Produce and Proofs


I give you the noble pear.

A whimsical parody of the apple,

less resistant to the bite,

with a delightful rush of wetness for the biter.

The honey sweetness of pear butter,

the substitute for sugar (alongside the white grape) in “100% juice.”

Truly there must be a creator who loves and who smiles.

I give you the noble onion,

without which so much of eating,

and therefore of life,

might settle into blandness.

Good with meat, red, brown, or white,

with cheese and in sauces and metaphors.

A color for every occasion.

Surely there is a God who is in favor of our enjoyment.


Not that produce can prove the existence of God. But is proving in that sense ever the point? Has anyone ever gotten from atheism to faith because of any supposed proof of God’s existence? Can we smile along with God at the variety of shapes, colors, and tastes in the produce department without examining whether it can all be tied up in valid syllogisms?

    Now, lest I seem to be criticizing some people smarter than me who have, or so it seems, formulated proofs of God’s existence, let me name names and take numbers:

    Anselm, with his ontological proof, is an easy case because he called the project “fides quarens intellectam.” In other words, proving God’s existence is a game for Christians, not something for Christians to spring on the godless. Otherwise, how could Karl Barth, who fought to keep apologetics out of dogmatics, have learned from Anselm?

    If Aquinas comes to mind as one who sought to prove God’s existence, then read what William Placher has to say in The Domestication of Transcendence.

    For both Anselm and Aquinas, we should remember that they lived in circumstances in which nearly everyone was officially, whether or not actually, a believer in God, specifically the God of Christians. There were no twenty-first-century “new atheists” around.

    William Paley will have to take care of himself here, partly because I suspect he did want the produce to work logically, but more because I’ve only read people who have read Paley, not the man himself.

    At any rate, syllogistic logic can only feed the soul or delight the palate so far. After a while, we have to quit drawing logic symbols and have lunch. Then, thank God, we live in a place blessed with pears, onions, and all their kind.

  • It was supposed to be a pear on the California flag, but the word was misunderstood. California, like Michigan, has both.
  • My grandfather for a relaxing snack would set himself in his comfy chair with a newspaper, a saltshaker, and an onion. Chomp.
  • William C. Placher, The Domestication of Transcendence: How Modern Thinking about God Went Wrong (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1996), 24-27.
  • It occurs to me now (a couple weeks later) that the referent of “red, brown, or white” might be mistaken: it is the meat, whereas the “color for every occasion” is the noble onion.