I hear a ton of atheists that say that they see nothing wrong with religion. Have you been paying attention? Are you alive? Do you know any religious people?
Remember 7 years ago, September 11? Remember 70 years ago, the HOLOCAUST? Both were purely religious. How can ANYONE with a brain respect any religion? Religion is evil. Religion has caused more harm than ANY OTHER SOURCE. Respect is EARNED, not GIVEN. No, I do not respect religious beliefs. The belief in a 2000 year old book of fairy tales is ridiculous.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_religion

Read that, and tell me that you respect religious beliefs. If you can, you are almost as delusional as the people that buy into that crap.

Let me ask you one question: can you name a SINGLE good thing that religion does that couldn't be accomplished be other means?

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There's a HUGE difference between agreeing so you can live a normal life and actually respecting religion.
That's about what I'd say. Thanks a lot. :P

Basically the best reason for religion is that some people don't seem to have a "conscience" without it. And proof of this is the way they're easily confused how Atheists can still try to do the "right" thing, if they'll never be punished or rewarded.

I think honestly there are some people who will never give up religion, like my mother, who has 7 agnostic (or worse) children. But she thinks that God created us, and she's happy with that. And I don't like it, but I'll "respect" it, because I want her to be happy.

I think actively fighting religion won't help too much. It's been in place for hundreds of years, and it may take equally as long to end it.
Well, thousands. The only reason we can't fight it is the respect given to it. If atheists/agnostics/deists (I respect deists because they don't claim to know anything, they just believe that the universe was made by something. That's not that far-fetched as claiming a talking snake convinced a rib-woman to eat from a tree) stopped respecting religion and tried to fight it, religion would be gone maybe not in our lifetime, but maybe a few generations down.
I don't think it'll ever be gone for good, people naturally cling to answers and spirituality. But I do think that it's waning down a lot and becoming more acceptable to be agnostic or atheist or whatever the case may be.
The problem is that theists have convinced many people that the national socialist party was a purely secular political movement. They claim that Hitler was an atheist and had a personal grudge against Jews. Of course many of us know about the millenium long persecution of Jews engineered by the catholic church which set the stage for hatred, prejudice, and mass extermination (it happened in Poland, Ukraine, and other eastern European countries before the German holocaust). The church even opened their genealogical records to the nazis during world war II so they could trace a person's heritage to see if they had any Jew in them.

Muslim scholars appeared on the news after September 11 shamelessly declaring that islam is a religion of peace and the terrorists were extremists who were distorting its teachings. I was 15 at the time, so I even bought into that one. I have since read the qur'an and learned for myself what the prophet's teachings are truly about: spreading allah's word by the sword.

I'm sure I've said nothing new to most of the people here, but I think that some who believe religion is not harmful simply haven't taken the time to do their research. Are they delusional? Some yes, but not all necessarily; just misinformed, gullible, and lacking detailed knowledge of the subjects you have mentioned.
It is often difficult to disguise my contempt for religion. I think it is a horrible ball & chain around the ankle of humanity. I do however temper my delivery in discussions on the subject because I can be more effective by being subtle. It is very much like the story of the two bulls watching a herd of cows. For those who have not heard it:

Two bulls, one young and one old, are sitting on a hilltop gazing down upon a heard of cows below. The brash young bull says to the older bull, "Hey, let's run down there and #&@% one of those cows!" The older and wiser bull responds, "We could do that. Or, we could walk down there and #&@% 'em all."

I do still lose it and lash out in disgust at times, but fewer people listen to me. Sure it is great when you are preaching to the choir or just need to get it off your chest, but if I really want to challenge someone's beliefs, I do it a little bit at a time. If instead of attacking their religion in its entirety, I get them to reevaluate their thought process or challenge the logic of small individual arguments, eventually it becomes their idea to question the validity of their religion. It was a very gradual erosion of the foundation of religion that led to me allowing the whole thing to collapse under the weight of its own bullshit once I stopped propping it up. Instead of trying to take on the monumental task of tearing it all down to the ground, I find people less defensive and more receptive if I just encourage them to stop propping it up.
I think it's terribly naive to think that atheists don't devote their lives to the "big questions". You must realize that regardless of religion or culture, there are a certain percentage of people who devote their lives to intellectual pursuits and a certain percentage who do not.

I would challenge you to find out what percentage of theists hold Ph.D.'s vs. the percentage of theists in the general population and compare that with the percentage of atheists holding Ph.D.'s vs the percentage of atheists in the general population.
Look at the catholic church where you can commit any sin and do a few hail marys and all is forgiven. Is that how morality works? I have no respect for religion. I look at my nephews day care where the kids are too young to be indoctrinated into any belief system. They seem very happy and play with each other no matter what color they are. They do not require religion now and do not need it when they get older. Atheism for all is like an open playing field. This is not to say that humans would always get along but religion is the number one problem in creating tension between people.
I think you make a major confusion between believers and between religious institutions AND religion itself. Religion as an abstract subject cannot harm anyone or anything. It's just a word with a lot of meanings attached to it. What makes it dangerous when people start to interpet these meanings, and since we view our world in a subjective manner, and we all have our own subjective truths, it has the potential to become dangerous.

I would also like to change this statement Religion has caused more harm than ANY OTHER SOURCE into "HUMANS have caused more harm than any other source". I think you understand why. Religion is man-made, you cannot blame something superficial as religion solely for the faults of the world. You have to look at the source. The source is you, me, and everyone else around us. You say you do not have any respect for religious beliefs. Are you aware of how many different beliefs there are? Probably a unique set of beliefs more similar or different for every single human on this earth, and then I am not even accounting major world religions here. You sound greatly disappointed in how certain atheists deal with this problem. I however, find that you have a certain lack of tolerance and generalize a group of people. That is for me, a lack of respect towards the single individual with religous beliefs. I know religious people whom I respect a lot, Christians, Pagans.

Do I also need to cite that religion HAVE positive effects? It can for example, unite a family. Atheism cannot really do that in the same way, because atheism isn't practiced. If you say something like "but if the whole family is interested in soccer it can unite a family too" you obviously completely missed the point with my example.

It has also been noted that religious people are more happy in general than non-religious. You can go ahead and question why, like for example they are happy in ignorant bliss. That might be true, but fact remains, they are still happy according to the survey I read.

Also, religion has, particularly for Jews, united a whole race of people. Without their religious identity they as nomads could be anyone. Can you clearly say a Jew is a Jew without practicing anything which is special for Jewish culture? We cannot say that Jewish culture is specific for a certain area of the world, like we can say that sushi is a typical Asian/Japanese dish, where the identification of this very type of food is centered towards a small area of the world. Would we still consider sushi sushi if it was served exactly the same but came from another country? I doubt so. Chances are we would consider it to be something different.

I agree that religion has been used as an excuse many times in the examples you cite. But I cannot hold religion itself to be blamed for that. I blame the institution, the leaders who brainwash all these poor believers. Can you hold a whole race responsible for one man's fault? I mean, would you like us Europeans to jump out at you Americans just because we think G. W. Bush is a dickhead? When I encounter a religious person, I judge that person of how they act, not on solely on their beliefs. Would you prefer people acting out as soon they get to know you are an atheist instead of judging who you really are?

If this religious person turns out to be a very nice guy/gal, can think on their own and not taking everything written in their religious texts literary, then I see no problem with them being believers. Would they somehow believe the world is still flat, then I would show them all the evidence that we have that the world truly isn't. If that person still isn't convinced just because a book says so, well, that's that person's problem, not mine. Why waste your energy and time on lost causes?

You say you talk about respect, but if you show lack of respect towards others, how can you expect them to respect you back?
I don't respect religion. But I do respect other people's right to believe what they wish. LeaT already said it but if they believe something despite evidence to the contrary that isn't my problem, at least not directly. Also not all respect needs to be earned. Each and every human being on this planet deserves at least a minimum level of respect simply out of common courtesy and decency. I respect every persons right to their own belief. I don't respect people that act like bigots, people that discriminate against me or my family for any reason. Failing that I will continue to respect a person's right to religion no matter how distasteful I find it.

I think you do our cause a disservice by citing 9/11 and the Holocaust as examples of the evils of religion. It's no better than those theists that say atheism is evil by citing Pol Pot, Stalin and Mao. There are good and bad people in every religion, or community. I don't want to be judged by bad atheists any more than a believer wants to be judged by those Westboro Church asshats.

To answer your question. Charity. True enough you don't need religion for charity but let's be honest here. That's one thing that religion does much better than we secularists. Community is another. Again, while it's possible to find community and common ground outside religion there are few organizations that do it better than religion. But, I won't argue that these are reasons for keeping religion around artificially. If religion were to die off like it has in some European countries I would be fine and dandy with that.
Dawn said:

I think you do our cause a disservice by citing 9/11 and the Holocaust as examples of the evils of religion. It's no better than those theists that say atheism is evil by citing Pol Pot, Stalin and Mao. There are good and bad people in every religion, or community.

I agree completely.
Lea's covered it pretty well here. You'd do well to distinguish between institutionalized, organized religions/ fundamentalists / activists, and something a person chooses to believe passively, no matter how irrationally.

I don't have a problem with those who keep their faiths to themselves, or only use them as constructive and personal, out of legislature, and away from military force. Even the big three in this state aren't much different than other benign forms of spirituality. If I can meditate, they can pray; its really the same thing at the core. Its not respect for them or their beliefs, its apathy.

Unfortunately it seems that most religious can't keep it to themselves, and feel the need to direct everyone else, infect the schools, corrupt children, and try to legislate it. Then I have problems.

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