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It is often said that we must respect the religious beliefs of others. Simply put, I don't. That is not to say that I see religious people as less deserving of equal protection, but I do not see their beliefs as fundamentally reasonable and worthy of respect, and I think that this claim that we must respect the rights of others undermines our ability to have substantive debates on moral and political issues, by treating certain ideas as immune from debate and criticism. Why, as an atheist, should I respect those who believe, on religious conviction, that atheists should be put to death? Should I not show them the same amount of respect they show me?

The evidence in favor of most religions is weak or nonexistent. I focus on the religions I am most familiar with, but I have reason to believe that other religions have the same general flaws, as these flaws appear to be intrinsic to religion and not simply features of a few specific religions. One key flaw in religion is reliance on faith. Faith is belief without, or in spite of, evidence. Christianity treats faith as a key virtue, and denounces non-believers. It is repeatedly stated in the New Testament that those who do not believe in Jesus as their savior are bound for hell. The Old Testament repeatedly sanctions the killing of non-believers, as well as those who disobey any of a large number of commandments, such as by working on the Sabbath, disrespecting their parents, or even planting two different crops in the same field. Christians often dismiss the more draconian elements of their religion but fail to see that selective reading undermines their arguments. I am, of course, more comfortable around these cafeteria Christians than around someone who actually believes that people ought to be killed for working on the Sabbath, but I still see their position as intellectually indefensible.

Christians who invoke faith generally argue that the evidence is somehow inconclusive. A famous example of the approach that treats the evidence as inconclusive yet demanding our assent is Pascal's wager. Pascal posited that our only choices are to believe or not to believe (the agnostic stance of not taking a position is effectively treated as non-belief). Pascal tells us that if Christianity is true, then we have everything to gain (heaven) by believing and everything to lose (hell) by not believing. On the other hand, if it is not, then we simply die, and Christians will have at least led a good life. Pascal's wager might make sense if the evidence were genuinely inconclusive, though even in this case some problems arise.

First, his claim that we are better off believing Christianity, even if there is no afterlife, is unfounded. Christianity demands many things of its followers, including some fairly unreasonable demands. People who genuinely believe that they are bound for heaven may be better off, though their ability to reason properly is undermined by wishful thinking about the afterlife. However, even if belief individually makes people happier, rigid commitment to Christianity undermines pursuit of worthwhile goals such as scientific discovery. Scientific progress, including such real world benefits as discovering ways to cure or prevent fatal diseases, comes only by rejecting faith and considering the evidence on its merits. When faith is encoded into law, truth becomes heresy. It is not a historical accident that Galileo was subject to house arrest for life. The Bible teaches explicitly that the earth is immovable. The Old Testament says "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." (Exodus, 22:18) Most people now accept that there is no such thing as witchcraft, but many innocent people died because this biblical commandment was taken literally.

It is not even clear that we are individually better off believing. Belief that one is bound for heaven may ease the fear of death, but do Christians really not at least entertain the possibility that they will go to hell? Even if you are convinced that you are going to heaven, you may worry that loved ones are not. Hell is meant to be scary. It is a threat meant to keep people in line. What of the alternative? There are numerous other religions, which undermines the dichotomy of Pascal's wager, but suppose we treat atheism as the relevant alternative. Epicurus said "Death is nothing to us, since when we are, death has not come, and when death has come, we are not." I think most people are unable to grasp his point, perhaps because we cannot conceive of nothingness, and perhaps because the idea of an afterlife is so ingrained in us that what we envision is not true nothingness but some zombie-like state. It is not comforting to think, for instance, that I shall never again see my dead father, but neither is the atheistic conception of death something to dread. (I am not sure whether Epicurus was actually an atheist in the modern sense.)

Lastly, the evidence is not as inconclusive as Pascal suggests. First, absence of evidence sometimes is evidence of absence. When there is no reason to think that we would have evidence of something, then the logical stance is agnosticism. We genuinely do not know if there are advanced alien civilizations out there. The extreme distances involved make communication, let alone interstellar travel, very impractical. Radio signals are simply not detectable at even a few light-years, and the energy required for interstellar travel is nearly impossible to obtain. The number of stars is vast, but it is entirely possible that the barriers to achieving a civilization as advanced as ours, let alone one capable of interstellar travel, are so high that civilizations such as those imagined in science fiction simply do not exist. However, the most reasonable thing to say is that we do not know. We do not even have the information that would allow us to assign a probability to the possibility of encountering advanced alien civilizations.

However, a God like the one described in the Bible would leave copious evidence. It is absurd to think that Joshua made the sun and the moon stand still in the sky for several hours, and even more absurd to think that ancient astronomers around the world somehow failed to notice. Even if we are willing to suspend the laws of nature enough to allow for Biblical miracles, many of them are of such scale that they could not have gone unnoticed. If every ancient civilization recorded that the sun and the moon stood still as recounted in the Book of Joshua, and they seemed to be in rough agreement on details such as when this happened and how long the sun stood still, this would be compelling evidence that this event really happened. However, this event would be so extraordinary that the absence of such accounts is compelling evidence, as if any were needed, that it did not happen. Numerous impossible events are recounted in the Bible. Even fundamentalist Christians reject many of the moral teachings found in the Bible. For them to assert that this book is divinely inspired, let alone literally true, is intolerable presumption. We do not owe them our respect simply because they are religious. Their teachings are not uncertain or even improbable but provably false. Pascal's wager is refuted because we can and do know that Christianity is false. Those who claim otherwise are forced into logical contortions to avoid acknowledging the obvious. If they really do believe, then they are delusional, brainwashed, or engaged in sustained and pervasive wishful thinking.

So why does anyone regard such beliefs as worthy of respect? One reason is tradition. Another is that we find it difficult to really accept that so many people can be so fundamentally wrong. We can accept that old scientific beliefs were in error, and that ours almost certainly are as well. It is harder to accept that a large portion of the population is deeply and profoundly irrational. However, the evidence is compelling that this is in fact true. Nonbelievers, though, should not be content in our conviction that we are the rational majority.

Just because you do not share the same superstitions and logical fallacies as the majority does not mean that you are rational, but only that you do not share the same irrationality as the others. Many atheists were once believers, and some atheists become believers. Many atheists simply lack religious belief, rather than having actively rejected it as I have. Some reject religion for reasons no more rational than the reasons that others accept it. Some atheists have diagnosed or diagnosable mental illnesses. Atheists are not immune from groupthink or wishful thinking. Similarly, religious people may be very intelligent and their faith may not be so strong and pervasive that it has destroyed their ability to engage in critical reasoning.

The world may be better off if people voluntarily abandon their religious belief, but it would not be better to forcibly convert people to atheism. Religious tolerance has served us well. It has kept the peace. Atheists benefit from non-discrimination laws and would do well to comply with them and promote religious freedom. But religious freedom and tolerance does not require treating religion with kid gloves. You can, and should, respect a person's right to hold beliefs that you consider ridiculous. It is possible to regard a person as fundamentally irrational but still a person worthy of respect. A person who is good for the wrong reasons is nevertheless good. Furthermore, I do not believe that anyone is truly rational. Maybe there is some super-intelligent alien race of truly rational beings, but they are not us. The most intelligent people are vulnerable to addiction, self-deception and other irrational tendencies. Human sexuality is not rational. All of us have irrational fears and irrational desires. Aristotle said that rationality is what makes us human. What a privileged existence he must have had. If you are willing to consider that you might be wrong, then you have taken the important first step toward becoming a wiser and better person. If not, then why should I respect you?
Religion has gotten too much respect. I argue here that religion is irrational, and that there is conclusive evidence against the truth of at least some religions. I end by showing how this can be reconciled with our convictions about religious freedom and tolerance.
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:iconacaciagreen:
AcaciaGreen Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2013  Student General Artist

You said, "rigid commitment to Christianity undermines pursuit of worthwhile goals such as scientific discovery. Scientific progress, including such real world benefits as discovering ways to cure or prevent fatal diseases, comes only by rejecting faith and considering the evidence on its merits."

 

I actually beg to differ. There are many Christian scientists very devoted to making scientific discoveries. Nicolaus Copernicus, for example. He discovered the heliocentric view for the first time, and that has brought us forward so much. He was very dedicated to his field and made one of the greatest scientific advances of his time.

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:iconacaciagreen:
AcaciaGreen Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2013  Student General Artist
Johannes Kepler. Galileo. Isaac Newton. Gregor Mendel. George Washington Carver is a great example. Heisenberg. All of them had faith in God and made amazing scientific discoveries and advances.
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:iconsethness:
sethness Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2013
You wrote "there is conclusive evidence against the truth of at least some religions". Isn't it obvious that if even one religion is correct, then the vast majority (x - 1, where "x" is the number of religions) are untrue? Perhaps you should write "the vast majority" instead of "At least some".

Also... I think you did well in your criticism of Pascal's Wager, but could have taken it further. Pascal argues that to believe in (a religion) even if there is no god is harmless. This is demonstrably untrue. Consider the Protestant-v-Catholics in Ireland, and any other religion-fueled war, including "war" on society's acceptance of gays, religion-based hiring practices, and so on. These are real harms caused by the belief in the reality & infallibility of an imaginary, invisible super-santa in the sky.
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:icongreatkingrat88:
Greatkingrat88 Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2013
I wish I had some clever criticisms, but I agree with this so wholeheartedly that I might have written it myself. No idea deserves respect simply on account of being an idea, and I wish more christians would understand that.
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:iconrejectall-american:
RejectAll-American Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
This is quite an interesting piece and I enjoyed reading it as an atheist. The points you bring up and your explaining of them is definitely food for thought and very well constructed. I can definitely see where you stand saying that religion is better off abandoned, as it has been quite a plague. The Bible supposedly says "thou shalt not kill," yet how many wars have been fought over it? How many extremists in all religions have murdered innocent people? How many children have been abused by the Catholic church? As it goes, you tell people there's a giant, all powerful being in the sky that you can neither see, touch, or hear and they'll all but grovel at your feet. But tell them the paint on that wall is wet and they have to touch it before they believe you.

That being said, I also think it's important to respect the beliefs of others regardless of how you feel about it. I don't think the question is necessarily does religion deserve respect, but rather do some of the people claiming to practice it and carrying out their business, especially the bad kind. There are plenty of decent, incredible people who have spiritual beliefs that differ from ours. Religion also is not necessarily about belief in an afterlife, but rather some people take comfort in feeling that there is always someone there for them. For example, my best friend's mother (who is maybe 40 at the most) is currently battling Ovarian cancer. Religion isn't necessarily about going to heaven or hell to her, but rather something that clears her mind and helps her think about something OTHER than the fact that she's dying. Everyone has their poison, and if yours is belief in a deity, it's better than some other ones I can name, and if it helps you go through each day feeling like you can live with yourself, then who is anyone to tell you different or treat you as any lesser/higher as a person? And so long as it's not being forced down my throat, I could care less. It doesn't seem right of someone to refuse to respect them simply because you may not believe the same as them. Now, are there some people who take it over the top? Of course. Just as there are bad people in every other aspect of life, there are bad people who hide behind religion and use it as an excuse to do stupid/horrible things.

To make it short, I think "respect" goes to the individual, not necessarily their belief in the afterlife. :)

A very good read though, definitely a thought provoker.
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:iconacaciagreen:
AcaciaGreen Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2013  Student General Artist
The Bible says 'Thou shalt not murder.' Murder.
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:iconrejectall-american:
RejectAll-American Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Wouldn't know/remember as I don't consider the Bible worthy reading material :)
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:iconacaciagreen:
AcaciaGreen Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2013  Student General Artist
why not?
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:iconrejectall-american:
RejectAll-American Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Because it's just another book to me. 
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:iconacaciagreen:
AcaciaGreen Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2013  Student General Artist
mm okay then. its a good read, though :)
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:iconrejectall-american:
RejectAll-American Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm not really into mythical stories with mixed signals, but thanks for the suggestion :)
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:iconacaciagreen:
AcaciaGreen Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2013  Student General Artist
yeah :)
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:iconfrankteller:
frankteller Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2013
I separate respect for the belief from respect for the person. I actually think that human rationality is largely a myth. I would love to live in a world where people base their beliefs on the evidence, but I don't think this is likely in the near future. Perhaps my point would have been clearer had I started by explaining exactly why I do not believe in human rationality. I plan on spelling this out more explicitly soon.
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:iconcuddlesncuffs:
CuddlesnCuffs Featured By Owner Jul 4, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
There are Eastern philosophies and/or religions (and perhaps some located elsewhere) which hold that exclusively rational thinking produces insanity in the thinker. Those schools of thought advocate a balance between rational/analytical thought and intuitive/subjective/impulsive thought. (You can probably argue whether or not the latter is actually "thought," but that's getting off-topic.)

Have you read "Fear and Trembling" by Kierkegaard? It is a strange piece of writing. I believe that there is value in Kierkegaard's "Knight of Infinity," but not for any of the reasons suggested by the author.
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:iconfrankteller:
frankteller Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2013
I plan some day to learn more about the Eastern religions. I don't know a great deal about them, but some of them have features that I find attractive. Buddhism is one that I would like to learn more about, for instance.

I read some of Kierkegaard's writings about ten years ago. It has been long enough that I will probably have some difficulty keeping track of which is which. I remember he tried to explain why the faith that brought the Biblical Abraham to be willing to kill his son was a good thing. I found it intriguing, but not in a good way. I think anyone who struggles that hard to believe what is obviously false is not to be admired.
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:iconcuddlesncuffs:
CuddlesnCuffs Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Buddhism is handy, advocating the middle path and lots of other things. It's very easy to get basic information on it. I regard it highly, with things like "the middle path." Many people consider it to treat human nature, and especially psychology, with a great deal of respect. Bear in mind that it is born of the Hindu faith, and either way has religious trappings.

There is also Taoism, which tends to be less dogmatic. If you study the martial art of T'ai Chi, or the related Chi Kung, you will learn a little about Taoism.

Kierkegaard... yes, my classmates and I all had a good laugh about him... which then turned into an awkward nervous laugh... and then we hastily abandoned the subject. Basically K. posits that people are great "in proportion to what they loved" (I called these people "great lovers" in my essays). He also says, or rather implies, that faith is the best and most desirable thing. As I said in an essay, he never lifts a finger to explain why it is desirable. I argued that he never demonstrates that faith is desirable in any way, and in fact scares people away from it.

Anyway, Kierkegaard was kind of our punching bag in that class. I can't remember which one; another was Phenomenology and Existentialism. The first had to do with German Idealism. We read Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Schopenhauer (his thesis: you should starve yourself to death).
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:iconbigd0119:
BigD0119 Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2013
Interesting Piece. I enjoyed reading it. I agree and I disagree. Have you ever read a book called, " Looking Out For #1?" Tank You for you this piece, I enjoyed it.
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:iconfrankteller:
frankteller Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2013
I am not familiar with that book.
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:iconrachelfair:
RachelFair Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
You think religion gets respect? Where the heck do you live? Cause I'm movin' there!
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:iconfrankteller:
frankteller Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2013
Florida. Actually, about the only places I can think of where religion is truly disfavored are communist countries. In most of the world, only one or a small number of religions is favored. Ironically, the idea that we should treat religion with kid gloves is actually a liberal idea. Historically, conservatives have only thought that their religion, and perhaps a few closely related religions, are worthy of respect.
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:iconmystichorns:
MysticHorns Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012  Professional Writer
Great text...constructive!
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:iconpopoff3:
popoff3 Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
f**k religion lol
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:iconspectreofshades:
SpectreOfShades Featured By Owner Sep 1, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Oh; I do SO agree!!!
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:iconkogarx:
Kogarx Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2012
I am a former atheist, and believe I am better off having left it behind me. The admission of this fact sometimes provokes responses from 'hard' atheists, which demonstrate considerable intolerance.

I don't have time for much of an explanation here, for why I have left atheism behind me, but the process was a reasoned one.

I suppose it would be fair to say that one reason was that I began to see atheism as increasingly organized, dogmatic, and possessed of ideas which however rational on their surface, still required a position of faith to actually hold.

As far as tolerance and respect go, the most considerate position to take seems to me to be to grant everyone intial respect for their own personhood, and tolerate the differences you can't openly have respect for. Pragmatically, this isn't always possible, but it makes a good rule of thumb.

I will try to get back and critique a few of your works. The 'problem of evil' is particularly interesting to me.

But at least for now I have to go.

If determinism rules the universe, be determined to have a good day. :)
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:iconfrankteller:
frankteller Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2012
Atheism basically means a lack of belief in God. Some turn in into what it is not. I don't have any sort of faith. I am an active nonbeliever only to the extent I have to be. When people argue that God is on their side, I will confront them on it. I think part of the confusion on this piece has to do with my understanding of rationality. I don't think anyone is completely rational. If someone thinks that they are rational because they are nonreligious, then I think they are being self-righteous. That was not the point of this essay. Religion is a very pervasive influence in our society, for better and for worse. I don't really know what the net effect is precisely because it is so pervasive that I have no idea what society would be like if the influence of religion were subtracted out. Some, like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Bill Maher seem quite confident that the world would be better off without religion. They might be right on this, but I do not share their confidence, and I find that sometimes they exhibit the same traits they despise in others. If that is what you mean when you left atheism behind, I agree with you. However, I find that some hold religion to be above criticism, and I will not join in this assessment. Personally, I am ok with someone being completely delusional, so long as no one else is harmed by it, though I think a lot of people would find this viewpoint baffling.
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:iconsethness:
sethness Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2013
I don't think Atheism can be properly defined as simply a lack of belief in god(s/ess/esses). Atheism also contains faith that there are no god(etcetera) nor real magic.
The "lack of belief", I think, is what defines AGNOSTICS, not Atheists.

For me, the best position to hold is Bertram Russell's: he behaved in daily life as an Atheist because that is where the huge majority of evidence points, but admits that if he were in a room full of professors of philosophy he would have to define himself as technically Agnostic since you can't prove a negative, even when the proposition being negated (religion) is laughably silly.

Hmmm...it just occurred to me: wouldn't this make him a "faux-hole Atheist", since he'd abandon the label "Atheist" when under pressure? *g*
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:iconkjayjay97:
KJayJay97 Featured By Owner Aug 13, 2012
And forgive me for saying something that has little to do with anything, but this was really awesome to read while listening to East Jesus Nowhere :)
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:iconkjayjay97:
KJayJay97 Featured By Owner Aug 13, 2012
Not to mention how many problems religion has caused. The Crusades, various other wars, hatred of certain groups because a "holy" text that was written a zillion years ago and translated/reinterpreted numerous times said it was bad, 9/11, and the alienation of the western word to the middle east because "that's where the terrorist muslims are" (an actual quote from a YouTube video). All that among other things.
I find that religion is usually harmless, when people believe, but they don't force it on others and don't really do too much about it, like a few of my friends. Most things are fine in moderation. It's when people take their faith too far when it's a problem, and people do that alarmingly frequently. In addition, I find too-far religious people, Christians in particular, to be rather hypocritical. The bible says that homosexuality is bad, so they freak out at LBGT people. But the bible says that a) it's also bad to JUDGE people and b) that Jesus allegedly died for everyone's sins. Everyone. I don't believe in that stuff, but the bible said that God loves everyone, and his know-it-all followers will say that he hates gays or whatever. It drives me crazy.
Lastly, I hate the superiority that tends to come with religion. People always think that their religion is the best, if you don't follow their faith you suck and are going to Hell, if I believe in my deity and pray for forgiveness, I can pull all sorts of shit and get away with it, etc etc, blah blah blah. I just want to say "Newsflash: the world does not revolve around you and your bible buddies."
That's part of why I don't mind my friends being a little religious, they don't have that attitude and in one case is driven a little crazy by it. Everything's fine when you keep it to yourself, because most other people don't care.

Sorry if I was a little hard to follow, I had a lot to say.
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:iconfrankteller:
frankteller Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2012
I agree. I am generally more concerned about what people do than what they believe. We are all irrational in our own way. I don't mind if someone has goofy beliefs, so long as they do not act on them in a way that harms others.
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:iconkjayjay97:
KJayJay97 Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2012
Took the words right out of my mouth. Religion has some good things to say (thou shalt not kill, general promotion of peace, etc) but people always seem to ignore those and go for the bad things.
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:iconzamboniman:
Zamboniman Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2012
I have to chuckle anytime I hear someone call themselves an athiest. Let's call things by what they are. You sir, are a closet Christian. I'll explain:

You claim there is no god but you continue to follow the basic judeo christian prinicpals. I'm guessing you haven't stolen anything (besides music which we all know doesn't count ;-) And I'm pretty sure you haven't killed anyone. And most likely haven't born false witness against thy neighbor. So why do you follow these principals? As oppose to say the Samuri Code of Bushido? Or hell the Jedi code? You could legally follow both and not get into trouble with the law.

So until we see athiests carrying samuri swords or dressing in Jedi robes. You're offically Closet Christians.
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:icongreatkingrat88:
Greatkingrat88 Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2013
To quote Cristopher Hitchens: "Morality is not derived from the bible. It predates it."

Basic moral behaviour is not something christianity can claim monopoly of. And furthermore, atheists are atheists because they don't actually believe in god. If they were closeted christians, they would be pretending to be atheists, but actually holding a faith in god. They don't.

Also,
**principles
**samurai
**atheist
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:iconzamboniman:
Zamboniman Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2013
WOW you were certainly a long time getting back to me about this. I had long since forgotten this conversation.

The irony is, I don't respect religious beliefs either. Especially the religion of Atheisim and all it's blatant hypocracies. Atheisim exsists solely out of insecurity. I have never met an atheist who didn't, right out of the gate, mock the belief's of others like a a petty highschool bully. All to hide the fact they have no leg to stand on. Atheists entire religion consists of what they can pull out of their ass the quickest to throw at someone. Then they run crying to Momma when someone (like myself) uses their own bullying tactics against them.

I don't know who Christopher Hitchens is, but I honestly don't care. Morality without acountability to a higher power will fail That is the Phillosophy of Christianity at it's most basic.

And you can pretend you don't follow Judeo Christen principals all you want. The only tenant of Christianity you athiesits don't follow is Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That is the basics of Wiccan Who's company everyone enjoys more than an atheist
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:icongreatkingrat88:
Greatkingrat88 Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2013
Get back to you? I've never spoken to you before in my Life.

My critical assessment that god is possible but highly unlikely is a religion like not playing football is a sport. Atheism is the result of critical thinking, of asking for evidence and realizing there is none. Bullying tactics? Asking for objective evidence for the most massive, arrogant claim imaginable is "bullying tactics"?

Funny you should mention accountability- when removal of accountability is central to christian dogma. I am accountable, accountable to myself. I have a conscience, and I do not need religion to keep it intact.

***principles
Does the term "cultural christian" mean anything to you? It is quite possible to be part of christian culture without believing in god.
And funny you should mentiond "do unto others"- that moral principle was invented in China, a thousand years earlier. It's a basic moral principle, universal to all mankind. It's not a "christian principle", it's a human principle.
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:iconzamboniman:
Zamboniman Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2013
Your lack of understanding of Christianity would be astounding if you weren't atheist. As it stands it's pretty typical of most bullies like yourself. I use the terms Bully, Atheist, and Closet Christian interchangibly because let's be honest, they are.

Agnostisism is the result of critical thinking about the origins of a universe without any sort of creator. It's not a logical thought, but a thought none the less,

Atheisim is a bunch of insecure cry babies who are scared of the possability of Christianity being correct So the resort to bullying and mockery in hopes of embbarrassing the opposition into submission.

Tell me then, If The Golden Rule is a human principle, then why do you Atheist/bullies/closet Christians not excersize said principle? Oh that's right, because you're also intellectual Racists. You are Racist against any ideas that are differant from yours. Here's your intellectual racist clan hood! <
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:icongreatkingrat88:
Greatkingrat88 Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2013
I'm an ex-christian; I know christianity pretty well. Now, I am curious what part of my reasoning makes me a "bully".

Agnosticism is a useful position, and one that I employ alongside atheism.

I'd take offense to that, except anybody saying that would have to be so ignorant and insecure in his own faith that it's just laughable.

If I wear a hood of "intellectual racism" (usually, the accusation is "elitism", but variation is always refreshing), then you wear a dunce cap of theistic ignorance.
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:iconzamboniman:
Zamboniman Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2013
Evidently you didn't know squat about it. As Christianity is all about accountability to a higher power, not the lack of accountability. If there was a removal of accountability, Christianity would be a much more popular philosophy.

But I don't pretend to think you are at all interested in being educated in such matters, I just like pointing out your stupidity.

As far as offense, That was kind of my inention. In fact this entire chain has been me mocking your comments and throwing them back in your face. In otherwords excatly what you atheist bullies like to do. It's not so fun when you're on the reciving end is it?

Sorry but I'm afraid you have laid claim to the cap of theistic ignorance already. Although feel free to pass it on to one of your fellow intellectual Klahnsmen. I'm having a hard time keeping those Hoods in stock.

And I'll humor you question: The fact you are an atheist makes you a bully. You never meet an atheist who will have a civil debate with a Christian or Creationist. He will always hurl insults and mock the other guy. Me I'm just the bigger bully who's tired of you sad sacks picking on my little brothers.
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:icongreatkingrat88:
Greatkingrat88 Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2013
Jesus is the most blatant moral scapegoat there is. No amount of sin is too big for his forgiveness- who, then, needs to feel accountable?

I'm so glad you know me this well in such a short time.

Hmm. So you admit to intentionally being insulting, towards somebody who hasn't insulted you or come at you with intent to insult. You sure make your side look appealing.

Faith is assumption, born out of ignorance. Not much else to it, is there?

Well, I could point out the obvious and just say that you are dead wrong and don't know atheism for a penny's Worth, but I doubt you'd listen.
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:iconfrankteller:
frankteller Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2012
Christianity teaches many things. I do not uniformly reject all of it. I doubt many people do. I grew up in a predominantly Christian society and I am sure this has influenced my beliefs. However, I think there is more to Christianity than that. By the same logic, I could probably be said to belong to many religions, including ones I know very little about. I am not familiar with the Samurai Code. There may be something in it I agree with, but that certainly would not make me a follower of it. I have heard people say that the Bible contains no facts. This is too strong a position. Morally, I accept some of what the Bible says, but I reject more of it than I accept. I do not consult it as a source of wisdom or guidance or factual information. One could define Christianity so broadly that most people are Christians (because we agree with some of it) or so narrowly that there are no Christians (because no one accepts all of it). I find neither approach particularly useful.
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:iconzamboniman:
Zamboniman Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2012
Christianity is an all or nothing sort of thing. If you disregard parts of the Bible then you disregard all of it. Starting with the first chapter of genesis. If this is not a true and accurate account of creation (Which is scientifically sound) Then everything else falls appart. As for Jesus, he was either God or a lying sack of shit who SHOULD have been killed. He constently refers to himself as God in the gosspels. So he couldn't be a good man and decive all those people.
So you choose to reject Christianity at it's core, but you still follow the principals. Never once exploring somthing else? Hence my closet christian comments
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:iconepicebi:
EpicEbi Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2013
That's just you being self-righteous and arrogant. You seem to believe that no-one can have any form of morals without following some sort of 'religious code' - preferably a Christian code. Christianity does not have all of the answers. No religion does.

Some morals that could be found in Christianity, like not being allowed to murder someone unless in extreme self-defence situations, for example, are customary in hundreds of countries around the world, no matter what religion is accepted as the norm. Murder is illegal in Australia, it is illegal in Japan, it is illegal in Russia, the United States, Sweden, Germany, England, New Zealand, etcetera. No religion decides the law in these kinds of countries - nowadays, that's what a secularist government decides.

Morals come from generally accepted ideas that have stood the test of time. It is acceptable to treat people with respect. It is not acceptable to bully people. But are these religious morals? No. They're more like morals that religion likes to associate itself with so that it doesn't look as bad as it might appear to be to more critical people. If religion didn't assume any morals, it'd probably be just as disgraceful as Nazism, if not more so. Fun fact: Nazism has very similar traits to religion - there were even prayers for Hitler. Anyone who has properly studied Nazi Germany would know this.

Your 'closet Christian' term is severely flawed, because people like myself can't help but associate 'closet Christian' with 'closet homosexual'. By your logic, if that's how you came up with such a term, it'll only be a matter of time before every single atheist on the planet declares, "Hallelujah I'm a Christian I'm not afraid to hide it anymore." (First off, why should genuine Christians be afraid to proclaim their religious faith, when quite clearly a great number of countries accept it? With the exception of countries full of Muslim extremists, that is.) And then, by extension, it'll only be a matter of time before everyone decides to become a Christian. But why? Just because people share common ideas about how we should treat each other? And it just so happens that Christianity shares those ideas as well?

That line of thinking could be used for all religions, or even a lack of religion if you want to go that far. I could declare you to be a 'closet Muslim' simply because you like the idea of peace - which apparently is the entire point of said religion. I can declare you to be a 'closet fairy believer' just because you share general morals with other people who believe fairies exist.

You don't like it when I put labels on you like that, do you? In that case, don't label atheists as 'closet Christians' without a shred of logical explanation. It's condescending, rude, and arrogant.

I highly recommend pulling your head out of the clouds. Christianity is not the epitome of morality, and it never will be. Neither is Islam, neither is Judaism, and neither is atheism.
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:iconzamboniman:
Zamboniman Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2013
I can afford to be arrogent, I'm right. Each religion has it's own set of morals and codes of conduct Bushido, Wiccan, Islam, Hell even Ninjitsu has it's own code of ethics. Yet through all of this, Atheists cling largely to Judeo Christian princples.

As far as sticking me with insults and Labels, Unlike you, I'm not bothered by this, because you and your opinion mean nothing to me. Atheists are a religion in denial, A religion of bullys who mock everyone else they percive a threat. You are as a whole insecure and scared, which is why I'm getting replies to a chain I had LONG forgotten about.

I will tell you what though, I'll pull my head out of the clouds when you and every other Atheist aka Closet Christian, Pulls their head out of their ass.
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:iconepicebi:
EpicEbi Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2013
You bring up ninjitsu, yet that isn't a religion. The martial art has a set of rules to make sure students learn how to respect and not kill each other during training - ninjitsu has a large number of schools, as do many other martial arts. They don't pray to a supernatural god, they don't preach the Word - all they do is learn how to become fit and defend themselves, maybe even learn a few manners while they're at it. In what way is this relevant or related to religion?

And here's a newsflash: I grew up in a secular household; my family and I don't follow any religion, yet I still have morals.

Do you know why your comments bother me? It isn't because I'm scared of someone who's talking to me in (assumingly) the United States of America over a computer. It is not because I am a 'bully' - how dare you call me a bully when I was a victim of it myself? I know what bullying is, and what I'm doing isn't even close to actual bullying. No, what bothers me is that you say the most ridiculous things, and what do you do with your claims? You don't back them up with any sound explanations or logical evidence; you just say it like it's supposed to be obvious to everyone.

You say atheism is a religion, but that claim is absolutely absurd, and you were probably told this by some equally religious person in your local community - perhaps a pastor, or your family, or your friends. If you so adamantly believe that atheism is a religion, I ask you these questions: Do atheists gather together on a special day to pray and preach about something? Do they pray to a particular object, or person, or thing? Do they go on holy crusades and kill other people in the name of atheism?

The answers: No, no, and no. But an actual religion, like Christianity? Yes, yes, and yes - history can tell you all of this.

Insecure and scared? Says the person who dismisses me and what I say against their beliefs, instead of tackling the argument I present back to them.

As far as I can tell, all you have accomplished right now is you have cited an ad hominem - more specifically, a tu quoque - towards me. Clearly, talking to you is pointless, as you refuse to tackle what I have argued, and instead go off on your tangent about how atheism is a 'system of faith', and that everyone oh so surely has to be following some sort of religion. Is it really inconceivable to understand that there are some people in this world who don't follow a religion, or believe in the supernatural? How is a lack of religion a religion itself? That's like saying bald is a hair colour.
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:iconzamboniman:
Zamboniman Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2013
I'm not trying to reason or educate you. I'm insulting and mocking you because you are an atheist. I have never once in my life met an atheist who is willing to disscuss things in a civil debate. All of you, and I do mean all of you, spend any so called debate attacking the other person personally. Never once does a sound argument come out of the mouth of an atheist. It is only hurtful words and the venom of a bully. What I do is turn the tables. I'm the bigger bully and your kind has been picking on my little brothers. I'm not out to educate and enlighten, I'm out to offend atheists and give all of you bullies a taste of your own medicine.

What argument are you refering to? Atheisim is founded on a grand assumption made out of a fear of accountability. I have seen no sound argument because you have none. All I see of your arguments is a hypocritical column that acurately describes athieism as a whole:

"No, what bothers me is that you say the most ridiculous things, and what do you do with your claims? You don't back them up with any sound explanations or logical evidence"

Excatly my point on atheism. I couldn't have put it better myself.

You claim that you are not a religion yet to demonstrate all the trappings of one, You cling to a belief based on no scientific evidence. To make the grand assupmtion that in all of the universe there is no god or creator of anykind is not scientific or logical. You believe it because you want it to be true.

In the end, I don't care. Your comments don't bother me, because I don't value your opinion, Tomorrow all of you could get together and comisorate over what an asshole I am, I couldn't care less. What I do care about is how many lives atheisim has destoryed. I always welcome people who put my philosophy and faith to the test, by asking questions with the intention of hearing my answer. Ya know, Debating?

Never ONCE did I EVER get that from an atheist. It's ALWAYS personal attacks. THAT's why I call you a bully: You claim to be one of them. If you were a member of the KKK or black panthers, I would call you racist. That's the way it works.

Unlike you, I'm fine if we dissagree on origins. But I can't stand Bullies I never met an atheist who wasn't one.

I'm done here. Reply if you want, but I have nothing more to say.
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:iconepicebi:
EpicEbi Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2013
You have to be the most unreasonable person I have ever met in my seventeen years of living so far. You say I'm a bully, when really, that is all you are. I have not once called you names during this entire argument, nor have I said you were stupid to believe in Christianity, and now you're outright admitting to attempting to bully me simply because I'm an atheist. Please tell me how that's fair.

In case you haven't noticed, I have only stated that you are self-righteous and arrogant because of several reasons that I have already pointed out to you against your arguments - but did I ever attack you personally? No, I haven't; I tackled your argument, not you - that is how you debate with someone. Maybe if you just stopped going off your head about how every atheist is a bully, you will find that, I don't know, I might have at least one point you can agree with. But you don't want to listen to me, as you have just stated yourself.

By the way, everything I have been stating is not my opinion at all. No, something that is my opinion would be my favourite ice-cream flavour. What I am doing is I am using my entitlement to argue my points. You, on the other hand, have not backed up any of your claims. And it appears, to me, that you don't want to either. As far as I can see, this is a one-sided curbstomp of a debate, and you're on the receiving end of my boot.

A fear of accountability? If I lie to someone, and it makes me feel bad, I apologise and take responsibility for it. If I physically/mentally hurt someone unintentionally, I apologise and try to make up for it. If I say something that is unreasonable and unfounded, I apologise and retract my statement; I admit being wrong if proven so. I am perfectly okay with being accountable for what I say and do. So where did you get this idea that I don't take responsibility? You don't know what I do with myself, so stop pretending you do.

I "cling to a belief based on no scientific evidence", you say? And what 'scientific' evidence do you have, then, to counter any scientific claim I might make? Where is your evidence? You make the claims, so you back them up. Go on. I'm dying to hear about your 'overwhelmingly factual' evidence that will shake the foundations of science forever. Chances are that none of us except you have discovered whatever you have to say about science.

So tell me about it. Prove to me that God exists. Prove me wrong about Christianity. Prove to me that most sciences are wrong. Prove to me that you have a strand of knowledge in that fantasy world of yours that you take so much comfort in. Show it to me. Enlighten me.

Atheism destroys lives? Well, that totally makes sense. Christians totally never killed people in the name of their religion in the past - that's right, the holy crusades totally didn't happen, or were somehow misinterpreted. Atheists are totally the epitome of evil, because why not? It's inconceivable to think that atheists have something to say. Oh I know, how about we stop atheists from ever saying anything, even if it goes against our great Bill of Rights that our great country the United States of America created? What a splendid idea.

You say you're willing to have people put your faith to the test, as long as they listen to you. I believe you're lying. You don't want me to challenge your claims. And for what reason? Because I'm an atheist? You're contradicting yourself here. I say that you only want other religious people to challenge your faith. In that case, shouldn't atheists be allowed to challenge what you say? After all, atheism is a 'religion' as well, isn't it? According to you, anyway.

But no, you purposefully discount everything I say, even if what I say might have some truth to it - that's another ad hominem you can add to your list of things you have said. What do I do? I take in what you say, and I think to myself: 'Okay, do I agree with this or not? How can I back up my points?' You have not done any of that. If you want a proper debate with someone in the future, back up your points. A debate is not a ranting contest.

If you truly believe that I'm in the wrong here, then correct me. I'm not going anywhere. I'm all eyes and ears, my little fundamentalist Christian friend. I have all the time in the world right now to hear what you have to say that will convince me to agree with you.

Well? Let's hear what you have to say.
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(1 Reply)
:iconbatmanwithbunnyears:
BatmanWithBunnyEars Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2011   General Artist
After reading and watching a lot about religion, I think I figured out the whole business about respecting beliefs. The MormonMessages Youtube videos embody the religious mentality. If you haven't seen them, each one revolves around somebody telling you about their family lives, hobbies, talents, etc. and ending with "...and I'm a Mormon." The whole string of self-indulgent bullshit in every video has nothing to do with their religious practices, beliefs, why they believe what they believe, or anything. For them, their religion is all about how they label and identify themselves: the epitome of tribal groupthink. So when you call their religion into question, they take it as an attack on their identity, rather than an inquiry about the truth of the nature of the universe.

By contrast, we don't tie our identities solely into not believing something. (At least, I don't know any atheists who do.) So if somebody rants about how stupid atheists are, it doesn't offend us the same way it would offend Christians or Mormons to have somebody call their beliefs foolish. This, in a nutshell, is how I think the whole "respecting beliefs" craze came to be.
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:icontinoculars:
Tinoculars Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2011  Professional Interface Designer
I think that what many Atheists are doing now is thickening the line that's been drawn by religious people between theists and non-theists. There's nothing that promotes equality or respect or unity in a post against religion just like there isn't anything of that sort in a post against atheism, so if you did put the effort in writing all this, don't expect people to consider you a better alternative.


Also, and I'm not referring to you now, I've seen the word "rational" being used by the biggest idiots I've ever seen. It's a very dangerous word to use by the masses because it leaves no other alternative open and there's hardly any proof for it. Great thinkers have discussed rationality and couldn't come to a unanimous conclusion, and now there's teenagers on the internet nailing what they think is rational or irrational on everyone's forehead.

And we need respect so that people who don't like each other can get along. I make an effort to respect people whom I'd rather punch in the face instead. I don't need to put effort in accepting someone who shares my ideas and who is compatible with me and to whom I find it easy to get emotionally attached, I need to put effort in respecting people that I wouldn't want around me.
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:iconmatthew-lane:
matthew-lane Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
"There's nothing that promotes equality or respect or unity in a post against religion"

There isn't meant to be. The intention of this piece was to ask a simple question: Why respect religion? The answer was given, that there is no good reason to respect beliefs that not only are unfalsifiable, but have also been wrapped in a shroud of concepts that have been proven demonstrably wrong.

"Also, and I'm not referring to you now, I've seen the word "rational" being used by the biggest idiots I've ever seen. It's a very dangerous word to use by the masses because it leaves no other alternative open and there's hardly any proof for it"

Any proof for what? We aren't talking about proof, but respect.

"Great thinkers have discussed rationality and couldn't come to a unanimous conclusion"

Actually you'd be mistaking the term "rational" for its philosophical roots & not its contemporary use. Rational in its contemporary use does have a definition: Determining optimality for rational behavior requires a quantifiable formulation of the problem, and the making of several key assumptions. When the goal or problem involves making a decision, rationality factors in how much information is available (e.g. complete or incomplete knowledge). Collectively, the formulation and background assumptions are the model within which rationality applies. Illustrating the relativity of rationality: if one accepts a model in which benefiting oneself is optimal, then rationality is equated with behavior that is self-interested to the point of being selfish; whereas if one accepts a model in which benefiting the group is optimal, then purely selfish behavior is deemed irrational. It is thus meaningless to assert rationality without also specifying the background model assumptions describing how the problem is framed and formulated.

"And we need respect so that people who don't like each other can get along"

No we don't. If one of us hold the concept not to rape you & someone else holds the concept to rape you, both these peoples views are not worthy of respect. One of these views is decidely not worthy of respect, no matter how much you may want to get on with everyone.

"I don't need to put effort in accepting someone who shares my ideas and who is compatible with me and to whom I find it easy to get emotionally attached, I need to put effort in respecting people that I wouldn't want around me."

no you don't. You have to Tolerate them, you don't have to respect them. Respect is earned, not given.
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:icontinoculars:
Tinoculars Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2011  Professional Interface Designer
FINE, if you really want to be all serious and shit...


Yes, I got what the point of this was, but I just found it to be an ironic post in itself.

I was talking about proof of being rational. If I state my opinion now, the only thing I can be sure of is that it's my own opinion and that at this moment I'm almost fully convinced that I'm right. I can't prove that it's a rational opinion though, and even if I did use "facts", I couldn't prove that the way I understood and formulated those facts at my own capacity would be rational. In other words, I would have to have an irrationally high opinion of myself to think that everything I say is rational.


And I can't really be bothered to reply to everything else right now, so I'm sorry you put the effort into writing all of it.
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:icond-e-a-r-e-s-t:
D-E-A-R-E-S-T Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I dislike organized religion but i respect those who have it as long as they respect me. I hate intolerant assholes (captain atheists too) who cant respect others personal beliefs.
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