Respect for Religion
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02-12-2012, 08:42 PM
RE: Respect for Religion
I can respect people who behave generally in a respectable manner, that is, the ones not telling me I'm wrong for not converting to their religion, and the ones who don't want their religion made into laws for the whole country, etc. I can respect a skilled doctor for their medical abilities if they are religious, but the respect diminishes the minute they start talking to me about woo (and yes, it's happened).

What really upsets me is when people act like I'm being disrespectful simply for BEING an atheist, or simply for saying I am an atheist, some people act like it's a personal attack. If I tell the reasons I am an atheist, some tend to think it's an attack on their religion (because I mention things like critical thinking and evidence, which is directly at odds with having faith). I can't respect religion itself, if people want me to respect their beliefs, they should get more respectable beliefs.

It doesn't bother me if they keep it to themselves, but if they start telling me they believe in magical sky fairies, then I can't help but see them the same way I'd see an adult that believes the sandman comes and sprinkles sand in his eyes when he's sleeping, or still thinks Santa Claus is real, etc.: which is to say, extremely deluded, if not always unintelligent. You can be delusional and intelligent at the same time.
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02-12-2012, 09:31 PM
RE: Respect for Religion
(02-12-2012 07:12 PM)Reltzik Wrote:  There is a distinction to be drawn between respect for the religion, and respect for people who happen to be religious.

Regarding the people, just because they have SOME religion doesn't mean they are blinkered, blindered, bullied, or bastards. (There are exceptions to this, of course.) Respect them or don't as you normally would. Their religion is just one facet of many that make them up.

Regarding the religions themselves... well, there's another distinction to be made here, between Religion As Written, versus living tradition. The first is what one figures the religion to be based on its "official" writings and dogmas, and the second is what emphasis and actual beliefs (however divergent with those official doctrines) the religious cling to. A lot of people emphasize the first. It's a steady and easy thing to figure, because it's less subjective, easier to pin down, doesn't move around as much. Call this the theory. I put much more emphasis on the practice, because that's what is actually at WORK in the world. Calling attention to discrepancies between the two is a useful tactic in trying to modify a person's practice, but whining and gnashing your teeth JUST because people don't believe or act the way members of their religious category theoretically should, accomplishes exactly nothing.

That said, focus on their practice. In practice, does their religion guide them to charitable acts, understanding and compassion, a humility in their understanding of the world and general acceptance of those around them, and a healthy sense of self-esteem and being accepted? Bully for them. Sure, it's not the ONLY way a person can arrive at those ends, nor perhaps the best way, but (in this case) the religious beliefs are producing real good for both the believer and those around him/her. Respect the crap out of anything that does that, religion or no, implausible hookiness or no.

And if religious belief, in practice, makes a particular person bigotted, condescending, angry, hurtful, fearful, conflicted, arrogant, and an all-around ass? Disrespect the crap out of it. If avoiding stepping on their toes makes decent tactical sense, respect it like you would a landmine. If steamrolling over it makes good tactical sense, fire up the steamroller.

Contrary to what others might say, both types of consequence exist in practice, as does a greyscale between them, so take a moment to distinguish between these. And always bear in mind that it's about the individual practice, and not the abstract theory.

I like your distinction between "Religion As Written" and "living tradition," and your suggestion to focus on the practice, not the theory. That really is key. In the end, what's important is what people do--how they behave in the world, how they treat other people, how they treat their environment--not what they believe or say they believe. I've found that people are often much better than their professed beliefs. Despite the nasty aspects of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, I've encountered individuals who call themselves Christians, Jews, and Muslims who are warm, generous, tolerant people that I'm proud to call friends.

That said, the notion of "respecting religion" is a bit tricky. I think I understand what it means to respect a person. I'm not sure I understand what it means to respect a belief, if you don't believe that the thing believed is true. I can certainly respect a person's right to hold that belief, but that's not the same thing.

My dictionary gives these definitions of respect as a verb:

New Oxford American Dictionary Wrote:verb [ with obj. ]
admire (someone or something) deeply, as a result of their abilities, qualities, or achievements: she was respected by everyone she worked with | (as adj. respected) : a respected academic.
• have due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of: I respected his views.
• avoid harming or interfering with: it is incumbent upon all boaters to respect the environment.
• agree to recognize and abide by (a legal requirement): he urged all foreign nationals to respect the laws of their country of residence.'

Suppose someone believes that it's incumbent upon them to do good in the world--feed the hungry, care for the sick, stand up for the downtrodden--because if they don't, they will be tortured mercilessly for all eternity after they die. This religious belief of theirs leads them to good actions--"good practice," as you might say. But of course the belief itself is nonsense. We can, and should, respect this person for his/her good actions. But should we respect the belief that led to those actions? What would it even mean to respect the belief? Which sense of the above definition would be applicable? None of the senses seems to apply. Falsehoods shouldn't be admired, even if they sometimes lead to good things.

Religious disputes are like arguments in a madhouse over which inmate really is Napoleon.
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02-12-2012, 09:56 PM
RE: Respect for Religion
Let's go with the Lord of the Rings metaphor.

Do I believe that the events in the Lord of the Rings books are true? No, not at all.

That said, people can draw potent lessons about courage, optimism, and what it means to be important from them. I can respect the work, even if I think that taking it literally is nuts.

Going to religious beliefs enacted in a positive way (as described in my previous post): I won't necessarily respect them for veracity. But I can respect them as powerful motivators with positive effects, much as I can respect the messages in Lord of the Rings and the effects of those messages on some people. In particular, I can have high regard for the beliefs (more due to their power and effects, rather than their literal truth), and avoid harming and interfering with those religious beliefs, or at the very least keep my interference minimal and cautious. "Not true" isn't the same thing as "not functionally useful or good", and if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Of course, this only applies when the beliefs DON'T manifest themselves negatively in practice. I'd be inclined to view this as the minority of cases among the religious.

"If I ignore the alternatives, the only option is God; I ignore them; therefore God." -- The Syllogism of Fail
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02-12-2012, 11:16 PM
RE: Respect for Religion
Respect.. It's a convoluted matter, is it not?

Many people I have met though my life have treated the concept of respect as something that must be given simply on the merit of existence alone....

I like to go about respect in my own little way:
"Respect the man by himself and his deeds, not simply by his creeds." In my opinion, one should never lend credence to somebodies beliefs, only their actions.

Hope that helps a lil' Marcus.

The people closely associated with the namesake of female canines are suffering from a nondescript form of lunacy.
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02-12-2012, 11:26 PM
RE: Respect for Religion
(02-12-2012 09:56 PM)Reltzik Wrote:  Let's go with the Lord of the Rings metaphor.

Do I believe that the events in the Lord of the Rings books are true? No, not at all.

That said, people can draw potent lessons about courage, optimism, and what it means to be important from them. I can respect the work, even if I think that taking it literally is nuts.

Going to religious beliefs enacted in a positive way (as described in my previous post): I won't necessarily respect them for veracity. But I can respect them as powerful motivators with positive effects, much as I can respect the messages in Lord of the Rings and the effects of those messages on some people. In particular, I can have high regard for the beliefs (more due to their power and effects, rather than their literal truth), and avoid harming and interfering with those religious beliefs, or at the very least keep my interference minimal and cautious. "Not true" isn't the same thing as "not functionally useful or good", and if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Of course, this only applies when the beliefs DON'T manifest themselves negatively in practice. I'd be inclined to view this as the minority of cases among the religious.

I'm not sure the LOTR analogy is apt. Within the world of LOTR, the events of the story are true, so a character in the story who's inspired positively by them is not holding any false beliefs. If you're talking about readers of the books or viewers of the films, however, they're well aware that they're dealing with fiction. (If not, they're psychotic.) So it's a question of recognized fiction embodying positive qualities that people can adopt in their real lives. Again, no false beliefs are present.

When it comes to actual religious beliefs, I'm willing to say with you that they can be respected for their power to motivate positive action while at the same time not respected because of their lack of veracity. So some aspects of the beliefs are worthy of respect, others are not. In such a situation, should we say flat out, "I respect your beliefs"? I wouldn't . . . at least not without qualification.

When Harris and Hitchens et al. paint all religion--whether wacko fundamentalist or liberal/progressive--with the same brush, they're doing a disservice to their cause. Yet they have a point. Holding beliefs for which there is no evidence, even if those beliefs have positive effects, leads to bad habits of thought--perhaps not inevitably but often enough. If you believe one thing without evidence, why not believe another, and another, and another? The famous quote I've seen attributed to Voltaire comes to mind: "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities."

Religious disputes are like arguments in a madhouse over which inmate really is Napoleon.
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02-12-2012, 11:39 PM
RE: Respect for Religion
(02-12-2012 11:26 PM)cufflink Wrote:  ...
When Harris and Hitchens et al. paint all religion--whether wacko fundamentalist or liberal/progressive--with the same brush, they're doing a disservice to their cause.
...

small correction: Dawkins perhaps, but Harris has said some very nice things about e.g. the Jains and does not treat all religions equally. That's what has earned him some 'disrespect' of late (see what I did there?).

Marcus,
Everyone has given you the expected answers about compartmentalising.... splitting the person from the belief or splitting the attribute of a person from the whole person.

I, just to be different, will challenge your premise...

What's wrong with feeling superior?

Meeting an inferior being such as these theist-types, you will feel no sexual attraction, you will not fall in love with them, you will avoid all the headaches than many members here have experienced regarding e.g. how to raise your children.

Be thankful for small mercies.

No, don't thank me. Any time.

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02-12-2012, 11:44 PM
RE: Respect for Religion
For the title, no. For the two kinds of people, I share neither sentiment.

Fuck. Thanks for asking that question! *brainwarp*

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03-12-2012, 12:31 AM
RE: Respect for Religion
As for motivating people to do good, I don't buy it. Sure, there are, for example, Christian charities, and missionaries that do some good stuff. But just think how much better use of their time if they didn't spend much of it on the religious aspect. All their energy, all the money,could go toward helping people instead of buying Bibles for them.

I'd prefer people actually practiced the love they neighbor thing, rather than doing it for a nonexistent, postmortem reward, or doing it because they fear punishment if they don't.

And I think if religion did not exist, you wouldn't have less people doing good deeds, but you would have less people doing things for the wrong reasons (and you'd have less good people doing bad things, like blowing up embassies).

It's usually not in your best interest to be an asshole. People will treat you better if you help them and others, most of the time. People would still donate to charities because they stupid commercials with the fat guy would make them feel bad for starving kids in africa, or just because they want to help people. Any institution that is religious and helps people could be improved with the subtraction of the religious aspect. And people would still give to charity to feel good, to relieve guilt, to impress their neighbors.

Anyway, I don't think religion deserves respect because some people do good things in the name of religion. Those people could do good things without invoking sky fairies. I know nobody here said so, but when I hear this from religious folks, it usually devolves into "without religion we'd all be raping and pillaging and we'd have no moral compass or compassion for others," which is bull.

But anyway, I guess I respect people's right to think dumb things, or in any case, I can't fix their brains myself, but I will admit that I usually lose respect for a person when they start talking about religion, even if they are good people. I can't help but think to myself, "This person has no respect for reality, no curiosity about how the universe works, no respect for science, and no critical thinking skills." Or at the very least, in most cases, I think that they never bothered to question their childhood indoctrination and are easily fooled.

Quote:

Meeting an inferior being such as these theist-types, you will feel no sexual attraction....
I'm not really into human pair-bonding, but THIS. lol. I will not have sex with a theist. It's a deal breaker.
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03-12-2012, 01:43 AM
RE: Respect for Religion
(02-12-2012 11:39 PM)DLJ Wrote:  
(02-12-2012 11:26 PM)cufflink Wrote:  ...
When Harris and Hitchens et al. paint all religion--whether wacko fundamentalist or liberal/progressive--with the same brush, they're doing a disservice to their cause.
...

small correction: Dawkins perhaps, but Harris has said some very nice things about e.g. the Jains and does not treat all religions equally. That's what has earned him some 'disrespect' of late (see what I did there?).

You're right--I do recall Harris saying nice things about the Jains. And I confess I haven't kept up with him as of late. What led to my statement was passages such as this (from The End of Faith) concerning religious moderates: "One of the central themes of this book . . . is that religious moderates are themselves the bearers of a terrible dogma: they imagine that the path to peace will be paved once each of us has learned to respect the unjustified beliefs of others. I hope to show that the very ideal of religious tolerance--born of the notion that every human being should be free to believe whatever he wants about God--is one of the principal forces driving us toward the abyss." (14-15) And this: "Once we have examined the problems inherent to faith, and the threat that even 'moderate' religious faith, however inadvertently, now poses to our survival, we can begin to situate our ethical intuitions and our capacity for spiritual experience within the context of a rational worldview." (42-43)

Also this:





If Harris has since moderated (see what i did there? <g>) his views, I'd be interested in some references. I've always felt his attack on religious moderation was the weakest part of his argumentation.

Religious disputes are like arguments in a madhouse over which inmate really is Napoleon.
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03-12-2012, 01:45 AM
RE: Respect for Religion
Thanks guys, especially Reltzik, that with what they actually do is something I can think about and it might be enough to work with.

And DLJ the thing was that what if I meet someone whose accomplishments show that he is really intelligent. Someone I can't say I am superior to. I think it was the second poster who said they were delusional and that is probably a good description.

Have to go to university now but I will think about your thoughts about the matter, thanks again.
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