Dragonbones wrote:bob thinks that religion itself is a threat... Do you think that Sarah Palin and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were somehow created by their religions?
Religion per se is not necessarily a threat, but certain forms of religion, and the twisting of some forms of religion by some, those which encourage simple-mindedness, closed minds, ignorance, anti-empiricism, intolerance, hatred and violence, are most certainly a threat. The people raised in those religions, just as they are influenced by other aspects of their environment, are often in part created by those forms of religion (not by religion per se). Yes, there are those who use religion to justify their misdeed, but that does not mean that there are not some forms of religion which are more conducive to such misguided thought and behavior. You compare specific religiosity to falafels, but when certain specific religiosities out there are preaching against empirical fact like evolution or are preaching close-mindedness, bigotry, hatred and violence, the comparison clearly fails. You say bad dudes are going to be bad dudes, but how many bad Quakers or bad Christadelphians have you ever met or even heard of? When certain forms of religion guide people toward open-mindedness, toward egalitarianism, toward love for all humanity, and away from hatred and violence, are they not helping create good, positive human beings? Peope ARE in part a product of the environment they are raised in, and that includes the religious part, even though we are of course capable of rejecting or moving beyond either the good parts or the bad parts.
Fundamentalist Christianity in the U.S. isn't just being hijacked to shore up anti-empiricism, it IS anti-empiricism. Just because there are those hijacking religion doesn't mean there aren't also religions leading people astray. And none of this is meant to "ignore the billions of people around the globe whose religious beliefs provide a sense of community and purpose in an increasingly uncertain world, as well as the hundreds of thousands of spiritually dedicated religious leaders who tend for their people and very often help them to live better, safer, happier lives." Just because there is good in (some) religion does not mean there isn't also bad in some.
I don't particularly like Hitchens? (Kitchens, oh whatever...) tone. He describes too many people as being "idiotic" or "stupid" but his book "God Is Not Great," if you haven't read it already, will help to dispell any ideas anybody might have about religion itself being somehow neutral. There are good, bad, different, indifferent people of faith certainly, but if they are sane at all they are that way "despite" religion.
Religion, and I am not sure I have heard anybody put it this way, is the "the opposite of democracy." I think that is probably the most meaningful, concise, relevant thing you can say about it at this point in history.
(Obviously I am not on the board much these days but I'll stick my nose in here occassionaly.)