Athiests and Religion

The nature of religion is a very interesting subject. Many atheists may argue that its nature is vile and dangerous but some atheists, mainly Alan De Botton, argue that the teachings of religion actually help to improve society rather than hurt it. De Botton in his book “Religion for Atheists: A Non-Believer’s Guide to the Uses of Religion,” suggests that atheists should take inspiration from the many teachings of religion rather than mocking them. De Botton in his book sheds light on many aspects of Religion that are meant to create stability and fairness in society.

O.J #205

14 thoughts on “Athiests and Religion

  1. Furthermore, it seems as if more and more atheists are taking certain parts of religion they like and applying it to their beliefs (or lack thereof, I suppose). In Calgary, as well as other parts of the world, atheist churches are beginning to emerge, [1] while the efforts of some atheists to spread a message of rationalism and morality to others certainly mimics the evangelical efforts of Christians throughout the ages (although so far with significantly less bloodshed). As atheism begins to move further into the mainstream, it’ll be interesting to see if it adapts to the social models and programs that classic Christianity laid out, or if it forges its own path.
    [1] –


  2. This new Atheist movement is quite void of both perspective and knowledge (Except of course the pseudo knowledge from Hitchen’s work that they memorize). As an archaeologist in training, I try to think of religion in terms of the selfish gene (To the dismay of Richard Dawkins I’m sure). The universality of the appearance of religion, belief in the afterlife and the supernatural suggests a strong genetic component is an underlying cause. This further suggests that this genetic trait (the predisposition for belief) is advantageous to have. If it was not, Natural Selection would have not selected it so strongly. By strongly I simply mean its appearance in societies worldwide. If religion is so advantageous to the replication of our genetic material, then from an evolutionary perspective why wouldn’t you want religion around.

    weston6949 #205

  3. Whether or not one considers themselves religious, believing in a god or higher being, it is hard to disagree with the fact that religion, while it is the cause of many wars and terrors, has its benefits as well. People who pertain themselves to following a set of ethical guidelines, become ethical beings as well. Many religious people follow the idea of random acts of kindness and helping out someone who needs their aid because they believe, within their religious beliefs it makes them better in the eyes of their peers, and the ‘high being’ of their religion. One cannot argue against the idea these behaviours better society as a whole and allow people to interact with one another in a positive way. LV

  4. There are many helpful lessons, guide lines and rules to live by set out by the bible that teach right from wrong and how to treat others . Many of these are positive, and may be used to teach people how to live a good life. Over the years though, many of these good lessons have been interpereted and misconstrued to support certain views. Therefore allowing religion to cause problems in the world, such as wars and conflict between individuals and even communities. There is alot to be learned from the bible, morally speaking. However, i understand why people would not want to follow it because of the negative effects it has had on the world in the past. CM

  5. Completely agree with those that have commented about how learning about other’s religions is beneficial in the way that the teachings can inspire positive morals and ethics even to atheists. Another point I would like to make is that understanding each other’s religions would also be beneficial to society. Religion influences people’s day to day decision-making – at school, work, in relationships, etc. The more informed we are about each other’s religious backgrounds, the better we will be able to work together. With a better understanding of where our peers are coming from perhaps more respect and consideration would be had for their ideas.

  6. It is certain;y hard to argue that religion does in fact have its uses from a moral standpoint. The unfortunate truth is that all is up to interpretation in these circumstances. One person may read an excerpt from the bible and take it as a benevolent moral claim, just the same as someone could take it as some sort of guiding force towards malice. The most prevelant example most people would use for describing this interpretive issue would be that of the Qu’ran and the Taliban. It seems doubtful that the goal that the Qu’ran sets for its believers would be one focused around purgation of infidels and neigh sayers, but some individuals certainly interpret it that way. It is clear that some interpretations of religions can go a long way to teaching people of healthy moral interactions, but the fact of the matter is that these moral uterances are not law and are up to infinite and unwieldy interpretation. The other question that arises is why would someone need religion to learn their moral stances? Would it not be easier to simply form your own moral beliefs without having to worry about damaging misinterpretations?
    -AVM #205

  7. As a scientist and “atheist” myself, the way atheism has evolved to its current state within the last ten years is quite surprising. The general disregard for certain positive aspects of religion (as mentioned above by other posters) by atheists shows nothing more than a lack of education in the field of religion. The current state of atheism appears to solely rely on scientific reasoning to maintain its disbelief to such a point where those who actively participate to prove a point as atheists blindly follow these scientific beliefs and findings, so long as they are from credible sources (e.g. Neil deGrasse Tyson), all while maintaining a belief that the incorporation of beneficial religious teachings is preposterous; a system that begins to sound more and more like a religious-type system (especially after reading Travis’s comment). From my personal viewpoint, this book is refreshing in its views on religion. I certainly believe that taking in different aspects from various religions is important in our development in today’s society. After all, it is not unheard of that individuals of the past and present, as well as societies, have had to use religious beliefs as tools to further progress.


  8. I believe that before a person calls themselves an Atheist, they should at least educated themselves and be knowledgeable of other people’s religion. Education of other people’s religion allows one to understand what people have faith in and help one another get along. This further expands their irreligious horizon without appearing to be ignorant or disrespectful of others religion. I know a few Atheists that ridicule religion and would spend endless hours debating on why religion is not of importance to them. With all respect to atheists, I am a person who is very open to all sorts of religion and is willing to learn about every religions out there (which is why I took Religion 205 actually). I agree with Natasha that religion affects every day aspects and behaviors, such as what is morally right and wrong. Moral and ethics were derived from religion; like all religions, it strives to teach people what is good and what is wrong. In fact,the natural law theory itself derived from divine religious teachings. Furthermore,the adaption of Canon Law has become a part of today’s legal structure, though not specifically.
    Indeed religion has taught many aspects that affect relationships despite the unfavorable past it had, it will continue to be a part of today’s society. Instead of rejecting religion overall, everyone should just at least be knowledgeable and aware of other religions and give it the benefit of equality.


  9. From the atheists that I know, all of them were raised in a religious family and later on decided that religion was not for them. To me that is a reasonable that your parents give you the opportunity to be involved in something like religion and you later make your own decision to not be involved anymore. Because of their religious background, the atheists I know remain to be interested in religion and do not argue its use in society and the good it brings to communities. My brother, for example, still takes a religion class every semester and remains interested in when the religions have to teach and what is included in being a religious person. He choses not to be an active member of the church he was raised in because he doesn’t agree with the beliefs, not because he thinks the church is hurtful or morally wrong. I think the atheists that are extremely critical are the ones that should be criticized because they don’t see the validity in religion and the belief in a higher power. Not all atheists are naive and some continue to be interested in the teachings of religion.

  10. I agree with Alan De Botto argument that the teachings of religion actually help to improve society rather than hurting it. In every religion whether it is Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism or Buddhism there is always something to be learnt about life, and society. However some people in this world use religion to spread hatred in the world for their own means. In Rels 205, I learnt many good things about all the religions mentioned above and believe they all have positive things to say about society and humans. At the same time, we should learn from mistakes made in past and not repeat these mistakes through studying and understanding religions.

  11. In my opinion the main point in teachings of most world religions is “Let’s all get along”. These concepts are applied to laws of most government as well. I’m sure atheists, although they do not acknowledge the existence of divine entity, would also like everyone to get along peacefully.

  12. De Botton makes a good point about the nature of religion, religion, as a whole, is not an inherently good or evil thing. While certain teachings of religion can be held as good or evil, it is truly the use of religion that makes it a force for good or evil. Most Religions preach good qualities, charity, peace, and so forth. We must realize that it is not the religion that is what we dislike, but the use of religion to exclude certain parties from society. It is not religion we dislike but the use of it by the leaders to promote hate of certain groups. This is why religion is not always a force for good, we must see it as a force that can do good, but we must realize that it can be a force of evil as well. Atheists shouldn’t have problems with religion itself, but the religious leaders.

  13. I completely agree with this blog, mainly because it sheds some light on Atheists. People that are uneducated on Atheists lead towards the idea that they are the most stubborn and evil people of society. These thoughts all evolve around the idea that Atheists don’t try to understand religions and they ignore all religions. This type of thinking would assume that since they don’t follow the religion, they are completely opposite from it; since religions are seen as being the ultimate “good”, Atheists would be seen as the evil counterpart. On the other hand, some Atheists are stubborn, and they go about life completely rejecting any factors of religion. In other words, they ignore the parts in religion that are vital to society. This notion forms because of hate for religion, instead of an understanding. In my perspective, these two types of Atheists should be given different names, because of how different they are. The ones that follow parts of religions that they accept, and the ones that completely go against any form of religion. Everyone knows about the second form of Atheist, this blog helps educated the other form.

  14. The writer discusses the nature of religion. Lots of people think that its nature is vile and dangerous. But the writer agrees with Alan De Botton’ s idea, he thinks the essence of religion is to create a stable society and fair society.

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