Saturday, May 24, 2014

Atheist Arguments: Religion is one long boat ride with Willy Wonka

    
     Seeing as I've only briefly touched on my views as an atheist in previous posts, I figured I would periodically publish a series of blog posts called "Atheist Arguments." They will primarily focus on my opposition to all religions. Please keep in mind that even though I may focus on specific, dominant religions, no religion makes any more sense to me than another. Also, please know that I understand how sensitive the topic of religion can be. It is not my intent to insult or demean anybody. I believe everybody should have the right to practice the religion of his or her choice, even though it would be ideal if people would abandon such beliefs. All I can do is present how I perceive reality. I am more than willing to have respectful discussions and debates with any level-headed person. Lastly, I will not preface my "Atheist Arguments" posts with drawn-out statements like this ever again. Sensitivity and political correctness are not guaranteed in these posts, nor will I ever strive to publish anything but my unadulterated truth. Enjoy.       

Atheist Arguments: Religion is one long boat ride with Willy Wonka

     Most of us can remember being young children and watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1971) and feeling a sense of excitement. The rooms dripping with candy made our mouths water and out sweet teeth ache for some of that sugar. To our dismay, all that sweet candy was just a lure to grab our fragile attention spans up until that damn boat scene. Yep, that horrifying boat scene when Willy Wonka takes his visitors into the tunnel of psychedelic nightmares. This is what religion is. Believe it or not, I was a church going preteen of faith. I was lured in by Christianity's version of a Wonka bar: forgiveness from God and that "golden ticket" to Heaven if I would repent my sins and accept Jesus into my life. Little did I know that my experience with religion would turn into a Willa Wonka themed boat ride with a destination that was not guaranteed. 
     Please let me elaborate on this analogy. In this dark and scary tunnel, often referred to as religion, I was told to "sit back, listen and believe." For me, it was very unsettling even at that age to cast all doubts aside and blindly trust those leading the Church. I had questions! What do you mean there was a talking snake? Are you telling me that this bitch was made from this dude's rib? What the fuck do you mean he walked across water? As my ability to assess my life choices developed, I realized that I found no more credibility in Biblical stories than I did in Mother Goose nursery rhymes. I found myself on this uncomfortable ride and the believers around me were singing that same ominous tune. "Repent and go to Heaven, sin and go to Hell." 
     Naturally, struggling with my sexuality played a role in this internal conflict. Not only did I not appreciate the sentiment that I was going to burn for eternity in the pits of Hell for my uncontrollable sexual preferences, I was not buying that hogwash for one second. I had agreed to get on this demented boat ride in the first place because I wanted to feel a part of something positive. There was a time I wanted God to love me for me and to bless me and those I love. My relationship with God was sacred and special to me. It was bittersweet when I looked around me in that tunnel and I saw religion for what it really was. I saw uncanny scenes of prejudice and exclusion. The history of religion was full of bloodshed and hatred. I had to get my ass off of that boat!
     As my relationship with God dissipated, I worried that my sense of morality and kindness towards others would somehow be different. I was groomed to see atheists as calloused individuals with nothing to believe in. That couldn't have been a worse misconception on my part. My moral compass is still very much intact. My passion to help people and create meaningful relationships with people did not change. Religion was only holding me back from realizing my full potential to alter my own circumstances. I was able to claim my life for myself. For now, I want to conclude this blog post by stating that I feel fortunate to have had the courage to get off of Wonka's wonky boat ride. Now the struggle is to coexist with those who still are on their own personal boat ride. For those of you who get endless joy from the blessing of God in your life, I couldn't be happier for you. Just know that it scares me shitless to hear you talk about it.    

An excerpt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory's "The Rowing Song":

"Not a speck of light is showing
So the danger must be growing
Are the fires of Hell a-glowing
Is the grisly reaper mowing

Yes, the danger must be growing
For the rowers keep on rowing
And they're certainly not showing
Any signs that they are slowing."

-Willy Wonka  

9 comments:

  1. After some very basic research AFTER I wrote this post, I realized that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has actually been called an allegory for Christianity before. I think that's pretty cool that I made that connection.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Lovely, Jacob! I'm glad to be off of the ride, too, and onto one that is fun and not just plain scary.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hell yes! Thanks so much for commenting :D

      Delete
  3. Hey Jacob, great post! If you have a chance, hit us up at gaywithoutgod.com/contact
    We'd love for you to be a part of our community and we have a question for you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for reaching out to me. I'm flattered that you enjoyed my post. I sent an email to you and I hope to hear back from you shortly. Take care.

      Delete
  4. In regard to "sit back, listen and believe," that's one of the things I don't like about my experience exploring Christianity, as well. However, please don't conflate this with all religions. One of the things I love about Judaism is that you don't have to believe in a set of doctrines. Questioning is not only okay, it's expected and encouraged. You could ask 10 different Jews what they believe in as Jews and get 10 different answers, and none of them would be wrong.

    I absolutely agree with you, by the way, that a person can be an atheist with a perfectly intact and highly functioning moral compass. So I'm not saying you need to be religious to be a moral person. If you would like to look into the possibility of a relationship with God without the scary boat ride, though, you may want to look up your local Reform Jewish congregation and check it out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much for pointing this out to me. I will definitely follow your link and check this out.

      Delete
  5. FYI, I linked to this post here: http://www.jewishjournal.com/religiousandreform/item/the_real_reason_to_seek_converts

    ReplyDelete
  6. Good job, Jacob. Welcome aboard the Atheist Ark. This boat will float until the flood of religiosity has receeded

    ReplyDelete