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.
Oh yes, I gave him a good tongue lashing. Well, his nonsense may be OK for you but his "Appreciating the wisdom of religion" is very simply a lie. Pure and uncomplicated. I speak from first hand knowledge after enduring years of beatings, broken bones, hair pulling, for my children and wife rape for me. We would traipse into church, carrying our bibles, listen to sermons on obedience and submission and sacrifice, and when I pleaded for help from the religious community all we heard was "Love him to the lord," "turn the other cheek." Of the 27 women in my family 23 were battered. Battered children and women were "normal"! Damn them. Self righteous, egotistical, holier-than-thou, hypocritical, sanctimonious, deluded, hollow, parasitic, thugs!
I invite anyone who does not like my vitriol to block me. I don't take it personally. You are entitled to read the kinds of nonsense he shovels out; I do not remain silent.
You didn't know I am such a bad-ass did you! Well don't tread on me.
On second thought, I am out of her.
Here's a thought for you, Joan, relating to Chris' interest in finding good in the bible:
One might look for good in multiple places, and with varying possibilities of success. Might I find such good in the Malleus Maleficarum ... or in Mein Kampf? Is it possible that I would find some goodness or virtue in the teachings of David Koresh or James Jones?
Or ... might I go with a source which was PREDOMINANTLY GOOD ... rather than wasting my time with sources which were so perverted that whatever decency they might have was all but lost in violence, misogyny, indulgent patriarchy, xenophobia and homophobia?
Chris (if you're still listening), the bible is hardly an original document. It is demonstrably true that a great deal of its supposed good either derived or is available from alternative sources. Indeed, the dictum of "Do Unto Others" has multiple sources, including ancient Greece and Egypt, among others. On another board, a friend of mine suggested that Aesop's Fables might be a better moral referent than the bible ever was, and while I am not as conversant with Aesop as he was, I am inclined to agree.
But when you break it down, the bible gives its own judgment criterion: "By their fruits, shall you know them." From where I sit, again to borrow from the bible, it has been weight and measured and found wanting. If you wish to attempt to find some benefit from it, no one here is stopping you. But turning the other cheek and the harm done to others versus oneself ... no, I don't accept either of those supposed examples, and you haven't an argument sufficient to alter my point of view.
I and indeed most of my friends here do at least reasonably well without the bible, the quran, and most any other holy book, and that is good enough for me. I am willing to leave you to whatever devices you find of value. Kindly leave me to mine.
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.