Respect My Beliefs No Matter What They Are!

I got a comment on my power of religion post yesterday.  There are several points in the comment I’m not going to touch on because they derive that I think all religious people are harmful to the same extent, which makes no sense given what I wrote in the post.  There is a part of the comment that comes up regularly though, and I want to talk about it.

Reasonable and religious are not mutually exclusive terms no matter how much some would like to believe they are. I am not opposed to fighting fundamentalism in all its hydra heads…

…all i ask is a general acknowledgement that not all religious are unreasonable and i’ll keep from saying all atheists are angry white men who need a course in feminism.

My response, I thought, was very charitable.

“All i ask is a general acknowledgement that not all religious are unreasonable”

Give me a good reason to believe in god and you’ll get it. Until I see a religious person produce a good reason to be religious, you won’t.

You might be a smart person. You may be reasonable about a lot of subjects. Kudos. But I assert, without apology, that you are failing your obligation to reason on the subject of god.

Like I said, there is an easy way to relieve me of this opinion. Go for it.

Simple, right?  If you’re not unreasonable, give me a good reason for what you believe.  Why even respond if you can’t?  But respond, they did.

I’m not asking you to believe in god. I’m asking for respect as a human being regardless of my beliefs-what i have been taught by my religion to give to you. I’m not reasoning about god because i have a fairly untraditional, evolutionistic view of the whole thing. I, frankly, have less interest in what you believe and more interest in how what you believe makes you behave. I just feel that if your atheism makes you bigoted, it’s not really progress.

There is just so much wrong here that I’m going to have to take it in parts.

I’m asking for respect as a human being regardless of my beliefs-what i have been taught by my religion to give to you.

You don’t get my respect.  A lack of care to be reasonable is a quality that deserves to be disrespected.  It is a failure not only to yourself, but to me and your other neighbors here on earth.

Your religion may have taught you to respect me, but there are better reasons to respect me than some arbitrary command of tradition.  If you respect me, it should be because of my character.

I’m not reasoning about god because i have a fairly untraditional, evolutionistic view of the whole thing.

You cannot ask me to accept that “reasonable and religious are not mutually exclusive terms” and then tell me you’re not reasoning about god.  I wish you were the first person to tell me that religion can be reasonable and then, when asked for a good reason, gave excuses for why you don’t have to be reasonable, but you’re sadly not.  Not by a long shot.

I don’t care if your position on god is not traditional or different from any other believer’s position.  I care whether it’s more or less likely to be true, and so should you.  That’s why I asked you for a single good reason to believe you were right about god/Jesus. That you declined to give one is exactly the reason I do not respect you in the slightest, and it’s exactly my gripe with religion.  Everybody holds some unreasonable beliefs.  I hold some unreasonable beliefs.  The point is that we’re all trying to get rid of them, and would be rid of them if we were aware of them.  If you were trying to be reasonable about your belief in god (since you assure me that reason and religion are on amicable terms), when I asked for a reason to accept your position you would have given one.  It may have been a shitty reason, but at least it would have been an attempt.

But you didn’t even provide a shitty reason.  In fact, you flat out said that you weren’t reasoning about god.  This is what makes religion uniquely malignant to humanity – it tells people that it’s ok to stop being reasonable, and it even tells us that we deserve respect rather than shame for it.  That notion is not only wrong to the power of wrong, it is the champion of well-intentioned evil in this world.

Don’t tell me that your beliefs are merely different – tell me why they’re more credible.  And don’t pay lip service to reason and then tell me you’re not reasoning.

I, frankly, have less interest in what you believe and more interest in how what you believe makes you behave.

So somebody could believe that unless they donate $50 a week to charity that a unicorn would run out of their closet and ram its horn up their ass, and you’d be ok with it since it produces a charitable outcome?  If so, you lack the requisite concern for reason to tell me that religion and reason are not at odds.

You say the accuracy of beliefs is irrelevant if they produce a beneficial outcome, but what if somebody has irrational beliefs that promote dangerous actions?  What can you possibly say to them?  How will you divorce them from those beliefs if not with the reasons they’re wrong?  If you do not have any better reason to believe the things you do, that kind of removes your power to change them, doesn’t it?

What you need to realize is that once the door is opened to believing things for bad reasons, people do not only do good things for bad reasons.  Often they do bad things for bad reasons.  There are perfectly sound reasons to donate $50 a week to charity that don’t require us to abandon our standard checks against gullibility – checks that protect us from a great deal of societal harm.

So I don’t care if you only do good for wacky, indefensible reasons.  I will not lend support to irrationality just because it doesn’t corrupt everybody.

I just feel that if your atheism makes you bigoted, it’s not really progress.

If insisting that people have a moral obligation to be reasonable makes me a bigot, then fine, I’m a bigot.  If a disrespect for unreasonable beliefs as well as for people who are not even trying to be reasonable makes me a bigot, then fine, I’m a bigot.  Proudly so!  I think irrationality is a very bad thing, and I think the people who argue for its maintenance are fools.

You know what’s not progress?  Pursuit of irrationality.  It is the opposite of progress.  And defending irrationality, a quality that perverts the potential and good will of those around us, that is definitely not progress.  All of these are either stagnation (at best) or regression.  And you want respect for them?  No.  Hell no.

If you don’t care that what you believe is true, you get no respect.  You deserve none.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X