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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I read Mein Kampf about 40 years ago and concluded that Hitler was one smart guy. I don't recall the details that led me to conclude that.

WW1 reparations hurt the German economy badly and people were hurting. Believing he would help them, they elected him. He then showed the world he was insane.

After WW2 the Allies resolved that they would not again hurt the German people so much that they would choose another mad savior.

I tried to argue the demerits of religion with Chris, and show how religion is detrimental and inimical to human life and welfare, but he stuck to his guns and would have none of it. I'm sorry, but I have to believe that Chris is a theist plain and simple. Hell, the icon he used for his posts looks like some kind of 15th century theist.

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