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.