Sometimes it's fine to tell a lie. Everyone does so at one time or another.
But when lying is a permanent condition, a way of life, it eats away at the foundation that supports each of us.
This is the big problem with religiosity -- lying. Believers lie continually.
Whenever they say some bit of dogma is true, knowing that they don't know such to be the case, the best word to call this isn't faith, but lying.
For many years I did this myself.
I gave talks, wrote books, had conversations with people, all the while proclaiming that this-and-that was the truth, yet having no good reason to back up my dogmatic assertions.
In these days of economic meltdown, we get outraged when a financial con artist promises lofty profits but doesn't have an honest way of producing them.
However, when religions do the same, claiming that salvation can be had without any proof that believers are reliably delivered the goods, we shrug our shoulders and meekly embrace the duplicity.
The only true statement about God or ultimate reality is...I don't know. Say more, and there's just one appropriate response: "You're a liar."
Many people try to tread a middle way, admitting unknowing of particulars while professing faith in generalities. I did this for a long time, until the strain of maintaining the hypocrisy blew out my belief gaskets.
Christians will say, "I don't know when Jesus will return on clouds of glory in the Second Coming, but I know he will."
Buddhists will say, "I don't know how meditation will lead to my enlightenment, but I'm certain that this is the right path."
Guru-worshippers will say, "I don't know when the grace of the master will descend upon me, but I have faith that he is indeed God in human form."
This is thinly disguised fundamentalism. Narrow-minded dogma covered with a veneer of pseudo-humble openness. Lies packaged in a box labeled "I don't know."
Yet inside there is indeed knowing -- of the false variety.
If someone claims to know that something is true, and they really are clueless, that's a lie. Again, it can be called by another name, such as faith, but that doesn't change anything.
If you ask me whether I can fix your car that won't start, and I'm mechanically a moron (which pretty much is the case) yet tell you "Sure, I can get you going again," I'm a liar.
There's no difference between me and a religious leader who responds to a request for soul-repair with "Sure, we save souls all the time," yet realizes that those are just empty words, a promise that never has been demonstrably fulfilled.
Late this afternoon I took the dog for our customary walk around a nearby lake.
Not being able to see very far. Yet enjoying the reality of spiritual mist more than the imagined clarity of my previous true believing.
I'd rather be honestly lost in fog, than living a lie of "I can see to the heavens."