Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Diamond Spider in The Lair of The Heathens, Part One

In the same way I'll listen to a telemarketer spiel provided the telemarketer isn't on commission (in which case I'll advise them to try the next person, because it doesn't matter what they're selling, I ain't buying), when religious folks come to my door and try to convince me their god's better than my god, I'll usually invite them in and engage them in polite but pointed discussion until they decide they just don't want to risk being infected by this heathen's questioning attitude anymore.

It's tempting to say "I don't know why I do these things," but I do know why I do them, or at least some of the reasons I do them. In the case of the telemarketers, it's pure empathy; nobody ever set out to be a telemarketer, a job which I'm reasonably sure consists largely of earning minimum wage in exchange for passive ill-wishes if not outright insults and threats from as many people as one can phone in an eight hour period. I have nothing but sympathy for the telemarketer; there but for the grace of...well, let's not get started on that. But a couple different turns in life and it could be me on the other end of the line. Hell, I'm not more than a turn or two away from ending up there even at this stage, which is a terrifying thought.

When it comes to the religious, my reasons are less noble. I like a good argument, but as I've said before a good argument can't really be had if one side can't be won over by the other. At this stage, I find it highly unlikely I'm going to accept a worldview that involves actively proselytism by its followers; by the same token, it seems unlikely anyone who's signed off on a belief system enough to go cold-call on its behalf is going to be swayed by my unassailable logic. However, it's really easy to dismiss the opinion of people who are overt jerks (hello FoxNews), so I try not to act like one and give those who disagree with me an easy out.

Ultimately, though, this all comes down to the fact that I'm a writer. Either I'm always looking to hear new voices, particularly voices with perspectives I don't share, or I'm a flake who's always looking for a feasible excuse not to do anything BUT write. Maybe a little of column A and a little from column B.

In any event, last Friday, Tiina had a conversation of sorts with a nice couple of older jehovah's witnesses ladies about how grand god was. They didn't stay long, but they did leave some literature and a promise to return yesterday morning, which they made good on. This time, however, I was awake. Furthermore, I'd read the literature and spent almost as much time during my insomniac periods this week mentally compiling the fallacies the booklet was based on as I did putting together exactly what happened to Batman in FINAL CRISIS #6 and how it tied into and justified Batman RIP.

The first thing I noticed about the two women who appeared on the doorstep was that they were both very well-dressed (albeit in a fashion considerably less comfortable than my own nightshirt and pyjama bottoms), and one of them had an odd broach that appeared to be a diamond-encrusted spider pinned to her lapel. It struck me as an odd piece of jewelry for a JW to be wearing, and I spent much of the conversation staring at it trying to figure out a way to work it into the conversation. Alas, it was not to be (this time.) Instead, I found myself in a conversation that ran along these lines:

Jehovah-Girl #1: Isn't it amazing how complex the trees in your yard are?

Me: It really is. And that's nothing compared to the amazing complexity of say, a human being.

JG1: Yes, exactly. I mean, a car is nothing compared to a tree, is it?

Me: It really isn't, no.

JG1: But I couldn't build a car.

Me: No, me neither.

JG1: A car needs a builder. It doesn't just spring into existence, does it?

Me: While I've never personally witnessed a car's construction, this does seem to be a logical assumption.

JG1: And if a car needs a builder, then it stands to reason something even more complex than a car would need a creator, too, right?

Me: Something like a tree or a human?

JG1: Exactly! And that creator is God! You see how it all makes sense?

Me: Let me see if I follow you: complex things need to be built...

JG1: Right.

Me: The more complex something is, the more unlikely it is to exist without a builder...

JG1: Yes, yes!

Me: You know, it seems to me that the One who theoretically created all this stuff must be infinitely complex...

JG1: Oh, he is, he truly is.

Me: Who do you think built him?

JG1: Nobody built him. God's always existed. And that's difficult for some to grasp...

Me: I imagine it's very difficult for people who accept the premise that complex mechanisms require a conscious act of creation to exist.

JG1: But we know it to be True.

Me: How? I mean, you just undermined your entire premise, didn't you?

JG1: Because the bible says so.

Me: Ah. I'm glad you brought that up...


I'm not so sure they were glad they brought it up because they got really anxious to head back out into the -25 degree weather soon after. However, they did promise that the Lady with The Diamond Spider would call us back to set up an appointment to explain to me Why She Believes The Bible Is Not A Work Of Fiction, with a sub-topic I suggested of Even If I Were To Believe The Bible Is Not A Work Of Fiction, Why Should I Believe Her Denomination's Interpretation Of It?

As I told them as they were leaving, "I got into a discussion with a couple of Mormons about that last one and they made some really interesting points I'd like to get your opinion on."

All of which is, oddly enough, true.

Though on the whole, I'd rather wing it all and be able to sleep.



...there's the Church of Scientology, which left a handbill in our mailbox telling us to come to a lecture that would bring peace and prosperity to our lives, but which left the time and location of the lecture conspicuously blank.

Thanks for nothing, Scientology.


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