So the night before last I was at Union Square, and as I was sitting there on the steps these 3 guys come up and one of them says “Hey! We’ve seen those tattoos somewhere before! Where have I seen those?” So I handed him a GOD IS FAKE and said “You might have seen it on the backs of these before?”
Sure enough, they had, and then they all got very chummy and he asked what it meant and how I felt about it (I have crucified Satan’s tattooed on my arms). So then after I told them how I thought it was just funny sarcasm saying “Crucify Satan!” he smiled and said, “Do you want to know why your tattoos interested me so much?” I’m not sure what I said to that. I think I said “Why does it interest you so much?” knowing what his answer was going to be. And sure enough, he said “Because I happen to be a Christian.” with a bet-you-didn’t-see-that-comin smile on his face.
Of course I faked like they had totally caught me red-faced and it led to a good 2 hour conversation with them versus me. The details are many, but I wanted to tell a few of the interesting moments that occurred during those 2 hours.
First of all, the main guy, I forget his name, so let’s call him Joe. Joe, who clearly was the leader of these guys (who were all in their mid twenties) assured me that if I were to talk with him a while I wouldn’t hear the same-ol’ same-ol’ like I had from other “crazy Christians” in my past. I assured him that I probably would, but was more than happy to talk with all 3 of them for as long as they wanted (“Until the sun comes up tomorrow morning” is how I worded it. I really do love having these conversations face to face).
One of his first arguments was making a circle with his arms, fingers touching, and asking me to imagine that this circle contained all of the knowledge of the universe. I knew already where he was going with this. Then he made the “okay” finger-gesture with his hand and said “and let’s say this is all of your knowledge here in this bigger circle. That’s more than 10%, so you’re happy with that, huh? That’s not bad for just one person, huh?”
So then he waved his hand over all of the remaining area of the larger circle and said, “And this 90% here is everything you don’t know! And that’s a lot of room for information about God to be, huh?”
And that’s where he stopped, impressing most others who fell victim to that analogy. So I went directly to the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I said to Joe “Joe, have you ever heard of the Flying Spaghetti Monster?”
“Ha, ha! No!” He said
“Well, he’s a very real thing, and he created everything. From the earth and the stars, to you and me!”
“Haha!” He laughed. “I don’t think so! You’re not ever gonna convince me of that!”
And I said, “Joe, do you see this circle I’m making with my arms?”
“I sure do!” Joe replied.
“Well Joe, let’s say that this is all the knowledge of the universe. Okay?”
“All right.” He said, like he had not a clue where I was going with this. Seriously.
“And let’s say this is your knowledge” Making a circle with my index finger and thumb. “That’s like 10% of all knowledge. Not bad for one guy, right? You okay with that?” I said.
“Sure. Okay?” Joe replied.
“Well Joe, this whole other 90% of what you don’t know is where the Flying Spaghetti Monster is! I assure you he’s real, and that’s my proof.”
That slammed the door hard on that argument. But that didn’t stop ol’ Joe.
So then after him spouting some more useless dribble from the bible, I stopped him and said “Hey Joe, you wanna know something scary that I heard recently?” Like I was about to tell him some dirty gossip about some other religion besides Christianity that he and I could laugh at together. I leaned in and said “Did you know that there are actually Christians out there who think that when you and I and the rest of the human race destroy ourselves, when we blow ourselves up and destroy all of civilization, there are Christians out there who think that it won’t be a bad thing! In fact, they think it will be a wonderful, glorious event because that’s when their Messiah will hoover down from the clouds and raise up all who believed in him to paradise while everyone else burns here on earth. No kiddin’! They really think that and look forward to the end of of the world!”
Joe pulled back a bit and started to talk about something else. But I interrupted and said “No, you’re not listening! These believers in Jesus Christ actually want the human race to destroy itself just so that this moment will happen! Do you hear what I’m saying?”
Joe then said “Yes, I do look forward to Armageddon! And I’m not ashamed to say it! But you’re not understanding what…”
And I shouted out “WHAT!?!? Are you sitting there smiling, saying that you’re looking forward to Armageddon!?! I am so disturbed right now, I’m speechless!”
Even his two cohorts seemed a little shocked by what I had just pointed out!
“No no no! You’re not letting me finish! It’s a good thing, if you think about it. It…”
“What!?!?” I cried. “You’ve got to be kidding me! The end of civilization is a good thing!??! Ail of these people dead?” waving my hand around at Union Square. “This is what your religion teaches? And you can’t see why I’m against it? You’re sounding like one of those Islamic Militants! The destruction of the human race a good thing!??!?!”
And again, Joe was getting quite shaken by my focusing on these small details as if they were important. But the one that broke Joe’s back was while he was trying to explain to me God’s perfect Word I interjected with “Perfect Word? Did you know that there’s passages in the bible which tell parents to stone their children to death if they disobey?”
“Oh, you’re taking that out of context!”
“I am??” I said. “I assure you that in Deuteronomy God gives direct and unalterable orders for parents whose children disobey once should be scolded, and the second time the child disobeys they should stone him to death!”
Joe clearly knew that the passage existed. “Yes, you’re taking that out of context!”
“Please, Joe” I begged, “put it in context for me! Please make it make sense! I must know!”
“Those were different times!”
“What?? It was a time when it was appropriate to stone children to death??”
“No! But it was a social norm that God didn’t go against yet so that he could get his bigger message across first!”
Okay, I know Joe was caught off guard and confused. So were his two friends who also were anxiously awaiting Joe’s explanation. An explanation Joe couldn’t come up with. So then he said he had to go to the bathroom and left, saying he’d be back shortly. He never returned. Instead, when he did come back, he stood about 40 feet from us waiting for his buddies to finish up so they could all leave. But before they did they too tried to explain how the sanctioning of child murder could occur in a perfect book by God.
And then the strangest explanation for this came out of guy #2’s head, let’s call him Monty. Monty explained it like this. He said, “You know how a painter might have a muse? Someone who inspires the painting he’s working on?” Then Monty motioned to my friend Christine who was with me and said “Imagine that I’m working on a painting and your friend here is my muse. She is the inspiration for the painting I am doing. Now my painting isn’t perfect. It’s still a beautiful painting, but there are some mistakes. There are paint strokes that are off, and some colors here and there that don’t totally match.”
“Okay?” I said, not yet understanding where he was headed.
“And then imagine that when the painting is complete the muse looks at it and thinks it is beautiful but she too sees the mistakes and doesn’t like a few of the finer details, but overall loves the painting.”
I had to admit to Monty that I didn’t understand. “Is God the painter?” I asked. Because God had been the painter in another analogy they’d presented an hour earlier.
“No. God is the Muse!” Monty said. “The painters of the bible were inspired by God, but made some mistakes here and there which God disapproves of. But over all the bible is perfect!”
This is where I will end this blog, because shortly after this moment they all had to go. But it reminded me of a statement I had heard Dawkins quote on how the shame isn’t that religion makes bad people do bad things, but instead how it can make a good person do bad things. Or something close to that.
Anyhow, that’s a fun Friday night for one such as me.