I received an unexpected visit on Wednesday. A kindly, ever so slightly eccentric older man by the name of Bob decided he wanted to come over for a cup of tea. Strange, since the last time we had crossed paths had been in the church I was once a member of. Naively, I thought little of it and assumed he was merely being sociable. Anyway's, around he pops, and tea and biscuits are consumed jovially enough. About midway through, however, he produces a USB hard drive from a pocket and tells me I should listen to its contents.
Ah, the penny drops. Evangelism. It doesn't happen much anymore; most know that I don't allow any leeway just because a person happens to be nice.
So we get talking, and I, as always, ask why my visitor actually believes as they do? You'd be surprised, perhaps alarmed at how many Christian's find this hard to answer. His first effort was to simply assert that the evidence was irrefutable. I suggested that this was not nearly good enough and cordially invited him to take a 2nd pass. This was to prompt the usual nonsense; the evidence for the resurrection, the testimony of the disciples, and various other snippets. But here's where it get's interesting, because Bob, a Christian of several decades, had absolutely no response when I pointed out the drearily well established fact that nobody knows who wrote the Gospels? Or when? Or where? He was hideously unaware of facts that mainstream scholars take as read, and I found myself feeling saddened that someone could live that long under a blanket of such ignorance. Only it got worse, because I then enquired, as I always do, what material he had read which specifically challenged his way of thinking?
The answer? Are you ready? None.
And this, I fear, is a thing I encounter often. People of faith will spend years absorbing material that supports their existing beliefs, but ask them to apply the same rigour to opposing viewpoints and suddenly the well dries up.
Why should I respect this laziness? Why should I play nice with people who aren't prepared to do the hard yards to establish if what they believe has the muscle to stand against reality?
No. I won't hold back. I won't respect your fringe, and might I venture maniacal beliefs. If you wish to come to my home and save my soul then I've no objection, but for fuck sake at least bring something half decent to the table.