Saturday, 13 October 2012

Yet another thing on religion.

As those of you who follow me on Twitter or in real life will know, I'll do quite a lot in the name of politeness. If I go into a food shop and they don't have what I want, I'll still buy something to be polite. I don't like using toilets in restaurants or pubs where I haven't bought anything. Except Little Chefs. I don't think anyone expects you to eat that stuff. But even I won't renegotiate my metaphysical or theological beliefs in the name of politeness.

It's a strange thing, to try and change someone's religious beliefs in the street. I wonder how many people it actually works on.

I know that for most British people religion isn't a big deal. They don't think about it. If pushed they'll tick Christian, because, you know, they have a Christmas tree and sort of think there might be something there. But are these people going to be persuaded to join a religion by a leaflet and a slightly disgruntled stranger who looks like they gave up washing for lent in 1983 and haven't got back in the habit?

I make these generalizations based on the religious groups I frequently see on the streets of Sheffield. On a normal Saturday there will be a Muslim group and a couple of Christian ones. A regular Christian group included a collection of angry hard line nutcases with a "We must all come before the throne of judgement" sign who believe "drunkeness" is a hell-worthy sin that no amount of good deeds can make up for. So I could discover a cure for AIDS, but go to hell for my celebratory magnum of champagne. Although I admit this is unlikely to happen. I'm not even looking for a cure for AIDS.

I also wonder what benefit it is to a religion to sign up people who are swayed so easily, by a couple of people shouting at them in the street. Sure, you've got them on your mailing list and they might come along to a free coffee morning, but as soon as the Mormons come knocking they'll up sticks to Utah, and coffee will be a thing of the past. And I hear the Mormons don't let their prey go so easily so they won't be coming back any time soon.

This doesn't really have a point to it. I guess I just don't think trying to nag people to join your religion in the street is a good use of time. There's not really much chance of changing anyone's mind now is there? So why do it when you could be doing something more worthwhile, like good deeds, masturbation or collecting stamps?

The reason is simple. People like to say "I told you so". As those of you who follow me on Twitter or in real life will know, I like a good "I told you so". So much I actually keep a recording of everything I say so I can reference it back at a later date. But I have no intention of doing it on Judgement Day.

The religious who clog up the already busy streets with their meager attempts at conversion do it because they think that when we all die and are faced with their deity, and he sends everyone except them to an eternity of torment they can say "ha! Told you so!". Which is the worst thing about being an atheist. You never get to say "I told you so". Your only reward is not wasting half of the only life you have on worshiping iron age imaginary characters.

But even if these people's religions are true, you would have thought saying "I told you so" would be unnecessarily adding insult to injury. When I've been told I'm about to be tortured for ever, someone saying "well, we did warn you" is just gonna piss me off. And if this isn't their intention, they should make a decent effort to convert people rather than their half arsed, angry, misspelled leaflets. You should put your whole arse in. I'm sure that's in Leviticus somewhere.

For now I'll put my faith in the idea that if there's such a thing as a god who in whose company I'd like to spend eternity, he wouldn't send messengers who look like an amoeba's embarrassing cousin with a message as incoherent as the Star Wars prequels in Welsh.

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