Why can't everyone just have their own beliefs?

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* [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uganda_Anti-Homosexuality_Bill Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill], which is a religious-driven legislation that would jail or put homosexuals to death.
 
* [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uganda_Anti-Homosexuality_Bill Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill], which is a religious-driven legislation that would jail or put homosexuals to death.
 
* [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.  
 
* [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.  
* [http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/oct/09/aids Catholic Anti-contraceptive effforts], which leads to and increased spread of STDs in Africa, and thus death, because the [[Catholic]] church is opposed to sexual activity.
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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.
 
* The psychological damage that excessive fundamentalist indoctrination can do to one's ability to have intimate and professional relationships.
 
* The psychological damage that excessive fundamentalist indoctrination can do to one's ability to have intimate and professional relationships.
 
* [[Avoidance of hell|The unfounded and paralyzing fear of hell for minor actions, such as critical thinking.]]
 
* [[Avoidance of hell|The unfounded and paralyzing fear of hell for minor actions, such as critical thinking.]]

Revision as of 15:19, 21 March 2011

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 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.

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.

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 much more difficult to sustain an extreme fundamentalist world view when one is surrounded by people who would actively hold the fundamentalists accountable, than when they're surrounded by those who let things slide because they happen to "believe in" the same holy book.

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

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