Religious belief is beneficial

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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.

Contents

Examples

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."

Criticism

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.

See also


v · d Common objections to atheism and counter-apologetics
Personal   Why are you trying to tear down other people's faith? · Why can't everyone just have their own beliefs? · What are your qualifications? · Atheists believe in nothing · You are a communist · Why do atheists inspire such hatred? · That's not my God
Religious   That's not in my Bible · They're not true Christians · You just want to sin · Atheists know there is a God · It takes more faith to disbelieve than it does to believe · God doesn't believe in atheists · Science is a faith · Atheism is a religion · Atheists worship materialism · Hypocrisy of celebrating religious holidays · Atheism is based on faith
Science and logic   You can't prove God doesn't exist · Science can't touch god · God can't be defined · So you think we came from nothing / pondsoup / monkeys? · If God didn't create everything, who did? · That might be true for you, but its not true for me · Religion is another way of knowing · God is trying to trick you with dinosaur bones · Satan is trying to trick you with dinosaur bones · Tides come in, tides go out. You can't explain that.
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