"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.

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I show respect when it is deserved.  Some religions are more worthy of respect than others.  Taoism and Buddhism for example, do not necessitate the worship of deities, and are basically just philosophies which are for the most part, positive in nature.  Christianity and Islam however, are nihilistic, and do not place much value on life on earth, as everything is geared towards "paradise" with their god. This results in a great deal of pain and suffering in the world, as they have killed and tortured in the name of their god, and raped the land, as they believe they have "dominion" over the earth.  Therefore, I do not have respect for Christianity or Islam.
Greta is an excellent writer and she's dead on, as usual. I will respect people, but their beliefs have to earn respect, it does not come by default.
I hate that especially on facebook everybody is so damn "religious" , you say what you think and everybody demands respect while they don't respect our lack of belief.
Feel free to rant, that's why we are all here, to lick our wounds and find friends :D

great article- thanks for posting the link


I agree- religion should not ever get a free pass from discussion and criticism- and I also disagree with some of the commenters here- I don't respect people until they have earned it - no automatic respect from me :)

I ALWAYS grant people a basic level of respect just because they are fellow human beings. After that, depending on how they behave, the level of respect goes up or down. I'm 70 years old and have seen a lot in life. All this blather about "All We Need Is Love" just simply does not work. We humans are not constituted to "love" people we've no interaction with. My observations show me that offering basic human respect can solve problems before they even happen in ways that a phoney "love" cannot. False declarations of love can be seen through so easily and quickly that you insult people with that ridiculous claim. Besides, we have very little control over whom we love.

We have good control over who we will give respect to, however. And we can demand basic human respect in return, until we lose it or increase it by our behaviour. I am, of course, talking about respect for people - NOT for their philosophies or religions or politics or any other ideas they may have. Those definitely have to earn respect from the get-go.

I quite agree, Larry. A person, by virtue of being a person, gets a default level of respect from me. Whether or not that level of respect increases or decreases depends upon their actions.

And yes, the default level of respect for ideas (not people) is zero.

Larry, I will agree there is a BASIC level of respect to give people, depending on who they are.

I will NOT give a rapist, child molester, etc. any respect.


I remember being a little kid and my step-mom was being quite mean to me (which wasn't uncommon) and my dad stopped her tirade against me and said, "You do not DEMAND her respect, you EARN it. Just because she is a child doesn't mean she should respect you." I will NEVER forget that (unless of course I develop Alzheimer's).

I'm maybe little bit strange but I will give my respect (a small amount of it) to anyone including criminals, because I can't just burn them on a stake or kill them because they are criminals, they should get a second chance and repent for what they did, much more useful this way. If we just start to kill every criminal because we don't respect them any more, is not far from saying that we don't see them as human anymore. And this is scary. Because where do we draw the line? So I give everyone their basic respect and that's it.

Saying you don't respect someone and calling for their death are two VERY different things.


Instead of wishing my rapist death, I'd much rather see him in prison.

I am very much against the death penalty and I'm not sure how you could infer I would be for it. From your post Gregor, it seems like you somehow think I am pro-death penalty.

Well, I did get the feeling that you are pro-death, but I didn't say it because I don't know, but now I know that you aren't.

But I tried to say is that the question of death penalty boils down to humanism, the respect for other people no mater how they act.

Because religion is the one that has strange absolute laws that work in reverse (exmpl. christians believe that jesus was christian even though he created christianity and therefore couldn't been a christian himself). Now, why am I talking about this? Because if someone becomes a killer and you stop respecting him it sounds to me that now you don't respect him in reverse to the time he was a child, now if you go even further because you might say:"Oh, it must be in his genes, I knew his father, he was a killer also.", then you reverse even further and realise that we are killers by nature because of some mythological Cain or because once we were all predators.

So I always respect a person but don't respect the act of that person and I don't change my opinion of someone if he kills someone. I know it sounds absurd but I blame society for everything :D

For example, if a soldier kills in a war because society want's to kill another society I can blame this soldier for not being humane but I can't take away his humanity by calling him a war criminal and dehumanising him.


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.  


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