Not saying that religious organisations can't do good, just that they also do great evil in the name of their religion, and none of these organisations require religion to do good. Nothing good that can be done by religious institutions cannot also be done by secular means...and in fact there ARE secular organisations that do huge amounts of good (Amnesty International, Oxfam, Water Aid, Fairtrade, Dignity in Dying, The Red Cross, etc etc). The flipside is that there are lots of things that religion takes away and does wrong that wouldn't be done by a secular organisation. For example, preaching against condoms in Africa (an AIDS-ridden country), that whole Catholic paedophile thing, recently using the Supreme Court to exploit a loophole meaning that American companies don't have to cover contraception of any kind under their healthcare (which is effectively forcing their beliefs onto others), along with many religious organisations help coming with huge strings attached. Perhaps one of the worst examples is the AA (alcoholics anonymous, not the insurance company), which teaches you that you are completely helpless to solve your own problems and have to submit to the sky-bully for help (effectively; some AA circles are worse/better than others). The only reason most of your donations come from religious organisations is that there are more of them because the religious institutions help propagate nasty and spiteful stereotypes about unbelievers, so people are more worried about coming out as atheists.
I didn't state that we should get rid of all religion, just that in a lot of ways we would be better off without it. Without religion, secular organisations would take their place because these people wouldn't stop wanting to do good just because their religion was gone, would they? Secular organisations would come with all the good but very little of the bad that religious organisations too often bring.
However, I do agree that we should probably stop this debate right here. It was not the initial point of the thread, so I agree that we should stop this argument/debate/thing here.@Assassini:
I agree, to an extent....though we don't even know if "Before the big bang" is even a valid statement, since if time started with the big bang, "before" isn't actually possible in the strictest sense of the word. But I do agree that God raises more questions than it solves. The correct answer to what was around Pre-Big Bang (if that's a valid statement) is simply "We Don't Know." Not "We don't know, therefore God." Also, if you were to label yourself as Agnostic, that still wouldn't make any comment on whether you believed the statement or not; see the page 8 for my explanation of the difference between agnosticism and atheism. @Dhice:
Exactly...which is why quite a few of the religious texts (like Christianity and Islam) specifically state that reason and logic are the enemies of faith.@Consortium:
I was generalising of course, but in general, secular morality is better than faith-based morality, partly because a faith based morality relies on a lot of assumptions and the acknowledgement that if the sky-bully tells you to do something, regardless of whether you think it's right or not, you have to do it because it's moral and he's wiser than you. As for "God Is Love," well, no. First, religion has yet to demonstrate that God exists in the first place, and secondly, the God of the bible at least said that he created evil as well...so is he good or evil? The OT would heavily lean towards the latter IMHO. You also run into the sticky problem of this simple question:
Is it moral because God said so, or is God merely pointing out what is moral for us? In the former, you're bound to whatever he says, which isn't a moral system it's moral subservience, and in the latter....why do we need God, since he's obviously not the source. And you know, objective morality may well exist - there are some things that are always objectively wrong, even if simple true/false statements like "Stealing is wrong" are fundamentally flawed - but you still have to demonstrate the link between that and God. It's surprisingly easy to attribute extra things to something that you can just say exists without evidence, isn't it? How about we demonstrate that God exists, and then figure out what he actually is afterwards? It's all very well saying "God is the source of morality...." but you still have to prove it.
And by generalising, I meant the biggest ones that have the most influence. For the record, Jainism and Buddhism in their purest forms - which are also the most common - are technically philosophies rather than religions. Buddhism is a practice of contemplation and inquiry that doesn't rely on anything supernatural; no god, no soul, nothing. I admit that it's difficult to classify, given some strains reliance on mysticism and the difference in culture, but in its purest form, it is essentially a philosophy.
But back on topic. The origin or morality doesn't matter, to an extent, in this discussion. Anybody who follows Christian morality must inherently use the bible as a moral guide...which is horrible. Since very few Christians actually do what the bible tells them to do in its entirety and instead cherry pick from the bible, they must be using a different moral system to the one taught in their holy book....so if the bible is supposedly the Word of God, and humans are using a moral system to chop up the "Word of God" into something more acceptable and moral...then the bible cannot be a good source of morality, since humans have found something better. I'll agree that there are fundamental flaws in a lot of secular morality systems, but that doesn't change the supremacy of inquiry-based morality that focuses on shades of grey rather than faith-based black and white morality. *shrug*. And the simple fact of the matter is that even if Buddhism offers a better morality (which I would argue is dubious, given the whole idea of Karma, but that's a debate for another day), the problem remains that Christianity and Islam in particular are still more widespread and influential.
Personally, I am a secular humanist, and I personally think that humanist morality is superior to most of the big, globalised religions, since it relies on inquiry, empathy, understanding, human agency and the value of human life. Secular morality is, in general, superior to religious morality. For one thing, secular morality also focuses on a sense of accountability, whereas religious morality doesn't. With or without religion, 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.
- Steven Weinberg.
I think that quote sums it up rather nicely.