Earlier today I had quite a long doorstep chat with two Jehovah’s Witnesses. Very unusual for me, but one of them seemed keen for a chinwag and he turned out to be pretty nifty at getting one going. In my experience they usually slope off at the slightest hint that you have better things to do.
The keen chap was about seventy years old while the other was a much younger man - less than forty I'd say. The younger chap tended to stand back, bible in hand while his older companion obviously knew it all by heart.
Their main angle was creation, so as I was getting ready for a walk I was able to bring up the tricky issue of the huge number of fossils in the limestone of Derbyshire's many miles of dry-stone walls.
The fossil angle didn't faze him in the slightest though. I suppose he'd heard it a million times before anyway. He much preferred to speak in general terms about science and the claims it makes about the natural world, so I told him I'd been an environmental scientist.
This seemed to perk them up, as if a proper argument was something they'd relish, although they kept within strict boundaries and seemed unwilling to venture far into the mysteries of DNA and human origins. Almost as if they found DNA a little distasteful. They were keen to present the idea that species are different and talked vaguely of a missing link in the evolutionary chain. It was all very basic though - with no great interest in detail.
During our friendly chat, and it was friendly, I had a sneaking suspicion that the whole thing was merely a game, with me on the side of the modern consensus with all the big guns which they were bravely determined to ignore.
With different backgrounds, could I have found myself on their side of the doorstep and they on mine? Difficult to imagine, but not impossible as far as one can tell. Unless these things are genetic I suppose.
When they finally called it a day, I wondered briefly why the CoE doesn't do this kind of thing. After all, it must be of some value for ordinary people to bat these things around on their own doorstep rather than leave it all to TV folk.