But enough of the bad news. Would you like some
My brothers and sisters, in this vast desert of dogmatism there is an oasis! Hallelujah!
In this churning sea of belief, there is a small, safe harbor. Praise the Lord!
(Audience: Praise the Lord!)
In this dark swamp of dogma, there is a shaft of light! Yes, there is!
(Audience: Yes, there is!)
And that oasis and that harbor and that shaft of light is none other than our own Unitarian Church. Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!
(Audience: Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!)
Let the word go forth that THERE IS A PEOPLE WHO DO NOT BELIEVE A DAMN THING!
(Applause. Amens. Laughter.)
Blessings upon you, my people!
We have no doctrines, no revelation. We're fallible. We're finite. And there are those who say we are fuzzy.
Be proud of it, my people! When it comes to fuzziness, We're NUMBER ONE!
One by one we have quit believing doctrines: The Trinity---The deity of Jesus---The resurrection---Hell---Revelation (Holy books).
How can you have a Church without doctrines? We build our church around Values and community.
I share with you this morning a happy vision. It's Bertrand Russell's vision of Judgment Day. Says he, "Someday all mankind may have to account for where it's put its trust. Someday all mankind will be ushered before the Almighty. And the Almighty will say, 'All of you who did not believe in me, step forward.'" And Russell says, "Me and a handful of others will step forward." And the Almighty will say, "You didn't believe in me, did you? But then, there never was any conclusive proof even of my existence. Therefore, you were the only honest people on earth. Blessed are thou. Enter ye into the kingdom of rest."
"Now, for the rest of you. You believed in me, but you believed in me in order to escape the anxieties of living. You are essentially cowards and liars, and so depart from me, for I am ashamed of you."
Beware, brothers and sisters! On that judgment day, it is believers who would be cast into the lake of fire. Verily, I say unto you, broad is the way that leads to religious belief, and many there be that enter in. And narrow is the gate to courageous living, and few there be that find it.
(Audience: Oh, no-o-o-o!)
All of humankind is like that man in a dark forest with only a small candle for a light. It's not much, but it's all he's got. And a second man comes up to him and whispers in his ear, "Blow out your candle." That second man is a theologian.
The theologians and preachers of this world are asking you to blow out the candle of your own reason and follow them.
Believing In religion, according to George Carlin, is like wearing elevator shoes: at first you get a lift, but if you wear them long enough, you get crippled,
Karl Marx was right about religion. It is the opiate of the people.
Now, what is belief? Belief is accepting some thing as true without having experienced It. It's uncritical trust, and it's blind faith. People believe in things like astrology, golden books, flying saucers, the resurrection of Jesus or the infallibility of the Pope.
The opposite of belief is experience. If you experience something, then you know it's the truth, but the same thing believed is a lie. IF YOU EXPERIENCE SOMETHING, THEN YOU KNOW IT'S THE TRUTH, BUT THE SAME THING BELIEVED IS A LIE! Belief is presupposition, prejudice.
But, you say, we can't function without beliefs. Well, I agree that we can't function without theories and ideas. We do need a mental framework to help us interpret our experience of the world. But ideas are not like religious beliefs, because we wouldn't claim any certainty for them. They are working hypotheses – I call them notions.
A belief is a hardened notion, and a believer is someone who's suffering from hardening of the notions.
It's an unfortunate limitation of language that lumps religious beliefs and working hypotheses into the same word – belief. You will no doubt continue to use the word, belief, but don't let your notions harden into beliefs. Make sure your notions are soft: you might have to eat them. And treat your notions like relatives: entertain them, but don't marry them.
END OF PART 2------Part 3 tomorrow---Really---I'm going to quit breaking eggs and make an omelet---soon. Randy