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← Moral compass: a guide to religious freedom

Red Dog's Avatar Jump to comment 4 by Red Dog

Comment 2 by raytoman :

Religion has no important or unique role in peoples lives, except where they are the ones who use it to exercise power and control over others (typically the inventers, perpetrators or leaders of the 9,000 plus versions of the parasite).

One of my favorite living American writers is Elmore Leonard. In his short story "Fire in the Hole" the hero US marshall Rayland is talking to a white supremacist named Boyd who is ranting about how the Jews control the world and are destroying the lives of decent white folk. After Boyd rants for a while Rayland looks at him and says "Boyd, have you ever even met a Jew?"

I'm reminded of that passage every time I read something like that on this site. If you think that religion "has no important or unique role in peoples lives, except where they are the ones who use it to exercise power and control over others" I have to wonder if you have ever talked seriously to many religious people. I have. I'm an atheist myself but some of my best friends are religious. And I can tell you that religion plays a very important and unique role in their lives in ways that have nothing to do with controlling others.

I used to work in mental health. I saw that religon can play an enormous role to help people turn their lives around and get off of drugs and alcohol. I have and still am active in politics. Some of the most dedicated people I've met are Christians who believe that Christ's mission meant you work hard to bring justice to the people who need it the most. I've known theists who put me to shame in their dedication to working for others. Oh and they didn't judge me because I was an atheist. As long as I was willing to help they were more than happy to accept me and work with me.

None of this means I think religion is true or something we should preserve. I just don't want to start acting like an atheist fundamentalist who views anyone who disagrees with me as automatically evil or stupid.

Also, ethics aside if we really want to move beyond religion we need to understand it. To understand it we need to use the same scientific methods we use to understand any other pheonomena. If we just start with the bias that religion has never contributed anything positve to humanity we can't be any more objective than a Christian fundamentalist trying to understand evolution.

Sun, 24 Jun 2012 00:56:13 UTC | #947984