Browsing Archives for Journey to Atheism

Okay – no one is going to believe the story I am about to tell because it just way too coincidental and also because uh… well… I have a sort of a history… of uh… making things up… or maybe not making them up… but ever so slightly exaggerating… certain uh…  facts… to make my stories slightly more interesting.  But even with a past that is riddled with hyperbole, the following story is ABSOLUTELY ONE HUNDRED PERCENT TRUE!

IT IS!!!

No REALLY!!!!

IT IS!!!!!

You are just gonna have to believe me – sort of like believing in Jesus because no one has ever seen him either right?  As a child and even as a young adult I used to be terrified of Jesus showing up in my bedroom at night, but that is another story for another day.  

 

This is today’s story…

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A missionary came to my door on Saturday.  A baptist missionary.  A baptist evangelical missionary who was roughly 65 years old and who was accompanied by an nine year old child. I thought the child was his grandson, but it wasn’t.  It was the son of the pastor of the older man’s church.  I wish I had taken some photos, but I was a little too caught up in this surrealistic situation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But I did take a photo of the ‘tract’ that they gave to me.  Sorry about the smudges.  I had to dig it out of the trash to take the photo.   

The church that the man and little boy were from is not in our town, but in a town about fifteen miles away.  This was also not the first time the man and the boy had dropped by our house.  They showed up last Saturday when I was in New York.  The Country Doctor texted me that two Baptists had just tried to convert him, but I had left my phone in the car and did not know about their visit until I got home on Monday.  

I am going to attempt to recall the details of the fifteen minute conversation that I had with these missionaries.  I won’t be able to remember every detail, but I will try to be accurate and fair.  I also must admit that I was nervous and then agitated and then outright upset by this man and his world views as our conversation progressed.  I was not calm, cool and collected and did not represent the world of atheism with great amounts of benevolent dignity.  I also don’t think I had any impact whatsoever on the older man.   But on the boy – I think I may have really made him think.  I don’t think the little boy will ever forget the crazed atheist he encountered in the big white farmhouse in the country.  Some of the things I said will rattle around in his head for years to come.  So for the chance to speak to a child about the possibility of disbelief (even as poorly as I did) I am grateful.  And please don’t forget – these people showed up at MY door.  I did not go looking for them.  They asked questions of ME!  I did not attack their faith out of nowhere.  I would never do that.  But if someone is going to question me on my own front porch, the game changes suddenly and dramatically.

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When I answered the door I already knew who they were from the country doctor’s description of the past weekend’s visit.  The man asked to speak to my husband.  I said, “He isn’t here.” and I was ready to shut the door and let them go on their way, but then the man said…

Man – Can I ask you a question?

Me – Sure.

Man – If you died tonight, do you know for certain that you would spend eternity in heaven?

Me – Um….. well…. I don’t believe in god.

Man – (Huge eyes)

Little Boy – (EVEN HUGER EYES)

Man – Why don’t you believe in god?

Me – Because there isn’t one.

Man – Well… what… huh… sputter, sputter, sputter….

Me – Do you think that I am going to hell because I don’t believe in god?

Little Boy  - (HUGE EYES NODDING)

Man – Uh… no… uh… god doesn’t send anyone to hell.

Me – (to boy) Do you think I am going to hell?

Little Boy – (Huge eyes) yes….

Man – (interrupting child) God doesn’t send people to hell.  People make decisions that send themselves to hell.

Me – So you think that I am sending myself to hell?

Man – Yes.

Me – Why would I send myself to hell?  That doesn’t make any sense.

Man – You must be confused.  Let me read you some scriptures from my bible.

Me – I know what the bible says.  I was a devout practicing christian for 41 years.  I served as an elder in my church.  I taught Sunday school. I directed the Christmas play and the children’s choir.  I have read the entire bible cover to cover twice.  I know what it says and I also know that it is full of crap.

Man – Well… uh… sputter, sputter, sputter….  you went to church for 40 years?

Me – forty ONE years.

Man – What made you stop believing in god?

Me – Well… I kept reading.  I love to read.  I read lots of other books.  I read history.  I used my brain.  I struggled with all the contradictions in the bible and the fact that the resurrection of Jesus is not mentioned in any significant historical documents of the time.  I mean – why wouldn’t it show up?  It is an amazing event.

Man – Well… all I need for proof of god is what the bible says.

Me – How do you deal with the ten commandments then.  They say ‘Do Not Murder’ and then just a few chapters later,  the god in the bible is sending the Israelites out to commit murder on neighboring tribes.  They even kill the children, the infants and the pregnant women.

Man – Well… those people were evil.  They worshiped the wrong god.

Me – They were evil just because they believed in a different god?  What about the kids?  The babies?  Were they evil too?

Man – Uh… well… 

Me – How do you deal with the fact that slavery is condoned and even encouraged in the bible?

Man – Listen, I don’t know what has hurt you, but I think that when people say they don’t believe in god, they are really just angry at god.

Me – There isn’t a god.  (Looking at boy) it is all made up you know.  Use your brain.  It doesn’t make any sense.

Man – I think the relationship between god and people is like a marriage.

Me – Oh… you mean I am supposed to submit to god like women are supposed to submit to their husbands?

Man – Uh… well… um… no…

Me – I am supposed to submit because women are supposed to submit? 

Man – uh… um… well… no I mean like a marriage that is uh….

Me – How do you explain the inquisition?

Man – What?

Me – The inquisition.  The entire western world was operating under a christian theocracy. Probably something like the way you would prefer that the world operated now right?  You would want christians to make all the rules right?  So, the christian church had complete power and they burned a million men, women and children at the stake for acts of heresy.  Most of those people were illiterate and had no idea what the bible said or what christianity really meant – some of those people were jews or muslims and some of them simply believed that the world was round instead of flat like the bible says!  (Looking at boy) They thought the world was round and so they were burned by the church!  

Man – Well…. I don’t see how that has anything to do with god and the bible.

Me – You don’t?

Man – no…. 

Me – Where was your god?

Man – huh?

Me – Where was your god?  The same god who stayed the knife of Abraham.  The same god who smote Ananias and Sapphira for merely taking money out of the offering plate.  Where was your all powerful, all knowing god?  Why didn’t he stop all this sick burning of people in his own name?

Man – well…. uh….

Me – And why did god ask Abraham to murder Isaac to prove his faith?

Man – (brightens) Oh well that is such a beautiful story!  Because god didn’t kill Isaac did he?  No!  Because Abraham knew he wouldn’t have to kill Isaac.

Me – How do you know that?

Man – It’s in the story.

Me – No it’s not.  We have no idea what Abraham knew or didn’t know or what he thought or didn’t think.  You are just assuming that he knew he wouldn’t have to kill Isaac.  For all we know, he may have thought that he WOULD have to kill Isaac.

Man – Oh no… you see that story is such a beautiful test of faith.  Abraham obeyed god.

Me – Yes – and god is a sociopath.  You don’t ask someone to murder a child to prove their faith.  

Man – But Abraham didn’t kill Isaac.  He took him up the mountain in complete obedience and then god provided a sacrifice for him.  

Me – You don’t ask someone to kill a child to prove their faith.  That is sick.  By the way, what do you think about Haiti?

Man – Well… I think that the Haitians signed a political agreement that….

Me – (interrupting) So you agree with Pat Robertson that the Haitians actually did something that angered god and caused him to crush them with an earthquake?

Man – Yes… I think that the Haitians were involved in political strategies that….

Me – That is so sick!  You believe in a sick god.

Man – God punishes people who sin.

Me – There are plenty of sinners walking around in the US .  We have people who have stolen entire retirement accounts because of tremendous greed and murderers and pedophiles.  Why isn’t god punishing them?  

Man – sputter, sputter, sputter…

Me – The reason there was an earthquake in Haiti is BECAUSE THER ARE FAULT LINES UNDER THEIR COUNTRY!

Man – (Shaking head sadly.)  All I know is that our public schools and the mother’s womb are THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACES IN THE WORLD TODAY!

Me – WHAT!?!?

Man – THE MOTHER’S WOMB AND OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS ARE THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACES IN THE WORLD TODAY!!!

ME - WHAT!!!!  THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACE IN THE WORLD TODAY IS PROBABLY AFGHANISTAN!!!

Man – No. (Shakes head sadly again). With abortion and all the shootings in the public schools that started to happen when they took prayer out of the schools, it is actually America’s public schools that are now the most dangerous place in the world.

Me – That is moronic!  My kids all go to public school and it is perfectly safe!  A mother’s womb?  What actual percentage of babies end up aborted compared to people killed in wars?  Are you serious?

Man – (Still shaking head in disbelief) Oh… look.  I have to go – there is my van pulling up.  It was very interesting to talk to you.

Me – (Looking at boy and pointing finger at my head) Use your brain.  There is no god.  Use your brain.

The boy just looked at me.  His eyes were super wide.  He didn’t say anything – but I could tell that some of the things I had said had sprouted ideas in his head that he would never be able to forget.  The man and the boy got in the van that had come by to pick them up.  I am sure they had plenty to talk about the rest of the day.  It’s not often that a christian evangelist encounters a REAL LIVE ATHEIST!  

I hope I get to talk to them again and I hope I handle myself a little bit better.  Stay a little more calm.  I may even have to mark some specific passages in my old, worn bible to show the old codger if he ever shows up on my doorstep again.  We’ll start with the virgin war prizes that get to be sex slaves for god’s chosen people and move up to circumcision and then over to Jesus dissing his mom and then to the Apostle Paul telling his congregation how to treat their slaves.  That should fill up another fifteen minutes of absurdity.  If I really want to have fun with them – we’ll open up the book of Revelations!

P.S. – After he left, and I calmed down a bit I had to find out what was really the most dangerous place on earth.
I found lists that were topped with Somalia, Pakistan, Antarctica, Afghanistan, Brazil, Russia, Chernobyl HAITI!  None of these sources sited either the mother’s womb or America’s public schools. I guess the Baptists either know something that no one else knows… or they are terribly misinformed.  (Enter appropriate expletive here.)

Sorry for typos today.  I am back to work at the garden center after two months off.  

What If I’m Wrong?

February 25th, 2010

A few days ago this question appeared in the comments of this blog.

What if you’re wrong?

So yes…

What if I am wrong?

What if there is a god?

And what if there is not only a god, but one that is righteously pissed off because I am writing a daily screed against the entire idea of his/her existence?

Will I go to hell for being such an unrepentant bad ass?

Will I spend eternity slowly roasting over the flames created by god’s holy indignation?

Will I have to weep.

And gnash

My teeth

Forever?

I’ve decided that I’m not going to answer this question…

I’m going to let Richard Dawkins answer it for me.

Because he knows all about the Great Juju at the bottom of the sea.

And I don’t.

.

When I was in college (back in the bronze age, when the bible existed only on stone tablets and it’s teaching that the world was flat was still widely accepted) I was involved with several campus christian groups and through one of them I found myself marching with a group of anti-abortion activists in a downtown parade in Lawrence, Kansas.  I don’t really remember much about the parade, but I do remember what happened directly afterwards.

At the end of the parade, we were told that a pro-life movie was going to be shown in the Lawrence public library.  They were serving coffee and donuts along with the film. That was enough to convince me to go.

When I arrived at the library, there was a short, blond, bustling woman wheeling a video cart across the meeting room.  I knew her because she was kind of famous.  She was married to a world record breaking runner who would eventually become a US congressman and serve Kansas from 1996 to 2007.  I had a close friend who was on the KU track team and together we had attended a few bible studies with this very devout woman and her Olympic silver medalist husband as they were both involved in the KU campus ministry for college athletes.  I worked my way to the front of the room to say hello, but before I reached her, she put a tape in the VCR and announced that the movie was about to start.

I sat down near the front of the room.  The woman then pushed the play button and the TV screen was filled with static and wavy lines.  The woman pushed a few more buttons on the VCR growing visibly frustrated and then she placed both of her hands on the VCR and began to pray aloud.

Holy Jesus… I ask you to cast the demon out of this machine and let this film be seen by all that are gathered here today.  Fill this room and this VCR with your holy spirit and let the message of this movie be heard…”

A librarian was hustled up by some of the event’s other organizers to fix the VCR.  She approached the video cart and began to fiddle with the wires in the back of the machine.   While the librarian worked on the machine, the bustling blond continued praying with her hands still on the VCR, and her head bowed over the machine.

“Almighty god… we need you to hear us… Listen to us!… Cast the demons out of this VCR and let these people hear the message you have for us today!… ”

I didn’t know what to do.  I kind of felt like I should be praying with this woman, but I didn’t know how to cast a demon out of a VCR!  Heck!  I didn’t know how to cast a demon out of anything! Besides! I didn’t want to close my eyes and bow my head!  I wanted to SEE what was going to happen next!

“In Jesus name I command the demons in this machine, in this room, in this LIBRARY wherever they ARE, I command them in JESUS NAME  to be GONE!…”

The discomfort of the librarian who was working on the VCR grew more palpable as she furiously plugged and unplugged wires frantically trying to get that machine going.

“Release this machine from the grip of the devil, Lord Jesus and set this movie FREE!!!…”

Finally, the librarian came around to the front of the TV set and pushed play.  The film flickered to life.  The blond, bustling woman who was married to the world record breaking runner finished out her prayer.

“Thank you Jesus!  Thank you Jesus!  Thank you Jesus!”

She kept repeating those three words as she rapidly clapped her hands and then thanked Jesus some more.

The librarian looked at the bubbly blond exorcist for a brief moment.  Her eyes were wide.  She looked out at us, the shell shocked audience seated in front of the TV as if she was waiting for someone… anyone… to say something sane.  We reserved the right to remain silent.  The librarian fled the room.

I don’t remember a single second of the movie that we watched that day.

But I vividly remember every moment of the fervent exorcism of the demon possessed VCR.

That was the last time I ever participated in an anti-abortion demonstration.