Did I ever have a great time this weekend. I helped man the Michigan Atheist booth hoping to have some interesting discussions. And I did. It was great.
I started by going after Planned Parenthood. A couple of young girls were holding down the fort just across from the Atheist booth. Most atheists are fine with abortion, but I oppose it. So I approached them by saying "Let me tell you why I think abortion is wrong" and I then explained why. They basically were in no way prepared to explain why they believed what they believed and didn't want to debate at all. Fair enough. I took their condoms anyway.
Next was a young pretty girl at the atheist booth. She talked about how belief in God makes her feel so good. I told her I was happy for her. If she's happy I'm happy. For me what matters is the evidence first and foremost. That's not for everyone. I asked what I typically do. Why do you believe in God and the Bible? God talks to her. I asked what she thought of others that speak to God? She said that is fine with her, and she thinks they do speak to God. But their God is telling them that Jesus is not the way to be saved. Do you really think they speak to God?
Her eyes narrowed and she said I was right. She doesn't believe them when they say they speak to God. So I asked her why she should expect me to believe she speaks to God when she doesn't believe others that say they speak to God?
We had a very long, fun conversation. It was interrupted by an atheist passer by that started ranting about the evils of religion. He barely would stop to catch his breath as he skipped from one topic to another. The girl and I rolled our eyes trying not to be rude, but just wishing he'd shut up. Finally he did and we were back having interesting conversation.
During the slow moments I'd wander around and harass people. I saw the Democrat booth with all these pictures of Obama. I approached with "Obama is a bigger war monger than Bush. More troops in Afghanistan, more mercenaries in Iraq and Afghanistan, spying on our phone conversations, detaining people without recourse to courts, holding people even when they've been found innocent." The reaction there was just uncomfortable silence, so I left them alone as well.
On to the Muslim booth. "Why believe in God? Why believe in the Qur'an?" This developed into a long and extremely fascinating discussion. These people were far better informed than most Christians I know. They pointed me to some interesting texts in the Qur'an which they claim demonstrated scientific truths that were only discovered later. Truths about embryology, plate tektonics, and cosmology. I told them that I suspect they are re-interpreting the Qur'an in light of current scientific discoveries. Why did we have to wait for Charles Darwin and Galileo for these things if they were in the Qur'an the whole time? If evolution were proven false tomorrow you'd say that they Qur'an has always taught it.
No, they said. Look here. We can show you predictions for tomorrow. The Qur'an talks about living things on other planets and how they will come into contact with humanity eventually. We are making a prediction, not just re-interpreting after the fact.
Back and forth we went. Had a great time with them. They were so reasonable in so many ways. They said that I was reasonable to be agnostic about God. He who asserts must prove. They said belief in evolution was a scientific fact, so they agree that I should accept it. They also talked about the many Christians they encountered that told them that they were wrong because the Bible says Jesus is the only way. How can they think this is persuasive? The fact that the Qur'an says something in no way shows that it is true. We must demonstrate the truth of it and then ask people to follow it, not the other way around.
I got some contact information and I expect we'll discuss things further. If nothing else they can help me understand the Qur'an better whenever I have questions.
From there I went to the Liberterian booth. Signed the petition to audit the Fed. High fived in support of Ron Paul. They gave me a movie. "The Obama Deception."
I strolled back to the atheist booth only to find one of the atheists, a young tatooed bearded guy, cursing at another young man. "You are an f-ing liar" over and over. I asked "What is wrong with you man, why are you doing this, do you think this is helpful or persuasive?" Apparently this Christian claimed he had studied some subject in school and the atheist thought he'd studied something else. Who cares? So anyway this atheist, who had apparently been drinking, stepped aside and the Christian and I had another fun conversation. Basic questions about inerrancy and God. Another good talk.
It's sad that the most obnoxious behavior I encountered was from atheists as opposed to Christians or Muslims. We need to work on this.