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Monday, 01 July 2013 04:00

Podcast 01 - Conversation with a Baptist Pastor

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This is our very first Reasonism Podcast. Today, I want to share with you a conversation I recently had with a Baptist Pastor. He is visiting from the Philippines with a relative of mine, whom he was grooming to become his assistant. We had a chat about the general state of affairs here in Australia. I was telling them how Australia has been doing fine economically but how recently, the demand for Western Australia’s mining resources have begun to decline as a result of the reduced demand for China’s goods world-wide. Slowly then the conversation progressed to what he thought was going on in the world. Because he is a Pastor, I expected somewhat of a religious tinge to the way he would read current affairs. I did, however, not expect it to be as bizzare as it turned out to be.

Hello, this is Marquez from Reasonism.Org!

This is our very first Reasonism Radio / Podcast. Some people go to church on Sundays to relax and reflect on life in general. I turn on the television and I see a televangelist broadcasting a sermon to an impressive audience, reaching many people all over the world, telling people that Jesus loves them and ask for donations. What do non-believers and freethinkers do when they have some spare time on weekends or Sundays?

For a while now I’ve been thinking of creating a broadcasting channel to reach out to free-thinkers, non-believers, Reasonists and atheists alike. I considered recording videos however it would take too much time and therefore may not be sustainable in the long term. I decided to record podcasts instead, so here we are. Podcasts are a convenient way to broadcast the spoken word, because they are easy to listen to on your smartphones, iPods and mp3 players while in the car or going for a walk.
So let’s get straight to it, shall we?

Today, I want to share with you a conversation I recently had with a Baptist Pastor. He is visiting from the Philippines with a relative of mine, whom he was grooming to become his assistant. We had a chat about the general state of affairs here in Australia. I was telling them how Australia has been doing fine economically but how recently, the demand for Western Australia’s mining resources have begun to decline as a result of the reduced demand for China’s goods world-wide.

Slowly then the conversation progressed to what he thought was going on in the world. Because he is a Pastor, I expected somewhat of a religious tinge to the way he would read current affairs. I did, however, not expect it to be as bizzare as it turned out to be.

He gave indications that he believed there is a global push for a single currency, citing the Euro as an example, and this, in his mind, is a very bad thing. Then he went on to tell about an obscure photo of the Pope. If you were to zoom in this photo, he proclaimed, you can see the numbers 666, which he reminded me, is the number of the devil as stated in a Bible verse he cited.

I was listening. I was quiet. I was trying to follow the logic in his argument. He went on to further list a few dot points which he was slowly working to connect. He believed that these, and other current affairs, are all the doings of an anti-Christ ,who is working his powers in the world today. He did mention atheists as somewhat part of this plan.  

In my head I was thinking: ‘Boy, this conversation just took a weird turn’. I sat there listening to get a wider view of his world perspective. I didn’t really know what to say or how to react. After a while, he noticed that I wasn’t inputting much into the conversation, just verbal nods of hms and ah-hah’s. 

I don’t know how it happened  but all of a sudden, I find myself being asked what I thought about his theory, seeing I have been quiet for most of the last 10 or so minutes.  I was thinking, “Do I engage him in a debate? Is it rude to debate him about his beliefs? After all, he is my parent’s visitor and maybe this will not turn out well. But can I, or should I, really allow these ideas to go unchallenged?”

After the debate in my head came to an end, I finally spoke. I said, “I am not quite sure what to think or what to say. You are coming from a perspective that is quiet opposite to where I am coming from. And the gap is wide.  I am still thinking about how I can bridge it”.

This statement made him hold back a bit on delivering any more of his fantastical ideas. Then he became curious about what my beliefs were. He asked me about my religion and I told him I was born Anglican and Catholic, because of my parents, but if I were to formally sign a document of my religion, I would put down “none”.
He became even more curious and proceeded to ask more questions which lead to a real passionate, but pleasant, discussion during and after dinner.

I explained to him how imprudent it is for a person to base his entire knowledge on the writings of one book, nodding to the Bible he had opened earlier to support his argument. For example, if it is true that there is a push towards a single global currency, then we can seek explanations for this from other perspectives. The problem with looking at everything from a Biblical perspective is that you see the world through tinged glasses, imbued by your indoctrination. I pointed out that working towards a single global currency is something I doubt will happen anytime within our lifetimes. There are economic benefits for a group of nations to tie their currencies into one, but there are also many arguments in favour of a nation having its own currency. Regardless of how these discussions are going, you can explain things like these by looking purely into economic and political pressures. You do not need to invoke the existence of an anti-Christ nor conspiracy theories to explain current affairs.

I will spare you the rest of our discussion however I would like to share the end that to me was the highlight of that night. After what might have been 4 hours, it was probably already 10 at night, he said, “okay we better stop this discussion because your cousin might begin to have doubts about the Christian belief and that’s not good because I was rather hoping he would become my assistant”.

I laughed then turned to my cousin who was sitting and following the conversation for most of the time, and said, “Charlie (not his real name of course), if it is the truth you seek, then do not be afraid to know about and read about everything. If you want to know about the true nature of say, Hercules, you do not go and read just one book on the story of Hercules that tells you he was a god. Instead, you go and read about the history of the culture in which he belonged, and about the people who authored his story. You look at independent sources of information. That is how you get to the truth. The same is true with any religion. If you want to understand their true nature, it is not enough you read their holy books, you also need to look into their histories and other resources that are independent of them. The truth always wins, so do not be afraid to pit ideas against each other because that is the only way to find out what is true”.

With that, the night was drawing to an end and the Pastor wound up the conversation with a funny joke about an Atheist, a Buddhist and a Christian.  Maybe I’ll share it with you next time. Overall, I found it a pleasant experience to engage a Pastor in a discussion where we could go all out, knowing we were just debating ideas. There was no one watching, apart from my mother and my cousin, so there were no egos on the line. We could focus on debating ideas instead of trying to save face.

This is what I wanted to share with you in this podcast. Please share with us any of your own interesting conversations you had with other people. Your story maybe chosen for publication on our website. I hope you tune in again next time. You can subscribe to our channels on iTunes, on our website at Reasonism.Org, or on YouTube to make sure you don’t miss any of the next podcasts. This is Marquez from Reasonism.Org. Thank you for listening.

Last modified on Sunday, 13 October 2013 21:45