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 [[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:
 
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:
  
* 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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* 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 culprits, directly. Atheists are addressing actions of the more extreme 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.
  
 
==Limits of Belief==
 
==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.
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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.
  
''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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''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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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==
 
==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.
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The following is a list of harm caused by religious beliefs. This counters the idea that theistic beliefs are harmless.
  
 
* [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.
 
* [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.
* [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://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.
* [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://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.
* [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/Crusades The Crusades], where religion prompted a group of Christian knights to slaughter anyone in the way of securing the holy land.
* [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/Spanish_Inquisition The Spanish Inquisition], where draconian and barbaric measures were taken to ensure people stayed within the Catholic church.
* [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/Uganda_Anti-Homosexuality_Bill Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill], which is religion-driven legislation that would jail or put to death homosexuals.
 
* [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 an increased spread of STDs in Africa, and thus death, because the [[Catholic]] church is opposed to sexual activity.
 
* [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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* [[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.]]
 
* [[Panda Trial|The systematic deconstruction of science education in America.]]
 
* [[Panda Trial|The systematic deconstruction of science education in America.]]
* The brainwashing of children into thinking they're worthless sinners, destroying their self esteem.
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* The brainwashing of children into thinking they are worthless sinners, which destroys their self esteem.
* [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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* [http://bostonherald.com/news/regional/view/20110317report_nantucket_child_killed_in_exorcism Mother kills child during exorcism attempt]
  
 
==Problem of Casual Theistic Beliefs==
 
==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.
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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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It's analogous to a damp basement being a conducive environment to mold growth, versus a dry basement.
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{{Common objections}}
 
{{Common objections}}
  
 
[[Category:Criticisms of atheism]]
 
[[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
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. You can't explain that.
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