About five days ago, I got a call from my fundy neighbor, "Do you have a minute? I'd like to talk to you." So I went.
Guess what he wanted to talk about?
Jeebus. Or more specifically his key concern was "Do you believe in a deity?"
I wonder if he figures that calling a supernatural being a deity prevents confining it to human terms like Yahweh or Allah or Apollo. Maybe he was leaving open the possibilities. I'm not sure.
I said, "I really don't think that is any of your business. Why do you want to know?"
He said, "Every time you come over here, you turn off the radio station."
He plays a christian talk radio station 24/7 and it is my contention that he does so to keep his mind focused on the lord and to keep himself from drifting away and doubts. The radio is pro-creationism, constantly has messages from Answers in Genesis, anti-abortion and anti-homosexuals. Basically it is all fundy all the time. Drives me batshit, so I've taken to bringing over a cd of music, any music, just to have something else playing in the back ground.
I said, "Ah. Well, I find the radio to be particularly distracting. It makes it very difficult to concentrate on the people that I have come to see because all I can hear is that droning away in the background and I can't hear what people are saying to me. So I bring my own music which acts as white noise. Much more polite to the people I'm with."
He was quite disappointed by my answer and tried a different tactic. "Do you believe in evolution?"
I gave a disbelieving snort and said, "Of course, don't you?"
He said "no." I looked at him like he was an odd get and sensing that evolution was not going to be a weak point with me he changed the subject yet again.
"Don't you believe that your kids should have the best chance at an afterlife? How can you deny them that?"
I said, "That's Pascal's Wager."
I said, "The challenge, that there might be a god so better safe than sorry you might as well believe in it."
I looked him square in the eye and said, "Do you believe that my children will burn in hell for the choices I make."
He began backpeddling immediately, "Well, now, I don't know, I was just thinking that it's not fair to them..."
And I interrupted. I said, "Do you believe in hell Ken?"
"Yes, of course" he said. I said, "And you're ok with that?"
He said, "Oh come now who are we..."
And I said, "No, don't give me that 'we're not supposed to judge god' crap, Ken. You know the difference between right and wrong, don't you? Don't you?"
He said, "Yes of course."
I said, "No one deserves to be tormented for all eternity Ken. No one. Think about it, not one year, or ten years, but for the rest of all time. Utter torment, anguish, despair. Who deserves that? Who are you not to stand up and say, 'That is FUCKING horseshit! No one should burn in hell'?"
Long pause....He said "That's the price they pay."
I said, "Ken, let's think about this. God is omnipotent, omniscient and all powerful, yes? And he picked up the clay and formed it in his own image and just before he breathed life into its nostrils he knew all that was to come. That there would be billions upon billions of these creatures and most of them would suffer for all eternity in a hell he created just for not believing in him. For the sake of the worship of a few billion of these creatures, billions more would spend all time in hell. Why? Why did he go through with it Ken?"
Long pause...He said, "Well what do you think happens after you die, nothing?"
I said, "That's right, we go back to the same place we were before we were born. No where. It didn't bother us before birth, I doubt we will care much after we are dead."
Long pause...He said, "But without god people would live selfishly."
I said, "Give me one example of how people would live selfishly. How do I live selfishly Kenny, what's in it for me to live that way?"
He said, "Well of couse, you'd live for yourself and your children."
I said, "How would I live selfishly that wouldn't harm me or my children or my friends, my loved ones, my neighbor?"
He said, "I guess there's nothing more for me to say, I can see you've made up your mind." He tilted his head to the side, gave me a wink, a smile, and said, "I'll be praying for you."
"Oh, well thank you very much." So I left.
I don't think that conversation went the way he expected.
I rather think he was hoping to get me to cry, admit what a miserable sinner I am, show me the path to the lord.
I don't think any conversion conversation has ever taken such a right hand turn as that for him.
That was about 5 days ago.
Tonight he has brought me a book. It is called One Heartbeat Away by Mark Cahill.
I reposted by giving him George H. Smith's book Atheism: The Case Agaist God.
I said, "I will read yours, if you will read mine."
He took it and left.
I better get it back.
Stay tuned and you'll get a chapter by chapter report of the book. If it doesn't make my brain turn to tapioca.