Harm? Good? What Proportions?
There is much screening to be done
Reality ain't so bad
Religions start from some pure philosophies often of one individual or initial group. Often they start to control the safe interactions between people, as a tool of morality. (See Ethics And Morality.) Then others "modify" it to serve their own purposes, such as protecting themselves from personal threats and adding ways to make society work better. Many of those modifications become so ingrained that they are kept over time though they no longer make practical sense in today's world.
My criteria for what needs to be provided to others is that it must serve mankind to create greater happiness and much less suffering. To the extent a religion does that, that's great! To the extent a religion causes one to believe in things that are harmful to man, religion is harmful.
HARM? GOOD? WHAT PROPORTIONS?
One of the greatest harms is that of having people be passive, waiting for God or some magical entity to rescue and care for them, as if it were an all powerful parent. The hope part is good for one's personal psychology and the dampening of fear is also good. So there are tradeoffs - and where to draw the line is the question.
To give proper credit, there are sayings like "have faith in God, but row to the shore". These offset the "let God" takeover implication, but there is still lack of clear definition. Many people spend their lifetimes in figuring out what works for them. I would suggest that it should be done much, much more quickly, so that the benefits can be enjoyed earlier and over much more of one's life.
THERE IS MUCH SCREENING TO BE DONE
As part of my personal journey, I've sought to look at religions as a potential source of good philosophical principles, but one from which I must sort from and rephrase for my own use. There is much mistruth and much vague languaging, so in my writing I am attempting to put forth what seems to be the truth and to clarify what is being said.
HONORING RELIGIONS AS ONE WOULD ASK TO BE HONORED
We are creatures of beliefs. They form our very foundation of operations. They are to be respected as a part of other humans, and never to be derided. You can respectfully disagree or seek to debate and/or disprove a religion. Since there are 10,000 of them, all but one of them (or maybe all of them) can't be the "right" religion per se.
As with psychological beliefs, people often do not question what they grew up with and/or choose. Thus what is believed is often inaccurate. But sometimes those beliefs, though not true, seem like the very lifeline to survival, so we mustn't not honor them in others - for they only know what they know.
ACCURACY OF RELIGIOUS WRITINGS
Although many of the holy books claim to be direct messages from God, they are contradictory, so only a few, or none, are accurate. Even there histories are often incorrect, having been written a number of years later, and embellished and altered over time, so that even the initially incorrect version is changed to suit whatever the newer writers believes or wanted to insert.
James, the brother of Jesus, wrote the first Christian New Testament book a number of years after Jesus died (somewhere around 4-58), with others writing so much later that they either didn't know Jesus or they relied upon faulty memories. Paul and John wrote alot of the books, so people have to rely on their veracity and memory. And there are contradictions, which doesn't prove anything other than the fallibilities of humans in so writing. Jesus is believe to have been crucified in the year 30 (John The Baptist was executed in 28).
Muhammad wrote the entire Koran before he died. A master work of great influence, yet there are inaccuracies, changes, and mistranslations of it, plus many extreme interpretations that are bastardized to produce malevolent philosophies (just as occurs in Christianity. The basics are of goodness and peace - and as such should be respected and honored and drawn from. The extreme versions must be questioned and proper proof and reasoning must be applied - if that isn't done, it would be foolish to adhere to them. While we honor all human beings, we do not honor any irrational beliefs nor destructive ones. Almost all of the basic religions promote love and peace, so they are all sources to be honored and drawn from.
REALITY AIN'T SO BAD
I believe that "the truth" is what works and that the truth is scientifically verifiable and is the most workable of all for creating happiness. Of course, there is the "possibly" true and the "logically possible", which I do not dismiss as not being true but which I don't put a lot of stock in if it is not usable in a practical sense.
Those who are interested in tying down their philosophies to a higher working order will find much of this to be helpful.
use it best?
Practical interpretations and lessons:
vague Biblical writings and making sense of them as it applies to our lives and our
happiness. A true masterpiece.
For those who are put off by "God talk" - How to sift through to use the valuable core principles
that are true without any religiosity.
Notes and thoughts from religious/spirituality discussions. Notes I have made, which may be fodder for certain other writings, are below. I wrote them out like journal entries after the discussion.