I am saddened by the knee-jerk hatred of religion some people here demonstrate. I see nothing to hate in religion per se. Sure, religion has led to some hateful actions. It has also led to some noble actions. I see it as no different than any other human activity: blessed with some good things, cursed with some bad things. There's lots of room for comparing and contrasting the good with the bad, and I would never argue with anybody else's overall conclusion as the ratio of the good to the bad. If you want to declare that religion has been 99% evil and 1% good, I won't argue with you. Indeed, I myself cannot imagine how I would calculate such a number. However, I do insist and will argue the point that religion has had some benefits for humanity.

The benefit that I'd like to focus on here is the wisdom that we sometimes find in religion. I'll cite three religious ideas that I think deserve our respect and indeed are useful.

The first is a quote I use all the time, sometimes against religious believers: "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's." In the first place, this statement, combined with the statement "My kingdom is not of this earth" is a clear admonition to keep religion out of the secular sphere. Can you think of any better justification for separation of church and state? The same thing applies to creationism and other religious intrusions into science. Render unto science, etc. Christ himself declared that religion must be confined to the spiritual. So keep your big fat religious nose out of science!

The second idea I find appealing is "Turn the other cheek." It's a powerful statement against anger, against revenge, and for pacifism. 

The third idea is Eastern: the notion that evil harms oneself more than it harms others: when you sin, you irreparably injure your psyche. Virtue is more than its own reward: it's mental hygiene.

There are many more valuable ideas that can be gained from religious thought. I should think that a prudent atheist would shamelessly steal those ideas.

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Labeling me a troll because you disagree with me seems a little overmuch, doesn't it? Do you propose to ostracize atheists who don't toe the Party Line as you define it? Is there no room in your perception of the community of atheists for disagreements? 

Yes.  Yes, that's exactly what I intend to do (eye-roll).  Buh-Bye!

 I entirely agree with Chris. The troll label should not be so easily used. I myself had a very bad experience from a so called freethinker who was unwilling accept some freethinking from a fellow atheist.

Madhukar, I read your posts then and replied to some of them.

In some of them I saw more than just freethinking, but I didn't want to engage you in debate.

I too occasionally express myself with more certainty than people want. I sound like an announcer.

Some people point out to me what they don't like; many don't.

Chris, I too think you're trolling.

You're in deep water here and I don't see you as wanting to learn how to swim.

Tom Sarbeck:

"You're in deep water here and I don't see you as wanting to learn how to swim."

Good analogy. I agree with you completely.

Time and again, I have declared here on various that I am not a god and religion hater and sometimes have even opposed such hate. I however do not agree that we can gain something good from religion.

 I am an atheist for over 40 years. I had never acquired much influence of religion and have completely shed whatever little I may have had 50 yeas ago. I completely depend on my conscious and I am leading a good moral life. I neither believe nor accept the argument that religions have something good to give us. Our conscious is good enough to tell us what is good or not good. It can tell us everything good that religions may be telling us, without the side effects of religion. When all man-made divisions among us, including the religions, will vanish eventually, we will have to depend on our conscious to evolve a code for good moral conduct.

Well, it's a shame that you have not been able to derive any intellectual benefit from religion. I went through a period of dismissing all religious thought as superstitious nonsense, but once I matured past that, I started perusing the huge array of religious writings. There's certainly a lot of chaff to sift through, but there are also some valuable ideas. After all, for roughly 1500 years, the brightest minds of Western thought were devout Christians. To dismiss the output of those minds seems to me to waste a huge opportunity. Do you really believe that Roger Bacon, Copernicus, Erasmus, Augustine, and Aquinas had nothing of value to say? Have you read anything by any of these writers?

Chris Crawford,

You amaze me. You do not seem to accept the fact that good conscious of a modern day person whose thinking faculties have evolved to a level much higher than those of an ancient man, can give him everything that religion can give. I do not think that there is anything to be ashamed of what I have said. If I am leading a much better moral life that many religious people around me then what is there shameful in saying so? If I do not want the useless baggage that comes with religious thought then I also do not want to do anything with all the names you have mentioned. A freethinker does not want to inherit any kind of baggage.

This is another assumption on your part that is purely based on uninformed opinion. Other great minds included many thinkers and philosophers who were not Xtian based.

Thomas Paine was a brilliant thinker that impacted the likes of Hegel and Marx. No, I really don't hold much in the way of respect for the philosophically tortured reasoning of the likes of St. Thomas Aquinas. I really do feel you are essentially a troll apologist sniffing around to see if you can cause non-believers in the fairy tale of Xtianity to reconsider their position. Fuggedaboutit. 

Christian Soldier:

"Thomas Paine was a brilliant thinker that impacted the likes of Hegel and Marx. No, I really don't hold much in the way of respect for the philosophically tortured reasoning of the likes of St. Thomas Aquinas. I really do feel you are essentially a troll apologist sniffing around to see if you can cause non-believers in the fairy tale of Xtianity to reconsider their position. Fuggedaboutit."

Very much agreed.

Madhukar, a week ago I read that Rudyard Kipling, late in his life, wrote that what people learn when they are children "they accept as eternally established."

Rejecting that kind of stuff requires more than the toss of a coin. Many people here, and I too, were much influenced by religion when we were too young to protect ourselves. In our struggles to free ourselves, we need a vigor you did not need.

In this discussion, Chris Crawford has made it clear that he does not want to free himself.

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