>>>>You see, my parents are still pretty involved in the pentecostal church. They speak in tongues, they read their bibles, my mother even claims to have been divinely healed of back pain several years ago during a praise and worship service. She says "God has to exist, He healed me". It's a real pain to talk about my lack of beliefs.
Why does the vast majority of the population belief in such crap?<<<<
There's a rather pertinent quote bouncing around in my head right now, and I can't attach an author at the moment (perhaps someone else on the list can).
"If there were not gods men would make them."
Well, as far as I'm concerned, (1) there aren't, and (2) they have.
The "vast majority of the population" believes this "crap" because they want to. The father of socialism got that "Opiate of the masses" stuff straight all right. Religion is the science of the ignorant. When they can't explain something or other they can always attribute it to "god's will." If you added up all the little kids who've died suddenly and or tragically over the centuries whose passing was described as "God took them," you'd have mass murder on a grand scale. You'd think people'd wise up, but apparently not. It's too scary, and they'd have to admit they've been dopes all along.
All is chaos. This fact is very frightening. So frightening that people have to invent an entire cosmology of 'faith' to help them feel anchored in this sea of uncertainty. Whenever you puncture one part of this cosmology they merly patch it up with some other lame and tortured rationalization. Its all they're comfortable or familiar with. Any 'belief,' false or not seems to make them feel better. Psychiatrists at times talk about 'adaptive' or 'healthy delusions.' You know, like when in the midst of the cold war with nuclear destruction an eyeblink away most folks merely hunkered down in denial. Of course this was a delusion of safety, but deluded or not it enabled them to carry on in spite of the very real risk over which they had absolutely no influence whatsoever.
To an extent, religion serves the same function on a slightly different plane. Freud spoke of the individual's inability to conceive of their own mortality. To me, that's the primary reason most people bathe in the pool of religion. Not to wash away imaginary 'sins' so much as to wash away the fear of impending death. Its less frightening if you believe death is temporary or illusiary altogether. Its not by accident that among themselves ministers refer to certain parishoners as 'insurance members,' and the ministers themselves are refered to as 'sky pilots.'
If that's their 'drug of choice,' that's sad but their business. When they try to 'push' it on me is when it gets to be a problem.