Monday, 30 April 2007

Atheism 2, Religion 0

Today I had an interesting encounter with two christian women. They stopped me in the street, and did the familiar "Would you take a minute to answer a question?" spiel. Always up for the challenge, I obliged.

The younger of the two started off talking about where we go when we die (either heaven or hell, of course), and mentioned that since we are free to make our own choices, we can choose to 'ask God to forgive our sins' so that we can go to heaven, else spend eternity of pain and suffereing blah blah blah in the fiery lake of 'hell'. I dutifully listened to her tell me all about her recent discovery of Jeezuz by way of a life altering experience, which she declined to elaborate on, and was all rather vague.

I was unimpressed. So I decided to make some more specific enquiries: "What about all the people who were alive before the time of Jeezuz?" I asked, "Did they all end up in this 'hell' because they could not possibly have learned from the teachings of Jeezuz or the bible?" Her answer was rather suprising. "Hades", she said. I was mystified. Wasn't Hades a part of Classical Greek mythology? "No, there's hell, and then there's hades." How convenient. "And- and Jeezuz died on the cross for your sins..." she rattled off, "-he was the son of God, and he could cure sickness and restore sight and heal the lame-". At this point, I sensed that she was getting out of her depth, and irritated with me testing her claim. She called in the older woman for assistance. The older woman proceeded to give me another vague story about an 'out-of-body experience' she had in her younger days, and how '[her] soul had looked down to see [her] body beside it'. Okay...

I considered my position. "Where do you stand on evolution?" I probed. Their response this time was one of genuine incredulity- "Do you actually believe that we could have come from, say, tadpoles?" was the younger woman's retort. I said that yes, I did. She really was astounded, and asked me "where do we come from, then?"

"Amino acids. I'm not a biologist so I don't know all the mechanics of it."

"So how do you know?"

"It's called extrapolation, based on the available physical evidence", I said. She looked confused, so I explained the concept of extrapolation to her. I don't think she got it, and she got quite snarky from that point on.

"Then what would be the purpose of being alive?" she asked me, crossing her arms. I told her that I didn't believe there was one. She could not comprehend this, or the fact that I was so comfortable with it.

Other notable utterances were that 'the bible is a historical document' and was the 'direct word of God', despite my insistance that the bible contradicts itself in many places, portrays acts which are not physically possible, and was compiled over hundreds of years by various people, most of whom had no contact with the man Jeezuz himself. Add to that the numerous translations and revisions it has undergone... You get the picture. She looked hurt and desparate.

The situation deteriorated, and both women tried to bring their unsuccesful conversion to an end. The younger woman handed me a leaflet, mumbled the times at which services are run at their church, and both started to back away from me.

Victory was mine.

An addendum: After the christians ran away, I went to pay some bills. On the way back, I happened across them again. This time they were talking to a man in a wheelchair. I approached the group, and said to the fellow in the wheelchair "Why doesn't God restore your ability to walk?" The women looked furious. "I think our discussion is over" she said, forcing a smile. The man in the wheelchair took the opportunity to escape. I offered to discuss it further over a coffee. They made some non-committal statements about meeting me later or giving me a call (funny, though, that they didn't ask for my number), and backed away again.

So now I know what time they have their services, I may just go and visit the congregation to ask them some hard questions.

Will keep you posted.

Monday, 9 April 2007

The First Step

In fighting for any worthy cause, it is of prime importance that the people you are trying to reach know of your existence: Visibility is crucial.

Firstly, it gives other like-minded individuals the confidence to speak out and express themselves, that they are not alone. A supporting network of like-minded people can form, being able to identify one another.

Secondly, our visibility shows the controlling powers and agents of the adversary that their views and methods are actively opposed. Since fear of reprisal is a key component in suppressing the freedom of thought, we must show no fear.

Thirdly, being visibile generally raises public awareness, and forces those who may have no strong opinion to at least consider the issue.

Remember, the enemy only exists in 'free' societies because of laws protecting of freedom of speech, belief and thought; yet they would gladly take those priviledges away from you given the chance. Remember also that in these societies, you are protected by the same laws. The effect of not protecting these worthy institutions may not be immediately evident, but tomorrow's children may pay the price for today's indifference.

Act Today: Become Visible.

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