From evangelical christians (I refuse to capitalize it) to intelligent Deists, there are a wide variety of religions with their own sets of social ethics. If a person decides to become violent because of their faith, we obviously have a problem with that; but is it okay for someone to have the same kind of blind faith that leads to this kind of violence, if this person believes in a religion that does not promote violence? Aren't they one crazy preacher away from being manipulated?

My brother is an Agnostic Theist. He is intelligent and loving, but he will not make the jump to Atheism. Is he violating any logical principles? What about Deists? It is impossibly difficult to argue with them, because they point to the same absence of proof to prove their proof of existence that we use to prove our proof of absence (hope that made sense... i've reread it six times). When is a religion okay? When does a religion cause problems?

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yep, and this is where I think we'll have difficulty. Parents often want to make sure that their child is raised in a similar religious-social network and group.

To argue for this, I don't think that we should focus on the abuse that children may or may not experience by being raised religious, except maybe in cases where extreme abuse may happen.

I think that the issue that scares many religious people is the religious bigotry that is ingrained in their thinking where the question is always something like "WHERE DO ATHEISTS GET THEIR MORALS FROM". IF atheists want to effectively influence any public discourse on the role that religion plays in our society, we'll have to deal with this matter of ethics and effectively change the public ethics discourse from the religious rhetoric into one of civil rights and duties.

What would be wrong with teaching (secular) human(ist) values in school, for instance? As long as the curriculum is not tainted by religiosity, but promotes civil order and basic kindness and decency, non-violence & practical conflict resolution techniques, etc. I think this may help to replace the 'better-than-thou' aura of sanctity that righteousness acquires when mixed with superstition.

In creating a human values curriculum for secular children, we should look to the history of moral thinking: it was the philosophers of Greece who first formulated a philosophy of ethics, not Christians, certainly not the authors of the Bible. And they were Pagans (some were accused of being atheists) ... heathens also invented democracy. In fact we probably get more of our modern values from Ancient Pagan Greeks than we do from Christianity.

As long as the majority of our society thinks that 'ethics' fits within the realm of religion, the discussion about the role that religion plays in our society will be monopolized by supernatural, sometimes fear-based, presumptions.
I agree. Give a person a fish, they eat for a day. Teach a person to fish and they eat for a lifetime (choosing good morals based on proper teaching of both the application of logic and dedicated, habitual responsibility--sticking to the plan).
Religion is a problem. If you follow a religion you have a problem. Someones problem (if they are like your brother) may not be as big as the problem your religious fanatic nut ball of a neighbor may have, but a problem nonetheless.

I am of the opinion that religion is pessimistic at its very core. When man looked around the world and saw how dangerous it was he knew true fear. And born of that fear of this world was the concept of the afterlife and all of the rest of the supernatural stuff people believe in. The afterlife was created to make people feel that this world was just a transient one on the way to the real world of death.
Therefore, religion = the devaluing of existence

Pragmatically speaking, though, people like your brother are probably the shining example of where I would like the people of the world to head. They are still just men and women frightened of the world around them and of the moment after that final moment of life, but at least they shouldn't hinder progress at any given time... well, until the fundamentalist's call for support then most people I know like that heed the call.
Thank you for your response. When you use terms like 'true fear' you devalue your argument. It presumes that there is some ultimate form of fear and that you know what the definition of it is. I don't think fear is the necessary cause for religion. I agree that the belief in an afterlife can lead to a devaluing of existence. When someone asks me "How can you be happy?" (referring to my Atheism), I have to stop myself from laughing. This question implies that the asker needs to believe in something greater than what is in order to be happy; furthermore, believing that this life is my only chance for existence leads to a struggle for what I desire, which overall is happiness--whether it be from immoral acts, selfless acts, or a middle-ground. Mine happens to be a middle-ground. I believe I can achieve more of my desires if I am a good person (though this is the ultimate paradox... being a good person for selfish reasons). But most people want to interact with other people (I mean innately... and not just to further their own goals, though that applies as well), and the people that an individual interacts with generally reflect the individual's own set of moral standards (a nice person isn't going to hang around a person who steals for very long before they realize they could easily be robbed... and this example can stem from the slightest lie to the greatest crime).
People don't always have the intelligence and diligence to seek their best counterparts, and this is directly related to a person's ability to decide what they want out of life (a lot of money, sex, a farm, a family, to be remembered, etc.) and to analyze how best to achieve these desires (saving money, going to school, dating a lot of counterparts, etc.), and then lastly to take the most efficient and beneficial steps from those deduced previously to achieve their goals.
These are the qualities that we should be teaching our children. How to decide what they enjoy and want in life, how best to achieve their goals, and to have the initiative to take the steps. First, by showing children a lot of productive activities they will be aware of the many options for a happy life (from employment options, to artistic endeavors, to athletic competition, to travel, etc.) and also be stimulated mentally and physically--thereby increasing the likelihood that they can achieve their goals.
Second, children must be taught how to logically analyze situations. This comes from talking to children. By asking them to analyze situations, events, places, or people, they are being asked to look at things from new perspectives. When parents then suggest new perspectives (without insulting the child or denigrating their opinions) they are stimulating new methods for analysis within their children. It is important especially to ask the children about situations and choices that directly affect them. Parents have a hard time transitioning from control to acceptance (of their children's choices)
Lastly, children must be shown the benefit of good choices. Even if a child can understand what they want to do with their lives and understand how to achieve these goals; if they don't believe that their effort will have a high success rate (which was my problem for a very long time), then they won't make the steps towards their goals. I have heard this misinterpreted as "the fear of success". It is more the fear of failure.
As you can tell, I believe that teaching children is of large importance to the improvement of society. (And to hopefully have a mostly, if not entirely, Atheist world.)
You are right about using terms like true when talking about something. True does imply a sense of complete understanding. ...hastily written rhetoric. I stand by my placement of fear as a prime cause of religious belief. You and I are basically in agreement completely except for the most superficial of ways.

The teaching of children IS of large importance to the improvement of society. Teaching is actually what I want to do with my life, but this whole IT contracting gig has been in the way for a few years.
So am I, and I agree. If a person completes a liberal education (where multiple viewpoints are considered and the student is taught how to think for him/herself) wouldn't he/she be much more likely to deduce the better method for education... even if it is, in fact, his/her own liberal education? And wouldn't that ability to deduce, through the application of logic, be of great benefit to all of the aspects of society that you mentioned? Especially if everyone were taught in the same way. Maybe I'm missing something.
When you are picking up the Templeton prize knowing you are going to endorse the cheque to the specifically for marketing !
you're kidding right?
how many logos does it take to show him he's pagan; surely he worships corporate products.


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