the gatling gun. Inquiry requires the sort of education that isn’t likely to help you rake in the cash to buy the parts to build the gatling gun – let alone the beer you’ll drink while building it.
So, “What are the ethics of building a gatling gun?” A very interesting test question for those who think liberal education is basically useless and one’s time ought to be spent learning how to best manipulate (efficient cause) metal parts (material cause) to make a product whose purpose (final cause) you haven’t thought much about because you’re too busy poring over the blueprint (formal cause).