Questionable Church Signs #4 or, on the abuse of natural language

It’s hard to know where to begin with this two-sided sign that I’ve spied a few times when walking down Adelaide’s Rundle Mall.

On one side…

Jesus Saves From Hell

I have questions…

1. Which bank did Jesus make a Faustian bargain with and what interest rate is he getting?

2. What is Jesus doing in Hell? I thought he was sitting at the right hand of God. Unless God is actually Satan, then it all makes sense. All except the suffering in the eternal flames of Hell part.

On the flip side…

Naturally, as an atheist I’m included on this naughty list, along with witches, smokers, adulterers, gossipers, haters, LGBTIQ+ people, drunkards and various other awkwardly expressed nouns.

I didn’t immediately notice the incorrectly spelled “athiest“.

Other than that, they clearly know me well. All except the “lukewarm” bit. As an atheist I take my lack of faith very seriously thank you very much!

I had a short chat (trying to hear myself above the triumphal music blaring out of the boom box) with the street preacher who was standing near the sign. He wore a T-shirt saying “Jesus is Coming”.

Was Jesus just breathing heavy?, I wondered as an aside, although not aloud. Phew!

I asked the street preacher: What makes you think that anything you believe is true or that your holy book is right and no others (such as the Quran) are?

He proceeded, in the usual circular argument fashion, to refer to his holy book and what great things it says, commenting that Islam is much younger than Christianity, as if that somehow makes it less likely to be true.

I suggested that everyone, even he, is an atheist.

There are many gods both of us don’t believe in, such as Apollo, Poseidon, Vishnu, Zeuss. The street preacher doesn’t believe that Allah is the one true god, any more than I do.

We’re all polyatheists!

In this regard, the only difference between us, is that I believe in one less god, taking the count to zero instead of one.

In fact, “atheism” is a term that should not even exist. No one ever needs to identify himself as a “non-astrologer” or a “non-alchemist.”… Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified religious beliefs.

Sam Harris, Letter to a Christian Nation

As before, he referred to the multitude of great things in the Bible. After a little more time exchanging pleasantries, I said “bye” and he said “God bless you”. I didn’t realise I had sneezed.

He seemed like a nice guy. Just misguided. I suppose we all are in our own way though.

We will all perish, including the street preacher. Repenting seems highly unlikely to help.

In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot

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