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.).  The belief that condoms are evil has helped increase the levels of STD’s and unwanted pregnancy all across the world, for example. This is directly evidenced by the prevalence of HIV in Africa.
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==Overview==
  
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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:
  
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 due to their parent’s ignorance and their reliance on a belief that is not supported by logic, evidence or reason.
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* 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.  
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* Most of the time, the people who make this claim aren't the culprits, directly. Atheists are addressing actions of the more extreme theists.
  
Another example of beliefs harming others is the oppression and hatred directed at homosexuals, atheists and others.
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==Limits of Belief==
  
Another class of harm, though more indirect and subtle, is applying excessive guilt for transgressions against unfounded beliefs.  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, for example.  
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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.
  
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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''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.
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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.
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==Harm by Religious Belief==
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The following is a list of harm that religious beliefs have done. 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, avoidance of action to 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 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 their 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 stay within the Catholic church.
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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.
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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're worthless sinners, destroying their self esteem.
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* [http://www.myfoxboston.com/dpp/news/local/nantucket-child-killed-in-exorcism-by-mom-according-to-court-docs-20110317 Mother kills child during exorcism attempt]
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==Problem of Casual Theistic Beliefs==
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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.
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It's analogous to a damp basement being a conducive environment to mold growth, versus a dry basement.
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{{Common objections}}
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[[Category:Criticisms of atheism]]

Revision as of 14:11, 12 March 2012

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. 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 · God is trying to trick you with dinosaur bones · Satan is trying to trick you with dinosaur bones · Tides come in, tides go out
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