My wife and I attended a small party with friends last Saturday night. Four other couples attended -- all believers. One couple were husband and wife pastors at two local churches with whom my wife is very friendly, having worked with them on a flood disaster recovery project a few years back.
We settled into the living room sipping champagne, chit chatting, and eating dessert when one woman said she had heard I published a book and was curious as to its subject. It was seconded by an “Oh, you’re an author? Yes, tell us about it.”
Echoing through my head is the old saying about never discussing religion or politics at a party. This holds especially true when surrounded by Christians whose predecessors were prone to meting out some pretty severe penalties for non-belief. But this is New Hampshire, not 17th century Salem, and not being shy to promote my book, after a nanosecond’s hesitation I did my thing.
“You mean to say you don’t believe in GOD … why not??” was offered by an incredulous young lady in her early thirties who it seems has never knowingly been in the presence of an admitted non-believer. I explained the lack of evidence for any God/s man has proffered, my preference toward acceptance of things as real that have a foundation in scientific validity, my lack of need for a non-physical supernatural dependency being a mature self-reliant human in charge of his own destiny, etc. etc.
Parrying with Pascal’s Wager she suggested “But wouldn’t you be better off believing just to be safe?” I explained who Blaise Pascal was and gave her the usual retorts that have blunted that argument so often and over so many years that few theists even bother to use Pascal anymore.
Another woman, in her mid-sixties jumped in “But how do you explain our existence if not for God.” Which lead me to Big Bang, the primordial soup, the Theory of Evolution … “But how could the Big Bang start, it had to have a start ... everything has a beginning.” When I said I didn’t know, no one does yet, although there are theories, she reverted to “Well, that’s where God comes in… He started it.”
This in turn led to the discussion of "if everything has a beginning then who created God?" Then into the “God of the Gaps,” with all of them agreeing that 500 years ago when man didn’t know what caused lightning to strike another sect’s church it was assumed “God did it.” When plague struck, “God’s wrath did it,” etc. Only the atheists did not default to “God” as an explanation, they simply said “we don’t know…yet.” But somehow I sensed my audience didn’t make the connection between those things and my saying “we don’t know what caused the Big Bang…yet.” Information overload perhaps.
None of them I surmised, save the husband and wife pastors, had read the bible. Thus were they disarmed by my references to chapter and verse to emphasize my contentions. Indeed the husband pastor agreed with most of my points, confirming some of the less charming and inexplicably cruel laws of Deuteronomy; the hideous 2Kings2 tale of the forty-two children being torn by bears; and the various verses that have been proven to be less than scientifically accurate.
It was a classic discussion between good believer folks who had minimal experience with debate, and just as little exposure to a secular, well read, religiously versed, person of reality. The discussion followed predictable patterns and themes -- after all, there’s not much new under the sun when it comes to theist think or defending the faith.
As the evening came to a close I handed out my book’s business cards with that charming camel’s picture on it to the delight of the guests. I sensed a good time was had by all, I know I had a ball. Just as we were kissing and shaking hands good-bye, that young lady gave me a hug and whispered “You know you’re going to Hell, don’t you?”
You can lead a believer to thinking but … well, you know the rest.