I'm talking about all religions and every religion in general. What are your reasons? 

TEN. 
Religion and religious persons impose their faith into public policy and politics. Where it clearly doesn't belong.


NINE. 
Religion is still very much mediatory in the schools of nations such as Republic of Ireland, where it has no place. Churches were built for a reason. This makes many members of other faiths and no faiths feel uncomfortable and excluded during a time when young persons find it difficult to fit in as it is. It isn't a matter of talking about religion, but actively telling young persons to practice it mandatory. 


EIGHT. 
Many nations make it difficult for the non-religous to have any sort of successful career in politics (and being honest about their lack of faith at the same time)


SEVEN. 
Many religious groups impose their views of abortion on others and seek to make abortion illegal. Because of religion in other nations it now is or has been for sometime, outlawed medial practice. Abortion is not murder, murder is the illegal killing of a human being, not a pre-human being. 


SIX. 
Religion demonises many educational fields in contrast with its doctrine, such as certain aspects of history and many accepted theories 


FIVE. 
There have been cases in the United States and some other country where person's have lost their jobs due to lack of faith or alternative faiths and sometimes on the bases of sexual orientation (which is thought to be justified because of certain beliefs)


FOUR. 
Religion tries to justify many forms of discrimination including but not limited to, homophobia, sexism, racism and class


THREE.
Certain nations such as Iran and Uganda take their discrimination justified by religious beliefs a step further by improving atheists and murdering homosexuals


TWO. 
Religion has caused many to rebel against its corruption. While this mostly occurs in changing religions or declaring oneself atheist; that is not always the next direction for some. For some they take that faith and change it for their own purposes, often resulting in more extreme and harmful faith systems mostly regarded as cults. These cults involve all sorts of dangerous acts, such as mass suicide and sometimes violent attacks of non-beleivers of their faith. 


ONE:
Religion has literally caused people to go to war due to the influence of the faith and disagreement with certain policies based on religious beliefs (especially when a doctrine influences such actions)

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@Keith, I'm sorry that during your time as a Catholic you had poor teachers.  Scripture is only one source of information that informs the Catholic faith, and we are not fundamentalist in our interpretation.  The pope himself in official teaching has endorsed evolution, and a robust, scientific explanation for the origins of the universe and the origins of species is perfectly compatible with the Catholic faith.

I'm also not quite sure how you arrived at the conclusion that religions are about control.  I think perhaps there is an extent to which religions of all sorts teach self-control.   Resisting temptation, not simply pursuing individual lusts or desire for power over others or money or whatnot.  I'm not sure that teaching self-control is a bad thing, are you? 

Governments seem to be more about control than religions.  Do you object to them as well?  That's real, call-out-the-police, throw-you-in-jail-at-gunpoint control, after all.   In many ways, Madison Avenue advertisers and PR firms are about control, or at least manipulation so as to profit from others.   Employers and the modern employment system is very much about control, especially with the decline of unions.  Do these things merit a top ten list as well in your mind?

RE: "Governments seem to be more about control than religions.  Do you object to them as well?"

I have a better idea - let's discuss the king (government) who was excommunicated by the Pope (religion), and traveled to the Vatican and was made to stand outside, in the cold, waiting for an audience with His Holiness, in the hope of having the excommunication lifted (control).

In the USA, the Religious Right are trying to once again take control of the government and turn it into a theocracy, and in Islamic countries, religion controls every aspect of human life, so yeah, when they try to cram religion down our throats, I certainly, "object to them as well."

Come now, archaeopteryx, you're an atheist, are you not?  How much would you feel controlled if I were to excommunicate you from my religion?  Somehow I don't think you'd feel very threatened.

Religious teaching, by itself, really isn't very threatening. 

I think that we also want to be careful about generalizations about "Islamic countries."  They range from relatively secular democracies like Turkey to true aristocratic monarchies like Saudi to hybrid theocracies like Iran.  It's quite a range.

Prof Bob - obviously I wouldn't, but then I'm not Henry IV.

RE: "Religious teaching, by itself, really isn't very threatening." - Right - there's nothing at all threatening about telling little children in Bible School that if they don't toe god's line, they'll go to hell and writhe in flames forever - but god loves you --

I'm quite aware of the wide range of adherence to Islamic customs, but what response would you expect if you asked any of them what the Koran says about apostates?

First of all I'll never respect the authority of the pope, I've no respect for him. He is a homophobic amongst other things (the current pope included). That aside Catholicism is a form of Christianity, you shouldn't be caring what the pope says, he's just a figurehead. 

How I arrived at the conclusion that religion is about control. Well taking the Bible for example it basically teaches "believe in me, or burn". It controls people with fear tactics. What you call self-control I call unhealthy suppression.  The evidence for that is the Catholic priests themselves, we all know how that panned out for them and their scandals. 

Most Governments are controlled by the religious. Non-religous government heads are a minority.  We don't have a decline of unions in Ireland, as a matter of fact our constitution demands it as our rights as employees in Ireland.  

It might seem a bit unfair to say this, but there is a very good chance that the majority of company owners in American (I'm assuming that is the country you are talking about, correct me if I'm wrong) are religious people. Any sort of leader that is religious can be wrongly making decisions based on their faith, I've already illustrated this point.  Governments put legislations in to make religious oaths in order to elect new members for parliament, employers law off staff whose religion or lack there off they don't agree with.  Those employers may not openly admit it, but they are getting away with it.  

"Well taking the Bible for example it basically teaches "believe in me, or burn".

Interesting.  Where do you think the bible says that, @Keith? 

There really are very few references to 'burning' of any sort.  The notion of hell or ultimate judgment is a Christian one, and almost wholly absent from the Old Testament.  In the New Testament, the rare references say nothing about belief and "burning".  Condemnation is limited to those who fail to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, care for the ill.  The essence of the teaching is an obligation to charity.

"What you call self-control I call unhealthy suppression."

Thou shalt not steal?  Thou shalt not commit adultery?  Thou shalt not bear false witness?  Thou shalt not covet?  

Is it really unhealthy to suppress the investment banker's urge to seek excessive profit at the expense of the subprime mortgage holder?  Truly unhealthy to resist the temptation to cheat on your spouse?  Such an awful thing to be content with your home instead of envying your neighbor's bigger house? 

RE: "almost wholly absent from the Old Testament." - let's hear it for qualifiers --!

Believe in me or burn? 

Revelation 21:8

"But for the cowardly and UNBELIEVING and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

(I'm putting emphasis on "unbelief" here. Obviously I don't condone the murderers) 

Most of the 10 commandments, is basic common sense. I don't steal, cheat etc by choice.  As for coveting? I do want certain things others have, so I work to get these things honestly.  I see a person wearing a nice jacket, I will want one and if I can afford it I will buy one. Bear false witness? Aka lying.  Sometimes we are put in positions where we have to lie; thats life.  The important thing is that I'm honest with myself and I am not hurting others if I have to lie. 


When I speak of suppression I am simply speaking of human nature and natural aspects of nature itself etc.  I don't think profit has much to do with human nature, it has become a big part of our culture in western society alright, but it isn't really human nature. So your argument here doesn't really relate to suppression. Banks are basically companies, and in companies policies can be changed, it has nothing to do with suppression; it has everything to do with adapting to the economy. 

10.  Do you really think that atheists don't try to influence public policy according to their beliefs?  In a democracy, don't we accept that each person is going to contribute to the debate from their own perspective?

The standard should be that the beliefs in question are assailable to reason. If I claim that there should be a nationwide ban on wearing socks with sandals, I should be able to provide an objective argument pleading this case and not a mere statement of belief. Otherwise, how can anything be settled if we are just pitting raw belief against raw belief?

To what extent should schools reflect and propagate the local culture?  Isn't that partly the role of a school?

Depends on how it is done. A school can accommodate culture without promoting specific views under the weight of its authority. A school can also address these things academically. Neither case should unreasonably infringe on anyone's personal freedoms.

For instance, I supported the existence of a friend's prayer group in secondary school provided the group was entirely voluntary and open to all students regardless of their views. I had no problem with some festivities concerning religious holidays (or the commercialized versions). I also took world religions as a course, and some aspects of religion were discussed in philosophy as well.

I'm curious, when does a human become a human?  What genetically or developmentally makes something "pre-human"? 

Genetically, we all became human millions of years ago and have biologically remained human in a continuous line of reproduction. This issue deals with rights as persons, not with our humanity itself. The rights of persons are doled out over a long period of time for various reasons. Fetuses are not typically considered persons owing to their lack of independence, individual will, perception and general personality traits. As these things increase, so too do the rights of personhood. While it is difficult to draw clearcut lines under this standard, I think the premise itself is reasonably sound.

@Kris, it would be wonderful if all of our politicians held positions which were "assailable to reason", but I'm not hugely hopeful.  It raises an interesting question in terms of constructing a democracy, though.  Who is going to be the arbiter of what is rational?  Should we restrict the vote to only those with a college degree, who may be more rational?  Have all potential voters pass a test on reasoning skills? 

In many ways, the eugenics movement was imminently rational:  sterilizing genetically "inferior" humans should reduce social costs.   In the end, the religious argument that it is more dangerous to dehumanize groups of people within a society prevailed, with the exception of modern abortion. 

I agree with you with respect to schools.  There are good ways and bad ways to teach, and teaching from "authority" is a bad way.  One of the challenges we have in the U.S. is that we essentially have monopoly public education, which makes it much easier to teach from "authority" and not be accommodating of various viewpoints.

With respect to genetics, I think we're talking hundreds of thousands of years, not millions.  You're quite right, though, @Keith I think is talking about the rights of human persons.   Where we draw lines does matter a great deal to those affected by those lines.  Do we really want to make legal protections dependent on "perception and general personality traits?".  I doubt it.  Many adults aren't "independent".   These questions are more psycho-sociological in nature, in terms of what makes for healthier individuals and societies.  Religion does a better job with these than the principles of physical science, because the religions that have survived over the millenia did so by encouraging healthier societies.  They are the survivors of natural social selection.

Assailable to reason does not mean that the end result is always perfectly rational. It simply means that the proposition is capable of being rationally and objectively examined.

Imagine, if you will, a lawyer submits evidence for a trial which is locked in a box. He says the box contains the murder weapon which bears the fingerprints of the accused, yet the lawyer refuses to unlock the box. Perhaps the box truly does contain the murder weapon as stated, but what use is that if no one is able to evaluate the evidence? no court would ever entertain such a thing.

Now let's say that the same lawyer provides the same murder weapon on its own, free for examination? Sure, the forensics team may botch the examination, the jury may not understand the evidence or some other issue could go wrong, but no one can accuse the lawyer of fault.

So what I am saying is that the person presenting a proposition needs to present it in a way that the judge, opposing council, and jury have a fair crack at evaluating it. 

Eugenics would fit the bill as a general concept. It can be discussed and examined rationally. It can be agreed or disagreed with rationally.

In the end, the religious argument that it is more dangerous to dehumanize groups of people within a society prevailed, with the exception of modern abortion. 

That is 'a' religious argument and not 'the' religious argument. It is also 'a' secular argument and can be made independently of any religious structures. (yes, I am aware you likely were not using 'the' that way, but I am making a separate point).

With respect to genetics, I think we're talking hundreds of thousands of years, not millions.

I was referring to the genus Homo and potentially beyond, not specifically modern humans -- homo sapiens sapiens, so I mean millionsGranted, it was a minor point, but that point was about continuity and the awkwardness of 'genetically human'. Human genetic traits predate our particular species, and a solely genetic argument has its fuzziness. 

Do we really want to make legal protections dependent on "perception and general personality traits?". I doubt it.  Many adults aren't "independent".

And as such, many of them have a more limited set of rights. It's not binary; it's a continuum. That said, a fetus represents an extreme in this regard.

Religion does a better job with these than the principles of physical science, because the religions that have survived over the millenia did so by encouraging healthier societies. 

Speculative and unsubstantiated. Religious cultures run the full gamut of abject failures to successes. Non-religious communities represent a minority and in many cases lack depth of history, yet still seem to run a similar gamut. We would need much better data to determine if one or the other does a 'better' job, or if it has any significant aspect at all.

Your comparison to natural selection is faulty. No one trait is superior on the basis that it has stood the test of time. Even deleterious traits survive if the host organism or species has sufficient advantages overall.

RE: "10.  Do you really think that atheists don't try to influence public policy according to their beliefs?  In a democracy, don't we accept that each person is going to contribute to the debate from their own perspective?"

Of course we do, but only as a counter-measure, to offset the influence of America's Religious Wrong.

RE: "9.  That's a valid point, but here's the question:  To what extent should schools reflect and propagate the local culture?  Isn't that partly the role of a school?  Should a school in a liberal democracy teach those values, even though it makes it hard for a conservative Islamic girl to fit in?"

Only to the extent that Constitutional separation of church and State allows it.

RE: "10.  Do you really think that atheists don't try to influence public policy according to their beliefs?  In a democracy, don't we accept that each person is going to contribute to the debate from their own perspective?"

This confuses me - if we teach science, as opposed to magic, it could as well create a situation where a fundamentalist Christian could have an equally difficult time, "fitting in," but at the same time, he/she could well learn to distinguish between reality and ideology.

RE: "What system of government would you choose to impose instead of democracy? " - a democracy works just fine with me, religion is losing converts every second, and the time will come when we will outnumber them.

RE: "6. Do you perhaps mean "some religions"?  My religion did its best to preserve history and respects science." - would this be the same religion that waited until 1998 to admit that in the 1600's, they were wrong to accuse Galileo of heresy for saying that the Earth revolved around the sun?

RE: "I wouldn't claim that atheism as a whole tries to demonize all of us religious folks, but apparently a few atheists do." - as atheists don't believe in demons, I would doubt that any of us do.

RE: "Does that make democracy evil?" - all democracies are comprised of people, some people are evil, there is nothing about democracy that precludes the ascension to the office of President, by a person with evil intentions, which doesn't make, by association, the democratic process evil - some people are better at hiding their agendas than others.

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