Thursday, 12 December 2013

Bible visit

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.


Sam Vega said...

" I wondered briefly why the CoE doesn't do this kind of thing"

Probably because they don't actually believe in much.

Sackerson said...

I don't think Jesus would have been much concerned to argue either for or against the antiquity of dinosaur bones, had anyone known about them then.

Macheath said...

I suppose the CofE hasn't needed to do it on home turf historically because of its privileged position as the established religion (though I dare say there was a fair bit of knocking on doors going on in the Dark Ages); its visitation efforts have been far more welfare-oriented instead - or directed overseas.

The question of visiting must have come up in the face of declining attendance, but the strategy chosen was 'alpha', inviting people to come along of their own accord to have their questions answered and thus preaching to, if not the converted, at least a willing audience.

Demetrius said...

The last time some JW's turned up I got on the Archbishop Ussher and the genealogy of his family and my reading of his original texts at the British Library. We haven't seen any JW's since.

Macheath said...

In a similar vein to Demetrius' comment, my mother frequently came home from school to her parents' remote cottage to find a couple of JWs perched uncomfortably on the sofa muttering 'We really ought to go...' while my fervent Christian Scientist grandfather happily elaborated on the finer points of the New Testament - a subject on which he had been known to talk for several hours at a stretch.

Oddly enough, though it was always clear they were getting nowhere, new ones kept on turning up; either the organisers were determined to convert him or they were using him as the ultimate training exercise for new recruits.

A K Haart said...

Sam - but surely they could pad it out?

Sackers - but what a clue it would have been now.

Mac and Demetrius - we all have JW stories don't we? Maybe it says something about us as much as them.