They're being tongue-in-cheek. Surely, they're being tongue-in-cheek. Please tell me they're being tongue-in-cheek. And yet.....Time Magazine really appears to be in earnest, as if a new scientific truth has been discovered, as if Einstein and Newton might gnash their teeth in envy....how could they have overlooked such a fundamental law of nature? You tell me: do you think they're being facetious here, or do you think they're dead serious:
From their article on the gulf oil spill (June 21, 2010), Time Magazine reports:“After studying more than 600 disasters over more than 50 years, professor Robert G. Bea has developed a unified-field theory of catastrophe: A+B=C. A is what Bea calls natural hazards, the unavoidable physical factors like the unforgiving vacuum and great distances that come with working in outer space. B is the human factors: the sins of greed, arrogance, laziness and indifference that corporations, governments and people exhibit far too often. Take a hazardous natural environment and flawed human beings and they'll add up to C: catastrophe.”
It sounds earnest, doesn't it? As if Professor Bea has made some breakthrough discovery of modern science. And with the apparent conviction that the formula A+B=C helps, as if one shouldn’t be expected to get his head around the phenomenon in absense of the formula.. Let's see: people are lazy, careless, full of themselves, and greedy, and so they screw up everything they touch. Hmmm. You know, Time is right; that is a hard concept to grasp. Better to use the formula, where A stands for natural hazards, B stands for human ineptness, and C stands for....what else?....Calamity. Eureka!! A+B=C !! Of course! A modern scientific breakthrough!
Of course, if Time is dead earnest, there remains the hopeful possibility that Professor Bea is being tongue-in-cheek. Yes, that's it! He's being tongue-in-cheek. Surely, he's being tongue-in-cheek. Please tell me he's....but we've been down this road already. Anyhow, tongue-in-cheek or not, he's the right guy to make the assessment. Time tells us that Bea is co-founder of the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management at the University of California, Berkeley, and a co-head of the Deepwater Horizon Study Group [DHSG], an independent investigative team [IIT]. "Katrina [K] followed that track [of his law], and Deepwater Horizon [DH] is following it too," he says …...[brackets mine]
Now, one ought not appear as if making light of this formula, for truly, it's helped me grasp some things felt only intuitively till now. For instance, many today maintain that science [S] will save us [SU], but that's unlikely because humans consistently screw things up [STU]. Is it not tiresome to hear devotees describing Science as though it were a beneficent being, ever eager to shower humankind with untold blessings? Alas, it's not that at all. Science is a tool. Put in the hands of wise operators, and it can indeed deliver the goods, if not to a biblical extent, then at least to a relatively impressive one. But how often does that happen? Instead, it's put in the hands of those given to “greed, arrogance, laziness and indifference,” to quote Professor Bea. Isn't that why Einstein, whose research led to the atomic bomb, lamented “if I had known I would have been a locksmith.”?
It's great stuff, science is. I've never said otherwise. It's a discovery mechanism. It's self correcting. It hones in with ever-increasing accuracy on the way things are. I regret sometimes that I didn't become a scientist. Immersion in research, and theories, and experiment, and discovery is very appealing to me. Funding? Someone else takes care of that. Implementation of whatever I discover? Not my problem. Politicians screwing up the planet? That's too bad, but it doesn't really affect me. You get to hang out with academics. You don't see poverty. You don't see squalor. What's not to like?
Science isn't the problem. But neither is it the solution. What was it God said back in Genesis chapter 11, upon surveying the tower they were building in Babel? “Look! They are one people and there is one language for them all, and this is what they start to do. Why, now there is nothing that they may have in mind to do that will be unattainable for them.“ It takes a lot to impress God, you know it does, but human technology, even back then, apparently did the trick. So with all the educated people today, you'd almost think they'd be able to get together and rule the planet wisely. Why can they not? Because successful governing is not a function of knowledge, or science, or technology. It's a function of “greed, arrogance, laziness and indifference” and the extent to which people can free themselves from these traits. Education, which focuses soley on knowledge, with the apparent assumption these other qualities will take care of themselves, doesn't help. In some ways, it makes matters worse.
Now I'm hearing reports that scientists have created life. Have they really done that? Only recently have they succeeded in mapping out DNA sequencing; now they've managed to assemble the stuff in new patterns. They've inserted it into living cells, with resulting new forms of life. Is that creating life? I don't think so, any more than jumpstarting a car constitutes building it. Still, that's not to say it's not impressive. I'm real impressed. Who would ever have predicted it? Though I hate to think what may happen to such innovation once Bea's Law gets ahold of it. It's not that I don't trust the scientists. They're decent enough, I guess. But they operate in a vacuum. What happens when businesspeople, politicians, and policymakers apply the discovery? Who hasn't at least envisioned genetic catastrophe, as recent laboratory successes are implemented by evil men, or just plain clumsy ones?
Taking issue with Bible teachings, one fellow, an atheist I think, at any rate, a firm proponent of human accomplishment, argues: "But if Armageddon comes tomorrow, how are we to know "this system" didn't end right before someone came up with a game-changing peacemaking idea?” Sigh....doesn't the very question betray collosal misunderstanding of the way things are? It's not ideas that are wanting. Any donkey can recall no end of peacemaking ideas; human history is strewn with them. Implementation is where the shipwreck always lies, as “greedy, arrogant, lazy, and indifferent” humans seek to undermine each other and turn whatever discovery into selfish advantage. Thus it is that Ragoth, a smart and decent fellow, declares he “could never really go into politics,” for he “would have a heart attack within a few years.” Of course he would! So would I! So would anyone except the born scrappers, the incurably naive, the mercenaries, and the good 'ol boys who love the game and aren't unduly troubled that it consistently lets down those who trust in it. Better to devote oneself to pursuit of knowledge, where you can succeed in your field, and lambaste those other idiots for not succeeding in theirs.
The issue before all creation is whether man has the capacity to govern himself, not whether he has the capacity to do good science. Nobody has ever said he can't do the latter. As to the former, that’s what the Bible’s message is all about.
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