respecting beliefs | why we should do no such thing [cc]

It’s a sentiment that crops up with some
regularity in religious discourse. Sometimes it’s expressed obliquely as a
suggestion that we should all respect each other’s beliefs. Other times it’s delivered is a demand: ‘I respect your beliefs so
you should respect mine!’ But in all cases, my reply is the one
every groom and bride dreads: ‘I don’t.’ With the betrothed, those words
understandably arouse feelings of disorientation, alienation, even betrayal. But similar
feelings are often evident in the reaction of those theists whose beliefs I decline to respect.
It might be implied I’ve broken some unspoken social contract
that demands my reciprocation. It might be insinuated that
I’m being gratuitously mean. It’s even been put to me that it’s my kind
of attitude that causes wars. But is any of that true? I want to unpack
some of the tangled-up dynamics going on here. I’ll be exploring four kinds of
emotional blackmail designed to elicit undeserved respect from others, and
looking at why declarations of respect from theists might be problematic for them. I’ll then
be setting out why I don’t respect beliefs, explaining why religious beliefs — far
from deserving privileged immunity — are among the most deserving of scrutiny
and criticism, and addressing a last-ditch defence often offered that, even if it’s false, religion should
be left alone because it performs a positive social function. One of the things the atheist satirist and critic H. L. Mencken got wrong was his assertion that we must respect
the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent
that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart. We don’t need to
respect the other fellow’s religion at all. Mencken muddies the waters by blurring
together items from very distinct categories. The theory that your wife is beautiful
is an aesthetic judgment. Even if you phrase that judgment
so it sounds like a truth claim — ie ‘She’s beautiful.’ — you and I both know — don’t we? — that this is just shorthand for ‘She’s
beautiful to me.’ I have no reason to respond to this
statement. I’m not implicated by in any way. That only comes if you go a step further
and say, ‘She’s beautiful isn’t she?’ — in which case, prepare yourself for an
honest answer. Religion, on the other hand, is in the business of asserting facts
about existence. That does implicate me — irretrievably — and it requires my
response. If your reasons for asserting these facts stand up to scrutiny, I have some rethinking to do. If they’re
based on unsubstantiated phenomena and fallacious arguments, I don’t. Oddly, mirroring the way aesthetic
judgments get phrased like truth claims, religious truth claims frequently get
phrased like aesthetic judgments. We often hear it said of some god, ‘He’s
real to me.’ In many cases this is simply to forestall any possible challenge, translating to: ‘He’s real to me, no matter
what you say!’ But in other cases, this strangely personalised reality
claim offers an implicit bargain: ‘If you let me make my truth claims
unchallenged, I’ll let you make yours.’ It attempts to establish sympathetic
interests between both parties. It says, ‘Hey, we can both come out winners
here if we agree to look the other way while we both do something very bad — epistemologically.’ Other folks take a
more psychologically hard-line approach invoking a mutual obligation. Here the
message is: ‘Look, I’m willing to let you make your truth claims unchallenged, so you should let me make mine!’ But
reality can’t be bargained with in this way. The earth isn’t a flat disk for you and a
globe for me just because we make some wishful pact. If you’re claiming that any gods exist
then you’re making a truth claim about a reality of which I’m a part — and it’s your burden to substantiate it. Some folks have no such
squeamishness about proclaiming the universal truth of their religion, and adopt an openly threatening, violent approach to inspire fear among critics —
especially satirical critics. The need to be able to subject beliefs
to ridicule is not a trivial one. It’s a very important one,
and becomes more obvious the greater the power and influence involved. When a person or group assumes a
position of power, their reaction to ridicule can tell us a
lot about their robustness and their humanity. We might expect to see a range of responses from amusement to anger. But when the
responses tip over into violence and persecution, that’s where we see the warning signs
of dictatorships — autocracies headed by brittle narcissists,
prone to self-mythologising. Ridicule is especially threatening to
these folks. Not only does a prick their inflated self-image, it also reduces their capacity to inspire
adulation and fear among the masses. No authority is beyond ridicule. No politician. No priest. No prophet. No parent. Because that’s what theism comes
down to in the end, isn’t it. Our simultaneous longing for and fear of the magical, mystical, unquestionable parent. When we were infants, our parents or
guardians were our protectors and our punishers and this inspired two irreconcilable
responses in us: love and fear. In healthy relationships, where parents’
actions were grounded in love, we begin to appreciate their
punishments in that context. We see why our parents snatched our hand away
from the fire; why they berated us for walking away with that nice
grown-up in the park. Consequently, the fear response is
resolved and recedes. But in unhealthy relationships, where
parents’ actions are grounded in power, leading to erratic, overblown and
blatantly unjust punishments, the fear can endure — sometimes at the
expense of love — and we remain infantilised, afraid to challenge a corrupt authority.
Which end of the spectrum would you put a parent who threatens to burn its
children for declining to worship it? Of all the authorities we need to be
prepared to question, to resist, to ridicule, the most urgent cases are
the ones that threaten violence when questioned, resisted, or ridiculed. The fourth manipulative strategy attempts to silence challenge by
appealing to guilt. Here, the message is: ‘My beliefs give me comfort —
can’t you just leave them alone?’ There are times in life when
circumstances run us into the ground. Numbly waiting for a phone call about a
child who’s been missing for days. Or dreading lonely evenings after a divorce. Or sitting at a loved one’s hospital bedside
watching them slip away from us. In these situations, we might find
comfort in many things. A hug. A chat with a friend.
A piece of music. A drive to the coast. The opportunity to escape for a day, an hour, even a handful of minutes
— to lay our burden down and let in some comfort — can be
invaluable in refilling our depleted reserves, and keeping us going. And many of us
would do whatever we could to facilitate that comfort for others.
But what if a loved one risked his health by diving into relentless unprotected
sex with strangers to drown out the pain of divorce?
What if a loved one started handing over her savings to a con artist to commune with a dead relative? Would we
be so quick to facilitate these comforts? What about the knock-on effect on others? If parents take comfort in fantasies of an afterlife to avoid dealing with death, what will
their children be taught? Will they get the chance to face death honestly? or will they now be forced to collude
with their parents’ denial? Without afterlife fantasies, would parents be
so quick to deny their children life-saving medical treatment on religious grounds? What about suicide attackers who anticipate a glorious martyr’s reward
for their deeds? Afterlife fantasies are not harmless or
neutral. They’re multivalent: susceptible to a wide
variety of applications. The desire for comfort can lead to
destructive and deadly behaviors as well as states of perpetual denial
which are frequently imposed on others. Which is why I don’t view comfort as
something to be automatically cherished or facilitated. And why it’s often more humanitarian to
challenge comfort than to enable it. Feelings of fear, obligation, guilt and
sympathy can help us in some scenarios. Fear can
help us escape dangerous situations. Obligation can help strengthen
legitimate social contracts. But when folks try to play on these
feelings to get us to comply with unreasonable self-serving demands, that’s emotional blackmail — and we need
to be clear that that’s not acceptable behaviour. It’s worth noting that when people tell me
they respect my beliefs, a little probing often reveals problems
with that statement. With christians, I have to put it to them
that this professed respect directly conflicts with their Bible.
First, let’s consider the earthly life. In the Bible’s blood-soaked old
testament, Deuteronomy chapter 13 sets out the christian god Yahweh’s
punishment for worshiping other gods: the sword and the stone.
Though less saturated with sadism, the Bible’s new testament, which
introduces the christians’ messiah, Jesus Christ, maintains its distaste for
non-christians. In 2 John chapter 1, verses 9 to 11, christians are clearly instructed not to
receive non-christians into their houses. Even by greeting them, christians are
apparently taking part in their ‘wicked work’. When we look beyond death to the
christian afterlife, the gloves come off completely. If you
don’t believe in the messiah, you’re condemned to eternal fiery punishment.
I put it to the christians who say they respect the beliefs of non-christians that you cannot reconcile your professed
respect with these kinds of Biblical passages. Beliefs for which your God prescribes
execution, social rejection and, ultimately, eternal
torture cannot be respectable. With muslims, similar problems arise. To them, I would be considered ‘culpably ignorant’ and, therefore, destined for perpetual hell-fire. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not asking
you to respect my beliefs — in a moment, I’ll be explaining why
beliefs don’t require respect — but I encourage you to have a serious
think about these passages. Because when your religion tells you
that non-members deserve execution, social rejection and eternal torture,
we’re not just talking about disrespecting beliefs. We’re talking about dehumanising people. Later on, I’ll be looking at the evasions some folks offer when this begins to hit home. Every belief that gets introduced into the
public space needs to be open to criticism. If we take its validity as untouchable,
then we’ll be forced to reject valid information the conflicts with it. The need to be able to criticise beliefs
becomes more obvious as the reach of those beliefs increases. The belief that Henry VIII occasionally
liked to dress up in his wife’s clothes isn’t going to have a huge impact on our
lives. But the belief that our government is always right would have a huge effect on how we
assess all kinds of information. Another reason already touched on is
that beliefs shape behaviour. Group C believes cancer always
results from a guilty conscience, and can only be healed by confession
and sincere repentance. Group D believes cancer
is a cluster of diseases, prompted by a range of genetic
and environmental triggers. It’s clear to see these beliefs will result
in very distinct patterns of behaviour. For group C, cancer is a very
straightforward matter. Patients will be judged as bringing it
on themselves and will be urged to confess and repent. Those who die will be judged insincere.
Knowledge about cancer will not increase, nor will survival rates. For group D,
cancer is a complex phenomenon. Patients will be studied to identify
genetic and environmental triggers and, in response to the patterns that
emerge, corresponding treatment plans and preventative measures will be
developed. As studies open up new avenues of
investigation, knowledge about cancer will increase as will survival rates. ‘Ah,’ you might say, ‘But even though group C’s belief is
false, it could actually have great benefits for society.’ ‘If group C believes guilty consciences cause cancer, surely,’ you might say, ‘we’d expect to see
much more moral behavior from its members.’ ‘After all, for them, a clear conscience
would mean a cancer-free life.’ ‘Isn’t that a powerful motivation to treat
each other well? Group D, on the other hand, who doesn’t see cancer is a moral issue,
has no such incentive.’ Both groups, you might say, offer their own advantages — with group D
offering improved survival rates, but group C offering substantially
enhanced relationships across society. But what if we were to discover that, far
from leading to some moral utopia, group C’s belief actively encouraged some of
the most extreme immorality we’d ever come across. Let’s look at a couple of strategies that comfortably combine repeated
immorality with a clear conscience. Strategy one simply acknowledges the power of confession and repentance. According to group C’s belief, it
doesn’t matter what we do. Even if we invite cancer by knowingly
committing immoral acts, we’ll be healed the moment we confess and
repent. Now, there is a small problem here in that, if we keep repeating the same
transgressions, the sincerity of our repentance must be
called into question. To make the strategy more viable, we need to make it more difficult to be
moral. One way of doing this is by viewing ourselves as substantially more flawed
than we really are — picturing ourelves as wretched, weak,
selfish creatures, powerless to resist all kinds of temptation.
By doing this, we can set up the idea of a noble struggle, in which we’re constantly battling to
stay moral, despite overwhelming odds. This version of the strategy allows us a lot
more latitude. Here, we can plausibly repeat the same
transgressions indefinitely, while continuing to express contrition. Strategy two does away with confession and repentance altogether. In this strategy, we simply reframe
immoral behavior as moral. This can easily be achieved with a
phrase familiar to us all: ‘It’s for your own good.’ With these five simple words, vice
becomes virtue. Bullying becomes discipline.
Rape becomes therapy. Intolerance becomes charity. Hate becomes love. We can now abuse people without the slightest small twinge. Any of this sounding familiar? Group C’s belief about cancer
doesn’t guarantee a better society. In fact it guarantees a lot of
destructive behaviour. After all, those who commit
immoral acts and stay cancer-free have proof of their righteousness. It
will also lead to a lot of unnecessary soul-searching by folks
who get cancer despite behaving morally. They’ll be forced to identify non-existent transgressions and, of course, being human, they’ll find
them. Or have them found by others. Cancer doesn’t give us moral
understanding. And neither do holy scriptures that approve
so much blatantly immoral behavior that it’s possible to justify acts across
the entire moral-immoral spectrum, to the extreme of genocide. A moral compass with two norths
is no compass at all. Moral systems need to be open systems
because our moral awareness advances with the discovery of new information. For example, the morality of vivisection, performed by anatomists such as Galen
and Versalius, and justified by philosophers such as Descartes, was called into question when animals,
previously viewed as insensible machines, were instead seen to be capable of
experiencing pain. Scriptures like the Bible and Qur’an are not open systems. They don’t allow for new insights
which change the moral landscape. Instead, they present fixed moral
pronouncements, based on moral conjecture from centuries ago, preserving all the moral
ignorance of those times. To increase the frequency of moral behaviour
throughout the world requires that we think; that we question and reason and discuss;
that we gather good information about the needs, the benefits
and the harms involved in a given situation; and that we’re willing to
review our assessments as new, relevant information emerges. Most important of all, it requires that we
reject ideologies which obstruct all of these processes by attempting to
anchor us in an ignorant past we’ve long outgrown, and by demanding privileged immunity
from criticism. Some theists express confusion about
why atheists have a problem with the idea of hell when we don’t even believe it exists.
To those theists, I ask a simple question: ‘Do I deserve eternal torture?’ Those who
answer ‘Yes’ make my point for me. Their belief has dehumanised me to the
point that they can tell me — without shame — that they support a system
that consigns me to unending suffering. Not for committing some genocidal
atrocity. Not for harming a single person. But for the crime but not believing in
something for which I had no evidence. Those who evade my question also
illustrate my point. The first of two common evasions is:
‘It’s not up to me.’ This is disingenuous redundancy. Folks
who respond this way know full well that’s not the question I’m asking. But I’ll walk them through the long version
anyway: ‘I’m a non-believer.’ ‘According to your god, non-believers
deserve eternal torture.’ ‘Do you agree with your god that I
deserve eternal torture?’ More often than not, I’ll get exactly the
same politician’s response. These folks are stuck between defending
the indefensible — hell — and questioning the unquestionable —
their god. And it’s not always realistic to expect
a swift resolution to that kind of internal conflict. But for me, it’s a promising sign that
there is at least some internal conflict. It shows me there’s some appropriate
discomfort about this vile concept. It also means they haven’t yet
rationalised the problem of hell. They haven’t invested in a fallacious
justification. This leaves room to hope that their internal conflict will inspire
further private reflection. The other common evasion is:
‘You send yourself to hell.’ This is a very different kind of evasion. Here, the problem the hell has been rationalised, removing responsibility from the god in
question and placing it on the non-believer. This is known as blaming the victim and
it’s a well-known distancing manoeuvre employed by abusers and their conspirers.
After they’ve beaten their spouses, instigators of domestic violence deny
responsibility for their actions by complaining: ‘Look what you made me do!’ In the novel ‘Sophie’s Choice’ The eponymous character, a Holocaust
survivor, is forced by a sadistic doctor at Auschwitz to decide the fate
of her two children. One will be gassed.
The other will be allowed to live. When she fails to choose, she’s told
they’ll both be gassed. In a moment of panic, Sophie chooses and is tormented by guilt for the rest for her days. But she’s utterly blameless. The doctor
was entirely responsible, forcing her into a grotesque position. Non-believers don’t send themselves to eternal torture. That’s the rationalisation of the sadist. All of these responses show why atheists have a problem with hell even though we don’t believe it exists.
It’s because it dehumanises us. One of the first things done to groups
who are targeted for discrimination is that their human status is stripped of
them. They might be described explicitly as subhuman, or as animals or insects. Rats. Monkeys. Cockroaches.
If you view people as cockroaches, how are you likely to treat them? What about
when you downgrade people to kindling? The day Christopher Hitchens died,
I remember being sent a link to a freshly uploaded video gleefully depicting him burning in hell
— an image relished by many and reflected in a range a very public expressions, from the blogs of christian zealots to the joyful chants of muslims protesting outside the 2012 atheist convention in Melbourne
— alternating his name with ‘Ayaan Hirsi Ali’. This ghoulish disposition was embraced as a lifestyle by the Westboro Baptist Church who plumbed new depths of tastelessness
by picketing the funerals of various groups they considered hellbound, and any perceived sympathisers. In 2015,
they were reportedly thwarted in their attempt to obstruct actor Leonard Nimoy’s funeral
when they couldn’t find its location. The church’s leader Fred Phelps openly
revelled in the hate his actions provoked, interpreting it as evidence of his
righteousness, on the basis that the Biblical prophets were also hated. When you reduce people to hell-fodder,
it’s remarkable how low you can go. Which is why it’s especially important to
attack beliefs that dehumanise. My impression is that most theists have a
great discomfort about the whole ‘sending non-believers to hell’ concept. Many Christians I’ve spoken to flat-out
deny the existence of hell, asserting that their god simply wouldn’t
allow such an abomination. Others have cheerfully consoled me with
their view that non-believers just die. That’s it. No eternal punishment. I’m not
one to look a gift horse in the mouth, but I do have to ask: where are
they getting this information? Certainly not from Matthew chapter 25
which refers explicitly to eternal punishment. Sometimes I’m genuinely touched by the
obvious positive intentions of theists who distort their ideology in all kinds of ways in order to reach out their hands in
brotherhood and sisterhood. Some christians go as far as declaring
that a belief in their god is non-essential — all that matters is how we treat each other.
But we have to acknowledge that this is exactly the kind of thinking that got
us into this hellish mess in the first place: making up whatever we want to believe. It’s sometimes asserted that religions like
christianity have withstood the test of time. They haven’t. They’ve cheated the test of
time, employing various dishonest tactics such as the indoctrination of children who’ve not yet developed their critical faculties. But a dishonest tactic that spans both young and old, members and non-members, is the
consistent attempt to marginalise and silence critics. We need to be able
to subject all beliefs to criticism and, as I’ve shown, that need
only becomes more obvious the greater the knock-on impact a
belief has on other ideas; the greater the power and influence involved; the more fervently criticism is discouraged
— particularly by violent means; and the more a belief has a
dehumanising effect, facilitating remorseless abuse. Doesn’t get much plainer. We’re talking
about the major world religions. The resentments harboured against
me and others like me, who decline to respect religious
beliefs, are unfounded. I’ve broken no contract. I give no
special regard to your beliefs, but I ask no special regard for mine.
Beliefs stand or fall on their own merits. I’m not being mean —
criticising unjustified beliefs is important because they can lead to real problems. If some folks make the mistake of investing their core identity
in an unjustified belief so that when it gets criticised,
they feel criticised, then it’s up to them to learn from that mistake — not up to everyone else to pay for it. And it’s not my attitude the causes wars. Wars are caused by beliefs like supremacism — the idea that one group is
intrinsically superior to all others. Supremacism can be based on many things. Gender. The colour of skin. The scriptures of major world religions like christianity and islam are about
as supremacist as it’s possible to be, damning all non-members to eternal torture. No earthly supremacist could hope
to achieve sadism on such a scale. For centuries, religious supremacism
has inspired a range of conflict from everyday acts of social discrimination
to colonialism to genocide. Beliefs like these are what cause wars. And I hope it’s now clear why I decline to respect them.

100 thoughts on “respecting beliefs | why we should do no such thing [cc]

  1. thanks for this. My mother was a christian scientist and didn't believe in disease. my family "respected her beliefs" when she found a teeny, tiny lump on her breast that could have easily been removed with surgery. Instead of doing that, she decided to heal it with Christian Science. she lied to her family and told us she had taken care of it. She did nothing but read christian science literature as her lump get bigger and the cancer spread. All the while keeping her family completely in the dark about what was going on with her.

    she continued this in the face of stage 4 cancer, believing that a "deeper understanding of christian science" would heal her. These beliefs were so strong that even when I would urge her to get treatment she refused and told me that my belief that she had cancer would prevent her healing. Which is why she didn't tell anyone until it was too late.

    Christian science didn't heal her. And the people in this religion that she loved so much abandoned her at her time of need. Her last few months were spent in pain and suffering because she refused even the most basic pain medications. No friends or anyone from the church visited her. She barely talked to me or anyone in the family. She just read her christian science literature and called her practioner (christian science "healer") who also abandoned her shortly before her death saying she was too steeped in "materia medica" (aka modern medicine) because she had taken some morphine for pain. She died at age 59. Christian science is a dangerous belief system. It should NOT be respected. It needs to be challenged, especially when there are children involved. It makes me feel really sad to realize how much neglect is steeped into this religion.

    Thanks for letting me post this novel… clearly I needed to get this out.

  2. 8:34 I think this is a good example of Bible contradictions. Jesus targeted the non-believers for salvation
    Honestly, I think any atheist would believe if they actually saw someone revive the dead with only their bare hands (memories intact and all), etc., but there's no proof that any of that happened.

  3. Respecting people's beliefs isn't something based in logic. At least not in the traditional sense. It's just fucking useful because if you didn't you'd be engaging in endless arguement with people over the most mundane shit.
    You SHOULD respect people's beliefs, as long as their are not 1.Trying to enforce theirs on you or 2. Endengering other people because of said beliefs
    You don't respect people's beliefs because you think it's logical to do so, you do it out of…respect for one another. What a freaking scoop.

  4. I could believe in whatever it was as long as it was what my parents believed or wanted me to believe. I got constantly reprimanded and yelled at because I was impressively independent in my own beliefs and valued that the views that I believe are my own, and caused a rift in my relationship with them. When my parents had found out that I was lesbian, by reading messages to the only person who I knew would accept me and I had told her, my father had driven me to the side of a road to “reprimand” (gaslight) me. I was so scared and was crying so much that I could not even speak in defense of myself or my sexuality. Then my father wept because he felt as if he had lost his child. It is one of my biggest regrets in life that they found out and I couldn’t even talk to validate myself to my family.
    I try to understand why my parents treated me and felt this way, but I do not forgive them fully for this. I had felt that way about myself and it took a long time not to accept myself. I understood that they would need that as well, but nothing could have hurt more than their disregard for myself, they began to deny that I was “like that” but had stopped the shame tactics.

  5. TL/DR – short version: I'm not religious, I don't believe any earthly scripture or religion. I used to be a Christian before leaving the church several years ago. I say this because I know that without such a comment my statements here could sound like Christian apologetics. Anyway, the big problem with videos like this is they cannot take the full gamut of human beliefs into account when deciding whether something is worth respecting or not!

    Long version: The big problem with videos like this is they tend to focus on the extremes of religious fanaticism. For example, the majority of the final third of the video was focused on the idea of hell as a place of torture and how it is inherently wrong to hold such a belief. But most Christians don't believe in a place of torture (eg, the largest single denomination in Christendom is the Roman Catholic Church, comprising roughly 50% of total Christians and fully 1 billlion human beings who claim adherence, and the Catholics have officially removed torture in hell from their doctrines).

    This author did spend two minutes addressing that, and for that I give him credit. I'm not used to such well-rounded discourse and it was a welcome surprise. HOWEVER, he hand-waves and dismisses this as "these guys are great, but they are ignoring their own scriptures to do so". And while I see this argument, the counterargument is pretty simple – read it in context and find out that maybe a verse out of context means something else. To highlight this, the video cites Matthew 25 because it refers to an "eternal punishment", and the narrator wonders aloud as to how that can be reconciled, but is not "death" itself in Christian theology a punishment for sin, which therefore could easily be argued that by simply staying dead then that is actually an "eternal punishment". It's only our modern society with 2000 years of church dogma (and a healthy dose of Dante's Divine Comedy) that continues to reinforce this erroneous teaching.

    As I said, I am not a Christian anymore. I have no dog in the fight, so to speak. But I do not think using these as reasons why we should not respect beliefs (and more so, why I believe arguments against respect on the basis of "the Bible/Qur'an/Torah/etc dehumanises non-believers" are actually counterproductive to respect and only serves to keep both sides arguing and debating).

    I'm guessing nobody actually read this, but hey, it's my views (I put a TL/DR in my opening paragraph, deal with it).

  6. I notice that this video came out two years prior to the one I’m going to reference, so I leave open the possibility that your mind changed between the two.

    Having said that, weren’t you the one who said that it is misguided and unfair to judge a religion solely on their holy text but rather how they shape a person and the culture of those people? It seems like you expect Christians to be held firmly to what the Bible tells them when “reconciling their respect for your beliefs”. The video I reference even shows statistically that Muslims by and large are in favor of abandoning their god designated punishments for apostates and homosexuals and that those barbaric executions shouldn’t define a whole religion, yet you almost seem to be fishing for a “gotcha” moment when you proclaim that respecting your beliefs directly contradicts with the executionary punishment the Christian god demands for such actions. Doesn’t that sound kind of hypocritical?

  7. I highly doubt any serious theologian would go about a debate without expecting their truth claims to go unchallenged, and you can bet they would challenge yours. Without getting more specific, (i.e., a certain religion or set of tenets), you’re ignoring the issue that both religious people and atheists can’t actually prove where the universe started in the first place. Whether that’s by way of the existence of a deity, or how the universe expands at conflicting rates, contains a lot less anti-matter than it should, etc. My point being that the logic behind “respecting” each other’s beliefs isn’t to spare feelings, or invoke sympathy, it exists because of a scientific and philosophical deficit; A lack of proof of very much at all, especially with regards to matters such as our origins. If you can’t prove something any more than someone else can, it’s not a very intelligent thing to do to say they’re wrong rather than simply learning more yourself, thus “respecting” the other person’s beliefs. The reason I’ve put “respect[ing]” in quotes is because it is a misnomer, and that is the problem you should have addressed, but ignored to have at religion. You shouldn’t respect anyone’s beliefs. Respect is earned, not given freely, so you should certainly make an intellectual opponent earn your respect. What you should do though, is be decent. Regard their values as just as reasonable in their minds as yours are to you, even if they objectively are not. This forms a stronger barrier against confirmation bias, lowers the chance your opponent will be blinded in anger upon being confronted, and may give some new perspective on your beliefs that may assist you in defending them.

  8. There is however a crucial difference between respect for the person plus the beliefs and immunity to thougt. To Respect must not necesarily mean not to question, but to acknowledge that it is something worth questioning.

  9. Clarification – The book of 2 John is a letter written to a specific woman, and has to do with other "christians" not "non christians". Taking things out of context and then ascribing your own meanings to them seems to clash with the objective reasoning sort of appearance that your videos have at first glance.

  10. There are certainly a lot of Parents in the recent comments who feel obligated to tell you, Child, that you are not thinking about this correctly so you must be wrong. I think you're frightening the Children. Maybe now they'll find a better way to stop being afraid.

  11. Too many people who believe in some religion tend to pick and choose certain laws and edicts from their religion and reject certain other ones. This is like playing football but each player chooses to respect or ignore certain rules. Chaos ensues.

  12. You do send yourself to hell as we have free will. Anybody who was sent to hell chose it for themselves. There are things like the virtuous pagan tho

  13. Like Bart Simpson writing "there is no god" on a chalkboard, that turns out to be shaped in the 3 letters G.O.D. in which he is merely helping to fill in.

  14. God exists, but I'm not going to force you to agree with me. You can take my statement as some sort of imposition or implication if you want, but that's your own ego saying you have to respond. If I am taking no force against you along with my words then as an independent mature adult you determine how those words impact your life, not me.

  15. If we waited until people were in their late teens or twenties before we told them about religion, I imagine there would be a lot more atheists

  16. I feel as if Christianity is painted in a privileged light, Islam has a pedestal of privilege but Christianity has been rebuked since it’s existence, from those Christians in 100-200AD being burned in cages or elated in the Roman games, to a more subtle but still challenged position today where debates are extremely common. Christianity isn’t safeguarded against criticism. Also when you use cultish fringe examples of Christianity it generalizes the religion as a whole, and not understanding particular doctrines like hell and contorting it to make it sound as if nonbelievers go to hell but everyone else doesn’t is a blatant false dichotomy. In the Bible every human being deserves to go to hell, the only reason why those Christians believe they get to go to heaven is because Jesus “saved” them. So saying that only those nonbelievers go to hell is just a misunderstanding of a core tenant belief. Islam fits all your criticisms nicely, and Christianity fits some of your criticisms, but aligning Islam and Christianity is dishonest because one of those two religions are privileged far more then the other, also society is slowly beginning to hate on house Christians more where us atheists get more and more slack. This is just a personal opinion, but I’ve studied Christianity thoroughly and that isn’t what’s being repressed fully here, sure some parts but not all.

  17. "I am the chosen one."
    That statement has been uttered by the leader of one of the most powerful democracies on the face of the planet. This fact should worry everyone, but it does not seem to.

  18. Give it a try with Judaism and Islam so. See how far you get with "intolerance". This is only ever about Christianity. None of the other groups would permit you to say negative things about them. No-one even has the conviction to print so much as print the Charlie Hebdo cartoon.Your YouTube vids would be taken down. There's nothing brave about not respecting Christianity. Its been encouraged to criticise it in our mass media for the past forty years at least. I think you'll find yourself being branded a " phobic" if you question anything else though. Criticism of Christianity in the West was only recently allowed so as to break the stranglehold of monarchy and church over an emerging merchant class. Your freedom to criticise does not extend to their new play things like Islam.

  19. For a video encouaging you do let go of beliefs, it is full of a lot of implied beliefs. Listen to the example about cancer and hear his beliefs about what causes cancer and how it is best dealt with. 10:30

  20. 15:40 "It's not up to me". When I asked a pastor if he feels eternal torture is justified, he dodged the question in the same way. Basically saying God's judgment for eternal torture is logical even if he can't explain it himself. Giving up his own common sense in favour of the crazy idea that we deserve to suffer forever and we don't only because of Jesus's sacrifice. It's a bunch of illogical bull shit. It's so stupid!!

  21. The Koran says it is forbidden to draw a picture of Mohammad. They extend their rules of faith upon all people, Muslim or not. The problem is that we forced by political correctness to accept it. Non-Muslims are denounced as racist and Islamophobic if they break sharia law forbidding pictures of Mohammad, even when Muslims break our rights to free speech.

  22. Respecting beliefs, well, to underestimate could be disastrous. I place person/being above belief, even if their whole identity is intertwined with belief. I respect the being, and try to stay objective about a person's beliefs.

  23. I completely disagree with much of what is said in this video. The main idea here that gets lost is that you can respect another's beliefs/opinions while openly challenging it. However, when you stop respecting their beliefs/opinions, any open dialogue or civil debate quickly breaks down into threats, ad hominem, and even real violence. Even if you don't respect their beliefs/opinions, in order to stay civil, it's crucial that you at least pretend to respect them for any argument of value to come to exist.

  24. "My god exists"…. response required

    I always respond "which god? so many to choose from, and all equally valid choices because they all have an equal amount of evidence for their existence".

  25. I suddenly wonder what your videos would look like if you had a wider experience with theism. Your content is understandably tinted seemingly entirely by Christianity, but it results in something as complex and varied as theism, being depicted entirely through Abrahamic terms.

  26. This video made me realized, I don't respect the beliefs of anyone, I respect peoples.
    If the persons in front of me have beliefs, I would not said she is wrong, I would said I don't think it's true. I have no beliefs, or try to don't have any, I have knowledges.

  27. We should respect the right of a person to choose for themselves, for better or worse, what they are to believe or not believe, which is a concept of freedom. This however is completely different than respecting a belief itself. I personally hold spiritual beliefs, but I do not believe in a divine narcissistic abuser who is going to send people to burn for all eternity at the slightest misstep. I personally feel that this physical reality experience is a projection of consciousness in order to learn and grow for soul evolution, and that the word "god" is simply a word created that humans tend to anthropomorphize the worst possible human traits onto. This malignant "god" is an idol made in the image of societal abuse. I also do not believe that I have the right to try to convince by force anyone else to think the way I think. I'm happy to inspire the willing and the like-minded, and have no desire what so ever to convert those who disagree or who think me to be foolish. Let people think what they wish to think. They don't have to respect what I think, I don't have to respect what they think. Respect for THE RIGHT TO THINK IT AT ALL, is all that matters. And of course for all things there are consequences. Nothing is consequence-free. NOTHING.

  28. I do not see any evidence that a belief or disbelief in an afterlife, in any way must ABSOLUTELY be harmful, or harmless. Just as a hammer does not absolutely need to be used to build a fence, or bash a skull in. A lack of belief in an afterlife could just as easily result in self-destructive nihilism and a sense of hopelessness and pointlessness and meaninglessness about life. As you said in another video, humans tend to not seek truth, so much as they are seeking consistency. If someone is a malignant narcissistic, a belief in an afterlife or not will not create nor prevent their destructive harm towards others, they will be harmful regardless. The USSR was an atheistic society, and theism was punishable by law. No ideology can offer us an immunity from tyranny, and every concept which humans have ever conceived of is capable of being corrupted. There are no magical exemptions.

  29. Wow. Even as an atheist participating in debates here and there this gave me some new views. That is the primary indicator of a well thought out argument.
    I do agree with most of the video, however I would like to amend that I don't think faith itself is a problem. I would be fine with people having faith if it didn't impact other people.
    Of course that includes letting children decide for themselves what to believe and not letting religion impact law or education. The problem here is that I can see that it is going to be an uphill battle convincing people to let their kids decide for themselves, when the parent believes that this life is a small stepping stone to either eternal bliss or eternal hell. i cannot condone it, but I am able to see it from that viewpoint.
    In the end I am not out to end theism… I think that people should be free to believe; instead I am out to end Atheism which I have no particular connection to and would gladly live without like all the other things I do not believe in but have no term for. Atheism only exist because of Theism and its impact.

  30. Coming from a dogmatic Catholic background, I utterly abhor religion.

    It stole the mind of my mother. And religion is uniquely attractive to people who act in bad faith.

  31. If you don't have to "tolerate" my beliefs about the nature of good and evil ("heaven and hell"), then I will not accept yours about homosexuality (a sin), diversity, demographic displacement, Jews (the enemy), immigration, etc etc.

  32. More and more people are turning away from God. I will never turn my back nor will I believe God did not send HIS Son Jesus to die for our sins. I dont understand alot of these aurguments – God and Jesus are in my heart. There they will stay. People can fight over anything and they do. I do not wish harm or believe anything horrible on those who do not have the same love I do for God. Perhaps respect my love for God the way I respect your love for your children, spouse, parent etc. I dont make you prove your love is real as that is whats in Your heart. I would rethink any religious organization that preaches otherwise. To me God is Love.

  33. It’s plain stupid to seek to require people to respect others’ religious beliefs. Respect their right to hold these religious beliefs as long as they don’t infringe the freedoms and rights of others, sure.

  34. 11:10 or so: take group c and add the belief that increasing knowledge and survival among nonbelievers is a BAD thing……

  35. You're very intelligent and I truly admire, and envy you for having the ability to make points in a so clear, linear and focused manner.
    Finding out about your channel is the best thing that happened to me in days. Thank you

  36. The bible has a lot of contradictions, I can respect the possibility of some deity existing, but not by the means explained by ancient men prone to the delusions of their own time. I think the biggest contradiction of the Bible is that humanity was given free will and that the bible is the word of God.

  37. I thought the verse in 8:40 was talking about Christians who have strayed from the original teachings of the early church.

    Would anyone like to discuss that?

  38. I was just thinking about your scenarios at 16:29.
    If it is dehumanising for the lady to claim you are deserving of eternal torture, would she not be in the same shoes as you (if we are talking about the Judeo-Christian worldview) as she too is deserving of eternal torture, nullifying the dehumanising nature of their claim as you both stand on the same moral ground?

    Just a though, what do you guys think?

  39. And if I find, deep within myself, the need to be of the Aztec religion I will expect town planners to raze several blocks of houses and commercial premises so that I can erect my tax exempt stepped pyramid.
    From which I will hurl the eviscerated bodies of my victims!
    If that is MY BELIEF, the HOW DARE YOU impede my religious beliefs, you RACIST!

  40. Some good points and Ive liked a lot of your other videos, but this one seems to go pretty far in terms of 'edgyness' in a lot of ways. For example the section on guilt, saying more often than not to challenge using religion for comfort? As an athiest I see many people using religion for comfort in healthy ways and Im more than happy for them to do that, life can be really tough so it makes me glad they have something that helps the cope. Likewise you could use your other examples, sex for example. Nothing wrong with that in moderation and it can help cope at an emotional level, just as a healthy amount of religion can.
    I guess I take issue in the way the argument is presented, feels very much like a straw man argument 'unprotected sex with heaps of people', talk about an extreme example. Reigion and plenty of other things can be fine to use for comfort, in moderation and healthy amounts. But questioning people over their use of religion for comfort? Thats what I meant at the start of my comment by being so edgy because thats not a healthy way to go about communicating with real people, in the real world.

  41. I am a Christian and a genuinely do thank you for this video. When I first started watching, I was hesitant to continue for probably some of the reasons you mentioned, but now I really do understand. You’ve helped me realize into what I need to inquire about my religion and how to argue properly about it.
    Thank you

  42. I'm sorry to burst your bubble there but the way cancer is seen by the medical community doesn't actually bring more knowledge or survival rates. The way they treat patients with severe cases of cancer is absolutely inhumane and the way they strive for new knowledge to help people better is virtually nonexistent and hasn't produced any positive results over decades now. I'm not saying that the way this is seen by religious nutcases who demand repentance is any better, I'm just saying that your example isn't very true and that honestly acknowledging that, we should probably seek for another route and a way that actually works.

  43. I will respect human beings. I will not respect ideologies, ideas, beliefs, opinions, even facts. Attacking those things in no circumstance mean attacking human beings. I also won't accept ad hominem arguments.

  44. When I sort of told my mother I was an athiest, she told me that I was wrong, and I didn't actually believe that, and that she would not allow me to "give up on God". I used to respect her belief, but hearing that from her, my respect for her belief rapidly dwindled.

    One thing about the lack of hell for some Christians is possibly that they acknowledge that the concept of hell was added into the bible manuscripts by scholars when copying the bible down by hand. There are plenty of manuscripts that show it was not originally part of the bible. I'd need to go and find the links again, but I remember that being something I found, and happens with a lot of different things like the holy trinity too, something also added in, which is why Jehovah Witnesses do not believe in the holy trinity.
    Which if things like this happen, how can so many Christians believe that their book is infallible and "pure". Ironic.

  45. It's schools where this prevails, from the teachers case. Teachers do the world of service and a hard job, high school teachers I'd say have it the roughest. But I tell ya, Catholic or Christian public schools here in England, some of the most ludicris and in cases poorly ran establishment with bad practice. In the case of Christian (church of england schools) and Catholic public schools, the only different from a normal public school is that because they have the religious title, teaching r.e assemblies detentions ethos are all seen more important than taking in students well being and actual future.

    Now I've spent 3/5 years at a C of E school, a year at a behaviour school (because the C of E school opted to send me to a behaviour school when they expelled me for them finding out me and a friends were getting stoned a few times and one kid whited and got me caught, I always brought it in. The kids parents who got caught where actual proper bastards, he'd be getting done all the time usually getting grounded over stupid things. Obviously they weren't pleased that he was caught stoned. His mum went through his phone found out he got it off me, and went to the school with his phone.
    Over this, the school pulled me in and was pretty much baiting me and wanting me to say I did it walking out the room for like half an hour and showing me screenshot, I knew I was fucked but I knew that how I reacted can fuck me up here. Basically just said police can handle it or I can leave the school, I wasnt in a state of leverage I had quite a lot of weed back home so I said I'd just leave I said they can expell me then.
    But oh no no no, it wasn't as simple as "well I best get into another school quick now" I was not told that I had been transferred to a behaviour school, an actual fucking reprobate school, them schools where students are trying punch teachers when they tell them do work, yes I'd been expelled from high-school for stupidly getting stoned, but I weren't out taking E's all through the week and had always been a bastard, I were in top sets for everything I always took lessons seriously. Now I was reading kip biff and flip books.
    One little fact about the place that went under the radar, was once your sent to this place you normally wouldn't be sent back into public schools, you could also get a max of like four gcses. I weren't staying, so I acted like a Saint and got pally with every teacher there whilst they were trying get me back into public schools. All throughout my time there the behaviour school tried to go above and beyond for me because I shouldn't have been there. The behaviour school were completely transparent in everything they did, unlike any school experience before, I started the C of E school with just as much spunkiness in y7 the fact is teachers there are being run to their bones, they have the most strictest management and a bigger syllabus than non religious schools. They don't have time for the student even though they have to safeguard they're class and see how everyone is actually doing and one method of dealing quickly with the disruptive is to give the hell instead of having a grown up conversation in small numbers and getting to the root of misbehaviour in class and around school. They want students who are quiet and gentle and oh so obediant. Student aren't pushed to their potential they aren't kindled or not enough are kindled, no matter what school you go too theres always gonna be people at the front or back of the line, people doing the best people doing the worst and all throughout school youll know of a few classmates who were favourites of teachers why though when theres 20 in a class and half are being ignored or aren't taking in everything because they're not engaged in the lesson. Public non religious schools have a better teacher student relationship

  46. Okay this video is something I hold some disagreement with. I feel like it's disrespectful to a belief to not be considered, so just adopting a belief is just as bad as completely dismissing a belief because your not really weighing it on its merits… So I guess my idea of respect differs from yours. Also as far as religious beliefs go, I feel like either we need to think of a way to overcome that paradox of an unliftable stone, accept a contradiction on the grounds that it's beyond human understanding, rule it impossible, or have the definitions and our system of understanding questioned in case that type of paradox indicates a flaw in our understanding. I feel like out of those 4 possibilities I've identified I subscribe to accepting a contradiction until I can work out a better understanding (I haven't gotten around to looking for an answer to that question) so I can say your question gives me a paradox I'd have to consider.
    Overall I respect the belief on the earth being flat to where I searched for the reasoning, but since there was nothing convincing, all I'm left with is information that can be used to maybe help guide someone to a better understanding of why that's incorrect. If I didn't respect your belief I wouldn't consider what you had to say and I guess If I shared the same definition I would agree more but "respect my beliefs by letting me remain ignorant" is akin to mistaking lust for love. I had a headache while typing so pardon if I had left any mistakes that muddied my intended message, if you do care to respond on an old video I would like to have my beliefs "respected" and challenged

  47. I used to think of it as a matter of "live and let live", because last thing I want is a neverending arguing match with someone who doesn't care about reality or facts.

  48. I think you're making a really good point, but I am worried that many people will misconstrue your argument you allow the justification of harassing someone who believes in a certain religion. This argument really only applies when it comes down to a social situation in which you are arguing over philosophy. It justifies the reasoning behind challenging religious ideas. Your argument, however, does not justify disproving one's religion when that is not the topic of discussion. My only hope is that people realize this when watching this video.

  49. Faith without works is dead.

    I believe it, and it’s true, and I am not here for others to respect it, but I am sending this message as a way of how we move towards our goals as we want it badly to happen we should be consistent to growing better to reach out to our goals and be awesome about it.

    Also I agree with the last message here in this video,

    “I will not respect your beliefs because it is impossible for me to do, but I will respect you just as how you are treating others as they are treating you!”

    My paraphrase and I hope it is not confusing but that is how I would break into it.

    Thank you and I appreciate your openness and insight of our humanity.

  50. What you've said really highlights the problems with the Left and SJW culture and why I, as someone who believes in equality, finds the message they push overly idealistic, condemning and hypocritical.

  51. i do need to ask could heaven and hell be a condition on earth a human can find themselves living?
    instead of an afterlife.

  52. I told my mum that I don't respect her belief in god, that I can't respect it, in an argument. She said 'how would you feel if I told you I didn't respect your belief.' And I said, 'I wouldn't care,' which seemed to shock her.

    It's true too now I think about it, as being an atheist is just a small part of me, just one of the layers, where it seems so many Christians and all sorts of people left and right revolve themselves around one label or one facet, making them super sensitive to any criticism towards any facet of that…identity and very likely to lash out for it.

  53. I quit such religious debates almost entirely. They were contradicting to me and i ran into conflicts with them often times.

    Thus i'm reflecting a lot, not just about me, but also i'm curious into having clear thoughts and emotions about how perception and adaption of other people and within groups might work.

  54. Devil's advocate here: Your points are valid, but imply that there is a social meaning to disproving religious beliefs.
    E.G of such meaning: So people know how to think for themselves, so the world might be a better place. Or to stop another from being swindled out of a moral obligation.

    However I would argue that any reason is ultimately self-serving as all experience we have comes directly from the self (Our brains). Also it's okay to be self-serving, this is something that people have a big misconception about.

    So if we accept the only meaning disproving religious belief has is at a personal level, then it's real purpose is not to actually attempt to change others, but rather for self-development or clarification.

    Once I reached this clarification I realised that my Atheistic arguments stemmed from a need to be validated or "proven right" by society. Once I understood I realised the only person I had to answer to and grant me that validity was myself, not society.
    Just my thoughts on the matter.

  55. When confronted with other religions, or atheism, I always am respectful not because I am required to, but I want to show what ideally I should act. I have been raised a Christian, and while I am having some personal issues and have considered leaving before. As a Christian, I have no intention to make a bad name for the religion. Know that anyone who claims to be Christian, especially Catholic, should be extremely respectful, and if they aren't, kindly remind them that Christianity is the most tolerant modern religion. Although the Bible seems to say that homosexuality is sinful, that is incorrect. It talks of pedophilia being wrong. We are told to love those around us as if we were them. That is a beautiful thing. Any Christian who is disrespectful to you because of what you identify as or believe in is a bad Christian. As I said, some things I very much disagree with. Christianity is not against science, however. That is a distorted version of Christianity that denounces science, and honestly, it pains me that someone would denounce the study and pursuit of understanding of what was made for them, as God is said to have created the entire universe for us.

  56. Truth is. If a stone sits in the road, you can claim it doesn't exist, that it's not real ect. But the stone will still exist. So if God exists, he exists. You can't wish him away if he does, you can't wish him there if he doesn't. People do stupid things, no matter what religion or label they go by. The goal of life is to find what is true and what isn't, and being humble enough to except it. Otherwise, you are susceptible to lies and ultimately destruction.

  57. 3:43 hi guys, i regret to inform you that flat earth believers don't actually believe the earth really is flat. The smart people anyway. Because it is an inside joke. They tell stupid people the earth is flat, and when stupid people believe them, those people get laughed at behind their backs. It is similar to the joke of checking the headlight fluid of a car. People tell headlight fluid exists to non car-savvy people and hilarity ensues afterwards.

    If someone after my comment wants to tell people i'm lying and the earth is indeed flat….

    Yes, i do believe the Earth is flat.

  58. 14:29 I remember a theology professor ask in class why kids nowadays don't regularly attend sunday mass. I replied something along the lines of "i don't learn anything new anymore. It would be more interesting if the sermons change every year with something new to talk about." And my professor simply replied "Well, that is not how sunday mass works. If you want to learn more, attend a bible study." Sadly i don't remember exactly if he had an answer to how Sunday mass does work. But i conjecture from christian teachings that it is more of a Christian obligation to offer 1 hour of worship a week and has no deeper explanation.

  59. There is no eternal torture in the Bible. Matthew 25 speaks of annihilation of demons. Revelation 20:10 is a mistranslation because Ezekiel 28:18,19 (which pretty much everyone agrees is a prophecy about the devil) explicitly states that the devil gets annihilated. All people, on the other hand, get saved: Titus 2:11 (in the correct translations) "The grace of God has appeared, saving all people." If you don't believe it today, one day you will.

    I've been a Christian since the age of 5, but when I discovered at 31 that hell (Hades) is not eternal and that Jesus saves all people from sin and death, it changed me completely.

  60. I am glad I found your channel. So true and I dont know why this isn't obvious to everyone. Why should you respect someone's beliefs if thier holy documents support slavery and killing?

  61. I don’t automatically respect religious people just because they are religious. However, I also don’t automatically disrespect them.

  62. I respect everyone, however I will not respect your belief if you disrespect my disbelief. I don't get why I should respect someone's made up story, when people can't even respect the fact that some people are gay or have other colored skin.
    I'll respect people's RIGHTs to have opinions and choices, but not their opinions and choices themselves. I'll respect someone's right to disagree.
    Personally if someone wants to pray to get through hard times, they can, I'll respect their right to choose to do that. However I will not respect someone's choice to try and pray at any of my own families funerals. Because sure it's harmless and if I don't believe then what's so wrong about doing it, but it's more the fact that I don't want people bringing religion and talking to themselves just so they feel they've done something when they haven't done shit.

    I will allow people to have their beliefs and not just tell them they are false all the time, but I won't walk on eggshells around them either.

    Though if someone wants comfort, say THEY are dying, and they just want me to pray for them, then i'll do it. To provide comfort for a loved one.

  63. The exact same goes for the many non-religious, political-corporatocracy tentacle cults which most "atheists" push down our throats, "to save all ewe sheeple who must obey and not question Their dogmatic agendas!" Yeah, I guess they are not real atheists since they still worship that Orwellian gold-plated dogma crap god.

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