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Appropriate Respect

Entry 680, on 2008-01-21 at 23:05:04 (Rating 4, Religion)

As a result of recent comments made on my blog, the attitude of commentators like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, and the result of general discussions, I have been thinking about how much respect religious people and organisations deserve. It seems to me that most religion is afforded respect out of proportion to what it really deserves.

Would any other group who believes in such wacky things as the average church be treated as well? I don't think so. The point has been made many times but it remains relevant. If someone claims that he is hearing the voice of an invisible entity telling him to attack another group we would assume he was mad. But if the invisible entity is god, the other group believes something different than you, and the person involved is a prominent leader then its OK with most people.

I know that most believers don't hear voices and kill others as a result, but they still believe things which wouldn't usually be taken seriously. For example, I think that there is better evidence for UFO abductions, the Loch Ness monster, and crop circles than the Christian God but we don't tend to give groups who believe in those other ideas quite as much respect as members of a church.

I think we should engage in an all out attack against a group that: believes stuff which is obviously wrong, thinks they have the only real moral code, inflicts its false beliefs on others, uses devious political tactics for its own benefit, and suppresses scientific activities which would benefit everybody. I know not every religious person accepts all those ideas but they all do accept some of them.

And I can't see why I should have a lot of respect (although I would always have a certain amount of respect for everybody, no matter what their beliefs were) for anyone who is too lazy to investigate the truth, too weak to break free from church propaganda, too stupid to understand the scientific evidence against their beliefs, or too apathetic to care.

Maybe there are people with other reasons to believe and maybe they deserve more respect, but I haven't found any reasons to believe that don't come back to those basic ideas. If anyone who is reading this blog has a different reason to believe which isn't really just an elaboration of one of the reasons above I would love to hear it!

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Comment 1 (1031) by SBFL on 2008-01-22 at 01:27:25:

This is a bit of a non-post, due to the apparent broad target. OJB, I know you like the easy target that is the fundamentalists, but are you grouping all Christians in with this attack? I think you are assuming spirituality and science are mutually exclusive, which limits you really. I wouldn't be too far off the mark to say that most moderate Christians accept science as humanity has learned of it to date (our national science curriculum is taught in religious schools as well). But somehow there is not a mass conversion to atheism. Some people are apathetic yes, some are lazy yes, but respect should be afforded to those who carefully consider their beliefs, scientific and spiritual. ie. moderates - of which I am not sure you are one when you say "I think we should engage in an all out attack against a group that: believes stuff which is obviously wrong, thinks they have the only real moral code, inflicts its false beliefs on others, uses devious political tactics for its own benefit, and suppresses scientific activities which would benefit everybody."

What sort of attack are you talking about? Not violent I hope. When you say "a group" - which group? And couldn't it be construed that the above quote could apply to yourself with you blog (of course you will say no, but as I pointed out earlier, you have limited yourself, so how do you know either way)? All subjective stuff I guess, but no harm in that on a blog - from posters and commentators alike.

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Comment 2 (1033) by OJB on 2008-01-22 at 05:19:24:

Well it depends on exactly what your definition of "spirituality" is. But I actually do think they are incompatible and whenever I hear a religious scientist being interviewed I can hear this constant conflict going on. Its like a split personality having two contradictory world views.

I asked for alternative reasons for believing which didn't reduce to one of the reasons I gave in my list (which I didn't think deserved much respect). You don't seem to have given me one yet.

Maybe the term "all out attack" was unwise given the violent times we live in. Of course I don't condone physical violence, just to not hold back in debates, etc because of a misplaced sense of undeserved respect for the opposition.

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