Archive for July 23rd, 2007
Wow! Someone is finally talking about one of my pet peeves. cut throat banking policies that go against every biblical teaching about money lending. On the blog “Decompressing Faith” Erin and friends provide a righteous rant against a travesty that has gone unchallenged for much too long.
Here’s what Cindy had to say:
“Last Christmas i got busy and lost track of when i made debits relative to deposits. (very very unlike me- i usually update the account every day). when i went in to the bank to have them explain all the charges I couldn’t believe what they told me.
Not only did they do as the article said, manipulate the posting order of debits and credits to maximize the potential for overdrafts but, GET THIS, they charge the $37.50 when the initial red debit was received electronically (but not yet posted) and then when they officially posted the debit the next day, they charged the $37.50 again. I went through it 3 or 4 times to be sure i understood them correctly. 2 charges for the exact same overdraft. And somehow they had manipulated the loopholes to make that legal!
Then they thought they would be able to coerce me to take out a loan that would cover potential overdrafts in the future, although it was clear from our account that by that time we were in no danger at all of overdraft. I remember when the bank would just move some money from your savings to cover overdrafts. No more. That’s far too resonable and good for the consumer apparently”.
Sound familiar? And then there is the credit card side of this business, luring people into taking loans with low interest rates and then jacking up the rates and hitting them with late charges, charging over limit fees after they drop the credit line (using the magic “Credit Report” as an excuse for doing so). They ain’t got nothin’ on Don Corleone. (Of course some of their victim…er, customers are weak and lack the discipline to handle credit responsibly. But isn’t there a moral prerogative in place here as well? What would we say if liquor stores made it a point of handing out coupons at AA meetings?)
I’ve said this before; if Business chooses to be ‘all business’, driven solely by profit, refusing to regulate themselves (as many other professions do) then eventually their customers (otherwise known as citizens) will step in and take away some of their freedom. Of course, the bankers are not breaking any laws and apparently they are not drawing much attention to what they do. But what would you expect from a culture that has elevated Donald Trump to the position of business role model, entertainer and sage.
Why is it that there are so many damn sermons about sexual immorality but never have I heard one against financial immorality? Didn’t any of these preachers read Ezekiel in seminary? Why are we constantly picking on prostitutes, alcoholics, drug users and porn addicts when these predators in Prada get to run around guilt free? And I’ll bet most of them are flaming heterosexuals.
Is it because they can be found sitting in the front pews? Is it because they make boatloads of money and are known to fill the offering envelope every week? OK, I’ll buy that. Expedience wins. But what about all the other bank employees, stockholders and shareholders? Shouldn’t they be made to feel a little hot under the collar about where they work or invest? I once sat in a church pew next to a very pretty, yet very overweight, young lady. I remember sweating nervously while our well intentioned young (and very thin) pastor gave a scathing sermon on the sin of gluttony.
No wonder our churches hold such little credibility with today’s ‘un-churched’.
OK, please bear with me here. Other than the fact that I am as curious as a cat (and live with three of them) I haven’t the foggiest notion what I am talking about. Still, there just might be something to this.
In 1935 the Austrian physicist Erwin Schroedinger envisioned a scenario that illustrated some of the mysteries of quantum mechanics. This famous thought experiment became known as the dilemma of “Schroedinger’s Cat.
Here is a description of Shroedinger’s Cat that I found a bit easier to digest.
A cat is in a box with a lid that is shut. Within the box is a radioactive nucleus that has a 50-50 chance of decaying in an hour. If the nucleus decays this triggers a mechanism that breaks a vial of poison gas that kills the cat. The cat has two states: alive or dead. Schrodinger argued that if quantum mechanics is regarded as a fundamental universal theory then it must be applicable to all systems be they small or large. If so, then we must write, for the cat’s state,
|cat> = a|alive> + b|dead>,
that is, the cat apparently is in a superposed state of life and death! Then we open the box.
According to the measurement hypothesis (discussed next) when we open the box, we are performing a measurement of the cat’s state; this is said to cause the cat’s superposed state to collapse into one base state or the other |dead> or |alive>. The cat is found either pushing up the daisies, or purring for its milk. Schroedinger considered this to be so absurd that (like Einstein) he concluded that quantum mechanics could not be the final word; something was missing.
This is such a strange notion, a cat that is somehow both alive and dead, and, more to the point, contrary to what appears to happen in the macroscopic world that there seems to be only two possibilities: either quantum mechanics works only on a microscopic scale, in which case it is not a universal theory, or it is a universal theory in which case it cries out for a better understanding of the notion of superposition.
Since the advent of quantum theory, many physicists have tried to devise different interpretations of the superposition of states.
From “The Quantum World” , Florida State University Physics Department.
So, in a layman’s nutshell: Just the act of observing an experiment will affect the outcome. The tree falling in the forest makes no noise.(The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle makes a similar statement, but let’s not go there right now.)
The reason I wanted to talk about Schroedinger’s cat is because I think it might just have some bearing on the validity and relevance of miracles. A group of us have been engaged in a discussion over some of the works of CS Lewis and recently the topic was his essay “Miracles”. Lewis, for those of you who do not know, is considered by many to be one of the greatest of Christian apologists, practicing the art of intellectually and rationally explaining the Christian faith to those who do not believe.
In this essay it is his premise that the miracles that have been witnessed by many people over the centuries present clear evidence, to anyone who is interested, that there exists a God, particularly the God of Christianity. One of the people in our group took issue with his suggestion, a suggestion that is not unique to Lewis and is considered a part of Christian doctrine as told in the various creeds.
She contended that so many of these miraculous events are easily explained away by non-religious people and the more that science reveals of our natural world, the less people are likely to accept supernatural explanations. There also tends to be a lack of consensus among spiritual believers over what constitutes a miracle, from dramatic healings to the finding of lost keys.
I would have to agree with her. I have witnessed events that I can only describe as being supernatural evidence of God but rarely have I presented them to others as being miraculous. When I have witnessed those attempts at convincing a skeptic that God does work miracles in this world, they have never been successful. That doesn’t mean that miracles have never drawn someone closer to accepting spiritual possibilities, but I have never seen it happen.
The evidence of miracles had very little to do with my turning away from atheism, and the same can be said for my family and friends. I can not recall ever witnessing a miracle (before I found my faith in God) that I would have identified as such. But since I now enjoy a relationship with God, through Jesus, rarely does a day go by that I do not encounter a miracle or two. Some of them may be considered mundane but more than a few cannot be easily explained away naturally.
So could it be, that because I have changed my perspective on life, miracles do exist for me as I observe them? And when a skeptic observes the same event, there is no miracle, because of his particular vantage point? I am not suggesting here that our perception causes us just to see things differently (though that is certainly true) but that in many (perhaps all) instances it is our actual physical observation that helps shape the outcome.
In other words; the skeptic opens the box to find the cat dead because his rational mind, weighing the evidence in hand, tells him it must be so. When the person of faith opens the box, she witnesses the miracle of a live cat even though the same evidence was clearly visible to her. Her faith has effectively changed the outcome of the event.
And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
What do you think? Other than perhaps I should consider putting a little less catnip in my pipe.
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