Can you separate a person from their beliefs?
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18-01-2012, 11:04 AM
Can you separate a person from their beliefs?
As it usually happens, this question arose from an exchange between Chas and me (yet another reason why I like Chas).

But, can you actually separate a person from their belief if that belief is contrary to your own? Or, is it based on certain vantage points?

Fundies say "hate the sin, not the sinner" when referencing gays and their position towards them. Is this possible, though? Homosexuals know that they are gay by no choice of their own, so they don't see their way of life as wrong. Fundies know that gays have a choice in their sin, so they can separate a person's actions from the person.

However, these beliefs conflict because of each party’s understanding of the situation.

Homosexuals see their hated "sin" as something they cannot control; therefore, deductive reasoning states that fundies hate homosexuals; their sin is them and cannot be separated.

Fundies see this as fairly black and white and can't understand why homosexuals can't separate their actions from them as a person. They see homosexuality in the same way as we view murder, stealing, and adultery. They are actions committed by a person, they are not those actions.

The same goes for me and many of you on this board. I believe that I am a Christian by no choice of my own. There are some of you that claim you hate Christianity. In this instance you are like the fundies, because you see theism as a choice. I take the role of the homosexual because I don’t see it as a choice, but rather as who I am. To me, you cannot separate my belief from myself. So, your hate for my belief translates as a hate for me as a person.

Some of you may be all right with this.

On the other end, there are those who simply disagree with my beliefs, but don’t hate the belief. This is the same with more liberal Christians who do not oppose homosexuality.

I wrote this in hopes that there would be some enlightenment on what you “hate”. Hating anything is an open door for close-mindedness. It’s okay to oppose someone’s belief or way of life, but I feel that “hating” a belief, regardless if you can separate a person from that belief, translates as a personal hate for that person.

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18-01-2012, 11:36 AM
RE: Can you separate a person from their beliefs?
Homosexuality isn't a belief, but Christianity is. Are you saying Christianity ISN'T a belief when you say you are Christian by no choice of your own? You weren't born Christian life, you were taught it somewhere along the way. You weren't born feeling or knowing everything Christian... a homosexual can never know this word or concept but will be homosexual. They can NOT be separated from this, so those Christian fundies are wrong in the practice that the two are separate.

It is very hard to maintain the separation between act and person, for sure. A few years ago I worked in a half way house between jail and community with youth offenders, some of them murderers and rapists. It was my job to help integrate them back into society. Most of them I could see how they were separate from their acts (Horrible home situation, years of abuse, etc) but once in awhile I came across an individual who just seemed so far gone that they WERE the act they had preformed. I hate to say it and we had to council all individual based on the fact they could improve, but these few that I felt this way towards I had to really mentally prepare myself in my mental attitude before working with them.

I agree hate is an open door for closed-mindedness. Had I hated all of those kids I would have never learned about where they come from and the potential they have, which is what anyone we 'hate' has- potential in the characteristic we think is 'wrong'.
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18-01-2012, 11:46 AM (This post was last modified: 18-01-2012 11:50 AM by kingschosen.)
RE: Can you separate a person from their beliefs?
LJ, I do believe that I'm Christian by no choice of my own. I believe that this was decided before the "foundations of the world". My belief in my Christianity very much parallels that of homosexuals in that I was born this way and that I have no choice (Ephesians 1).

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18-01-2012, 12:16 PM
RE: Can you separate a person from their beliefs?
(18-01-2012 11:46 AM)kingschosen Wrote:  LJ, I do believe that I'm Christian by no choice of my own. I believe that this was decided before the "foundations of the world". My belief in my Christianity very much parallels that of homosexuals in that I was born this way and that I have no choice (Ephesians 1).

KC the difference is that you have faith that this is true. There are studies that can actually show that homosexuality is a trait present at birth. There are no studies that can show Christianity is inherent in someone. If you made a choice today that you no longer believed, then others of your faith would simply say that you were never actually chosen, although you firmly believed that you were. A homosexual cannot choose to separate themselves from their inherent desires.

But, I do believe it is possible to hate or dislike the actions of a person- even their ideology- but still like and appreciate the person. You have other qualities that are greatly appreciated beyond your faith. People do it all the time, sometimes it's a simple as disagreeing on a political issue, but other times it could be as severe as ignoring a family member's crimes because they're family and you love your family. You can appreciate a person despite their ideology or actions- but probably only up to a certain point. And that threshold can be different for each person and the severity of the action.

A real life example: my dad is a fundie, hard core. He's very politically active and religiously active; and he pushes the religious agenda in politics. And he hates atheism and liberalism. There are two sides to this. I hate that he pushes his religious beliefs in politics, but I love my dad dearly. He hates that I'm an atheist and that I'm going to hell, but he loves me despite it. And we can get along very well and have a good time together, and talk civilly about our differences.

I think that not only is it possible, it's absolutely necessary to be able to separate a person from their beliefs.
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18-01-2012, 12:38 PM (This post was last modified: 18-01-2012 12:45 PM by Superluminal.)
RE: Can you separate a person from their beliefs?
Quote:KC the difference is that you have faith that this is true. There are studies that can actually show that homosexuality is a trait present at birth.

^^This is really what it boils down to. You can go around and around for 100 pages of back and forth arguments, but in the end this sums up everything that needs to be said. Physical evidence.

Beyond that, I think there IS a physical reason you believe what you do KC, and yet can function rationally in other aspects of life, but that is getting into brain research. In a nutshell, it is quite amazing that there are any atheists, because our brains are built to compartmentalize, hallucinate, take what we thought we saw and experienced as 100% truth, and live in a "self-centered"(I don't mean this in the traditional negative connotation) view of the world. The fact that anyone can get beyond this is amazing to me in some ways.

FWIW, the way I conduct myself in day-to-day life is to treat people as well as I can, and try to judge people more how they actually treat people, than their professed beliefs. I still don't like it when a person supports an institution that tends to promote hate towards specific groups, but it's more important to me when judging you how you yourself are out there treating other people face to face.
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18-01-2012, 12:40 PM
RE: Can you separate a person from their beliefs?
I don't have a fully developed answer for this yet in my mind. It may come down to a case by case basis. There are certain Christians I can say I like and there are those that I dislike. Of course, this is true about agnostics and atheists too. So it must have to do with personality more than beliefs. But, how deeply are our personalities shaped by our beliefs? I like Christians whose screen names start with K, but not those who start with E. Your personality hasn't been poisoned as much as Ego R's personality, though you hold the same core belief. I guess when it comes down to the bottom line, I happen to think you're both delusional, I just happen to enjoy your personality more than the personalities of some Christians.

I guess that's not as much an answer as an observation.

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18-01-2012, 12:44 PM
RE: Can you separate a person from their beliefs?
i think i answered this question partly in the Anti-theists post

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18-01-2012, 12:55 PM
RE: Can you separate a person from their beliefs?
I can respect the person and I can still have civil discussions about other topics and agree with them in other areas. I can be friends with these people and I married one. I don't respect the beliefs necessarily.

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18-01-2012, 01:05 PM
RE: Can you separate a person from their beliefs?
an important factor is also that most atheists believe that most theists are victims of brain-washing and indoctrination but are generally well meaning.

"Yeah, good idea. Make them buy your invisible apple. Insist that they do. Market it properly and don't stop until they pay for it." -Malleus
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18-01-2012, 01:27 PM (This post was last modified: 18-01-2012 01:35 PM by Chas.)
RE: Can you separate a person from their beliefs?
(18-01-2012 12:38 PM)Superluminal Wrote:  ... In a nutshell, it is quite amazing that there are any atheists, because our brains are built to compartmentalize, hallucinate, take what we thought we saw and experienced as 100% truth, and live in a "self-centered"(I don't mean this in the traditional negative connotation) view of the world. The fact that anyone can get beyond this is amazing to me in some ways.

I agree. I see belief in gods or other non-evidence-based beliefs as misfirings of evolutionarily advantageous traits. The brain evolved to attribute purpose or intention to things as a thinking short-cut, e.g. "That tiger wants to eat me, better run", or "this storm is trying to kill me, better hide".

So one could argue that it's hard to believe there are any atheists. Cool
It is the ability to reason that overcomes these more primitive mental tricks.
(18-01-2012 11:04 AM)kingschosen Wrote:  The same goes for me and many of you on this board. I believe that I am a Christian by no choice of my own. There are some of you that claim you hate Christianity. In this instance you are like the fundies, because you see theism as a choice. I take the role of the homosexual because I don’t see it as a choice, but rather as who I am. To me, you cannot separate my belief from myself. So, your hate for my belief translates as a hate for me as a person.

OK, sort of. Dodgy

You may believe (and it may be true) that you have little or no choice in this, but you weren't born this way. You were born a non-theist, a non-Christian, as well as a non-Wiccan, non-Hindu, ...

You choose to accept these beliefs you profess without critical analysis.

There are people whose beliefs I don't like - you, for instance - but don't have any personal beef with. There are, however, people whose beliefs are so toxic and whose thinking is so impaired that the only way to separate them from their beliefs would be a guillotine.Smile

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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