Because of their anti-life attitude, they have destroyed the whole of humanity. They have taken away all that is juicy in man; and their saints have become the examples for others to follow. Their saints are just dry bones – fasting, torturing themselves in many, many ways, finding new devices, new ways to torture their bodies. The more they have been torturing themselves, the higher they have risen in respectability. They have found a ladder, a way to become more and more respectable: just torture yourself, and people are going to worship you and remember you for centuries.
Self-torture is a psychological sickness. There is nothing to be worshipped in it; it is slow suicide. But we have supported this slow suicide for centuries, because the idea has become fixed in our minds that the body and the soul are enemies. The more you torture the body, the more spiritual you are; the more you allow the body to have pleasure, enjoyment, love, laughter, the less spiritual you are. This dichotomy is the basic reason why laughter has disappeared from man.
He – did not love sufficiently: otherwise he would also have loved us, the laughers! But he hated and jeered at us, he promised us wailing and gnashing of teeth.
I have seen pictures of European churches in the Middle Ages…the preacher’s function was to make people very much afraid of hellfire and the tortures that they would have to suffer there. Their descriptions were so vivid that many women used to faint in the churches. It was thought that the greatest preacher was the one who made the most people faint – that was a way to find out who was the greatest preacher.
The whole of religion is founded on a simple psychology: fear magnified in the name of hell, and greed magnified in the name of heaven. Those who are enjoying themselves on the earth are going to fall into hell. Naturally man becomes afraid – just for small pleasures, for only seventy years of life, he has to suffer in hell for eternity.
This was one of the reasons Bertrand Russell dropped out of Christianity and wrote a book, Why I Am Not a Christian. He said, “The first thing that made me decide was the absolutely unjustified idea that for my small sins I can be punished for eternity.” He said, “If I count all the sins that I have committed according to the scriptures, and if I include the sins I have dreamt about – that I have not committed – the most strict judge cannot send me to jail for more than four and a half years. But for these small sins, I would not suffer for eternity. What kind of justice is this? There seems to be no relation between the crime and the punishment.”
And then he started looking deeper into Christian theology. He was amazed to find so many things so absurd and ridiculous, that finally he decided that to remain a Christian is to show your cowardliness. He renounced Christianity and wrote the tremendously significant book, Why I Am Not a Christian.