My views on Religion
Whenever I question other atheist's views on religion, I get the same response. It seems that there is confusion as to my views on religion, cognition and society.
Ergo, this entry is not necessarly a response to any one argument, rather my views on the subject. I will focus specifically on religion and society, not on the relationship between personality and enviroment which came under discussion recently.
I take the stance of Scott Atran
I think that religion is basically a neutral vessel. It has done everything you can imagine, and its contrary. And there is nothing intrinsic about religion, for the good or the bad.
This seems to make intuitive sense. Ask 100 different Christians about God and their religion and get 100 different answers. Religion seems to be subjective. Compare Ken Miller to Ray Comfort, compare Obama to Bush, compare Martin Luther King to Adolf Hitler. All are Christian.
Some are extremely intelligent, some complete morons. Some good moral role models, others despicable human beings.
Now why is this? Doesn't religion promote intolerance and terrorism?
I believe that any hypothesis should be put up to empirical study. Whether it's the Earth is 6000 years old or that religion will destroy us all.
Greg Paul cites that religiousity in nations is a positive predictor of social dysfunction, where as non-religious countries showed the lowest dysfunction 
Among the prosperous democracies all but the U.S. have adopted most or all of a set of pragmatic progressive governmental policies that have elevated these nation’s societal efficiency, success and security while reducing personal levels of stress and anxiety. These include reduced socioeconomic disparity and competition via targeted tax and welfare strategies, handgun control, anti-corporal punishment and anti-bullying policies, protection for women in abusive relationships, intensive sex education that emphasizes condom use, rehabilitative incarceration, increased leisure time that can be dedicated to family needs, and perhaps most importantly job security and universal health care that make it difficult for ordinary citizens to suffer catastrophic financial failure. Social ills are correspondingly suppressed. As a member of the 1st world the U.S. is an anomalous outlier not only in its religiosity, but in social, economic and political policies as well. Provided with comparatively low levels of government support and protection in favor of less restrained capitalism, members of the middle class are at serious risk of financial and personal ruin if they lose their job or private health insurance; around a million go bankrupt in a year, about half due in part to often overwhelming medical bills. The need to acquire wealth as a protective buffer encourages an intense competitive race to the top, which contributes to income inequality. The latter leaves a large cohort mired in poverty. Levels of societal pathology are correspondingly high. The evidence indicates that the modulation of capitalism via progressive policies is producing superior overall national circumstances compared to the more laissez-faire capitalism favored in the U.S.
Here we have a correlation. What does it mean for A and B to be correlated? What does this say about cause?
Well, three options present themselves:
A] A causes B or vice versa. A direct relationship [If it's a positive correlation, increase in one causes an increase in the other and same with decrease. If it's negative, an increase in one causes a decrease in the other]. For example, cold weather most likely causes people to bundle up with a cup of hot chocolate.
B] An underlaying factor causes BOTH A and B. Buying doggy treats is correlated with happiness. Both are caused by owning a dog. [Though sometimes the dog can sometimes decrease the latter rather than increasing it] To say this example is the first option, is to say eating doggy treats increases happiness!
C] Neither are related: global warming and number of pirates.
So as you can see, more detailed research is required than a simple correlation.
And has been done:
For example, University of British Colombia Social Psychologist Ara Norenzayan conducted a study of religion and prejudice taking 10,000 subjects across cultures measuring devotion of religion through prayer [This has been misquoted by me on the RRS boards. I thought Scott Atran did this study, however he merely cited it. I have the memory of the goldfish[**]]
Since what best predicts belief in God also best predicts tolerance, these results are especially challenging to any secularization-promotes-tolerance hypothesis.
Rather, he finds that group dynamics cause the intolerence. Coalition was a positive predictor of intolerance and prayer [which is highly correlated to devotion and religiousity] was a negative predictor of prejudice 
Even in terrorism where religion is portrayed as an integral and, as argued by Harris and Hitchens, inseperable part or it. However, once again empirical research casts doubt.
New School psychologist Jeremey Ginges finds that devotion to religion is a poor predictor or support for suicide terrorism, where as [once again] group dynamics was the best predictor of support for suicide terrorism. 
We can't take this lightly! Religion was a negative predictor of what others claims it causes! Who says you need religion for coalition? Of course, this doesn't say that God belief is required for morality [Greg Paul's study shows this].
Another thing you may notice, in no way am I saying that we shouldn't critisize religion. That we should just zip our lips when Ray Comfort claims the world is 6,000 years old or scares us with the banana.
Quite the contrary, we should counter bad science with good science. Which is the crux of the argument.
We have science and reason on our side, so let's keep it that way.
[*] During his presentation at the 2006 beyond belief conference.
 Paul, G  The Chronic Dependence of Popular Religiosity upon Dysfunctional Psychosociological Conditions Evolutionary Psychology Journal
 Hansen, I. G., & Norenzayan, A. . Between yang and yin and heaven and hell: Untangling the complex relationship between religion and intolerance. In: [P. McNamara, Ed.], Where God and Science Meet: How Brain and Evolutionary Studies Alter Our Understanding of Religion. Vol. 3, pp. 187-211. Wesport, CT: Greenwood Press--Praeger Publishers.
[**] Goldfish actually have good memory http://mythbustersresults.com/episode11
 Ginges, J., Hansen, I. G., & Norenzayan, A. . Religion and support for suicide attacks. Psychological Science, 20, 224-230