I was teaching my Managerial Economics class last night and was working on a profit-maximization problem with my class. In such cases, you find your profit-maximizing point where your marginal profit equals zero, or alternatively, where your marginal revenue equals your marginal costs.

However, I was working with a profit function in the example. To find the marginal profit, you have to take the derivative of the profit function.

A quick Calculus for Dummies: A derivative states what amount of change is happening in a function at a given
point in time. For a straight line, the derivative would be the slope,
so that the derivative of 4-6x would be -6 and the derivative of 5+3x
would be 3. Quardratics get a bit funkier, so that the derivatives of
3+4X-5X^{2} would be 4-10X and the derivative of 2+6X-0.3X^{2} would be 6-0.6X; the basic rule is that constants drop out, anything times a simple X turns into the leading number and stuff in the form of aX^{n} turns into nax^{(n-1)}. Our profit function "jumps the shark" and hits a maximum point when it hits a slope/derivative of zero.

The punster that I am, I quickly asked whether Muslim economists would be *allowed* to take the derivative of the profit. The two Arab students in class laughed along with the rest of class; no fatwas are out on me as of yet. It's well known that pictures of the Prophet are off limits to good Muslims, so could you take the derivative of the Prophet?

Bringing the concept into the Christian realm, I wondered what the derivative of God would be. If God is a constant, God drops out of any equation. Thus, God isn't a factor in any marginal decision-making if He's merely a constant.

However, God is always a factor, or at least should always be a factor. God isn't a constant, He's e.

That's not a typo. e is a number, like pi, an irrational number that's 2.71 to two digits. It's what you get if you did (1+1/n)^{n} as n goes out to infinity. In finance, we use e for continuous compounding; the future value of a dollar at i% per period for n periods is (1+i)^{n} for conventional compounding, but e^{in} for continuous compounding.

e is thus a timeless number, having some potent applications. In calculus, the derivative of e^{x} is e^{x}. It's it's own derivative. If you have e^{f(x)}, it's derivative is the derivative of f(x) times e^{f(x)}. What's inside of e changes, but not e itself.

God's a lot like e. If things are If you and God are in an equation, you may change, but God doesn't; he not only stays constant, but constant in a timeless manner; He refuses to be left out of a marginal equation.

If God is merely a constant, never-changing item, He can be tossed from our decision-making process. That's far too often the view of the world.

However, God needs to be more than just a constant in our lives, but a timeless part of our personal equation that refuses to go away no matter how many derivatives you take.

How can you say that God is irrational?

Posted by: Nigel Ray | April 07, 2008 at 12:38 PM