I’ve been thinking some about how otherwise secular and progressive people redefine the word “God” to mean something other than the traditional meaning. As an atheist, this has irked me a lot. But you know what I’ve decided? “God,” whatever you mean by the term, is irrelevant.
I have a deist friend who comes to the local Atheist Meetup regularly. He likes to say, a bit ironically, that deists are a lot like atheists except that they believe in a god. Very telling I think. I think the idea is that atheists and deists think very much alike, but have come to different conclusions on this particular point. After all, the deist god would have created the universe and then just left it alone to do as it will. Therefore the atheistic and (modern) deistic universes look exactly alike.
The danger of religion comes from the blind adherence to dogma and willingness to do whatever your leader says because he is somehow ‘annointed’ by God. The willingness to set aside one’s own moral reasoning capacity to embrace a ‘divine command’ theory. And the unwillingness to test one’s own beliefs. “Do not test the LORD your God,” right? On the other hand, I think if someone believes in something they call “God” but still uses their own moral reasoning to figure out right and wrong, then their religion is mostly harmless and should be left alone. These people don’t really believe in a god as the source of morality, whatever they profess. It is when religion prompts people to suppress and subdue their reason, as the Bible says to bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5), that there is a problem with religion.