Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A difference of paradigms

One day at a car show . . .

Seller: Hi there. Here to buy the most technological car in the world, the Mastec Turbo 320i?
Buyer: Hi! I’m looking for a new car and I’ve heard quite a bit about this model. Obviously, I have a few questions about the car before I decide to buy.
S: No problem. You will soon see that this is the best choice for you. The Mastec Turbo 320i is the latest in motor engineering. It is the safest vehicle around, providing you with a sense of security and a great feeling of peace. Its impressive style and performance will outperform your greatest expectations.
B: Sounds good! Do you have any test results on performance and safety features? Any information on fuel consumption? The results of crash tests, perhaps? I would like to take a look at those.
S: Who needs tests? To ask for tests is quite narrow minded, don’t you think? There are other ways to determine if a car is the perfect and safest model.
B: Such as?
S: Personal experience is one way: drive the car and you will find out; just drive it once, and your eyes will be opened.
B: Okay, let’s take a test drive.
S: Sorry, but you can only drive it once you have bought it.
B: What? That doesn’t make sense. What guarantee do I have that it will actually work?
S: Prove that this car isn’t safe or mechanically sound!
B: What? But I’m the potential buyer; I don’t need to prove anything. As the seller, the onus is on you to convince me that your model is worth driving.
S: You are too skeptical, young man. Take it from me: drive this car, “it is a free gift!”
B: A free gift? I’ve realised that that is simply an advertising slogan to attract potential buyers. Even if you give me the car for free, I still have to pay in terms of time and energy washing it, servicing it, and fixing it. A car can never be free because it demands some form of commitment. I have to know exactly what I’m buying before I commit. Anyway, the small print in your pamphlet says that I will have to pay 10% of my monthly salary for the rest of my life for the vehicle. Where is the “free” in that?
S: Let’s not worry about costs. Buy it! You won’t be sorry. If you don’t, you will drive another model with terrible safety standards, and you will most certainly die a horrible death in a motor accident. Save yourself from much suffering: buy this car before it’s too late.
B: So now you use fear in an attempt win me over? Again I ask you: what guarantee do you have that it will actually work as you claim? You say a lot, but you have little to back it up.
S: [Sighs] You just have to trust what I say. You know, we can argue all we want about mechanical tests and verifiable evidence, but at the end of the day it all boils down to something called faith. All you need is faith to realise that this car is the only top class vehicle in the world! This is a matter of the heart, not the mind.
B: I’m sorry, but faith is not enough. Thanks for your time, but I’ve decided not to buy the Mastec Turbo 320i.

Laughing Boy has posted a clever response to this post here


Sze Zeng said...

Glad that Christian faith isnt like a Mastec Turbo 320i. At least Christian faith can be test-drived.



Kevin Cadman said...

Great analogy.

Sze: How pray tell can Christian faith be test-driven? I gave it a proper test-drive and didn't buy the model. Good thing it was a hire-car and I could get rid of it straight away :)

Keep up the posts Kevin, I'm an avid reader.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi kevin cadman,

Christian faith can be test-driven by first examining not the car but ourselves. This is the preliminary step before buying a car. Do you want one? If yes, what kind of car are you looking for? If no, why not?

Then comes the test. Examines the car see where is it really a car or just a motorcycle. Dont merely believe advertisement, check out the car's spec. Then drive it. See can it steers pass curvy roads, check the suspension at terrain place etc.

People might said they tested a Merc ML and say that it's just like any other normal car. That's they test it on normal road. The potential of the car is not being appreciated with the right test. That's big difference between a car magazine editors and window-shoppers testing cars. The car mag editors push the car to it's limit to see what can it deliver. Window-shoppers going around different showrooms, sit into the car and drove down a few street. Then they place judgement whether is the car good or not. Well, which one's judgement is more accurate in describing the car?


BigTex71 said...

I loved that post. Did you make that up yourself? Genius!

I may have to steal it and post it on my blog one of these days (I will give proper credit, of course.)

Laughing Boy said...

In your story what does the "car" represent? Religious belief? Any type of belief? Your character owns a car so you must have "bought" one from someone else earlier. What persuaded you to buy the one you have? Safety features, performance results, a test-drive?

Laughing Boy said...

Rather than address the issues you raise in this post directly here, I have attempted to copy your own inimitable narrative style and create a post of my own. I hope you come by.

Kevin Parry said...

BigText71 wrote
I loved that post. Did you make that up yourself?

Thank you for your comment. I wrote this up while sitting at my company’s exhibit stand at a conference a few weeks ago (it was a quiet day!). I was trying to capture, in a single blog post, the all too common pattern we see in the debates between theists and atheists. The post is not without its weaknesses though: I don’t know if a car is a correct metaphor for religious belief (or God for that matter). Laughing Boy highlighted this in his comment. A car is a physical, tangible thing, so the skeptic in this dialogue can’t deny its actual existence (as many atheists do in the case of God.)

I’m glad you enjoyed it, and you are welcome to post it on your blog. And please take the time to read Laughing Boy’s response.

Laughing Boy said...

Thanks for the plug, Kevin. I hope to post the first scenario by (or over) the weekend. I'd like to hear what you think of how I dealt with the tangibility issue.

Laughing Boy said...

I have posted the first scenario today (5/17). Thanks again for the idea.