Freedom had been hunted round the globe; reason was considered as rebellion; and the slavery of fear had made men afraid to think. But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing.
~ Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, 1791 ~

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Journey

Imagine you’re about to set off on a journey. The destination is fixed. You suspect that it takes a long time to get there, but you have no idea how long. There are many, many roads which lead to the destination. Some roads are dangerous, some have great views, some are cold and dark. All roads themselves split into even more roads, all of which still lead to the destination.

You have a choice of cars to drive.
You must choose a car, and you may only choose one car.

Let’s have a look at a few of the cars...

The Mainstream Christian Car

The Christian Car looks great on the outside. It advertises its capabilities all over it. It claims to be superior to all other cars, and the only one guaranteed to make your journey a great one and a safe one (despite some rumours of some earlier models randomly killing the passengers and other rumours of airbags failing to inflate). It has been freshly painted, and although the trained eye can clearly see evidence that the fresh paint hides a long history of reckless driving and maltreatment, the brochure strongly recommends not looking at it with your trained eye.

The brochure goes on to claim that if you drive any other car, upon reaching your destination your car will burst into flames and become extremely painful to drive, yet will continue driving on and on forever without any way to escape from the burning car and yet without ever completely killing you. No one has ever witnessed this happening to any car and many doubt that this is even possible, yet the Christian Car brochure insists that it is certain.

On the other hand, the brochure claims that the Christian Car will also continue driving on and on forever beyond your initial destination (still without any way to escape from the car) but in complete comfort and on a road made entirely of pixie dust. No one has ever witnessed this road, nor pixie dust, and many doubt that either of those things even exist. Even the brochure for this car doesn’t say where the road actually is. Earlier versions of the brochure said that the magic road was somewhere in the sky, but that paragraph was removed shortly after the invention of aeroplanes and space travel. It now simply claims that you will be teleported there as soon as you reach your initial destination. It also claims that you’re just gonna love it, forever, and that’s that.

This car will limit which roads you are allowed to drive on, issuing threats of punishment if you should happen to choose a road that it doesn’t want to drive on. There have been reports of drivers being ejected from Christian Cars and left stranded on the side of the road after repeatedly trying to drive down forbidden roads such as Curiosity Court, Reason Road, and Logic Lane.

The brochure insists that the roads that the Christian Car points you down are the best roads anyway and that you really shouldn’t want to travel on any others. The sooner everyone agrees with this, it argues, the less drivers will be left stranded on the side of the road, and the sooner this pesky business of choosing cars and roads will be a thing of the past.

The Christadelphian Car

The Christadelphian Car is very plain, and perhaps quite boring. It consists of only the bare necessities required for getting to your destination, and indeed the destination is its primary focus. The seats are slightly uncomfortable and by no means luxurious (they were bought on sale by past owners who lived through the great depression and who felt that you too should experience what they went through at every opportunity). It has no windows, since the details of the journey itself are considered largely unimportant and the views along the way are only potential distractions that might prevent you from reaching your destination still in the car.

Many Christadelphian Car drivers and passengers are afraid of falling out of the car. This is considered an irrational fear by others, especially since those who have fallen out of the car often say they are grateful for it. If you do happen to fall out of a Christadelphian Car, there is a complicated and intimidating process involving much red tape and the giving up of any last shred of human dignity, should you wish to get back in. 

According to reports from former Christadelphian Car owners and passengers, it seems far more common to simply get in a different car and drive on. That is, once the screaming stops and you open your eyes and realise that there is so much more to life than sitting in a mind-numbingly boring car with no windows and an annoying radio. Many even claim that they came to this realisation whilst still in the car, and that their “falling away” from the car was just a matter of finding the path to the nearest exit, clothed with nothing but the dignity and common sense they were wearing at the time.

The radio works but it only has one station, and cannot be turned off. The volume knob appears to be permanently broken as well. The radio constantly blasts out propaganda about how great the destination is going to be and how miserable and wrong the drivers of all the other cars are. It subjects the car’s occupants to long-winded explanations of details buried deep in the owner’s manual, insisting that such details are vital to reaching the destination without falling out of the car. Those who disagree are sometimes pushed out of the car, supposedly as proof.

The brochure for the car goes on to direct attention away from its drab interior, insisting that you shouldn’t be wanting more than it offers anyway. It then claims that upon reaching your destination you will be given a new car that is far better and more luxurious than any other car you know of. It insists that you give up any desire to improve your current car and look forward to these new cars instead. Given how wonderful and awesome these new cars are said to be, your earthly desires, hopes, dreams and the enjoyment of your current life are but a small price to pay. Unfortunately no one has ever witnessed any of these new fancy cars, nor does anyone know any actual details about them. Many even doubt that these cars even exist. 

Unfortunately those who have good reasons for doubting the existence of these new cars are either already in the process of falling out of the car or have long since done so. Since no one sitting in a Christadelphian Car would ever take advice from someone who has fallen out of one, the belief in awesome new cars is perpetuated largely unchallenged.

The brochure also claims that upon reaching the destination, all other cars will explode. It therefore insists that all other cars’ brochures are lying to you and to prove it, it lists a number of spelling and grammatical errors from the other brochures. As it turns out, the brochures for other cars also contain a list of spelling and grammatical errors from the Christadelphian Car brochure, but all parties remain loyal to their favourite car completely undeterred.

Just as with the Christian Car, this car’s brochure claims that it is the only correct choice to make. Further still, that it is the only worthwhile choice to make, and indeed the second last choice any owner will ever need to make before switching on the auto-pilot and waiting to arrive at the destination. The last choice is of course to cling tightly to whatever thin shred of evidence you can find, to avoid falling out of the car.

The Atheist Car

For many years very few people knew of the Atheist Car. There were rumours but few took the idea seriously. However the car is definitely real, and is growing in popularity. Owners of new models of this car are often perceived as enemies by owners of other cars, though no one is really sure why. One suggestion is that these New Atheist Car owners began infringing on the Christian Car owners’ right to buy all the roads and prevent all non-Christian Cars from driving on them. Another suggestion is that Christian Car owners are just a wee bit insecure and need to declare a war on everything to give their lives purpose. There is a third suggestion that both of these suggestions are true, and a fourth suggestion that we should just get on with describing the Atheist Car.

It’s difficult to adequately describe the Atheist Car because these cars are as unique and diverse as their owners. That is because the car doesn’t come pre-assembled. You must build this car yourself. Don’t worry though, there are some ready-made designs, and most of the parts slot in easily and make lots of sense. There is also a growing team of mostly-helpful mechanics, designers, and interior decorators to help you kit it out. You can choose any parts from a huge range, according to your tastes, needs, and wants. You can configure the car to drive and handle exactly to your preferences, within the limits of reality and the laws of physics.

Owners of this car say it’s a real “driver’s car”. Critics say that it is too limited and that no matter how good it is this car will never drive on a road made of pixie dust. A Christadelphian Car owner was overheard asking why anyone would want to enjoy the journey. When forced to concede that enjoyment of journeys is a Good Thing ™, the Christadelphian Car owner just went on and on about how much better Christadelphian Car version 2.0 was going to be, and that he knew this because it said so in the owners manual for Christadelphian Car version 1.0. He also knew that the owners manual for Christadelphian Car version 1.0 always told the truth because those who accused it of telling lies promptly fell out of the car. Such power is difficult to deny.

Atheist Car can be as luxurious as you like, however there are limited resources so please be mindful of others when making your selections. You can modify the car as you go, so there’s no pressure to build the car of your dreams right at the start. The Materialist module is a popular choice these days but it is constrained by the law of diminishing returns. The journey is what is most important with this car, but the car and journey do combine to heighten the experience. Attempts have been made to explain this point to current Christadelphian Car owners but have so far been unsuccessful. Some say it’s because their radio is turned up too loud, although the broken volume knobs would suggest it is not their fault. Others say it requires Independent Thought, a feature deemed unnecessary and thus still missing on many Christadelphian Cars.

The Atheist Car can be driven on any road, except those made of pixie dust. It won’t question your choices, although you will have to face the consequences of the choices you make. Sometimes those choices can take you down a cold, dark road that is difficult or impossible to come back from, so choose wisely. This car does not offer the “100% forgiveness” guarantee that other cars do, a caveat keenly noted by many of its critics (some of whom hold a criminal record). The brochure also asks that you be mindful of other drivers, because apart from air bags and the various other safety features invented by science, the car won’t protect them nor you from harm. Ultimately it is up to each driver to ensure the safety of the roads. Especially look out for other drivers who are on auto-pilot. They’re often too busy clinging to weak evidence to see where they’re going, and are a danger to themselves and others.

Although all cars come fitted with a “Reason and Logic” module, it seems that Atheist Cars will attempt to house the module where it can actually be accessed and used, in the car’s computer. This module was also once thought to be deemed unnecessary on Christadelphian Cars, but was made mandatory by federal law. Laws are inconvenient to Christadelphian Car owners, so to get around the law many Christadelphian Car owners put the module out of reach and simply use the owners manual instead. As a matter of coincidence, the owners manual is what many of them cling to in order to avoid falling out of the car. Had they clung to the Reason and Logic module instead, most of them wouldn’t have gotten into the car in the first place.

The Atheist Car brochure claims that all other cars’ brochures are either lying to you or are delusional. It says that none of the claims made by the other brochures have ever been verified, and that they are simply offering different versions of carrot and stick to manipulate present and future owners. When asked to respond, owners of the other cars simply reiterated how good destination 2.0 was going to be and warned about the impending explosion of Atheist Car, before questioning the relevance of this discussion about carrots and sticks.

There is a less attractive feature of the Atheist Car. The brochure clearly states that the car will explode upon reaching your destination. For what it’s worth, the brochure states that all other cars will likewise explode upon reaching their destination as well, their owners just don’t know it. To be fair, no one has ever heard of any car surviving beyond the destination and all cars that ever reached the destination have exploded, according to witnesses. Admittedly this is not a happy event to look forward to, but the brochure says that it’s reality, so best you come to terms with it rather than believing in comforting fantasies. It does have a point, as former would-be owners of Santa Car have reluctantly agreed.

There are reports of an alien abduction written in the owners manual of other cars, presumably witnessed by early Christian Car owners, but the witnesses were never identified and this phenomenon has never been verified. It has been suggested that the alien abduction story was the reason for building Christian Cars in the first place, not to prevent abduction but to guarantee it, should another alien invasion take place. Owners of Christian Cars claim that the next invasion is imminent, although they make fun of those who have attempted to say just how imminent. They also make fun of others who believe in modern alien abductions. Apparently there is a certain protocol that must be followed when describing alien abduction if one does not want to be laughed at, although even when following this protocol many Atheist Car owners will still go ahead and laugh anyway.

The Atheist Car sales pitch has traditionally not caught on, but in recent times demand has soared. The sales pitch itself hasn’t really changed much. “Enjoy the only journey you’re guaranteed to have, and help others to do the same” is a pretty simple message really. Many early Atheist Car owners felt that this simple message should have been all that was needed to sell Atheist Cars, but history proved them wrong. What was needed was the invention of the Independent Thought module.

The Independent Thought module fits all cars but has proven to be destructive to most cars it is fitted to. The Atheist Car is perhaps one of the first cars to be designed around it, and the only one that still thrives on it. It combines with the Reason and Logic module to produce a very enjoyable driving experience, which allows present and future Atheist Car owners to fully embrace what has always been the standard Atheist Car sales pitch:
“Enjoy the only journey you’re guaranteed to have, and help others to do the same"
 May your journey be a success.