The protection plan must cost a fortune   Leave a comment

Also, splurging white goo all over the walls and ceiling in the bedroom.

Yesterday, at long last, after hoovering, sweeping, hoovering with a different hoover and finally hoovering again with the first hoover, I got some paint on some walls (and a ceiling). Only the first soak-in-to-prime-the-plaster coat, but it does at least mark the beginning of the middle. Shockingly, it also turns out that painting is a tedious slog that takes far longer than you could ever have imagined possible. Who would have thought any part of decorating could be so described? Suddenly, why people might pay £200 per day to have a simple task performed for them becomes clear.

Messing about with coats (of paint. Sorry) does give you lots of quiet time to think, though, and in this case I considered the Jehova’s Witnesses that knocked on the door just before I started (the woman seemed taken aback by my assertion that I was quite happy as a godless heathen* and didn’t want to talk). At first I considered that I should really get one of those “no cold callers” signs, but I’m not sure it would work in this case. Would they understand that they are, from my point of view, equivalent to Virgin Media? Religion and cable television are both services that I neither need nor want, nor really understand why anybody would**. Although, to be fair to Virgin Media, they probably treat their former customers better.

After a few walls, something else dawned: what they were doing was completely pointless. From my point of view, unless they can demonstrate, unarguably, that there is a god, that it is their specific god, that the Bible is his word, *and* that their particular take on the Bible is the correct one, I’ve no reason to be interested. Of course, they’re quite happy to offer “proof”, but this comes in the form of quotations from the Bible, furiously begging the question; it’s only proof if you already assume the Bible is true. Reading passages from Harry Potter does not prove that there is a platform nine and three-quarters at King’s Cross that’s only accessible to magic users. The only difference is JK Rowling never pretends otherwise.

And from their point of view, that entire paragraph is missing the point entirely. Because for them it is a matter of faith, and faith doesn’t require demonstration and rational argument. Arguably, something being demonstrated to exist or be true destroys faith. You don’t have to believe in the postman when you’re thanking him for a parcel.

And that’s the problem. I don’t pretend to understand faith – it’s a concept so alien I can’t get my head around it. Even in my Church of England primary school I thought that god was like an all-year Santa; everybody knew he didn’t exist, but they pretended because it was fun and they liked the songs. It took a long time for me to understand that, actually, some people really believed. Almost twenty years later, I still don’t understand why.
And for those who believe, like the Jehova’s Witnesseses, the notion that somebody might require some other proof of those beliefs is just as alien. Look, it’s written right here, in the Bible. Don’t you see? And, of course, there is no proof that there is no god, or that it’s not theirs, or that their interpretation isn’t correct.

I’ve wondered what causes such a difference, why some people have faith while others have none, but don’t know the answer. It certainly isn’t that those with faith are gullible, easily-led idiots, or that those without are evil (for given values therof) or amoral. As always there are cases where those are true, but there are just as many gullible atheists and amoral theists.

Regardless, when discussing such matters on a doorstep (or anywhere else) there is no common ground between the two points of view, and neither side can offer arguments that work, from the opposing side’s point of view, to prove their own. It’s a complete waste of time for all concerned.

And from that point of view, I’m not sure if their dogged persistence regardless of futility is admirable or tragic.

750-word blog posts on the futility of the matter are, however, entirely worthwhile.

* Or possibly by the all-pervading stench of fish from the previous night’s dinner. We’ll never know.
** Particularly their horribly tedious take on the Bible, which seems determined to find reasons to ban any enjoyment that might have remained permissible in more mainstream interpretations.

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