I have been an atheist or about a year now, and have described myself as a born again evangelical atheist, by which I mean that I am one of those in your face atheists. I do not generally bring up the subject, but when people say unfounded often stupid things about gods, I typically jump down their throats. Often, the only card or at least the final card that they play is to demand that I respect their beliefs, usually accompanied by whining that I have hurt their feelings. I have a real problem with this and find that it is really only a “get out of jail free card” I would like to propose that theists do not actually respect each other’s religious beliefs, therefore why should I respect any of them. To them it is kind of like saying “I won’t ask you to rationalize your beliefs if you don’t ask me to rationalize mine.”
I mean come on, let’s face it, Christians in general think everybody else is going to hell. In fact there are so many different flavors of Christianity out there that many of them believe all the others are going to hell. Clearly they do not really respect the beliefs of people they think are going to hell. Then there are the Muslims who pretty much hate everybody. Even the so called “peaceful” Muslims think the rest of us are all going to hell. The Jews think they have the inside scoop on god, but everybody has been picking on them for thousands of years. Then we have the Mormons, I am pretty sure everyone thinks I have been an atheist or about a year now, and have described myself as a born again evangelical atheist, by which I mean that I am one of those in your face atheists. I do not generally bring up the subject, but when people say unfounded often stupid things about gods, I typically jump down their they are whacko, Does anyone respect Jehovah’s Witnesses’ or Seventh Day Adventists? Most of these religions openly mock each other, condemn each other to hell, and often try to kill each other. They only pretend respect when they confront each other face to face and realize that they can no more rationalize their belief than can the other guy. So they pull out the “respect” card and avoid the discussion entirely. It is really more of a standoff than anything remotely resembling respect.
For instance I have some sisters and two of them are quite religious. One of them is a devout Catholic, and the other is a fundamental born again Christian. They disagree on some very basic things. For instance, the Fundie actually thinks that evolution did not happen, at which, needless to say, the Catholic scoffs, although not to her face that I know of. I know for a fact that the Catholic does not respect this, and I know for a fact that the Fundie does not respect the Catholic’s beliefs. They simply do not talk about it, but I really wish they would. Yet both of them get offended when I bring them to task for some of their beliefs.
So I propose that since theists do not in fact respect beliefs that vary even in the slightest from their own, that they stop pretending to do so, and stop being allowed to play that card. As an atheist I refuse to pretend to respect people’s fairytales. If everyone did this, including theists, religion might start to crumble under its own silliness.
If I refuse to respect people’s beliefs, they pretend to be offended, and throw out there that I should respect their belief whatever it is which is really just a smoke screen that allows them to believe things for which they have no logical explanation. This goes way beyond my sisters of course, and applies to every theist who has confronted me since I announced my atheism. Why do they demand that I respect their fairy tales when they do not in fact respect other people’s fairy tales? Why can’t they see that it is just a card they play to deflect any actual scrutiny of their own beliefs. I mean, really, shall we bring some people from one of the cargo cults to the discussion and insist that everybody respect their beliefs as well?
I think it is high time that everyone stop pretending. I have no problem leading the way with this. We need to not back down when religious people say ridiculous things (which they tend to do on a fairly regular basis) I would also propose that we encourage our religious friends to stop extending this supposed courtesy to each other. It would make for some interesting discussions I am sure, but maybe they would all begin to see how silly the whole thing is.