The day was pleasent and I had a couple of hours between classes. So did what I usually do, siting on a bench near the fountain opposite the Chemistry Department with a godd book in hand. It had been about 20 minutes and I see two kids, not over 20, walking towards me. I knew there could be one of only two reasons why a couple of strangers would walk to someone minding his own business, and these guys didnt look like the Amway type. I was right.
They walk up to me and ask me if I would be interested in a ‘spritual’ survey. All my doubts were dispelled at that moment, and I said to myself ‘Boys, get ready to sit around for a long time. I have over an hour and half at my disposal I couldnt have asked for better entertainment’. They start with some harmless questions like do you believe in god, are u religious etc. But I knew it was coming, and so I waited. One of them asked me ‘Do you believe in Christ?’ I knew the gun was fired, and the kids were amatures. This was going to be a fun hour.
Kids: ‘Are u a christian?’
Kids: ‘Have you read the bible?’
Kids: ‘I really respect you for having read the bible, even though you are not christian.’
Me: ‘I have read hindu, buddist, and some Baha’i scriptures as well. Have you?’
Kids, slightly confused: ‘uhhh… no. We have read the bible’
Kids: ‘Do you think Jesus Christ was sent by god?’
Me: ‘Yes, just like Moses, Abraham, Mohammad Prophet, Buddha, Bahaulla and many others’
This was definitely not going the way they expected it to. They try a different approach.
Kids: ‘Do you think bible is the word of god?’
Kids: ‘What do you think it really means when Jesus says ‘I am god’ in the bible?’
Me: ‘It simply means that what he has to say are words of god, and not his as a human in flesh and blood.’
Kids: ‘So you dont think he is god?’
Me: ‘Its metaphorical, a lot of bible is. They are not to be taken literally.’
They were stumped at this point. I dont think it had ever occured to them that a lot of what is written in a scripture could be more than that meets the eye, and that it could carry a meaning other than the obvious. I had the luxury of having read Joseph Campbell. This was an uneven match. I guess the kids were even feeling intimidated by my rebuttal, so they decided to go for the juglar and fight it out… it was bad move.
Kids: ‘Let us tell you what we believe in. We believe that bible is the word of god, and Jesus Christ is god himself. The only way to heaven is through him, and no one else, no other religion’
I raised my eye brows.
Me: ‘Are you telling me that anyone who does follow christianity will go to hell?’
Kids: ‘Yes. We believe that christ in the only true god, and all other religions are misguiding’
That was it. This was not something I was going to tolerate. I have no qualms with people preaching their religion or their ideology, but to call other religions a sham, deceit is where I draw the line. No more defensive arguments. I went on the offensive.
Me: ‘Why so? What does bible say about it?’
Kids: ‘Jesus says that there will be people after him who will claim to be prophets, but we shouldnt be misled by them.’
Me: ‘True enough, but does he say anyone and everyone who claims to bring the word of god is fake? Or did he mean that there may be many heretics that one should be wary of?’
They are stumped again. Obviously they havent really tried to understand the bible, I almost feel sorry for them. Ego is a funny thing, it doesnt let you give in even when you know you have lost. They try to keep the fight, feebly so.
Kids: ‘Other religions like Islam are in direct conflict with Christianity. One cant be both.’
They fell straight into the trap. This was too easy.
Me: ‘Have u read Quoran?’
Me: ‘Then how can you denounce someting that u havent read, and how can you claim that it is in direct conflict with christianity?’
The kids then went on about how Mohammad’s life was mostly militaristic whereas jesus was all abt peace and preached the path of non violence and so on. This was check and mate.
Me: ‘Going by your arguement, the very people who protect you liberty, the american soldiers who are risking their life in Iraq are not following christianity, and so will have to go to hell. Does your religion abandon its own soldiers to damnation?’
They didnt expect this sort of attack, and were in way armed to defend it.
Kids: ‘It depends on the situation…’
Me: ‘Exactly… why is it so hard to believe that the situation Mohammad lived in, warrented one?’
Kids: ‘But look at osama bin laden…’
Me: ‘Look at the spanish inquisition’
It was game over. They knew it.
Kids: ‘I guess we dissagree on this one. Let us just tell you what we think. It is no way to say that you are wrong’
Me: ‘I think you have already told me what you think. Is there anything more?’
They kids said something more abt christianity and jesus being god and stuff, thanked me for their time and left.
There was also an argument about christianity being the sole truth, and I was arguing abt equality of religions and incompleteness of each of them in isolation and stuff, but I dont remember where they fit in the excerpt above.
I cant help but feel sorry for the kids. Illusion of enlightenment in their ignorance.