He was a tall and skinny man, with large circle glasses and a nose that was too big for his face. His arms hung down to his knees and his jeans stopped above the ankle. He sat down and opened up his backpack, pulling out a massive textbook. I had already had a few drinks and didn’t feel like sharing the table. I gave him a glare and turned up my headphones. He waved at me and I could see that his mouth was moving. I pulled out an earphone and leaned forward.
“You’re reading Dostoevsky?” he said, as he nodded to my book that was sitting on the table.
“Yep,” I said. I tried to put my headphones back in but he was too quick.
“I thought he was pretty good when he wasn’t getting too religious.”
“Yeah, he really went after your kind.” I could see he took offense to this.
I nodded to his science textbook and said, “Atheist.” He laughed loudly.
“You think just because I am a chemistry major here, that I am an atheist??”
He laughed loudly again. He smiled at me and said, “You’re right,
I am off ‘that kind’. And I am guessing you’re a man of faith? And also, an English major?”
“Yes, I am an English major and no, I am not a man of faith.”
He looked at me as if I were a puzzle that needed solving. I hate being looked at this way, and it happens way too often for my liking.
“So you’re a man of science then??” he said excitedly.
“No, I’m not religious.”
He almost fell off of his chair while yelling at me, “Science is NOT a religion!”
“Really?” I said. He puffed out his chest and replied, “Science is the antidote to religion.”
“How would you describe religious texts?” I asked him plainly.
“It’s all nonsense! It’s written by delusional men. Religious people just blindly take it by faith that everything in there is true. Were they there when the stories of the bible were written?? No, they just assume and believe. It’s ridiculous, there is no critical thinking when it comes to religion. How can you trust a text written 2,000 years ago??”
“How do you trust a scientist you’ve never met? Don’t you just assume what they say is true? Do you read and understand ALL the studies that makeup reality? Were you there when they made their observations? Aren’t you taking some of it by faith? How do we know that Galileo was right in taking consciousness out of science? Don’t you think science could just be playing in the sandbox that he created? Science is based on some older text that was written by men, just like the bible was. Just men, like you and me. They had their biases. And they’ve definitely been wrong sometimes. Isn’t science constantly changing? Constantly getting proven wrong and growing from that? Your dogmatic faith in science and the material sure sounds religious to me. And it seems to me that the faith in science is more dogmatic than the faith of most religious people.”
He had turned red during my rant, and he sat there frozen before finding the words to respond.
“How can you doubt science?? It molded our current world!”
“So has religion.”
“But the hypocrisy–”
“Also exists in science.”
He sat back in his chair, folded his arms, and stared at me. His glasses had dropped to the bottom of his nose.
“You really think that science and religion are similar?”
“I think that they both take a leap of faith to believe fully in them. I look at the religious text as metaphorical and not literal, and if you do that, then you can appreciate how full of philosophy and psychology those stories are.”
He glared at me again, picked up his backpack and put his science textbook in it. He stood up and said, “That sandbox thing you said is just ridiculous... I think you’re dead wrong.” He looked right into my eyes, and I said, “Maybe. I am not too attached to what I believe, so if I am wrong, then okay, that’s fine by me. I don’t have to be right about everything.”
He opened his mouth like he was going to say something else, but then he abruptly turned around and walked away.
I put my headphones back in and smiled. I had the table all to myself again.
It was always so easy to offend a modern man of science.