I had gone out to my new car to experiment with its iPod interface. After a few fits and starts with the controls, I found it to work very well indeed and that the sound quality coming through the speakers, while not at the utter, premium, state of the art level, was still very enjoyable and would be a plus on an anticipated eight-hour trip to North Carolina to watch and celebrate my daughter’s graduation from college.
Stepping out of my car, I turned to discover a car parked in my driveway. Two ladies occupied the back seat, one was off to the side and a fourth was apparently trying my front door. I smiled to myself; Jehovah’s Witnesses, there could be no doubt. Ah, well, for everything, there is a first. I approached the woman in front of me.
Me: Hi, can I help you?
She: Good morning. We’re from the local Kingdom Hall and we wondered if we could talk with you for a moment.
Me: Indeed – I’m an atheist.
She: Oh, my. I don’t believe I’ve ever met an atheist before. Were you always an atheist, or did something happen to move you in that direction.
Me: Yes – common sense.
She: Have you ever studied the bible, read it?
Me: Yes, most of it, but I can’t say I find it very useful. I prefer science, logic, knowledge that is verifiable, useful, and can survive what is called a “peer review.”
She: Don’t you feel that the bible can do that for you?
Me: Not really. The bible doesn’t provide the knowledge to build my house, make your car run, extend my life or enhance the quality of my life. I prefer knowledge that is provable and useful and I don’t find that in the bible.
She: Well, I guess we’re two people of different points of view.
Me: I suppose, and I don’t see any point in banging my head against the wall as it comes to that.
She: Thank you at least for answering your door.
[The two women began to return to their car. I broke my best smile and waved.]
Me: Please have a great day in any case!
That’s a rough transcription, but pretty close to what came down. Frankly, I wanted an interaction which didn’t compromise where I stand on religion but demonstrated that an atheist can deal with this issue politely and without having to get into confrontational territory. If nothing else, I can hope that I left those women with an impression of: “What a nice young [young?!? 59 is young???] man” … and just maybe leave a positive taste in their mouths about someone whose stance on belief is so utterly diverged from their own.