I was reading this article, and became curious about this statement:

'"To say something along the lines of 'I'm an atheist; I think religions are not all bad' has become a dramatically peculiar thing to say and if you do say it on the internet you will get savage messages calling you a fascist, an idiot or a fool. This is a very odd moment in our culture. Why has this happened?"'


So, I was curious about the opinions of other atheists on this question. I won't reveal my own answer for now, to try to avoid bias, but I'd like to know the answer to this question. Feel free to reply in the comments.

Here's my formulation of the question.

If you're an atheist, do you think all religions are entirely bad?

Again, reply yes or no in the comments, and feel free to elaborate if you like. I'll tally the answers.



Views: 1086

Comment by Haywood Jablomi on March 4, 2012 at 8:37pm

Most things aren't all bad, but I don't see much good in religion that couldn't be achieved in another way. Religion might occasionally keep someone from stealing my car or something, but it's not much of a trade for the war, homophobia, anti-science, etc.

Comment by Simon Bennett on March 4, 2012 at 8:42pm

Of course not. Jainism for one. 

Comment by AMR on March 4, 2012 at 9:03pm

No not necessarily.  People twist their beliefs into what they think their God wants or demands.  Its hateful ignorant people that corrupt religion and pass it off as their Gods belief.  Some interpret religious beliefs and try to do positive things while other will pervert those same beliefs and do harm.  If the world was free from religion there would still be violence,wars,insanity, etc.  We would just find new reasons to kill/hate each other.  Although religion maybe ridiculous from a logical standpoint it can produce good things.  If we want to rid the world of religion why not guns? They can kill and hurt people or cars thousands of people die from that?  Or course that's ridiculous but the point I am trying to get at is no matter what, some humans can turn anything into a negative thing to harm or destroy one another.  There will still be terrorism, Hitlers, Bin Ladens, rape, discrimination even if the world was rid of religion.

Comment by dermot heaney on March 4, 2012 at 9:25pm

NO, I think 'bad' is putting it too harshly. They're of great comfort to many people. A lot of what they teach is positive and peaceful.

Comment by James Klaver on March 4, 2012 at 9:27pm
At one time there was a need, but now.. I do not believe any religion serves a positive purpose....except buddha, I hold no beef with him..I don't think much negative can come out of that >:)
Comment by Heather Spoonheim on March 4, 2012 at 9:33pm

Although I'm an Atheist, I think I'm more of an anti-supernaturalist.  I think all supernatural beliefs/systems are 'bad'.  If a 'religion' made no supernatural claims then I would judge it for its dogma.  To date, I've seen no supernatural system that I feel has a net positive effect on society (in a modern sense).

Comment by Mith Barnes on March 4, 2012 at 9:51pm

It's not a simple yes or no, I'm afraid. I suppose the best way to answer this is to say that I think religion (like any mythology) CAN be a source of allegory, creative thought, evocative imagery, and even inspiration. This applies equally to Greek myth, Celtic myth, Norse myth, and to Christianity. All are part of our human story, and all can and should be studied, understood, appreciated for their good points. I have, for example, a tremendous affection for the quirks and indiosyncracies of medieval devotion (it's an area I do a lot of research in). I stand in awe of the great Gothic cathedrals, and the profundity and complexity of their religious meaning. I feel the same about the ancient synagogues of Beth Alpha and Hammat Tiberius , however. And Macchu Picchu. And the Parthenon.

However, when taken literally, any mythology, however uplifting, however benign, becomes toxic. It's not so much religion as it is religious belief that I find harmful. The moment one chooses to take the allegory for the real, reality itself loses meaning, and anything can be held as true. And when such certainty is based on something that cannot be proven, it seems to become necessary that for the believer to be right, all others must be wrong. With the stakes set as high as eternal survival, persecution or oppression of those who are 'wrong' becomes all too easy.

Comment by Xu Wang on March 4, 2012 at 10:15pm

Religion can be a force for good, and it can bring great comfort to people (though it can be argued that that comfort comes with the cost of delusion). However, the net effect has been "bad", to put it simply. I think this quote from Steven Weinberg sums up my feelings on this topic perfectly.

"Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion."

Comment by Virginia Templeton on March 5, 2012 at 12:02am

I don't think religions are bad in general, just the way people utilize them. Religion started as a way for people to understand the world around them. Today, I think religion is still a way for people to cope with things. Some of us are strong enough to be able to get through our problems without a imaginary friend, but others need that childlike safety net.  I'm not going to say it's horrible because good has come from it as well as bad. But religion itself is not bad, it's the people who are; so even if there were no religion, there would probably still be stupid people trying to find ways to force their views on the world.

Comment by Raymond Baker on March 5, 2012 at 12:36am


But the few I do find to be relatively helpful are eastern religions. Western/middle-eastern religions are bad for reasons that have been cited here more times than is necessary.


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