This is what I would like to understand: If you believe in a god and you follow instructions from a religious text, how do you justify ignoring the rules where your god demands violence?
For example: Let's assume that today is September 10th, 2001 and you have been given 24 hours to talk to one of the terrorists getting ready to fly a plane into the World Trade Center. Do you believe you could convince this man to change his mind? How do you prove to someone that their actions are immoral if they tell you that they are doing it because “God said so"?
It seems to me that it is much easier for atheists to be peaceful because we are not burdened by the inflexibility of violent religious texts. It is ironic that atheists are criticized for not following an absolute moral code, while we see religious moderates who avoid becoming fanatics by applying moral relativism to their texts and tempering their fanaticism with humanism. It turns out that religious moderates are good, not because of the rules they follow but because of the rules they choose to ignore.
I would like to hear from religious moderates; people that still believe in a god, but would never use religion to justify violence. How do you do justify reading the Bible or the Quran and ignoring some parts?
This is an important question because even though many members of our religious community would never use religion to justify violence, they still feel morally justified in using religion to discriminate against women and homosexuals. Humanists and atheists don't understand why some people still belong to religious organizations which condemn same-sex marriage. The fact that women still belong to religious institutions which do not treat them as equals is incomprehensible to us. This is why we need help understanding how to best combat religious violence, religious bigotry and religious hate.
How can atheists help our religious brothers and sisters improve their moral character? We would like to know how to respond to someone who justifies their actions by saying: "God said so."