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Why Former Christians Annoy Me

Sometimes, atheists annoy me. I don’t normally read Godless Girl, but her post on getting past anger cuts both ways. It’s about relationships:

The more I grow close and friendly with people of other ideas, the better I tend to act and feel towards others who hold those ideas–even if they are delusions or born from ignorance. . . . My point comes down to this: Love people as individuals. See them as more than just “those believers” or “those superstitious weaklings.” Who are they? Why do they have worth and dignity? It’s hard to be angry at people when you understand why they are who they are. Motivations matter, and they come from somewhere. Is it a need for love? A thirst for activity an community? Conformity and social expectation? Depression and fear?

That said, there is one class of atheist that, no matter how close I would grow to one, how I much I could empathize with their position, how much understanding or insight I get into their psyche–I will always be annoyed by. Always.

That class is the former believer.

Why?

Because when they criticize their former faith, they often fall into the exact errors perpetrated by people who wouldn’t know any better. The difference is that they do know better. Especially if they own 3 master-level degrees in philosophy and theology, and repeatedly claim to have studied under the world’s foremost authority on philosophy of religion.

When a person like that makes a fundamental error in theology, it annoys me more than words can say. Because this person knows better. At least, he should.

John W. Loftus, our friend over at Debunking Christianity, posted a (admittedly awesome) video of an octopus killing a shark in self-defense. Loftus muses, “God could not have made all creatures as vegans/vegetarians, could he? Nope. Not a chance. It was impossible for him. Right?

Yep. Completely impossible:

Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food. (Gen 1:29-30)

So impossible that everything being a vegetarian was the original plan. Then, that pesky Fall happened, and the plan was altered. After the Flood, we read this:

The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. (Gen 9:2-3)

Okay, so it was after the Flood that God made meat eaters. Got it. Looks like Mr. Loftus was wrong. Again.

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About Cory Tucholski

I'm a born-again Christian, amateur apologist and philosopher, father of 3. Want to know more? Check the "About" page!

Posted on May 15, 2010, in God, Heresy, Theology and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. So wait did (say) snakes get their teeth and digestive tracks radically re-designed after the fall?

    Also before the fall did (say) deer know not to breed too much so as not to over-populate and starve?

    • So wait did (say) snakes get their teeth and digestive tracks radically re-designed after the fall?

      Let’s check Genesis 3:14-15 for what happened to the serpent:

      The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

      So, post-Fall, the serpent is to crawl on his belly. Indicating he didn’t prior to the Fall. So, if his body design was radically altered, it isn’t too much of a stretch to think that his digestive system may have been as well.

      Also before the fall did (say) deer know not to breed too much so as not to over-populate and starve?

      Pre-Fall was a utopia, so I’m assuming that it wasn’t possible to do such a thing. Everything was plentiful then. The existence of scarcity is something that was effected post-Fall. I wish I had a better answer than that.

      • Okay. I don’t really get why the fall would require basically re-designing the entire biosphere. Unless it was meant to make life harder for humans as a punishment now they were fallen? But thanks for the answers anyway.

        I’m kind of curious as to what this pre-fall world would look like actually. I mean everything about a shark or leopard is geared towards killing stuff.

      • I don’t really get why the fall would require basically re-designing the entire biosphere. Unless it was meant to make life harder for humans as a punishment now they were fallen?

        Bingo:

        Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, “You shall not eat of it,” cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return. (Gen 3:17-19, emphasis added)

  2. Edward T. Babinski

    Hi Cory,

    Is there any evidence aside from a story in the Bible, that supports the hypothesis that all animals were once vegetarian? The fossil record includes animals that appear to be designed for eating other animals. There’s even the bony remains of a meal found in the abdominal cavities of fossilized dinosaurs, and there’s ancient fossilized animal excrement (coprolites) that contain remains of eaten animals. There’s also different mineral ratios found in vegetarian bones compared with carnivore bones, based on the fact that the vegetarians ate grasses with a certain mineral preponderance that was incorporated into their bones, while the carnivores ate the vegetarians. So the ratios are slightly different and measurable, even from fossilized bones, and match present day vegetarian vs. carnivore ratios.

    Also, I have read creationist sites that mention a lion who lived on milk and eggs and cooked oatmeal but wouldn’t eat other living things, but the creationist sites neglect to mention that lions require a specific amino acid otherwise they go blind, and so they have to eat either meat or eggs to obtain that amino acid. Also, the lion didn’t live on raw vegetables, not even on uncooked oatmeal. So even in that case it’s not evidence that all animals used to be vegetarian.

    The trouble comes in asserting that “all” animals were once vegetarians. It’s up to you to prove that is a true statement rather than just a story. After all, you can find any number of tales told as stories in the Ancient Near East. But you need evidence.

    Also, fossil evidence supports the view that serpents/snakes arose from four-legged reptilian ancestors. On the other hand, serpents/snakes evolved long before upright hominid species ever existed. So that would have been long before an “Adam and Eve” ever existed and “fell.” Also, some species of amphibians lost their legs and became serpent-like amphibian species. So the process even had a precedent before it happened to reptiles.

    • While I tend to argue as a YEC, I consider myself to be a “Young Earth Agnostic.” I invented the term, so far as I know, so I have no idea if anyone else considers themselves in the same boat as I am. What I mean when I say that is that I know, from high school biology and from other reliable sources, that there is nearly impenetrable scientific evidence of an old earth, an old universe, and serious marks against some of the stories in Genesis as it regards to creation (e.g. the Flood). The Young Earth Agnostic realizes that the biblical record indicates one thing, and the scientific record indicates something different, and hopes that there will some day be more evidence that will reconcile the two better than we can now. In other words, a young earth is consistent with Scripture, but I’m open to the idea of an old earth.

      The idea that life evolved over time doesn’t seem plausible to me. I accepted it because I was a teenager and the scientific majority taught it. Even my high school biology teacher, who I always saw reading the Bible as I returned to class from lunch, taught the theory of evolution. Now that I’m older and (I hope) wiser, I just don’t see how it could even begin to be possible without a guiding force, or a creator to get the process going. Humans are ontologically very different from even the closest primate relative that special creation always seems the more reasonable solution than slow and blind evolution.

      I reject the Christ myth solely because there is no advancing scholarship in that area. It started in the last 200 years, and all of the proponents always quote the exact same sources, all of which are outdated and dubious, to lend credence to their articles. I see the same process with creationism. I found a book that was by a leading scientist who was arguing for a young earth based on scientific principles. I thought that I had finally found the independent scientific confirmation I was looking for, but I hadn’t. Ken Hamm, Kent Hovind, and all the other usual suspects littered his bibliography. He may not have been one of that number, but he borrowed heavily from them to build his position. There is no independent scientific evidence beyond what those same guys say.

      If I reject the Christ myth on those grounds, I ought to reject YEC on those grounds. To be consistent.

      But, at this point, I really don’t think that anyone can know for certain. Know with some degree of certainty, sure. But science revises itself all the time. As Tommy Lee Jones famously said, “1500 years ago, everyone knew the earth was the center of the universe. 500 years ago, everyone knew the earth was flat. And 15 minutes ago, you knew that people were alone on this planet. Imagine what you’ll ‘know’ tomorrow.”

      So there still may yet evidence that will exculpate Scripture from this seeming impossibility. I choose to remain faithful to God because he has remained faithful to me. In the meantime, I’m open to exploring old earth models.

  3. Edward T. Babinski

    Cory,

    Do you agree with YECs who say that there was “no death” before “the fall?” That’s even more difficult to demonstrate than “all creatures were once vegetarians.”

    If you do agree with YECs who say there was “no death” before “the fall,” then please consider these points:

    What about accidental death? Was the movement of every ‘pre-Fall’ creature finely choreographed? Did monkeys swing wildly in trees but never crush an insect on a branch nor upset an insect egg nor bird egg in the process? Did a curious monkey never pick up an insect or egg out of curiosity and accidentally crush or drop it. No large herbivore ever tried to take a bite out of a much tiner critter that looked green enough to eat, nor accidentally ingested it because it was on the leaf it was already chewing and swallowing? Did sharks hunger solely for seaweed and carefully spit out even the tiniest fish that might inhabit the seaweed out of which the shark bit an enormous mouthful? No mistaken swallowing of any tiny live fish at all by much larger fish? What about a large animal galloping along and breathing heavy and accidentally inhaling an insect? Did Brontosauruses dodge every breathing thing underfoot with each gargantuan step, including ants, beetles, worms, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals? Did spiders assist in the release of any insect that flew haphazardly into their webs?

    I guess the deaths of plant cells (that every breathing creature in Genesis 1 was commanded to eat ‘for food’) does not count, just the deaths of animal cells. But plant and animal cells both have a nucleus, cytoplasm and cell wall. (Never mind about the
    question of whether or not single celled ‘plant-i-mals’ like the Euglena–that have both plant chlorophyll and a flagellar ‘tail’ on the end with which to move around like an animal–lived or died.)

    Also…’without death’ a single bacterial cell that divides every twenty minutes would multiply to a mass four thousand times greater than the earth’s in just two days.

    A single oyster, left to its own devices, produces more than one-hundred-twenty-five million eggs in a season. That’s more than enough oysters, if none died in eight years, [10 to the 89th power number of oysters] to crowd the water out of the oceans and make it cover the earth.

    If all the eggs from one mother housefly lived, she would produce more than five trillion offspring in just one season.

    A sunfish sometimes lays three hundred million eggs.

    A female sea turtle lays a hundred or more eggs.

    About one hundred million sperm cells are found in each cubic centimeter of human ejaculate.

    There are equally bountiful numbers from the world of seed-bearing plants.

    Speaking of death, how about decay, no decay either? I want to know, did Adam and Eve digest their vegetarian dinners? I once read a debate between two young-earth creationists in which one said that Adam had to break down his food and that meant that the second law of thermodynamics (breakdown, hence decay) had to have
    already been in effect because without it chemical reactions that involved breaking down molecules would not follow. In fact not even the existence of ‘friction’ would follow without the second law already being in effect. Talk about a slippery world.

    And if Adam and Eve digested their green plant dinners did they also fart as vegetarians do today? Did they defecate? Did their feces stink? How about their armpits? Did God feel the least bit obliged to give Adam and Eve the recipe for soap? In other words,
    wouldn’t Adam and Eve have been “ashamed” of any number of things long before they were “ashamed” to discover they were “naked?” Or, as Adam once put it, “Eve, pick some of those soft leaves next time, I’m getting chaffed!”

    So if creationists insist that the original creation was so perfect there was “no decay.” One might retort with, ‘No decay my rump!’ Or should I say, “Adam’s rump?”

    CHRISTIANS AGREE, THERE WAS PHYSICAL DEATH BEFORE THE FALL

    ‘Reconciling the Fall and Evolution from An Evangelical Dialogue on Evolution’ by Steve Martin‏
    ————
    ‘No Physical Death Before the Fall?’ by Glen Kuban (who finds that hypothesis questionable from both a theological and scientific perspective)
    ————
    ‘The Fall’ by Carl Drews (Christian theistic evolutionist)
    ————
    ‘Death Through Sin’ by by Jim Schicatano (‘Many Bible readers have developed an erroneous understanding of our punishment following man’s fall.’)
    ————
    ‘Death Before the Fall of Man’ by Greg Neyman © 2005, Answers In Creation
    ————
    ‘No Death Before the Fall – A Young Earth Heresy’ by Rich Deem
    ————
    ‘Chronology of The Fall’ by Randy Isaac (‘No interpretation is entirely satisfactory, each teaches some aspect of the truth.’)
    ————
    ‘Death Before the Fall: The Theology’ by Glenn R. Morton
    ————
    ‘Death Before the Fall: God Created Cellular Death Codes’ by Glenn R. Morton
    ————
    ‘Animal Death Before the Fall:What Does the Bible Say?’ by Lee Irons
    ————-
    ‘Animal Death Before Human Sin’ by Craig Rusbult, Ph.D.
    ————-
    Theological Analysis of Selected Recent (or ‘Young’) Creationist Assertions Concerning the Occurrence of Death before Sin by Gary Emberger
    ————–
    Disease and Dying in the Fossil Record: Implications for Christian Theology by Clarence Menninga
    ————–
    Thermodynamics and Theology: Entropy, Disorder, and Sin (and Young-Earth Creationism)by by Craig Rusbult, Ph.D.

    • I’ve never been 100% certain on that “no death before the fall” idea. Some of what you pose is reasonable, but some of it is just “out thinking” yourself. This is where many critics of Christianity expose their true colors, especially on the abortion issue.

      When a YEC makes the claim that there was no death before the Fall, critics (many of whom are pro-choice) automatically bring up the idea of single-celled organisms dying or (my favorite variation) scratching your nose and causing a veritable Armageddon of skin cell death. So, in this paradigm, most consider a single cell to be independent life.

      Yet, where abortion is concerned, no one considers a zygote or a blastocyst to be independent life. So, while these critics consider single cells to be life for the purposes of debunking a YEC claim of no death before the Fall, these same critics refuse to entertain that notion where ethics are concerned.

      This is the reason that I have said many times that I can’t be an atheist. Too many inconsistencies. Either a single cell is life or it isn’t. It can’t only be life when it is convenient to debunk a religious claim and not life when it is unwanted pregnancy.

      Sorry to change the subject. I will look into the papers that you mention. I’m always up for some interesting reading.

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