Why can't everyone just have their own beliefs?

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Everyone does have their own beliefs, but all beliefs are not equally valid nor do they equally reflect reality. An incorrect belief may occasionally be harmless, but it can also directly result in negative consequences (unnecessary guilt, bigotry, racism, oppression, strife, silencing of dissent, the death of the innocent, etc.)
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==Overview==
  
Beliefs direct and guide our actions, and incorrect beliefs can lead to actions that increase harm, both for the individuals holding a particular belief and those around them. A perfect example of this is the preventable deaths of children at the hands of those who wait for a god to heal instead of taking their children to a doctor. If someone dies because their faith kept them from seeking medical treatment, it is tragic. It is far more so when an innocent child is lost do to their parent’s ignorance and their reliance on a belief that is not supported by logic, evidence or reason.
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A common objection to [[atheist]] activism is that atheists are attempting to disallow theists from having their [[belief]]s. The atheist is often asked, "''Why can't everyone just have their own beliefs?''" Many [[theist]]s assert that their beliefs are harmless, and, most of the time, they are indeed harmless. This objection arises due to a few misunderstandings:
  
Another example of beliefs harming others is the oppression and hatred directed at homosexuals, atheists and others.
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* Atheists aren't attempting to ban theistic beliefs, per se. Most of the time, addressing theistic beliefs is a means of self-defense against actions of theists.
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* Most of the time, the people who make this claim aren't the ones directly harming society. Atheists are generally addressing actions of the more extreme theists.
  
Teaching a child that they are a sinner, a worm that deserves eternal damnation, can do incredible harm to a child and can lead to unhealthy levels of guilt and repression. The belief that condoms are evil has helped increase the levels of STD’s and unwanted pregnancy all across the world. This is directly evidenced by the prevalence of HIV in Africa.
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==Limits of Belief==
  
A belief or opinion that is based on lies, falsehoods or misunderstandings will have consequences. It is better that our beliefs and opinions reflect the world around us, and it is often necessary to change our beliefs as new evidence becomes available.
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While everyone necessarily has their own beliefs, not all beliefs are equally valid, nor do they equally reflect [[reality]]. An incorrect belief may occasionally be harmless, but it can also directly result in negative consequences. Pointing out the fallacious reasoning behind such beliefs need not be seen as "harsh" or "offensive". If someone is so insecure in his or her beliefs as to be unable to handle criticism, these beliefs probably lack a rational foundation.
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''Beliefs inform your actions'', and if your beliefs are in error, your actions are more likely to be harmful in some way. While people obviously can hold whatever beliefs they want, it is healthier for society as a whole if those beliefs are accurate.  If faith is the basis for one's beliefs and is what determines agency in the world, then we should strive to hold beliefs that are accurate.
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==Harm by Religious Belief==
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The following is a list of harm caused by religious beliefs. This counters the idea that theistic beliefs are harmless.
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* [http://voices.washingtonpost.com/postpartisan/2010/11/in_the_gops_house_god_wont_all.html God won't allow global warming, because he promised not to flood us again], thus sabotaging our efforts to stem the climate issue.
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* [http://unreasonablefaith.com/2011/02/20/gop-lawmaker-claims-god-will-provide-natural-resources-forever-and-ever/ God won't let us run out of resources] - thus contributing to more destruction of the planet, and the avoidance of action that would better our condition.
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* [http://insession.blogs.cnn.com/2010/05/13/son-dies-slowly-as-parents-pray/ Son dies slowly as parents pray], in spite of having an easily treatable ailment.
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* [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crusades The Crusades], where religion prompted a group of Christian knights to slaughter anyone in the way of securing the holy land.
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* [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Inquisition The Spanish Inquisition], where draconian and barbaric measures were taken to ensure people stayed within the Catholic church.
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* [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uganda_Anti-Homosexuality_Bill Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill], which is religion-driven legislation that would jail or put to death homosexuals.
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* [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/September_11_attacks September 11, 2001], where faith-driven Islamic terrorists flew airplanes into the WTC, killing over 3000 people, over promises of martyrdom.
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* [http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/oct/09/aids Catholic Anti-contraceptive effforts], which leads to an increased spread of STDs in Africa, and thus death, because the [[Catholic]] church is opposed to sexual activity.
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* The psychological damage that excessive fundamentalist indoctrination can do to one's ability to have intimate and professional relationships.
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* [[Avoidance of hell|The unfounded and paralyzing fear of hell for minor actions, such as critical thinking.]]
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* [[Panda Trial|The systematic deconstruction of science education in America.]]
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* The brainwashing of children into thinking they are worthless sinners, which destroys their self esteem.
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* [http://bostonherald.com/news/regional/view/20110317report_nantucket_child_killed_in_exorcism Mother kills child during exorcism attempt]
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==Problem of Casual Theistic Beliefs==
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Casual theists (such as liberal [[Christians]]) contribute indirectly to many of the atrocities above. Even though most theists aren't responsible for such atrocities, their presence helps to establish an environment sympathetic to religiously motivated actions likely to cause harm. Just as a damp basement is an environment more conducive to mold growth than a dry basement, a society infused with casual theistic belief is an environment more conducive to dangerous theistic actions than a society without religious beliefs.  
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{{Common objections}}
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[[Category:Criticisms of atheism]]

Latest revision as of 11:07, 6 March 2013

Contents

Overview

A common objection to atheist activism is that atheists are attempting to disallow theists from having their beliefs. The atheist is often asked, "Why can't everyone just have their own beliefs?" Many theists assert that their beliefs are harmless, and, most of the time, they are indeed harmless. This objection arises due to a few misunderstandings:

  • Atheists aren't attempting to ban theistic beliefs, per se. Most of the time, addressing theistic beliefs is a means of self-defense against actions of theists.
  • Most of the time, the people who make this claim aren't the ones directly harming society. Atheists are generally addressing actions of the more extreme theists.

Limits of Belief

While everyone necessarily has their own beliefs, not all beliefs are equally valid, nor do they equally reflect reality. An incorrect belief may occasionally be harmless, but it can also directly result in negative consequences. Pointing out the fallacious reasoning behind such beliefs need not be seen as "harsh" or "offensive". If someone is so insecure in his or her beliefs as to be unable to handle criticism, these beliefs probably lack a rational foundation.

Beliefs inform your actions, and if your beliefs are in error, your actions are more likely to be harmful in some way. While people obviously can hold whatever beliefs they want, it is healthier for society as a whole if those beliefs are accurate. If faith is the basis for one's beliefs and is what determines agency in the world, then we should strive to hold beliefs that are accurate.

Harm by Religious Belief

The following is a list of harm caused by religious beliefs. This counters the idea that theistic beliefs are harmless.

Problem of Casual Theistic Beliefs

Casual theists (such as liberal Christians) contribute indirectly to many of the atrocities above. Even though most theists aren't responsible for such atrocities, their presence helps to establish an environment sympathetic to religiously motivated actions likely to cause harm. Just as a damp basement is an environment more conducive to mold growth than a dry basement, a society infused with casual theistic belief is an environment more conducive to dangerous theistic actions than a society without religious beliefs.


v · d Common objections to atheism and counter-apologetics
Personal   Why are you trying to tear down other people's faith? · Why can't everyone just have their own beliefs? · What are your qualifications? · Atheists believe in nothing · You are a communist · Why do atheists inspire such hatred? · That's not my God
Religious   That's not in my Bible · They're not true Christians · You just want to sin · Atheists know there is a God · It takes more faith to disbelieve than it does to believe · God doesn't believe in atheists · Science is a faith · Atheism is a religion · Atheists worship materialism · Hypocrisy of celebrating religious holidays · Atheism is based on faith · Religious belief is beneficial
Science and logic   You can't prove God doesn't exist · Science can't touch god · God can't be defined · So you think we came from nothing / pondsoup / monkeys? · If God didn't create everything, who did? · That might be true for you, but its not true for me · Religion is another way of knowing · Apologetics and dinosaurs
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