Do I Care if Other People are Religious?

The video below, part of The Atheist Voice series, answers the question: Do I care if other people are religious?:

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the project — more videos will be posted soon — and we’d also appreciate your suggestions as to which questions we ought to tackle next!

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Latraviata

    I completely agree with you.

    You truly are a friendly atheist, sweet smile and soft eyes, unlike the piercing eyed fanatic heads of so many ‘fundamentalist’ believers.

    You remind me of my (atheist) sons.

    A European retired psychologist, atheist and old bat has great admiration for you!

  • Rationalist1

    I agree too.

    I think our problem is less with most religious people but with their leaders. IN the 60′s when the last debate about contraception was occurring Cardinal Spellman of New York was asked if he wanted the state to keep contraception restricted, he said he didn’t need the government to enforce Catholic morality. Unfortunately religious leaders now feel differently and are seeking to use their bully pulpit to enforce their own sectarian views. Those are the people I oppose.

    It’s ironic, even very conservative Catholic members of my family are okay with gay marriage. They don’t want it themselves, they would prefer that their sons and daughters are not gay, but have no problem with gay people marrying. And I think that’s the norm. I don’t know of one person here in Canada that opposes gay marriage for others in society but I can name many of their religious leaders who do.

  • Free Thinker

    I love your point!! I share totally your point of view. I’m about to buy your book because maybe can help my kidos. I raised them to be a good human beings, I don’t want them to get in troubles for express our way of think. Thanks again.

  • C Peterson

    It’s a tricky question, isn’t it? On the one hand, we’d like people to have the freedom to believe whatever they want. On the other hand, we aren’t a species of individuals, but have a complex social structure. So what individuals think affects all of us, and if they think crazy stuff, that isn’t going to lead to a society we much care for (which is precisely what we see).

  • A Statistician

    I feel the same way about adherents of the Cult of Gnu, which is almost exclusively populated with people who have either been educated far beyond their capacity for analytical thought (e.g., Victor Stenger, Jerry Coyne) or who appear to exist solely for the purpose of validating the work of Dunning and Kruger (e.g., JT Eberhard, Ed Brayton). There are only so many hours in the day, and it takes more time to combat their falsehoods than it does for them to vomit them up. Besides which, Hell has a quota. (The gnu cultists actually prompt me to consider whether they might be the products of an incompetent demiurge. Perhaps the gnostics who posited one were right after all, in a way.)

    • baal

      Yes well. Bite me.

      • A Statistician

        Right back at you.

  • Peter Packiam

    Well stated….Man…Cheers to that….Hemant

  • LesterBallard

    In general, I want to say I don’t care what irrational shit people believe, as long as it’s personal, and they don’t hurt anyone, including themselves, or try to use their irrational beliefs to oppress others. But then I read the story about the albino children being hunted so their limbs can be amputated and made into magic potions. It’s easy for irrationality to lead to shit like that.

  • Jeffrey G. Johnson

    Some other reasons to be concerned if someone believes in God:
    1. if they shoot doctors who help women end unwanted pregnancies.
    2. If they strap bombs to themselves or crash planes into buildings, unconcerned about their own death because they have a false and dangerous idea that they will be rewarded in an eternal paradise.
    3. If they welcome the end days of Armageddon and thus make bad decisions because they have no concern for their own future or anyone else’s future. Destroying the environment or advocating dangerous military stratagies in hope that the final war of nuclear annihilation will hasten the return of Jesus or the Mahdi or some other wild fantasy. These are examples of this kind of dangerous religious thinking.
    4. Failing to support scientific progress, such as stem cell research, cloning, or other biological research that can be essential the discovery of life saving healing technologies.
    5. Wasting intellectual effort and time on reading scriptures, studying ancient legends and myths, or babbling prayers or mantras that could be better spent on more modern productive activities that benefit the economy and the forward looking progress of humanity.
    6. Hampering the development of children by saddling them with the burden of obsolete empirically incorrect understanding of the world. This mental dead-weight of primitive superstition confuses children and will tend to prevent them from fully realizing their potential to enjoy this one and only life to the greatest extent possible.

  • Chelydra

    I care because I know it means that they are slightly more likely to hold prejudices that I despise and may be inclined to draw other unreasonable conclusions that damage our society. Canada’s Prime Minister is a devout Christian, and although he is demonstrably, blatantly, corrupt, he has much of the Christian vote, just because.

  • Mark W

    Do you care if your children believe there is a monster under their beds? I think most people would say they do, and I think it’s the same question.

  • Phoebe

    I do “care” if people are religious, because it means either they have no idea what actual evidence is, or they blatantly ignore the evidence or lack thereof. They often have the antiquated morals of an ancient Hebrew sheepherder and are either unwilling or unable to even ponder about the question “if someone is doing something that hurts absolutely no one, why would you consider that behaviour to be bad?”
    So, I do “care” because I believe religion drags humanity down and keeps us with one foot in the dark ages…but I can’t do anything about it except be a good person who is also an atheist. People have the freedom to believe whatever crazy stuff they want and me telling them they are wrong will not change their minds. So I just let them be because there really is no other choice unless I want to make a lot of enemies.

  • Tobias2772

    I cannot begin to imagine how much we might have progressed if we didn’t have this fuckin’ millstone tied around our collective necks. So, yeah, I want all of these irrational people to cut that shit out and lets us really get on with the business of improving life on earth.

  • Rebecca Dalmas

    Your frankness is appreciated. However, as a believer, I have pondered on the concerns like yours over “belief without evidence.” Your words clearly express that you are against it, correct, personally so and on the public level?

    I ask because “belief without evidence” plays a foundational role in democratic society today whenever we base anything on the belief that “all humans are created equal.” Even without theism this belief is still that, a belief. In fact, all concrete evidence suggests the contrary, that all humans are not created equal on any empirical level.

    So it seems to me that IF you value and support equality, then you cannot be against faith–belief in something without evidence–whether it be non-religious or religious. Equality is faith-based.

    Fortunately, you don’t have to choose between equality and atheism. Atheism is not a refusal to belief in ANYthing without evidence, only the lack of belief in God.


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