Respecting Your Right to Believe Doesn’t Mean Giving Your Beliefs a Free Pass


new atheists

It seems as though a lot of people assume that respecting a person’s right to believe means letting them say whatever they want and never confronting them. This isn’t the case. I can respect your right to believe and still openly disagree with you. Refusing to hide my beliefs doesn’t mean I’m disrespecting your rights, it just means I’m practicing mine.

I was listening to an old episode of the podcast The Atheist Experience the other day. One of the callers they talked to called in simply to tell them that they shouldn’t be talking about Christianity, they should just talk about atheism. According to this caller, their discussion of Christianity was disrespectful. Why? Because they are atheists. The idea that merely talking about Christianity while being a non-Christian is disrespectful is silly. I often talk about men while being a non-man. Is that disrespectful too? But the very idea that we should shut up about Christianity because we criticize it is silly too. No belief is above criticism. I criticize religion because I believe it to be inherently problematic. I’m not concerned with the people who hold the beliefs (well, not usually), I’m worried about the institution. I’m worried about the aspects of religion that negatively affect the world in which I live. Namely the division it causes, the wars it leads to, and the mistreatment of other humans that it allows. So yes, I criticize religion. And no, that is not disrespectful of your rights. You can believe whatever you want, and I can criticize it. You can criticize my beliefs too. And we can do so in a respectful way.

It seems to be commonly believed that atheists just attack religion for the sake of attacking religion. But if religion didn’t affect our lives, then we would have no reason to criticize it. We don’t criticize religion for the sake of amusement. Most of us live in places where we are confronted with religion on a daily bases. For example, today I walked under an advertisement for a particular church numerous times, on the way to school we found ourselves behind a car with the Jesus fish symbol, and there were a number of little pamphlets around telling me how I’m going to go to hell if I don’t believe in God. Throughout the school year, I can easily find booths at the university giving out Bibles, Qur’ans, and various other books promoting Christianity and Islam. On the way to school every day I pass no less than three churches in the span of 20 minutes. Not long ago, someone left a Chick Tract on our car when Withteeth and I were at the movies. The Christian clubs on my campus are well funded and well promoted, and there are no less then a dozen of them. It seems as though Christianity is everywhere, and Islam is catching up. So religion actually affects my life quite a bit. And my criticism of religion reflects my experiences. I don’t criticize religion because I hate religious people, I criticize religion because it has a negative impact on my life and the world I live in.

So no, atheists should not stick to talking about atheism. Atheism is only a small part of our experience. Atheists should talk about what concerns us. We should talk about improving the world around us. And we should criticize the things that we believe hurt us and those around us. The religious are free to criticize atheism, and have never felt the need to keep their criticism secret. Atheists have the same right.

Advertisements

66 responses to “Respecting Your Right to Believe Doesn’t Mean Giving Your Beliefs a Free Pass

  • The Scarlet Elf

    You should have a look on the Popes twitter feed! And see the abuse he gets from atheists, I know plenty of people of different faiths or no faith and it has no impact on how they are as people! Good people are good and bad people are bad! It sounds to me as though you are not happy cos religion does not fit around your own personal views. What are the negative impacts? can you clarify this so we can understand better. I do find tho from my own experience some people dismiss God because he does not fit in with their lifestyle, but still they are never happy!

    Like

    • equippedcat

      One negative impact of religious people is that they tend to annoy those who do not share that religion by trying to “convert” them, or in some cases, attempt to wipe them out.

      A more pervasive negative impact of religious people is that often they try to impose their view of what is allowed and prohibited on everyone, not just those who follow that particular god. In some cases, this is good for everybody (you are not allowed to kill people); in other cases, it is deemed unreasonably restrictive (you can only have sex with your spouse) by some and in some cases it is out and out silly (you must bow down to the east and say certain things 5 times a day).

      Man is allowed to and even required to make laws for the benefit of Man. It is ludicrous and dangerous and useless for Man to make laws for the benefit of God. Any God who cannot enforce His own laws is no god at all.

      Liked by 1 person

      • paidiske

        I think this post demonstrates one of the things that I tend to find frustrating in this sort of conversation.

        What you say is absolutely true – of some religious people, of some religious groups, much more than others. I find in these discussions, “religion” tends to get collapsed into a sort of Christian mish-mash, usually with the proselytising zeal of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the dogmatism of the Catholics and the morality of Puritans.

        How does this sort of discourse take account of – for example – the discouragement of conversion of the Jews? The live-and-let-live attitude of the Pagans? The sensual bliss-seeking of practitioners of Tantra?

        It seems to me that you present a very narrow, Western, homogenised view of what “religion” is, and how it is lived, which undermines the whole discussion and in effect renders the vast majority of religious people invisible.

        Liked by 2 people

        • hessianwithteeth

          A fine comment, and something I find myself falling into far too often. This is why I ask and ask for people to clarify what their stances actually are and what it is they believe, otherwise I’m left resorting to contenting with this watered down “Christian mish-mash” because unfortunately this is generally what people (Westerners anyway) mean when they are not being specific, and even worse sometime it’s what they think religion actually is.

          Liked by 2 people

        • equippedcat

          Yes, it is annoying and frustrating. But it is the way that most people who do not follow a particular god feel about the people who do follow that god. Because at least some of those followers DO try to force their behavior beliefs on others, either through laws or shame or threats.

          If those in a religion would only attempt to control their own behavior, this annoyance might be done away with.

          Liked by 1 person

    • hessianwithteeth

      Keep your shallow opinions to yourself, as you said you where bored so pleasure go fine interest else where. I lead a rather fulfilled and happy life, though the ideal I aim for is to be content, or satisfied. Given that happiness is a fleeting emotion.

      I suggest in the future you actually comment on the content of the article at hand rather then telling us how we disagree with religion because it doesn’t fit with our lifestyle. This a boilerplate counter argument and has little to do the topic at hand.

      Your increasingly vapid and pointed comments are aggravating me, and I have no wish to continue pandering to your childish attacks on our persons. Should you decide to try to discuss these topic with another I would ask for both their sake and yours that you actually address their argument and support your own. Rather then tell them how wrong and immature they are since clearly they don’t understand as you couldn’t be wrong.

      Withteeth

      Like

  • The Brain in the Jar

    I am currently writing a post about how people confuse the discussion of whether a view is right or wrong, for the discussion whether you have the right to hold a certain view. It’s easy to get confused, but these are different. Flat-earthers are not being persecuted and put into jail for their belief. It doesn’t change the fact they’re wrong.

    In fact, if we did believe no one has the right to be wrong, we’d destroy all attempts to find out what is true and what is false. We will also have to persecute schizophrenics and any other mentally ill people who hallucinate. Great post.

    ” It seems as though Christianity is everywhere, and Islam is catching up” – Actually, Islam is already everywhere, just not close to home. I notice atheists criticize Chrisitianity a lot, but their comlpains are nothing compared to what homosexuals, women and others suffer under Islamic rule.

    Like

  • Michelle Anneliese

    I agree with this greatly. It is also difficult for ones who just don’t what to believe because then everyone preaches at you to get you to believe in what they believe in.

    Like

  • ejwinner

    Reblogged this on no sign of it and commented:
    This raises an interesting perspective on a subject I’ve been thinking about the past couple weeks, concerning how to address the atheist/theist debate publically in a reasonable and respectful way.

    The comments here also exemplify how people can talk disagreements agreeably.

    Decency requires that we respect others; but it doesn’t require silence. Indeed, surely it is indecent to pretend that only one ideology has the right to speak in a democracy. Reasonable disagreement is required in a democratic society.

    Liked by 2 people

    • nannus

      The problem might be that religious belief, in order to stabilize itself, needs to suppress deviating opinions or beliefs. There is no real evidence for Christianity or any other religion, so why do these people belive in it and believe, for example, that the bible is true? I think the only way to do so is to reinforce each other’s belief. This requires a closed group that provides an echo chamber in which no other thoughts can be heard. Doubt causes fear because they believe that if they loose their faith, they will go to hell. This fear causes them to try to suppress deviating opinions. In environments where there are lots of atheists, such groups have to stop being in contact with outsiders because contact with outsiders who do not share their beliefs is somehow erosive. They only keep contacts among themselves and turn into closed sects. Where I live (Cologne, Germany) it is possible to totally ignore them, or “not even ignore them”.
      What might prevent the US to become totally undemocratic (if that has not yet happened, I cannot judge that from here) is the fact that the religious groups are so splintered. In areas where there is a strong homogenity or dominance of only one religion (at least: one monotheistic religion), democracy cannot exist.

      Liked by 1 person

  • Joe

    I think this is an important conversation to have. I have been on some blogs where they seem to think its important to “ridicule the ridiculous.” Its almost like they think this is a value. Other people like myself think ridicule has no place in these discussions.

    Everyone including myself have biases that effect our thinking. And in group and out group bias actually triggers a chemical reaction in our brains. So the cards are stacked against us and I think we have to be especially charitable to people with different beliefs.

    “Most of us live in places where we are confronted with religion on a daily bases. For example, today I walked under an advertisement for a particular church numerous times, on the way to school we found ourselves behind a car with the Jesus fish symbol, and there were a number of little pamphlets around telling me how I’m going to go to hell if I don’t believe in God. Throughout the school year, I can easily find booths at the university giving out Bibles, Qur’ans, and various other books promoting Christianity and Islam. On the way to school every day I pass no less than three churches in the span of 20 minutes. Not long ago, someone left a Chick Tract on our car when Withteeth and I were at the movies. The Christian clubs on my campus are well funded and well promoted, and there are no less then a dozen of them. It seems as though Christianity is everywhere, and Islam is catching up. So religion actually affects my life quite a bit. And my criticism of religion reflects my experiences. I don’t criticize religion because I hate religious people, I criticize religion because it has a negative impact on my life and the world I live in.”

    In my biased mind when I read this I wonder what the issue was. It seemed like your cartoon in reverse. Religious people are talking and you are telling them to be quiet. But they aren’t listening. Of course, that depends on the content of what is said. But you seem to take offense at the very existence of church buildings on your way to school.

    Now I realize that Christians telling people they are going to hell is offensive to some atheists but not to others. I can see it is annoying but you know its annoying to me as well. Chick tracts are very anti-catholic, but they are too ignorant to actually be insulting to me.

    I guess I would liken that to an atheist telling me it is immoral to hold my beliefs. I personally would not be offended if the person genuinely thought that. But I am not typical.

    Anyway I appreciate posts dealing with this topic. Too many times blogs devolve into name calling. Gaining an understanding when people are being rude and when we are just being defensive is something we need to vigilantly monitor.

    Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu

      Joe, I find nothing wrong with ridicule. For all I care, if you think I have a belief worthy of ridicule by all means go ahead. The purpose of ridicule is to let you examine your beliefs and you argument is in the class of those made by pope cuddles that we can’t mock faith. It is such thinking that allows some men to kill others whom they disagree with instead of examining their beliefs

      Like

      • Joe

        You are not alone in thinking there is nothing wrong with ridicule. As for ridiculing your beliefs, no thanks. I am not interested in ridicule or similar forms of emotional manipulation. Making people fear ridicule in order to change their beliefs is IMO not how reason works. Using people’s fear of being ridiculed can only heighten emotions and brain responses that are inimical to reason. That’s the opposite of what I want.

        That does not mean such forms of emotional manipulation are ineffective in getting people to adopt your views. Propaganda works well at convincing others. If you make people believe they are on the outside and that they will be ridiculed for beliefs contrary to your own, you can get people to believe what you want. The problem is it works equally well whether or not those beliefs are true or reasonable.

        I made a decision that will not be my approach. If my comments or reasoning are not convincing to you, that is ok with me. I feel no need to ramp up the emotions with pictures/cartoons and sound bite/mantras to make people agree out of fear of ridicule. I am more interested in people thinking on their own using reason than I am in getting them to agree with me.

        One blog author who often ridiculed Christianity was then lamenting that his Christian family didn’t seem to want to spend time with him. Common sense suggests that people will understand life is short and no one wants to spend it with people who are out to ridicule and insult them. It is a question of whether you value your relationships with people versus or whether you value the idea that the ridiculous should be ridiculed. Of course, I am sure that there are plenty of atheists who see Christians ridiculing them for their beliefs and also somehow act surprised that no one really wants to spend time with them. I am against all of it.

        Liked by 2 people

    • makagutu

      Well, a good policy for you. I hope you don’t expect all of us to adopt it.

      Like

  • jrob8157293

    It’s such a double standard. Christians criticize atheists all the time. Why can’t atheists criticize Christians? My message to my fellow Christians out there is, in the words of Jesus, “Judge not, or you too will be judged.” Hell I’m a Christian and I criticize the state of Christianity a lot. I think many people in my faith stray from the principles that this faith was founded on and instead of practicing a religion of love they practice a religion of sanctimony. There are a lot of Christians and atheists out there who just can’t accept each other’s right to express their beliefs.

    Like

  • smithaw50

    To be honest, I think the mandate to “stay quiet” stems from the fact that Christians are lousy at defending their faith because of two factors: 1) they don’t read their bibles and 2) their churches are social clubs. I personally don’t think God needs me defending Him to anyone. I can tell you why I believe He exists, but beyond that, I don’t consider it my duty to convert or condemn you. That’s between you and God (or not 🙂 Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Daniela

    I had an atheist friend who completely refused to talk any kind of religion with me. I don’t blame him. People can become very vile when the topic comes up. The one-time religion versus atheism was brought up between us was when there was a big group of us. Stereotypically, the loudest people in the room were the ones so staunch in proving that they were right. In the end, he left the group because of some Christians just yelling, and I ended up being made fun of by some rude people proclaiming to be atheists. It was an awkward situation, at best.

    Liked by 1 person

  • onehungryghost

    Brilliant post! One benefit of being rational is being able to make distinctions like the one you make here.

    Bravo, and thanks.

    Like

  • paidiske

    Oh, my comment disappeared…

    I’d have preferred it if you’d have told me why you disagreed with me.

    Like

  • C H

    Chick tracts? Those strange little booklets are still being used? Amazing!

    It seems like a terribly asinine thing to me for any Christian (which I am) to say, “Hey, you atheists shouldn’t talk about Christianity!” After all, the Bible says that faith comes by hearing and hearing by God’s word and if no one’s talking about it (including criticism), then how can the word of God be heard? It seems to me that us Christians would be better served by, as you noted in the post, civilly and politely (neither of which I mean to say ‘lack of conflict’), if possible, discussing matters of faith or the lack of faith. We can agree to disagree. There’s still value to be found in those we disagree with. I disagree with both feminism and socialism and yet I found value in your post here.

    “It seems to be commonly believed that atheists just attack religion for the sake of attacking religion.”

    A lot of atheists do. Yet Christians have (the lot of us), unfortunately, taken on a defensive mechanism concerning our faith. I’ll go right back to the Bible: God was clear that living by His rules would often get you disliked. More often than not, matter of fact. He was also clear that a calm word and a bit of grace can often diffuse disagreements. So, really, I can no longer quantify or qualify a defensive stance on my own faith. My faith is what it is; should you deem it necessary to criticize my choice of religion, so be it on your part. My part is simple, as a Christian, to go back to the Bible: tell them God’s word and if they’re not interested, wipe the dust off your feet and head on to somewhere else.

    Free will exists for us to utilize it. As your post notes, the freedom to criticize should exist as well. Otherwise, what is free will for, exactly? My one job as a Christian truly comes down to this: get the 2×4 out of my eye before messing with the toothpick in someone else’s. My faith does not arise from a need or an obligation to ‘save’ you. It arises from a need to know God. If you do not wish to know Him or you do not believe He exists, my job is not to take away your free will but, rather, to live my life in a way that reflects that faith.

    Like

  • Von Simeon

    ‘No belief is above criticism.’ Nail. Head.

    Liked by 1 person

  • hessianwithteeth

    Unfortunately, there will always be those who don’t respect others. Atheists aren’t immune from that. But it’s important to be willing to discuss our beliefs with others, and both give and take criticism. I like your stance on the issue. I just wish people would stop it with the “how dare you talk about my beliefs” mentality.

    Like

    • C H

      “I just wish people would stop it with the “how dare you talk about my beliefs” mentality.”

      They’re not. But I agree with you. One of the better things in my life over the years, in terms of this, was having an atheist room mate for two years. At first, he wasn’t sure what he’d gotten himself into because he knew I’m Christian. By the end of the two years, I’d learned a lot from him about how to discuss religion with an atheist—one very, very angry at the church, mind you.

      But he had character. He had heart. That was enough for me. Eventually, we become good friends who can find common ground despite the chasm between our beliefs and ideologies.

      Good luck to you. You’re going to run into a lot of arrogant Christians, I assure you. Why? Because many, many Christians today are like RINO’s—they’re more like ‘Churchians’ than Christians. They’re confused, don’t know the history or depth of their own religion, thus far too many assume the mantle of arrogance because it’s pretty much all they have. Without depth, without understanding of one’s own beliefs, the first option is usually the one taken, which is to be defensive and arrogant.

      Liked by 2 people

  • equippedcat

    Yes, things which truly are bad are done in the name of religion. However, the examples you gave (advertisements) seem not to be “bad”, just “annoying” to you. I don’t drink, and I would prefer not to see billboards, full page magazine ads, TV ads for booze (or soda, for that matter). But they are there, and I just ignore them.

    The “presentation” of religion is (or should) not be worth whining about. Actual harmful actions are.

    Liked by 1 person

    • hessianwithteeth

      I never said the ads are bad. I said religion affects my life and that’s why I talk about it. Though I would say the number of ads that tell me I’m going to hell are bad.
      I’m not whining about religions existence. However, so long as religion gets to affect my life, I get to talk about it. What I was “whining” about was arrogant Christians telling us we can’t talk about there religion because we aren’t Christians.

      Like

  • Uniquely Mustered

    Instead atheist should be that whistle-blower to aid Christianity advance in the right way and life.

    Liked by 1 person

  • clubschadenfreude

    A wonderful post. It does often seem that theists try to pull the “disrespect” card in an attempt to shut down any criticism of their religion. Respect is earned not blindly given, at least in my book.

    Liked by 2 people

  • i4gotmyscreenname

    Reblogged this on Just because. and commented:
    THIS!

    Like

  • entropy

    Reblogged this on Mijn Verhaal and commented:
    Just think that atheïsm or rationalism has a right to be heard. 🙂

    Like

  • Uniquely Mustered

    Reblogged this on Uniqely Mustered and commented:
    Some differences between Rights and beliefs

    Like

  • Respecting Your Right to Believe Doesn't Mean Giving Your Beliefs a Free Pass | Christians Anonymous

    […] Source: Respecting Your Right to Believe Doesn’t Mean Giving Your Beliefs a Free Pass […]

    Like

  • alfredsalmanac

    Great post and I completely agree with you.

    Like

  • paidiske

    What I find disrespectful from atheists are the (very common) assumptions that I am stupid, unethical, and/or manipulative. I also find disrespectful a one-sided presentation of any religion which emphasises all of the negatives, without thoughtful analysis of how and why those negatives arose, and acknowledges none of the positives (it’s a kind of misrepresentation by omission).

    I value criticism from outside my faith tradition and engage in it from within (see my latest grumpy blog post as evidence!), but a stance which distorts or misrepresents a community of faith, or fails to engage with others with integrity, goes beyond healthy criticism to something else.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul's Letters

      As an atheist I often find that religion’s apologists will fall back on the argument that there’s a great deal of good things religions do, and while I don’t doubt this- whether its feeding the hungry, providing housing and shelter to the homeless, engaging in medical missions, etc.- I’ve yet to encounter a positive thing religions do that are exclusive to religion (in other words, that aren’t also done by secular organizations and individuals). If a positive action can be taken without the underlying dogma, can the religion claim it as their own? In other words, feeding the hungry isn’t an outgrowth of Christian doctrine, it’s an outgrowth of basic human decency that Christian doctrine endorses.

      Liked by 2 people

      • paidiske

        Yes, I take your point.

        I think the problem, from my point of view – here, let me use an example from the post, which is an easy one for me because I’m a pacifist. (By the way, how do I tell whether a given post was written by hessian or withteeth?)

        The author claimed that religion leads to wars. Not for a second do I deny that religion is one factor in the motivation to war, but as a pacifist and a peace activist who is also religious, the questions I want to ask are along the lines of “So what’s the difference between pacifist people of faith and those who endorse or go to war? What contributes to that difference? How can we address the underlying causes? And what are the faith-based narratives around peace, and how can they help?” So to stop at the claim that religions lead to wars is to me a cheap shot, because it doesn’t engage with the whole complex picture of religious discourse around war and peace.

        Does that make sense?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Paul's Letters

          Yes, that makes sense. While I don’t disagree that religion can be a cause of war, wars are just as often, if not more often, fought over resources or territory. Having said that, religious doctrine can and does provide a justification for wars of territory or resources that can complicate resolution.

          Liked by 1 person

    • clubschadenfreude

      paidiske, I am curious if you have any examples of what you find “disrespectful”. For example, if I would point out that Christians cannot agree on what they believe in or what they wish to claim their god really wants and often insist that people who disagree with them aren’t truly Christians/are evil, do you consider this disrespectful?

      I do not ignore that religion can have some positives. My position is that these positives can be gotten without all of the negatives that this god supposedly has decreed as some “truth”.

      Liked by 1 person

      • paidiske

        No, that’s not disrespectful. I vote in synod; I know the truth of Christian disagreement!

        Here’s a real life example of “disrespect” from this week. I had lunch with a colleague on Tuesday (a work day, so I was dressed in clergy collar). The two gentlemen at the next table felt it necessary to spend their entire lunch holding forth on how evil the church was, at a volume which made it clear that they were doing so for our benefit.

        It wasn’t necessary. They didn’t know me from a bar of soap. They don’t know what I stand for. Are there problems in the church? Hell, yes! And I’ll happily discuss them with anyone who wants to engage in that discussion appropriately. But I don’t need to be harrassed about them while I’m trying to enjoy my burger, either.

        Liked by 1 person

        • clubschadenfreude

          Which church were they talking about and which church are you clergy in? I’d like to know this before I continue.

          Like

          • paidiske

            Their comments were not singling out a particular denomination. I’m an Anglican, but you can’t necessarily tell that by looking at me; there are other denominations which ordain women who might wear clerical dress.

            Like

          • clubschadenfreude

            So, is it that you find anyone mentioning that Christianity has problems in public “disrespectful”? Do you consider it disrespectful to you or to the religion? Can you tell me what would make the discussion “appropriate”?

            I am wondering because my husband and I have chatted about the problems of religion in public places and the discussion may be started by seeing someone in clerical garb because it brings it to mind. If I were sitting next to you, I wouldn’t go out of my way not to speak about something if I wanted to talk about it. If they were sitting at the next table, I’m not sure how low they could speak and you not hear. I can see that it may have been intentional, or may not have been.

            I would also address your claims about religion and war. Christianity is a religion that contradicts itself; it endorses war, claims that non-believers are worthy of death and it also tries to teach a lesson of pacificism. To claim that it only does one or the other is simply an attempt to cherry pick. Christians attempt to claim that their religion is some magical “truth” and you each make your religion in your own image.

            Like

          • paidiske

            It wasn’t a “mention.” Maybe you had to be there, but it was quite clear that their conversation was happening for the benefit of their “audience.” (This sort of thing is very common, and why many of my colleagues have given up wearing clerical dress much of the time).

            What would make it appropriate? Recognise a) that the only fair way to engage in this discussion is to engage me in it, rather than target it at me, and b) that I was with someone else and now might not be the best time. Approach me and ask for a chat. I’ll make time for it. Or if you really don’t want to do that, have your conversation in a way which makes it truly your conversation.

            Turn it around; if I were sitting with a friend near a table of atheists and “having a go” at them loudly, would you not see why that was disrespectful? Or a table with a lesbian couple, perhaps? Surely we can all agree on basic courtesy?

            Understand that when it comes to something like war, it’s not possible to talk about “Christianity” as a monolith but it’s more accurate to talk about strands or traditions within Christianity. There’s a broad spectrum from those who proudly serve within the military to those who conscientiously object. Trying to collapse that spectrum into a single point and label it “Christianity” is what I object to.

            For example, I don’t endorse war, and if I claim that non-believers are worthy of death, I do so only in the same breath that I say that we *all* are worthy of death – and that the love and mercy of God is such that there is hope of something else despite what we deserve. I’m a pacifist but that’s a stance with which many Christians take issue, and really have since Emperor Constantine made Christianity mainstream.

            I think to some extent it is true that we each practice our religion in ways which have integrity for us, but over time the religion shapes us too. I’m almost unrecognisable as the judgemental, fundamentalist sort of person I had been taught to be in my teens. I attribute that change to the presence of God in my life, and to the formative experiences of participation in a broad range of faith communities. It’s not all a one-way process.

            Like

          • clubschadenfreude

            I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear. I would have an entire conversation about religion and how bad it was even if I were next to you if I decided to do so. It would not be to harass you but to talk about the topic with my dinner companion. I still don’t know how you know it was “quite clear” that you were the target, but I can accept that is how it felt.

            I can agree that it might be offensive to you and that it may be out of place, however, again, if it wasn’t directed to you e.g. asking you to participate, and these people were sitting at the table next to you talking normally as they seem to have been, it was truly their conversation. I have no idea how one would make it “truly your conversation” as you indicate they should.

            You seem to be somewhat surprised that people would think to talk about religion when they saw a religious leader and that you seem to think that they should watch what they say around you. The fact is that religion isn’t the good that believers would try to make it out to be. To mention this in public isn’t a bad thing at all in my opinion. Religion has far too long been a sacred cow that no one would contest. I think that for some people it is a great freedom to be able to talk about something that they couldn’t and something that may have hurt them.

            I can agree on basic courtesy, though how you would know someone was an atheist or lesbian by looking at them in a restaurant, I’m not sure. But the idea that no one can talk about religion negatively, or atheism negatively or homosexuality negatively in public is a problem. I might not like it but I’m not likely to assume that the words are about me personally, or I will just roll my eyes at such people and keep going. It may be that being an atheist, I am completely used to people lying about me and have ceased being offended.

            As for war, the bible treats war as a god approved thing, as long as the believers benefit from it. We do have Jesus saying turn the other cheek, but we also have that he is bringing a sword, that all who will not accept him as king should be brought before him and killed and then we have the revenge fantasy in Revelation which exults war, to the point of this god intentionally releasing its arch enemy from the “pit” after an eon of peace under JC as ruler to corrupt more people so there can be one more war.

            That’s all from the bible itself, so I don’t see why one should consider each sect of Christianity differently. The fact that Christians do not agree underlines that Christianity is not some divine truth, but whatever a believer makes it, with no god to declare what it really meant. For a book that is claimed to be somehow inspired or directly from a god, people cherry pick it constantly, and from my perspective, they are using what amounts to a magic decoder ring to get what they want.

            To claim that everyone is worthy of death is one of the more vile ideas of Christianity. Why do I deserve to die, Reverend? Because of a myth that can’t be shown to be true? For someone who “originally sinned” where I had no choice? This god of yours is not merciful or loving, not even by the definition of love in the bible, which isn’t a bad one. Per your bible, this god kills people for the sins of others. Is this merciful, just or fair? Religion may have made you a more humane person, but it makes others as xenophobic and ignorant as the ones who wrote the bible.

            Like

          • paidiske

            The Bible – a collection of very diverse texts – has a complex spectrum of things to say about war. But you seem to be unable to understand that some of those might be metaphorical or symbolic, so I’m not going to engage in a long exegetical post here.

            Let me turn your other question around. Do you truly know anyone so good, so perfect, that you think they should live forever? Or are most of us flawed and broken enough that one average lifetime is enough scope for us to fuck things up? You don’t have to be religious to recognize that humanity has problems!

            You seem very angry, and hurt, and I’m sorry that your experiences to date have left you in that place. But I don’t think that’s justification for treating others badly just because they happen to differ from you with regards to religion.

            Liked by 1 person

          • clubschadenfreude

            Reverend, I know that christians claim that parts are metaphor and symbolic. How do we know which parts are which since Christians cannot agree?

            Yes, I do know people who should live forever if they would like to. Even if they are flawed, most people get more right than wrong. I am sorry you dislike humanity so much. Humanity has gotten better and done that on their own, no god needed. We are finally understanding that skin color makes no difference, that who one loves makes no difference. Most people find the idea of slavery horrible because we’ve moved beyond it. With the claims of religion being some never changing truth, religion has kept us held back in many instances especially by saying we deserve to die for no reason. Because people screw up is not a reason to kill them. That does disturb me that you seem to feel that way.

            I am not angry or hurt at all. I was a chrsitian, figured out that Christianity was no different from the other religions I didn’t believe in and came to the conclusion that atheism is correct. A lot of Christians seem to want to believe atheists are somehow “hurt” so they can feel better about themselves and just claim that the atheist wasn’t thinking straight. I am sorry I make you uncomfortable when I point out where Christianity fails. This seems to be the root of the idea that someone is disrespectful if they mention such things. Treating someone badly is different than treating someone honestly and not giving their religion a pass for no reason.

            Like

          • paidiske

            I said you seemed angry and hurt because you seemed to feel justified in being disrespectful to others, not because you offer a critique of faith. If you can’t be honest and respectful (by which I mean courteous) at the same time, that’s your problem, but I don’t feel the need to carry it without comment.

            Liked by 1 person

          • clubschadenfreude

            It is unfortunate that you now call me dishonest. Why did you do that?

            Like

          • paidiske

            I didn’t. You were talking about the importance of “treating someone honestly” and I said if you couldn’t be respectful and courteous at the same time as being honest, I didn’t feel the need to take it without comment.

            Perhaps this is why religious people often complain of disrespect? Because others think honesty is an excuse to be rude?

            Liked by 1 person

          • clubschadenfreude

            This is what you said ” If you can’t be honest and respectful (by which I mean courteous) at the same time, that’s your problem, but I don’t feel the need to carry it without comment.”

            It certainly seems like you are calling me dishonest, since you have said that I can’t be honest and respectful. If you say you aren’t calling me a liar, I can accept that.

            Religious people have had little experience in anyone being honest to them about their claims. They were always deferred to, and thrived on the fear that their religion inspired. Now, when anyone does mention that their claims are wrong and that their religions are harmful, they do not like it and claim that an honest point is now disrespectful, and how dare anyone talk about it outside of the limits that religious people want to put on things. I’ve gone through this before with Christians trying to control what people say about them and when, claiming disrespect if it is honest and even if it is courteous. You wish to limit the discussion to a time of your choosing and appear upset if this is not obeyed.

            I can understand if you find someone talking about something you don’t like less than courteous, but that isn’t the same as respect or disrespect. I have no reason to respect religion or those who practice it just because they are religious. I certainly have no need to respect someone who has said that everyone deserves to die if they screw up. Honestly isn’t an excuse to be rude; but it is a common thing to claim rudeness when you don’t like to hear the truth.

            Like

          • equippedcat

            It is possible to disagree with someone respectfully or disrespectfully. Let us say the discussion is about the story of Noah and the flood. You can say “the whole story is a complete crock”, which certainly gets your point across, but that is not respectful. Where does the other person go? “No, its not”?

            Or, you could say something like “it certainly seems highly unlikely” or “that raises so many questions, I don’t even know where to start”. More respectful, and does not shut the other person out of the conversation.

            Most respectful, and possibly most useful would be something like “I wonder how they fed all those animals. How long did you say they were on the boat?” or “What about the book by Flintstone which seems to show that a complete flood of the entire world would not have been possible?” This encourages the conversation to continue, and indicates you are interested in understanding, not dismissing out of hand.

            Note that none of these represent a change in point of view, just presentation.

            Liked by 2 people

          • paidiske

            I think equippedcat reinforces my point well. It’s like the song says; it ain’t what you say, it’s the way that you say it…

            Anyway. Perhaps it’s that I’m relatively young, but I’ve never lived in a time when religious people were deferred to or inspired fear by their claims. Quite the reverse.

            It’s not that I want to limit discussion to a time of my choosing, but that I’m trying to illustrate that there are polite and impolite ways of pursuing discussion. I thought I gave an example of public harassment which would be pretty well understood, but it seems that you think others have a right to harrass religious people, since we are so evil. I don’t think there’s anywhere useful to go from there.

            Like

          • clubschadenfreude

            I think the main problem is to consider why is telling the truth considered not respectful by some people? As an aside, I think we are talking about courtesy, not respect, in all of these cases.

            To use your example, the noah flood *is* a complete crock, it has nothing to support the story. Now, I would say that “the whole story is a complete crock” and add “and here’s why….”. Would that make it any less discourteous or will any phrase that says that a believer is wrong be considered discourteous because people certainly don’t like to be told they’re wrong in any form? In response, the other person can say “Here is the evidence I think supports it.” If they think they have any, or “I believe just because.”

            I think your question of where do they have to go might be at the root of the problem. For many believers, they have no where to go, because again, there is no evidence for their claims. This could easily make someone feel angry and trapped. By the lack of evidence for their claim, the conversation does have no where else to go other than to the conclusion that the religion is wrong.

            I can understand why someone would try to couch their words in gentler terms, using words like “seems”, and I do that myself occasionally, but the fact is that the flood is completely unlikely, and it does not raise so many questions that I or someone else would not know where to start. I know exactly where the flood story fails, and to try to pretend I do not for someone’s comfort in a story is dishonest.

            I think the technique of using questions to show how completely improbable the flood can be a good one, but it only works if the believer knows something about their bible and is willing to consider their stories incorrect. If the only answer given is “God did it.” Then the theist is the one who is shutting down the conversation. Many theists, in my experience, do not want to think about their religion and get angry if anyone asks such detailed questions and points out where the bible stories fail. With the story, I already understand both sides of the issue, and there is no reason at all to not dismiss such a myth out of hand, just as I would dismiss the claim that Coyote brought fire to mankind or that the sun is eaten by a dragon at every eclipse.

            I agree that these are changes in presentation but I find that they require me to be dishonest about my point of view and the facts. All require me to make it seem like the facts are up for debate when they are not.

            Do you see why I feel that way?

            Like

          • equippedcat

            “Do you see why I feel that way?” No, not really. You consider some things facts, and the other side considers other things facts. The question is, which side, if either, is right? To use a polite manner and terms gives the greatest odds of a beneficial conversation and to use offensive words or manner is likely to be perceived as an “attack” and reduces the odds of a beneficial conversation. It is not “dishonest” to present your point of view in the most attractive light. It may be honest to present it in an overbearing manner, but is it useful?

            Any “fact” which cannot be proved is up for debate.

            If one side “shuts down” the conversation, generally it is in the other side’s best interests to conclude that the first side is unreachable and move on. To continue causes stress to the other side (who cares?) and more importantly, to you.

            Yes, adding “here’s why” is an improvement to “crock”. “Impossible” and “here’s why” would be a bit better yet, and “unlikely” and “here’s why” even better. If you show that you are open to discussion, it is much more likely you can have one.

            I see what you mean, it is more about courtesy than respect. If someone disagrees with you, it is much harder to respect them.1

            Like

          • clubschadenfreude

            EC, do you believe people can have their own facts, essentially that there is nothing objective? I can show evidence, the other side cannot. I am curious if you are saying that there is no difference.

            Like

          • equippedcat

            Not only CAN I say that people have their own
            “facts”, I do say it. What I mean by it is in discussions between belief A and belief B (or even belief in NOT A), each side has “facts” to support their belief, and often present them as facts even though they may not actually be factual. If we were discussing the flood and I said “the Bible says so and the Bible is the Word of God”, I am presenting a fact (the Bible says so) and a “fact” (the Bible is the Word of God). Note that I treat these pieces of information as equally valid, despite one of them never have been proven and many claims to the contrary. If you then said “that book by Barney says that no worldwide flood was possible”, you would be presenting a fact (that the book actually said that) but one which is perhaps not germane (just because that one book say it does not make it so). In both cases, we would be arguing based on “facts” which may not have been proven.

            Facts are absolute, by definition, but we tend to treat things which are not necessarily facts as facts. And if things are presented to us as facts which contradict what we believe, the automatic reaction is to dismiss them unless their “facthood” is shown to be overwhelmingly likely.

            Like

          • clubschadenfreude

            EC, you seem to understand that people claim that they have their own facts, but those facts aren’t accepted by everyone. For instance, if I said that glowing iron was hot enough to hurt you, and you said it wasn’t, reality would be in my favor. It’s the same with believers’ claims and reality.

            In the case of the flood, there are no facts to support someone’s belief that it really happened like the bible claims. What they have is one story “the bible says so”, and no evidence to back up that claim. Saying that the bible is the word of god is also not a fact, it is a claim with no evidence supporting it. We have claims like the Anglican reverend’s claim that I deserve to die for not accepting her god aka screwing up, but that is a story, and not reality.
            So when I say “the flood story is a crock” I have the truth, the flood is false and there is no evidence that supports it. When someone says “the flood story is true” and they have no evidence that support it, e.g. nothing in the geological record, no date, etc, they are wrong. To say give any possibility that the bible flood actually happened is making me tell a lie because there isn’t any, not if we accept reality, and not postulate that some god hid the evidence.

            I know that you seem to want to treat the “bible says so” as a fact and “the bible is the word of god” as your “fact” equally. I find that is bizaare because they are not equally as valid e.g. equally as true. Hessianwithteeth’s latest post is very timely considering this discussion.

            I do agree that people do dismiss anything that doesn’t agree with their preconceived beliefs. That doesn’t have to be the case and seems much worse with theists whose entire self-worth depends on stories without evidence.

            As I mentioned before, a theist can and likely does feel very scared and angry that their claims have no evidence and they have nowhere to go when someone who says their stories are false does have that evidence. However, this doesn’t mean that the theist, or anyone, has any special right to their false claims or that no one should confront them about them. The term fact and reality won’t change for the theist, or whomever is doubting them.

            Like

          • equippedcat

            True, as far as I know, there is no credible evidence to support that the flood occurred or every person/animal currently in existence descended from those on the ark. But, as far as I know, there is no credible evidence it did NOT occur. Just because it seems unlikely does not mean it could not possibly have occurred (almost certainly not “naturally”, but possible through a theoretical “supernatural” agency). Similarly, having only one, questionable, source (the Bible) does not provide much support that it did occur.

            The “flood is a crock” is not, as far as I can tell, “truth”; it is your belief (quite reasonable if you believe God does not exist), unless you have credible evidence that it did not happen. Calling something “truth” does not make it truth; only credible evidence can do that. The “flood story is accurate” is also not, as far as I can tell, “truth”, it is my belief and I freely admit I have no credible evidence it did happen (and it requires God to exist in order to have happened). Me not having credible evidence does not necessarily make me “wrong” (or you “right”), although it does increase the odds of that being the case. To admit the possibility that the flood occurred is not a “lie”, unless you have credible evidence it did not happen, and no evidence it did happen is not sufficient for that purpose.

            The glowing iron is not like believers OR non-believers claims, since as you point out, it is easy to verify which is correct. Certainly believers claims seem to be impossible to verify, and as far as I can tell, so seem the non-believers claims.

            Saying the Bible is the Word of God or not is also, as far as I know, neither supported as being true or false with creditable evidence. If part of it could be proven, that would not prove the whole is correct, whereas proving part of it false means it is not “inviolate” as claimed and would require a significant re-evaluation.

            “The bible says (the flood is) so” is an absolute fact, easily proven. Whether what the Bible says (about the flood or many other things) is TRUE cannot be considered factual because it CANNOT (so far) be shown to be so. I don’t equate these. One is a fact, which is not really of any value, because the other is merely a belief.

            Like

          • clubschadenfreude

            There is plenty of evidence that the bible flood didn’t occur. Rather than one big layer of sediment that is sorted coarse to fine, with animals and plants and artifacts of similar hydraulic characteristics massed together, there are many layers, each sorted coarse to fine within the layer, and fossils go from simple to complex as one goes up the geologic column, they are not mixed together, as the flood would require. Christians can’t agree on when this flood happened, but there is no evidence for it in *any* period. We also have the problem in the dates that Christians do claim, there were people and no change in their activities at all; if there was a world-wide mountain-deep flood, they didn’t notice it.

            Again, unless you want to claim that your god hid the evidence, there is no reason to think a flood happened and it is indeed impossible since something else occurred. It is the truth that no flood, as claimed in the bible, has occurred because I have evidence that it did not and something else did. Your belief is in something that is inaccurate and untrue and you having no evidence does make you wrong. And it is a lie to say that there is a possibility that the flood occurred when that is not the case at all.

            The glowing iron is not different from believer’s or non-beleivers claims. It is indeed easy to verify, just ike the evidence that the flood did not occur is easy to verify. What non-believer claims “seem impossible to verify”? This is where problem of willful ignorance comes in, where a theist will say such things but often has not even tried to look at anything but his religion.

            Claiming the bible is the word of god could be answered, if the bible were true itself. There are at least two tests in the bible to show if someone is really speaking for this god, the altar of Elijah and the promise that any baptized believer in Jesus Christ will be able to do miracles, as per the gospel of mark.

            There is no evidence at all that the bible is from some divine being, just as there is no evidence that Mohammed took dictation to create the qu’ran, or that the Indian legends were true. However, we do have evidence that none of the essential events in the these supposed holy books happened; we have evidence that other events took place rather than an “exodus”, a resurrection, etc. Life went on with no hiccup caused by magical plagues, an entire army being annihilated, an earthquake, the dead walking, the sky dark, or the sun stopping in the sky for a day. That’s what shows that the bible and its parts are false and why there has been a significant re-evaluation of the bible by many people, from scholars, to Christians who claim that more and more of their bible is “metaphor” and how their god gets more and more vague, the arguments from the supposedly sophisticated theologians who declare the Christian god a “ground of being”, etc.

            Facts are facts, beliefs are subjective and require evidence. The fact that the bible claims things are true when they are demonstrably not is a very valuable fact, for it is evidence that the bible should not be trusted.

            Like

          • paidiske

            I think being courteous shows respect, and being discourteous shows disrespect, which is why I use the terms almost interchangeably in this discussion.

            If you told me the Noah story was a complete crock, I wouldn’t find that particularly disrespectful, actually. That’s what you think of it (and certainly I would, too, if I didn’t consider it to be a non-literal part of Scripture). Where it gets disrespectful is when people then add something about the stupidity, gullibility, lack of thought or some such of those who do read it as Scripture.

            Like

          • clubschadenfreude

            I can be polite to someone whom I have no respect for, but that does not validate their claims. If there were any evidence, I would respect that and them if they had it, rather than telling stories that change over time.

            It’s not that I simply think that the biblical flood is a myth, it is supported by evidence of entirely other things happening and there is no evidence for a flood. It doesn’t surprise me that you have decided that it is to be considered “non-literal.” Many Christians declare that this part or the other are “non-literal” because they find it too ridiculous. I find this ridiculous, since you all pick and choose what these pieces are and that you all claim that your choices are some divine “truth”. This is what I have no respect for, that you think anyone should believe in your myths with such intentional retconning. I am guessing you’d never claim that the resurrection story was “non-literal”. But you have no more evidence for that than this mythical flood.

            Christianity, for all of its claim as some “truth”, constantly changes what it wants to claim is literal and what it claims that its god “really” wants. For example, I just watched a nifty show from a series called “Secrets of the Dead”. The show “Ben Franklin’s Bones” was about a find of human bones in the basement of what had been Ben’s home in London back in the 1700s. They dated the bones and they were of a similar time as he was living there. At the same time he lived there, a doctor, specifically an anatomist, lived there and had a anatomy school there. This was when humans were finally investigating the human body. Christianity at the time made it very difficult to get bodies to dissect, because most people believed in a very literal version of the Revelation resurrection myth. This ignorance set back medicine years and created a criminal niche where grave robbers could profit. People still now refuse to be organ donors because of religion, killing many in the process. Now, some Christians think its perfectly fine to donate organs, to have cremations, etc, and they’ve changed what they think is the truth, finally catching up to reality where there is more evidence against, rather than for, their myths.

            There is a lack of thought when it comes to religion and far too much thought in trying to fix its failures. It is compartmentalization with no reason other than fear and a desire to claim to know secrets about gods and to claim that one is special because one now doesn’t deserve death but to claim everyone else does.

            Like

  • daniellaargento

    Agree with you 100%. Criticism should never result in ridicule. The key is to respect the persons right to belief and respect the belief but we are all absolutely right to critique, challenge and dispute in a tolerant and mutually respectful way. You have nailed this one.

    Liked by 2 people

  • Royal Robot

    Precisely! Atheists should have the same rights.

    Liked by 1 person

Tell us what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: