View Mobile Site
 
Posted: May 2, 2010 12:00 a.m.

Bad math

I was never great at math, regrettably. Physics fascinated me, and there's no doubt in my mind that at some point - perhaps when the elusive Higgs Boson, or "God particle," is discovered - math will lead us to a more complete understanding of the creation of the universe, and how everything works together. But when I was in high school it became apparent that if math unlocks universal secrets heretofore withheld from mankind's understanding, someone else would have to serve as locksmith.

Never, however, have I considered math and science to be adversaries of religious faith. Indeed, if anything math and science lend credence to the Creationist argument. If the Higgs Boson is eventually revealed in experiments at the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, Switzerland, it will not destroy faith. Rather, it will invite deeper conversation into how the marvelous plan that operates the universe was formulated and executed. And by what.

Or, rather, by whom?

Over the last 20 years or so, my continued perusal of the works of 17th Century French inventor, mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal reveal the line separating the physical from the metaphysical so fine as to be virtually indistinguishable. The heralded giant leap of faith is actually a small, simple, trusting step over that fine line.

Pascal was collecting his thoughts for an apology for the Christian religion when, at just 39, he died. How unfortunate that he was unable to complete that work; it likely would serve as companion to whatever the scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research discover when the Swiss LHC operates at full power, looking for the Higgs Boson.

Despite being no good at advanced math, I did master the basics. I can add, subtract, multiply, divide, and maybe even find a square root.

Lately I've been perplexed, though, about a few things that just don't seem to add up. I've been honest, and have told you that I'm not the brightest crayon in the box. So let me run these few things by you, and maybe one day we can sit a spell and talk on these matters.

A few years ago a tremendous hurricane took aim at New Orleans. Technology being what it was, the city officials were warned for an entire week to evacuate or otherwise prepare to battle the storm. When Hurricane Katrina pounded New Orleans into the mud, right on schedule, all the news services cast blame upon the president of the United States, George W. Bush, as if the disaster was his fault.

But this very week a tremendous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico threatened the New Orleans coastline. The spill operated at full blown, epic proportion for a full week before President Barack Obama made his first move: he requested a briefing just hours before the oil was to reach shore.

What doesn't add up is how President Bush was excoriated after New Orleans officials did nothing to help their city, despite being warned a week in advance, yet President Obama has received virtually no criticism for his failure to take prompt action.

There's more that just doesn't add up.

President Obama promised not to allow Afghanistan to become another Vietnam. Last week, however, we abandoned a fire base we'd stubbornly held for more than a year, costing the lives of 42 Americans. We destroyed more than 300,000 pounds of supplies and withdrew in the dark of night.

My generation remembers the 1968 Siege of Khe Sanh in Vietnam. Doggone if abandoning that Afghan fire base isn't eerily similar. The only thing missing was the body count on evening news.

Lastly, I used to occasionally watch late night television comic David Letterman. But after Letterman threw his weight behind candidate Obama in the 2008 campaign, what once had been comedic jabs at President Bush became sophomoric, demeaning attacks upon the man leading the free world through a great crisis.

I never really understood why Letterman attacked the president so vehemently, but what really doesn't add up is this: Obama has been in office for 15 months now, yet Letterman still bashes Bush. He says nothing about the inept performance displayed by the current resident of the Oval Office.

Maybe the BBC is right: the British hold that any criticism of Obama in America is construed as racism.

Well, like I said, I have only a simple understanding of basic math. No theoretical physicist, for sure, I'm nevertheless comfortable with my metaphysical understanding of existence.

And as for math?

The one thing about our condition that's truly transparent is this: you don't have to be a genius to see that nothing about the Obama Administration adds up.

Nat Harwell is a long-time resident of Newton County. His columns appear regularly on Sundays.


Commenting is not available.

Commenting not available.

Please wait ...