Second prize: a visit to the piranhas
A Turkish game show is challenging atheists to reassess their views and win “the biggest prize ever”. Penitents Compete will bring together an Islamic imam, a Jewish rabbi, a Buddhist monk and a Greek Orthodox priest seeking to convert the atheists. The prize for any converted contestants is an expenses-paid pilgrimage to a holy site of their chosen faith.
But that’s not a prize unless you do in fact convert, so it’s not going to function as a prize for the people who are supposed to convert because they won’t want the thing offered – it won’t appeal to them – in fact it will repel them. It’s like saying the prize is a bowl of shit, or a week in Evin Prison, or two tickets to a wrestling match. It’s like the old W C Fields joke – first prize is a week in Philly, second prize is two weeks in Philly.
A free ‘piligrimage’ to a ‘holy site’ of one’s ‘chosen faith’ – if you’ve converted that could be enough to convert you right back again, don’t you think? You have to be gentle with these things! Someone who’s just converted from atheism to Islam or Greek Orthodox Christianity on a tv game show is in a fragile state in the ‘faith’ department – I don’t think instantly thrusting a ‘piligrimage’ to a ‘holy site’ on such a convert is a very sensible idea! You want to take things step by step, not shove people off the diving board and watch them sink. To an atheist, or to someone who was an atheist until five minutes ago, a ‘piligrimage’ to a ‘holy site’ sounds like being locked in a ship’s cabin with a few thousand people all of whom you detest. It doesn’t sound like a nice holiday – or a prize. It sounds like…you know…torture.
[I]f any are genuinely convinced by a faith, they will be sent on a pilgrimage – new Muslims to Mecca, Buddhists to Tibet and Jews and Christians to Jerusalem. The TV cameras will follow the winning contestants as they go on their pilgrimage. “They can’t see this trip as a getaway, but as a religious experience,” the deputy director of Kanal T, Ahmet Ozdemir, told Hurriyet.
See? It’s not a prize.