Now, here’s a thing.
It is rather a fashion nowadays to declare that religions are all wrong and should be banned, because science and reason have somehow proved that there is no god (they haven’t).
But I would like to consider every religion in the world as a school of philosophy, and consider what I might take from each that would be useful to my life and my development.
Whether there might actually be a god or not then becomes unimportant.
Most Buddhists, for example, would seem a little unsure of whether there is a god or not, but if asked, the majority of them would reply that it does not matter. The argument being that it is impossible to prove either way, and therefore it is impossible to know either way. So why not just live your life as well as you can?
Traditionally, religions have provided society with a set of moral rules. It may be that these rules were the first imperatives that human beings treat other with decency. Since none of us were around in the long years when our race was evolving speech and higher thought, and learning how to co-operate with fellow members of the tribe and – who knows – perhaps their neighbours, this must of necessity be pure speculation. Yet I find it highly likely these moral codes were the first suggestions that human beings might treat an enemy, for example, with mercy, rather than simply killing them, which might otherwise be the obvious course of action. Morality over expediency, if you like.
Islam forbids charging interest on loans. How many who have fallen victim to the money-grubbing lowlife that run these ‘payday’ loan companies charging astronomical rates of interest might have sympathy with this view? It teaches also that it is a moral duty to give alms; to help those in need.
Christianity is big on love and mercy; at least in the New Testament. It teaches tolerance and forgiveness.
Buddhism teaches that to want things is to become enslaved to those desires that can never be satisfied. How much better to live simply and to be content with what we have? It teaches also compassion for all living beings.
Hinduism teaches that all life is sacred, and that we should all refrain from injuring others.
These are only the main four faiths in the world today, but every other religion that I have read about also teaches a code of moral imperatives.
And in a world run by huge multi-national companies with no moral compass whatsoever and politicians who only look after their own, where we are continually and aggressively informed that we must worship money and consume more and more pointless trash, and that it does not matter if we destroy the environment just as long as companies make bigger profits, anything that can make us pause to consider what is actually important in life should be encouraged rather than denigrated.
It would therefore be ridiculous to simply dismiss out of hand entire canons of work, solely on the grounds that the writers of these philosophies believed in a god whom the reader might not (or does not want to) believe in. Everybody has a spiritual side, whether or not they believe in some sort of god. The spiritual side of a person champions beauty over money, generosity over selfishness, kindness over cruelty. These are values that most of us still claim to value today.