The Lower Quote, As If You Didn't Know, Is By Richard Dawkins, Son.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Religion and After-School Specials

I figured it out. I only figured it out because I am a child of the 80's and got to watch the cheesiest After-School Specials ever. I will now explain religion and why it is so entrenched in our society.

Remember the after-school specials where the kid sucked at basketball or whatever and was just barely staying on the team but his one loser friend kept encouraging him and his wizened old grandpa always had a kind word? Then something happened like the "jock assholes" taped him to a wall in the girls washroom so he missed practice and the captain of the girls volleyball team was traumatized that he was in there at all. Then he's so upset that he's almost off the team for missing practice (he doesn't want to tell the coach that he got taped to a wall, after all) that he decides to just quit.

Of course, the wizened old grandpa gives the kid a talkin' to and hands him a "special magical ring" that has the power to make you fly or be invisible or something. In this case, it's to make you a fabulous athlete.

So the kid begs the coach to be let back on the team but the coach goes, "You have to beat these three jock assholes in successive games of 1 on 1 to prove you've been practicing and are good enough." The kid then dramatically puts on the ring and proceeds to become Michael Jordan and lay a whooping on the jock assholes, impressing the coach enough to be put back on the team. The kid is a believer in the power of the ring!

Then the final game approaches against the bad-ass inner-city team of all black kids who look really tough. Just before the game, the kid loses the ring down the toilet and it's gone. He's super bummed and wants to go home, abandoning his team, but wizened old grandpa shows up to say that the ring was a cheap old dime-store ring from about five years ago. The good player was inside of him along, the ring was nothing.

Finally to the game and the kid, with a renewed sense of self-confidence, plays like a champ garnering the respect of the jock assholes and the tough inner-city black kids. He smiles at his wizened old grandpa in the stands and he gives the thumb's up as he's lifted into the air by his teammates. And....freeze-frame! Happy ending.

Now, religion is just like the useless ring. It's used in the early stages of life to make people believe that they need it to be super (you can go to this fabulous place when you die, miracles are possible...). The difference is that with religion, there's no wizened old grandpa that comes along one day to say, "hey, it's all you...the ring is shit." People keep religion on their finger like a magical ring, never realizing how silly it looks. We want to say, "Take some credit for your life being pretty great! Give that doctor some credit for saving your mom's life when she had breast cancer! It wasn't a miracle, it's all right here!"

Seemingly the problem in society is that the wizened old grandpa is actually two different groups. The grandpa who gives the ring is the creepy, child-molesting control freak church (or the parents who have worn their rings forever - but it starts with the church), while the grandpa who tells people they have the goods themselves are the scientists and critical thinkers. Sadly, the people who have rings on their fingers are WAY too attached to them and old, creepy, child-molesting grandpa has no interest in losing the power he has over the believers.

So we're perpetually stuck in that scene in the locker room where the kid has the ring hovering over the toilet. He still believes but is seconds away from losing it and grieving, finally being consoled by good grandpa. If only bad grandpa didn't have an endless supply of those damn ol' cheap-ass, dime-store rings....

We have to push to progress towards the happy ending where we all know we have the power to be great and work as a team. We can all function together - jock assholes, losers, Sportos, motorheads, geeks, sluts, pinheads, dweebies, wonkers, richies, they all adore him...sorry, slipped into Ferris Bueller's Day Off there... There's no need for invisible wanna-be miracle workers among us. We can be in that freeze-frame of happiness, all we have to do is be there to talk to the folks who lose their rings.

We'll help. Promise.

6 Barbaric Yawps:

At 23/2/06 5:47 pm, Blogger Stardust1954 said...

Great post and nice analogy.
Life is what WE make it. It's just a matter of believing in yourself.

At 23/2/06 6:06 pm, Blogger BigHeathenMike said...

Thanks for reading and the comment! It's always nice to know that someone is out there taking note.

At 24/2/06 2:48 pm, Blogger Stardust1954 said...

I hope you don't mind that I have put a link to your blog on my blog...your blog is one of my regular reads. Great stuff!

At 24/2/06 5:53 pm, Blogger BigHeathenMike said...

Not one bit! I'm always super flattered when anyone adds me to their link-list. That anyone out there actually takes time to read my little spaz attacks is very cool.

At 24/2/06 7:35 pm, Anonymous noell said...

What a great analogy! It was this type of realization that helped me make my decision to finally leave my religion. I am a naturally happy person, and back in my religious life, when people asked me how I was so happy, I used to tell them one of two things. You'll get a kick out of this:

Option one: Because I'm a Mormon.
Option two: Because I know God.

Oh, what an idiot I was. I wonder how that made my friends feel if they had Depression?

But inside, I actually felt I was being dishonest, especially since I was so aware that everyone at church always looked so morbidly sad.

Once I was coming to the conclusion that religion was all wrong, and my "relationship with God" felt non-existent, I realized I was still just as happy as ever. I am still exactly the same me. All religion ever did was tie up my time and distract me from more fulfilling experiences.

BTW, thanks for your comment on my own blog. Glad to have you.

At 15/3/06 5:19 pm, Blogger Do'C said...

Great post Mike. It took me a while to go back and read through all the recent Skeptic's Circles, but I'm glad I did. This was a gem.


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