Monthly Archives: November 2014

Why Shia LaBeouf’s Rape Should Be Taken Seriously


Recently, Shia LaBeouf has come out and said that he was raped. A number of people have made comments along the lines of “Why didn’t he do anything?” and “Did he say ‘no’?” Some have even laughed about it. But this is no joke.

Whether you like LaBeouf as an actor, or think he’s not a very good person, doesn’t matter. Nobody deserves to be raped. And assuming he’s lying or deserved it is victim blaming. Shia LaBeouf is the victim in this case. And he deserves to be treated with the same respect that all victims deserve.

He’s also been accused of lying and attention seeking. That may very well be the case. But does that mean his accusations shouldn’t be taken seriously? Of course not! False rape allegations still only make up 2% of all rape allegations. And this is a serious issue. His accusations should be looked into. He shouldn’t just be brushed off as a liar with no investigation. That’s not how we determine what’s true.

And I can’t help but wonder why people think he would lie about being raped to get attention. Rape victims don’t usually get treated well, and they aren’t often believed, so it’s a good way to get blamed, but not a good way to get any sort of positive attention.



This is the type of shit women face after being raped. Why would anybody want this kind of attention?


What is Secular Humanism?

In my last post, I discussed atheism. In this post, I’d like to discuss what Secular Humanism is. To put it simply, Secular Humanism is a personal philosophy. It is the view that morality can exist separately from a deity. Secular Humanists believe that humans are responsible for ensuring that all humans thrive.


This is the American Humanist Associations logo. As you can see, their slogan is “good without God.” Secular Humanists don’t necessarily believe that every human is good, but they do believe that you can be good without religion.

secular humanism

While Humanism can be theistic, Secular Humanists tend to be atheists or agnostics. Most believe that gods are imaginary. This is one of the main reasons why they do not believe that gods are required to be good: if humans created gods, then the moral codes dictated by gods were actually created by humans. If humans created all moral codes, then they can do so without the guise of a deity.

secular humanism 2

Secular Humanists, like skeptics, freethinkers, etc, tend to be very interested in seeking out and discovering what is true. Secular Humanists generally believe that we should always be seeking more information and trying to learn as much about our world as possible.

Those are all qualities that many Secular Humanists hold. But you may have noticed that there is no clear definition offered. That’s because there is no clear definition. Secular Humanists are those who label themselves as Secular Humanists. Many atheists and agnostics don’t like Secular Humanism. Many feel it is a weak position held by those who are too afraid to just call themselves atheists. Others like Secular Humanism because it is about morality and ethics. It really depends on the person.

Both Withteeth and I are happy to call ourselves Secular Humanists, because we both care deeply about ethics and Social Justice.

What Is An Atheist?

Not that long ago, I sent out a post asking my readers a series of questions. I don’t think we’ll get many more responses to those questions in the near future, so we’ll being making posts on what we to be the most relevant areas of that post. I’ll begin with a post on Atheism.

If you remember, I asked what atheism is. While most people answered that it is a lack of belief, or disbelief, in gods, we did get some more interesting responses. Here are the most interesting responses that we received:

“Atheism: To believe some thing is living and some thing is non-living is Atheism. To negate ritual and traditions of theist is also Atheism. Atheism is contradictory, thereby it is false.”

“Atheism is just another theism — a theory. You cannot prove or disprove god; Atheists are just stupid enough to try and stop the unstoppable — you can’t stop a belief; it is form of hope. Hope to see loved ones again, a hope life is not meaningless, a hope that something lies beyond the misery of this world.”

As I’m sure many of you already realize, these definitions are wrong. But they made us realize that it is important to actually discuss what atheism is. Defining our terms will help eliminate any miscommunication, and it is also an important step that must be taken before any real education can begin. So what is an atheist? Well, an atheist is defined as “a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods.” To call yourself an atheist is to make a belief claim. It is to say that you do not believe that there are any gods. It is not a knowledge claim. To say that you know that there are no gods is to be a gnostic atheist. Most atheists are agnostic atheists, ie. they do not believe that there are any gods, but they won’t say that they know there are no gods. To save time explaining, here is a useful chart:


As you can see, it is possible to be gnostic or agnostic while also being either a theist or an atheist. Basically, if you don’t believe that any gods exist, or that it is likely that any gods exist, you are an atheist. However, if you believe that gods exist, or that it is likely they exist, you are a theist. I feel it is necessary to add that not everybody who is an atheist wishes to label themselves as such, and it is that person’s choice to label themselves as they see fit. But I would like to mention that labeling yourself an atheist adds one more face to the label, which make it harder for people to discriminate and challenges the stigma associated with being an atheist. As such, if you find that you are an atheist, I would encourage you to use the word to describe yourself. It is not a bad word and it does not make you a bad person.

Now to the first quote about what atheism “is.” The commenter wrote that atheism is “To believe some thing is living and some thing is non-living.” If this were true, then everybody would be an atheist. Who doesn’t believe that they are alive and the sidewalk they walk on is not alive? They go on to say that “To negate ritual and traditions of theist is also Atheism.” Many atheists celebrate Christmas. Is this not a theist tradition? Atheism is not about traditions and rituals. It is very easy to believe that the Bible is made up while still celebrating the holidays with your family. Some atheists do negate these rituals and traditions, but that is not what atheism is. Here is a podcast that discusses this very issue: They conclude by saying “Atheism is contradictory, thereby it is false.” How is atheism contradictory? Nothing in their explanation of atheism contradicted anything else they said (assuming it was true). And the actual definition contains no contradictions either. It is a simple statement of disbelief. To say that atheism is false at this point is unsupportable. In fact, given the actual definition, the only way to show atheism to be false would be to prove that there are gods.

The next commenter said that “Atheism is just another theism — a theory.” Neither atheism nor theism are theories. A theory is “a supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, especially one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained.” Atheism is a belief claim. There is no intent to explain anything. And atheism is the opposite of theism, thus the “a” in from. Theists, as the chart above shows, believe that there are gods, or a god. Atheists believe the opposite. To say that atheists are theists is insulting to both sides. They go on to say “Atheists are just stupid enough to try and stop the unstoppable — you can’t stop a belief.” While there are atheists out there who want to get rid of religion, that is not part of what it means to be an atheist. Most atheists are happy to live in harmony with religious people so long as no one tries to force us to abide by their religions beliefs. While it is difficult, you can actually stop beliefs, at least on an individual level, but that’s really irrelevant. They then claim that “it is form of hope. Hope to see loved ones again, a hope life is not meaningless, a hope that something lies beyond the misery of this world.” While those are pretty words, they don’t really mean anything. Atheists have hope. And this world is not miserable, at least not to most people. Again, most people are not interested in stopping anyone from believing, but the ones that are aren’t trying to take peoples hope away. I had hope when I was religious and I still have hope today. Most people who deconvert feel the same, so the idea that taking away a persons belief will take away their hope is kind of silly.

I’m sure this is all basic information for most of you, but I hope this post will help some of you understand what we mean when we say we’re atheists, and I hope it will help bring about mutual understanding in the future.

Labeling Genetically modified food, why it’s a waste of time and money.

Anyone who has read my posts about GMO’s (Genetically modified organisms) and the anti-GMO movement know I am a proponent of genetic modification.

I suggest those who are not actually sure what genetic modification is go read the post I’ve previously written explaining the types of genetic modification in broad terms. Link below.

Now this demand for GMO labeling, from my understanding, is largely a byproduct of the anti-GMO movement and the massive ignorance surrounding the fields of biology related to genetic modification. People really just don’t understand what is going on in the production and modification of food crops. Even Bill Nye The Science Guy is a proponent of these labels, but this is only further proof that people don’t understand the biology. Allow me to defend these statements, and explain why the labels will not help consumers.

Genetic modification, and what kinds of genetic modification are considered “problematic,” is poorly defined, and even more poorly understood by the general public and most policy makers. Much like how people think Organic food means no pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizer (this is actually true in some areas, but not all), and healthier (which it isn’t). People think GMO means “bad” and unhealthy, but this is childish and flatly wrong. Why? because genetic modification refers to a wide array of methods, some of which have been used for hundreds or thousands of years. That, and genetic change occurs all the time. When advantageous mutation spring up, farmers and horticulturists have jumped to capitalize on these mutations. The only difference now is some times we are able to take a well understood (if it isn’t well understood then you simply don’t have the necessary information to transfer the genes) advantageous trait from one crop and put it into the other without mucking about with hybridization or artificial mutation.

But this is the biggest problem: genetic modification is massively complex. I’m 5 years into my degree and I have only in the last year and a half become competent in speaking about this topic. So to expect the lay person to understand is unreasonable without first devoting some serious resources to publicly educating the population. But moving along, why are the labels likely to be ineffective at communicating anything useful?

Because almost everything is genetically modified. If you read my other blog post about about the kinds of genetic modification here, you will quickly come to realize there is a lot going on with everything on the shelves, and I think it very probable that labeling will result in either a whole lot of things been labeled or very few, and the problem is that all that will accomplish is a reduction in sales of those things labeled, since there is a strong anti-GMO bias in much of the population. But that bias is not based in the science, so we will not see a direct health benefit, nor will we see a better informed populous.

Why won’t we see a more informed population? Because the number of potential combinations are unfathomable. Just sticking a label on a fruit isn’t going to tell you anything, and even if you do add a much more substantial label to the fruit telling you what genes and methods were used and how to get more information, people in general don’t have the biology, or specifically genetics knowledge to make effective use of that knowledge.

This, as far as I’m concerned, is the realm of government regulation and independent researchers to test the safely of these foods and products. And you know what? It’s already happening. There are many thousands of research papers published and many more each year that indicated the safely of, as far as I’m aware, all genetically modified food organisms currently sold in the west.

As for those papers, here are a selection of over 600:

So why would we spend money (any expenses will ultimately come out of us consumers) on labels that won’t help a damn thing?


Lamenting the Loss of Another Great Vlogger

I didn’t want to write this post yet because I still would like more comments on my last post, but I feel I need to write this post.

Many years ago, probably as many as ten to six already, I used to watch a lot of youtube videos. That was during the time, and a bit after it, of the great youtube atheists. Back when there were a handful (okay, more like two) of really well known atheists that made daily videos on youtube. Very few of those people are left, or, at the very least, very few make videos anymore. That was the whole reason I stopped, almost completely, watching youtube videos: most of the people I was subscribed to had stopped making videos and it was becoming very difficult to find people worth following.

About three or four years back I was lamenting the loss of a particular youtuber. A man who at the time was in University and made wonderful philosophy, music, and atheism videos. He was also a feminist. In my opinion, he was the best youtuber at the time. Now I’ve learned that another youtuber who I feel to be his equal has left. She actually left back in August, but I only found out tonight. She was young, and I can’t blame her for leaving because she had been dealing with a lot of online abuse. Unfortunately to put your voice online is to be subject to a certain amount of abuse, but it boggles my mind that people who would be so nice in a face to face conversation feel it appropriate to tell someone to “go die” online. But I’m sad to see that she has gone.

I’m sad because of the saying “the only thing needed for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.” She was one of the good “men” doing something, but now she’s gone. And I think it’s partially due to the fact that more good “men” did nothing that caused her to leave. I saw plenty of comments saying things along the line of “go kill yourself feminazi” in her comment section but, while there was plenty of debating, I saw no comments chastising the people telling her to die. Nobody asked why they would say that, and nobody pointed out the hatefulness behind those words. And that really isn’t uncommon. It’s almost just accepted that people threaten to kill people online and it’s not taken seriously. That frightens me.

So now there’s one less good person on youtube trying to make a difference. There is one less person willing to say that they are a feminist. There is one less person willing to have a reasoned discussion about feminism to bring about understanding and end misinformation. There are plenty of MRAs and anti-feminists willing to abuse any feminist who makes their voice heard, but there doesn’t seem to be very any people speaking for feminism. I know that there are still a number of atheists on youtube, and a number of them seem to support feminism, at least that’s the impression that I get from comments that they have made. But while there are youtube atheists that openly oppose feminist, the ones that support it seem to avoid talking about it. I think that this is a problem. It makes youtube a hostile place for feminists, and it makes it seem acceptable to say things like “go kill yourself feminazi” to anyone who openly professes to be a feminist.

I have to say, I’m really glad I found wordpress. While there are anti-feminists and MRAs here, they aren’t so much more vocal that the feminists. And the conversations are a lot more civil. I haven’t been told to die for being a feminist here. In fact, minus a few exceptions, I’ve been able to actually have good conversations with people that I disagree with without it devolving into name calling. It’s not perfect, but it makes me glad that I moved away from youtube when I did.

Quiz Time!

But don’t worry: I give an A for effort. Okay, actually there will be no grades because this is more about getting your opinion. This blog will be a year old in a month, and our semester is about to come to an end. As such, I think it’s about time to see where we are with the blog. If you are willing to help us out, please answer these questions in the comment section. That way we can figure out how to make the most of our blog over the winter break.

1) What do you consider yourself as far as religion is concerned?

2) How do you define religion? How do you define spirituality?

3) How do you define God or gods?

4) In your opinion, what is the importance of the Bible? The Quran? The Bhagavad Gita? Any other religious texts?

5) What is Atheism? Secularism? Secular Humanism? Agnosticism? Anti-theism?

6) What do you want to know about the above? What are your concerns about the above?

7) What is the importance of Philosophy? History? Science?

8) What do you want to know about Philosophy, History, and Science?

9) Are you a feminist? Why or why not?

10) What do you want to know about feminism?

11) What would you like to know about us as feminists?

12) If you are willing to tell us, what is your gender (not sex, but gender) and sexuality? How do they affect your lives?

13) What do you think affects a person’s sex or gender?

14) What would you like to know about gender and sexuality?

15) What are your hobbies? What do you believe to be the importance of hobbies?

16) What would you like to know about our hobbies?

For those of you who remember my Bible project, I will be getting back into it. My semester was far busier than I expected, so I had to put reading for pleasure aside. As such, I haven’t read either the Bible or Mere Christianity in a while. However, I’ll try to get Mere Christianity finished before the winter semester begins. The Bible will probably need to be put aside during the second semester, so I doubt I’ll finish that before next fall.

A Conversation About Gender and Sexuality

As many of you know, I am involved in an interfaith group. Today was our weekly meeting. At the end of the meeting, five of us stayed late to talk about gender and sexuality. Three of us are in our 20’s and we all consider ourselves queer. I have said before that I am demisexual and gender queer. There was another gender queer person who identifies as a lesbian there as well, and the final twenty-something identifies as bisexual. The final two members of our small group were a retired teacher and a Lutheran pastor. They were both very interested in how gender and sexuality are discussed today because the language we use today was not used when they were young.

One of the main concerns discussed was education. For my generation, it is very easy to take a Sociology, Psychology, or Philosophy of Gender and Sexuality course and learn all about the terminology and what it all means. We often take that for granted because the language we use is so easily available to us. But this information is not easily available to those outside of the post-secondary community. So how do people become knowledgeable about the nuances of sexuality and gender without going to university or college?

There are resources available online, but they aren’t resources that would be found by anybody who doesn’t know to look for them. This is unfortunate. It also means that those of us who identify as queer are forced to educate others about ourselves. This is important, but it is also not fair.

Why is it important? Because we don’t identify as the majority identifies. We are the minority. If we want people to understand how we feel, we need to explain our feelings to them. By creating a community of those who understand us, then we create a community where we are accepted and treated as equals. This is something that we all want. Luckily there are a lot of queer people who are willing to take the time to educate other.

But not everyone is willing to educate others, and we shouldn’t be expected to. This is why is is unfair. It is not uncommon for people to demand that we educate them. It is not our job to educate we. I am willing to talk about my gender and sexuality to help others understand who I am. I am willing to talk about them to create empathy and understanding. But I don’t have to do so. And a lot of other people don’t want to talk about their gender or sexuality. They aren’t often comfortable conversations, especially when someone isn’t fully accepting of one’s identity. As such, nobody should be made to educate others.

I felt it necessary to discuss this today, because I do want to create that understanding. I want to make the resources available to those who don’t know where to look. So here are a few:

Click to access sexuality-definitions.pdf

For those of you interested in learning more about gender and sexuality, I hope these resources help. If you want to learn more, I will happily find more resources, or answer questions to the best of my ability. I’d also suggest finding a local LGBTQ community willing to offer education to those interested in becoming allies. But please don’t demand that anybody educate you. Please be respectful and understand that they are doing you a favor by giving you the information, and they are probably willing to give it to you because they want to improve the community in which they live.

My Problem With the Anti-Choice Movement

A few weeks ago I had a conversation with someone who considered themselves pro-life. During the conversation she accused women who have had abortions of killing their babies and said that teenagers who get pregnant are “sluts” and “whores.” Every time I see the anti-choice posters at my university I think about how problematic their movement is, but the conversation I had with this person has convinced me to post my concerns on my blog.

This persons words didn’t so much disturb me because of what she said: I have heard all of that before. The words were problematic, but I was more concerned with the fact that a 17 year old girl thought it appropriate to lay such charges against other women. 17 is about the average age when most people begin having sex. This girl has been taught that she should be ashamed of something that most people begin to do around her age. She feels the need to judge her peers for being normal. She feels the need to hide feelings that she probably experiences daily (she could be asexual or demisexual and not experience said feelings, but in all likelihood she does feel them). I can’t help but feel anger towards the culture that makes teenagers feel ashamed of their own sexuality.

And the anti-choice movement takes full advantage of this culture to shame those of us who have had abortions. When you hear the anti-choicers speak, they talk about how they are pro-women, and how they are simply trying to put an end to an immoral act. They talk about helping and supporting women. That language is problematic in that it ignores trans men who can and have had abortions, but it sounds good. It doesn’t seem problematic. But then you look at their signs. Those signs are very far from being pro-women. They are made to shame and condemn women.


Her blood is on your hands? That is how you choose to speak to someone who is already emotionally strained? You call this pro-woman? You call this support? This is using guilt to shame people out of a decision. Personally, I would never go to this woman with my issues because I wouldn’t trust her to be supportive. I could only assume that she would be judgmental and emotionally hurtful. If you want to help people, this is not how you do it.


This one has all sorts of judgement thrown in. “Abortion kills babies.” Definitionally, this is not true. If it’s in the womb it’s an embryo or a fetus. We don’t define them as “babies” until they are born. This is another guilt tactic. There is no real meaning behind the poster other than to redefine “baby” and “murder” in a way that suits the protestors interest. “Does your doctor kill babies?” Family doctors generally don’t perform abortions. This is an obvious attack on Planned Parenthood, since they are one of the few places that both perform abortions and offer health care to women. Being as they offer affordable care, and their patients often can’t afford to go else where, this is also an attack on low-income women. “Boycott doctors who kill.” And go where? “Stop the baby slashers.” Baby slashers? Really? These are all emotionally charged judgements. They are meant to shame people. One poster directly shames those who have had abortions by saying that they killed their babies. The rest shame the professionals who perform a necessary procedure.


These posters are the worst of them. Rather than simply state why I don’t like them, here are some articles that go into detail about why they are misleading and wrong:
That last one showed a more accurate picture of a surgical abortion. Mine, which was performed at 6 weeks, was a medical abortion. It certainly did not look like the picture above. It looked like an early miscarriage. What does that look like? My period. My abortion looked like my period. There was no visible body parts, there was no obvious fetus or embryo. There was blood. Not even very much of it. It was a light, crampy period.


I find it odd that a largely religious group would use this set of pictures. The holocaust was a religious choice? If that were true, wouldn’t that be damning towards religion? Personally I would say it was the result of racism, not religion. I’d also say that racism was an excuse. They used the racism, which was very common at the time, to justify starting a war that was more of a power play than anything. Hitler wanted to prove to the world, including the German people, that they were still a force to be reckoned with. The second picture shows a white man lynching a black man. The American slave owners used the Bible to justify slavery. So, if the holocaust can be said to be caused by racism, the slave trade can be said to have been allowed because of religion. But I don’t see how it can be said to be a choice. Hitler chose to begin to kill the Jews, slavery wasn’t the result of one man’s (or person’s) choice. It was the result of a culture. I doubt that white man in the picture ever said “I think I’ll accept slavery now.” More likely he was raised into it. It’s unlikely a choice was involved. That doesn’t make what happened right, but it does make “choice” the wrong word to use. But again, this poster is all about shame.

The way the anti-choicers treat women who have had an abortion is wrong. They put up posters that publicly shame and humiliate. They tell people that they are murderers and that they are participating in a genocide. In some cases they encourage women to shame themselves by encouraging them to wear posters that say “I regret my abortion.” How is that any different from a parent making their child wear a sign that says “I am a thief”? How is it pro-women or supportive? Shame is not a good way to encourage anyone to stop an action, it is only effective at making people feel bad about who they are. Don’t believe me? Here’s my evidence:

Bottom line: the anti-choicers methods are not helpful when it comes to stopping abortions. They don’t convince people to not have abortions. They don’t support people who are trying to decide if they should have an abortion, or anyone who has already had an abortion. And they are not pro-woman.

If you would like some more sources in defense of the pro-choice side, or would just like to read into it a bit more, here are some articles that I think are great and well worth the read:

Click to access 1472-6874-13-29.pdf

Here’s another article I forgot to add. This one is about why anti-choicers are less likely to hear about abortion than pro-choicers:

Here are some more resources:

Why Criminalizing Abortions is a Horrible Idea, or Another Reason I’m Relieved I Live in Canada.

So I read this article today: Link

It has gems like the following:

Based on the belief that he had an obligation to give a fetus a chance for life, a judge in Washington, D.C., ordered a critically ill 27-year-old woman who was 26 weeks pregnant to undergo a cesarean section, which he understood might kill her. Neither the woman nor her baby survived.

In Iowa, a pregnant woman who fell down a flight of stairs was reported to the police after seeking help at a hospital. She was arrested for “attempted fetal homicide.”

In Utah, a woman gave birth to twins; one was stillborn. Health care providers believed that the stillbirth was the result of the woman’s decision to delay having a cesarean. She was arrested on charges of fetal homicide.

In Louisiana, a woman who went to the hospital for unexplained vaginal bleeding was locked up for over a year on charges of second-degree murder before medical records revealed she had suffered a miscarriage at 11 to 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Florida has had a number of such cases. In one, a woman was held prisoner at a hospital to prevent her from going home while she appeared to be experiencing a miscarriage. She was forced to undergo a cesarean. Neither the detention nor the surgery prevented the pregnancy loss, but they did keep this mother from caring for her two small children at home. While a state court later found the detention unlawful, the opinion suggested that if the hospital had taken her prisoner later in her pregnancy, its actions might have been permissible.

In another case, a woman who had been in labor at home was picked up by a sheriff, strapped down in the back of an ambulance, taken to a hospital, and forced to have a cesarean she did not want. When this mother later protested what had happened, a court concluded that the woman’s personal constitutional rights “clearly did not outweigh the interests of the State of Florida in preserving the life of the unborn child.”

Excerpt from an article by Lynn M. Paltrow and Jeanne Flavin

I suggest you read the whole article if your at all alarmed by this. If your not alarmed by this to some extent you should probably check your pulse, and if you do find your pulse you may want to get some help of the psychiatric variety.

Some of you many be asking what the hell is going on, and questioning the legitimacy of these claims. But the war on abortion is due to the nature of it’s goal has been and will continue to be a war a women right’s to their own bodies. Because at the end of the day you can talk about restricting abortions without saying that women have less right to controlling their body then does a fertilized zygote (or embryo, or eventually fetus. each having there own arguments associated with them) There is not way around that problem. But worse then just restricting abortion many state have basically criminalized them, leading to women literally dieing and being jailed.

Worse still many of these women where not having abortions, many don’t even now they where pregnant, some of these women are vehemently anti-abortion. All that need to happen for you to be jailed with many of these laws it having a pregnancy terminated or in risk of terminating, and you lose your right to bodily autonomy.

And because there is not good way of determining a miscarriage from most abortions these laws regardless of intention where doomed to succeed only in criminalizing female side of reproduction. Given miscarriages occur somewhere in over 20% of all pregnancies. Given how many women become pregnant in a year imagine if this becomes a problem through out the USA? Women might need to flee the country just to have children, or if they do have a miscarriage they will have to hide it, even if they are risking their life due to complications, because they might just get sent to jail!

Is it any wonder why they where calling these laws the war on women? I hope for the sake of women through the States that everyone reading this will spread the message, and help stop this atrocity before the anymore women are unjustly abused by this laws and policies. There has already been at least 380 of these cases, and the rates are only on the rise.

If you actually want to reduce the rates of abortions like most sensible people do. Then support sex education for children. The best way to stop abortions is to make sure pregnancies can happen unless they are wanted.


10 Reasons Why I Care What You Believe

*Keep in mind, I am not accusing anybody of actually holding these beliefs. These are if-then situations of reasons why I might care what you believe.*

1) Your beliefs affect me
If you believe that I’m immoral because I don’t share your religious convictions, then your behaviour towards me changes. It suddenly becomes okay to treat me as though you believe in ‘guilty until proven innocent.’ If you believe that my being female doesn’t affect how people treat me, then it becomes easier for you to ignore the incidences where I am treated as a second-class citizen simply because I am female. If you believe that my femaleness actually makes me a second-class citizen, then that makes it impossible for me to interact with you safely, especially if you are male, because suddenly my femaleness makes it okay to disregard my personhood. If you believe that my gender identity or sexuality are sicknesses, then that makes it easy for you to disregard my feelings as irrelevant. If your beliefs can have these effects on my life, then I have the right to care about what you believe.

2) Your beliefs affect the society I live in
If you believe that you have the right to pass laws based on your personal beliefs, then I care about what you believe. I care if you think you can destroy our planet because you personally don’t believe in climate change. I care if you want to waste millions of tax dollars because you believe the death penalty is a good thing, or we should send more soldiers into another conflict we can’t afford and don’t belong in, etc. I care if you want to destroy our education system or our healthcare. I care if you want to take away my right to choose because it’s not enough that you have the right to choose not too. This is my country too, so yes, I care what your beliefs are doing to it.

3) You have the power
If you’re Christian, then yours is the majority religion in my country. You have a degree of power as a Christian by holding a majority position, and due to the way people view you because yours is the majority position (ie. being a Christian makes you good). If you’re male you have a degree of power that I could never attain. You’re not part of a true majority, but males hold the majority of powerful positions in our society. Male have a privilege because our society views males as superior to females, even if everybody is not willing to accept that claim. If you’re heterosexual and cis, you get a power granted to you just by virtue of being ‘normal.’ In all these cases, I don’t have the power, and I have to fight just to gain some degree of equal status. I’m lucky enough to be white, so in that case I do have the power. I could choose to ignore the fact that anybody who is not white is at a disadvantage, but then I’d be doing them the same disservice that those who ignore their power over me do me. The power structure in our society makes it necessary for me to care what you believe when your beliefs make it possible for such power struggles to be ignored.

4) We are social beings
This goes back to number 2. Very few people live in a manner where they do not affect others. We are a social species. We rely heavily on each other. As such, it is important to care about the beliefs of others.

5) Your beliefs affect your words and actions
This goes back to 1 and 2. Again, we are a social species. It is impossible to not affect others with your words and actions. And it is your beliefs that inform your words and actions. If you believe that I’m a good person, then you’ll likely treat me kindly and trust me. But if you think I’m a bad person, the you’ll likely be distrustful of me and might even act aggressively towards me.

6) It makes it easier to empathize with you
I don’t only care about your beliefs if they can hurt me. I also care about them because I do not want to hurt you. If I don’t know what you believe, then I may hurt you unintentionally simply because I don’t know your motivations for doing something. If I know your beliefs, then I know your motivations, and if I know your motivations, I can understand you act the way you act.

7) I care about you
This isn’t to say I personally care about every individual on this planet. That’s not really possible, what with there being over 7 billion of us. Rather, I care about the human race in general, and I care about those in my society as a whole. But I also care about those I interact with. I care if they are good people who behave morally. Since their beliefs affect their morality, I must care what they believe. I care if their beliefs are harmful not only to me but also to others around me and to themself as well.

8) Your beliefs blatantly ignore reality
This also goes back to number 2. If your beliefs ignore reality, then you could try to implement social changes that also ignore reality, which is very harmful. For example, if you believe in creationism and want schools to teach creationism, then you lower the effectiveness of our science curriculum and cause our society as a whole to become less educated. The level of education of a society has been shown to have a major affect of the economic success of that society. We are all better off with a better educated society.

9) They genuinely interest me
Again, these aren’t all about negative affects. I actually care what others believe. I like talking religion with people so long as they are willing to be respectful.

10) And yes, I am angry because of your beliefs
Obviously not all beliefs make me angry. I don’t have enough time in the day for that. In fact, it is very specific beliefs that make me angry. Accusatory beliefs. If you tell me that I hate men because I’m a feminist, that makes me angry. Why? Because you are accusing me of a belief that I don’t hold simply because you aren’t willing to listen to what I actually have to say. The same goes for when you tell me my atheism makes me immoral, or when you say I killed my baby because I had an abortion. Your beliefs in those cases are causing you to accuse me of things that aren’t true, and they are very hurtful. So I care about your beliefs because I want to avoid that anger and pain.

Your beliefs are not held in a vacuum. If you hold a belief (and yes, we all in fact hold beliefs), then it affects those around you. This isn’t to say that beliefs are bad things, but we all need to keep in mind the power that our beliefs actually have.

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