Get off the cross, somebody else needs the wood

September 16, 2009

We live right downtown in St. Louis, and absolutely love it. As boosters of urban renewal, my partner and I get excited with every new development in this great city's revitalization. For months, we have been looking forward to the opening of a full-fledged grocery store right on this block, in the building connected to our highrise. Culinaria opened last month, to much kudos. The store, the gourmet/boutique brand of the area supermarket Schnucks, not only has a full selection and the same prices as every other Schnucks in the area, but also boasts a wine bar and large wine selection, a bistro with outdoor seating, and a coffee shop and gelateria.

A little brouhaha has erupted around the store, however. The store's manager put up a large crucifix above the service desk, which has been met with some criticism from some Jewish people in the area, as well as from the secularist or atheist community. The St. Louis Post Dispatch covered the issue today, and quoted me.

D.J. Grothe, 36, is a vice president of the New York-based Center for Inquiry, which promotes "science, reason, freedom of inquiry and humanist values," according to its website. Grothe is an atheist who also happens to live in the building next to Culinaria.

"It's just another example of the disrespect that those without religion or those with minority religions get in our society," he said. "It's bad taste and bad business. Who wants to (shop) where someone else's faith is being pushed down your throat?

I was surprised at some of the reasons quoted in the article for the grocery store's support of the manager's decision to display the large crucifix: "Company leaders made a decision to honor that request out of respect for Tom and his faith," Willis said. "In fact, that's part of the reason they put him in charge of Culinaria. He's a man of such strong faith — who better to put in a store where so many faiths come together?"

Does this mean that a manager who lacked belief in the supernatural would be less qualified to manage the store?

Even more surprising were some of the many hundreds of comments on the newspaper's website , including:

"If the Jews feel offended, They should, thats called guilt"

I take this to mean that Jews should feel guilty for being Christ-killers.

Now, to clarify a couple of points:

I'm not personally offended by the crucifix, and told the reporter that when he got in touch with me. I do empathize with Jews or others who might find it out of place. I also told the reporter about the growing numbers of atheists in the U.S., and asked how inappropriate everyone might find it if above the service desk were a statement pushing a lack of belief in a god. We talked for quite a while, and he seemed level-headed, and not like he was advancing a personal agenda. But only a couple of my comments made it into the story; that's how it goes.

Also -- of course -- private businesses have the right to display whatever they want. But in Schnuck's/Culinaria's case, it's a little more complex, since the store is taking government funds to open a location downtown. It is also complicated by the fact that Culinaria is not just a grocery store, but acts as a "third place," neither home nor work, but instead, it is a third main location where people of all faiths and of no faith may socialize and spend a lot of time. (The wine bar upstairs has a fantastic vibe.) This makes the crucifix seem to me to be in bad taste, and likely also to be bad business. Afterall, what business wants to display something in a very prominent place that may offend a minority of its customers.

Read the entire aricle in the St. Louis Post Dispatch: Downtown St. Louis Schnucks crucifix draws criticism

Comments:

#1 Noadi (Guest) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 at 7:02pm

That’s really bad business. I’m an atheist and pretty vocal about it on twitter and my personal blog but I keep that information off my business website because it’s not appropriate.

If this was a Christian bookstore displaying a cross or a Kosher butcher displaying a star of David that would be different. Since this business caters to people of many faiths it’s just a bad idea to alienate customers.

#2 Andrew T (Guest) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 at 9:23pm

Well I seldom shop at Schnuck’s anyways, they’re one of the most expensive grocers in my town.  With the bitter taste this story left in my mouth, I guess I have one more reason not to shop there.

#3 asanta on Thursday September 17, 2009 at 1:39am

I just wouldn’t shop there at all. And without letting them know about MY religious views, I would make sure they knew it was because of they are cramming THEIR religious views down MY craw.

#4 Rhology (Guest) on Thursday September 17, 2009 at 6:13am

Howdy,

I responded to your article, DJ.  Thought you’d be interested in the trackback.

#5 Rhology on Thursday September 17, 2009 at 6:23am

Ooops, didn’t login right.
Here’s the link.

#6 DJ Grothe on Thursday September 17, 2009 at 6:50am

Thanks for the trackback.

Just one quick thing. I asked:

“Does this mean that a manager who lacked belief in the supernatural would be less qualified to manage the store?”

and you responded:

“You should know as well as I do that they were almost certainly referring to the man’s Christianity-based integrity, sense of fair play, and honesty.”

Do you believe that a non-Christian person or a nonreligious person would be less qualified because he or she would have less integrity, less a sense of fair play, and be less honest?

#7 Rhology on Thursday September 17, 2009 at 6:59am

Hi DJ,

That’s a good question and it deserves a straightforward answer.

It’s certainly true that there are more and less mature Christians, that is, more and less moral Christians.  It’s also true that there are some atheists who are very immoral, by the standard of the biblical ethic, and there are some who are pretty moral, in terms of their dealings with their fellow man.  An atheist can never be all that moral in God’s view, since it is a good act to worship God and serve Him and a bad act to refuse to do so, but that’s a sidenote here.

A Christian has an objective standard to which he can appeal to know right from wrong.  An atheist has no such standard.  By coincidence and cultural conditioning from a more or less biblical ethic-influenced Western society, atheists often ape biblical ethics, thus borrowing from Christianity in such important matters as how to treat others, all the while denying Christianity is true. 
The atheist has no objective reason to have integrity, a sense of fair play, and honesty.  He might personally think that’s important, but humans are weak and the human heart is easily drawn away to do evil.  So, you might say, up to now, Joe the atheist employee and Jim the Christian employee have shown good conduct, I have much less faith in Joe’s ability and continued drive to sustain good conduct since he has nothing but personal whim to fall back on.

Peace,
Rhology

#8 Edwardson on Thursday September 17, 2009 at 8:32am

“A Christian has an objective standard to which he can appeal to know right from wrong.”

I was just wondering what about nonChristians who are religious? Say, Tibetan Buddhists? Is it also the case that they borrowed from Christianity? If so how much of their ethics? And where did the rest come from? And what about pre-Christian cultures such as China and Confucian ethics?

#9 Rhology on Thursday September 17, 2009 at 9:02am

Yes, they’d be borrowing too, to the extent that their ethic does resemble Christianity’s, b/c Buddhism is atheistic.  There may be a universal principle or sthg, but that doesn’t tell us why we SHOULD follow it, or how we know it.

And when I say “borrow”, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they consciously attribute it to Christianity, but to the extent that they hold certain things to be objectively moral/immoral or act like it, they are acting like Christianity (well, more correctly, monotheism) is true, b/c only monotheism can provide an objective standard for right and wrong.
Confucian ethics don’t have an objective standard; they’re arbitrary (afaik).

Peace,
Rhology

#10 DJ Grothe on Thursday September 17, 2009 at 10:07am

@Rhology: Not to belabor the point, but most secularists and atheists in fact do have objective standards for their moral conduct (and in a much more compelling sense than the subjective standards of supernaturalist who rely on their interpretation of so-called revealed morality, imho). Most atheists test their actions by their consequences, objectively.

This is as opposed to believing something is right or wrong because of some received tradition, or because “God says,” or because some nomadic tribe had an oral tradition that became a collection of books that are revered by those who lack an historical appreciation of the books’ (or the morality’s) origins.

#11 Rhology on Thursday September 17, 2009 at 10:13am

Hi DJ,
No, it’s not an unnecessary belaboring at all. 
Consequences may be objective (I’ll just grant that for now), but the ought relationship does not follow from an is.  That’s a classic fallacy - the naturalistic fallacy.  If eating chocolate ice cream produces a desired consequence - I feel pleasure - then so can raping children - I feel pleasure.  How do you know the difference between the two?  You might call me a freak, but then you’re just expressing statistical majority-rule, not telling me anything about whether raping children is bad.  So no, you don’t have an objective standard.

You may think that “God said so” is not valid b/c God doesn’t exist, but that doesn’t change the fact that there is a book, the Bible, that purports to be from an omnipotent, omniscient, all-good creator God. For many reasons, this is sufficient to serve as an objective moral standard. 

Anyway, I’d just point out that since virtually all atheists act like Christianity is true in their moral value judgment-making, and thus like atheism is not true therein, that’s evidence in favor of Christianity.  Why can’t you out what you say you believe, even at the most basic level?

Peace,
Rhology

#12 DJ Grothe on Thursday September 17, 2009 at 10:52am

First, much of Christian morality is immoral in my view (and the view of many other atheists.) Second, correct in that not all consequentialist moralities are to be equated. Pleasure as a consequence is not the only kind of moral goal. Well-being consequentialism seems to have much more going for it, in my view. The point is, there are objective godless standards for right and wrong, so your initial charge that “an atheist has no such [objective] standard” is false, as you seem to know agree.

But back to the original post—do you think it would be appropriate for an hypothetical atheist manager at Culinaria to post something above the service desk something to the effect of “There is probably no God,” or to otherwise push his skepticism of religious claims in such a “public” place? Should there be room for all religions and nonreligions to be equally represented above the service desk at the grocery store?

#13 Barry (Guest) on Thursday September 17, 2009 at 10:55am

Three reactions.

*  Perhaps a key distinction is between (1) the store displaying the crucifix on a wall, vs. (2) the store manager displaying a crucifix on his person. The latter is more obviously an expression of the wearer’s pride in his faith, and less an endorsement by the store. I would find either to be annoying, neither to be offensive, but only the first would likely reduce my patronage.

*  In this case, wouldn’t a religious person be concerned that either such display commits the deadly sin of pride? Perhaps there’s another way to construe the gesture, but c’mon. It’s pride.

*  Rhology, because a book claims to be from God, “this is sufficient to serve as an objective moral standard”? You know your logical fallacies, so you can’t possibly believe *that* reasoning.

#14 Rhology on Thursday September 17, 2009 at 11:12am

DJ,
I bet raping little children is also immoral in your view.  But Joe Child Molester thinks it’s right.  Which of you is right and how can we know?
Until you can answer that question, whether you find Xtian morality moral or not makes no difference, b/c you have no basis for making such judgments.

Well-being consequentialism seems to have much more going for it, in my view. 

“Well-being” just begs the question, b/c I don’t see any way you can know objective well or good at all.  Please, you need to start dealing with the actual question here.


The point is, there are objective godless standards for right and wrong 

What are they?  And how do you know they’re objective?  On what basis are they normative for anyone other than yourself?


appropriate for an hypothetical atheist manager at Culinaria to post something above the service desk something to the effect of “There is probably no God,”  

In the context of his freedom of speech and private enterprise, yes, it’s entirely appropriate.
In a larger context of what is true, no, that would be in appropriate b/c he is a rebel against his Maker.  But in the USA, one is free to be wrong.


Should there be room for all religions and nonreligions to be equally represented above the service desk at the grocery store? 

No.  It’s not public property.


Barry,
wouldn’t a religious person be concerned that either such display commits the deadly sin of pride? 

The New Testament speaks often of boasting in Christ.  That’s what that is.  God is the proudest being in the universe, and that pride is totally appropriate, b/c He really is that great. 


because a book claims to be from God, “this is sufficient to serve as an objective moral standard”? 

I’m drawing a contrast between atheism, if it’s true, and the Bible, if it’s true.
If atheism is true, then there is no objective right or wrong, period. 
If the Bible is true, then there certainly is.  And you atheists could certainly stand to adorn your high-sounding atheist dogma with more consistency in your lives.  The whole lot of you, except for maybe Camus and total anarchists, are extremely hypocritical.

Peace,
Rhology

#15 Barry (Guest) on Thursday September 17, 2009 at 11:32am

Rhology,

So because God boasts of himself, it’s not prideful to boast on his behalf? Sounds like a judgment call!

You didn’t address the logical fallacy in your God-Bible-morality argument. I forgive you. Try again.

Your argument comes down to professing your belief that morals aren’t morals unless they’re from God. I mean from the Christian God. I mean from the Christian God of the New Testament. I mean from a particular interpretation of the words ostensibly from the mouth (or whatever) of the Christian God of the New Testament. Hmmm….sure are lots of assumptions going on there.

I don’t know what I’ve said that could be called “high-sounding atheist dogma.”  I mean, it’s not like I wrote “I’ve got this book here, and it tells me it was written by an all-knowing and all-powerful entity, and if I just suspend my devil-given powers of critical thinking and accept it whole-cloth, that would make me morally superior to any non-believer, and not at all hypocritical.”

Defining “objective” sure would help others with your whole right/wrong approach.

#16 Rhology on Thursday September 17, 2009 at 11:48am

Barry,

Right, pride in someone else isn’t evil pride - it’s compliment/veneration, etc.

What logical fallacy did I commit?

I mean from a particular interpretation of the words ostensibly from the mouth (or whatever) of the Christian God of the New Testament. 

You were doing OK until here.  Crying “that’s just your interpretation!” is a conversation-killer b/c it can be levied against anyone. So please, if you think I’m getting the NT wrong, tell me where, but don’t bandy about this nonsense.
And I’m drawing the contrast between the two worldviews.  So, if Christianity isn’t true, why do you continually act like it is?


Defining “objective” sure would help others with your whole right/wrong approach. 

I’m talking about a moral standard that is normative for all people at all times in all circumstances everywhere. Put another way, a standard that is true independent of whether anyone believes it or not.

Peace,
Rhology

#17 Janet Factor (Guest) on Thursday September 17, 2009 at 11:51am

You could have taken a clue from Lenny Bruce, DJ, and asked how people would feel if there was a large reproduction of an electric chair with a condemned man strapped into it hanging on the wall. That generally gets a jolt into the consciousness of the oblivious.

#18 John (Guest) on Friday September 18, 2009 at 3:53am

So will you be offended if the cross is around his neck? What about on his lunch box? A bumper sticker on his car? What about on his briefcase?

Who is to say that lack of a cross is the neutral position? In many countries and cultures it would be considered odd if you did _not_ have a cross.

#19 Deborah (Guest) on Friday September 18, 2009 at 8:58am

Hello. I have a question for Rhology regarding post #9. I’m a little confused about your assertion that other religions “borrow” from christianity. Comparatively, christianity is relatively new. Buddhism, Confucian beliefs, and many earth religions pre-date Christ. Each had moral standard before christianity existed. Wouldn’t it be fair to say christianity has borrowed from others?

#20 Rhology on Friday September 18, 2009 at 9:18am

#19 Deborah -

I don’t agree, actually, that all those other religions predate YHWH worship.  I reject the usual naturalistic “history” “accounts”, for no small part b/c naturalism is total bunk.
What I mean is that Christianity proposes objective normative moral values.  Buddhism, Confucianism and atheism don’t.  So why do Buddhists, Confs and atheists act like and talk like there are objective normal moral values?

#21 gray1 on Friday September 18, 2009 at 5:16pm

As long as any symbol does not represent hate, why should anyone be offended if it makes the individual wishing to display it feel good?  Of course there’s the question of “Daddy, why is that naked man hanging there like that?” which begs the question of whether such is in good taste for an eating establishment.

Since the first miracle of Jesus was to make wine, perhaps him being there is a good endorsement for a store selling same (just don’t tell the Baptists).

#22 asanta on Saturday September 19, 2009 at 4:55am

#21—the inquisition, the crusades,slavery, antisemitism, I’m sure if I dig out my history books I could find more….hate..

#23 gray1 on Saturday September 19, 2009 at 7:19am

Finding hate in a symbol borne of peace, love and brotherhood?  Pick any symbol, any flag… and therein somewhere will be found some people who have been “hateful” towards someone else at some point in history.  It’s not necessarily the particular ideology at work, just human nature.  When in doubt, blame the demons, they hate and spread hate without discrimination.

#24 DagoRed on Monday September 21, 2009 at 6:56pm

#23 Gray1: that’s the issue isn’t it?  If the Cross still represented those lovely things to everyone, this wouldn’t be an issue, would it?  It’s just not the case today that the cross has such a benign and universal meaning to everyone—and you have to respect other peoples feeling in our society, or you will lose business, face, friends, family, etc.  A parallel example is found for the infamous swastika, which in Hinduism has very positive meanings—but to the rest of the world…(we all know the story).  Is it okay for a Hindu store owner to move into an American neighborhood and display his wonderful, loving, peaceful, kind, and gentle holy symbol that will likely enrage most of his patrons?  Certainly the negative connotations of the cross haven’t reached quite that level, but I am not sure if the cross isn’t at a tipping point right now, where it is more controversial to display it than not.

#25 William Don't-Tell (Guest) on Tuesday September 22, 2009 at 7:19pm

#20
Rhology says:
“I don’t agree, actually, that all those other religions predate YHWH worship.  I reject the usual naturalistic “history” “accounts”, for no small part b/c naturalism is total bunk.”

I have a couple of starter questions:
1) How do you know that your information about your god is valid/true?

2) How do you explain the archeological evidence which contradicts the biblical record?

3) How old do you think the Earth is?

#26 Rhology on Wednesday September 23, 2009 at 8:51am

#25, William Don’t Tell,

Hi there!  Those are fair questions, and I’ll have a few of my own after.

1) B/c of the impossibility of the contrary.  I analyse competitors and find whether they are consistent with themselves and match reality.  None other than Christianity does.

2) A great, great deal of it doesn’t contradict it, for one thing.
Also alot of things have been thought to be contradictory, and then later discovered to be in fact in line with and supportive of the biblical narrative.
Alot of archeology, much like evolutionary biological history and therefore Darwinian argumentation, is built on a base of heavy assumptions, especially materialistic ones, which I see no reason to accept (b/c materialism is total bunk).
Finally, the Word of God is an infallible witness of the omniscient God, who was there when all history transpired.
You have a witness to an accident who has an excellent track record of telling the truth and is of impeccable moral character. He sees an accident in the full light of day, was not impaired, stuck around 2 hours before and 2 hours after making sure he examined everything that happened.
Now, you bring out a CSI team 1 year later to examine the scene and try to determine what happened. Or you could just ask the witness.

3) Most days I think it’s probably ~10K yrs old or so.  Again, why would any reasonable person think that the CSI team, working on data that is far, incomprehensibly older than just 1 year, would be able to offer better information than the word of an infallible omniscient being?


Now, for you:

1) Do you believe in God?
2) If so, how do you know anything about God?
3) If not, how did the laws of logic and mathematics arise? 

Peace,
Rhology

#27 William Don't-Tell (Guest) on Wednesday September 23, 2009 at 2:45pm

Quick answers:
1) I’m a skeptic and don’t see adequate evidence for god(s) - or one big god, or any evidence of supernatural interference, guiding hands, angels, ghosts, aliens, or even other “supernatural” forces.

2) N/A - I don’t know anything definitive about god(s) and thus can’t be certain of anything.

3) That seems somewhat non sequitur but I would say that the universe behaves according to rules based on the properties of a physical universe. And that people evolved brains that are able to discern these properties and have developed systems to evaluate/discover “truth” within this framework.  Physics, math and the scientific method let us discern which ideas seem most likely to be true, and allow us to discard the theories which don’t explain the systems and processes of the universe.  And Logic seems to be a way of thinking about thinking which is something else our minds are able to do.

Now, back to you:
1) Your answer to my first question sounds a bit like a tautology.  You are no doubt familiar with the “god of the gaps” argument.
2) Again - this time you go for the full tautology.  “The Word of God is an infallible witness of the omniscient God” - how do I know?  Because it said so right there in the book.
I would strongly urge you to read Bart Ehrman’s ‘Misquoting Jesus.’  You seem like a clever person and you seem to want to engage in discussion and debate about these ideas.  Do you think it is even possible to be wrong about your position?  Check out his book.  You might be amazed.
3) Then again, you might not.  If you really think that the earth is around 10,000 years old you’re demonstrating an alarming disregard for vast, vast quantities of evidence to the contrary.  I’m not sure you’re familiar with the idea of “falsification” or not.  An excellent list of proofs that the earth is Billions of years old can be found in geologic evidence.  Evidence that humans have been around for thousands and thousands of years can be found in archeological evidence.  Evidence that there was no “Noah’s Flood” can be found in the vast, vast number of animals species that could have never fit on an ark, couldn’t be distributed around the world in the “theoretical post-flood timeline,” etc…  If you’re really stuck on this young-earth thing you probably shouldn’t be debating people you should be avoiding debates and avoiding the Internet.  I tell you this because what will happen is that you’ll come to a point where you have to decide - does it make sense to believe contorted implausible reasons why the earth may only SEEM to be billions of years old, or does it make more sense that this one story is not true.  Then you might start to wondering about whether there really was a talking donkey, or did Sampson really kill a thousand men with the jaw of an ass?  Or you might look at the list of 10 (just a sample, really) bible contradictions over at the “freethoughtdebater.com” website.

One big difference between the scientific world view and the biblical one is that science is self-correcting.  That’s part of its mechanism.  Whereas the biblical world view has to self-construct defenses against all errors for it claims to be infallible.  That’s a tough spot, and one that creates cognitive dissonance in the people who have to try and hold those ideas in their heads.

Again, I urge you to try reading outside of the bible. If you only find your sources in there you won’t be able to draw from the thousand-plus years of scholarship (and apologetics) that are very pertinent to your world view.

#28 asanta on Wednesday September 23, 2009 at 3:33pm

#27 William-don’t-tell, I would like to add an addendum to your post: We know how big ‘Noah’s ark’ was (per the bible), we know how tall Mt Ararat is; according to the biblical story, it rained for 40 days and forty nights. Through math, we know how many gallons per minute it would take to fill the entire earth to the top of Mt Ararat (we won’t even bring in Mt Everest). The amount of rainfall that would have had to occur would be analogous to placing a toothpick boat in a swimming pool and turning a fire hose on it full blast. How likely would it be that the boat remain intact?

#29 Rhology on Thursday September 24, 2009 at 6:16am

Hi William #27

Thanks for answering my questions.  It’s more than I normally see from skeptics.
Re: #3, why did you put “truth” in quotations?  Can we access truth or “truth” from our senses?  Which one, or both? 
Can we discover truth from another way than the senses?  If not, how did you discover that it is true that we can only discover truth via the senses, since one can’t arrive at that conclusion via the senses?  And either way, did you arrive at that conclusion via mere induction (in other words, b/c it sure seems like it to you, but you don’t know how to prove it) or from some other way?


And Logic seems to be a way of thinking about thinking which is something else our minds are able to do.

It seems like you’re saying that these laws are ways that the human brain works.  So, before human brains arose in evolution, was there no logic?  Wouldn’t it then be true that before human brains arose, there both was logic and wasn’t logic?


OK, back to me:
1) Your answer to my first question sounds a bit like a tautology.  You are no doubt familiar with the “god of the gaps” argument. 

If you have a better one, bring it fwd.  My modus operandi is always the same, and my skepticism is set at a reasonably high level. 
But don’t mistake me - Christianity provides a pretty much indestructible positive case, so I’m not filling gaps for lack of reasoning.  It’s more fundamental than that.  The fact that I’ve never seen a skeptic provide even a decent account of the origin of the laws of logic tells me that my position is, if you will, very safe.  I mean, if you can’t answer that one…it’s very fundamental, and you’ve got nothing.


2) Again - this time you go for the full tautology.  “The Word of God is an infallible witness of the omniscient God” - how do I know?  Because it said so right there in the book. 

And you know your senses are reliable and your cognitive faculties are reliably aimed at producing true thoughts…how?


I would strongly urge you to read Bart Ehrman’s ‘Misquoting Jesus.’   

Oh, please. 
1) I just read Ehrman’s “God’s Problem”, actually, so it’s funny you should mention that.  It was terribly argued.  One can only hope that “MJ” is a major, major step up in quality of argumentation.
2) And let me suggest you check out the <a >recent debate between Dr James White and Ehrman</a> on that very topic. 
The point is that Ehrman commits the same error that pretty much every other skeptic does - he assumes his premises before he starts.  That is, he assumes naturalism and a naturalistic view of history.  Listen to his debate with William Lane Craig - he says that very thing over and over; it’s actually pretty comical.  But since naturalism is bunk, there’s every reason to reject that very approach. 


If you really think that the earth is around 10,000 years old you’re demonstrating an alarming disregard for vast, vast quantities of evidence to the contrary. 

“Evidence” is a fact, properly interpreted according to a worldview grid, that supports one worldview over and against a competing one.  My worldview can account for the same facts just as well or better than yours can.
Further, the testimony of an omniscient and infallible being who just happened to be present during all of history is far stronger evidence than circular ‘dating’ of strata and fossils.  I’m much more inclined to think that the experiments got it wrong.  You probably like to trumpet science’s error-correcting abilities and amazing propensity to find truth.  Well, you know what else “science” does?  It gets stuff wrong, a lot.  And it takes time to correct itself, especially when there’s face and money to be lost if the error is admitted.  The fact that this doesn’t give you pause tells me that you’re demonstrating an alarming disregard for vast, vast quantities of evidence to the contrary


Evidence that there was no “Noah’s Flood” can be found in the vast, vast number of animals species that could have never fit on an ark 

1) Creationism doesn’t deny that limited radiation of evolutionary scope occurs. 
2) And the ark was pretty big. 


couldn’t be distributed around the world in the “theoretical post-flood timeline,” 

You don’t and couldn’t have any idea of what the right-after-flood world looked like.  I call assumption.


Or you might look at the list of 10 (just a sample, really) bible contradictions over at the “freethoughtdebater.com” website. 

I have a personal rule, since I’ve seen many hundreds of crappy “contradictions” in my time. 
I’ll be happy to take a look at your fave 5.  Give me your 5 best.  If they don’t stick, then I’ll be more than justified in concluding you’re just talking out of your butt b/c you read in some yay-Darwin forum that the Bible has contradictions.  You won’t be the first to do such talking, believe me; you skeptics need to get your rears in gear.
Taking a look at the first ones listed, I’m just chuckling. Most of them are obvious textual/scribal errors in the COPIES. As if no one knows about those things. 


One big difference between the scientific world view and the biblical one is that science is self-correcting.   

Self-congratulatory malarky. 
1) Evolution is demonstrably false and tautological, and the scientific community is resisting recognising that, for more than a decade now. 
2) Are you really ignorant of centuries of Christian thought and systematic and exegetical theological debate?  The Great Schism of 1054?  The Reformation in the 16th century?  The conservative Resurgence in the 60s and 70s?  Seriously, try again.


I urge you to try reading outside of the bible. 

Done it, but I appreciate the concern.  Recently I finished Coyne’s “Why Evolution Is True”, and a little before that I read Dick Dawk’s “Selfish Gene”.  Read most of Reitan’s “Is God a Delusion?” which is no friend of my position.  And I debate with ppl all the time on unfriendly blogs and sites, like this one. 
OTOH, you could use a lot more exposure to standard Christian responses to these facile objections of yours.  Let me recommend, as a starter, http://www.proofthatgodexists.org.  Triablogue.blogspot is a great one as well. 


#28 asanta,
Unlike you, I see no reason to assume only naturalistic processes were at work in such a cataclysmic event.  The Ark is indicated in the New Testament as a picture of salvation from destruction, just like the miraculous salvation of a human soul thru the grace of Jesus.  Stands to reason that the Ark would have been miraculously preserved.

Peace,
Rhology

#30 William Don't-Tell (Guest) on Thursday September 24, 2009 at 1:07pm

#29 Rhology

Well at least we were civil.

I fear that we’re going to have to agree to disagree.  Sounds like you’ve read a lot of things and still find it possible to reject the arguments and believe in biblical literalism.  Nothing I could say would sway you.

As to the answers:
1) I would say that logic is a human construction.  It seems pretty neat to humans and works within the confines of our language based communication - but before brains developed enough to develop logic it wouldn’t have existed.  Some other animals seem to be able to use a form of logic to figure out things - so I would deduce from that logic didn’t pop into place but evolved as our brains evolved.

It’s been too long since I was a fundamentalist to remember what that was like…  I do sometimes miss the comfort of certitude, but it’s something I’ve given up in favor of the comfort of proofs - even if virtually every truth I know is tentative and must be dismissed in the face of superior evidence.

It’s taken me quite a few years to not find that scary by comparison.

As for saying that science is great because it is self-correcting, that is not self-congratulatory.  Science is self-correcting.  It improves as mistakes are corrected - and it acknowledges that there are mistakes and unknowns.  That is its strength, not its weakness.

I find it odd that you acknowledge that there are typos in the bible.  If there are translation problems and typographic mistakes how can you call it infallible?  How do you know that the interpretation you hear/read/understand is the correct one?

At any rate, as I said before if you can look at all the evidence of an unimaginably ancient earth and call it 10,000 years old then we won’t get anywhere by discussing scripture.  You’ll have (or conceive) an acceptable response for every contradiction, error or problem.

The difference between using science and religion is that science can be tested and religion is based on belief.  If science fails a test, it self-corrects.  If religion fails a test it imagines a world that was created to “appear” to fit scientific rigor but was really created very recently.

A 10,000 year old world that looks billions of years old to scientists implies an impish god.

Disease and misfortune imply an uncaring god.

A universe that is billions of light years across with only a tiny, tiny planet full of sentient life implies a weird and mysterious god very unlike the folks “created in his image”.

Alzheimer’s and stroke-induced brain damage imply there is no dualism.

Again, I’m just a skeptic.  But I would need some pretty spectacular proof of god to accept that all the misery in the world was going on and he loved us so much that he only intervenes one time 2000 years ago.  It shouldn’t be possible for his impotent little creations down here to be kinder and more loving than “he” is - yet I know I am.  And I know lots of other people who are too.  So I would submit to you that in my opinion god is (a) unprovable, (b) unlikely and (c) uninterested in us if he exists at all.

I’m sure you disagree - but thanks for the dialog.

#31 Rhology on Friday September 25, 2009 at 8:10am

#30, William -

Yeah, civility is always preferable. 

Nothing I could say would sway you.

Well, I’ve been talking to atheists a long time.  Used to be one, actually.  I consider that there’s possibly sthg out there that could sway me, but nothing in the current batch of atheist arguments.  Atheists need to seriously step up their game and actually advance the conversation rather than rely on “contradictions” and stale 20-yr old arguments.  (Kind of like Roman Catholics, actually.)


I would say that logic is a human construction.

So, before there were humans around to construct it, was it both true and not-true that logic didn’t exist, b/c it hadn’t (and also had) been constructed by humans, who both did and didn’t exist at the time? 

What I’m trying to get you to see, in the interest of full disclosure, is that the laws of logic are RECOGNISED by humans but are actually immaterial and transcendent.  They’re normative of everything.  And I want to know how they could be possible in a universe w/o God.  This is what I mean by stale arguments.
Further, if logic is as you say it is, then what’s to stop me (given that I’m a human) from constructing my own logic?  Biblical contradiction?  Logically, that’s proof for God!  In fact, the fact that you said “miss the comfort” in your last comment is PROOF that God exists. It’s LOGICAL.  You can’t deny that; if you did, you’d be illogical.
Now, given your idea of logic, prove me wrong. 


even if virtually every truth I know is tentative and must be dismissed in the face of superior evidence.

What about the utility of evidence as a good way to discover truth?  Is that tentative? 
If not, how do you know it?


As for saying that science is great because it is self-correcting, that is not self-congratulatory.  

I’m still waiting for it to come to actual grips with its far over-reaching into the realms of philosophy.  And its constant drumbeat on the factuality of evolution.  I’m not impressed.  Further, physics is…well…not really like that. 


I find it odd that you acknowledge that there are typos in the bible.  If there are translation problems and typographic mistakes how can you call it infallible?  How do you know that the interpretation you hear/read/understand is the correct one?

Yes, typos in the copies.  There are lots of copies, and throughout history there have been many other copies, which have not survived.
There are very, very few translation problems.  There are many typos, though, but the thing is that they are spread out among thousands of manuscript copies.  Here’s a more in-depth discussion.  The short answer is that the abundance of copies makes it possible to figure out what the original text was ~98% of the time. 


as I said before if you can look at all the evidence of an unimaginably ancient earth and call it 10,000 years old then we won’t get anywhere by discussing scripture.  

See what I said above about the infallible eyewitness and the CSI team. 
Further, you’d need to advance the conversation by telling me why my worldview can’t account for the facts you’re trumpeting just as well as yours can. 


A 10,000 year old world that looks billions of years old to scientists implies an impish god. 

1) So?  I thought you guys were all about truth.
2) And no, it doesn’t.  I’d say God created the world to look old when studied from the standpoint of unbelieving naturalistic “science”, using limited methodology, knowledge, breadth of vision (ie, we can’t look back very far; indeed we’ve recorded even less), and instrumentation, and when attempting to, as it were, prove God wrong.


Disease and misfortune imply an uncaring god.

1) How so?
2) Ever heard of “sin”?
3) On atheism, why are those things bad?  How do you know anything about objective morality? 


Alzheimer’s and stroke-induced brain damage imply there is no dualism

Why?  It’s just as explanatory to say that the damage prevents the EXPRESSION of the immaterial mind. 
Besides, if you really are a materialist, I have nothing but scorn for that worldview.  Where is red-ness located?  Of what elements is logic composed?  Where do the laws of mathematics grow?  What do they smell like?  What is their melting point?


Again, I’m just a skeptic.   

And I’m skeptical of your worldview. I’d like some arguments in its favor, please.

Peace,
Rhology

#32 William Don'tTell (Guest) on Saturday September 26, 2009 at 10:01am

It is possible to say something logically sound but untrue.  Logic isn’t truth.

If I say “the American Civil War lasted from 1811 to 1901” there is no logical fallacy there, but the statement is untrue.

There is a difference between something that is logical and something that is true.  And there are, perhaps, things that are true but that are unprovable. 

You say you’d like some arguments in favor of a naturalistic world view - but you’re prepared to dismiss all the evidence that most people consider good enough.

If you’re willing to accept an unfalsifiable premise - that God created the world to appear to be just like one would expect a 4 billion year old evolution-driven world to look - then we’re done.  Nowhere to go.

#33 asanta on Saturday September 26, 2009 at 12:33pm

I don’t know why you are here ‘arguing’ your position, because your ‘goalposts’ move around to dodge every point that has been made, and you have the ultimate ‘out’ of “it’s magic”, whereas we are satisfied with nothing other than what is logical and provable. Arguing with you is like arguing with a will-o-the-wisp—pointless.

#34 Rhology on Sunday September 27, 2009 at 8:51am

Logical consistency is a negative test for truth - if sthg is illogical, then it can’t be true.  That’s what I’m getting at. 

You can SAY there are good arguments for naturalism, but you haven’t given any.  Anytime, I’d love to see some.

Falsifiability is itself not falsifiable.  Neither are the laws of logic.  Unfalsifiability is not the only way to discover truth and it’s not omniapplicable.  If naturalism is true, then it’s indeed debatable whether the world is 4 billion yrs old or whatever.  But if it’s not, it’s probably not true. So we need to find out whether naturalism is true.


asanta,
Naked assertions are not arguments.  Try actually backing up your statements; you’ll go farther.

#35 asanta on Sunday September 27, 2009 at 4:04pm

I’m not talking about my arguments, I’m not even going to try to argue with someone who argues with will-o-the-wisps, movable goal posts and magic. I’m talking about the responses you have made to other posts.

#36 John (Guest) on Sunday September 27, 2009 at 5:07pm

So what’s all this got to do with someone having a cross in their shop? From the atheist point of view here, having two pieces of wood at 90 degree angles should be of so little consequence as to not need commenting on.

#37 asanta on Sunday September 27, 2009 at 5:24pm

You can discuss that with Rhology. S/he is the one that devolved the conversation into ‘come to jesus and be saved’ and ‘belief in evolution is a misguided belief(to paraphrase the discussion) and ‘atheists are wrong, wrong. wrong, I know ‘cause I used to be one, so don’t confuse me with facts.’

#38 DagoRed (Guest) on Sunday September 27, 2009 at 10:04pm

you guys, Shhhh.  He’s like Beetlejuice.  You mention his name three times and he appears out of nowhere to pester you and generally stink up the place.

#39 asanta on Sunday September 27, 2009 at 10:09pm

LOL!! You are right about THAT!!

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