I get asked frequently why I’m so hard on organized religion. Most who ask believe I’m on a crusade to convert the world to atheism. In actuality, that’s the last thing I want to do. There are many people whose faith nourishes their souls and lives in wondrous ways, and that’s a beautiful thing to behold.
I don’t have the slightest idea whether god exists. No one does. It's an issue I think about a lot because it meets some of my criteria for favorite questions: It’s about questioning a premise. I can’t readily deduce the answer. It makes my brain hurt. And the question leads to a never-ending series of additional questions.
Years ago, I was attending a Christmas Eve service at Unity on the Bay in Miami. The lights were off, with the only illumination provided by the candles 800 of us were holding, while singing Silent Night. I remember thinking at that moment that if religion was just some crazy shit made up by humans – it’s was some pretty good shit.
The rational, logical, analytical, compulsive, addictive, controlling aspects of me rebel against the idea of giving away your power. I fiercely protect and defend the power to choose my thoughts and create my future. But truth is, there are moments for each of us, when we desperately need to give away our power...
Often I have felt that I would be a much happier person if I could cry more often. My decades of anxiety, insecurity, and fear ingrained such a deep defense mechanism in me that it can sometimes prevent me from accessing the deeper levels of my humanity.
Who is really more arrogant, the believer who is oblivious to science, or the atheist cynical of faith? It’s undoubtedly a tie.
Many former addicts point to the moment they recognized a power greater than themselves as the turning point in their recovery. At some point, all of us need to choose powerlessness – to voluntarily surrender our power and break down sobbing in the arms of another, allowing them to be powerful for us. For many people, religion provides this outlet.
Tragically, I have more than a few friends who have buried their children. Most of them are strengthened by a belief that when their loved one left the earth, heaven got another angel. If that belief gives them the sustenance to move forward with their lives, why not celebrate the beauty in that?
My fight is not with god, but organized religion. The fight is driven by my desire to combat the two most destructive and dangerous beliefs religions propagate:
It’s like your mom promising you dessert if you eat your broccoli, and after you choke down the green stuff, it turns out there is no ice cream at the end of the tunnel. There are millions of people unconsciously rushing through what they believe is a prologue to their life – but is actually a prologue to their death. And there aren’t many situations more tragic than a life not lived.
Make sure you live, really live, your life – the one you’re in right now.