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Does Religion Do More Harm than Good?

Updated on April 28, 2017

Is Religion Harmful?

Is religion harmful? A recent survey showed that many people, even religious people, will say, “Yes.” But they mean the other guy’s religion, not their own religion.

Does Religion Do More Harm than Good?

On balance, at the current time, religion may do more harm than good.
On balance, at the current time, religion may do more harm than good. | Source

I believe that in the twenty-first century all religions that include the supernatural as part of their belief system are harmful.

I am not saying that religion does not have any good points, but on balance, religion does more harm than good. Sometimes the very things that are good about religion are the things that make it harmful.

What Is the Origin of Religion?

Religion goes so far back in human history that it is probably safe to say that religion has always existed.

The first cavemen lived in a terrifying world. The only way to make sense of their life was to invent gods and spirits that controlled the world. The next logical step was to try to influence these gods and spirits. And that was the beginning of religion.

People lived in tribes and each tribe had their own gods. With the advent of agriculture, the tribes coalesced into towns and cities and states. Sometimes the gods of the various tribes ruled jointly; sometimes one god would supersede all the others.

Tribal people wanted a fierce god who could protect them in conflicts with other tribes. It was a case of “My god can beat up your god.” This explains the war-like attributes of the god of the Old Testament of the Bible.

A group that had a belief in God had a survival advantage in primitive times. Many of the things that religion provides were beneficial when civilization was less advanced; today however, they do more harm than good.

Religion Creates Divisiveness

Religion creates divisiveness by dividing humanity into "us" and "them."
Religion creates divisiveness by dividing humanity into "us" and "them." | Source

Religion Fosters Group Identity, but Also Creates Divisiveness.

Tribal gods gave a group of people an identity. This made the group cohesive. We are the children of (NAME OF GOD.) This group unity undoubtedly helped early mankind to survive.

The harm from this is divisiveness. We are the insiders; they are the outsiders. They are different; they are the other. We have to kill them, or at the very least, conquer, convert, or enslave them.

As the human population grew, it was not tribe against tribe, but country against country and religion against religion. As technology advanced, the weapons were not spears and stones, but machine guns and nuclear bombs. Religious zealots now have the tools to threaten all humanity with extinction.

How many wars have been fought because of religion? How many billions have died because of religion? One religious group killing people of another religious group. One group within the same religion trying to kill another group within their own religion, e.g., Catholics vs. Protestants, Shia vs. Sunni.

How many have died because of religion—The Crusades, The Inquisition, The Holocaust, the witch burnings, etc.

Yes, the wars and mass murder were often done for reasons of political power, but it was religion which made it possible. Religious institutions did not condemn the wars; just the opposite, religious institutions were usually actively supporting the wars and genocides. During WWII, the Pope could have said, “It is a mortal sin to participate in the extermination of the Jews.” How many lives would have been saved?

Even today, groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS war as much against other factions within the Muslim world as they do against the West. Many say that ISIS is just a power struggle for control of the Mid-East. Perhaps, but the people who follow the ISIS leaders do so in the name of their religion.

There is a clear inverse correlation between the level of religious belief in a country and the peacefulness and prosperity of that country.

Religion Subverts Critical Thinking.

Religion replaces critical thinking in favor of just taking things on faith.
Religion replaces critical thinking in favor of just taking things on faith. | Source

Religion Explains the World, but Also Subverts Critical Thinking.

When there was little or no science to explain the world, religion provided the explanations. Knowing that there was a reason behind the good and bad fortune of life gave a feeling of control. If early humans did not feel that they had control, they might have given up when faced with adversity.

The harm from this is the subversion of critical thinking. People become used to accepting superstition instead of science, magic instead of reason. This type of thinking makes people vulnerable to all types of charlatans.

I once had a conversation with a man, a lapsed Catholic, who nonetheless was bringing up his children in the Catholic Church. He said this religious upbringing would keep them from later joining a cult. I was bringing my child up as an atheist for the same reason. I told him, “You have taught your children to believe in superstition, so perhaps they will later decide to change from one superstition to another. I have taught my child to reason, so he will be skeptical of any cult that tries to recruit him.

When the Catholic Church emerged from the Dark Ages, it began to encourage science. It was seen as a way to understand God’s Creation. Unfortunately, science kept discovering things that were in opposition to the teachings of the Church. The church then tried to quash science. Scientists like Galileo and Bruno Giordano were tried for heresy. The battle continues, but science because it is based on provable truth, is winning.

Sam Harris is a well-known atheist who has written several books. He opposes religious tolerance. He argues that religion is a continuum. If we support the so-called moderate religions, we are also giving credence to the more violent and bizarre religions. He believes that all religions that advance supernatural explanations for the world must be abandoned.

Heaven's Gate is an Example of the Power of Religion.

In 1997, a cult in California known as Heaven’s Gate was in the news. This cult incorporated Christian ideas about the apocalypse and mixed it with ideas from science fiction. Thirty-eight adherents committed mass suicide in order to gain salvation by leaving their terrestrial bodies so they could be “beamed up” to a UFO following in the path of the Hale-Bopp comet. I remember how shocked everyone was when this story broke—How could anyone have believed this crazy stuff that the cult leader was preaching?

I did not find the ideas of Heaven’s Gate to be any less crazy than the ideas of traditional religions. The main difference is that most modern religions, most of the time, are life affirming. They help people get through life; they don’t want them to end their lives. However, once people have learned to accept things on faith without evidence, people can end up believing anything.

One man’s faith is another man’s heresy is another man’s crazy.

Religion Creates Dependency.

Religion creates dependency by allowing people to abdicate responsibility.
Religion creates dependency by allowing people to abdicate responsibility. | Source

Religion Provides Comfort, but Also Creates Dependency.

Life is hard. Bad things happen to good people; good things happen to bad people. Bad people do bad things and get away with it. Natural disasters strike, killing hundreds and sometimes thousands. As the joke goes: Life’s a beach, and then you die.

Religion, and a belief in the afterlife, gives many people comfort. It gives them a feeling of purpose and meaning; it gives them solace at times of grief.

The harm from this is a childlike dependency. Your religion tells you what is right and wrong just as your parents did when you were a child.

Have you heard people say, “It is all in God’s hands” or “It is God’s will”? Yes, others say, “God helps those who help themselves,” but I think too many would rather pray than take action to better their situation. Religion becomes an excuse for complacency and laziness. If you have diabetes, prayer and resignation will not help you, but a change in diet and more exercise might.

There are politicians in the United States that refuse to do anything about man–made global warming because they believe that it is in God’s hands. They think the sea level will not rise because in the Noah’s Ark story, god promised no more floods. (I believe, the Bible also says something about the fire next time. Fire? Global warming? Hmmm?)

One big issue that is being fought now is the issue of marriage equality and homosexuality which many religions call sin. Some of the more enlightened say, “Hate the sin, but love the sinner.” It sounds good, but when the “sin” is who the person is, the “sin” and the “sinner” cannot be separated.

I remember being shocked one day when I thought deeply about what it meant to be a “sinner” and to have been born a “sinner.” How absolutely horrible it must feel to self-identify as a sinner. I have made mistakes and not always lived up to my ideals, but I never thought of myself as a sinner. The mistake is not who I am; it is just something I did. I feel guilt for the wrongdoing, I take responsibility for it, and I resolve to do better. I do not go to a priest to be absolved or to a minister to be saved.

Religions call all kinds of natural and normal feelings and behaviors sin, especially when it comes to sex. Some tell you what you can and cannot eat, some tell you what you can and cannot wear, some tell you what you can and cannot do with your body, and what you can and cannot do on certain days of the week. Deviate from any of these prescriptions and proscriptions, and it is a sin. Does God really care about circumcision and clitoral cutting, about shaved heads and beards, about turbans and head scarves, about pork and shellfish?

Religion Diverts Resources.

Religion provides help for many in need, but it also diverts resources from those who need it.
Religion provides help for many in need, but it also diverts resources from those who need it. | Source

Religion Does Good Works, but Also Diverts Resources.

Religious groups often do a lot of good works and I commend them for it. They help the poor with food banks and homeless shelters, they assist in natural disasters, they run hospitals and adoption agencies and schools.

Secular groups do all of these things too, and they do it more efficiently because far fewer of their resources are spent on “overhead” and no resources are spent on saving souls. Also, religious organizations are often choosy about who and how they help. You can come to our soup kitchen, but you will have to stay for the sermon. Missionaries go to poor countries and build a well or a school, but they will also build a church. A church will help you adopt a child, but not if you practice a different (or no) religion and not if you are part of a same sex couple.

Religions are just like for-profit corporations--to survive and grow a religion must build power and wealth and compete for market share. Is that why some religions forbid family planning or abortion—they want to increase their numbers at the expense of the well-being of the women and families who might be better off with fewer children? Is that why poor people are made to tithe and donate when that money could be better spent on their families?

I have always thought how convenient it is that many churches say you cannot be saved by good works. It seems you have to join their church to be saved.

Some have said the subjugation of people is actually part of religion’s marketing plan. Research has shown that when people feel prosperous and secure, the hold of religion weakens. Not one advanced democracy with progressive socio-economic programs that provide for the well being of its citizens has a high level of religiosity.

Does No Religion Mean You Can Do Anything?

Of course, lack of religion is not a license to rape and pillage and do whatever you want. We have laws and we have codes of conduct. People are “moral” because “virtue is its own reward.” We are happier and more successful in life when we follow the Golden Rule and behave ethically with kindness and compassion. That is why the moral principles of most religions and the secular philosophies of life have very similar core principles.

Besides is anyone who is motivated by the promise of heaven or the fear of Hell really a moral person? I say if you are not good for goodness’ sake, you cannot call yourself a moral person.

John's Lennon's Imagined a World without Relgion

Is religion harmful or beneficial?

Which statement comes closest to your belief about religion?

See results

Further Reading

Dr. Phil Zuckerman, Professor of Sociology at Pitzer College, has written a paper on the relationship of religion and positive societal characteristics: Virtues of Godlessness: The least religious nations are also the most healthy and successful

You might also want to check out Dr. Zuckerman's books on this topic: Living the Secular Life: New Answers to Old Questions and Society Without God; What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us About Contentment


© 2015 Catherine Giordano

I welcome your comments about the role of religion in today's world.

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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I would call this article controversial for sure. I you want to stir up the masses, start talking about religion. I'll give you credit for tackling the subject head on with no holds barred. As with most belief systems, there is beauty and harm in religion. You stated your case very well, Catherine.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Thanks billybuc. You are right. I am being deliberately provocative, but I stay within bounds by reporting dispassionately. I think this may be my niche. I have been promoting my atheist pieces on facebook and getting lots of views, mostly from people who agree with me. I'm doing much better with my religion hubs than with most of my others.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Sensible and sure to rile some folks, but this is a well done hub. It's curious how few comments you're getting vs. the votes. Voted up and more.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      FlourishAnyway: Thanks for your comment and your votes and your praise for my work. I'm not sure what you are referring to when you say votes. There isn't a way to see the number of thumbs up is there? Were y referring to the useful/funny/etc. ?

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      FlourishAnyway: I just realized you meant votes in the poll. I think most of my views are coming from facebook and you know non-hubbers don't comment much. They are commenting and "liking" like crazy on facebook, tho. I got five shares on facebook in the two hours after posting. Maybe it will go viral. (I'm just dreaming.)

    • word55 profile image

      Word 2 years ago from Chicago

      Religion is a spiritual avenue by which a person utilizes faith, belief, creed and conviction in the Superior Being. Many people that claim they are religious commit crimes as well as those that do good in society. If a person is religious or has a religion by which he or she utilizes faith and etc. then the question is, what principals or doctrines does that religion follow in order for us all to be treated equally and get along on this planet earth? Good question, Catherine. Religion does harm and good in the way it has been and is still used today.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      word55: Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I wrote in broad generalizations. To do justice to the topic, I would have needed to write a whole book. It's different for every religion and for the people in every religion. Religion provides a framework for some people to live a good life. I'd like to see people do that without religion.

    • word55 profile image

      Word 2 years ago from Chicago

      It is very well possible to do as you said without religion.

    • profile image

      WaltJake 2 years ago

      Good article.. I agree that religion gave early man an evolutionary survival advantage, but now does more harm than good. By the way, the Hale-Bopp comet and Heaven's Gate suicides were in 1997, not the 1970s

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Thank you WaltJake for your comment. I agree the evolutionary advantage of belief in God or gods is no longer an advantage in modern times. Thanks for alerting me to an error. I have corrected it. I was the victim of misinformation on the internet. Next time I will double check facts.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 2 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      This is my pet subject too, although I have been told I am very insulting in the way I present the facts. You have done a much better job than me. I can only try to be more tactful in the future.

      I am convinced that religion is the most harmful activity that modern humans can engage in. It absolutely causes harm.

      Also, you said, "I feel guilt for the wrongdoing, I take responsibility for it, and I resolve to do better. I do not go to a priest to be absolved or to a minister to be saved. " and this is the heart of the matter. We all need to take responsibility for the wrongdoing!

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Thank you, Austinstar. I don't know how tactful I was; I think I was rather blunt. But I did try to look at both sides of the issue and report the facts and conclusions with as much objectivity as I could muster. I wasn't trying to insult anyone, although there are probably those who will take offense.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 2 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Yes, they will take offense. The facts bother people for some reason. But then they do tend to spend their days in make-believe land.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Thanks again Austinstar for your support.

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      TheBizWhiz 2 years ago

      Very well written. Voted up.

      From a personal standpoint, I feel religion helps me in my life for many reasons other than just eternal salvation.

      -Learning. It's like school for Christianity

      -I enjoy the rituals

      -Praying has an intrinsic value of meditation

      -I can relate the stories in the Bible about acts of kindness to my every day life

      -A sense of community

      -Helps me be more disciplined donating time and money. Otherwise I might get caught up in how busy my life is.

      -It takes some discipline for me to wake up on Sunday mornings when I know I could be sleeping in.

      -I spend time with my family

      I know these are not for everyone, but I just thought I would share how religion helps me besides my eternal salvation.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      I agree BixWhiz. Everything you mention is a benefit of religion. I do point out that religion confers benefits upon adherents. My questions is can those same benefits be obtained without religion thereby avoiding some of the harms of religion. The answer also depends on what religion and what person. You seem to be taking the good and avoiding the bad. Thank you for your comment and your vote.

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 2 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Before I respond, I would like to know how you define the word "religion"

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Religion is one of those words that everyone knows what it means, but no one can define. I went to the dictionary.

      (1)The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.

      synonyms: faith, belief, worship, creed; sect, church, cult, denomination

      (2) a particular system of faith and worship.

      The dictionary definition works for me.

    • profile image

      TheBizWhiz 2 years ago

      Can those benefits come without religion? Technically yes, but that doesn't mean they will come without religion because we all have different motivations? We all achieve goals differently, relax differently, eat differently, and even exercise differently. You might think that walking is the best exercise and I might think tennis, but I think we are both right as long as it works for us.

      As far as the "harm" of religion, I think that the overall contribution that religion still makes greatly outweighs the few "harms", so that should not really be an issue if you focus on the greater good as a whole.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      I think you use religion wisely; for some people, religion uses them. I am not writing this to change anyone's mind; I'm hoping to find most of my readers from people who already agree with.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 2 years ago from Yorktown NY

      Wow I'm shocked by the poll results - even though it is not a scientific poll. It does show how far we have come or drifted away from our religious past. To me, some of your arguments against religion is not quite fair. Some cults have have done a lot of damage such as Heaven's Gate but I would not classify that as a religion. People have perverted religion for their own agenda such as the Islamic extremists. That is not a reflection of religion and people of faith. All in all, religion and their charitable works have done a lot of good. Something I believe cannot be replaced by any government agency. The believe in a higher power is what makes our society work. A government no matter how powerful cannot legislate morality. It has to be taught and practiced by members of society. Religion plays an important role in making that happen. It is not perfect and has its flaws but I don't think there is perfection in our world. Perhaps, a better question to ask is what will our world look like without religion? Will Big Brother replace everything? Is 1984 the better alternative? What forces will keep the public in check? Where will the "moral compass" come from? Who is to decide?

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 2 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      jackclee - you said, "The believe in a higher power is what makes our society work. A government no matter how powerful cannot legislate morality."

      This is a totally false statement. Morality does NOT come from religion! If it did, there would be no "morally good" people who did not follow a religion.

      And the government is supposed to protect the People - ALL OF THE PEOPLE regardless of religion.

      "Big Brother" is supposed to protect and serve the people. Not legislate "morality".

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      jackclee lm: Austinstar helped out with his response, otherwise I wouldn't know where to start in unpacking your comments.

      The groups you call a cult think they are just as much of a religion as any other religious group. Christianity was a cult when it was just Jesus and his disciples preaching in the streets. The "My religion is better than yours" attitude is the divisiveness I was talking about.

      What would society be like without religion? It would be like the society in Denmark and Sweden where only a small proportion of the people still define themselves as religious. The people are happy, healthy, and prosperous. Those countries have far fewer problems than American society.

      You have fallen into the fallacy of a false duality. The alternative to religion is not 1984. There are far more than two choices.

      Morality does not come from the government. Morality comes from many sources. I discussed this in my hub "What is Secular Humanism" and "Beliefs, Values, Morals, and Ethics. Government makes laws to protect the public's safety. A person's morality is their own business or should be. Religion is one way to teach morality, but not the only way. As I point out in the essay, large numbers of people disagree with some churches' ideas about what is and isn't moral.

      The type of thinking you demonstrate in your comment is exactly the reason I feel religion is harmful. Not everything about religion is harmful, but much of it is. Reread the hub with an open mind.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      jackclee ml: Do you feel that my response to your comment was too strong? I feel I may have been too angry in my tone. I apologize. You probably wrote as you did because you were shocked by my ideas. I felt shocked by your ideas. It is not my objective to change anyone's mind on this subject, only to present a point of view and to try to understand how non-religious people feel when religious people say they cannot be moral without religion. They feel insulted. I just saw a quote from Christopher Hitchens that sums up my view: "I challenge you to find one good or noble thing that cannot be accomplished without religion. It is impossible. You can not do it."

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 2 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      The "morality" clause seems to be the most common reason for the defense of religion. I wonder how this rumor got started that morals came from religion? It's bizarre and ingrained. Morals do not come from religion. Never have and never will.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Thanks Austinstar. Religion is one way to teach morals, but not the only way. The problem with religion teaching morals is that all kinds of other things get mixed in. I mentioned some of them in my hub. For example, if I'm a woman who feels I am the equal of my husband, some religions would call me immoral. If I cook a meal on the Sabbath, I am immoral. If I want to marry someone of the same sex, I am immoral. And so on.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 2 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Perhaps the misunderstanding comes from the definition of morality. We don't need morals to treat humans with dignity. What we need is empathy. Morality means to "do no harm" and it comes from inside of us. We should inately be able to empathize with fellow humans and automatically know what will cause us harm - as individuals and as a society. Harming another human is immoral.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 2 years ago from Yorktown NY

      I welcome discussions like this. On the contrary, I don't find your response too strong. I am open to other ideas and I hope you are open as well. I am only shocked by the polls and would like to know where we are headed as a society if religion is minimized. You site Denmark and Sweden as examples but they have many social problems with their secular society. I'm not sure they are the model countries we want to emulate. You ask what one thing religion can accomplish. I can come up with a few just off the top of my head. 1. The Declaration of Independence that started the American Experiment. 2. Catholic Charities and the good works of Mother Teresa. 3. The amazing artwork in the Sistine Chapel which came about with the inspiration of God. 4. For me personally, the Serenity Prayer. It is a great comfort for me to be able to let God take the load off my shoulders.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      The question was one good and noble thing that could not have been accomplished without religion.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 2 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      jackclee - All the things you name can be accomplished without religion. 1. America was founded by deists (for the most part) and all of the founding fathers wanted to separate religious and secular life.

      2. All charities and charitable work can be accomplished without religion.

      3. Michaelangelo painted and sculpted many works of art that weren't "religious", but he was paid to do religious work, so that is what he did.

      4. Serenity can be accomplished quite easily with meditation.

      We're still waiting to hear of something that can't be done just as easily without religion as with.

      And of course, it has to be something of man, not supernatural beings.

    • profile image

      TheBizWhiz 2 years ago

      Catherine, technically your question was "Does Religion Do More Harm than Good?" Maybe if your intention was to find out what good things could be accomplished without religion, you should rename the Hub.

      The reality is the question "Can good things be accomplished without religion?" is an easy one. The answer is yes, but in my opinion, just not as easily or consistently.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 2 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Biz - I often wonder if religion had never existed, how would you even miss it?

    • profile image

      TheBizWhiz 2 years ago

      lol. That is a deep and philosophical question!

      When I hear people say that if they hadn't made a huge mistake earlier in their life, they might not be where they are now, it makes me wonder; "How do you know?" and "Is that such a good thing?" Maybe they would be better off or maybe in the same spot. Who the heck knows!

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Austinstar and BizWhiz: I have thought about the issue of do-overs and I wrote my conclusions in my hub. "How to get a Do-Over? Time-Travel? Second Chances" Don't worry I'm not suggesting Time Travel. I was just hoping the word would be good for SEO. I basically agree with you BizWhiz.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 2 years ago from Yorktown NY

      reply to austinstar - You are too quick to dismiss my examples. America was founded on Judea Christian principles. How would the Declaration be worded without acknowledgment of a creator? Not all charities work the same or produce the same results. The UN is a prime example of a failed secular agency. Many works of artist are inspired by God. Would they have the same inspiration without it? For the last point, it is a personal one for me. It is not just meditation which I fully support to reduce stress. It is the added knowledge of being able let go of burden that produce the peaceful result. Only the belief in a higher power can deliver that.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California

      Despite our charade that we are completely rational beings, we humans have a tendency to form ourselves into exclusive clubs based on beliefs, or even lack of belief. There are militant, fanatical atheists, of which you are not one, that shout down Christians just for being Christians and even go to their own atheist churches. I think the problem is not religion, but churchiness. Churchiness leads to hypocrisy and witch hunts. Even though I am personally religious I respect your right to your views and you have stated them eloquently.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      You make a good point Mel. Perhaps I should ask "Do churches do more harm and good." Atheists go to "atheist" church for the same reason many religious people go to church. Community.

      I'm becoming more open about being an atheist so people will see that atheists are god people too. We don't need religion to be good people.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 2 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Food for thought, for sure. I use the words "religion" and "religious" very carefully as I know that those words mean something different to just about anyone you might ask. My beliefs are between God and myself; he's the one who knows what's in my heart. I'm comfortable with that.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Thank you SusanDeppner for your comment. You are right. I took a risk in writing with broad generalizations. It would take a book--or a series of books--do this subject justice. As you said, "food for thought"--a very superficial analysis written in the hope that it would get people to think about the issues I raised.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      I have to be more careful with proofing. In the comment above, I meant to write atheists are GOOD people too.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      jackclee lm: What word would I use instead of "Creator." I'd say 'birthright.

      Did you ever think about why the founders used such as odd word as "Creator." Why didn't they say God, or Jesus, or Lord, or Jehovah. They said creator because they were Deists. Lacking the knowledge of science that we have today, they thought there had to be a "Prime Mover." They believed God created the earth and then had nothing further to do with it.

      Also, at the time, kings ruled by Divine Right. People believed that God set the king upon his throne. So the framers were claiming some of that divine right for themselves. They were saying "In your face, Georgie!"

      Judeo-Christian principles? Please point to where something from the Bible is in the Constitution or Declaration. Quite the contrary. The first amendment specifically prohibits setting up a state religion (or prohibiting people from practicing whatever religion they wanted.) The Constitution also says there shall be no religious test for public office. They wanted the government to have nothing to do with religion.

      Finally, my creator was my mother and father. Maybe they could have said "Parents" instead of "Creator."

    • letstalkabouteduc profile image

      Nancy Mitchell 2 years ago from Bend, OR

      I find it interesting that 2 of the newer religions -- Scientology and Mormonism -- receive a lot of ridicule and criticism but the older ones are above reproach. Scientology is fascinating to me because it's shameless in its money-making pursuits and its idolatry of celebrities. As the mother of 2 teenagers, I see that most of their friends are not religious. However, they're very accepting of those who are. Many young people understand the world through science, not religion. Loved your hub!

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      Nalani Sanderson 2 years ago from Oregon

      Your hub is well-written and, yes, provocative.

      I see the merit in most of what you say. Many things, and probably all things, can be accomplished without religion. However, without the ability to belief in abstract concepts, which we learned through believing in gods and spirits, I wonder where we would be. You may not believe any gods exist, however you believe in abstract concepts like Love and Kindness and Morality. For those who believe only in what can be proven, in the physical world alone, how do you account for such things? Is there a formula to produce love? Is there some quantitative measurement for kindness? What does morality really mean in a world of natural science, where the first rule of all seems to be "Survive, no matter what, whatever you have to do."? You may not give these ideals human-like names or titles, faces or personalities, but you still believe in them, in a lot the same way.

      That aside, I feel like there is an error in the idea that religion of any nature should not be tolerated. Just because we tolerate the "moderate religions" does not mean we condone fanaticism, which can exist without religion and always creates divisiveness. Religion itself does not create divisiveness, but fanatacism does, and religion is one thing humans tend to be fanatic about. What about sports? Team spirit certainly creates divisiveness, just as soon as it creates community and cohesiveness. People will do some crazy things in support of their college or pro teams. Does this mean we have to outlaw (or otherwise refrain from participating in) any and all sports, or college or professional sports, in order to subvert the violence and craziness that often follows? By no means. That would be ridiculous. Instead, all fans need to exhibit team tolerance, where they are kind and respectful towards all sports fans (and non-fans alike) regardless the team they support. Sure, it's a continuum, but the solution to avoiding the extremes is not jumping off the pendulum entirely. The solution to the heterosexual and homosexual war is not abandoning sexuality, but showing tolerance and even acceptance of all people regardless their sexuality. Just as Love and Hate are a continuum, the solution to avoid the extremes is not to become apathetic, but rather to recognize the dangers of blind hatred and obsessive love, and strive towards a moderated balance.

      The road to inclusiveness, cohesiveness, community on a global scale is not to do away with those things that divide us (country, language, religion, sports, skin color, eye color, anything that makes us individuals and unique) but to accept everyone for who they are, in all their colors. Getting rid of religion wouldn't stop fanaticism or extremism; love and acceptance and compassion, all stemming through understanding - that's what creates unity.

      Even among scientists, many of whom denounce even spirituality let alone religion, there are fanatics. And really, what is science but another religion, another belief system? Faith that what you sense - see, hear, feel, taste, smell - the physical world is real. Faith that scientific experiments, repeatedly done, prove their findings. Faith that the human brain will continue to conceive of new findings, that collective human logic is actually logical. There isn't worship per se, but reverence and honor for the scientific method, ancestral scientists that made breaking discoveries, and in a very real sense the universe. Science is just another means to the same end - discovery, enlightenment, truth, and peace; and just the same, can also hinder those same goals.

      I think through all the things I could say in response to this topic, and it boils down this: a religion is a set of beliefs (those things in which we have faith), and humans, in order to achieve the advancement they have, have always needed to believe in something. I don't know quite how to describe it I guess (I keep trying and end up rambling), but it seems to me that even if the religions that evolved hadn't, there would be some other belief system, faith system, that would have.

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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      letstalkkaboutedu: Thank you for your comment. You make a good point about people calling other people's religion a cult. It is great that young people are more tolerant. I think fewer young people are involved with religion because there is less need for religion nowadays.

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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Dizzie Blogger: Of course I believe in abstract concepts. Love and kindness are innate human characteristics. Animals (including humans) evolved to have those feelings because they give us a survival advantage.

      Religion has advantages for those who use religion; disadvantages for those who are used by religion. If you feel drawn towards religion use it for good, but understand it for the myth and fable that it is. For instance, it feels really uplifting to sing a hymn in church, even if you don't believe in Him to whom it is being sung.

      I never said outlaw religion. It's been tried (in Russia, for instance), and it makes religion stronger. Religion has its good points. I say take religion with a healthy dose of reality which is not too different from your belief that fanatics give religion a bad name.

      Science differs from religion because there is no Revealed Truth and the beliefs of scientists are always changing. It is based on proof. If a scientist becomes a fanatic--if he insists his theory is right and refuses to look at new evidence and all the evidence--then he is no longer a scientist.

      An interesting point about sports. I don't care much for the business of sports. (I think it is more fun to play than watch others play.) It is kind of like religion. Everyone has their favorite, and they follow with blind devotion.

      You say if there was no religion something else would have evolved to fill the need. It has. Some religions, mainly Eastern religions, are simply about a philosophy of life, without a deity or deities. Zen Buddhism, for example.

      Thanks for your comment. This essay is provocative. I mean to provoke people to think about the issues I raise whether they agree with me or not. I didn't write this to get people to leave their religion; only to think about it.

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      Jack Lee 2 years ago from Yorktown NY

      reply to CatherineGiordano - The Creator is clearly referring to God and not anything else you might wish it implies. Please don't try to re-write history to make your argument. The history of our founding is well documented. If anyone wish to learn about it, they can do the research. The separation of church and state is much mis-understood. It was meant as you stated so that we would not have a State supported religion - not that all aspects of religion to be removed from the public square. It is hard to have a discussion when the facts of history is ignored. I have no problem for some people wanting to "change" our status quo. That is progress. The beauty of our Constitution is that it allows for change down thru history by way of Amendments. I can recommend some resources if you are open to it. By the way, did you know the 10 Commandments and Moses are featured prominently in the Supreme Court Building?

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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      jackclee lm and others: My objective is not to tell people that they should leave religion, but rather to encourage them to reform their religion so that it does more good than harm. It should encourage community and not divisiveness. It should bring out the good in people and not call them sinners. It should use its resources for the betterment of humankind and not to increase its own power.

      Love and kindness preceded religion; religion did not invent love and kindness. Religion just provided a social structure, but all too often subverted the very characteristics it was meant to enhance. Reading the comments and responding to them has been very educational for me and has clarified my thinking.

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      TheBizWhiz 2 years ago

      Catherine,

      You seem to move the goal post a lot. The initial question is "Does Religion Do More Harm than Good?". Then later you said your intentions were to find out if the good things done by religion could have been accomplished without it. Now at the end of your last comment, you seem to want to establish that love and kindness preceded religion, as if that clears things up. Forgive me if I seem a bit confused, but you tend to be going all over the place here. I am not trying to be mean. I am only trying to clear up my confusion and try to establish some base meanings.

      You said: "My objective is not to tell people that they should leave religion, but rather to encourage them to reform their religion so that it does more good than harm."

      That is fine, but you never established that religion DOES more harm than good. You couldn't because it is not true, or at least about as true as saying cars do more harm than good or money does more harm than good. I understand if you want to say "Here is how religion can be better" just the same as you can say with cars and money, but to say "more harm than good" is just not factual. Your personal opinion does not make that fact.

      You said: " It should bring out the good in people and not call them sinners." It should bring out the good and it does. By calling people "sinner" do you mean telling them what is wrong, because if so aren't you in essence telling the religious what they are doing some things wrong?

      Also, if your intention was to encourage religion to reform, then shouldn't you offer up some suggestions instead of criticism?

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      The comments that people make in the comments section are often off-topic, so my answers are also. Yes, most of what is in this hub in my personal opinion. Maybe somewhere some has worked out a scale to quantify the good and harm of religion, but I haven't found it. So I mention the good and I mention the bad--that part is fact. Then I give my opinions.

      Not every church calls people sinners, but many do. Maybe yours doesn't. I believe people are more good than evil. Some churches say people are evil, and they need the church to make them good. Cultures without religion or without deity-based religion do just fine. Certainly no worse than others; often better.

      The suggestions for reform are implicit, even if not overtly stated. Just don't do the stuff that I labeled as harmful. In my humble opinion.

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      TheBizWhiz 2 years ago

      You said: "Cultures without religion or without deity-based religion do just fine. Certainly no worse than others; often better."

      I would love for you to tell me about a culture without religion that is doing better than those with.

      You said: "The suggestions for reform are implicit, even if not overtly stated. Just don't do the stuff that I labeled as harmful."

      Isn't that what churches do when they label someone as a sinner? Sounds kind of familiar to me.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Catherine

      Really enjoyed this hub. I would agree that religion is a problem but then again I see religion as something different to true faith.

      Even Jesus had real issues with religion but he never had problems with faith

      Blessings

      Lawrence

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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      TheBizWhiz: You are in luck. It just so happens that earlier today someone posted on facebook a link to an article from a peer reviewed journal that answers your question. I haven't had time to read it all--I just read the abstract but it provides evidence (40 pages worth) that religion is abandoned when conditions are good, but gains in strength

      in populations under stress due to dysfunctional social and economic environments.

      Here's the link. http://www.epjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/EP0739...

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      TheBizWhiz: You are in luck. It just so happens that earlier today someone posted on facebook a link to an article from a peer reviewed journal that answers your question. I haven't had time to read it all--I just read the abstract but it provides evidence (40 pages worth) that religion is abandoned when conditions are good, but gains in strength

      in populations under stress due to dysfunctional social and economic environments.

      Here's the link. http://www.epjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/EP0739...

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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      lawrence01: I agree there are differences between faith and religion, but I think my conclusions are generally the same for both. Except that an individual cannot usually act on the large scale required for genocide and war.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Fair point. I was putting an opinion. But I thought your next hub was.going to be about bread pudding

      :)

      Lawrence

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      TheBizWhiz 2 years ago

      If that were the case then that means they had religion when conditions were bad and gave it up only after conditions became good, thus religion made their conditions good. Doesn't sound like it answers, but I will give it a look.

      I still hope you will make an effort to show me a culture without religion that does better than those with religion.

    • profile image

      TheBizWhiz 2 years ago

      Ok, like you, I skimmed over it and here are my problems with it;

      1. It is irrelevant to our discussion because it does not show:

      a. A society without religion, only those with less religion

      b. It does not show how religion harms people. It shows a correlation between economic conditions and the belief in religion and creationism

      2. What I am getting is you used this as a resource to show how not having religion is a better decision than having religion by showing how wealthy people practice religion less compared to poor people. Thus you are saying rich people are smarter than poor people. If you believe this then you must also be a conservative because it is proven that the wealthier people become, the more politically conservative they get.

      3. The result is subjective because they cannot prove that religion is the cause of poverty. They can only show a correlation between the number of believers depending on economic situations. They assume it is because religion causes the poverty because that was their agenda beforehand. Someone else who believes in religion might say this shows how humans lose belief in God because money is now the false idol they worship and this is why our society is getting worse not better.

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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      TheBizWhiz: You draw some odd conclusions. Let's just agree to disagree.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      I have attended staged debates given in an auditorium featuring a theist and an atheist. Invariably, they are asked, What would make you change your mind?" The theist says, "Nothing." The atheist says "Evidence."

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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      lawrence01: I haven't posted any new hubs since this one. I'm still working on the bread pudding one. I'm expecting that bread pudding will not be contentious. Although the vegans might come down on me for using eggs.

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      TheBizWhiz 2 years ago

      Catherine,

      We can agree to disagree, but my conclusions are not odd. I am an academic and if I present something to be true, I must back it up with cited facts, so in some way I expect that of others. Maybe some find that odd, but I think it is thorough. See, one result can produce different variations in results.

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      Nick 24 months ago

      Excellent article. I have always asked why we try to manipulate god by saying I will pray for him/ her to spare their lives when it's a matter of an illness or a tragic event. Your article clearly provides a baseline for historical religious beliefs and the why with science it is no longer necessary! Please, Catherine, continue your quest!

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      Catherine Giordano 24 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Thank you so much for your comment, Nick. I will definitely be continuing my quest. Science trumps religion every time.

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      Lawrence Hebb 24 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Catherine and Nick

      I wouldn't agree that science has rendered religion unnecessary (as Nick implies) Science can tell us how a thing happens (and even that can be disputed by different theories within science) but it can never answer why it happens. That's what religion seeks to try to deal with.

      The two are as important as each other and can compliment each other as they look at many of the same things from different angles.

      Lawrence

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      Catherine Giordano 24 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Science is based on evidence--new facts mean new theories--it is constantly evolving (if I may use that word). Religion and faith are based on unchanging belief. That makes them incompatible. They are two very different ways of looking at the world. Stephen Jay Gould, a paleontologist and evolutionary biologist, posited roughly the same ideas that you mentioned--he called it "non-overlapping magisteria." It was not well-received by either camp.

      Tomorrow I hope to post a new hub about Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist. I will present his ideas on science and religion. He can probably do a better job of responding to your comment than I can.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 24 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Looking forward to the hub. I wasn't meaning to cause problems but responded with my opinion.

      Lawrence

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      Lawrence Hebb 24 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Actually catherine you are only 90% right about faith. Faith is based on belief you're right about that. But if that faith can't be confirmed by historical documentation then its not faith but delusion (i know atheists think all faith in God is delusional). The faith i have is based on the facts I have researched and found true.

      There are parts of the Bible we may never totally have the answers for but because of the accuracy of the rest of the book (its what many of my hubs are about) we can be fairly confident in those sections. We may not fully comprehend everything but we can trust the book because of what has been shown to be true.

      A few days ago I started a series about dating a young earth, the material I've used for the first hub is from real geologists showing from the geological record that the earth cannot be billions of years old. I actually want people who disagree with.e to post so I canlook up their research !

      By the way I named at least fourteen Nobel prizewinning physicists who disagree with you in my hub "Creation Myths part1" you should take alook at the list

      Blessings

      Lawrence

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 24 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment. It is good to have a lively debate on these issues.

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      TheBizWhiz 24 months ago

      Good point lawrence. Science no more disproves Religion that say math disproves Science. Actually they work together. The reality is that Religion is a philosophy, so it presents a lot of theories that we study today. Man is seeking answers and science is a tool for that, just like other disciplines. If people were a little more open minded they would realize that they can all compliment each other.

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      Catherine Giordano 24 months ago from Orlando Florida

      TheBizWhiz; I think you are right. Science should be used to understand religion. Thank you for commenting.

    • profile image

      TheBizWhiz 24 months ago

      lol. That is not what I said, but good try.

      They are two different disciplines, yet compliment each other when combined. If it were not for religion, science would not have achieved so much, therefore neither would mankind.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 24 months ago from Orlando Florida

      My comment stands. Science --not just the physical sciences-- but also anthropology, psychology, etc. can and should be used to study religion.

    • profile image

      TheBizWhiz 24 months ago

      That was not your comment. You were trying to say that I said that, which I didn't. You are entitled to your own views and I have no problem with that, but I don't appreciate when someone puts words in my mouth which they know it is incorrect.

    • jacharless profile image

      Charles James 24 months ago from Between New York and London

      This is truly an open-ended question.

      Religion, by its most primitive definition, is anything humans engage in a manner of ritual behavior, expressed by either sensation/emote or science/mechanics, who's underlying goal is enlightenment of the individual or collective. Oft times these practices are attached to strict rules and rewards for actively participating in said ritual.

      That said, historically, I would wager on the side of more harm than good.

      The human conscious has been very busy entertaining itself at speeds unimaginable, in what appears to be a fight for self preservation against the forces of time. Has been this way for thousands of years. And, with each passing moment, that battle intensifies in all manner of expression, as we nearly the appex of the future of humanity.

      In its defense, however, religion is not the cause of this battle, this conscious struggle, but is certainly the inexhaustible fuel and fan of the fire.

      James.

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      Catherine Giordano 24 months ago from Orlando Florida

      jacharless: Thank you for your detailed and thoughtful comment. The kind of religion I am speaking about are the ones that teach belief in a deity or the supernatural. I consider other types of religions to be life philosophies, even if they have religion-like attributes.

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      Chris Brockman 23 months ago

      Excellent summary. I like your picture.

      --Chris Brockman, author of What about gods? and What to Think About: Philosophy for a Thoughtful Younger Generation.

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      Catherine Giordano 23 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Thanks Chris Brockman: I am glad you liked the article.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 23 months ago from Yorktown NY

      CatherineGiordano - I started a new hub to learn more about atheism - Check it out here - https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/What-Woul...

      I hope you will have some input.

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 23 months ago

      "What would society be like without religion?"

      Correct me if I'm wrong but weren't Danton, Lenin, Sanger, Than Shwe, Stalin, Mengele, Mao, Kim Il Sung, Ceausescu, Honecker, Castro, Pol Pot, Broz Tito, Milosevic, Bonaparte and Mussolini oppressive, sadistic, democidal atheists who, collectively, murdered ***hundreds of millions*** of helpless men, women and little children?

    • profile image

      Volker Loeper 22 months ago

      When those devout Christian abolitionists marched against slavery, those enlightened people shouted "religion does more harm than good"

      When those republican Christian suffragettes rallied for almost 50 years against the enlightened democrats and the unions to finally give all women in the US the right to vote, they still shouted "religion does more harm than good"

      When Christians ended child labor,

      ended Jim Crow laws,

      end segregation,

      and marched peacefully hand in hand in Selma against the white supremacist democratic party ...they still shouted "religion does more harm than good"

      ...and today, where the same democratic party wants to destroy the traditional family and promotes the termination of millions of unborn human beings, purely out of economics ...and the only opposition again comes from Christianity ...they are a still shouting the same battle cry...

      If the status of what's considered harm by Americas left, can be judged historically, being called out as harmful by them, can only be considered as the highest of honors

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 22 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Volker Loeper: When Christians said it was Gods will that African people should be slaves... There are always two sides to the coin. I have at least a have a dozen more hubs on related topics. Feel free to work your way through them.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 22 months ago from Somewhere in the universe

      P S abortion has very little to do with economics and more to do with women having power over their bodies and not being forced to have unwanted children. Overpopulation has a lot to do with it too. And nobody should be forced to carry a rape baby to term.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 22 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Austinstar: Thanks for your comment. I totally agree with you. I'm just not in the mood to feed the bears tonight so I ignored the comments of those who are trying to bait me into a fight. I'm glad you were around to answer for me.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 22 months ago from Somewhere in the universe

      I'm sick of "men" trying to rule women. I can't even describe how low my opinion is of Republicans trying to lord it over us. Rapists and pedophiles are the lowest of the low and I only see republicans trying to defend Josh Duggar and wanting to force women to carry rape babies. I think I'll write a hub about it.

    • profile image

      Volker Loeper 22 months ago

      1856 Democrat: slavery has very little to do with economics and more to do with free citizens having power over their own property and not being forced to just set it free ...."

      ..not comparing elective abortion to slavery here ...but just showing what argument sounds like when u actually realize that we are talking about real human beings.

      The whole pro choice slavery argument of the Democratic party was based on the same false extrinsic value ideas as their pro choice abortion arguments. They all fall apart when u allow yourself to what "IT" really is that you are talking about ....not much has changed

    • profile image

      Aleks D 22 months ago

      Amazing article! Oh how I wish the world would awaken from this nightmare and start working together as a whole in making sure that we don't destroy each other, along with our planet instead. I've been an atheist most of my life, besides a few short years as a child. Most people have a herd mentality and NEED that sense of importance. It makes them feel good believing that they are the "chosen" ones. It would be my dream come true to live long enough to see the world with no religion, but somehow I doubt there will ever be a point in time like that, considering we'll probably destroy ourselves relatively soon as species. GREAT article!

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      Catherine Giordano 22 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Aleks D: Thank you for your comment and praise. I too hope the peoples of the earth can get it together before it is too late.

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      Lawrence Hebb 22 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Looks like this hub is going a little 'off topic'

      Scott Wesley Brown had a song "I'm not religious, I just love the Lord' I think that's where I try to be!

      Ghandi said once the biggest attraction to Christianity for him was Jesus, but the biggest hinderance was christians. Not sure if people will like that but its true. Jesus and his teachings appeal to millions but its us christians who put them off!

      So lets stop being " Religious" and be more like Jesus.

      As for abortion. It might be ok for the woman to have the right, but what about the unborn child, doesn't he/she have rights too?

    • profile image

      Akiwak97 21 months ago

      How many wars have been fought because of religion?

      If you look up Encyclopedia of Wars, they give a very small percentage of wars being fought due to religion. Just include this info with your article and it will have more bite to it

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      Catherine Giordano 21 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Akiwak97: It seems like religion played a role in a lot of wars. Horrendous wars. Even one war would be too many for a institution that is supposed to be a force for good.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 21 months ago from Somewhere in the universe

      @lawrence - Do puppies have the right to be born? Even in puppy mills? Should female dogs be forced to carry puppies that are unwanted and unneeded?

      The issue is that everyone is going to die. You can die when you are a fetus or you can die when you are an old person. Or you can die in some trumped up war that the fat cats force on us.

      The thing is that babies may have a right to be born, but they do not have the right to force women to carry them to term. Same is true for all life. When you force females/women (of any kind of life) to have unwanted babies, it is wrong.

      If they (babies) have "souls", then their soul will go to wherever it is that "souls" go to when they die. Regardless of their ages.

      Sorry, Catherine. Yes, this is kind of off topic, but it is about religious harm to both women and fetuses.

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      Catherine Giordano 21 months ago from Orlando Florida

      No problem, AustinStar. You elaborate on an important topic that I gave only a brief mention because of space considerations. My hubs on religion may make some people angry, but they give me an opportunity to address important issues. They can take two or three long days to research and write because I want to be sure I have my facts right. Often I go to websites of the opposition to hear their arguments to be sure I have the full picture. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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      Catherine Giordano 21 months ago from Orlando Florida

      lawrence01: Sorry I missed applying to your comment. I'm getting so many comments that I sometimes overlook one. I agree that this would be a much better world if all Christians acted they way I presume you think Christians should act--with love and kindness and charity. When that happens the world over, I will take down this hub. It won't be needed anymore. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 21 months ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Catherine, you are doing a wonderful job and I appreciate all of your hard work and research. I wish everyone would do half the investigating that you do before they open their mouths and start spouting the same old arguments with no facts or figures to back them up at all. They really need to learn to use the internet properly. Or they could even read REAL books, LOL! But I suppose that is just too much trouble for people with narrow, closed, already made up minds.

    • profile image

      Pom1972 21 months ago

      I just came across your article. I loved it. I'm currently working on a personal essay for my English Composition I. The title is The Failing of Religions. I decided this about five weeks ago when the course started. You said exactly what I've been pondering for some time.

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      Catherine Giordano 21 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Pom1972: Thanks for your comment. I'm glad I could help you get started on your term paper about religion. Good luck with it. I hope your teacher is fair and open-minded.

      I see you are new to HubPages. Your paper might work just fine as a hub. I wish you success on HubPages.

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      Nancy Mitchell 21 months ago from Bend, OR

      A thought-provoking hub as usual, Catherine! When my first child was born, I was forced to make a choice between religion or no religion. Having grown up in a hugely Catholic home and having attended Catholic schools, I decided on no religion because I didn't want my child to think that praying was the answer to everything. I wanted my son to feel more empowered than I ever did. I wanted him to respect knowledge and science. I've taught my son to be very tolerant and respectful of believers but now I'm wondering if that's the best approach. If atheists such as Sam Harris say tolerance will lead to our demise, I need to re-think this. Of course, that would be tricky since my son's cousin is a priest!

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      Catherine Giordano 21 months ago from Orlando Florida

      letstalkabouteduc: Thank you for your lovely comment. Critical thinking and independence are very important things and I think religion cramps that aspect of life. I think you should do what feels right for you and Sam Harris can do what feels right for him. What feels right for me is to encourage people to have an honest understanding about their faith. Did you read my hub about Atheists in the Pulpit? Maybe your nephew is one of those.

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      sk1951 19 months ago

      I have one issue with saying that religion does not want you do die. No…they want everyone not of their religion to die or submit. But they claim you have to “crucify yourself” for gawd. That you must give yourself body mind and soul. You must empty the vessel to be filled up with the 3 gawds they profess. You must be a bride for Jesus (a bit to gay for my taste.) That you are nothing and will forever be nothing without gawd. That everything and anything you do or accomplish is because of gawd…not you. Now…if this is not asking for death I don’t know what is. Psychologically this is the most damaging thing a person can do to themselves. Destroy your self-esteem and live vicariously through another…and they are not eve real…it is a fantasy!!! This is absolute evil personified in my way of thinking.

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      Catherine Giordano 19 months ago from Orlando Florida

      sk1951: You take the case to a whole other lever. You sound much more angry about religion that I am. I was not brought up religiously--I sort of got only a glancing blow--so I more dispassionate than you seem to be. I make my case intellectually, mostly without emotion. Nonetheless, I can understand your feeling, and I hope that you can recover from the harm that was done to you.

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      scilady 18 months ago

      Politics or religion have the same outcome if taken too seriously...need to spread critical thinking! Also atheists need to get better at good works...in hospital recently I was visited by two chaplains and an imam and have a vicar asking after me in the village where I am recuperating... where are the humanists?

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      Catherine Giordano 18 months ago from Orlando Florida

      scilady: Thank you for commenting. Atheists and humanists do "good works," but they may be less visible. They may be among the volunteers in the hospital, but they won't come up to you and identify themselves as a humanist. Further were a humanist to volunteer to be part of the hospital's "chaplin" program, they would probably be turned away. Some humanist groups do work together as a group to do community service projects. The groups, when they exist, are much smaller and less well organized than religious groups so they are able to do less.

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      Kiss andTales 17 months ago

      To answer this question , lets think what is religion all about , Giving praise , thanks, respect of Worship.

      Reconition of sovereignty to the one that deserves that position and title. We call our Moms Mother

      Not woman , because we recognize her role and position as a mother. Also Father who we do not address as man, but we respect his position or status as well, christians recognize the same thing

      In their creator , they know and reconize his position as well.

      While many do not or refuse to , he allows this choice,

      Again there are many zealots who do recognize he exist , but while they are trying to prove he does

      They are slipping through the cracks.

      Example ,Sure you can prove that a bank has money.

      But if you have no money in that bank why shout about the bank has money.

      You are no value to the bank because you are not

      part of its purpose as an envestor.

      We freely must come to our own conviction. Meantime to conclude that the truth is obsolete

      Is not realistic, many have never seen a "Loxodonta pumilio", but does that mean it never existed before the discovery ?

      People do God the same way.

      But soon he will not be a mystery either.

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      Curious 17 months ago

      Can you explain what your opinion is on spirituality? How would you explain miracles?

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      Kiss andTales 17 months ago

      Curious are you asking me or Catherine ?

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      Catherine Giordano 17 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Curious: There are no miracles. If you investigate, you will find they all have a natural explanation.

      Spirituality is a feeling of transcendence. Like a beautiful sunset, a star-filled sky, a baby's smile. No religion needed.

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      Jack Lee 17 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Cathrine - Did you read about what happened in Fatima? How do you explain it? if not a miracle.

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      Catherine Giordano 17 months ago from Orlando Florida

      jackclee lm. I have heard about Fatima. It is not a miracle.

      http://www.miraclesceptic.com/solarmiracle.html

      I just sent you the first link I found. If you are not convinced, do your own google search and keep searching and reading until you are convinced.

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      Alan Harmony 17 months ago

      Catherine, non-believers miss the point entirely. Lukewarm believers (99% of people attending) know little or nothing about the access to inspiration, help and creativity (Nu 12:6 & Job 33:14,15) that the Bible is really all about. You are doing fine bashing the bad where you got it right... but you are doing a poor service to all those who realize there's far more than the bureaucracy that aims people at idolatry, rites and rituals plus a modicum of uninspired charitability and good.

      I have condensed the range and spectrum of benefits to 4 pages so I won't add it here.

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      Catherine Giordano 17 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Alan Harmony: I'm glad you thought I got some of it right. I wouldn't call it bashing, tho. Thanks for your comment.

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      Scot Conway 16 months ago

      Something a lot of people don't seem to understand is that atheism, in and of itself, has no moral foundation. One's morality comes from what one does believe in, not what one does not believe in. Just because I don't believe in Zeus does not mean I have no moral code, it just means that whatever code I have comes for a source other than Zeus.

      Whether we can be "good" with or without religion depends upon what we mean by "good" and whether being "good" is a moral imperative at all. For some people, charity is "not good" and stepping in to save children and bring medicine to underdeveloped people is also "not good" (creating dependency, creating population bombs, etc. - a quick story was a medical missionary that taught a jungle tribe to use sterile razors to cut umbilical cords rather than their dirty machetes lead to a population explosion that destroyed their equilibrium with their environment).

      Whether with or without religion, what is "good" and "not good" can be argued. There were perfectly respectable Christians (in that they were mainstream "proper" for their particular location) on both sides of the slavery debate until we finally settled it in favor of "slavery is unacceptable." That was largely driven in the West by Christians, with the Bible being the primary weapon of the moral war between the sides.

      The big advantage of something like a core religion or a Primary Source Material like the Bible is that both sides have a starting point. They agree that there is a higher truth. They agree that there are principles in a book to be relied upon. They often fight over what parts to emphasize and how to interpret it, but they benefit from having a starting point on which they agree.

      The secular version in the United States would be the Constitution. If we define The Constitution as enshrining the principles for which we stand, then we all have a starting point. A difference between the Bible and the Constitution is that if we as a people decide in sufficient numbers that something is missing, we can add it, and if we decide in sufficient numbers that something needs to be changed or repealed, we can make that change.

      Religious texts, while subject to culture-influenced interpretation, are relatively static. If I use the Bible as a starting point, the Greek and Hebrew insofar as known (which is something around 99%+) do not change. The words are the word. The books are the books (though we have a few versions of "book collections" to choose from). We cannot decide to amend them because society has shifted.

      But we do need some more or less objective basis for deciding what is good and what is not good. There are plenty of options, including as simple a one as stating what you think is good and what you think is not good.

      Religion serves a still-important role in global society, but as we continue to internationalize and our cultures merge, that still-important role is steadily shrinking from all-important to not-quite-all-important. As time goes on, we'll see where it lands, but based upon the trend, I think we can safely say that religion in general is on a steady decline.

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      Catherine Giordano 16 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Scot Conway: Thank you for your thoughtful comment. You are entirely right-good is in the eyes of the beholder. Some people might have said the Inquisition and the Crusades were good because it brought souls to Christ. Today's terrorists who kill in the name of Islam probably think they are doing good also.

      When I say "good" I mean "be nice" or "live by the Golden Rule" --the principles that are found in almost all cultures and religions. I'll leave it to the philosophers to define good beyond what most people understand the term to mean.

      Sometimes something good like saving the life of a baby has unintended consequences (if the incident you describe actually happened). It means that more good needs to be done to address the new problems. However, your example is outside the scope of the question which concern acts done by religion.

      Good is a term that is always in flux. So if we want to evaluate what is good or bad about an institution, we must first think about what we think is good. For instance, I think critical thinking is good. Others might say that authoritarian rule is better than having people think for themselves. This essay evaluated religion according t what I feel is good.

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      Kiss andTales 16 months ago

      I appreciate scot's comment, and I appreciate your reply Catherine ,

      Most people act on what they think is the right choice, some use the bible to make their choices , some other means.

      But I think rather you believe in God or not he allows both to decide. We can not do this for another, but we can share our experience.

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      Taopi 15 months ago

      So many great hubs were composed and commented on long before I became a member. I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading this hub. For me, I don't think there is anything wrong with religion, per se, it is only when a theocracy occurs, that trouble ensues. Two of the three Abrahamic religions adhere to a doctrine of proselytizing, either by force or persuasion. History has attested that a theocracy is just as inharmonious to social well-being as any fascist regime.

      There has always existed the philosophy of the greater good in civilizations that have flourished, and so the concept of ethics and morality is not dependent on religion, it is dependent on the reasonable choice of the greater good. Violence, greed and apathy are more dangerous than unbelief in the supernatural to the prosperity of any society, and that is what humanity has yet to conquer within itself.

      None of this is to say that there is no Conscious Force behind the mechanism of the universe, it only means that giving it a story is more detrimental than not giving it one.

      I hope I haven't babbled too much.

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      Catherine Giordano 15 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Taopi: Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I agree that ethics and morality do not depend on religion and that religion is particularly dangerous when it becomes intermingled with a nation's governance. I'm glad that you enjoyed reading this.

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      Lawrence Hebb 15 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      I'm going to be a bit strange here. Personally I think there's a lot of good that can be done in a Theocracy but the model has to be right!

      The laws. Of the Old Testament were written for a theocracy and while they are seen as 'draconian' today they were amazingly 'liberal' and tolerant for their time.

      The classic 'revenge' thing we hear today says "The Bible says an eye for an eye" and its true it does but it's in the context of "only take an eye" and not more!

      In principle a Theocracy can be good, but that good is usually shortlived as corruption sets in.

      Churchill admired the Jewish faith as he saw it as being true socialism with God at the core, but he hated communism as he saw that as socialism without God and unworkable except to control the masses

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      Taopi 15 months ago

      Interesting, Lawrence, I must say.

      Please give some illustrations of the OT laws being anything but Draconian. Slavery, stoning, witch burning, blasphemy laws, etc., and so forth. Theocracy is basically a cosmology based on dogma. How is that compatible to the world beyond itself? Or even the people within the theocracy who do not adhere to the state religion?

      Judaism is not fractured nor split as is Christianity, for example (which has something upwards of 44,000 denominations [or something to that figure]), so a democracy under a Jewish state works in tandem with the three, Orthodox, Conservative and Reform, but you still have the story of, "God promised this land to us," and the war, displacement and violence that has resulted. Plus, Israel surrounded by medievalist theocracies. Everybody's wrong and Everybody's right. Where it ends, nobody knows.

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      Lawrence Hebb 15 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Taopi

      Take them in context of what was around at the time, Try reading the Law code of Hammurabi or the Egyptian law codes and see if the Jewish Law codes were as harsh!

      For the Israelites there was a law on the limit of time that one could be a 'slave' that allowed for them to pay off their debts by selling themselves to work but at the end of seven years the debt was paid and the person was to walk free.

      People who'd lost property (the law of Jubilee) in deals or whatever at the year of Jubilee they would get their ancestral inheritance back!

      I agree with you what you say about Judaism and I wasn't trying to say that Christianity was better than any other, mereley that there are times when a Theocracy can be better than other forms.

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      Taopi 15 months ago

      I think you are stretching a bit, but grant you some room in law, although I must argue the slavery-servant issue. Exodus 21:2-5 cites a form of indentured servitude for a Hebrew servant only, and is often quoted as the illustration of biblical slavery; however, Exodus 21:7-11, Leviticus 25.44-46, Deuteronomy 20:10-15 and 24:7, directly contradict any form of volunteerism for non-Hebrew slaves. That's the thing about the bible, for a good amount of citation, there is an equal amount of contradiction that can be legitimately argued.

      We must disagree on the Draconian issue, variances notwithstanding. Theocracy, in my view, is equal to any despotic regime because it is a singular cosmology.

      But I enjoyed hearing your response, Lawrence, and thank you for it.

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      Catherine Giordano 15 months ago from Orlando Florida

      lawrence01: It is easy to test your theory about Theocracy. We have a great example of a theocracy. It is called the Dark Ages. IMHO, it didn't work out too well. Is that what you want to go back to?

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      Catherine Giordano 15 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Taopi: Thanks for responding to lawrence01. You made some good points.

      I think the state of Israel was supposed to be a democratic theocracy. It was an interesting experiment--trying to combine democracy with theocracy. Many Israelis don't want to live under religious laws and they are using democracy to curtail the theocracy.

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      Taopi 15 months ago

      Definitely, Israel was established as a democratic theocracy from the start...the vision of a homeland at long last manifested, yet there still came displacement (Palestinians) and the continuing atrocities of border violence. The entire situation is very complex, and being surrounded by medievalist autocracies, theocratic governments and one of the last existent monarchies on earth that would each like nothing more than to see Israel crushed, only adds to the instability of the region.

      Theocracy, like autocracy, is an oppressive system of government. I think your hub, here, is very important in providing an awareness of how religious systems can and do thwart critical awareness in this changing world. To their credit, I think, as far as Abrahamic religions go, Jews and European Christians are more apt, at least to a greater degree, to see the forest for the trees. Perhaps because they've been beat down long enough to see through most of the veneer. 1800 years under a brutal Church and State system would do that. I think, even as we speak, the European union idea is beginning to fracture as some nations are beginning to realize a desire to retain their own identity in the midst of the refugee problem.

      It's all very thought-provoking. Again, thank you for the hub. I'm happy to have found it.

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      Catherine Giordano 15 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Thank you Taopi: The situation with Israel and the Muslim counties in the Mid-East is very difficult and beyond the scope of my essay. When I said that many Israelis did not like theocracy, I was thinking about things like the laws governing marriage and divorce. I think it is best when we can keep civil law and religious law separate.

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      Catherine Giordano 12 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Andrew Rolfe: You make a lot of spurious objections.

      Since I live in the United States where Abrahamic religions dominate, those religions were uppermost in my mind. I can't speak for all of the 5000 plus religions in the world.

      When I spoke about "progressive socio-economic programs," I was referring to the Scandinavian countries which have socialist governments.

      If you look at the Pew Research poll (cited in my hub "Nones Rising",) you will see that Australia is near the bottom of the list with respect to religiosity. When people are nominally Christian, but consider themselves non-religious.

      The Muslims who wage war against each other usually have Shia on one side and Sunni on the other. This has been true ever since Islam split into these two major sects. ISIS is Sunni. They believe Shia are apostates who must be killed.

      When I speak about the beliefs or acts of a particular group I am speaking about the group as a whole. Of course, there are always some individuals who differ from the majority in their group.

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      Andrew Rolfe 12 months ago

      " I can't speak for all of the 5000 plus religions in the world."

      But that's exactly what you are doing when you say religions are responsible for X. You do not clarify your objections to just the few you are familiar with. You are the one being spurious with your arguments, not me.

      Being Australian I'm fully aware of the situation here. The fact remains that in 2011 only a fifth of the population identified themselves as non-religious. Of course how religious they are is important but again you failed to clarify that.

      "The Muslims who wage war against each other usually have Shia on one side and Sunni on the other"

      Indeed, but that doesn't negate the fact that ISIS have killed more Muslims than Westerners. In the US Christian terrorists have killed more people than Muslim terrorists have.

      "Of course, there are always some individuals who differ from the majority in their group. "

      Well it seems you are calling all current religious people dangerous based on the actions of a few.

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      Austinstar 12 months ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Andrew said: "Well it seems you are calling all current religious people dangerous based on the actions of a few."

      A few BILLION!

      No, it isn't the action of a "few". The majority of the planet is religious in some way or another. Evil things are done in the name of religion. Why do you deny this?

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      chank038 11 months ago

      Wow, am I glad to have run across your blog. I was wondering if I was all alone in my belief (and lack thereof).

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      Catherine Giordano 11 months ago from Orlando Florida

      chanko38: Thanks for your comment. You should take a look at my profile. You will find a lot more hubs about religion and nonbelief that you will like.

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