Because we exist as members of Homo sapiens sapiens, we live as social animals and need human community involvement. It doesn't always exist for individuals because of learned behaviors. For those who do not have attachments, life can be pretty grim. By carefully building bonds with people we can flourish to full capacity.
I have seen too much in my 77 years to be able to remain silent in the face of religious teachings. There is something about doing research in 32 nations of the world, and my major research point was the role of religion in women's lives, I know the harmful effect religion has on women. To exist as a human being and deliberately to be placed in a subordinate role to a male is simply outrageous. To believe it is a privilege to be submissive leaves no room for flourishing and wellbeing.
Looking at cultures that support female development and the benefit that brings to all its members leaves no room for dominance/submission, active/passive, and independent/dependent based on gender.
As to moral and ethical cores, they always come from within, not by some scripture, or memories of New Stone Age people.
All we have to do is to look at differences in USA culture to glean evidence in support of my claims. Does prayer change what happens to us? I don't think so. Change depends on how the individual perceives reality. I see it in the chemo room at Cancer Care Northwest. Those who pray for healing, or for strength or for calm in the face of what the tough chemo does to the body, and they continue to pray about what happens to them even after death. They seek an external source of relief from pain, suffering and depression.
Those who make a decision to undergo the tough chemo treatment because of what research shows to be most effective, also make a decision to experience very rough occurrences. Those who develop support systems of professional medically trained doctors and technicians and support staff, even to janitors and who build emotional support of family and friends, make the kinds of decisions that require self-responsibility. There is no magic in the process. The individual mind/body/spirit exists within one's own countenance and to rely on external power results in notions of failure. Not enough prayer, or not the right prayer, or not good enough prayer to beat the monster known as cancer.
Those who flourish in the process of taking in poisons take full responsibility for their decisions, have no one or nothing to blame, and face death with equanimity, or so says the research and reports of professional and family members.
Death is not a thing to be feared; it is part of the process of having been born. It is never an end, it is a change of energy forces from being part of the carbon cycle, and when that energy returns to the natural elements, there is nothing to hope for or fear. The organs stop pumping, the decay process begins, and living forms return to the elements of nature. Our immortality resides in the memories of others.
I know the suffering caused by religion. I see the harmful effects all around me and throughout history. Religion is a learned behavior, taught by people who desire dominion over all that swims, crawls and flies. That is a power/over intention, not a power/with intention. To give up domination is to give up privilege, a price many are not willing and able to do.
Religion isn't just a learned behavior, it's a TAUGHT behavior ... or should I say, INDOCTRINATED. This is the method which irrational belief has used for centuries to reinforce and bolster its position. For a long time, it had no argument against it, no rebuttal, no counter. Then came Galileo and others like him, and that began the process, the shift in the balance of power.
What we have now is far more valuable - the internet. An open, capacious and accessible means to tap information on a scale never before imagined. A means available to far more people than any single expert or book or library ever was. A means to express oneself and exchange ideas, to gain exposure to other ideas, to analyze, evaluate, and critique, and therewith come to more well-considered and informed conclusions.
Religion held those abilities to itself for a very long time, and because of that, it held the power and influence. And because of THAT, people were pawns, thralls, helpless in the face of the control exercised over them. NO MORE. Access to knowledge, to data, to information is no longer privileged, no longer sequestered, no longer exclusive to an elite few ... and because of that, I have to say again that simple yet profound statement I first heard from YouTube member Thunderf00t:
The internet is where religion goes TO DIE.