I do not hate religion. I do not look down upon those people who are religious, I do not believe they are inferior intellectually, and I have no illusion that because I am not religious that I am better.
The way I view religion is the way I try to understand most anything. I recognize it exist naturally and for a reason, that religion has good parts, and that it has bad parts. The intellectually challenging part is to examine all of these elements.
But in general I think religion is another tool that humans carry in their psychological tool-bag. They use it to solve problems, to overcome obstacles, and to survive. And like all tools religion can be both positive and negative.
Sometimes people seek religion for comfort and passion, for community, to overcome addictions and problems, or maybe for the security of having something to believe in unconditionally. When religion is used as a positive tool I fully recognizes its value.
Religion can be used to justify murder, to declare on culture inferior to another, to manipulate, for greed, for tyranny, and worse. When religion is used in these ways we must closely scrutinized and criticize it.
Zooming Out: The big picture
When I discuss religion sometimes I have to remind myself to take a step back – to see the big picture. One way I do this is to remind myself of life. I remember that we all die, that our life is short, nearly meaningless in the grand scheme or cosmic reality (not valueless) and that religion is not worth hating or dwelling over. If religion helps a person achieve happiness then it has done it’s job.
It is perfectly healthy to debate with someone over the accuracy and truth in one religion or another, but in the end it’s important to remember that we are all fellow humans trying to find our way. Trying to find truth, meaning, and purpose. So attacking the thing that has given someone purpose is counterproductive and ineffective.
Finding (and revealing) truth is a slow process. The best one can do is reveal small bits of truth and meaning at a time. To ourselves and to others.