Respect and Religion

As an atheist, I obviously talk about my views. As a human, I sometimes get carried away, and when it happens I try to recognize it and stop. But if people bring up religion, or if I’m on a public forum such as this one, I have a right to my words, opinions, and thoughts about the world (based on science) as they relate to religion and my atheistic views. So I think it’s wrong when people want to cut off what I have to say by saying that I’m being disrespectful toward religion.

So I have to ask you, why should I respect it? I don’t actively try to punish any religion’s followers just on the basis that they believe something differently that what I do, because that simple thing alone is never what upsets me about religion. What upsets me is all the negative effects it tends to have on the world and that it’s had on me personally. So I think I can make a perfectly good case for why religion doesn’t necessarily deserve any respect. I’m not going to remain quiet and say nothing when I see harmful things done as a result of religion just because you want me to keep my mouth shut in order to “respect” what you think.

I have a hard time respecting an institution that is responsible for countless deaths through genocide, war, and just plain old hate and prejudice. Now, that doesn’t mean that the second I find out what faith you are I’m going to jump down your throat. Chances are, unless you press the topic or ask me a question, I won’t even volunteer my own personal beliefs because of the reaction I’ve gotten in the past. Me declaring my atheism has led to people laughing at me, harassing me about my views, and throwing bible scripture out at me in a very unwelcome manner. I’ve had people see my tattoo that reads, “I go to seek a Great Perhaps.” and assume simply off of that that I don’t believe in God (how they reach this conclusion from that tattoo, I don’t know) – I had a woman tell me all about the “Great I am” and her friend Jesus once when I was working at Weis as a cashier, and since I was working I wasn’t about to risk my job and tell her I think she’s talking a bunch of non-sense. I just stood there, passively listening, not really giving any input and looking bored until she was done with her spiel. How is this not disrespectful to atheism and atheists? And yet, this is the same type of person that once you start stating your views in a sound manner will play this disrespect card and write off whatever you have to say on that basis.

Another thing I’ve heard is that I should respect religion because of the moral code it provides for humanity and that without it there would be utter chaos – most often I heard this said in regards to Christianity. But religion and morals are NOT mutually exclusive. You don’t have to be religious to be moral, just in the same way that being religious doesn’t automatically make you moral either. Morality is a personal thing, we all know what right and wrong are, whether or not we act on it is something else entirely. And there are plenty of unethical teachings in the bible, there are plenty of stories that advocate slavery and rape – tell me again about how your holy book is a strict moral code. Plenty of civilizations got along just fine before the Old Testament was written, they didn’t need the bible to make their laws because they already knew that things like murder, stealing, and rape (even though the bible doesn’t say so on that last one) were wrong. Religion has NO claim on morality, especially when it’s proven that by being responsible for mass genocides, the crusades, and by stopping the advancement of scientific knowledge because of fear that people would question the church for over 500 years.

Sorry, but I’m not about to just give up my respect to any institution that’s had the chance to have positive effects on the world for thousands of years, but has caused more harm than it could ever make up for. Respect is one of those things that is earned.

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About thatcatkatie
I came to this site to discuss my beliefs, and yours too, and hopefully learn some things from my fellow human beings.

17 Responses to Respect and Religion

  1. mozypray says:

    I think that the last sentence says it all. Nice post.

  2. Any system can be abused, religion is no different. Power in any hands can be used for corrupt purposes.

    • thatcatkatie says:

      That’s true, and frankly that’s why I don’t respect it. I shouldn’t be expected to, considering the vast amounts of harm that it does. Religion does good, but only because some good people choose to do good with it. In the mind of the wrong person (which is where it has ended up far too many times, just look at Hitler’s christian values), it does monumental amounts of damage. It’s a tool, it doesn’t change the inherent nature of a person – if a person wants to do good, they can do it without religion. However religion enables people to do horrid things because of some of the words in its own holy book. It makes you believe the world works in ways differently from what I think, but just believing it doesn’t mean you HAVE to act a certain way upon it. The fact that the ways people have acted upon it have caused more deaths than are countable, has caused people in Africa to continue to be infected by AIDS because of Christian missionaries telling them that condoms are bad, the fact that it’s infringed upon people’s rights for centuries should be a signal that religion is in no way inherently good, and just the fact that it can never make up for the harm it’s done is enough for me to write it off as anything but a standard for morality. I could respect it if it had brought mostly positive events to the world, but it just hasn’t, and it’s not like the institutionalized religions haven’t had thousands of years to have positive impact – they have, but they instead bring things like the crusades down upon people.

  3. Religion has been abused, no one is saying it hasn’t. But then science has been used for bad purposes too. A gun, an atomic bomb does not know who uses it, it just works, thanks to science. You can see why application of something in a certain way does not mean its bad to begin with. It is only because people who handle guns or religion or power can be evil too.

    In my personal opinion, this is an unfair kind of logic, because to be consistent and fair you would have to concede that it goes both ways.

    Hitler was as much of a Christian as a man wearing black suit thinks he is batman. What Hitler thought of his beliefs is irrelevant. Unless you are supporting that Stalin was motivated by atheism or pol-pot or other madmen like Hitler were driven by the inherent nature of their ideologies and not their own evil plans. This would lead nowhere. It is actually not a good point to argue at all. This cuts both ways.

    • thatcatkatie says:

      But religion is abused because it is set up in a way that makes it so easy to abuse, it literally tries to give you rules on life. It states things about humanity and god that can easily be used for evil. Science isn’t set up that way, it has no inherent amount of evil in it. It provides no rule book to life but merely seeks to explain it.
      Religion has been abused because of the very thin line of morality it carries. It’s very own rules from its very own holy book have been used to advocate slavery. It commands the death as the punishment to many sins. It contains misogynistic ideas that are harmful – for example, it does not discourage rape. And don’t give me the typical apologist response by saying the bible goes on to say that the victim can marry their rapists, because no woman in their right mind would WANT to marry their rapist, they were just forced to in the past because otherwise they’d be alone because when they were no longer virgins men lost interest.
      I think it is fair to hold religion up to this standard, since it’s supposed to be all about living your life the right way. The fact that it is so easily corruptible and used or evil when that’s supposed to be the opposite effect that it has should be alarming. Again, atheism doesn’t have a rule book and no two atheists can accurately be compared since we don’t adhere to a common rule book like people of faith do.
      You can’t reasonable argue that Stalin was motivated by atheism because there was no deity or anything else that he believed was telling him to commit these atrocities or would even agree with him if they could. He wasn’t killing in the name of religion, for religion, backed up by religion, or anything else. He didn’t come to the conclusion to do horrible things via religious teachings. He didn’t think his actions were backed by any god. He was a loon. Some people you just can’t account for. None of the atheists who killed because they were atheist did it because a specific belief system swayed them to think that way the the way the bible does for so many people, past and present. more simply put, he didn’t do evil things and then hide behind the claim of god or anything else to try and justify it, which is just he sort of safe place religion gives to bigots who are hateful and do awful things.

      • I disagree, when those who are in power wish to abuse something, they do it regardless of how easy or difficult it is to do.

        Science has no inherent evil, I agree, it is those who misuse it are vil. when a gun is sold at a local store, there is no inherent evil in there but you would agree there are all the potential of the inherent evil about it present for anyone to use it as he sees fit. The same is with the church, there is no inherent evil but the potential is there for anyone to harness and people do it often.

      • well, you may not like the answer but the truth is, 4000 years ago, a woman was not the same as the women you see now, they were illiterate, they had very little rights, not to mention they lived in male dominant societies. It actually baffles me when athiest say that religion condones rape. This is simply insulting people’s faith without understanding anything. The command to marry was not to legalize rape but to hold the man responsible and give the girl shelter, a name and proper rights of a wife. in other words the man can not walk away when he has committed this atrocity.

        Stalin can be compared only when you attribute Hitler to christianity.

        • thatcatkatie says:

          I am very much aware of how women have been treated in the past. But why should a woman want that or be willing to submit to becoming their rapists wife? The only reason she would want it is because she has no hope of a better life because society kept women down and saw them as less than people, subservient to men for thousands of years. And religion has only reinforced misogynistic views, just like that one. I can find other examples of religious misogyny if you want.
          Maybe there’s nowhere in the bible that says the words “rape is good” but it certainly doesn’t condemn it either, and since it’s so clearly immoral, I can’t see why it wouldn’t – but that’s a bit derailing. There are plenty of stories that treat rape as if it’s no big deal, just a fact of life.
          Religion is inherently evil from my viewpoint, though, because with all of the supposed love you’d think it would have accomplished some huge, world changing, good act for humanity as opposed to only hugely horrific ones. Even though world hunger is a solvable problem, it isn’t profitable, so it doesn’t get done. You’d think religion would step in here. Every step along the way in history, where religion could have done good, it has instead left wars and unjustified hateful prejudices to opposing groups in its wake. If it were inherently good, you would think it would have improved the world more noticeably. I know that there are Christians who give to charity, but a good person will do good things with or without their religion, so you cannot necessarily credit religion for the charitable acts of a few religious people. It gives corrupt leaders a power boost when they say they do things in the name of God because it makes people less likely to question them because they believe in that same God, or maybe fear it. Since religion preaches morality, if it were inherently good, you would assume it has an obligation to morality – but there is little evidence to suggest that this obligation has been met. Now I’m not just saying that since it doesn’t do enough good that makes it evil, I’m only saying the evil produced by religion far outweighs the bad, and that evil is often committed in the name of religion.

      • may be so, but that is exactly my point, I can say the same for any ideology which has been abused,

        The same book which can be used for slavery was also used to abolish it too. Its certainly hard to follow the second commandment of Christ, love your neighbor as yourself. People can weave proof-texting nightmares, and most extreme christian conservatives do it all the time. Their view of course is not the same for all, nor do they represent all.

        The old testament does not even apply to Christians. Many Christians follow it as a guide about wrong or write but the truth is that is not the same as N.T. There is a very big difference. The o.t is harsh and brutal, it was also for a theocracy not for a democracy to begin with. It was given to Israel only, Christians are called to follow christ.

        Anyway, if religion has done more evil than good than it personificates the message of Christ more than ever. That man is and can be corrupted often. And at best it proves that you have disagreements with hypocritical religion. Good, I have problems with hypocritical Christianity too. The church can be wrong, it can be evil too, it has been in the past. Yet that says nothing about God, only how men choose to represent him.

        How people live a religion only tells you what man can and can not do. yet that does not represent the nature of christian message. It only represents people who are not perfect. On that note, atheists themselves are no better than any other. We are all the same.

        I also believe that we can be wrong too, you can be wrong too. I believe that one should be intellectually honest, no matter where that leads, be fair and honest and then let the chips fall where they may.

        • thatcatkatie says:

          Regarding the old and new testament with the most simplistic way I can describe my feelings on it – if there is an omnipotent, omniscient God that governs us, you would think he would get his general teachings and rules right the first time. Since perfection is not something that fluctuates, you would think the personality and teachings of a perfect being wouldn’t fluctuate either.
          I never claimed atheists to be inherently better or worse, only that religion has no claim on morality. There are plenty of atheists that are bat-shit crazy and generally pessimistic about the world and probably uninformed about their own atheism. However, I can happily say this is a very small minority when it comes to the people I have met, I’m not sure I’d find an accurate poll on that information even if I try so I have to go off of experience. Not to say that with the Christians I’ve met it’s been the opposite – I think I’ve met as many nice, moral Christians as I have crazy, prejudiced, needlessly hateful ones who barely even know what’s in the bible.
          I know I can be wrong, in fact I came to Atheism after having been Christian for the first 16 years of my life before I ever even questioned my beliefs, I had to admit I was wrong in order to become an atheist. I’m still learning things about science all the time and find that what I’ve previously believe was wrong. I’m not afraid of being wrong, only afraid of being wrong and never having anyone show me the right answer. I don’t want to live in ignorance. I came to these conclusions after a few years of reading book after book on different atheist perspectives as well as christian perspectives on the other side, after years of going to church and then one day suddenly thinking that maybe it didn’t really make as much sense as I thought it did, after long discussions with my family and with people such as yourself. While it’s possible I could be wrong about my position, I feel it goes further than opinion on this matter and I cannot be shaken. I feel that religion has always done more evil than it can account for, I feel it always will, too. I do not believe humanity can really handle such a concept while other people have clashing views and learn to be peaceable about it because of the nature of the institution itself and what it does to people and enables them to do, not just because of human nature. It goes further than the corruptible nature of humans, although that does play a role.

      • why the idea of perfection? when God is dealing with humans, humans are not perfect, God’s revelation deals with imperfect humans because perfection is not what is being sought here to prove anything. That is only something YEC conservative Christians might rely on heavily. Plus I would also say that since you would not happen to know everything there is to know then may be you also do not know exactly what reasons there might exist for God to do something that might not make sense to you or me. Would you apply rules to a young kid the same way you would do to an adult? I certainly hope not, a kid may not understand what an adult can. What you and I can understand today, people simply could not 4000 years ago. Does that change anything know. I simply disagree. applying a modern standard to an ancient people is a non-starter. Its fallacious in my opinion. Since the conditions are not the same.

        I mean if you going to be fair, then also be open that you can be equally wrong. I tell myself daily, I could be wrong, there may not be anyone out there. Its not a comfortable feeling when you doubt but then lets be fair and doubt also that we may be wrong too. God may exist and IF he does than he is not the one who is to blame. I realize that is a big if but we can not have it both ways. If God exists, then by definition a lot of things change.

        i have already told you religion has no claim on morality. Although you might be mixing two things here, epistemology and ontology are two different things. The question among philosophers and scientists on it is far from settled.

        I am not sure why would you bring religion as hypocritical and evil over and over again when I already said that it can happen to any system. The christian message does not equal the church nor the behavior of christians in general. You may disagree but then that is your opinion, I disagree, I think there is more to the issue than you are currently discussing. In fact humanity has everything to do with it. God hardly ever interferes in anything we do.

        On a side note, I was an athiest for 16 years. ironic, you turned athiest and I turned an apologist. If anything just do not think that I am trying to cover dirt under the rug, I am honest about my position. Do not simply discard my belief because you think its stupid. That will be truly insulting. Thank God for logic and reason. Every position can be punched in and holed in. Allow me to do that to atheism and you will see that it can be taken apart too. No system is perfect. The reason I am not going there because first, its too easy, second I am not in a confronting mood. To be honest there is nothing at stake here but my opinion.

        But I also think that christianity has been demonized at times most unfairly too. Where it is valid, I have nothing to state on the contrary; however I won’t respect invalid ideas and misrepresentations of what I believe.

        have a good night, katie. Its almost morning here. see you later. 🙂

        • thatcatkatie says:

          I’m going to have to maul this one over. I haven’t had to think so hardly about what another person has said to me about religion in a long time, don’t get your hopes up though, I’m not converting any time soon 😛
          Goodnight/Goodmorning, it’s almost 8 p.m. here.

  4. for example check this,

    An excerpt from the Irrational Atheist by Vox Day, Pg: 240-242, Chapter Red Hand of Atheism.

    “there have been twenty-eight countries in world history that can be confirmed to have been ruled by regimes with avowed atheists at the
    helm, beginning with the First French Republic and ending with the four atheist regimes currently extant: the People’s Republic of China,
    the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. These twenty-
    eight historical regimes have been ruled by eighty-nine atheists, of whom more than half have engaged in democidal15 acts of the sort
    committed by Stalin and Mao and are known to have murdered at least 20,000 of their own citizens.

    The total body count for the ninety years between 1917 and 2007 is approximately 148 million dead at the bloody hands of fifty-two
    atheists, three times more than all the human beings killed by war, civil war, and individual crime in the entire twentieth century combined.
    The historical record of collective atheism is thus 182,716 times worse on an annual basis than Christianity’s worst and most
    infamous misdeed, the Spanish Inquisition. It is not only Stalin and Mao who were so murderously inclined, they were merely the worst
    of the whole Hell-bound lot. For every Pol Pot whose infamous name is still spoken with horror today, there was a Mengistu, a Bierut, and
    a Choibalsan, godless men whose names are now forgotten everywhere…

    Is a 58 percent chance that an atheist leader will murder a noticeable percentage of the population over which he rules sufficient evidence
    that atheism does, in fact, provide a systematic influence to do bad things? If that is not deemed to be conclusive, how about the fact
    that the average atheist crime against humanity is 18.3 million percent worse than the very worst depredation committed by Christians,
    even though atheists have had less than one-twentieth the number of opportunities with which to commit them. If one considers the statistically
    significant size of the historical atheist set and contrasts it with the fact that not one in a thousand religious leaders have committed
    similarly large-scale atrocities, it is impossible to conclude otherwise, even if we do not yet understand exactly why this should be the case.

    Once might be an accident, even twice could be coincidence, but fifty-two incidents in ninety years reeks of causation!”

    See, what I mean, the body count, of who did what is a moot point

  5. by the way, just that we understand each other, I do believe people can be moral without God. In fact to be honest the Bible itself says that people can be moral without God.

    • thatcatkatie says:

      I’m glad that you think that, it’s fairly offensive to me when people think I’m unable to act morally just because I don’t believe in heaven. Morals don’t have to have an end goal or justification for why they exist, they just are.

    • thatcatkatie says:

      I’d also like to state that I like that you’re making me think, just because I disagree with what you say I hope you don’t start to think of me as the enemy. Obviously both of us thinks we’re right while the other is wrong. I might try to tear down every point you make piece by piece, just as you try to do when arguing with all atheists I’m sure, and we may never be best friends or anything, but I can at least respect you personally from what little interaction we have had and that you bring up valid points that need to be discussed and argue intelligently. I appreciate that, and it’s a breath of fresh air compared to some people I argue with who can’t talk without trying to insult me or even get past the point of evolution because they don’t understand it and wouldn’t even contemplate understanding it. Having said that, back to discussing and disagreeing on most things.

      • well, I am glad that we can do that. And to be honest I don’t consider you an enemy. We will disagree on many things, that is a given, I understand that. lets hope we clear some misconceptions. and on that note, please don’t take anything personal too. If anything, lets not argue, lets just discuss. I am not here to convince you of anything. I suggest you try the same approach. We’ll just present our points and leave it at that.

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