Religion offers a framework for living morally, and it “works” for a lot of people. Neither of these statements is meant to imply that religion (belief in God within this context) is necessary for moral living.
Like Sam Harris, author of Letter to a Christian Nation, so brilliantly stated, and I paraphrase a bit, “one should not have to read a book to know that enslaving fellow human beings and treating them like cattle is reprehensible. The moment you see that the person has feelings and individuality just like you, it should be obvious treating them in this way is wrong”
Religion portends to have a “monopoly” on right and wrong.
The three primary monotheistic belief systems in the world are Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. They all condemn adultery; so do most atheists. They condemn theft; virtually all societies through time, even the most brutal, do as well.
One thing religion also does is control people’s minds. How else can you explain the horrendous treatment women tolerated for thousands of years? Only by convincing them it was their “fault” in the Garden of Eden (or whatever other mythology may be employed) so that the guilt trip can be used to force them into a submissive role.
As Seneca, a Roman philosopher noted, “Religion is doubted by the wise, believed by the masses, and found useful by rulers”. It seems obvious when one examines the history that religious belief has often been the fabric that allowed one king/emperor/dictator or another to retain power.
Hope for Heaven can blind one to the reality at hand.
Freethinkers (those who reject religious dogma and belief in God) have been found to be statistically less likely to be incarcerated, less likely to abuse their spouses, and less likely to be on welfare. How can this be, without the hand of almighty “God” upon them?
A: Because one need not learn how to live from an ancient book filled with good moral principles but also severe contradictions and confusing elements in the text right alongside them.
The sole element needed to learn how to live properly is to be brought up by good parents with a solid support system (relatives, schools, etc) in place.
While no system is 100% foolproof, and a good family can raise bad kids, it’s even truer that religion, for all of the “good” it claims, has less to offer in the realm of teaching morality than does atheism.
Indeed, given all of the guilt and unjust rules involved in “serving the Lord” or “Allah’s will”, one is much better off to just be a nice person and throw away the old books. This can be achieved through a good home life and a balanced view of the world brought on by a well-rounded education and equal respect for all genders and races.