Today I was in the center of Melbourne and I saw two stands run by Muslims advocating their faith. They had a selection of DVDs and brochures to give away and seemed friendly enough for anyone who wanted a chat. I think that this is a good thing, if the majority of the Australian population would think of the Muslim minority as people who give away DVDs rather than as potential suicide bombers then it would be a great benefit for society.
Then I saw a Christian stand which had placards indicating that Jesus loves Muslims, which is fine. One of the workers on that stand then gleefully told me that there had been a Muslim stand in that area but the Muslims departed when they arrived. It would be good if advocates for the various religions could work together to promote positive things that they all agree on (generally related to being nice to other people). When they seem to be essentially bullying other religious groups into leaving the area they aren’t making a good case for a kind and caring god.
The Christian who was so happy about the Muslims departing then tried to convert me. He started by talking about a mobile phone not being able to appear from nothing which was the start of an utterly stupid argument about creationism. That was stupid firstly because it’s obvious that evolution doesn’t apply to consumer electronics, if I leave a phone lying on top of another phone overnight I’m not going to get some little phones appearing as a result.
But the bigger stupidity is in even promoting creationism in the first place. Advocating creationism is essentially claiming that god is so incapable that ze can’t manage an evolutionary process. An all-seeing all-knowing god of infinite intelligence could just create a plasma cloud that will form into a solar system and evolve life. People who argue for creationism don’t believe in a capable god, they believe in a being that resembles a god in the way a “magician” resembles someone who can actually perform magic. Arguing for creationism is arguing for a limited being which probably isn’t worthy of worship (why worship space aliens who are probably only a few thousand years ahead of us). Regardless of the scientific evidence (which is strongly in favor of evolution) just logically thinking about the issue in regard to what a being with infinite powers might actually do suggests that ze could just as easily create or evolve all life and probably wouldn’t care about what we believe. Genesis should be taken as metaphor because it’s obvious that nothing that’s taught in a year 7 science class could be taught to your typical stone age goat-herd, but even if it was taken literally it’s not specified as a required belief (as opposed to a belief in a single god, repenting sins, and other beliefs which are required).
The greatest stupidity however is the fact that even if it made any sense to promote creationism it wouldn’t make sense to do so immediately. Any time you want to convert someone to a set of beliefs it’s a good strategy to start with the ones which will seem least wacky. I can have have a conversation with Christians about positive things which we generally agree on such as donating to charity and trying to do good things in various ways. But when they start with the stupid stuff I walk away.
When the weather is better I plan to interview representatives of the various religious groups who are trying to convert people on the street and rate them according to how wacky they are. I’ll be a little limited in my ability to review them by the total lack of any right to free speech in Australia (our laws are much the same as those in the UK). But I should still be able to give them a reasonable review.