I continue to run up against this in my conversations with local atheists: "yes, but I still think there is a lot of bad that religions cause and we need to make them stop". This, of course is a paraphrase. I find it is always in response to any suggestion of setting aside the ranting and complaining about religions and moving on to creating community and doing service to address social and human problems.
So I am wondering to myself (since I can't seem to get anyone to engage in the debate): what evidence is there that religion is the root cause of most all of the world's problems? I am willing to grant the "no, religion is not behind all of the world's problems, but it is making things much worse..." argument. I request that we make a list of what are the biggest problems facing the world (and the humanity in it).
Just for the sake of this thread, I will suggest that hunger, poverty, water, disease, overpopulation, and degradation of ecosystems are the top problems in the world. How would atheism address these issues? Here is the generalized response I seems to get:
Hunger, Water, and Poverty: "well, if religion wasn't always supporting the rich, the status quo, and keeping people subservient, everyone could have enough to eat. If religions didn't oppress people no one would adhere to their religion."
Disease: "If religion didn't suppress science and medicine with superstitious beliefs and policies, diseases would be eradicated. If religions didn't keep people sick no one would adhere to their religion."
Overpopulation: "If religion didn't promote having as many kids as possible, there would not be a population problem. If religions didn't encourage their followers to have more kids, eventually there would not be enough adherents to their religion for them to maintain control."
Degradation of ecosystems: "If religion didn't make people believe in second comings, raptures, flesh-is-evil, afterlife, etc, people would take better care of their ecosystems. Instead, religions promote the idea that the earth is to be dominated or is of no eternal value."
In response to this kind of thinking, I ask the question: do you have evidence for these claims?
In my mind, if there is such strong evidence for this abuse of the earth and humanity, then all those smart people who study and have studied world problems all these years are co-conspirators and dupes of religious powers. If the answers are as simple as those outlined above, there is a deep seated conspiracy to cover up this evil in the world. Apparently even the quasi-atheistic societies of the Scandinavian variety are being controlled by this shadow government of gods. Bring forth the evidence and "to arms"!