Thirty minutes of my life, completely wasted. This is paraphrased . . .
“Do you believe in God?”
“No – I’m an atheist.”
“You mean you don’t believe in the soul, or an afterlife?”
“So you think we came from monkeys then?”
“Yes. But, if you go back far enough, we were fish.”
“”Fish???” [looks incredulously at me]
“Yes, but before that, single-celled creatures at the bottom of the sea”.
“How do you think we changed then?”
“Through evolution – it has been shown scientifically – compare our genes with that of a monkey’s, they are extremely similar.”
“You keep going on about science – what about scientists who were religious, for example Bacon, Newton, Einstein?”
“Newton and Bacon lived before Darwin. It was understandable that they were religious – I am not sure about Einstein.” [a quick glance at Wikipedia says that Einstein was agnostic]
“But people used to believe in a flat Earth. Yet the Bible says the Earth was not flat, but a sphere – therefore it must be true.” [The logic of this is lost on me]
“The ancients did not think the Earth was flat, that is a common misconception. They knew that when a ship’s sails disappeared over the horizon, they didn’t disappear all at once and the Ancient Greeks estimated the circumference of the Earth.”
“What about Galileo – he was religious?”
“But he questioned his beliefs because his telescope told him something different to the religious orthodoxy at the time. He was burnt at the stake by the Catholic Church as a result.” [I was slightly wrong: he was actually imprisoned by the Catholic Church for heresy, for the rest of his life]
“We’re not Catholics, we’re Christians – as opposed to the Muslims over there – they believe in myths.”
“The Bible is a collection of myths” [Laughter] “And anyway they are not ramming their religion down anyone’s throats [points to Christian bloke ranting away on PA system]. I don’t have a problem with religion as long as it is not forced on people”.
“We’re just spreading the good news about God”.
“So where did God come from then?”
“He has always existed”.
“But science has shown that if you measure how fast the Universe is expanding and rewind the clock back – the Big Bang happened about 14 billion years ago”.
“14 billion years ago – how do you know that? The Universe was created by God – it is not that old”.
“What about Neandarthal Man? They coexisted with modern humans? Their last settlement was in Gibraltar and archaeologists have found evidence of their existence in caves there.”
“Neandarthal Man has been shown (not by me but by scientists) to have been baboons”.
“Baboons who could create cave paintings?”
“I find it easier to believe in painting baboons than I do in the Big Bang. You should read the Bible.”
“You should read Charles Darwin, or Richard Dawkins”. (explanation about the Galapagos finches, the voyage of the Beagle, etc.)
“Dawkins?” [laughter] “And Darwin didn’t want to publish his theories, he was confused”.
“He didn’t want to upset his wife, who was devoutly religious, it doesn’t mean he hadn’t lost his belief himself. Let’s agree to disagree”.