Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Pros & Cons of Thinking About Religion

I think too much. And in an information society, this habit of thinking too much can make a person's natural curiosity feel like quicksand. But that only happens "if," and after, a person realizes they think too much, and they begin to notice how much their own "desire to know" everything - a "desire" which led Adam & Eve loose Eden in a gamble with a serpent - can potentially sabotage all of their other desires.

Religion is, to my mind at least, the perfect example of this perfect paradox of thinking too much. On the one hand, the rituals, teachings, and beliefs of religion, serve to make "thinking" easier regarding morality, death, existence, love, and so on. Hence, a person can rest assured that their life has meaning, that their "salvation" is secured (as well as it can be), and that justice will be meted out to all perfectly in the end.

On the other hand, religion assures that same person that they can only rest their mind from worrying about such questions, by obsessively overthinking about not only God and their religion specifically, and far, far more than anything else, but also about all those who dare to threaten both (and hence the person's comfortable assurance of salvation by extension), by being selfish and heretical enough to question the legitimacy of either one.

In short, religion says, "don't worry about those things" (your job, the meaning of life, the nature of death, etc) "worry about these things!" (your salvation, your understanding of your religion and rote memorization of a bible or Koran or whatever, did you pray enough, did you think about Jesus or Mohammad enough, etc etc).

So while religion can help to simplify a person's life in some ways, it can complicate it in others.

In fact, religion actually encourages us to engage in as much overthinking about God and religion as possible.  Some people even seem to compete with each other about this, to see who thinks about God and their religion more. And the ones that obsess about those ideas the most are left alone to shape the minds of our children. That's some scary stuff. 

People who go through Alcoholics Anonymous programs to kick the habit of drinking too much, often discover that their AA program boils down to swapping alcohol for the "belief" in the Almighty. "Believers" see the ability of a person to kick one by becoming addicted to the other as proof that God is real, while unbelievers see it only as proof that the placebo effect is real.

Of course, not everyone who goes through AA programs necessarily becomes a "true believer," but it is interesting to note that one of the reasons many people become alcoholics in the first place is because of how stressful and chaotic life can be, and the drugs or the alcohol can provide a release from thinking about it all too much, which is the same thing religion does for many.

And if you suggest to a person who has escaped the hell of the addiction into the heaven of their beliefs, that their "beliefs" may not be true, what they hear on an emotional level, is a threat to send them back to hell. And that's just not something they want to think about. Hell, neither do I!   


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