Bill Long 11/11/04
A Redemptive View of Antisocial Behavior
I received an email this morning from my publisher. In it she warned that a reputed enemy of the press was getting the names of authors who wrote for the press in order to harass them with all kinds of vicious material about how the press is some kind of heretical tool of the devil or has departed from the strict world of orthodoxy which he, probably with very few others, inhabits. I will refer to this man charitably as the "crazy man" in this essay. Rather than looking at this latest development as a threat or as an object of amusement, the first thought that came to mind was to see the crazy man as a proof for the existence of God. Let me explain.
Classical Proofs for God's Existence
Those who have had a smattering of philosophical/theological education know that there were three or four classical "proofs" for the existence of God. Declining the way of the fideist, the rationalists posited that human reason, rightly directed, would lead you right to the footstool of the God of Christianity. The four arguments are popularly known as the ontological, cosmological, teleological and moral arguments for God's existence. This isn't the place to go into them. Suffice it to say, with respect to one, that the cosmological argument posits the existence of God by arguing analogically from creative human genius. We know that the most complex Swiss watch is the product of focused human brilliance and design. A watch, however complex, is simple from the perspective of the contemplation of nature's complexity. Thus, the world requires a much more creative genius--i.e., God--to explain its existence. Neat, huh?
Back to the Crazy Man
Here is the way I reasoned. The organization/press for which I write is not a huge operation, but it has some resources. It can easily withstand the assault of a crazy person or two who claims that the press and all its minions are going to hell. But, think about it. Whereas one or two crazy people are easy for such an institution to handle, what about 100 crazy people or 200? What if a whole army of crazies descended on the press each day and refused to let anyone do his or her work? Certainly, and you get the point, what starts out as a nuisance or an inconvenience can soon become a preoccupation and, finally, something that threatens the very existence of the enterprise.
The fact that crazies are so evenly distributed around the world and against various entities suggests to me a powerful proof for the existence of God. By carefully distributing crazy people, perhaps one or two to each church, school and company in America, God has not only preserved the glory of full expression of the human condition, but has done it in such a way that they will not utterly destroy the fruit of human endeavor.
The Nobel Prize, Please
One would, of course, have to confirm this hypothesis by coming up with data or a formula that would express mathematically the ratio between number of crazy people and institutional stability. Let's express it as follows:
P(crazy)+ x(q)= 4r - 2l,
where P is the number of crazy people, q is the total time that the crazy people attack the institution, r is the institutional strength of the company/school/church that is attacked and l is the amount that the so called "liberal in charge of the institution's" heart bleeds when s/he feels pangs of guilt for squelching the dissent of the crazy.
I am sure that I could hire some University of Chicago economist to refine this formula so that we could come up with a "craziness factor." We could market it under products that keep institutions safe and come out to various institutions to give training programs on how to calibrate craziness of opponents and whether to take the craziness seriously. We would also, to be utterly chic and up to date, have to talk about the "tipping point," where the combined time and intensity and number of crazies will, all of a sudden, make the institution absolutely crumble. I think there is a real future in this.
Back to God's Grace
I guess I got diverted in my quest for the Nobel Prize from my first point: that it is a proof for the existence of God that crazies are evenly distributed in the world. But, don't tell the crazies this. One of the marks of extreme craziness, according to some sociologist I am sure, is that crazies tend to be atomistic--i.e., they don't easily form communities of like-minded souls. Thus, there would be a real danger if a craziness entrepreneur arose or a craziness political organizer, who would round up all these people, calling some from the opponents of Microsoft and some from haters of Merck, some from Harvard's enemies and some from Harper Collins' foes, and get them all together in the same conference hotel at the same time. Of course there would have to be lots of "break out" rooms, but not for the reason one might think when planning a conference of non-crazy people, such as accountants or historians.
But then, just think, what if the person got all the crazies to descend on institutions one at a time? We would see crumbling of institutions like the implosion of the Kingdome in Seattle. Major coporations, universities, churches, solid institutions, would fall in the wake of the combined assault of the crazies. We would descend back to a state of utter chaos.
Doesn't the mere reflection on this scenario now convince you that there is a God? Shouldn't the "proof from craziness" therefore be right up there with the ontological and cosmological arguments for God's existence? Wow, with a Nobel Prize and a new argument for God's existence, I should be able to retire and travel the world lecturing on this. No such luck. Class is in one hour.
Copyright © 2004-2007 William R. Long