I just started following Atheist Quote of the Day on Facebook. Today it asked its constituents the question, Most of us will agree that a faith based without evidence is irrational and negative, as most religious faiths are. However, what forms of faith, if any, do you think are good?
Here was my answer:
I like Buddhism, if you strip out the mythology and concepts like reincarnation. Siddhartha is said to have refused to make a definite statement about nebulous concepts such as reincarnation (see the book “Buddhism Without Beliefs”, which I must admit to not having finished).
I like the Quakers (the Religious Society of Friends). Their faith is very simple and non-specific; the more liberal varieties don’t require a god (there are Atheist Quakers, though I don’t know many). They hold that every human has “the divine light”, which is non-specific enough that you could arguably define it to be “the human spirit” (which doesn’t have to be a non-physically-based entity)… Best of all, it does not approve of basing your life on a book. I’ve known of a few Atheists and Agnostics who came from a Quaker background, which honestly seems a fairly natural progression.
Unitarianism seems okay. It’s not for me, being old enough to feel kind of stuffy and liturgical. On the one hand, by acknowledging some basic truth among all faiths, it might be considered to give some undue credibility to them; on the other hand, being forced to treat them all alike, it effectively prevents any specific dogmas or creeds from drawing too much attention and approval.
Don’t know much about it, but from the little I do know Ba’hai seems alright. Probably suffers the same basic problems as Unitarianism. It has the key feature of not getting too caught up in any particular beliefs, because God supposedly is revealing himself through a series of clearer pictures (Christianity, then Islam, then Ba’hai…), and theirs is not the last revelation.