A scene from the Barnes & Noble parking lot:
Old woman: Excuse me? Sir?It's funny: as long as you're on their own terms, they think your time is theirs to waste. But the moment you bring up a few issues of theodicy, they've got somewhere else to be.
Old woman: Have you ever studied the bible?
Myself: I've read from it a time or two.
Old woman: Are you a Christian?
Myself: Not as such, no.
Old woman: (confused) Oh.
Young woman: (catching up to the party) Have you ever thought about Bible prophecy?
Myself: Not really.
Young woman: Well, I don't know if you know this, but many theologians--even the ones who aren't religious--admit that the Bible's prophecies have all come true.
Myself: All of them?
Young woman: Oh, yes.
Myself: That's impressive. Even the ones from John in Revelations, where he sees the seven-headed beast and all that? You'd think I'd remember a seven-headed beast.
Young woman: Well, see, when you learn to read with the eye of prophecy--
Myself: (interrupting) Here's what I don't get: why do I have to learn the eye of whatever? If God's omnipotent, why can't he just write what he means? Wouldn't it be a lot easier to get people to convert that way? Then everyone could go to heaven. That'd be nice.
Young woman: Ah, but God doesn't want everyone in heaven. He has a chosen few.
Myself: Your God's kind of a creep then, isn't he? I mean, if I acted that way, being all exclusive with my power, you'd think I was a jerk. Don't you think you deserve better?
Young woman: Who are we to question his almighty plan?
Myself: Decent human beings, I should hope.
Young woman: We're getting off the subject. About the bible--
Myself: Now I'm certainly not going to believe the bible on anything by itself.
Young woman: Why not?
Myself: Well, you believe it because it's the word of God. But if I don't believe it's the word of God, then it's got no authority.
Young woman: Yes, but in the Book of Isaiah--
Myself: Which is in the bible.
Young woman: Right.
Myself: You can't use something from inside the bible to testify for its own authenticity. That's a circular argument.
Young woman: So you don't want to talk about the bible at all?
Myself: Not unless you've got something else to back it up.
Young woman: Well then, I guess we'll be going.
I'll say this: I'm not a big fan of Mormonism, but at least those Elder kids in Centreville stuck around to talk about it. I think I've still got the book they gave me, too.