Many good things can be seen in religion: guidance, inspiration, community with people who care, and objects and moments of beauty.
Many bad things also can be seen: beliefs that seem impossible, mistreatment of nonbelievers, and services that can be time-consuming and boring.
Pros and cons can also be specific – in liking or disliking a particular chapel, preacher, or group, or certain attitudes or practices.
To get the good and avoid the bad, many take a “cafeteria-style” approach: accepting some beliefs but not others, joining in at times with a group, and having personal types of religious practice. Many use this personal approach as members of churches or temples. Others do it mainly on their own.
It’s hard to avoid some involvement with religion. Even the most ardent seculars and atheists attend weddings and funeral services, have occasional spiritual feelings and, at times when pondering questions, may look deep to consider the source of it all.
For most, the question is not whether to be, but when and how to be religious. For those who are not drawn to traditional approaches, and for many of those who are, religious naturalism can offer a framework for exploring, experiencing, and enjoying a personal sense of religion.
Alain de Botton. Religion 2.0. TED talk, July 2011.
Between atheism and fundamentalism – William Grassie
Religion for Atheists: A Nonbeliever’s Guide to Uses of Religion. Random House. 2012.
What is religious naturalism?