Saturday, May 31, 2008

Eternally Damned?

I had an interesting discussion with a "journalist" today. He walked up to me and started to talk about religion. Now, if someone comes and talks to me about whether I am religious, I lose all inhibitions and start talking about my atheism. So, when asked the reason for my lack of faith in all things religious, I informed him of my faith in the theory of Evolution and its ability to explain every little feature of life.

As this point, I had no idea that the gentleman in question was not a journalist and the book he held in his has was in actuality, the Bible. Turns out he was trying to convert me into Christianity. This was an opportunity I was waiting for for quite some time. I had always fantasized about arguing with someone who is trying to convert me. And this gentleman in question did not disappoint. His mentors had coached him what to say when people confronted him with arguments regarding their enemy no 1: Darwinism. So he was armed to the teeth with quotes from the Bible and information regarding apparently evolution-defying bacterial flagella (though this paper would beg to differ). If nothing else, he was passionate about his job.

His main contention was the following:

1. Everybody has sinned. (lied, lusted and so on)
2. God hates sinners who do not acknowledge His (God's) existence.
3. One must acknowledge God's existence (and then can presumably continue to sin)
4. Failure to perform (3) will result in eternal damnation in hell.
5. The planet is 6000 years old. Dinosaur bones (and the like) were planted on the planet by God (a-la-Slartibartfast).
6. The only truth in the world is the Bible. (The other religious books are just pure sophistry)

I am proud of myself not laughing out at these ludicrous contentions. But I did manage to squeeze in a few alternate competing faiths, viz. great-green Arcklesiezurism (the dominant faith of the Viltvodlites) and the Kansan Flying Spaghetti Monster. I informed him regarding the equally strong (weak is more like it) cases favoring the worship of each faith.

And then the discussion moved on to the other standard cliche: "there's a little of god in everyone. That's what tells people the difference between good and bad.". I told him it's my ego that tells me the difference between good and bad - and God has precious little to do with it. He looked a little taken aback: so I had to go into the details of being a left-libertarian.

And then the wife materialized and immediately joined this discussion. She's quite well read about Hinduism, Buddhism and the like. She holds the "comfort zone" theory: believe in whatever makes you feel comfortable. And she gets worked up like no tomorrow when someone tells her what to do. (I would know). So, clearly, some guy clutching the Bible telling her what to do (otherwise go to hell) would be unlikely to gain favor with her. And he did not.

But, I am sad to say, we lost the condescension-war. I did manage a few gems including "religion is a placebo that makes people happier - and that's why I am in favor of it". He pulled this beauty out of his hat: "I will pray for you guys".


Rap said...

The same thing happened to me in IITM 3 years ago!!

Anonymous said...

Well RAP, it is interesting to see you talking for religion when someone opposes it and bashing it, if I might call so, if some one fantasizes it too much. I am sure you'd have enjoyed the encounter.