No one likes to be take in by a bad argument, and the best defense against this is education. It is little wonder that the more educated you are the less religious you may be and the less likely you are to be taken in by bad arguments. The answer isn’t to shy away from new ideas but to embrace them and come to an educated conclusion on the validity of these new ideas.
You see, in the example of the person doing evil in the name of religion, it doesn’t necessarily matter how “accurate’ they are in their beliefs. The fact is that a religious conviction tells them to do it. It tells them its OK because some deity or group of people is “on their side”. There is this point about “You can’t praise God and sleep at night when you’re responsible for butchering people”. So the entire Catholic church under the Inquisition, the Crusaders, Fundamentalist Muslim extremists, the Westboro Baptist Church, any Christian member of the United States Military, Japanese soldiers that ran POW camps, the NAZI party…..these are all groups that were not truly “religious” in a religious persons eyes? They are not representative of what religious fervor can make people do and still sleep at night? Keep in mind almost every single one of these groups has dictated what our modern interpretation of the bible is, especially the Catholic church. Were they not truly pious? If not, then why and how can you base your belief on anything they have shaped with their impious thoughts? See where this is going? Only by educating ourselves on what actually exists and what we want to exist can we make informed and good decisions.
Only through religious conviction can we see these evils done AND have people sleep at night; remove the religion you remove the inane behavior! This is not to say that evil will be abolished, but a lot less of it will be done. You see, its nigh impossible to drive a man to murder women and children in the name of not believing in something. Tell them a supernatural deity is on their side and they’ll do anything up to and including killing or mutilating their family. See modern fundamentalist cultures in the Middle East for references.
Furthermore, becoming educated and opening up to new ideas doesn’t necessarily mean that good things will always follow from the subject matter of the new idea. I hear this false connection when theists talk about the “good” that is done by church communities Why must I accept positives of religion? It’s a social fact that people banding together usually make stronger communities, and religion is people banding together. That is not a property of religion, that is a property of social phenomena. This same “good” result can and does come about from non-religious groups and gatherings. The more we educate ourselves on scientific theory the less we attribute qualities to spurious conclusions. A good example is the study of old religions. The study of historic ideas is completely different than embracing them. Take Greek mythology. Totally bad ass and to me, makes more sense than many modern religions. We can learn a lot about the Greeks and where modern traditions come from. That doesn’t mean we have to give these old myths the same weight as say the Law of Gravity or Tokenism in social situations. Those are two completely separate ideas from actually giving merit to someone that prays to Bhaal or Thor. All equally non nonsensical because they all rely on the same supernatural explanation for those events the individual cannot supply them selves.
Furthermore, only religion can be turned to be used as a tool of oppression over a mass of people. Through education we will see through this smoke and mirrors. For example, do you know how many people think that the United States was founded as a “Christian” nation, despite the multiple quotes, documents, and a CLAUSE IN THE CONSTITUTION that specifically says it is NOT. The uneducated think so, the educated KNOW it is not so. People aren’t not necessarily stupid, they are ignorant and uneducated-they are able to be taken in by bad arguments that lack support. Apply some reason, some logic, and an understanding of what constitutes evidence and we see this haze lifted from our heads.
So you ask who can people turn to. It isn’t turning to a person or persons. Its turning to science and applying our intellect to the objective facts and laws of our universe that can and does supply us with answers.