Home > atheism, religion > Atheist Perspective: Unexpected Visitors

Atheist Perspective: Unexpected Visitors

Saturday has been cleaning day at my apartment. It’s been a long road out of the darkness, as my wife and I aren’t summer people. While most people have problems keeping their places clean in the winter because of the cold for us it is the opposite. A new baby doesn’t help matters. We’ve been trying to rearrange our room, keep up with the general cleanliness, etc. and were doing a good job when the doorbell rang. For most people this probably wouldn’t be an odd thing, I’m sure the general population is quite used to this phenomenon. We aren’t. No one comes by, we aren’t anti-social but our friends tend to call or text when they are downstairs–and we always know when they are on their way.

So the doorbell rang. The only hitch was that I had recently sold a chair on craigslist and was wondering if the buyer had a problem. When I opened the door, I breathed a sigh of relief as it was not the person who had purchased the chair. It was two women one of which was holding a box and some kind of pamphlet. Right away, my Spidey Sense was tingling, I knew what it was before the brunette with rosacea opened her mouth. I was wearing a sweaty tee shirt and black jeans with nothing on my feet unprepared for any kind of conversation, “Hello.”

“Hi, we’re going door to door selling a magazine, this month’s issue is focusing on the environment,” she said. The other woman, a heavy set black woman stood mute.

I was a bit confused. Stereotypically the more fundamentalist a Christian the less likely they are an environmentalist. Maybe they were fundraisers for the Green Party, there had just been a large march regarding climate change so it fit. Yet all of the confusion vanished like a ghost when a lens is focused as I saw the title of the magazine “The Watchtower.” They were Jehova’s Witnesses (JWs from hereafter). Coincidentally I had just discussed JWs and blood transfusions so I was getting excited about having a discussion with them.

“So what about the environment?” I asked.

It was a leading question, a podcast I listen to “Skeptics with a K” touched on the issue at hand. The idea I had in my head was to see how long it would take before they dropped a bible reference. I don’t have much experience with the JWs and their church, only what I have read in ethical cases which put the autonomy of the patient versus their life, i.e. if you know they religiously refuse blood transfusion do you honor that at the expense of their life?

The brunette went on about pollution levels and climate change. It wasn’t very convincing and I’m sure a moderately informed climate denier could have ripped apart her statement–not that they’d be objectively correct to do so but she’s using some pretty general ideas. Maybe those are her opening lines and she’s got the information at hand, it doesn’t matter because this isn’t really about the environment. She finished with a question that was something regarding why I thought there was little movement on climate change and the environment from the government.

My response was that I lamented the fact there are members on various committees in the legislative branch of our government that believe climate change is impossible because god wouldn’t destroy the world with a flood twice. The woman blinked, hard. A quarter of a second later she grabbed her composure, “yes that’s true but do you think they environment is an important issue?”

It was an odd question, I mean if I seem this informed would it not be reasonable to assume that I think the environment is important?

It didn’t matter, her partner spoke up, “Do you think that the problem is man’s fault though or god’s?”

As I was planning to answer that question, the door behind me opened up. My six year old daughter popped her head out, “Daddy what’s going on?”

While i was ready to have the conversation with them, doing so in front of my kid would have been difficult. She likes to interrupt with questions of her own, sometimes they are on point sometimes they are just six year old questions. I turned to her, “they are trying to sell a magazine and want to talk about it?”

“What’s the magazine about?”

“It’s religious,” I asked, “go back inside, take this box.”

“What kind of magazine is it?” she asked wanting to know if it was something she could get.

“Sweetie I’m talking.”

“I want to hear.”

I turned to the women, “Sorry, I’m not interested, have a nice afternoon.”

It should have ended there, but the woman asked me about the person in the apartment below us. I asked if they saw a white car out front, to which they replied no, and I informed them that the person wasn’t home and walked inside.

The women were nice, but not creepy nice like the Mormon woman I met in Utah. It would have been interesting to hear their sales pitch because I want to know if it ever works. I know that I’m a bit different, but how does the pitch work? I see the bible tracts on the sidewalk being handed out by people with placards and ties. The question that I have, does it ever work? Is there a person that hears the pitch from the JW at their doorstep or looks at the fake hundred dollar bill full of bible quotes and says, “This is what I want to do.”

There has to be some kind of success rate. The law of economy (if it is indeed a law) would say that they have to have some success or else the entire church would be wasting it’s time sending these people out (I would say that they were wasting their money but I doubt that these people are being paid). They weren’t pushy and seemed rather pleasant, leading me to the conclusion that the stories I’ve heard have been exaggerated or representative of some over aggressive “salesmen.”

It would have been more interesting to really have gotten into a discussion with them because my philosophical discussions regarding religion either happen with more mainstream sects of Christianity or with members of a philosophical group at my school.

Their problem this weekend was going to be that my neighborhood is overwhelmingly Jewish and it was Rosh Hashana this weekend, and a lot of people were at their temples. I hope they knew ahead of time because it was a ghost town.

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