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.


Blogger vjack said...

It looks like you are off to a great start with your new blog. Here are some tips for building your readership:

17 May 2007 at 11:11 PM  
Blogger BEAST said...

Brilliant, brother! Excellent, bravo!

May I have your permission to post this on my blog (

Your sardonic wit really impressed me.... and I am sure the man on the wheel chair will thank you for extradicating him from a round of stupid proselytization.

Great Job

19 May 2007 at 1:26 AM  
Blogger E. N. Heath said...

Thanks for the encouraging comments!

vjack: I'm a regular reader of Atheist Revolution; keep up the great work.

beast: Certainly, you're welcome to post this on Atheist Haven - a link back here would be appreciated.

19 May 2007 at 10:40 PM  
Blogger BEAST said...

Ok, dorkie. Wish Granted!

20 May 2007 at 11:33 PM  
Blogger BEAST said...

Thou hath posted your post on thy blog, unchanged, with my comments added:


23 May 2007 at 1:02 AM  
Blogger Sailesh said...

Hello I'm an atheist from Singapore and I'd like to say that was nicely done! Give em' hell at the congregation :)

23 May 2007 at 3:38 AM  
Blogger BEAST said...

I have just meme-tagged you. Check out my post at:


27 June 2007 at 2:59 PM  
Blogger Johnny Crow said...

In the part where they asked you the purpose for being alive... I would have said. To live and to live as much as possible. Why be a sheep and live your life in suffering and obligation when you can be free to be a good person and live a just life? Whether there is a heaven is pointless because there chances of getting in are less than 1%. Besides If there were a god, I am sure he would understand my reluctance with people like them.

Great blog btw.

12 July 2007 at 4:11 AM  

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