Sixth place (tie) — Alden Lecroy: Life, death and Jehovah’s Witnesses

By Alden Lecroy

Alden Lecroy

Only two things are certain in this life: death and Jehovah’s Witnesses showing up at your door. They come with their promises of fellowship, eternal paradise — and an endless supply of magazines. And while all of these things may seem desirable to some, something just does not add up. I have found that if something seems too good to be true, it usually is. The idea of an afterlife is no exception.

Sigmund Freud believed that religions were created as a form of wish fulfillment. The idea of an afterlife is especially indicative of this idea. We all want to think that we have a nice, warm paradise waiting for us after we die. This idea, however, only serves to steal present joy. After all, how can we enjoy this life if we’re too obsessed with where we’re going after it? Life is much too rich to spend memorizing bible passages and praying to an absent deity. To me, life is meant to be spent fulfilling personal goals and doing the things that produce happiness. There are too many idyllic, cascading waterfalls and decadent chocolate desserts to worry about divine judgement and eternal Armageddon. But why don’t I mess around with the hereafter? Personally, I find satisfaction in playing piano. I find that it is the only thing that can tie my hectic life together.

I do not reject religion because I dislike going to church on Sunday. Nor do I reject it so I can sin without consequence. I reject religion for one simple reason: There is no proof. I believe that evidence is the way in which truth is discovered. It strikes me that so many people can so adamantly believe in a higher power without the slightest morsel of verifiable data. If such a large percentage of people accept outrageous religious teachings, such as talking snakes and tremendous floods, what are we teaching the younger generations? Are we effectively suspending the faculties of critical thinking? Are we making the world a more gullible place?

But it’s more than that. Many people’s lives are negatively affected by religion. One of the more deplorable religious practices of late is seed faith. In many mega-churches these days, religious leaders ask followers for donations, or “seeds.” The religious leader then “sows” the seed; he or she asks god to bring fortune on the donor. Proponents of this practice promise “hundred-fold returns” on donations. Donors often expect miracles to happen to themselves or loved ones. Religious snake oil salesmen may then spend seed money on lavish private jets and opulent mansions. All the while, devoted followers choose to seed money instead of paying for chemotherapy, rent or medicine.

The idea of an afterlife is one that religions constantly exploit in order to control the followers of religious ideologies. If people realized that our religious leaders promised an impossible product, this world would be a much more enlightened place.

Alden, 18, graduated from Seneca High School in Seneca, S.C. He enjoys playing piano, practicing martial arts, cooking and learning French. He has won three grand championships at international martial arts tournaments. Alden will be attending Clemson University in the fall, with plans to get a degree in mechanical engineering and eventually become a petroleum engineer.