What if you know those beliefs are certain to bring about an action that will cause the deaths of tens of thousands? Are you not going to do anything to prevent the dangerous action? Will you just wait for it to happen and continue to allow the root cause to go on knowing fully well that if it happened once (that such adherents of those beliefs acted upon what they believed), in all likelihood more similar atrocities will be committed?
Nobody is talking about policing thought, I'm talking about beliefs that demand action against others. And religion has discriminated against others who hold different worldviews and continue to do so.
Religion can also impede progress - as I mentioned earlier when Arab nations prioritise religious chanting and penitence over rebuilding their war-ravaged lands. If we take a country like Spain, we immediately see that it produces more in a year than all the Arab nations put together. Spain has translated more books into Spanish than the entire Arab world translated into Arabic since the 9th century. But Western civilisation has also suffered with religion. If not for Christianity, for example, we probably would have had the Internet by the 16th century.
It's very simple and logical...
If you have a rat infestation, you don't just take out the few that have caused damaged, you take out the whole colony and leave no room for procreation. Please note that in my analogy, the word "rat" is not being used as a dysphemism for a Muslim person. The suicide bombers, who caused much terror, were faithful to their creed. Their holy book demands that they become murderous zealots as the quickest way to heaven and they believe killing is fine as long as God has ordained it. These people have been robbed of any sound reasoning and their beliefs compel them to reject any form of real edification.
I'm not saying the people who subscribe to Islam are the problem here. I am saying that the tenets of their religion is what needs to be removed... or at least RADICALLY changed. If Islam was more like Jainism it wouldn't be so bad as Jainists wouldn't harm a thing, not even a flea (although this belief might be detrimental to crops if agriculturists became Jainists as they would not be able to do anything about pests
All types of people rape and kill, be they theists or atheists, but religion also helps these criminals to mask themselves. How many priests and bishops have sexually molested minors? And what's more, the Pope tries to brush it all under the carpet...EDIT:
I think I've expired my input in this thread. Feel free to answer the questions I have posed or to refute any of the affirmations I've made that you don't agree with. I just wanted to finalise here by stating the following:
The majority of scientists don't believe in God based on the fact that this one remains only a hypothesis. God is supposed to operate the universe and our lives (according to Judaic-Christian-Islamic faith but disregarding Deism). This means that evidence for His existence should be scientifically detectable. So far, no controlled experiment provided an observation that cannot be explained by natural means which would, as a result, force science to seriously consider the existence of a world beyond matter. Again, I apologise if this doesn't sound good to some but I'm just highlighting facts here.
Studies have been conducted on prayer. All evidence shows its ineffectiveness. Is God asleep at the wheel? Doesn't he answer to prayers? The evidence in this area strongly suggests his non-existence. Remember Bruce Almighty? I love that film. It depicts what would happen if all the prayers were answered. If prayer worked, or if God obliged to your every wish, the effects of this should be observable. Unless, of course, God is a capricious entity. Millions of prayers have been said every day for thousands of years and yet not a single miracle has been scientifically verified - and remember that asking for a life improvement and then winning the lottery the following day is not proof of anything (such event, although highly unlikely, is still possible and thus natural means can explain it - the chance in probability is still there!!)
Likewise, revelations from the lord in mystical experiences lack confirming evidence. Often, believers misinterpret such experiences through their faith and underestimation of mind power (the real origin of their experiences). If anything, the experiments that Michael Raduga has conducted demonstrate the creative power of our minds and there is no reason to believe that what people experienced before was supernatural and not the product of phase states, dreams, and other hallucinatory experiences.
Equally, no evidence for intelligent design of life on Earth is found either. The Fibonacci sequence in nature is not proof of design either. The complexity in the structure of life is certainly not evidence as some like to claim. Life looks exactly as it should according to Darwinian evolution.
When we were more ignorant, religious powers were more content, and then, the more we learned, the more challenged they felt in maintaining their doctrine. To use a famous example, there was Ptolemy with his geocentric ideas that appeared to support religious belief and they loved him. Along comes Copernicus and says that we are not the centre of the universe and that the planets, including the Earth, revolve around the sun. They wanted to stamp him out. Galileo, his successor, also encountered the same troubles. Their theories, which proved correct, contradicted biblical passages - e.g. the Earth was not supposed to be moving!
The universe didn't need a creator either (check out legitimate Lawrence Krauss if you haven't already: he'll explain why as well as giving you a good understanding of what nothingness is in physics - creationism has got nothing on him... nor anything for that matter!!). It required no miracles to manifest itself. If you don't like the Big Bang theory (even though the evidence for this one is still visible in our skies), you might like the theory of a multiverse where our universe originated from another. The latter can be hard to grasp but it is still far more substantial than the creationist debacle. Everything looks exactly as it should if there were no God.
The blind faith of religion in the world makes people acquire warped thinking as they passionately hold on to infeasible concepts and ideas. Because of this, a lot of them (especially the zealots and the devout) lack paying attention to evidence.
Finally, most religions claim that we have a soul. Again, no mentally induced phenomena that are independent of brain chemistry is found. God is also said to be the source of morality and yet no evidence for a supernatural origin in human behaviour is found. People of faith generally behave no better than those who have no faith, and, in some cases, God worshippers can behave a lot worse. But this isn't just about God worshippers. Spiritualists, or people who consider themselves to be spiritual, can be just as bad (go on spiritual Forums and see how you are received if you propose the materialistic worldview and deny the existence of spirit in your humblest opinion... )
Religion did help to bring people together in the birth of civilisation, mostly to get people to compromise with one another, for many, it provides comfort (although I'd rather see people finding comfort in facts rather than, ahem, fairy tales), and, it was and still is being used as a means to control. But never forget that our moral behaviour evolved socially. This is fact.
By the way, I hope you guys have heard of sociologist Herbert Spencer. He coined the term "survival of the fittest". I think you will find this link I found interesting:
http://www.bolender.com/Sociological%20 ... pencer.htm