Posted by: CeCe | January 12, 2012

Oh, you don’t respect my beliefs?

Earlier today I had an encounter with an atheist who posted a video talking about why it’s unnecessary for atheists to have to respect religious beliefs.  Truthfully, I got most of what was being said, even though I don’t agree with the idea that religious beliefs are as stupid as believing in, say, a celestial teapot floating around Mars.  That may be my own bias speaking, but we’re all biased aren’t we?  But the video did get me thinking about my views on the subject of the line between attempting to make a person think about their beliefs and why they hold them, and just disrespecting the person.  Thinking about that led me to this conclusion:

So, you don’t want to respect my beliefs?

Fine.  Call them delusional, or stupid.  Compare them to a Flying Spaghetti Monster, an invisible pink unicorn, or a celestial teapot.  Call my God an “invisible sky daddy”, and call the Bible the “buybull.”

I don’t care.

Know why?  It’s not because I think all atheists are hellbound heathens (because I don’t), but because 1) Engaging in that kind of behavior doesn’t make my beliefs look stupid, it makes you look stupid, and 2) I see a difference between insulting me, and insulting my religion.  My religion is only another part of me, like the art I like, the music I listen to, the books I read, or the movies I watch; although it’s important to me, it’s not everything that I am.  So go ahead, insult my religion.  Disrespect my beliefs.  Say whatever you want about God (I figure He’s heard worse than anything any of us could throw at Him, and He’s bigger than any insult anyway).

And in fact, go ahead and insult me too if it makes you feel better.  Call me stupid, ignorant, uneducated, delusional, bat-guano crazy, a hypocrite, an anti-science yokel, and an inbred moron.  I don’t really care.  Why?  Again: Because it doesn’t make me look stupid, it makes you look stupid.  Not only that, but if you are an atheist, and you resort to those kinds of tactics, I won’t listen to a word you have to say.  Why should I?  If you come at me as though I’ve just told you that you’re a hellbound heathen when I’ve said no such thing, if you come at me like you think you already know my education level or exactly what my beliefs are, if you think that you can disrespect a person because there is no reason to be polite to someone until they’ve earned it, I have nothing to say to you, and I won’t hear anything you say.

The truth of the matter is, I am very willing to talk to anyone about my beliefs, so long as they continue to give me the same level of respect I give them.   I do understand that many atheists feel as though they’re heavily persecuted, and you know, they actually are.  I get that.  I get why they’re often on the offense rather than the defense.  But I’d like to let them know that there are some theists out there who have no intention of persecuting them, and who are actually willing to listen, so long as the exchange is respectful.

So, if you are an atheist and you’re reading this, here’s at least one theist who is willing to engage in polite conversation with you, without condemnations, and with as little condescension as can be managed by my personality type.  If you can drop the assumptions and the condescension too, I’d be glad to talk to you.

 

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Responses

  1. Awesome!!!!!!

  2. I don’t think you should take it personally. It is not about you and your beliefs. It is about organized religion and it is about fanatics on both sides that are trying to push their beliefs upon each other.

    I don’t believe in God but I respect people’s faith either that is a Christian way or Hindu or Muslim, Atheist, and etc.
    I don’t take most of the Christians personally when they tell me I am going to hell and try to treat other people like their beliefs are an absolute truth and an indisputable fact. And I don’t take Atheism personally as they are not any different from believers. Same thing – just comes out differently.

    However, I do take it personally when organized religion (whichever it is) is so narrow minded and behaves like they have the fundamental right to belittle, prosecute, discriminate, kill, and treat the rest of the world according to what they believe is right.

    • I can completely understand that. Thanks for commenting!

  3. I enjoyed this article, and believe you have touched on an important distinction to keep in mind when discussing religion.

    Respecting people is an important part of ANY discussion. As an atheist, who frequently debates with the religious, I approach every discussion with the intention of challenging ideas and beliefs, rather than insulting believers.

    Ideas warrant only the respect that they deserve on their merit. In order for any discussion to take place, a person must be allowed to explain and defend their views, and the positions that they hold. In response, a person is under no obligation to respect the belief, but has a duty to show a basic level of respect to the believer.

    Like you, I wish to see the mud slinging and ad hominem attacks come to a stop. To resort to such tactics, as you point out, only exposess a weakness in an individual. This does not mean that we are all required to respect the beliefs of others unconditionally, as if all ideas are on equal level, but it does mean that we should be able to have discussions like grown adults.

    Anyway, keep up the excellent work, and I look forward to reading more from you in the future!

    • Thank you Justin! I think there’s a huge difference between real challenges to ideas, as opposed to juvenile posturing. The whole “invisible pink unicorn” thing is kind of immature in my opinion. I’ve debated with you before, and you express your opinion articulately, and challenge ideas in an intelligent way. In my opinion, that’s the best way to go about it.


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