Very often, atheists say through the course of a discussion, they don’t care what you believe, provided, basically, you ‘keep it to yourself’.
I know, I have said this frequently and on some occasions, I have been told, people do not believe me.
So, I thought I’d explore that a bit.
Let’s keep in mind, most of us that come to disqus probably don’t represent the general population. I don’t want to say we are extremists but I think it is fair to say, we are passionate in our arguments. So, it is very easy to paint the entire group with this paint brush.
Speaking for me but observing others, I do think, we are being honest when we say we respect your beliefs. Yes, we have to add the qualifier, ‘when you keep it to yourself’. I say this because, many theists feel it is appropriate to push their beliefs on others. This could be done through trying to change laws or how they decide to treat certain groups or even as simple as saying, ‘my god says this…therefore that…’
I have frequently even found myself defending the religious when I feel they are being wrongfully attacked or a poor argument is used against them.
A while ago, I was asked straight out, can I support the claim I respect others beliefs. I hope I can explain this by using some examples:
EXAMPLE 1. “I believe in God, he has helped me get through addictions. I don’t know where I’d be without him. I can’t prove my beliefs but I can certainly show how my life has improved”
I will never take issue with this person. Sure, I can disagree with their conclusions. I may even be able to provide a compelling argument as to why their conclusions are wrong. But, why would I? What did this person say that warrants anything but respect? They have relayed a message how they were helped. They can provide evidence how they have been helped (even though they don’t need to). And, in no way, did they put expectations on me or anybody else. There are several of these people on disqus and without mentioning names, I’m betting they would agree I treat with with much respect. We can even debate certain things, like the bible but the conversation is different because we both know we won’t change the others mind but we aren’t trying to either! We are simply sharing ideas.
These are my favorite discussions
EXAMPLE 2: “I believe in God and he says, ‘gays are an abomination’ (or ‘abortion is immoral’ or any claim that implies or attempts require me to change my beliefs and way of thinking)”
Now, if a person just makes the claim, gays are an abomination but they don’t take any action on it, that’s one thing. I mean, people are entitled to opinions. If they think homosexuality is wrong but they treat them with respect, I can live with that.
It is those that deny, or want to deny, others equal rights when the problems arise. Sure, they can have their views. No problem. But, when a god is invoked as the ONLY reason, well, I’m afraid you are going to to be asked to support those beliefs. It becomes incumbent on the theist to prove A. their god exists B. their god actually made these claims and C. their god is actually correct.
I tend to lose respect for these people but only because their claims cannot be supported by logic, reasoning or science. My loss of respect escalates when a completely logical argument is tossed out because ‘god said so’.
Is this not fair?
EXAMPLE 3: “I take the bible literally”.
When I speak to the literalist, there are just far too many arguments an atheist can show that explains a literal interpretation doesn’t make a lot of sense. These theists tend to rationalize and explain things that that defy reason. For instance, some may say, ‘when God drowned the world, it was a sign of his unending love for us”
These people tend to raise our backs, immediately. One is completely appalled by any murder that occurs in life but give their God a pass for committing the same atrocities. I’m not looking to argue these points. I’m simply explaining, why we tend to have issues with these arguments.
EXAMPLE 4: “I read the bible and try to understand the message behind the stories”
Again, I take no issue with this approach. Many Jews I speak to on disqus, take this approach. Some don’t even believe in a god but still follow the Torah because they see value in the stories. They are taught NOT to proselytize but to use the teaching to better themselves, as opposed to others.
How can this bother us? By taking the bible as teaching stories and not literally, it removes so many of our arguments. What are we supposed to say? “Gee, your god is a nutjob. He murdered all those fictitious people in the flood!” Sorry, this just doesn’t carry much weight.
I have thought of a few other examples but I don’t want to go on forever.
I imagine this is enough to get the discussion going.
- Do you have any examples, either for or against, you can provide?
- Do you believe me? What are your thoughts?