March 17, 2008

"If You Die Tonight..."

"If you die tonight, do you know where you'll go?" It is a favorite opening of evangelical Christians attempting to convert someone to their particular brand of Christianity. There they stand, smug look and all, thinking they are going to reach you when nobody else could. Oh, and please do not waste my time with any drivel about how only some "holy ghost" can convert people. If you really believed that, you wouldn't have bothered to initiate the conversation in the first place!

If I die tonight, I'm not going anywhere. This question presupposes that there is some part of us that endures death. As a materialist (i.e., nothing but matter and energy), I don't buy this because I have no evidence to support the existence of anything outside of nature. In fact, the very concept of "supernatural" makes no sense to me.

Of course, the question is designed to get me to think about whether I'm "right with Jesus." This is equally nonsensical. Even though there is little evidence to suggest that the particular Jesus character to which you refer ever lived, I can acknowledge that it is at least possible that someone like this lived a couple thousand years ago. The thing is, I have no reason to "get right" with any dead people, even if I had the pleasure to know them while they were living.

Who teaches these childish tactics to evangelicals, and does anyone actually think they work? Maybe they aren't even supposed to work in the sense of converting others. Maybe they are more of a strategy to maintain the belief of those using them. Then again, maybe they do work. If people who earn less than $200,000/year can be convinced to vote Republican through simple psychological tricks, such methods could be highly effective recruitment tools.

But regardless, there is something about this sort of evangelism that has always struck a nerve. I mean, who the hell are these people who claim to have enough of the answers that they stopped asking meaningful questions long ago? Can they really think I'd want to be like them, holier than though and cloaked in smug self-righteousness? No thanks! Asking the questions is too much fun, and my mind will not be caged by mere fictions.

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