The Garden

A blog by Marijn van Hoorn

An argument i witnessed at the Haymarket

Marijn van Hoorn

To set the scene: I was on my way home from Newcastle, heading to the central bus stationα, when i decided to nip into the local KFC for a bite to eat. After plonking my hind down on an anti-homeless bench,β i noticed there were two men having an argument next to me: a disgruntled middle-aged atheist in a flat cap, who clearly just wanted a rest, and an upright, uptight brunet Christian trying to convince him of something-or-other.

When i dropped in, it was the typical evolution–creätion argument — “how come the body is good at doing what it does, this could only be the work of God” and all thatγ — but it soon took a term for the weirder side, when the Christian started arguing that, i kid you not, black holes aren't real. I wish i remembered the context for that, but honestly, it probably didn't make any more sense with than without.

The atheist, bewildered, rose to the defence of modern scientific practice, to which his opponent shot back by alleging that the pharmaceutical industry had a cure for mental illness and that modern psychiatry and medicine were torture, torture! After the gentleman on the bench made it clear he was unconvinced, the Christian declared that there was nothing he could do, and called it off. The atheist walked off… and the Christian then started following him, continuing to preach in vain, which i must say cast doubt on how “done” he actually was.

Now that i had reason to look to my right, the Christian turned out to be part of a small group who were preaching and handing out flyers. I don't know how i didn't notice sooner, honestly, but after that i had to know who they were with. I didn't have much to go on, and my initial thoughts were the usual Jehovah's Witnesses, but in hindsight, they might have been Christian Scientists. Christian Science has a strong anti-medicine bent, and there's a CS church just along the main trunk road from the bus station — making Northumberland Street an easy target for any missionaries.

As i was walking off, the man offered me a leaflet. If i were trying to make this into an “and then the whole bus clapped” story, i'd say that i told him “no thanks, Zeus and Apollon bless your soul” and promptly kept walking, which is kiiiiind of true — but in truth, it was half mumbled, i was already walking away, and i don't think he actually heard me.

Still felt great, though. I've always wanted to do that.