Arbtirary thoughts on nearly everything from a modernist poet, structural mathematician and functional programmer.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Half a percent... Just throwing it out there...

Note: The following post is intentionally incendiary. I don't actually believe all of it-- well, I do, but there's a lot more going on that makes my points rather moot-- I just get frustrated when people get hung up over a single issue. I feel the need to ridicule people who have lost the big picture over a minor detail. Carry on.

A BBC quote:
[A]nalysts say the government could reduce the payment - which is $30bn - by $165m, in order to force AIG to account for the bonuses in another way. (source)

Doing a little math, the $165M in bonuses is 0.55% of the next bailout payout to AIG. For those who didn't quite catch that: that is just over one half of one percent or 55 cents every $100.

Not .55% of the total amount AIG is going to be given, .55% of the next payment to AIG. Since they've received over $180B in "support" from the government, that $165M is less than .1%-- For every $10 AIG has gotten (so far) from the government, all these investors are sharing from a 1 penny pool. Proportionally, that's about the same as 6 drops of soda left in 3 liter bottle-- you leave almost that much sitting in the bottom when you throw it away.

You're damn right it's outrageous! AIG is ripping these guys off... No wonder they're leaving.

I hope this puts things in perspective.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Divine Hiddenness?

J.L. Shellenberg came up with an interesting argument for the nonexistence of (a Loving and Omnipotent) God. The Argument from Divine Hiddenness (as he calls it) is compelling as arguments concerning the existence of God go. It can be summarized as: If God loves us, he would do everything He could to increase the "good" in our lives. Clearly, if a god like the Christian God exists, this good would be a relationship with Him. However, there are people who, through no fault of their own have not experienced such a relationship (some of whom even undergo emotional duress at the lack of this relationship), and so a loving God must not exist.

This post is a response that is almost as short and incomplete as the summary I gave above.

My response boils down to answering the following question in a different way than Shellenberg: Is nonresistant disbelief something inherently beyond the control of the (non)believer? If it is, than his argument holds sway... a lot of it.
On the other hand, a loving God would allow the beloved the choice to reject Him (I believe Shellenberg admits this.) If nonresistant disbelief is not beyond the believer's control, then the disbelief is still a willful decision to reject God on the part of the believer, and God's actions at that point* cannot be held against Him. If I am in a relationship with you, and you choose to leave, I have no say. Even were I omnipotent, if I loved you, I would value your freedom, and patiently hope for you to return to me. I would even try to convince you to come back, but force has no place in love.**

So, is nonresistant disbelief beyond the believer's control?
More than once I have been on the verge of apostasy. In each case, it was hardly because I was resistant to God, rather, I was feeling something akin to what Shellenberg describes at the beginning of the linked document. I have been one step a way from that discouraged rejection often.
Shellenberg will likely suggest that this is the situation he describes later, concerning God's temporary withdrawal for some sort of spiritual growth, or other higher temporary purpose. This, it would be claimed, is why I was always "one step" away, but I never took that step.
The problem with that response is looking back on each of these situations, I always wonder what I was thinking as I wandered away from God-- he was consistently providing a way for me to come to Him, for me to accept Him again, and grow closer to Him. So why didn't I take these opportunities? I chose to ignore them. Finally, when there was one step left before I did reject Him, I stopped ignoring Him and accepted His hand.

The point is, it was my choice to begin to wander from Him, and my choice to continue to wander. And finally, it was my choice to "walk away", yet I did not make the choice. Certainly, there were influencing factors beyond my control, hence I would consider my apostasy to be "non-resistant", but I was still resisting God, in that I was choosing to separate myself from Him.

And so it is, my experience suggests, with all "nonresistant" disbelief. This does not make nonresistant disbelief any less sad, nor does it mean that people who have so chosen are weaker, or anything else. I have been fortunate enough to always have enough support from community to keep me alive during these times of duress, not all have such a community... a fact which requires constant prayer and action.

*I say "at that point" to avoid arguments concerning God's culpability for previous actions... that is a different debate.

**take this sentence with a grain of salt... Again, a different debate.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Father grant me courage...

"Ah, Sovereign LORD," I said, "I do not know how to speak; I am only a child."

But the LORD said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a child.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you," declares the LORD.
Creative Commons License Cory Knapp.