Wednesday, 16 December 2009


Must we respect people's religious beliefs?

We often hear theists complain that atheists don't properly respect their beliefs, that we don't give them the proper deference. Because the theist holds deep beliefs, about serious, religious stuff dealing with the nature of the supernatural, these beliefs are to be held sacrosanct, by all. One is not allowed to question those beliefs, or else one is intolerant. One must simply accept those beliefs as valid and rational and act as if those beliefs are very important and worthy ones to have. (The theist, of course, is under no obligation to reciprocate or treat theists of other religions with the same deference.)

Well, sorry but "Homey don't play that." People should be respected. Rights should be respected. People have the right to believe as they do and I respect that (just don't try to foist it on me or complain if I also speak out). Beliefs themselves, however, are not automatically worthy of respect. Beliefs must be rational and defensible before they are worthy of respect. A belief in magic crystals is not worthy of respect when (because) there is no accompanying evidence for it. Same goes for a belief that one is physically eating the flesh of her god when taking communion. If a theist wants their beliefs to be respected, then that theist should present respectable beliefs. I am, however, under no obligation, morally or in terms of rights, to treat all beliefs as if they are worthy of respect.

In fact, I would go further than that. I am under an obligation to speak out when one presents beliefs that are irrational, unsupported, and are detrimental to society. This is why I speak out against religion.


Tyler said...

Well said, and reminiscent of something Mencken penned years ago...

"One of the most irrational of all the conventions of modern society is the one to the effect that religious opinions should be respected. This convention protects them, and so they proceed with their blather unwhipped and almost unmolested, to the great damage of common sense and common decency. That they should have this immunity is an outrage. There is nothing in religious ideas, as a class, to lift them above other ideas. On the contrary, they are always dubious and often quite silly. Nor is there any visible intellectual dignity in theologians. Few of them know anything that is worth knowing, and not many of them are even honest."

Sarah Braasch said...

Nice. And, a well deserved comparison to Mencken.

Ginx said...

Religion is serious business. Things like humor often rely on the exposure of a ridiculous premise. There's no room for that in faith. Criticism? That's blasphemy, mister!

In the end, they don't want respect, they just don't want to be told how stupid they look. Better yet, they want you to believe it to, thereby verifying their decision and earning them brownie points for signing up another person in the pyramid scheme.

Ginxo said...

Although really respect would confuse them. They believe there are to be mockers in the "end times." What if we didn't do it? In a way we fulfill their prophecy.

GCT said...

Welcome Sarah and Ginx (Ginxo are you the same person as Ginx)?

As for mockers in the end times, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that making the types of claims that Xianity makes would engender mockery. Seriously though, they were mocked by the pagans at the time, so it wouldn't be a stretch to assume that treatment would continue. It's not much of a prophecy.