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: 1115

Comment by William C. Walker on March 6, 2012 at 4:07pm

  As a former Catholic, ( waay back when ) I'd like to know what good is derived in supporting this misogynistic crusty old religion dictated by the Vatican ?

Comment by Mith Barnes on March 6, 2012 at 9:36pm

@Mark: What about when the Church as an institution does evil? Or even just does things that inhibit human life, growth, expression, or discovery of truth?

There are three levels to what you're talking about: individual Catholics, the Church as an institutional entity, and Catholicism as a doctrine. With individual believers, it is true, you get a mixed batch; just like with all of humanity, there's a whole spectrum of good and bad. With the Church itself you have institutional choices which may sometimes be good, but are often 'evil' (wrong, harmful, etc.) in and of themselves, as well as those which allow, abet, excuse, and/or sanctify evil on the part of members of the first group. And finally, Catholicism as a doctrine has points which are (at best), neutral, and many that are evil in and of themselves, but which enable many of the evil choices on the part of both the individuals and the institution.

Certainly, we should never judge all members of a group by a few. However, the institution AS an institution must, I think, be evaluated as an institution separate from evaluation of its members, as must its doctrine.

Comment by Stephen Meadows on March 6, 2012 at 11:20pm

I think religious people can do good things. However, most religions, as a whole have done more harm to human society than good.

Comment by Ward Cressin on March 6, 2012 at 11:33pm

Short answer:

Bad, yes. Entirely bad, no. (Although I want to say yes, I can't do so honestly.) There are some that aren't totally repulsive - mainly the more philosophical (Zen and the like).

Comment by Benjamin Cruzat on March 7, 2012 at 1:48am

The question itself is ridiculous. First off, nothing is entirely good nor bad, life is made up of shades of grey. Second, the only answer you could get that isn't born out of incredible bias or ignorance is: No, religion isn't entirely bad. The same goes for the opposite question "is religion entirely good?" (no)

Has religion, counting all the actions under its influence, overall benefited humanity? Going on the last 5400 years, no. Humans have constantly killed each other either because of their religion or because of a conflict with an opposing religion(or lack there of). Medicinal science has been constantly impeded and halted by ancient religious nuts who claimed heresy or witch on anyone who offered medical aid outside prayer, bizarre/useless rituals and blood sacrifice.

Who knows how many lives were cut short by human ignorance simply though the repression of science development.

Comment by John Markos O'Neill on March 7, 2012 at 2:40am

The question may be ridiculous, but I asked it in reaction to Bryan Appleyard's statement that if you say religion is not all bad, "on the internet you will get savage messages calling you a fascist, an idiot or a fool."

This community has proved Appleyard wrong. We're not, in general, intolerant towards religion. 

Comment by John Markos O'Neill on March 7, 2012 at 2:50am

Correction: it was Alain de Botton who said that if you say religion is not all bad, "on the internet you will get savage messages calling you a fascist, an idiot or a fool." Appleyard was quoting him.

Comment by Shabaka Tecumseh on March 7, 2012 at 5:26am

What has religion done that was good that didn't promote its doctrine or image?  

Comment by William C. Walker on March 7, 2012 at 10:33am

That is a very thought provoking question. 

Comment by chiz on March 7, 2012 at 11:42am

Religion hasn't done anything good. The idea of "something else" did have a huge impact on our cognitive/social evolution and we probably wouldn't be here without it.


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