"No, atheists don't have to show respect for religion"

This article is SO relevant for me because I recently cut someone out of my life because I no longer wanted to hold my tongue on my Facebook and Twitter page for fear of offending her AND because I didn't want to hear her mouth whenever I criticized religion and theism.

 

No Atheists Don't Have to Show "Respect" For Religion

 

I'll try my best to respect people but respecting religion...nah.

My former friend just couldn't get this through her head and unfortunately, I had to cut her off.

Tags: religion, respect

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Gregor,

I am a little concerned about your statement, ".......I don't change my opinion of someone if he kills someone." I would suggest to you, sir, that you do indeed "change your opinion" of someone who kills someone. The circumstances under which that killing takes place will have a lot to do with your "opinion" of him after it happens. For instance, if he kills someone while trying to steal from them, your opinion of him is likely to be much different than if he kills someone who is attacking his young daughter. 

 

I will go further and say that I think it likely that your level of respect for him will be based on your opinion of him. However, I think that you make a good point that you would never lose ALL respect for him. I refer to that level of respect as the "bare minimum" and is given to him based solely on the fact that he, no matter how bad, is a fellow human being. 

 

It is this bare minimum of respect that prevents us from applying torture or other inhumane treatment to him. It ought also prevent us from ever applying the death penalty to anyone. We make a habit of punishing those who we have determined have broken our laws. I would offer the opinion that we do this, in large part, because of our religious teaching. Even those who do not grow up part of a religion are still living in societies that are religiously oriented; and have been for centuries.

 

Part of religious philosophy is that the "All Powerful" has the right to punish those who disobey. We have adopted this concept as part of our social system. We have the "All Powerful Government/Ruler" who set laws and exact punishment for those who transgress those laws. Like religion, we DO NOT examine the reasons for those laws being transgressed. Nor do we examine how to prevent this from happening. We "believe" that punishment and the threat of punishment  alone is sufficient to enforce obedience to those laws.

 

As we have seen with religion, where no amount of evidence or even common sense can change a religious belief, so too can we see that the population in general "believes" in punishment as a "cure" for law-breaking, with no substantiating evidence to support that belief. In fact, there is much evidence that using punishment as a means of ensuring obedience to laws and social norms is an abject failure. So much a failure that countries, such as the US where punishment is fairly harsh, have the highest incidence of initial crime as well as the highest incidence of repeated criminal activity by those who have been "punished" once or more already. 

 

My point here is that, along with religious belief, we also have other beliefs that cause us to take actions that are not of benefit to ourselves as a society or to individuals with whom we must deal. We hold numerous such "beliefs". I would suggest that, as atheists who claim to hold dear the concept that religious beliefs ought to be examined carefully, so too should we advocate that ALL "beliefs" should be examined. It seems less than productive to advocate the examination of religious belief only.

 

I have observed that those societies which have the highest numbers of atheists are also societies in which it is more common for the people to be skeptical of other commonly held "beliefs". It seems to me that it is easier for people to examine their religious beliefs when they are accustomed to examining most beliefs. In societies where many other beliefs prevail without examination, so too will religious belief flourish.

 

All of us have met people who claim to be "atheists" because they do not believe in a "god", yet they "believe" in astrology or spiritualism or some such thing. I do not call such people true "atheists". Some might argue that they are indeed atheists because they don't believe in a god but I think that they have merely substituted belief in a god for another nonsensical belief. They still believe in some "all powerful" influence over the affairs of mankind that is not proven, by rational means, to exist.  

I agree with you, maybe I had chosen wrong words, what I tried to say is what you said. If someone kills someone else I will still consider him a human being and I will punish him but not with force, not with physical punishment but with some kind of work that will make him useful to society, to make him reflect on what he did and to become an example to the everyone.

We hide offenders behind fences, we don't show how they are punished (except in exaggerated ways on television or films) at least not all types of crime. Of course some will say, but they are dangerous, you can't send them into community and except them to behave. To this I have no answer.

Gregor,

Most of us in North America are accustomed to the fact that our present system of dealing with those who break our laws does not work. Most of us also tend to say something like, "But what else can we do?" We do not, however, ask that question seriously, very often. 

One of the things that we can "do" is to look around the world and see if anyone else has any answers that might be of some help to us. Since it is common for us to "believe" that we have the most advanced society in the world (not even nearly true) we tend to ignore other countries' solutions. 

Any search of the world for such answers about what to "do" with lawbreakers will produce some amazing results. We, in North America have an 87% recidivism rate - 87% of those we send to prison the first time will end up back there again. Not what one would call "success".

The Scandinavian countries are said to have a 5.5% recidivism rate. What does that tell you? Do you think our government ought to take a serious look at what those folks are doing to have such a high success rate? Yeah, so do I. But they won't. imprisoning people is "big business" in North America. Too many people, including our politicians, are making big bucks from this system.

In order to get our governments to adopt a better system we'd have to convince them that, a) the system really IS better, and b) that they could make just as much "under-the-table" money from any new system as they do now, and c) that it is worthwhile trying to get the population of the country to accept that "punishment alone" doesn't work. And this is a big problem. Since a high percentage of our population are members of religions that still "believe in" and approve of "punishment, punishment, punishment" it would be very difficult to get them to examine that "belief" rationally.

This is only one of the examples I could give you in regard to how "beliefs" - all kinds of beliefs - are harming us and our nations. To me it is imperative that we atheists be in the forefront in advocating the replacement of belief with reason at ALL levels of our society, not just in the religious areas.  

Jesus a Christian?-fail! He was a religious Jew (if he existed) and never intended to create a new religion. He stated that there is only one God and in the Jewish faith trying to make yourself out as a god is blasphemous in the extreme and punishable by stoning. The so-called early Christians (followers of Jesus) were led by James, Jesus' brother who ultimately chased Paul away for preaching his own idiosyncratic version of Jesus' life. At this stage the term 'Christ', (from Greek, Cristos) was probably not commonly used. It became embedded by the guys who wrote the gospels in Greek. (Jesus' language was Aramaic and most of his disciples were illiterate)

I think it was Matthew who wrote (not Matthew the Disciple, but a Greek-speaking Jew) who saw Jesus' teachings as a further enhancement of Jewish faith and it's ultimate pinnacle. Paul made the Christian religion open to Gentiles who for the first time were also promised salvation (this was the exclusive privilege of Jews, followers of Yahweh/Jehovah at that stage). 

Courtney,

I have a couple of points about this comment. 

First let me ask: Do you also deny respect to someone who has cancer? Or to someone who is suffering psychosis? What about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder such as that suffered by our troops who have seen action recently? 

 

I would have a hard time giving someone who rapes or molests anything more than a very, very minimum degree of basic respect. Yet I know that the disorders they are experiencing are mental health problems. 

 

I have two choices. I can refuse them any respect as human beings. This allows me to call them derogatory names and beat or kill them. That solves their problem but I'm afraid it would cause one for me.

 

Or I can allow some tiny bit of respect for their humanity to mix with my sympathy for the mentally ill, and try to encourage our governments to fund research that might lead to a way to remedy their illness. We don't know a great deal about this kind of aberration yet. BUT we DO know that in many, many cases it stems from having been victims of such behaviour while they were children. It is a horrible fact that we don't do very much for children so abused. We just let them grow up bent and twisted. Then when they act this way we just want to bury them inside some prison forever. I wonder if it wouldn't be better if we just euthanized any child victim of such abuse so that they can't grow up to be twisted and sick perpetrators of it. 

 

Yeah. I can hear you scream from here. THE CHILD IS AN INNOCENT VICTIM!! You'd never agree to that child being put to death. You'll wait until that child grows up, hurts other children, and THEN you'll want them put to death or incarcerated for life.

 

We, as a society, NEED to solve this problem. We aren't doing it. We are so afraid of "being soft" on such mentally ill people that we won't even try to cure this illness through research by trained professionals. Do you know that it costs about $80,000 per year to keep someone in jail? Do you know that it costs only 2/3rds of that to keep someone in a mental hospital and do research on them? But we don't do this. And our society and our children are paying the price for us not doing this.

 

Perhaps this is a time when both respect for another person who is ill and self-respect should join together to lick this problem. Just as with the religious, we DO NOT have to respect their ways to still have basic respect for their humanity.

 

What do you think?

I spy a false dichotomy!

 

Speaking of which, aren't sex registries filled with people neither dead, institutionalize, or imprisoned?

Reggie,

If you do indeed spy such, please identify it; if your lordship please.

 

Sex registries won't do you, or anyone else, any harm. Those who have been released into the society, untreated, unchanged, and likely to do harm again, will.

Have you ever checked on how many of them are in your neighbourhood? If not, you're in for a shock!

I don't see dichotomy ether, probably because I don't know what dichotomy is :P

I forgotten about people who kill because they have no options, I mean, the dog did tell him to kill people, now if dog tells me to kill someone, I first sh*t my pants and then bloody go outside and kill someone ;D

False dichotomy--A type of logical fallacy that involves a situation in which only two choices are offered when there are additional options.  False dichotomy can arise intentionally when the fallacy is used to attempt to force a choice.

 

Often the favored attack choice of theists, especially concerning abortion issues. 

Domo Arigatou
Also one of the primary components of Pascal's Wager.

Regarding sex registries, I think the only people who should be on them are repeat offenders.

It bothers me that a guy who is 21 and has a 17 year old girlfriend is labeled a sex offender for life.

Sometimes the parents are okay with the age difference but the one time they get pissed off, they can press charges. That's pretty messed up if you ask me.

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