Although I have claimed before I already have the answer to this question (and it’s not 42), I recently ended up in a conversation with my partner about religion and I said to him: “The next time someone rings my doorbell to talk about their God, I will let them in and have a chat with them”. I don’t know why to be honest; chances of either of us changing the other’s view would be slim, but I guess the persistence of a non-explainable faith (of which I wish it would evolve quicker) fascinates me. The next day my doorbell rang, while I didn’t expect anybody.
Sure as hell, it was actually a Jehovah’s Witness who wanted to talk to me about God. (Don’t you love those beautiful coincidences life gives us often?) It was this morning; a Monday morning in my summer break. So why not? I had time and even though I wasn’t properly dressed yet, I was decent enough to answer the door. A guy in his late fifties walked up the stairs (a bit surprised?) with a bag full of leaflets, of which he handed me one. I figured it would be fair to let him know what he was dealing with right away, but he said my atheistic views wouldn’t bother him.
I agreed we could still have a chat, respecting each other as a person and he continued to show me a video on his iPad which made it clear God is not to blame for all the agony in the world: the devil is. I’m still not sure why this guy rang my doorbell, as his only answer to that was God had told him to do so, but I took the chance to ask him some more questions. When he said the devil controls me like a marionette, for instance, I asked if it isn’t far better I’m taking responsibility for my own mistakes, rather than passing the blame to a mythical creature. He agreed to that part saying he does feel guilt.
I helped him out using the “free will” card, but I still think it’s better to use your own moral compass, instead of acting out of fear of punishment. I do think they got that “whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them” part in the Bible right. I have actually read a lot of it. He interrupted me though, promoting his God as the God of love. So I asked him why He doesn’t love his homosexual children. I mean, I know we’re supposed to read the Bible being aware of the time it was written in and very few people actually think you should still murder a man who “lies with a male as with a woman”, but it’s still clear on the abomination part.
The man at my doorstep, who had refused to come in because he was on his own (fair enough, very sensible), explained to me that love between same-sex couples is not forbidden; sex is, as it’s not “natural”. Obviously I’m convinced nobody should judge anybody’s lifestyle like that, but as a biology teacher I thought I’d go with the “natural” argument, teaching him about homosexuality amongst many different species. He ignored my argument and went on to say I must think, when I look at the human eye or a butterfly’s wings, that they have to be created by a higher power?
And that’s when I asked him why he prefers taking God as an answer, instead of enjoying the quest for answers which can be tested and proven and criticised by peer review; the journey to learn new things, to develop and become better. Why would you choose to stand still when a scientific view can lead to understanding of this beautiful, complex universe we live in? I’m still guessing the answer is fear: fear of the unknown, fear of death, but he again didn’t answer. He used my science argument to say the Bible is based on facts, to which I explained the definition of ‘believing’ to him.
To which we agreed to disagree. Both none the wiser, as expected. Except that I was reminded of how much I appreciate my parent’s decision of not forcing their beliefs upon me (mum’s ietsism nor dad’s Christian beliefs). I’m happy I realise how lucky I am to have had the chances I did in life, without thinking they were fate. It’s good to know my hard work makes a difference, rather than thinking I can’t influence a predestination. And it is nice to be aware of the fact that this is the only life I’ve got, so I’d better make the most of it.
I do consider every day precious and although as a biology teacher I’d say the answer to the meaning of life would be 1) to survive and 2) to reproduce, I think the answer is to enjoy. And God, do I enjoy life. They didn’t have to tell me in school that I would look back one day thinking ‘those were the days of my life’, I think this pretty much every day. Even on rainy days. I appreciate little things and I value people I meet. High on life, I realise I may sound like a hippie, but I thought I’d put my thought process of this morning in writing. Saves me going door to door. Have a nice day!