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Posted: 02 January 2007 08:39 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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In End of Faith Sam states "that 120 million of us place the big band 2,500 years after the Babylonians and Sumerians learned to brew beer."

Would someone be so kind as to provide me with a reference?

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Posted: 03 January 2007 03:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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[quote author=“mcelreb”]In End of Faith Sam states “that 120 million of us place the big band 2,500 years after the Babylonians and Sumerians learned to brew beer.”

Would someone be so kind as to provide me with a reference?

Of the invention of beer, or of the fraction of religiosity in the United States?

Most of Mr. Harris’ statistics come from Pew reports and Gallop polls.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_beer#The_beginnings_of_beer (with add’l references at the bottom)

http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2004/US/724_public_view_of_creationism_and_11_19_2004.asp

(multiply ~34% times 300 million, and you get 102 million. Sam may have gone with a different poll, but it is the same ballpark as the passage you allude to.)

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Posted: 04 January 2007 12:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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Thanks for your reply.  You’ve just sent me down another fascinating avenue of discovery.  Interesting reading. 

Unfortunately I was inquiring as to the reference to the invention of beer as this is a stunning point to make to a Young Earth Creationist who can’t perceive of having history before they believe the bible says the Earth was created.  I’m at a loss in figuring out where he got the “2500 years after the Sumerians and Babylonians invented beer” from.  The earliest mention of beer in history sems to be less than 7000 years ago or about 5000 B.C.  which leaves my antagonist about 3000 years to rationalize his fantasy.

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Posted: 04 January 2007 08:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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[quote author=“mcelreb”]Thanks for your reply.  You’ve just sent me down another fascinating avenue of discovery.  Interesting reading. 

Unfortunately I was inquiring as to the reference to the invention of beer as this is a stunning point to make to a Young Earth Creationist who can’t perceive of having history before they believe the bible says the Earth was created.  I’m at a loss in figuring out where he got the “2500 years after the Sumerians and Babylonians invented beer” from.  The earliest mention of beer in history sems to be less than 7000 years ago or about 5000 B.C.  which leaves my antagonist about 3000 years to rationalize his fantasy.

Unfortunately, it is a bad argument to present to your interlocutor. If you’re willing to pretty much ignore fossils etc, ancient beer and anthropological evidence of human habitation aren’t that important.

The underpinning belief in God (and angels, and creation, and the deceiving Devil, etc) support all the rest.

(There are certainly older and younger reports of the invention of beer… real data has error bars attached, and Sam’s source was apparently different.)

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Posted: 04 January 2007 10:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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If it is anthropological evidence that you are looking for, there is plenty of cave art that is dated way older than 10,000BC (which, in my experience, is the oldest that most “young earth” creationists will allow for the earth being.

If tripping up a literalist is your goal, the Great Flood and the Tower of Babel are two of my favorites.

The Great Flood fails to pass even the most basic tests.  Was there a big flood way back when?  Almost certainly.  Did it wipe out all land dwelling life on Earth save that which found its way onto a big boat?  Not at all!  The distribution of human, plant and animal life across the earth is nothing like one would expect if there was a global flood 4-6k years ago.

The Tower of Babel similarly fails to pass muster.  According to the Bible, people all spoke one language, and thus they progressed too rapidly.  They decided to be like God, and set out to build a great tower so that they could reach heaven.  God was not pleased, so he confounded their tongues.  Linguistic analysis shows that the languages spoken today have drifted from common ancestral tongues, something that we would not expect to see if the Biblical account were true.  Furthermore, we have been putting human beings into orbit for decades now (not to mention going to the moon), which, we can be fairly certain, is several orders of magnitude further than any tower that bronze age man could have even thought of building.

Most Christians (non fundamentalists) will claim that the stories are not meant to be taken at face value.  Fundamentalists, however, must take them at face value.

There are a few fundamentalists that I have encountered that admit that the Flood did not cover the entire planet.  They say that all it had to do was wipe out all human life, save for Noah and co.  This explanation is also problematic, because the current genetic diversity of homo sapiens really does not allow for any estimate of the age of modern humans to be less than 250,000 years (I think, been a while since I read up on that), and probably older.

The Tower of Babel is probably trickier than the Flood, if only because the average person will look at things like distribution of animal life, etc., and can quickly see that something does not add up.  As for the languages, most people simply won’t have enough knowledge of linguistics to evaluate the subject in any realistic way.  Still, reminding people that we have walked on the moon, and are building space stations in orbit is a good way of inspiring some doubt on the subject.

-Matt

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Posted: 04 January 2007 05:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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Great stuff.  I guess I am trying to trip up a literalist.  Anyone else have a favourite approach?

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Posted: 05 January 2007 01:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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[quote author=“mcelreb”]Great stuff.  I guess I am trying to trip up a literalist.  Anyone else have a favourite approach?

My favorite approach is the problem of evil.

Presumably, (s)he believes the following:

1) God is all good
2) God is all powerful
3) God is all knowing
4) God created the universe
5) God existed outside of time prior to creation
6) Evil exists

Now, consider a situation like the Garden of Eden, or the existence of Smallpox:

God must have known Adam and Eve would eat of the fruit, yet chose to punish man for an act he set up.

If God existed outside of time, is all knowing, and all powerful, surely he could have created a universe where hundreds of millions of children wouldn’t need to die of smallpox (or where comparable numbers of women wouldn’t need to die in childbirth).

The refutation of this argument is generally “Free will” or “Satan did it.”

(Obviously, the refutation of the ‘Satan’ gambit is to ask why God made Satan)

Mormon theology gets around the above problem, as do other theologians, by assuming God isn’t all powerful.

Presumably, their God is still powerful enough to cure cancer and smallpox and fix amputees. That such a being did not hear the prayers of the Christians and Jews who were killed in the Holocaust (or the Armenian Genocide) should tell us something about the nature of God.

Even should such a God exist… worshiping it would be sick.

(“You shouldn’t apply man’s standards to God, or attempt to know his mind” would be brought up about here… the reply resonates well with Milton. “Why did God make me to fall?”)

Can you tell I’ve done this sort of thing before?

If someone axiomatically believes in free will… they may well be holding to an axiom designed to get them out of this problem. You then have to attack the axiom, which is always challenging. My approach has always boiled down to “why did God make this universe, then.” (Incidentally, I don’t think my six points above are consistent with free will.)

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