As an atheist, I end up in alot of religious debates. These can go any number of ways, usualy depending on how much alcohol has been consumed.
For the most part they are usually mild mannered musings on the nature of life, the universe and everything (sadly it isnt 42).
Other times they can be quite heated debates where I openly share my opinions on organised religion in all its forms.
One thing I do come up against on a regular basis is the concept of Respect.
You see for most of us raised in the western world, we are taught that we should respect someone's beliefs. That everyone has the right to believe in whatever or whomever he or she wishes.
And hey, it's a pretty good idea right?
As any atheist will no doubt tell you, we are a minority. Compared to the likes of the major religions with literally billions of followers. Which means that any atheist, brave enough to enter into a religous debate is probably going to be out numbered.
As a result we have to be very careful how we speak to people. Using the line 'I may not agree with your beliefs, but i do respect them' is something alot of us will have had to say.
But there-in lies my problem. I dont respect those religions.
I do believe in a persons right to have faith in anything they like. If someone decided to worship the cast of Friends as the holy 6, I would think they're probably fecking mental, but you work away and have fun!
Thing is, people have never really 'chosen' a religion to follow. They follow the religion of their parents, or the state, or thier friends. Organised religion is and always has been the worst case or peer pressure ever to exist. I mean sure, people leave a religion as I did, or choose a different one to stand out from the crowd. But in the scheme of things how offen does that really happen?
So my 'respecting' a choice they never really had to begin with is, in my mind, a moot point.
As for respecting the religion itself?
Well I would be here for a long long long time telling you whats wrong with that.
Suffice it to say, there is no religion, creed, faith, cult, club or organisation in existance today that is 'pure'. They are simply man made ways for us flawed human beings to cope with a world we do not understand.
As someone who had left these behind me I do not feel the 'gaping hole' in my soul that people talk so much about. To the contrary.
I feel free. And it is that freedom that I wish for every human alive. I can only hope that one day our simple race will let its mind grow beyond the boundaries of superstitions and embrace our lives for the magnificent things they are.
Until that day I will not respect any faith system that rejects free thinking.
This is not a rant, this not a teaching, this is my opinion. I dont ask you to agree with me, just keep an open mind.