Yesterday afternoon I took my boys to lunch at Chick-Fil-A. We were running around town doing some errands and decided it was high time to get some food in our bellies.
I happened to be wearing one of my favorite T-shirts. It’s got the word READ across the front, but the letters are made up of little pictures of characters and elements from classic fiction. After we placed our order I walked over to pick up napkins and ketchup when a man sitting at a table behind the napkin/ketchup area said something to me that I didn’t quite understand. So I asked him to repeat it.
He said something about liking my shirt, and then started talking about the importance of reading the bible. I think that him seeing my shirt set him off and gave him a reason to accost a complete stranger in public, as you shall soon see.
“Oh, one of these guys,” I thought. He was probably in his sixties and sitting with another gentleman and two women, all of whom appeared to be similar in age. He asked me if I had ever read the bible all the way through. “Several times throughout my life,” I replied. Then he goes on, telling me about how much he reads the bible and how important it is to him. Then he starts talking about how he sees Jesus in everything. And then he starts talking about geography: “California is like god’s right arm, and Michigan is like his left hand…” And then I lost track of what he said after that. Frankly, it was quite confusing. His wife (I assume) then said to him “Let the man eat.” That distracted him long enough for me to make my way to where my kids were sitting to wait for our food.
When our food arrived, I distributed the various items to their respective owners; sandwich to you, nuggets to you, sandwich for me, fries all around, and then proceeded to open my ketchup. And that’s when this guy comes over to my table and starts talking again. Apparently they had finished eating and were getting ready to leave and he decided to come spend some more quality time with a random stranger… So before I could take one bite of my food, this guy starts back up about how important the bible is, and how he sees Jesus in everything. He said something about the bible being the most important book, or some such and I replied “I don’t think it is.”
He asked what I meant, so I started in about how there are so many discrepancies, contradictions, and evil acts attributed to god in the bible that I didn’t think it was that great of a book. He said something about it being perfect and having no contradictions, so I gave him a few examples: “The bible calls him the prince of peace” I said, “but he ordered the slaughter of thousands of innocent people. Christianity, in general, is against abortion, but god ordered unborn babies to be ripped out of their mothers’ bodies. Paul and James couldn’t agree on whether faith is with or without works. It’s full of contradictions and discrepancies and evil ordered by god.”
“Do you see the bible as the word of god?” he asked. I told him that it was written by men. So he said men wrote it after being inspired by a perfect god. So I asked him why god wasn’t perfect enough to get the men to agree.
“But it’s the perfect word of god” he replied, “and god doesn’t lie.”
“God told the first lie ever,” I told him. “In the garden, god said that when they eat the fruit they would die that day, and when they ate it, they didn’t die.”
“They died spiritually,” He said.
“No” I replied, “he said they would literally die the day they ate the fruit. It never even insinuates that it’s going to be a spiritual death.”
Then he changed his answer and said that they did die, but it took hundreds of years. This seems to me to be a typical christian response to looking at evidence for fun little tidbits like this; they change their mind in order to keep their belief system together. Position A has been soundly debunked, so I’ll switch to position B in order to keep believing what I believe. Thinking about it now, it seems that may be why there is more than one explanation of so many theological subjects: so that when one is proven wrong, the believer has something to fall back on, except that position B makes less sense than the original position.
We went back and forth for a little while on the same line of reasoning when he brought up Abraham and how he was so faithful. So I asked him if he had a son. He said he did, so I asked his son’s name. It was Mark. So I asked this guy “If god told you to sacrifice Mark, would you? He actually said that he would. So I clarified, “If god told you to kill Mark, you would take a knife and slit his throat open… You would murder your own son because you heard a voice?” Then I brought my own kids into the scenario. “I would never do anything to hurt these two” (pointing to my kids, who are still sitting here, trying to eat while their dad is trying to destroy their own religion). “I love them too much to hurt them. They mean the world to me… But you just said you would murder your son. That is sick and disgusting! What kind of person are you?”
He thought for a second and said “Well, I didn’t mean I’d do it in this day and age, but if I was back then, I would have.” He did the whole switching thing again: position A, position B…
“You just told me you would murder your son,” I said. “That says a lot about who you are as a person.”
He waffled a bit more and then went back to his original proposition: telling me about how great the bible is and how great god is and how Jesus’ head is somewhere up in Alaska and etc., etc. He seemed to not get it.
Somewhere along the way, he told me about how he was saved in 1973, then he “walked away from the lord”, but now he was back and more sure than ever. He invited me to First Assembly of God. I told him that I had been there several times, but that didn’t change my mind about the bible.
Anxious to eat my lunch, I told him he needed to check out the website truth-saves.com. I repeated it several times, and then told him I was going to eat my lunch. He told me to have a blessed day and then reluctantly left.
When I looked back at my sons, one had gone to another table to eat in peace, and the other (the slow eater) had already finished his food and was eating an ice cream cone. Considering that I have paraphrased the preceding conversation and cut out a lot (obviously I don’t recall everything), that was a long discussion. So, I finally ate my lunch and went about the rest of my day. Fun stuff!