What to say to them
I was over at a friends place yesterday when some witnesses came to the door. My boddy did what most people do, what I would probably have done, and politely nodded his head, took their literature, and got rid of them as fast as he could. I made myself scarce during the ordeal because I was overcome with giggles. This is what these people are: an affliction that is unfortunate but mild enough that you can laugh at those who have it. Yes, you can get upset that these people come to your door and inturrupt your saterday to let you know that everything you believe is wrong and you're going to hell if you don't do what they say, but as with most mildly retarded people you can manage them and get rid of them quickly. If you show up at the door looking calm and reasonable they know they're not goign to make a catch today anyway, religion requires emotional vulnerability to spread, these guys are just putting themselves out there hoping to catch somebody when they're feeling lonely or sad.
Really, the best course of action is to smile and nod and see them on their way, but I like to pretend that I'd have the foresight to be one of those who would brace them on their beliefs. While it would probably be impossible to inject some reasonable doubt into their worldview (unless they were feeling emotionally vulnerable at the time), perhaps I could be sufficiently convincing of my own conviction that they wouldn't bother to send a delegation to my door then next time round.
I have plenty of objections to religion, but there are a couple which I feel would be most useful when actually dealing with a fundie. Like putting the burden of proof on them- they're prone to ask (in an incredulous and disapproving tone) why I do not believe in Jesus (or whoever) but really, shouldn't the burden of proof be on them? If a person came up to you under any other pretense and told you to re-arrange major portions of your life, you'd want some reason why, but with religion there is this weird assumption that you have to have a big powerful reason not to believe. For them, the statement 'Jesus loves you' seems to be enough. I'd like to say to them: TYou have a hypothesis- Christianity (or whatever), I have a competing hypothesis- secular humanism (or atheism or whatever I'm calling it that day) Provide me with a single piece of evidence that is explained by your hypothesis but not by mine. They'll stammer about miracles and I'll ask then to provide documentation and then they'll babble of faith being better in the absence of proof and I'll say I have faith in what I believe AND proof, and so on, but if they start to lead me down another path I'll always get to say, but wait, what about your proof, my theory still hasn't been disproven or yours supported by anything you've said.
Another fun thing to do is point out the deep logical flaws in their religious arguement, something especially easy with the the many branches of christianity because they all rely on one big skydaddy. My favorite is the Problem of Evil, because I think it's a little sick that they believe in a being capable of inflicting all of the suffering that exists in the world just to make a point, and worship this evil thing. They babble about evil being brought into the world by people- but if people were created in 'his' image, and we have the capacity for evil, doesn't that make 'him' evil as well? There is also the arguement that evil is nessesary because it allows for brands of good impossible absent evil- but to that I ask, why are there brands of good impossible without evik? Why doesn't his all-powerfulness create the universe in such a way that all forms of good are possible while all forms of evil impossible? You can't have an alpha/omega creator type presiding over creation with enough micro-management to care about what I think about my neighbors wife while being totally unresponsible for all the wars and disasters that befall us all the time.
ANother one they like to trought out is the 'what do you believe then' line. I can say the big bang, or quantum waves or some such, and I'd be being honest, I do honestly believe that whatever the physicists are working on is an honest view of where the universe was before it was here, but I don't really understand all the theories, I got lost when they started talking about curving time. This, the theoretical crazy-person at my door, might be considered hypocasy- why do I take what the physicists are saying on faith? I could point out that science has done some useful things like cure disease, but when it comes to the far out theoretical stuff the the phisicists are working on these days, I don't know about any useful products they've developed (not to say there aren't any, I'm just not well informed enough to name any), so why DO i believe their strange 13-dimensdional, dark matter/dark energy view of the universe over that of the theoretical crazy-person at my door? Probably because the physicists aren't telling me I should live my life in a certain way bercause of what they've dsicovered. If a person claiming to be a physicist showed up at my door and told me that dark energy was going to devour my soul if I didn't give him a tithe, I'd probably treat him much as I treat the others.