Quote Originally Posted by Bacon_Barbarian View Post
Evil Kodos, or stupid? (Or both?)
The adherents are at the least stupid, and the people who push it on them are evil. But there is a sort of low-level evil in willful ignorance.

Quote Originally Posted by Fenn View Post
I need to apologize because I still have failed to get my point across. I am not saying religion is needed. But it HAS power, and not just for evil.
The same can be said of National Socialism as an ideology. Would you argue for the widespread adoption of Nazi ideology?

And the aspects of religion that try to answer the what, how, and why must be discarded. People must stop looking to religion as a concrete or a reality
The very thinking process behind religion is dangerous and harmful.

What I am suggesting, as an alternative to blowing religion off the face of the planet, is to radically transform it, and redefine it, to the point where it only barely can be called religion, but where the good that does exist there can finally appear. I propose making religion a form of art, rather than a science. A window through which we view the world, not the shape of the world itself.
See above. And we have that already. It's called philosophy.

Have you ever been touched by a work of art, or a piece of music?
Quite often. Except art does not include an entire epistemology with it. Religion does. Art does not include as a vital tenant the idea that some things are immune to logical criticism. Art requires skill and hard work, as well - on both ends. If you do not invest yourself emotionally in a piece of artwork and maintain an open mind, it cannot have an emotioanl effect on you.

Has the work ever moved you to take an action, or to reflect on something, or to change your mentality? Now, before you took that action or changed that perspective, did you use your rational mind to decide whether or not that idea was actually a good one? I'm sure you did.
No. That's not how sane people respond to art. Art can provoke an emotional response in us, sure, but the sane person always checks their emotions with logic. After reading books critical of America I did not immediately act on my emotional response and go out and kill politicans. I checked my anger with logic.

This should be the new role religion plays. Like a painting or song, people's emotions are pulled by religion (please note that I am using religion in the most general sense, not just Catholicism). Yet, unlike art forms, people mistake religion for the actual truth, rather than a dramatization or perspective on it. Religion in theform I am perscribing will not be based on rituals or beliefs, but emotions. You know how sometimes you think you feel "spirits" or other entities, even though you know that they logically cannot exist? Instead of forcing down those emotions, I think we should let our imaginations take us where we desire, so long as we realize that it is just that; our imagination. So when I walk down the street, and I feel the "presence of God," I will allow my emotional self that privelege, but I will not walk out into traffic because I believe the hand of God will save me.
Religion as art would be approached as literature.

The Bible is an atrociously bad piece of literature and if it can provoke an emotional response in you - independent of religion - than you really need to read more books. The Bible has practically no artistic value.

Quote Originally Posted by Fenn View Post
I wasn't trying to say that religion is required for such things, but that it has the power to inspire or promote these actions. Unfortunately, it can also induce very evil things.
Exactly. And you cannot divorce the evil things from religion. They are innate to it. That is why Religion is worthless as a tool to induce good. There are secular philosophies which are not only more likely to consistently inspire and guide good behavior, but which also have the benefit of not only lacking thousands of years of horror as their history, but also having most, if not all, of those evil actions as being expressly forbidden by the framework.

You can wish torture upon someone without having any religious affiliation. Belief in hell (or anything) is not the same as belief in the value of it.
If you believe in God as the Western world understands him and you believe in Hell then you believe in Hell as a good thing. If God is all good and sends people to Hell than the only logical conclusion that can be reached is that Hell is good and acceptable.

I believe the Holocaust happened, but I don't believe in the cause of purpose of the Holocaust.
See above. Your belief in the reality of the Holocaust does not include a premise that Hitler was the ultimate source and font of morality as well as omnipotent and omniscient.

Of the Catholics I know, I would say most of them would prefer a world where everyone went to heaven.
Except the fact is they still believe an all-good, all-knowing, and all-powerful God sends people to Hell. Ergo they believe Hell is good.

Also, some individual Christians do not accept the Church definition of hell and rather define it as enternal separation from God, which is ultimately the choice of that person through free will. (We are moving back to the free will debate, but let's steer clear of it until we have come to some sort of end on the current issue)
Except the fact is that it's still an eternal punishment that God allows to happen when he could easily prevent it. As long as God is omnipotent and omniscient you are confronted with the undeniable fact that anything that happens anywhere, at any time, is happening with his direct approval. Period. Humans are finite beings. There is no mathematical process by which infinity can be derived from finite numbers. So even if a human being sinned every second of his life, somehow, and even if sins had a gestalt or exponentially increasing value, there is still literally no way by which a human being could be justly said to deserve an eternal punishment, no matter how minor or severe. The ONLY alternative is to say that a single sin has infinite value in terms of punishment, but if that is the case then every single human being deserves infinite punishment.

I believe someone stated here or elsewhere that prayer can be a form of meditation.
There is a huge difference between meditation and asking an invisible fairy for favors and honestly believing they will happen.

And note the main point I am trying to make; religion should not a replacement for rationality and logic, but a view/perspective of it. I'll explain that later in the post. For example, perhaps someone finds meditation easier by constructing a "being" to dialogue with, kind of like a journal or diary.
See above. There is a huge different between having an internal "dialogue" and having a conversation with an imaginary friend. The latter is something only madmen and theists do.

Sort of and yes, in that order. I hear more talk of purifying the Church of its corrupt ways and returning to roots. They certainly aren't against evangelization. They want to fix the Church, although I will admit they do not take many steps themselves. Second, one of these people, a theology teacher in a Catholic school, was discussing whether non-Christians could be good. He explained that if someone is doing good, even if it is not in God's name, it is still good. Many of them promote tolerance and acceptance of other religions and of atheists. They believe religion should be a choice.
A choice where failure to choose correctly results in being sent to uber-auschwitz for all time.

It's more like "I really wish my fellow Christians would stop forcing their religion on others and harming them, but we still share some common beliefs, and I won't let them hijack my religion!" Religious organizations are not the only ones who suffer from unruly members. If you judge a group by its worst members, no one will be clean.
Yes. However there is a big different between judging a group by its worst members and judging a group on the doctrines it teaches and the behaviors such doctrines encourage and promote. Christians who are truly good people are not behaving in manners according to what their groups actually teach, most of the time. Jesus Christ said that not a single word of the Old Testament was invalid. Any Christian who is friends with a gay man they know has had sex with another man is not being a good Christian. The Old Testament is clear that such people are to be killed.

It is the unfavorable ratio of good to bad groups, which you have pointed out, that I find is hurting religion.
See above. It's like holding up the example of a Nazi who lived a good life as a defense of the ideology. He is the one who is aberrant for his group, not the mainstream.