Why can't everyone just have their own beliefs?

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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 provoked out of self-defense from something a theist is doing.
  • Most of the time, the people who make this claim aren't the culprits, directly. Atheists are addressing actions of the more extreme theists.

Limits of Belief

While everyone does have 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 said beliefs is by no means being "harsh" or "offensive". If someone is so insecure in their beliefs as to not handle the criticism, all that shows is a lack of rationality in their beliefs.

Beliefs inform your actions, and if your beliefs are in error, your actions are most likely going to be harmful in some way. While people can hold whatever beliefs they want, it's healthier for society as a whole if those beliefs are accurate.

If faith is the ground for one's beliefs and is what determines agency in the world, then not only do beliefs need to be accurate but faith needs to have a just as compelling notion that can be as plural and non-exclusive as societal norms.

Harm by Religious Belief

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

Problem of Casual Theistic Beliefs

The problem that casual theists (such as liberal Christians) cause can be indirect. Even though most theists aren't responsible for the above atrocities, what they do accomplish is establishing a sympathetic environment for such things to occur.

It's analogous to a damp basement being a conducive environment to mold growth, versus a dry basement.

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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