Atheism - Atheism, Religion, and Morality - Dangers of Religions

Dangers of Religions

See also: Criticism of religion

Some prominent atheists—such as Bertrand Russell, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Richard Dawkins—have criticized religions, citing harmful aspects of religious practices and doctrines. Atheists have often engaged in debate with religious advocates, and the debates sometimes address the issue of whether religions provide a net benefit to individuals and society.

One argument that religions can be harmful, made by atheists such as Sam Harris, is that Western religions' reliance on divine authority lends itself to authoritarianism and dogmatism. Atheists have also cited data showing that there is a correlation between religious fundamentalism and extrinsic religion (when religion is held because it serves ulterior interests) and authoritarianism, dogmatism, and prejudice. These arguments—combined with historical events that are argued to demonstrate the dangers of religion, such as the Crusades, inquisitions, witch trials, and terrorist attacks—have been used in response to claims of beneficial effects of belief in religion. Believers counter-argue that some regimes that espouse atheism, such as in Soviet Russia, have also been guilty of mass murder.

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