With less than a handful of people in the dealership waiting room, I had high hopes for a swift and uneventful service experience. I plopped down in a seat directly across from a young trendy looking guy with a huge beard, wearing one of those slouch beanie hats, and flaunting a tee-shirt that read:
“Fact — the four letter word atheists swear by.”
He was enlightening anyone unfortunate enough to have made eye contact with him about how much he loved his Honda CRV and how he had extensively researched all the SUV makers before settling on the Honda. He poured through Motor Trend and other magazines comparing each and every feature, performance statistics, and customer satisfaction reports. He said, “I don’t take things at face value, I research facts. Facts don’t lie.” He went on and on for the next fifteen minutes or so.
Preferring to avoid that remarkably thorough analysis, I opted to read the book I brought along titled, “Confident Faith”.
Near the end of chapter one I heard, “Hey, you really believe that crap?”
I looked up over the top of my glasses to find this guy glaring at me. “Are you talking to me?” I asked.
Pulling at his beard he asked again, “You believe all that faith crap?”
I really didn’t feel like debating first thing in the morning, so with some reluctance I said, “I take it you don’t.”
He said, “Faith is based on superstition—it’s a great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence.”
“What evidence are you referring to?” — I asked.
“Modern science!” — said the kid
“I must have missed something; has modern science recently proven beyond all doubt that God does not exist?”
He said, “Have you ever heard of Richard Dawkins?”
“Heard of him—yes.”
“Then, you should read a few of his books instead of the one in your hand” says the kid.
“Well, Dawkins isn’t here so I’m asking you— prove to me that God doesn’t exist.”
“An overwhelming majority of the scientific community accepts the dominant scientific theory of evolution. Intelligent design and other claims of supernatural intervention in the origin of life cannot be tested or proven and are considered as pseudoscience.” — replied the Beard of Knowledge.
I responded with,“Endless ever-changing scientific theories you mean. Science is nothing more than a work in progress. When an accepted theory can no longer explain some new found data, researchers work to build a new theory. Even Dawkins doesn’t actually know for sure that there is no God—he concedes the possibility that some kind of god might just exist.”
“Nonsense” — the kid said as he waved his hand in the air.
I continued, “His actual words were,“I think the probability of a supernatural creator existing is very, very low.””
“That’s not a statement supporting the existence of a god!”
“No, but he couldn’t say that he’s absolutely certain that God does not exist, so in order for him to maintain his belief, he has to exercise a certain amount of faith—just like me. You see, faith is the confidence we have in what we hope for. So we all have faith in something, what do you hope for?”
The kid paused for a moment and then said, “My hope is that one day you self-righteous Christians will stop trying to shove the bible down the throats of people who have no interest in it!”
I closed my book, “If I remember correctly, you started this conversation, not me. I was sitting here minding my own business. You’re the one who imposed upon my privacy, disrespecting me and questioning my beliefs. If anyone is guilty of trying to shove something down someone’s throat, its you. From my perspective, people who are happy with their philosophy of life generally don’t feel the need to make unsolicited attacks on the beliefs of others.”
He rolls his eyes as I continue, “I couldn’t help but overhear your chattering about how you had extensively researched buying your CRV. Did you put that much energy in reaching an opinion on the existence of God? Have you actually studied the bible, or do you simply allow Dawkins to do your thinking for you? I’d think that an “extensive researcher” such as yourself would have done some fact-finding of his own, a side-by-side comparison of both views. Instead, you may have spent more time scrutinizing the purchase of the automobile you’ll drive for less than a decade, than you have the monumental decision of how you might spend eternity.”
He snapped back with, “Why would I waste time considering something that doesn’t exist?”
“You say there is no god and I say there is. God can’t simultaneously exist and not exist—one of us is wrong. The way I see it, I’m holding the best hand. If you’re correct I’ll go to my grave having lived a life confident in my belief, unafraid of death and will never know I was wrong. If you’re incorrect… well, either way I can’t lose.”
The intercom breaks into our exchange—my car is ready. I stand up, look at the kid and say, “One more thing, I don’t believe Richard Dawkins actually exists.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I’ve never seen him.”
“That’s asinine! He is one of the world’s leading intellects and a highly sought after lecturer. He is commonly quoted by scholars throughout the world. Look him up! You can research anything you need to know about him and his career. Heck, they even made a documentary about his views.”
I nod and say, “I can make those exact same claims about Jesus Christ. The difference is Dawkins envisions no future, he leaves me with nothing to be eternally optimistic about—whereas Christ gives me hope of something everlasting. But you’re free to believe in whatever you like. Just don’t deceive yourself by thinking you’re not exercising a certain degree of faith in doing so—just like me.”
Photo credit: jim68000 / Loveseat Deals / CC BY