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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39 responses to “10 Reasons Why I Care What You Believe

  • hunterhawke

    I am well behind on this conversation, but please allow me to post my thoughts now.

    First, I enjoyed the read and respect the ideas you’ve pushed forth. You have expressed solid reason behind your ideology and that makes it much easier to understand and weigh accordingly. Well done.

    Now…point by point, if I may:

    1) It is sad that there are still people in the world that believe as you described – that hold women in a lower position or dismiss their thoughts/feelings based on gender. It is likewise sad that there are people who hold the “guilty until proven innocent” viewpoint – in both personal interactions as well as legal situations. However, there are people like that yet among us.

    I try very hard to see everyone’s viewpoint before I form an opinion about them. As for morality, I don’t think you’re immoral for any of your choices, whether I agree with them or not. Morality is subjective, based on our upbringing and/or choices we ourselves have made. It’s interesting how our view of morality can change according what best suits us.

    However, I also recognize that I am in the minority on many of my own beliefs.

    2) It is absolutely true that our personal beliefs affect society as a whole. Laws can be passed on no other foundation than belief. Otherwise, what is the purpose of Law at all, if not to convey a sense of right and wrong, which can only be based on belief?

    Again, I try to weigh more than just my own personal preferences when considering law, to involve what is best for society as a whole. However, that is virtually impossible to do without inserting my own personal beliefs into my decision.

    3) True equality is yet a distance in the future, but don’t fret too badly. We are giving birth to a new era in our society and birth never comes without struggle. There will long be those who hold to old ideals and certainly those in positions of power will not want to give up that power. I am male, white, once identified with Christianity and am now at an age where I am looked upon as having a certain degree of wisdom. I am in the exact position you identify as holding most of the power. I do not personally hold any power…but in the degrees you described, I do.

    Change is coming and one day people will look back at our time with disbelief that we could behave as we do – much like we look back to ancient times with a sense of awe that they believed and behaved as they did. Unfortunately, true equality will not be achieved in either of our lifetimes and such balance is fickle at best.

    4) It is indeed important to care about the beliefs of others. I am saddened to see Christians and Atheists war with each other as they do, just as I am saddened to see Christians and Muslims war with each other as they do. In my humble opinion, all beliefs (or lack thereof) hold a certain degree of merit. It is the responsibility of the individual to extract the useful from that which holds no value, but leave it for others who may find use in it as well.

    5) It is more than just beliefs that affect our words and actions, though I do agree with your overall position. It is how we choose to purvey our beliefs that matters more still. I may disagree with you on many of your beliefs, but I choose to treat you with respect as a human being rather than tear you down over matters that I disagree with. We can only find a balance between your position and mine (a meeting point, as it were) if we are able to respect each other and treat each other with compassion.

    6) Very well said. You cannot see the other person while you are blind by your own insecurity.

    7) I care about you as well, as a person, and we should all strive to find a way to do so toward each other. We are different, but those differences are what make humans interesting rather than repulsive.

    8) Here is where you and I disagree, but only to a certain measure. What is reality? Reality is subjective as well, my friend.

    I would posit that your reality may be different than mine. There is a school of thought that even suggests that there is no such thing as absolute truth, but only perception.

    I would go further to say that belief in things that have not – and cannot – be “proven” by science does not necessarily devalue science, nor decrease education. Rather the opposite. Believing – or at least honestly entertaining the idea – of things not seen and not proven, opens up the mind to radical possibilities that science is not yet prepared to research.

    That’s not to say that science will never be able to research such things. We tend to forget that current scientific method is not that old. Technology is exploding at an exponential rate, but we still have far to go to truly understand the world and universe we live in. Patience.

    I happen to believe that there is so much more to the energy that we possess and that floats between all of us than we can possibly realize at this stage of our development. I hold that belief based on some personal experiences, but really, it is held on blind faith. That’s okay with me. In fact, it is more than okay – it is essential to my entire way of behaving and treating other people. I don’t need absolute proof of my beliefs.

    I’m sorry if that in any way lowers my value in your eyes, but I will not change it either. ๐Ÿ™‚ My beliefs are complex and do not fit any particular spiritual or religious mold, but are mine all the same. They define the greater part of me and I hope you find me to be inclusive and compassionate. If so…that is based on my beliefs that cannot be measured by science.

    I am an educated and intelligent man, but I still believe in more than we have or are able to prove.

    9) Agreed and the most important word you used was “respectful”. There are so many belief structures out there. Each has a certain degree of value, in my humble opinion.

    10) While I understand the hurt and anger that accompanies confronting others of different beliefs (obviously, based on how they treat you rather than their actual beliefs), I hope you don’t hold onto that anger. All emotions serve a purpose and should be valued for that purpose. However, anger is like jealousy in that it will eventually eat at you until it changes you and destroys your ability to interact in a meaningful manner with those whom do not seek to harm you.

    Balance is the cornerstone of the content soul. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Again, I enjoyed this piece. Well done.

    Like

  • theprozacqueen

    As a Christian, I’ll also add that I care what certain other Christians believe because they make the rest of us (and, by extension, Jesus) look bad. I can think of several people right now who would love to come to Jesus if not for the hateful words and acts of those who claim to follow Him.

    Have you ever seen the blog from Christians Tired of Being Misrepresented? That’s their whole idea. http://ctobm.wordpress.com/
    I’m not trying to proselytize-I just think it’s an interesting blog.

    Like

  • mitchteemley

    We have very different theological views, I suspect, but there’s also a lot we agree on. I’m especially big on not judging, for starters.

    Like

  • T. K. Greene

    Hm…very interesting perspective. Definitely food for thought. I’ve been so long surrounded by people who have drilled into me that caring what others think is a waste of time, and that there’s no point in trying to change them, that I’ve started to shy away from certain conversations in which I know there’s going to be an ideological disagreement. That’s hardly a good way to go, and your article has cause me to reevaluate certain aspects of my more recent behaviour.

    Thank you.

    Like

    • hessianwithteeth

      Thank you for your comments, and I’m glad I could positively influence your view point.

      As for people saying trying to change others minds is a waste of time. There is only a grain of truth to that sentiment. Trying to force people to change there mind is a waste of time, but by evidence of marketing and politics clearly you can change people minds. ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s all in how you do it, and which battles you choose to fight.

      Here we try for good arguments as opposed to the fear mongering or keeping up with the neighbors of politics and marketing.

      Like

  • wordsmith.rt

    Let’s see; according to my comprehension level of what is written herein, it seems that of a liberl vein in “nothing wrong, everything right”, which is a most dangerous position to take. I do not agree with most of your comments based upon the value of life and the living set forth in Biblical text. Therefore; the incidentals you desire to be accepted without condemnation is in direct conflict with truth, the truth that is the word of God, Jehovah, and the numerous names associated with His deity–period. Regardless the imaginations of a millions. By the way, Christians do not the majority make in this country.
    Thanks for the follow, however, you are more than likely to disagree with its fundamental verbiage of Christ-centered content.

    ichibon

    Like

    • hessianwithteeth

      This isn’t a country, it’s the internet. And I don’t think you understand what a majority is. A majority doesn’t mean that more than 50% of people are part of a certain group. It means that the group in question contains a larger percentage of people than any opposing group. As such, Christians make up the majority in most western countries, including Canada, the US and most of Europe.

      Like

      • wordsmith.rt

        I’m uncertain of your reference sources in stating the dominant Christian population of the west, when the opposite is true. A person is not a Christian, as many in this country believe, due to birthright, affiliation of parental authority, because of a “sprinkling” as an infant, or other erroneous fantasies.
        You’re kidding me, this isn’t a country but the Internent? Gee, then I should try to find more substantial lifeforms available beyond its domain?

        ichibon

        Like

        • hessianwithteeth

          So you have the power to read every persons thoughts well enough to say that all those people calling themselves Christians are lying? How do you know how many ‘true’ Christians there are and which ones are lying?

          Like

          • wordsmith.rt

            Well, let’s see. First, your fallacy of what was written in my initial response (a liberal tactic), second, I never wrote of reading anyones mind, another faux pas on your account. Oh, and third I suppose, to end this dialog with one in possession of kryptonite that is dulling the senses.

            ichibon

            Like

          • hessianwithteeth

            You keep calling me a liberal. Liberals are far too right-winged for my political philosophies.
            And what fallacy would that be? Can you name it? Or are you just crying fallacy because you want to discredit what I’m saying?
            You’re saying you know who are Christians and who aren’t. If you weren’t, then you wouldn’t say that millions of people who call themselves Christians aren’t Christians. I don’t know how you’d manage that without the ability to read minds.

            Like

    • equippedcat

      Dude, you can’t even be absolutely sure YOU are a Christian. Only God knows for sure. You won’t know until you get up there and He says “Well done, good and faithful servant” or “Begone, I never knew you”.

      Like

      • wordsmith.rt

        Dude, apparently you know nothing of scripture. That is all the time I will waste with such ignorance.

        ichibon

        Like

        • equippedcat

          What evidence do you have that I know nothing about scripture? Quite possibly I know less than you do, but certainly not nothing.

          What, in my short statement, is contrary to scripture? Don’t you feel obligated to help defuse ignorance about God?

          Like

          • ichibon

            The defusion you speak of is available on the page if read, and the Bible, if not criticized. Additionally, an invitation is given for those seeking to rise above assumed ignorance.
            Does that answer please you, or do you require an in depth theological dissertation?

            ichibon

            Like

          • hessianwithteeth

            Well then. That comment, not only is poorly written, but is avoiding the question posed altogether. Especially since the question was an honest one. I’d suggest you keep these sorts of vapid comments off this blog in the future. Thanks bye.

            Like

          • equippedcat

            The answer is quite masterful, just not the answer to a question asked. You saw a brief statement, and from it, came to a conclusion which I do not yet agree with. I don’t know that an in depth theological dissertation is needed or would even be useful. After all, if you are correct, would I even be able to understand it?

            Why not start by just saying what in my short statement was so incorrect or at least indicative of no scriptural knowledge whatsoever. And please say it in a manner suitable for one of my theorized intellect.

            Like

          • hessianwithteeth

            He just gave another evasive answer, and until such point ichibon doesn’t do so he doesn’t get to use this blog as pedestal to troll.

            Like

          • equippedcat

            Figures. “Ichiban” is Japanese for “first” or “number one”. As far as I can tell, “Ichibon” is either a typo, an error of understanding, or meaningless. Kind of like his posts.

            If he really were a Christian, I would be less than pleased to be associated with a group for which he was the norm. His behavior casts serious doubt upon his implied claim, however.

            Like

  • Dan Scott

    Thanks for sharing this. I’m a Christian and the things you wrote were all things I’ve heard from others in the past and brought those people back to mind. I posted a response, “Why Non-Christians Donโ€™t Like Christians, or What are We Doing Wrong?” on my blog with a link back to yours.

    Like

  • equippedcat

    wow, 100% right on. I might have different examples for some of the points, but the points themselves are so true.

    Like

  • maclyphx

    Reblogged this on Through the Fire and commented:
    Powerful. I can’t help but share this. Good job!

    Like

  • ChildofRa

    These reasons are so true,if we as a society actually had decent common courtesy and respect for one another we would be fine but there are so many factors that we let divide us its ridiculous.

    Like

  • adegrandis

    This is excellent and thoughtful. It is a moving personal statement of human rights and expresses why I have spent my entire adult life (and will continue to do) working, arguing, supporting, doing everything I can to spread the idea that everyone matters and everyone is equally deserving of love and respect. Thank you

    Liked by 2 people

  • ardagale

    Reblogged this on Polygnostic Ways and commented:
    Beliefs matter, and believe me: everyone has beliefs. Hessianwithteeth doesn’t limit the scope of this post to religious beliefs. That’s important, because nonreligious people will oftentimes talk about beliefs as though they are distant phenomena from which they’ve been granted immunity. I don’t know that there’s a sure way to distinguish beliefs from what might be considered more objective knowledge, when objective things are in question. (As opposed to subjective musings like, “Cake is tasty!” or going with the theme of this blog, “Scorpan from My Little Pony is totes a lesser divinity.”) It seems like all of our knowledge amounts to beliefs, wrong or right, that can all be affected by all of the things that beliefs are affected by: emotions, logical fallacies, and so on.

    Anyway, this is great. Highly recommended.

    Like

    • equippedcat

      Any knowledge which cannot be proven is a belief. And there are many beliefs besides religion which can cause problems for the world. Global warming, Immigration, the role(s)

      Like

      • hessianwithteeth

        But now your forced to define “prove.” Not to mention that beilf does not nessicarily = knowledge. Your epistomology may have those as equivlent, but mine does not.

        Like

        • equippedcat

          In order to remove any touch of belief from a piece of knowledge, you can “prove” it by either using valid logical constructs against proven true assumptions (logical proof), or demonstrate the knowledge is so using a set of repeatable actions (experimental or scientific proof). So called “legal proof” (beyond reasonable doubt) is NOT enough to completely prove a belief.

          Note that there is not anything wrong with knowledge which has some amount of belief required (probably more than half your knowledge falls into that category). Just realize that it is a belief and don’t automatically reject a competing belief based only on its contradiction of your belief..

          Like

      • equippedcat

        You are right, belief does not equal knowledge, but it is a subset of knowledge. All the definitions of knowledge I found allow for elements of belief, although I do note that philosophers are debating various definitions. Not being a philosopher, I prefer the simplest view, that knowledge is what you know, and belief is what you know without proof.

        If your definition of knowledge does NOT include things which require some belief, where do you draw the line? I would claim that “sticking your hand in a fire will burn you” is undeniably knowledge, but your name and your birth date are “beliefs” (might be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, but almost no chance it can be proven beyond ANY doubt).

        Like

        • hessianwithteeth

          Well at the end of the day all things are uncertain to some extent our exitance. (Even reality and our existance with in that realit or any reality is uncertain to some unqautifiable extent), so by your definition all knowledge is belief.

          A more useful epistimolgy for this would be a bayesian epistemology, as it doesn’t deal with complete certainty, but rather shades of grey. I’ll write more later, but now I’m tierd.

          Like

      • Caroline

        The key difference between religious belief and scientific belief is the willingness to revise those beliefs with the advent of new evidence. The number of religious who are totally unwilling to even consider that they’re wrong is scary – new evidence is denied, or great amounts of effort is spent trying to bending into matching what is already “known”.

        Scientific knowledge may have an element of belief, but that is *always* subject to change with the discovery of new stuff.

        Liked by 1 person

        • equippedcat

          Scientific belief tends to be based on observation and rigorous analysis, and there is (usually) not the degree of personal involvement to cling to it when more/conflicting information becomes available.

          Religious belief tends to have have a large “personal experience” component which is highly antagonistic to conflicting interpretations. Personal experience of a thing usually trumps most everything external.claimed about that thing in most peoples beliefs..

          Liked by 1 person

          • Caroline

            I think you’re right – quite often peoples’ personal experiences aren’t the experiencing the things they think they’re experiencing, but the emotional attachment to everything they’ve been taught affects their objectivity.

            Like

  • sirgb

    What a waste of energy when a member of a general society is forced to mapp and assess other members and group beliefs for safety reasons and not just for reasons to understand the diversity to be able to align with others. In corporate environment this diversity management is doing well. No one cares for beliefs, political or religious. The criterion is the “success”, and if it is not related with ethical beliefs, other beliefs of the individual are irrelevant. What would be the main criterion for the society that is rich and “wealthy” in diversity?

    Like

  • myatheistlife

    Reblogged this on myatheistlife and commented:
    I was thinking of a post like this but this one says it so well that I don’t need to say it now… go give her props and likes

    Like

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