WHY PEOPLE BELIEVE----STUFF!
Now I ask you---why are so many people believing so much stuff?
People swallow religious beliefs largely because they are indoctrinated by their parents and culture. Humans worldwide create then swallow religious beliefs for the same reasons they currently swallow tranquilizers-----TO MAKE ANXIETY GO AWAY.
Only humans, it seems, suffer anxiety, probably because our big brains became aware of our mortality. Only we---know we will die. Anxiety is uneasiness without an object. It's different from fear---which has an object.
Anxiety comes in three forms: The anxieties of death, guilt and meaninglessness. All of us feel all three of them at some level of our being.
The anxiety of death is the dread of extinction.
The anxiety of guilt is the knowledge we all live with--that there is a gap between what we are and what we could be.
The anxiety of meaninglessness is the need we all feel for something---around which to orient our lives---in terms of which to understand ourselves---and to which to give our energies.
What religion, nearly all religion is about is artificially easing these anxieties. Are you listening to me?
(Voice: but we're not believing)
For the anxiety of death, religious leaders prescribe a belief pill. They want you to believe there is an afterlife. They preach heaven and hell as a certainty.
For the anxiety of guilt they prescribe pills of repentance, atonement and salvation by faith. The tragedy of believing their redemptive hogwash is that it distracts us from experiencing our way through our feelings of guilt.
And for the anxiety of meaninglessness---they also have a pill. It's called the Christian Ethic, The Islamic, Judaic, Marxist ethic etc---all of which are codes of conduct extrapolated from doctrines and designed to tell you how God wants you to run your life.
Swallow these pills---they are saying and you won't feel the anxiety of death, guilt or meaninglessness. The truth is, if you swallow their pills you won't feel much of anything.
Do you know what religious pills are called? DOGMADRINE.
Religion IS an answer to the stresses of life---A BAD ANSWER. It is artificial, temporary, destructive and damned expensive. We have a world full of religious junkies afraid to get on the roller coaster of life without their belief pills---their tranquilizers against anxiety.
My message today is that belief is DUMB! Believing is an inappropriate response to the challenge of these fundamental anxieties. Let's all say it again: BELIEVING INTEFERES WITH EXPERIENCING.
Oh brothers and sisters don't you go filtering the living waters of life through some polluting belief system! Drink straight and raw, right out of the stream of your own experience!
Do I hear some trembling soul saying: "But is it safe to drink that way?" No it's not safe----it's stimulating! And how does the water taste? Well------ it taste--- the way it taste.
Now I ask you: what have you been drinking? My bet is that you've got a bottle of that old religious rotgut hidden somewhere and when times get tough, I bet you slip out back and take a nip!
Religion's as hard to get rid of as a stray cat. Throw it out the front door and it comes sneaking in the back. I betcha we've got people in this audience who read the astrology section of the newspaper.
Uh-uh! Now you think I've quit preaching and gone to meddling!
And now, for the benefit of the forgetful---I will tell you what I have told you:
Believers are liars when they claim to know what they don't know at all.
Believers are cowards when they won't face up to the insecurities of life.
Believers are tyrants when they impose their beliefs on their children.
Believers are gamblers when they bet their whole lives on some unprovable system.
Believers are idolaters when they elevate something that is finite to the status of infinite. To believe that the Bible or the Koran or any of the other 27 major "Holy Books" is the word of God is idolatry.
Believers are insane when their beliefs cause them to respond inappropriately to life!
(Can I get an Amen?--Audience Amen)
Friends, lest we go away with hostility in our hearts, let's hurry up to say that we love the believers and deplore the damage believing does.
And lest we go away with smugness---let's all acknowledge that we're all guilty of believing. None of us have entirely rid ourselves of rigid notions.
I still say, however, that it is as inappropriate for grown up people to be believing doctrines as it is for 30 year olds to be talking baby talk.
I know what you're thinking about now: Enough already with breaking eggs---Make us an omelet. I hear you! OK here goes:
TOMORROW I WILL MAKE AN OMELET.