Would you agree that you are deliberately being one-eyed in your rant ?
No. I started a thread about problems with religion, and proceeded to demonstrate problems with religion.
For example you say that we can't know about life after death so apparently you are leaving open the possibility. I assume that you might also leave open the possibility of God albeit what you consider to be a very unlikely possibility.
Yes, those are possibilities
. There is not yet even one jot or tittle of evidence to suggest that such possibilities correspond to reality
in any meaningful way. Death is by definition the cessation of life, so the "possibility" of life after death seems infinitesimally small. And even if there were a life after death, it wouldn't have to be the one that you believe in. You could end up in Valhalla for all you know. Maybe you will find yourself in Valinor. The afterlife could be entirely different from anyone has ever conceived it to be. You just don't, and can't, know.
But the thing is, the theist, in spite of the dilemma described above, does
claim to know that there is an afterlife, and what you have to do to get there, and naturally this afterlife is the one that they
believe in. The atheist instead says that until convincing evidence comes along to demonstrate conclusively that there is life after death, the default position that no such thing exists is the most parsimonious one.
If you think there is an afterlife, but that it is definitely not
Valhalla, then I want to know what evidence you have of this. If you can't give any, then there is no reason for me to take your position seriously.
Near death experiences are often cited by believers as iron clad proof of an afterlife, ignoring the whole "near" part and assuming that almost
dying is the same thing as actually being dead.
If this is the level of evidence needed to say that such a belief is real, then you would also have
to accept that Valhalla is real, if someone had a NDE of Valhalla. The problem with the type of "evidence" offered to us by believers is that it can be used to justify belief in absolutely anything, with no means of falsifiability.
You describe some of the bad aspects of religion
Because that is the explicit purpose of this thread
and I agree with some of what you mention but your overall rant implies that religious belief is all bad and yet (I think?) you still leave open a slim possibility of God existing (although you'd probably say we could never be certain in this life).
A god could exist and religious belief could still be all bad. It's not like if God exists that religion is then automatically good. We should judge it based on its merits and flaws, just as we would anything else. Note also that, in the case of the Bible God, if He were real, then it would only demonstrate even more that religion is bad, because this God can only
solve problems through violence and death, which most morally normal people would not consider to be good. Sure religion occasionally does some good, provides some services to the needy, brings grieving people comfort, etc, but this is true of many, many religious beliefs, and obviously they can't all be right, so it is irrelevant as to whether or not it is true.
Of course it also can't be ignored that a lot of evil and wickedness has been largely done away with precisely by moving away from religion, and instead embracing the scientific method and secular humanism. Thomas Paine, a deist but definitely NOT a theist or Christian in any way, was aggressively opposed to slavery, in a time when all of the Good True Christians were slave owners! It took Abraham Lincoln and the secular United States Government to abolish slavery in the US while the religious Confederacy, whose motto was "Deo Vindice" (God will Vindicate), seceded from the Union precisely because they wanted to be able to continue to exploit other human beings according to God's Great Plan.
It's really only in the fairly recent past of Christianity that a majority of Christians have become oriented towards trying to be civilized, tolerant, moral people. Many modern Christians definitely have a Jesus as John Lennon, themselves as hippie followers kind of vision, with peace, love and charity, and community being primary values. Note that this was not the case for most of the history of Christianity, and it's only because Christians have been living under secular humanist values long enough to be comfortable with it and realize that its not OK to stone women to death for adultery. It's only because they have been taught a better way, and they attribute that to a very narrow reading of only the best possible things in the Bible, while conveniently dismissing the fact that most of it is murder, slavery, misogyny, genocide, foreskins, cannibalism, and feces eating. It is only to the extent that believers DO NOT believe in their religion that they are decent people.
Regarding the bad things done by religious people, I assume that you would not want to stop atheism because of the bad things done by some atheists.
No I wouldn't but its not at all an equal comparison. If someone who is an atheist does something wicked, it has nothing to do with their being an atheist. There is no part of " I don't believe in God", which is all that atheism is, that necessitates or motivates people to do evil. However, religion commands
people to murder, genocide, slavery, child abuse, taking other people's land and possessions, war and so much more. Religious people do these things precisely because they feel they have a divine right to do so. Just look at God's followers in the Bible. They behave in a way that only someone who had no sense of morality or acknowledged the rights of anyone but their own would behave. It is their destiny
, their mission from God himself, to destroy all the other people in the region, take their land, their cattle, their virgins, this is God's gift to them! This is obviously different from someone who doesn't believe in God doing something wicked. The non-believer is not entitled and commanded
to do this stuff.
So what about Josef Stalin you may well ask? Well, its only to the extent that he granted and bestowed upon himself the virtual status of God that he did these things. HE was the absolute authority in Soviet Russia, and if you didn't bow before him you were gone. This is indistinguishable from religion.
So I suppose my overall question is, do you accept the right of people to believe in God and to have other religious beliefs as long as they do not impinge on the rights and freedoms of non believers (or even on the rights and freedoms of other believers) ?
I accept that people have that right, the problem is that a very large number of religious people do not
recognize this right at all, precisely because it goes against their scriptural commands and doctrines that say that they are the only true believers. This is why Zionists want to reclaim all of Israel for themselves. This is why why World Trade Center is gone. This is why Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head for trying to go to school. Religious people can't recognize this right because it is against the Boss's orders.
EDIT: Removed a misplaced word.