The best thing would be if nobody needed religion, it there were no such thing. That, of course, is not going to happen.
Second best would be if we were truly able to keep "church and state" separate, but in the U.S., anyway, we've been failing miserably, there.
Many people came to the "new world" for religious freedom. There was also a huge component of freedom from religion. Quite a few of the "Founding Fathers" were dismayed when they saw that here, too, religion was having its effect.
“This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it.” -- John Adams
“There is not one redeeming feature in our superstition of Christianity. It has made one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites.” --Thomas Jefferson
“Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by a difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought to be deprecated." -- George Washington
“We discover in the gospels a groundwork of vulgar ignorance, of things impossible, of superstition, fanaticism and fabrication .” --Jefferson
“The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity. Nowhere in the Gospels do we find a precept for Creeds, Confessions, Oaths, Doctrines, and whole cartloads of other foolish trumpery that we find in Christianity.” -- John Adams
“Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise.” -- James Madison
“In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. It is error alone that needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.” -- Jefferson
“The civil government functions with complete success by the total separation of the Church from the State.” -- James Madison
“Lighthouses are more helpful than churches.” -- Benjamin Franklin
“The study of theology, as it stands in the Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on no principles; it proceeds by no authority; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing; and it admits of no conclusion.” -- Thomas Paine
“All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.” -- Thomas Paine
“The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries.” -- James Madison
“Ecclesiastical establishments tend to great ignorance and corruption, all of which facilitate the execution of mischievous projects.” -- James Madison
"the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion" - from the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli, signed by John Adams, etc.
“Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.” -Jefferson
When religion interferes with science it's definitely a detriment, global warming is a good example, those who reject it are largely religious conservatives.
The library of Alexandra in ancient Egypt once had a vast repository of information but religiously motivated morality, politics and anti-intellectualism drove the people to burn most of the books as well as killing the head librarian (because she was a woman).
Alexandra was a shipping port, boats from everywhere in the world would sail there with their cargo. It was standard practice that when a ship arrived the police searched the ship and temporarily confiscated all the books they could find. The books were then copied for the library and returned to the ship before it sailed.
I have read that some historians speculate that they had invented calculus based on evidence inferred from books that survived. Carl Sagan estimated the loss set the human race back two thousand years technologically.
Science and technology has done more for the betterment of mankind in the last four hundred years then religion, politics and war could do in two thousand by a long shot. Unfortunately we can't travel back in time and try it again with out the religion so no one can truly say religion has been a good thing but based on history and human nature I would have to say, no religion is not a good thing.
There is another problem as well, the bible sets down divisions between people.
The religious are the good people and the not your religion people are evil, the bible makes that brazenly clear, it's contempt for non believers is compelling. The homosexual marriage issue is a good example of how much time and money religious people will waste over stupid things that don't really matter and how the bible is regularly used to justify bigotry. Using the bible to deem others evil is done to dehumanize them effectively turning them in to monsters so it's OK to hate and kill them. Dehumanization was used to great effect by the US government in the second world war painting Japanese people as evil baby eating monsters in war propaganda posters.
Religion destroys creative thinking as well as a drive to find out how the universe works and yes i understand that not all religions believe in a god and follow scientific discoveries and excepts them as the truth, they aren't involved here. Religion is probably one of the biggest killers in history
There are certain morals or ethics within a religion that can be helpful for the growth or survival of a society. However, this does not manage to counteract the amount of negative impacts that religion has on society.
Firstly, there are numerous numbers of people who can have a good moral compass without the assistance of religion.
Secondly, there are too many people who manage to misread or interpret differently, the doctrine of a religion. Some impose violence, and others just hate, in the name of their religion which is meant to have a basis of love.
Without religion, i do not doubt that humans will still find reasons to produce massacres, war and just general hate. However, what makes religion worse is the fact that it is founded on faith. People are believing without evidence. Although i understand, that to some degree this is courageous, on the other hand it also means a complete denial of any reasoning. They believe in their religion 'just because', and this sort of determination or stubbornness means that the violence religion produces cannot be negotiated with. By believing in something that there is no evidence for, followers therefore feel there is no need to find evidence for their beliefs and will follow them blindly to the ends of the earth. This is the most detrimental part about religion - that people just have faith that what they are doing is right - unable to question the hidden being they are worshiping.
Yes, it has proven to be more of a hindrance than anything. Hundreds of years ago when our civilisations were still developing, some form of religious faith was necessary to be able to control the masses as well as to motivate and unify peoples under one banner. However, those hundreds of years have passed. Globilisation is well and truly active and our world's religions serve to divide us from conjoining our societies to accomplish greatness, and this is all based upon a series of completely irrelevant beliefs. Religion is the opposite of the modern pragmatism that the world sorely needs in order to be able to over come these problems. This is evident when considering conflicts such as the wars in the Middle-East (Christianity vs Islam). While religion was a relevant and necessary conept hundreds of years ago, now it can only serve to hold our society back with misguided beliefs and systems. This is evident when considering civil rights issues such as the legalisation of same-sex marriage. While I aknowledge that to this day religion can provide people with the motivation to carry on, society can accomplish this just as much by becoming the "universal church", where we can all work together to accomplish something great.
Also most bad behavior is the result of bad moral views by far. Whole societies have owned slaves because their religions claimed to be from a perfect god who was for slavery. Its like that with every other precept. The organized churches of the world have oppposed every moral progress such as slavery, better treatment of colored races, diminution of war, animal rights, and gay rights. Its a fact that it is detrimental to society. We need people to think about morality and not blindly accept a morality as ignorant children never to question that morality as an adult which is how most religious people do it. Thats why we fight all the time. Because our leaders have differents desires and they give us moralities that are convenient for them by using religion. It needs to stop.
People like to crowd around this topic and spout nonsense. They want to blame religion for every evil in the world. Ironic that religion gets the blame for evil in the world when religion is the only institution that allows us to define what evil truly is. Without religion, who gets to say what is evil and what is not?
And all the rant about how religion causes wars, when the most brutal of wars had nothing to do with religion, and even those attributed to religion were really over politics concerning land and resources, is utter hypocrisy.
Religion gives a society a set of standards to follow, and often provides clear-cut reasons why. Some people might disagree with the standards, but they can provide reasons why. While some may argue that religion is bad, the good ones, like Catholicism, offer an excellent moral framework. "Everyone is a fellow and equal person" came from Catholicism. Unfortunately, everyone else wasn't exactly accepting of it, then the Roman Empire decided to make it more of a status thing, then we got a bit of moral myopia, and then we re-united under a common religion, then Martin Luther pointed out some very real injustices, which we then fixed, and then modern history happened. Also, we thought that only heathens believed in witches until enough people complained.
Oh brother. Here we go again. First of all, it would depend on which religion you're referring to. You do know that they are very different from each other, right? Accipiter. Your reply really made me laugh. It displays such a profound lack of understanding of the Christian faith, it's laughable. Granted, people have used the Christian faith to their own perverted and evil ends ( The Catholic Church, for example ) but they were not following Gods word. They twisted it, and used it to gain secular power. I challenge anyone to show me, in the Bible, where it says they were right to do this. People like you point to all the crazy, evil people who are false Christians, then claim that the Christian faith is evil. Then you turn around and say Christians shouldn't judge Islam by the acts of the radical Jihadists, who are really fundamentalists. Such hypocrisy. You are either willfully ignorant, too lazy to make the effort to understand what the Bible teaches, or doing it for some ulterior motive.