This is a guest post written by David G. McAfee. He is author, most recently, of The Book of Gods.
One of the most common myths about atheists is that we despise all religions and their associated philosophies — that we don’t value anything even loosely related to religion. Of course, this isn’t always true. Many atheists, including myself, see plenty of value in taking beneficial philosophies and ideas from each religious tradition.
Suppose you meet 10,000 people over your lifetime and truly enjoy the company of a mere fraction of those acquaintances. Does that mean you can’t learn from the others, too?
The fact is that religions pervade our society because they were helpful to various groups of people at different times in our history. If we treat the holy books from these faiths just as we do other forms of literature, we can analyze their lessons and perhaps even internalize their morals. We can treat the Bible, the Qur’an, and every other “sacred” text just like Aesop’s Fables.
You might called this “cherry-picking.” You might be right. Obviously, cherry-picking is a bad thing when you claim your religion is True and Perfect and Divine all the while throwing away the inconvenient bits. But when you are a non-believer, you are free to take the best ideas from any culture or group. Why not treat these religious beliefs as a buffet where we can choose the best parts? There’s nothing constricting us to a particular dogma. It’s a beautiful concept, if you think about it.
That being said, clicking CONTINUE below will show you the six things we can learn from religions.
(Note from Hemant: Yep, we’re doing a slideshow with this one. Because we like to mix it up every once in a while. Regular single-page posts will resume shortly.)