Religious belief is beneficial
Religious belief is sometimes justified by the fact it brings benefits to individuals and society. This claim is often made regardless of the actual existence of God. Evidence cited includes: religious people and institutions help the needy, or created great works of art or science.
If the argument is extended to draw the conclusion that God exists, it is an invalid conclusion because it is an appeal to consequences.
The opposing view is that religion is harmful.
William Donohue, head of the Catholic League, writes:
- "It was the Catholic Church that created the first universities, and it was the Catholic Church that played a central role in the Scientific Revolution"
Arthur C. Brooks, at Stanford's Hoover Institution, writes:
- "The differences in charity between secular and religious people are dramatic. Religious people are 25 percentage points more likely than secularists to donate money (91 percent to 66 percent) and 23 points more likely to volunteer time (67 percent to 44 percent). And, consistent with the findings of other writers, these data show that practicing a religion is more important than the actual religion itself in predicting charitable behavior. For example, among those who attend worship services regularly, 92 percent of Protestants give charitably, compared with 91 percent of Catholics, 91 percent of Jews, and 89 percent from other religions."
Belief irrespective of evidence
Since the belief in God is not based on evidence, it is possible the belief is untrue. The believer tacitly admits that they don't care if their view is consistent with reality. It is possible to participate in religions socially without regarding them as true, as in the case of Christian atheism.
Religion can do harm
- Main Article: Religion is harmful
Religion may negatively affect individuals physiologically and financially. Many societal problems, such as terrorism, bigotry, discrimination and totalitarianism, have been laid directly at the feet of religion.
Atheists also do good
Atheists also do good, so by this logic atheism is also justified.