Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Egerton Chang: Einstein, faith, God; and $20 oil?

Published:Sunday | January 17, 2016 | 1:00 AM
Egerton Chang

Professor: You are a Christian, aren't you, son?

Student: Yes, sir.

Professor: So, you believe in GOD?

Student: Absolutely, sir.

Professor: Is GOD good?

Student: Sure.

Professor: Is GOD all powerful?

Student: Yes.

Professor: My brother died of cancer, even though he prayed to GOD to heal him. Most of us would attempt to help others who are ill. But GOD didn't. How is this GOD good then? Hmm?

(Student was silent.)

Professor: You can't answer, can you? Let's start again, young fella. Is GOD good?

Student: Yes.

Professor: Is Satan good?

Student: No.

Professor: Where does Satan come from?

Student: From ... GOD ... .

Professor: That's right. Tell me, son, is there evil in this world?

Student: Yes.

Professor: Evil is everywhere, isn't it? And GOD did make everything. Correct?

Student: Yes.

Professor: So who created evil?

(Student did not answer.)

Professor: Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things exist in the world, don't they?

Student: Yes, sir.

Professor: So, who created them?

(Student had no answer.)

Professor: Science says you have five senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Tell me, son, have you ever seen GOD?

Student: No, sir.

Professor: Tell us if you have ever heard your GOD?

Student: No, sir.

Professor: Have you ever felt your GOD, tasted your GOD, smelt your GOD? Have you ever had any sensory perception of GOD for that matter?

Student: No, sir. I'm afraid I haven't.

Professor: Yet you still believe in Him?

Student: Yes.

Professor: According to empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science says your GOD doesn't exist. What do you say to that, son?

Student: Nothing. I only have my faith.

Professor: Yes, faith. And that is the problem science has.

Student: Professor, is there such a thing as heat?

Professor: Yes.

Student: And is there such a thing as cold?

Professor: Yes.

Student: No, sir. There isn't.

(The lecture theatre became very quiet with this turn of events.)

Student: Sir, you can have lots of heat, even more heat, superheat, mega heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat. But we don't have anything called cold. We can hit 458 degrees below zero (absolute zero), which is no heat, but we can't go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold. Cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.

(There was pin-drop silence in the lecture theatre.)

Student: What about darkness, Professor? Is there such a thing as darkness?

Professor: Yes. What is night if there isn't darkness?

Student: You're wrong again, sir. Darkness is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light. But if you have no light constantly, you have nothing and it's called darkness, isn't it? In reality, darkness isn't. If it is, well you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn't you?

Professor: So what is the point you are making, young man?

Student: Sir, my point is your philosophical premise is flawed.

Professor: Flawed? Can you explain how?

Student: Sir, you are working on the premise of duality. You argue there is life and then there is death, a good GOD and a bad GOD. You are viewing the concept of GOD as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, Science can't even explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism but has never seen, much less fully understood, either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing.

Death is not the opposite of life - just the absence of it. Now tell me, Professor, do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?

Professor: If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, yes, of course, I do.

Student: Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?

(The professor shook his head with a smile, beginning to realise where the argument was going.)

Student: Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an ongoing endeavour, are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you not a scientist but a preacher?

(The class was in uproar.)

Student: Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the professor's brain?

(The class broke out into laughter.)

Student: Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor's brain, felt it, touched or smelt it? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science says that you have no brain, sir. With all due respect, sir, how do we then trust your lectures, sir?

(The room was silent. The professor stared at the student, his face unfathomable.)

Professor: I guess you'll have to take them on faith, son.

Student: That is it, sir ... . Exactly! The link between man and GOD is FAITH. That is all that keeps things alive and moving.

By the way, that student was EINSTEIN.

The above dialogue was posted on Facebook by Sam Ramalingam, April 10, 2013. While it is uncertain that EINSTEIN actually had that conversation, the essential argument is well made.

$20 OIL?

The price of oil has been taking a battering over the past 18 months falling from US$145 to US$30 recently.

'US Oil Settles Above $30 a Barrel, After Dipping Below for First Time Since 2003' was the headline in The Wall Street Journal by Timothy Puko and Justin Scheck of January 12, 2016, 7:49 p.m. ET.

In a column titled 'Bootyful; opening Cuba; and falling oil', of January 18, 2015, I wrote:

There is evidence to strongly support the prognosis that oil prices will remain low for a period, at least throughout 2015.

I went further to state:

In fact, Reuters reports that Bank of America Merrill Lynch lowered its oil forecast on January 15, saying that Brent could go as low as US$31/barrel by the end of the third quarter of 2015."

That Merrill Lynch forecast missed the mark by just one quarter.

Yet again, in 'Sex decriminalised, oil, and our geothermal saviour' of August 13, 2015, I wrote:

The opinion of many industry experts is that the downward pressures on oil prices will dampen any upward movement, thus suppressing prices for at least the next two years.

It is up to the Jamaican Government to ensure that these not insignificant savings are not squandered, while bearing in mind that this windfall cannot last forever.

The long-term sustainability of these extraordinary low prices may not be long term, however, with the majority of industry analysts prognosticating that it will start to rise again in the last quarter or half of 2016.

Therefore, what the Jamaican Government needs to do is to lock in some future oil contracts at the highest price of US$33-US$36.

While there is always the risk that oil could be selling below US$30 per barrel for some time, the downside risk is that it might recover reaching US$45-$55 (or more) pretty soon.

By locking in future purchases at US$33-$36 per barrel, this would mean stabilising the price of energy for the next two to three years, resulting in the continued low price of gasolene/JPS during this period.

UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCE

I had always wanted to install a solar water heater at my home, so at Christmas, I checked some suppliers.

The thing is that as a result of the more than 75 per cent fall in oil prices and thus the almost 45 per cent fall in electricity rates, the return on investment has virtually halved while the payback period has almost doubled.

The same applies to all energy saving devices.

I still plan to go ahead with the solar heater, but it is now less of an imperative.

- Egerton Chang is a businessman. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and e_rider69@hotmail.com.