I recently exchanged some emails with a pal over theological points in the Bible that need to be brought forward and evaluated for fresh relevance in modern times.
See my riff on Name the Beasts from Genesis, in Is Theology Compatible with Science, Progress and Sci Fi?
Joe Carroll wrote back that he had long pondered - “-- the "bit apple" logo of Apple Computer. I'm probably less of a religious fanatic than most people, but to me it does seem like a very explicit reference to "The Fall" and the resulting banishment from the Garden of Eden, and a suggestion that Apple views its role as tempting a new generation to "sample the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge." Have you ever seen any fundamentalist rants on this subject?”
Hm... WOW! I never saw that logo that way. yeesh.
I wonder. Of course this brings to mind the passage just before the allegory of the Tower of Babel:
“Behold, they are one people and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will be impossible for them. Genesis 11:5-8 (Revised Standard)”
Clearly the scriveners of Genesis... indeed, most of the Bible... seem to be saying that a jealous Creator did NOT want us joining Him in the Big Lab, learning His secrets and/or becoming skilled at His creative tools. Hubris, hubris, hubris... And yet...
... might that have been THEN? Times clearly have changed - witness the profound power and effectiveness of our science and engineering, which cannot have happened if they were outrageous sins. Especially since so many of us are able to appreciate the sheer beauty of things like Maxwell’s Equations... an appreciation that surely is (and feels like) a kind of worship.
Likewise, He no longer booms commands from the clouds and instead sits back, ambiguously enigmatic and silent, watching what we do.
Has He changed? Have we? Was it necessary for us to pass through a long and painful childhood -learning to stand up on our own - before being ready for adolescence and then true apprenticeship?
(And if so, what will our creative duties be?)
Either way, the Revelations junkies have simply got to have it wrong. The real universe is too vast and interesting to be enslaved to John of Patmos’s bummer LSD trip. Are there REALLY people who look forward to such silliness?
Apprenticeship sounds like a better destiny, much more worthy of a Creator who deserves respect.
==How Aid Money Flows into the Developing World==
TheProgressive Policy Institute compares how “aid” money flows into the developing world.
(1) Aid flows from governments, IMF & World Bank: According to the OECD, foreign aid from wealthy countries and multilateral agencies reached $106.5 billion in 2005. (It includes $27 billion in American aid, $55 billion from EU members, $13 billion from Japan and $2 billion from Australia and New Zealand. Norway was the world's highest giver relative to GDP.)
(2) Private charities: Data on donations from NGOs are not yet available for 2005, but according to the World Bank, worldwide private charitable giving to foreign causes came to $13.8 billion in 2004. As Europe to official aid, so the United States to private charity: American charities accounted for $6.9 billion, or fully half the world's overseas private aid
(3) FDI from businesses: The U.N. Conference on Trade and Development's annual FDI report, out last week, finds $780 billion in foreign direct investment from businesses during 2005, including $334 billion in FDI in "developing countries." But excluding places like Taiwan, Korea and China plummets it to $180 billion everywhere else.
(4) Remittances from overseas workers: Remittances to developing countries from overseas workers came to $230 billion: twice the value of all foreign aid from all countries, and roughly equal to the value of all FDI in poor countries combined.
Enlightening! But I have long contended there should be a fifth category.
5) First world purchases of consumer goods that give factory jobs to developing world workers. Putting aside the bad reputation of Addidas factories... and far worse exploitation seen wherever local lords control the process... there can be no doubt that more people have moved out of poverty through the “transition” factories of 1950s Japan, 1960s Taiwan, 1970s Korea, 1980s Singapore and Malaysia, 1990s China... and so on... than because of any other process.
Although I have never seen these numbers separated out, can there be any question that they would vastly tower over all other forms of “aid” (including remittances) combined? Indeed, the blatant pattern, from Japan to China, is inarguable. The only question is: “Can this kind of thing be called aid?”
It is not presently defined that way. Rather, credit is given to the miracle of the market place. And there is some truth to that. Certainly, it is hard to credit beneficence to grabby holiday shoppers, grabbing Malaysia-made Elmo dolls off the shelf at Toys R Us!
And yet, I believe a great injustice is being done. For this did not happen by accident. Decisions were made, more than 50 years ago, that set this cycle into motion. And it did not have to be this way at all. In fact, history shows that it is quite unprecedented.
At the end of WWII, America bestrode the world as a behemoth. Garish Soviet armies and their new atom bombs offered the appearance of bipolarity, but only in narrow spheres. For example, as the era’s “pax” imperium, the United States established the rules of international trade. And, worth-noting, it did NOT do as other empires had done, when they had a similar dominance. Instead of mercantalism - favoring homeland factories - the secretariats of George Marshall and Dean Acheson established trade patterns that permanently favored factory production in the smoldering ruins of Europe and Asia. (In part simply by shrugging off the protectionist mercantalism of those countries, allowing consumer-driven purchasing to follow cheap labor and investment, wherever it might lead.)
The results are ultimate repudiations of the left’s anti-globalization fetishism. A blatant and clear escalator that carries populations from exploitation factories to middle class within a single generation, a rate so staggeringly quick and successful that all else is tweaking and commentary. NECESSARY tweaking... because the civilization cannot abide outrageous exploitation of either people or the planet, and remain either decent or wise! Still, the first-order effects of decisions made by Marshall and Acheson are simply stunning an utterly inarguable.
Which provokes wonder. Why is this different way of looking at trade-based development never discussed, but rather, taken for-granted? If measured by standard definitions of sacrifice or generosity-based selflessness, the American consumer can hardly be deemed philanthropic. (Though the very same people seem to be the most personally-generous on the planet, in their non-consumer role.) Grabby, materialistic and toy-loving, the culture seems superficially contemptible.
But, given a little far-sighted wisdom at the top, almost a lifetime ago, the cumulative effects seem to point in another direction, entirely. At the one thing that - above all others - may be responsible for saving the world.