Except that an ad for the cab driver's church had just played on the radio, and he asked me if I were born again. To which I replied that I was in fact not. I briefly considered responding that I was a lapsed, which is the very opposite of a born-again Christian. Of course, I am not a lapsed Jew. My beloved boyfriend is a lapsed Jew and thus the very opposite of a born again Christian. But, notwithstanding the rampant confusion within our intellectual movement, we are in fact separate people.
I went with, "No, I am not."
The driver then asked me if I wanted to go to heaven. Hitchens's witticism about the conventional Christian conception of heaven reminding him of North Korea sprang to mind. As did Phillip Pullman's depiction in the Dark Materials trilogy of the afterlife as a concentration camp. I would much prefer Pullman's alternate vision of dissolving into insensate particles, and so I went with, "No."
He appeared shocked and asked if I knew of what I spoke. I've read a bit on the subject.
I wondered if I ought to argue in the name of advancing the atheist movement. But I would have felt a bit like a 250 lb. gorilla beating up a pygmy marmoset: this offends fundamental notions of fair play and substantive justice. So I did not. I had my iPod with me and could pretend to find the Mountain Goats lyrics more intellectually engaging than I normally do. I have read essays claiming that iPods increase alienation and anomie by distracting us from our immediate environments. To which I respond that my immediate environment in D.C. often causes alienation and anomie, thank you very much, and I need a shot in the ear of Wilco to regain equanimity.
He said "God bless you" when I finally got back to my building. I thought of replying "While we're engaging in harmless ceremonial deism, you too." But I did not.