Please Consider That You Could Be Wrong

Kevin Nguyen talks reincarnation, Cheetos, and dwarf stars with a personified religious pamphlet.

After my economics class last week, I was confronted by a girl–dressed in black, probably high school-aged–who was handing out pamphlets for something called the Worldview Academy. The front of the brochure asks, “What happens when you die?”. Opening it reveals several answers, laid out like one of those paper fortune tellers that were all the rage in the third grade.

Granted, I’m not theologist (I’m a Capricorn), but the logic of the brochure seemed somewhat askew. What follows is my experience conversing with a personified manifestation of the pamphlet.

All of the excerpted text comes straight from the brochure, word for word.

Pamphlet: What happens when you die?

Kevin: Excuse me?

If you claim there are many paths to God, please consider [that] you just claimed to be all-knowing–a very arrogant position. You, also, are being uncompassionate because you do not care enough to tell others the easiest and simplest path. You merely let them struggle needlessly.

I’m flattered that you would call me all-knowing, but resent being called arrogant. Where are you coming from? Are you complimenting or insulting me? Also, I’m not sure how believing that there are many paths to God makes one omniscient.

Please consider that you could be wrong.

I’ve considered it before, but I’ve never found any compelling evidence that I’ve ever been wrong. It’s really quite impressive.

[Pamphlet waits patiently for my answer.]

Well, what about reincarnation?

How do you know reincarnation is true?

Admittedly, I don’t, but I have a feeling that faith is an important part of–

Are your “feelings” or other authorities totally trustworthy?

Well, I–

Have you ever been deceived by others or have you ever deceived someone else?

Once I tricked my roommate into eating some Cheetos that fell on the floor. Then he tricked me into eating Cheetos that he found between the couch cushions. For some reason, there are a lot of Cheetos around our apartment. So I guess the short answer is “yes” on both counts.

Still, I don’t see how any of this is related to disproving reincarnation. I mean, how can you claim that one faith is more correct than another? To me, the idea of heaven and hell seems just as likely as being reborn as a panda bear, which, by the way, would be fucking awesome.

Is it right to impose the soul of a Hitler, suicide bomber or serial rapist on a newborn baby to work off bad karma?

No, I guess not, but I think you’re missing the point of the concept.

Even if karma is true, do you really want what you deserve, or would you prefer to receive grace and mercy?

That’s a good point. I’d prefer not to get what’s coming to me, particularly if what I deserve happens to be the consequences for things I’ve done wrong. Grace and mercy seem like boring alternatives though. How about instead of grace and mercy, I get a gin and tonic?

[Pamphlet clearly disapproves of my drinking, but I think nothing of it. He looks like a lush anyway. Still, determined to tease out my religious views, Pamphlet presses with the conversation.]

Are you omniscient?

Ah, trying to win me back with compliments again? Well, I’m susceptible to flattery.

How many dwarf stars are in the Milky Way Galaxy? (Seriously, you would have to admit that you cannot know everything.)

I see where you’re going with this. I should worship Google–the universe’s only entity proven to be all-knowing. Anyway, I just googled it, and there are roughly 80 billion dwarf-class stars in the Milky Way.

Do you know or even care how horrible Hell is?

Not really.

If your answer is, “No,” please reconsider your position. Hell is a terrible place of loneliness, pain, and suffering–

Sounds like Worcester, Massachusetts.

–a place in which you are always reminded of the worst in you and your need to be loved by a holy God. Again, please reconsider.

Hell sounds awfully annoying, like when I was living with my ex-girlfriend. She was always reminding me that I was a bad person and that I needed to be loved by a holy God. Or maybe she was telling me to stop using her toothbrush as a backscratcher.

Would you trust Jesus to forgive your sins and give you eternal life?

Yeah, fine. As long as I never have to go back to Worcester.

Kevin Nguyen is a founding editor of The Bygone Bureau. His only marketable skill is an above-average knowledge of European geography. He has been useless since the introduction of the atlas in 1477. Reach him by email or follow his Twitter account.