The experiment could be quite simple.
Say, for one month, "fast" by giving up all of your current religious practices:I welcome suggestions for improving the experiment, and four days ago I asked a few religious friends for input:Don't pray.At the end of the month's fast, evaluate how it went:
Don't "think about God."
Don't go to church (or synagogue, mosque, temple, kingdom hall, or whatever).
Don't read the Bible (or whatever your holy text is).
See how it feels.Was it difficult?
In what ways?
Did you lack anything essential?
What do you make of those findings?
Do you think such an experiment would even be possible, let alone easy? [If religion is an addiction, violent withdrawal symptoms might manifest during the first few days of the experiment2.]But they haven't replied3, even though I'd added:
How do you imagine that you yourself would feel during the month if you attempted it?
How would you anticipate the post-experiment evaluation to go?
I'd appreciate your insights, not to mention your profession of continuing to love me despite my being critical of religion. I love you even though you are religious.I had told them that I realized I might be walking a perilous line, maybe even on a knife's edge, wanting to subject religion to some necessary criticism without alienating my religious friends.
Is that possible?
- I have in a sense been performing this experiment myself for over two years (since September 9, 2007), with eye-opening results: I've lost nothing essential by giving up religion entirely for that period. But, more important, without the burden of religion weighing on me, I've gained a marvelous sense of freedom and lightness.
- As my post of September 9, 2007 makes clear, addiction played no part in my own religious experience. It isn't clear, though, whether my tendency to criticize religion might itself be a kind of addiction. I do incline to feel uneasy if more than a few days go by and I haven't said something unflattering about it. That would be a species of unfreedom.
- But see a later post.