One of the most widespread claims amongst new atheists is that all religion is harmful. ... Given that these sorts of claims are backed up by appeals to science, reason and logic it behooves us to hold these conclusions to very high standards when analyzing them. ... Yet, there have been no scientific findings concluding that all religion is poisonous, that belief in supernatural entities leads to harm or that it infects people like a virus. ...
Case and point: How can Dawkins, Greta Christina or Sam Harris claim that the Dinka tradition of Africa is harmful? They’ve probably never heard of it, let alone conducted any sort of anthropological or sociological studies to determine the degree of harmfulness it poses to its members or others. Dawkins claims “I believe not because of reading a holy book but because I have studied the evidence.” I’d love to see the data and research he’s gathered to reach such monumental conclusions about religion. Has he investigated the Japanese religion Tenrikyo? The Korean tradition Wonbulgyo? Have any of these atheists been to Iraq or Iran to interview any Mandeans? Do these atheists ‘know’ in some scientific way that the traditional mythological beliefs of the Inuit of the polar regions were harmful or led to more harm? Is Native American spirituality really child abuse? I can just see it now: “Atheists Launch New Campaign to Eradicate Native American Religion.” Oh, wait that campaign has already been tried.
Update 5 Jan 2012: Scofield has apparently deleted his essay. Google has it cached for now, and I have my own copy.
Update 27 Jan 2012: The article is back up here. As best I can tell, all the original quotations appear in the current copy, but I haven't checked it thoroughly.