large  halloween card 3_detail I am going out today to buy Hallowe’en candy, and you probably are too. #2 son is coming with me to make sure that I get good stuff, by which he means candy that he will want to eat, since he is too old to go trick or treating any more.

But I intend also to buy candy that has not been produced at the cost of child and slave labor. I hope you will do the same. It is not a difficult thing to do. If you are not familiar with the problem, you could click here to learn about it. Click here if you think it is no longer a problem.

Some people choose to boycott chocolate entirely, or all chocolate grown in Cote d’Ivoire, but this is a very poor country which relies on chocolate exports. Most growers are small family farms, where children work alongside their parents. Refusing to buy chocolate from the entire country harms these people as well as the growers who have bought children and forced them to work under brutal conditions. Some members of the chocolate industry are making sincere efforts to pay fair prices for cocoa beans, allowing growers to hire workers, and to help provide education and safe working conditions for children working with the beans.

So at our house we choose not to buy from Nestle, the company which has been the most blatant and unrepentant about the problem. Hersheys and M&M/Mars told congress they would make their chocolates free of slave labor by July 2005, but went with a PR campaign instead. If you pass up these three, and let them know why, you will be doing a good deed. Click here to contact Nestle, and you will also find links to many more companies and a lot of information on the subject.

We buy chocolate from Black & Green, Lindt, and Ghirardelli. You can also find Dagoba, Newman’s Own, and Rapunzel. All organic chocolate is safe to buy, because the oversight of organic growers limits opportunities for worker abuse, and eliminates the problem of children working with pesticides. Land o’Lakes recently joined the list of fair trade cocoa producers, but they produce hot chocolate mix rather than candy — just wanted you to know if your kids, like mine, are hot cocoa mix fans.

If you think that the fair trade chocolate is too expensive, there is plenty of other candy out there.

In addition to candy buying, I have errands and housework and needlework and reading to do. Light reading. I have already done the heavy reading for the day, and my report on it is coming up.

In chapter 3 of The God Delusion, Dawkins clears out of the way all the usual arguments in favor of God’s existence. Just quickly, you know, before he presents his argument.

One of the arguments he mentions is the claim that scripture provides sufficient evidence of God’s existence. I began the section confident that he was going to point out that the Bible is only evidence for God if you already believe in God ahead of time. Nope. He suggests that the Bible doesn’t constitute good evidence, and that there are factual discrepancies and things in the Bible.

Excuse me? The Bible says things about God’s existence like “In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” In what sense can that be considered evidence for something? If you have a group of people who believe that the Bible is the Word of God, and they want to use the Bible as evidence for and against the Doctrine of Election, I’m with you, but I fail to see how the Bible could be held, in the absence of faith, to be evidence.

But let’s go along with this. Let’s suppose that someone has said to Dawkins that the Bible is a written record of whole scads of people’s experiences with God, and that it is therefore, as a historical document, evidence for the existence of God. Let’s examine it as a historical document giving evidence about God.

First, since Dawkins has elsewhere in the chapter refused to consider any personal experiences with God (he agrees that personal experience of God is very convincing for the experiencer, but discounts it entirely otherwise), we have to remove all personal experiences of God from consideration.

We have to cast out the poetry. And, I suppose, all the stuff that isn’t directly about God.

We also know that our ideas about how to report things are vastly different from those of people in traditional societies. The entire idea of evidence has changed radically since the Bible was written. I say “we know,” because anyone who has studied anthropology, history, or literature knows this, as does anyone who has spoken with people from non-technological cultures. I am tempted to do a Dawkins trick here and say that I simply don’t believe that Dawkins doesn’t know this and suggest some reason for his dissembling, but I will resist that temptation. Let it suffice that we know it, and use that information in our reading.

We are obviously not left with much. When we examine what the Bible as a historical document says about God that does not rely on people’s personal experience with God — oh, and I think that Dawkins wants us to cast out the entire Old Testament on the grounds that it is silly– we are left with the historical record of Jesus. Who repeatedly refused to convince people that he was God.

In fact — and we might have to look at a lot of stuff Dawkins won’t consider in order to notice this — God is simply not in the business of proving His existence.Why this is so is an interesting theological question, perhaps, but Dawkins isn’t really looking at theological questions here.

I have to say that I was pretty disappointed in this section. If you are interested in this topic, you will probably already have read his sources, or others like them, and having Dawkins tell you his favorite bits, interlaced with snarky comments, is not enlightening.