Friday, December 6, 2013
That awkward moment when the primitive tribe you have come to convert to Christianity, instead converts you to atheism.
I have started to write about this incredible conversion multiple times but always put it off. But the other day I stumbled across this YouTube video of Everett reading from his book and realized that it was much more powerful coming from him. (Oops it turns out it was read by another. Still better hearing it read aloud though.)
The Pirahãs, he said, “believed that the world was as it had always been, and that there was no supreme deity”. Furthermore they had no creation myths in their culture. In short, here was a people who were more than happy to live their lives “without God, religion or any political authority”.
Despite Everett translating the Book of Luke into Pirahã and reading it to tribe members, the Pirahãs sensibly resisted all his attempts to convert them.
According to a report in the New Yorker:
His zeal soon dissipated … Convinced that the Pirahã assigned no spiritual meaning to the Bible, Everett finally admitted that he did not, either. He declared himself an atheist.
As an Atheist of course I find this story very gratifying. But as an American I am almost saddened to realize that even such a primitive people were able to discover a truth which still eludes so many of my fellow countrymen.