Following a conversation in chat today I thought I'd open up a discussion. I've had a look around the site and can't find a thread addressing this issue, if one exists please feel free to point me in the right direction.
I come from a catholic family where 'doing unto others', was ingrained in how we were raised. It is a 'belief' I choose to subscribe to. I try to make sure I don't adversely affect those around me and strive to consider the affect of my actions on others. This idea forms the basis of my political beliefs and also how I view the world. While talking about the problems the planet faces, myself and others were ruminating on some of the strategies religions use to combat some of these problems. I mentioned that I have considered volunteering at a local convent, solely because they provide food and shelter to local homeless people. Obviously the religion has put me off. I also patronise CAFOD and OXFAM, for work they do in developing countries. I buy goats and wells on a fairly regular basis. While I disagree with the religious background, encouraging and enabling self sufficiency in hostile environments of any description, is how to empower people, which in turn gives them an investment in their and others lives.
As the saying goes, 'give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach him how to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.'
This got me wondering about whether as atheists, we negate ALL religious ideas, even if they may have merit. Charity and philanthropy are often borne out of religious conviction, yet can and do make some real changes to people's lives. Church communities (beyond the services) offer a much needed feeling of support for many and I've seen here how post-theists miss that. I have felt envious of people who find solace from grief through religious rituals. When not grieving I see their futility, but at the time, who's thinking straight? I can think of many other positive outcomes from religion, that are not automatically dependent on a faith system. Isn't it time we liberated the good ideas from the bad indoctrination and started using them ourselves?