College essay honorable mention: Comfortable lie doesn’t beat truth: By Aidan Sorge

Author’s note: The lack of capitalization of religious terms is deliberate.

I have always been a logical person. As a toddler, I got into a shouting argument with a fellow preschooler over the fact that he was playing with dinosaurs and toy people at the same time. I found that to be offensive as it was not the “truth.”

In elementary school, my best friends were members of a charismatic church, so I attended some youth groups with them. I liked to go there with them, the music and games were fun and, most importantly, there were always great snacks. But then, one day, the priest started to mock Carl Sagan. I became really uncomfortable and wondered if anyone was thinking about what the priest was saying. I no longer went with them to church. Mocking Sagan meant ignoring the truth.

And then there was a history class: the Crusades and the Dark Ages. I learned that scientific progress was banned by the catholic church. Truth again was being squashed and I began to evolve away from a nonchalant attitude about religion towards seriously considering its drawbacks.

The final straw that moved me from apathy to atheism was observing the ways power in the church is used to hurt and control others. The vatican is filled with obscenely expensive art and objects covered in gold. Why not liquidate and help the poor? Televangelists con others out of their hard-earned money in the name of god. Religion speaks of helping the poor and downtrodden, while fighting equality, condemning the different, using loopholes in the law to avoid prosecution for abuse and killing in the name of god.

Sagan once said, “When Kepler found his long-cherished belief did not agree with the most precise observation, he accepted the uncomfortable fact. He preferred the hard truth to his dearest illusions, that is the heart of science.” Unfortunately, for many, the loss of the comfortable lie would be too painful for them to face.

Aidan, 20, lives in Albuquerque, N.M., and attends Arizona State University. He enjoys the interaction of science and technology with society and its ethical implications. He is also interested in martial arts.

Freedom From Religion Foundation