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.
I applaud you sir. I could not have said it better myself.
I am an old man with nothing to lose. I can speak the truth and to hell with the consequences.
Philip, your words are much like those of an Englishman who told England's King James 2nd that he preferred a republic to a monarchy.
James soon fled England with his head still attached. His departure brought to an end England's famed Glorious (and bloodless) Revolution.
Chris Crawford seems to have abandoned this discussion. I would invite him back to tell us atheists what good we can gain from religions that we cannot get otherwise.
My perceptions of this discussion could be a tweak off, but it seems to me that this poor fellow Chris is searching for discussion, and getting animosity instead (not from all, but some of these charges against him are very startling, I must say).
For those of you who feel strongly about this man, or assume he is an apologist in disguise - pretend for a moment he isn't, then ask if your demeanours towards him wouldn't better be suited by focusing more on the ideas, and not the man?
I don't intend this to point the finger at anyone, it just pains me to see what could have been a very enlightening and productive conversation, seemingly go to complete waste.
As to the conversation, Chris - if you haven't abandoned the topic, as others have predicted - it's true that morally beneficial things can be garnered from religion (I could name just a few, but this is your topic, so I'm assuming you're aware of more than I am?). Surely, though, you can recognize that the overwhelming nature of the negative will far surpass those few positives in the public eye, and therefore are deserving of the same ratio of "airtime", if you will?
As Brother Richard clearly states in the requirements for membership in A/N, "Atheist Nexus is a community for nontheists ONLY! This is NOT a site to convert others or debate the existence of god(s). There are plenty of other sites to do this. Violators will be banned instantly and permanently."
Atheists have so few places to have discussions about nontheism that I am a little selfish when I find one. On the other hand theists bombard me from every direction with their proselytizing. If Chris is looking for a discussion on the wisdom of religion he will have no problem finding this all around and over him. And good luck to him in this.
If Chris is truly a nontheist, then more than a hearty welcome to him. If he is not truly a nontheist, then I have a problem having him on A/N. He said nothing during his time here to convince me that he is truly a nontheist. In fact, me thinks he doth protest too much.
Taking religion as a whole picture and not just little snippets of "turn the other cheek," I see absolutely no wisdom in religion.
Chris' personal pages indicate he is no longer a member. Best wishes to him on his journey whatever that is.
@Lillie good point - I think for me, he does more strongly advocate the positives of religion than the negative, but in my opinion this doesn't necessarily make him a theist, that's all. I think I agree with everything you've said, though.
Did you miss Chris' earlier attempt, which he had titled Religion's Contribution to Western Civilization?
He stated his views there and--bad timing--Joan found his discussion and replied.
Chris retreated and regrouped, changed his title, and largely repeated his earlier views here.
Among several thinkers(?) Chris admired he included Roger Bacon, no relation to Francis Bacon. Google Roger Bacon and you will find little more than it's the name of a Catholic high school in Cincinnati, where my dad sent me to Catholic schools. Had I lived in western Cincy rather than eastern, I might have gone to RBHS.
Because so few people know of Roger Bacon, I figured the rigidity of Chris' thinking as a product of Catholicism. I once made use of a similar rigidity. Search Wikipedia for Roger Bacon and you'll see him described as a Scholastic, who like the Catholic Aquinas regarded what he read in books as evidence equivalent to the findings of science.
"Did you miss Chris' earlier attempt, which he had titled Religion's Contribution to Western Civilization?"
I think I must have - strange that he would repost something new as well. I'll admit, the fact that he so strongly lauded the couple of "good" things that he sees with religion, while, in my opinion, sloughed off the eons of humanitarian travesties did look a little bit suspicious to me.
"...who like the Catholic Aquinas regarded what he read in books as evidence equivalent to the findings of science."
I can scarcely stand the writings of Aquinas, so if this hero of his reasons in any similar manner, I'm not sure it would have anything of value to contribute to a discussion here today... yikes. Thanks for the extra info!
My point is that religion may have some thing good to offer but if it is not so that only religion can give it then why praise religion alone? If my conscious can do the same thing then I do not want to waste my sympathies on religion.
You are a kind person but have misplaced sympathies. Chris has left without giving any reply.
Chris did explain his reasons for leaving but in another discussion.
Go to an early page in this discussion, find his name and click on it.
On his personal page you'll see what he wrote on a discussion with a title about leaving, maybe "Best Wishes".
Go to that discussion and you'll see a post in which he tells his reasons.
From reading his stuff, I concluded he is a Catholic with far more knowledge of religion and history than the typical graduate of Catholic schools. I won't be surprised if he says somewhere that he studied to become a priest.
Tom, you have read me slightly incorrectly. I said that Chris has left without replying to my point.