Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Doorstep Cross-Examination


I've been told by a certain household member that having a discussion with me is like being cross-examined on the witness stand. While I don't entirely agree, I have been known to take a rather direct approach to piercing bafflegab.

One of the most baffling varieties is literal adherence to the words of a religious text, whether it's the Bible or the Buddhist canon.

Although I usually just bite my tongue, nod and smile pleasantly (assuming I've been trapped and didn't have a chance to escape first), occasionally a demon possesses me to jump in with both feet.

This was one of those times.

Two or three members of a religious group showed up at my door and wondered if they could invite themselves inside to tell me something important. I had a bit of time to spare, but not that much, so I engaged them on the doorstep. I'm afraid what followed was essentially a cross-examination.

Q:    You folks believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible, don't you?
A:    Yes.
Q:    Every word in the Bible is true, right?
A:    Yes.
Q:    So in the beginning, Adam and Eve were the only people on the earth, weren't they?
A:    Yes.
Q:    Then they had two sons, Cain and Abel, right?
A:    That's right.
Q:    Then Cain slew Abel?
A:    Yes.
Q:    Then, the Bible says, Cain took a wife, correct?
A:    Yes.
Q:    Sooo... Where did his wife come from?
A:    Adam and Eve had more children.
Q:    Oh. You mean Cain married his sister?
A:    Yes.
Q:    But I thought the Bible says incest is a sin?
A:    Well, God made an exception in Adam and Eve's time.  It became a sin later.
Q:    I see.

Soundly defeated, I nodded, smiled sweetly and wished them a nice day.

[Note to self: Remember law school? Courtroom 101? Never ask a question you don't know the answer to?]


14 comments:

  1. Brilliant! It often troubles me to no end when someone takes an ancient script as literal doctrine. Especially so when I'm told that my lack of agreement dooms me to an eternity of fire and brimstone (which a "loving" God has so provided for me). :/

    If I ever need a lawyer and/or critical thinker... I'll know who to call on! ;)

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    1. Ha Ha Thanks, Bea! Doomed we are. (I love that :/ emoticon)

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  2. Well. In a cinch, I'd still want your brilliant, incisive cross-examination on my side!

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    1. Awww Thanks, Lynette! Turns out they go to a lot of trouble to be able to answer questions.

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  3. Oooo yes! I love this! "bafflegab" LOL... We have those visitors too :) I have a "no solicitation" sign on the door, and have pointed it out to them. They say they're not "selling" anything, to which I tell them they are soliciting their religion. They walk away :) I like the direct approach too :)

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    1. Thanks, Christine! At least their hearts are in the right place, even if their heads seem to be out of joint.

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  4. Hahaha...can't believe you did that - like mind Kung Fu. I want to learn. I've actually had them in to tea, but, in my defense :) they've put a very old woman on my route that always looks like she really needs to sit. I think I've been outwitted.

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    1. Hi Susan! Well, since you asked ... Here is a classic (free from Project Gutenberg): The Art of Cross-Examination by Francis L. Wellman.

      I think I must have had the "Where did Cain's wife come from?" question in the back of my mind from somewhere, then the fun opportunity just presented itself.

      Glad you agree that those folks deserve kindness like everyone else!

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  5. Thanks so much David! Looking forward to reading it.
    What you did is probably what they were most thirsty for - a succinct lesson in critical thinking. Little did they know they knocked on the master's door.

    Yes, it makes me feel a bit sad when I see them walking the streets, having been told that it will make them good people or something. As you said above, good to understand intention.

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    1. You're welcome, Susan - it's time I read it again too!

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  6. Replies
    1. Ha ha - Thanks Gael. Yes, I'm afraid it was ;)

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  7. Write on David. Me thinks your style of word working resembles my own. Not that I don't bite my tongue but I occasionally like to kick a little metaphorical butt. I do enjoy the satirists, especially Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal", everything by Kurt Vonnegut and the science fiction albeit political satire and conspiracy theories of Philip K Dick.

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    1. Thanks Hoyu! I appreciate you dropping in. I didn't know of Philip Dick, but looked him up and now have to check out his books - thanks for the intro. And nice work over at The Pigasus Project!

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