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Respect

All around the world there are hundreds of different religions. Some differ greatly, some very little. Most require the closing of ones mind to the world’s facts and even outright denial, as others promote a higher learning of our body and mind, but even in these rare ideologies there are extremes. While religions the world over are all different, they share a common characteristic. From Mormon to Muslim, Hindu to Voodoo that characteristic is respect. They demand the up most respect from non-believers and other religious dogmas alike.

Atheists, agnostics, scientists and freethinkers however, are publicly attacked and deplored if they put forward their point of view (more so in America than Australia) in the public media. I write today because of the number of recent books that have discussed this issue in great detail and to great effect. Some of these titles include The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, The End of Faith by Sam Harris and God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens. There are many more but these are probably the most notable in recent times.

While each of these books puts forward a slightly different case, they all have the same basic message. Why should we respect religion when it breeds intellectual de-evolution and when it doesn’t respect non-believers?

I recently had a discussion with a person of Muslim faith, in which I was told I should respect Allah and respect his (the persons) beliefs. Firstly to respect Allah would be going against my view that god most probably doesn’t exist. Secondly, it angered me because this person obviously wasn’t respecting my disbelief in Allah as he tried to persuade me why the Muslim faith was the one true faith. I accept that he believes in a god, but this doesn’t mean that I, or anyone else for that matter, should respect his particular beliefs. Just because you believe something is true doesn’t mean more logically minded people should pussy foot around you and tell you what you want to hear. The believers surely do not do this for me so why should I in turn respect their strange and illogical ideology. There is a difference between showing respect to an individual and showing respect to an individuals ideology.

While we can show a moderation of understanding towards someone’s beliefs this doesn’t mean we have to faun over them and work hard to not offend them. If you disagree with something someone says you should challenge it and question them. If they are offended by this then that’s their choice. This goes equally so for religious matters but is also relevant for pseudo-scientific matters. Next time you have religious dogma forced on you against your will, stand up for yourself, and remember that disbelief holds just as much (or even more) respect as even the most widely believed religion.

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4 Comments

  1. Interesting thoughts. Since de-converting from Christianity, I have had a difficult time finding a proper attitude toward my former faith. I have drifted between toleration and outright hostility.

    Ultimately I have become content with a position of tension between what Sam Harris terms “conversational intolerance” and a day-to-dat tolerance of religion. By that I mean, I don’t feel the need to walk on egg shells around my religious friends. When they make claims that I feel are unsubstantiated, I point it out (politely, of course), at the same time, I try to remain careful to recognize their right to believe, however erroneous I think those beliefs are.

    One of my primary concerns is the perception of atheism others receive from me. I want religious people to perceive me as well informed, tolerant, compassionate, articulate, etc. I do not want them to perceive me as angry, bitter, reactive, etc. If they perceive the latter, it only serves to reenforce their belief. If they perceive the former, there stands a chance they will listen to what I have to say.

    -CTC

    • skelliot
    • Posted February 3, 2008 at 8:36 pm
    • Permalink

    I completely agree. While we don’t have to respect someones beliefs it is favourable to treat people with a certain amount of respect socially. There are certain rules in society and there is no reason to be rude to someone just because they believe something different. However, we do have the right to oppose their beliefs.

    I think we tolerate religion only because we must at this time in history. So many people believe in a higher being that its only right to tread with a certain amount of care when speaking on the topic of religion.

    This being said, however, we “atheists” (I really don’t like the term atheist) tend to come off angry because of our frustration with the lack of understanding people of faith hold. If you have a very understanding and tolerant social group then this may make a difference when you talk to them in opposition of faith.

    We are human and we do lose our cool from time to time. I have, on a few occasions, lost my cool with religious folks due to their lack of logical thinking and have been perceived as hostile. This is only due to the fact that I am sick of pushing down the unsinkable rubber duck!

    Thanks for commenting 🙂

    Skelliot.

  2. It can all come back to the process in proving a theory. I guess scientists are better at it… but when a theory is proposed it needs to be supported by evidence to qualify as a theory. In most cases, there can be evidence which does and doesnt support it.

    When putting your evidence forward for why a theory isnt true… the next step in the process is offering a new theory with supporting evidence. Where I see this process lacking is with the heavily religious. Proof isnt required… and they have no need to think that their beliefs *may* not be true. As a scientist… i’m open to all suggestions that my beliefs may not be correct, provided there is a new theory and supporting evidence given to me.

    Where the system breaks down, is when some ignorant evangelistic moron tells me my beliefs are wrong purely because there *has* to be a higher power ruling over us. To me, that is a total lack of respect. Providing people with a better view on life with supporting evidence is more respectful than saying nothing

    • CR
    • Posted February 21, 2008 at 8:04 pm
    • Permalink

    God is convenient. I sometimes wish I was able to believe.


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