Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Camel’s Coming Out Party

Ok, that title sounds wrong. Let me clarify.

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.


NewEnglandBob said...

Hump, do you think any of them will follow up and buy your book? Do you think you started the 'thread of doubt' in any of them that will lead to enlightenment and self-reliance?

I bet at least one of the pastors will be the furthest along but would not admit it to anyone.

Rachelle said...

LOL! After that lovely and enlightening have it ended with: "You're going to Hell." LOLOL!!! Oh dear. LOL!

You have a talent for relaying experiences/wonderfully creative stories, Hump. Can't wait for the next book. :)

Dromedary Hump said...


Intersting thing you said there. Of all the people who I sensed understood where I was coming from and took it entirely as normal was the husband pastor. If anyone is prone to secular thinking, it is him. And you are likely correct that he would never admit it. It's his bread and butter.

But, from my experience some number of ministers/priests who have retired become less religious and more secular...and agnostic. I have met at least two who have contacted my pet rescue website over the past few months.


Heheh..yeah. Obviously I din't make any break throughs with that young lady. I'm just surprised she didn't ask me to show her the sign of the beast / "666" tattooed somewhere on my body.

Thanks for your kind compliment. "The Athesist Camel Rants Again" is tentatively planned for 2011.

Dan Gilbert said...

Great story! It's very cool that the entire evening's discussion remained civil and inquisitive rather than confrontational and angry. That's a great accomplishment in and of itself.

...and the "you're going to Hell" comment is sort of like the punchline of the evening. ;-)

Dromedary Hump said...

Well, Dan here in NH civility is sort of just the way things are. This was more a case of their curiosity than it was any kind of confrontational debate.

They knew I wasn't there to change minds and they aren't the evangelical type. So it was all good.

I guess the real test of how it went will be if I'm ever invited back to any of their parties. Then again, maybe a token atheist at parties could be the next hot thing.


oneluv said...

the token atheist...hehe

that's hot!

No Guy in the Sky said...

Hump - Great Post! I really enjoy the opportunity to talk religion with believers - face to face. I have found just like you, most have not read the bible and only know what the minister goes over in church.

Put me down for one book in 2011


Dromedary Hump said...

Thanks, No Guy!~

Anonymous said...

Great story!
As to the woman that thinks "You're going to hell", I would ask, If you can go to the hell of a religion you don't believe in, will she not also go to the hell of a religion she doesn't believe in?.
I think I'll look for your book!
- KrateKraig.

Dromedary Hump said...


Ah, good question.
But I'd anticipate the answer from her to be something like:
"But all other religions are false, so there is no other hell than the Abrahamic version."


The Atheist Turtle said...

Why did the bears kill the teens?

Dromedary Hump said...

Atheist turtle,

I'm going to guess that you're not atheist at all but an unthinking funadmentalist christian who knows the answer but came here to play a game...lacking the courage to represent yourself honestly. I'll entertain it this one time.

What's a more important question is why would anyone not question, or worse, endorse God's killing of 42 children for their insulting words against a prophet, when their lives could have been spared by God, and their disrespect corrected?

What effect would, say, an angel carrying a flaming sword have had on those kids? Or a bolt of lightning knocking them to the ground? I'm guessing it woulda scared them straight.

But no...the first response of this mythical god is to snuff out the lives of 42 children in a most hideous way. The God of Abraham and Moloch it seems have the same degree of empathy for children.

I'm always amazed at how the most religiously afflicted are unable to reason this through prefering to defend this indefensible extreme act of cruel pedocide.
One can only wonder how they themselves correct their childrens' errors, when they support murder of other peoples children by an "all merciful" father figure god.

But then, the unquestioning blind acceptence of hideous acts of a fictional god thing is the trade mark of mindless fundamentalists.
The worshippers of Moloch were not much different.