Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg is not only one of the most important scientists of the last century but also an avowed atheist and a fervent advocate of science and rationality, along with being an excellent writer. Some words of wisdom from two speeches that I think are worth keeping in mind:
* From his speech at the Freedom from Religion foundation:
"While creationism is a persistent problem, the more serious fact is that a large majority of Americans, without believing very much in the teachings of their religion, nevertheless believe strongly in religion. While actual belief is gradually diminishing there continues to be respect for the moral teaching of religion."
"Most of the world's great religions coexisted very comfortably with slavery. Part of the general moral improvement of the human race can be credited to "the growth of science--a sense of rationality, a scientific view that we don't really differ that much from one another, that there is no divine right of kings and so on, there is no intrinsic racial difference that should allow us to enslave one race for the benefit of another race."
"People have just gotten less religious and more moral. If you read the Ten Commandments, the first four have nothing to do with morality--they're purely descriptions of piety. The Ten Commandments portray a deity who is self-centered, selfish, jealous, obsessed with his own importance; this is not a nice kind of person. The traditional teachings of religion are, from the point of view of the morality most people share today, pretty immoral."
* From A designer Universe?
"With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil—that takes religion"