First of all, I don't think religious belief is extremely destructive. I agree that intrinsically divisive, irrational and unfalsifiable beliefs about the nature of reality are frightening in the 21st century. You don't need to look far in this age of terrorism for evidence of this.
Yes, religion has committed atrocities. Yes, nonbelievers have less reason to act so destructively. And yes, religion is not necessary for a good life. Most of us agree there.
BUT, religion is not always or even often destructive. Although most Christians (I have no experience with members of other religions, sorry) would be fine without their religion-I'm not claiming they can't- it's a characteristic of religion's circular logic to convince people that God is the only source of meaning and morality. It is extremely sad when a delusion is all a person relies on for self-worth, but, there are people who DO rely on it to get along. For example, I know a couple Marines who can only cope with the guilt of having taken human life by believing that God forgives them.
I may be preaching to the choir here, but I hope you all realize that being religious also does not make a person stupid. Neither does it make a person immoral, or crazy, or particularly different from you!
If I've learned anything from losing my faith, it's that there is always a chance I'm wrong in holding a particular belief. We all are equally succeptible to confirmation bias and logical inconsistency. Waving around the banner of "intellectual" "skeptic" and "freethinker" as a way to exalt yourself is betraying the very values we are representing.
Now on to my main point. Nonbelievers are in the minority, de facto atheists even smaller. Are we hindering our own progress by being so strident? Not all people who label themselves with a particular religion subscribe to all its ideas. Are antitheists like thunderf00t and Hitchens for example isolating moderates and liberals? Please tell me what you think.
Thanks guys, and this is an awesome forum :)
Thanks, Your Holiness,
I'm learning a lot on this thread. I learned long ago that communicating irony, flippancy, and even light-heartedness is very difficult in e-communications. I'm in the process of learning the addendum, "...so don't even try."
As an ESOL teacher, I'm used to telling students that the most effective way to learn is to do. Unfortunately doing, in this discipline, means laying bare one's shortcomings.
Thanks, Your Holiness,
OMG, the irony! I must knock myself down a notch, now:
"Yes, well, whatever you say. Perhaps a bit of review of the history of science is in order?"
I would suggest that a few classes of geophysics, would also be helpful. ;p)