Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Little Things Add Up

A lot of terrible things have been either caused or perpetuated by religion: war, slavery, intolerance, rape, ignorance, murder. But it's easy to get so caught up in the big things that we miss the little ones. For example, how much time will the average believer spend in church throughout their lifetime? Let's find out.

Let's assume that a moderately strong Christian goes to church once a week for two hours, and fifty times a year (accounting for illness or vacations). If they're a lifelong believer in a first-world country, they might go for about 80 years, including Sunday school. That makes:
2 hours a week x 50 weeks a year x 80 years = 8,000 hours
That's quite a sum, but how much is it in practical terms? To think of it from a real-life standpoint, let's spread those hours out into 16-waking-hour days:
8,000 hours / 16 hours a day = 500 days
So what do we end up with? A total of 1 year, 4 months and 2 weeks. That's the amount of time that a churchgoer squanders in their lifetime. Sitting restlessly in the pews, listening to a half-coherent sermon. Standing with arms lifted on high, singing a song that will never reach its intended listener.

Dear Lacey, Jasmine and Jaimie: I'm so sorry.
Just think of the things we can do with that time.

With all the time we've avoided wasting—more than 16 precious months—we could:
  • Learn an instrument
  • Research the history and psychology of religion
  • Make new friends
  • Read dozens of books
  • Write a book
  • Serve thousands of meals at a local soup kitchen
  • Train for a marathon
  • Learn to cook
  • Master critical thinking skills
The possibilities are endless. We can decide to use this time to improve ourselves, or even to go out into the world and help our fellow human beings. No matter what we choose to do, though, we will be enjoying our lives as we see fit. When we think of it in these terms, it's easy to see that when religion robs us of the little things, like those two hours every Sunday morning, they really do add up.

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