How does one have a belief and still accept the beliefs of others?

gandhi_toleranceI admit, this is a difficult question for me to answer. I strive every day to accept others’ beliefs while holding confidence in my own, and make it a personal goal to never confuse belief with truth. From my perspective, and through my belief, I do not think that anyone knows or can know the real truth of god. If a human could know such truth in its entirety, it seems to me that person must be beyond human, as god is beyond human comprehension. If it were possible for a human to know the entirety of god (its will, its wants, and its needs), I believe there would be evident proof upheld by god, directing us in a way that could not be misinterpreted. It would be truth available for all people, and god would not make it a point for us to pick and choose from multiple interpretations.

In this, I believe that god shows paths to its true nature in all things, in all lifestyles, and in all walks of life. Each person experiences some aspect of god in their lives, and each person reacts to those aspects of god differently. Some people call them gifts of god, god acting in their lives directly. Others call it enlightenment, of the Tao, or chi. Still others personify god into figures such as Jesus Christ or Muhammad. There are some who simply call it science, attributing the nature of god to nothing but the constant workings of nature and the universe. To me, all these are acceptable. They are all beliefs (ideas which require not only experience, evidence, and proof, but also faith, to follow), all which have a little bit of universal truth to them, and that truth is translated into a particular language, a style of teaching which each individual can understand on a mental and spiritual level.

Now there are come who consider the idea of other paths to god besides the one they follow to be impossible. They are so confident that their belief is truth, that to consider even the acceptance of others’ beliefs would go against their own beliefs. Additionally, many people who claim their belief as truth are taught through their belief, their religion, to convince all others that this belief is truth for them as well. This can sometimes lead to disrespect of others’ beliefs, which in turn leads to disrespect of people with different beliefs. When this view becomes apparent in a discussion on belief, how can a person like me respond?

On the one hand, I respect any individual’s right to believe as they will, I commend that person for upholding his or her belief, and I appreciate the fulfillment that particular belief brings to that person. On the other hand, I advocate acceptance of all belief, and find acceptance and tolerance as a path to peace. It is disheartening for me to see those who insist their belief is truth demand that all other beliefs are false, and those who follow other beliefs are going down the wrong path. Although I can accept another’s perspective on god as a possible option for the truth, I can and will still hold to the belief which brings me the strongest spiritual fulfillment and understanding. When I do not agree with another’s practice of their belief, their insistence that others’ beliefs are false simply because their own belief is truth to them, am I therefore not accepting their belief as a whole? Where do I draw the line between accepting others’ beliefs while following my own?

In practice, this is how I try to answer these questions for myself, and how I take the most accepting middle ground possible. First, I acknowledge my respect of all individual’s beliefs, in any form. I attempt as well as I can to understand that individual belief, in order to respect it fully. I then present my own belief; belief is not necessarily truth, and so I do not treat any belief (not even my own) as anything but belief. This view, in turn, established that my path of belief may differ from another’s belief, but that does not make either belief any better or worse than the other in my eyes. It also establishes that I will not agree with any person insisting his or her belief as truth upon another individual. Finally, despite my disagreement with such a view, and disagreement with a person acting on that view by insisting their belief as truth upon others, it is not my place to stop stop person from doing so, according to my own beliefs and values. It is not even my place to tell someone to stop telling me that my belief is false, and that theirs’ is the truth. It is only my place to share my view as a rebuttal against that belief, and if my view does not stop that other person from continuing their practice of their belief, I must shrug and move on.

So I will discuss with any and all who wish to discuss with me. I will respect their beliefs while upholding my own belief for myself. Even if those who discuss with me act as stones, rigid in their demand that their belief is truth, with no interest in considering or respecting others’ views, I will remain the flowing current, confident in the path I carve for myself. I will work my way over such stones, allow myself to be redirected by those stones, or wind my way around the stones, but I will not be commanded by them, nor dissuaded from my path by them.

Canyon-River-Rocks-Stones-1050x1680

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48 thoughts on “How does one have a belief and still accept the beliefs of others?

  1. Yes, God is beyond human comprehension but that doesn’t stop people from trying. Unfortunately, people don’t know what they don’t know and can’t understand how Socrates could believe that the only thing that he knew was that he knew nothing at all. That’s because we are all at our own level of understanding and that’s as it should be. As you said, just stay on your own path.

    • Well said. Thanks for the response. 🙂 I completely agree, it is a shame that people can’t understand a more philosophical concept of knowledge like Socrates.

  2. I have no issue with your position, it it a wise place to be. It is allowing your belief to exist without compromising others beliefs, which would be a great policy for those with religious beliefs to adopt.

    Rarely do you see however, a fundamentalist of any stripe hold that position. They are usually pretty darn sure their belief is the only TRUE path, and all other beliefs are the road to damnation. Look across the world today, what is the cost of that stance? Your position, if adopted by the faithful would make for much less blood on the ground. If we could get that far with religion(s), we would all be better off for it, but…

    My belief is the religious are lacking any evidence whatsoever to justify their beliefs. Waxing poetically about how god is beyond understanding, or works in mysterious ways, or using whatever excuse available to mystify and obfuscate the obvious lack of its existence, is time better spent on a grocery list. I forget who said it but this quote sums it up: “the invisible and the non existent look a lot alike”

    After many millennia the shamans are still rolling their bones, the names and the faces of the gods have changed, but the shaman still get their trinkets and a chicken for the pot. All they have to do is play the part. Rattle some bones, play with some smoke, strike fear into the gullible. Sometimes it works so good you get RT’s.

  3. Rana,
    I can appreciate the issues of respect, which are always conducive to any exchange. You already know my views that I believe that this God can be known, in that He is willing to reveal Himself. But without going there now, I would only ask you this: Does this this middle ground, the middle way, tolerance “path to peace” truly match reality? Is it sustainable? Can you truly “remain in the current, confident of the path you carve out for yourself”? Are you sure that there are not strong currents – even tides, that will not permit you to keep this peaceful middle ground – not taking sides, and so on? Or is the picture really one of being in a spiritual war (like it or not), and more like trying to stay neutral between one side of the train track and the other, even as the locomotive steams toward you? I don’t think that this kind of passivity, “live and let live” really works.
    Think of the founding of this nation – one of the greatest and freest nations in all of history. Its founding involved an intense battle – first in leaving the homeland, then the battle of the elements, the battle with the Brits, in forming a constitution, financial struggles, and then the struggles to get this fledgling nation off the ground. John Adams grew frustrated with the Quakers. In his exasperation with what they called the “middle way” he said General Horatio Gates, ““The middle way is no way at all. If we finally fail in this great and glorious contest, it will be by bewildering ourselves in groping for the middle way.” The founding of this nation was a battle – uphill and against the tide. Its founders could never have arrived at it as a leaf floating down the stream. They began with an entirely different set of assumptions from what we have today, in a well established nation (which we are losing, by the way) They began with the assumption that we live in a fallen world, and had no other expectation that that it would be a long and difficult battle. If you look at the nations that espouse, this eastern sort of philosophy (India, etc.), they are impoverished in their passivity and failure to get up and engage the battle.

    • Hey Thunder.

      No, it is not very realistic on a communal or global scale. That does not mean I cannot aspire to try it on a personal scale, and for me it has so far been a rewarding, comforting, and content path. I have not said that I cannot be dissuaded. I simply don’t plan on giving up this particular path of spiritual fulfillment without very strong evidence to point me somewhere else. Mind you, again, that this evidence will need to be obvious and understandable to me personally. If I cannot apply it to my own life and have it make sense, then how can I allow myself to follow such a path?

      Addressing your issue with the middle ground being an impossible way to live, I again remind you that the concept of Taoism, which many of these ‘live and let live’ concepts come from, has exists since before Judaism. People have followed the guidance of Taoists for millenia, either simply as wise teaching or as religious guidance, and many still to this day find it an applicable way of life. It is more a philosophical path than a religious ideal, but when applied to religion, I believe it is a very good way of thinking on a individual basis. Regarding the founding of the nation, may I point out that the discovery of the land itself was just that, a boat floating around the ocean.

      May I also note that the state of most eastern cultures are only impoverished through the view of we Westerners who are obsessed to the point of blindness with nominal gain and conquering. You realize who the ones are that fight the concept of the middle way the most, those that cause the ‘impoverished’ state of those people? Those who value power over others. The people who think that hierarchy is what keeps the world spinning, keeps it balanced, are the ones who don’t agree with the concept of the middle way. Why? Because the middle way eliminates hierarchy, because it is not needed. The middle way, the way of acceptance, destroys the concept of power, it goes against conflict, which humans are obsessed with.

      Yes, in our world, it is a practically impossible concept for everyone to take on, because there is always a human who lusts for power over others, what wants to tell others to think like he or she does. Should this discourage me from acceptance? Because others who lust for power frown upon it? Should I not attempt to respect, appreciate, and love all people I meet just because, as a human, I know I will falter sometimes? That it is impossible for me to accomplish this way of life completely? If I acknowledge my faults as a human being, I can catch myself as best as I can. I can work to not falter as often. Just because the path is not an easy one to tread in front of others doesn’t mean I ought to abandon it.

      • Rana,
        Hierarchy simply means order, and things do not function well without order. You have a dominant hand, so there is not confusion between the two in the most basic tasks. You have a dominant eye so you don’t see two confused images. You have a dominant hemisphere of the brain, without which, you would be stalled between the subjective and objective. There is a dominant sex so there can be order in the family, rather than stalemate (Uh-oh, this could take a bad turn!) Now in the body, the left hand does not get jealous of the dominant right hand, saying, “I have rights too!”. Neither does the dominant size of your brain lord it over the the other. Order and authority and laws are part of a perfect creation. Even in the trinity there is order, and the Son and the Spirit do not take it as a slight that they are submitted to the Father. I’ve been part of a church organization where the leadership attempted consensus in all things. It ends in inaction, and in a kind of perverse authority of whoever wants to nix an idea.

        Have you ever asked God to reveal to you who He is, and told Him that you will respond according to what He reveals and walk in it with all your heart? That is an expensive prayer, and it could cost you everything! But I believe that God works with our divided hearts (That is, divided between our own will and His), that in order for God to reveal Himself to us at a heart of heart level we must be willing to make just such a commitment. You may be surprised at just how much He reveals and how quickly. For me it was fast – and I mean really fast. Things started moving in my life at an alarming rate. I had the feeling of being in a river that was picking up in pace, and part of me feeling like I wanted to grab on to the sides and part of me wanting to let go and go with it. I let go, and have never been the same since. You are right in our previous post that none of us knows all there is to know about God. It will take all of eternity to learn about an infinite God. (Which just so happens to be the amount of time we will have) But, I promise you, God will show you an awful lot – enough to keep you hopping – and throughout this walk He desires to reveal more. This revelation, however, requires of us to release what is in our hand for what is in His. It’s always worth it but never easy.

        • Hey Thunder. Sorry it took a while to get back to you.

          I do not see any of your examples as hierarchy, but simply as each aspect of life taking its role. Hierarchy to me is not about something having more roles than another, but something taking power over another. A dominant hand is not literally dominant, it simply has more roles to play than the less dominant hand. As for the family, there is no hierarchy of dominance between the mother and father. The mother has certain duties and responsibilities and the father has different but just as important roles. The concept of hierarchy and dominance in regard to the mother and father are not natural, they are demanded by the hierarchic social system developed over the centuries, and even there, there are societies which made women the hierarchy figures, not the men.

          And of course your church example would not achieve much if they attempted as a group to all live the middle ground. Their system is specifically built on a concept of hierarchy to make decisions, and they have lived their entire lives as lower ranked peoples, allowing the hierarchy to decide for them. To put those people in a position of balance, of equality among their peers in regard to decision making, especially when not all of them understand the decisions that need to be made in the first place, the middle ground becomes stagnant. It is a matter of taking on the proper role in situations like this, group decisions. You wouldn’t ask a plumber how a plane works, because it is not the role of a plumber to know such things. In the same way, it is not an issue of need for hierarchy, but a need for people to take on their specific roles in life.

          Returning to your first statement, hierarchy is not order. Nature has order, a general sense of who has what responsibility in the balance of nature itself. Hierarchy must require some to demand and achieve power over other creatures. Order does not require power, only an understanding of self-importance in the grander scheme of things.

          To your final paragraph, I believe we’ve discussed this topic enough times for you to know the answer to this.

  4. Rana –

    When you say you have respect for another’s belief, what exactly do you mean?

    When we say that a child respects his parents, that generally means that the child holds the parents in high esteem because he values them and gives them honor through his obedience to them.

    However, I don’t believe you mean to say that you highly regard the beliefs of others because you value their beliefs, as would be demonstrated by your obedience to their beliefs. So how is it that you are demonstrating your respect for beliefs which are contrary to yours? Do you mean that by giving audience and careful attention to understanding another’s belief, that you are demonstrating respect for the belief?

    If so, perhaps what you are meaning to say is that you respect the believer, but disdain/disregard the belief? After all, how can one value something which they admittedly reject? Isn’t the whole point of discarding something (not adopting it as our own) because we don’t value it?

    Finally, what is the point of believing in something if you are not convinced it is true? And how is that even logical?

    • Hey Geddy.

      Not at all. I do hold others’ beliefs in high regard as well as the believer for following that belief. It isn’t easy to follow one belief, one path, especially in the world we live in. Look at how quick everyone is to judge each other based on their beliefs. I admire anyone who holds to their beliefs through such judgment of their peers.

      As for the belief itself, remember, I may have a belief of my own, but I do not claim it to be truth to anyone but myself. It is a belief which makes the most sense to me, which brings the greatest amount of fulfillment to my life compared to other beliefs which I have followed or considered in my time. I have faith that my belief is at least close to the truth, but again, that does not make it truth. I could be wrong. I accept that and I’m okay with that. Because I cannot claim my belief as truth to anyone but myself, I cannot rule out any other person’s belief as a possible truth. In that, all beliefs in my eyes have the potential to be truth, and therefore I give respect to them all, even if that belief does not fulfill anything for me personally. I may question aspects of a belief in order to understand an individual’s interpretation of it more clearly, but that is by no means (at least from my perspective and intention) a show of disrespect toward the belief itself or the person who believes it. I do not reject others’ beliefs holistically; I only reject them for myself. It’s like eating food. I can’t stand lima beans (no lie, those things literally make me gag when I eat them), but my mother loves them. Should I think less of her because her taste buds are wired differently than mine? Of course not. Should I think less of the benefits of lima beans as a healthy vegetable just because I don’t like the way they taste? No, not at all. They are still delicious and a choice healthy side dish for many people. Just not for me.

      As for believing in something that I am not convinced is truth, this is the point where I would say the line between logic and faith is drawn. I can use my experiences, my knowledge of other beliefs, and personal logical deduction, to found my beliefs on. But in the end, belief is belief. It cannot be proven to true, at least not to anyone but myself. If I cannot prove my belief as truth to anyone else, by definition, it cannot be considered truth at all. My belief has the potential to be truth, just like any other belief, but without universally provable and repeatable evidence, it remains only belief. Because of this, faith takes the place of logic. I logically deduce that, for me in my own life and no one else’s, my belief makes sense. It accomplishes fulfillment in me, and for me it is a repeatable fulfillment. Personally, I prove my belief as truth. Since other people have different perspectives and accomplish the same fulfillment through completely different means, I cannot logically claim my belief to be universal truth. Therefore I must have faith that this belief, which accomplishes repeatable fulfillment for me, is the right path for me, and that it will lead me to a fulfilling end.

      • BUT Rana –

        If I understand you correctly, you are saying that because you acknowledge that your own view may in fact be wrong, and the opposing view may in fact be true…that acknowledgement alone, without a change in personal behavior/actions, constitutes respect for the opposing belief?

        If I’ve misunderstood you, can you be more explicit? If this is the correct understanding, however, then consider this example:

        If a child acknowledges that his parents’ instructions may in fact be the wisest/true course of action, as opposed to following his own contrary desires, and yet ignores his parents instructions and continues to do what pleases himself, how is that demonstrating respect for his parent’s views/instructions? The answer is simple, it doesn’t. The child may act with civility towards his parents and speak to them respectfully, but that is a separate issue from whether or not he respected his parents’ beliefs. Do you not agree?

        I’ve been observing yours and Ashley’s banter and I am quite curious as to some apparent contradictions in your statements. Previously, you sharply criticized Thunder for being convinced that his beliefs are true and that all contrary beliefs are false and issued to him a reprimand for using his powers of argumentation/dialog to pursuade you in the truth of his beliefs. And yet you have clearly used persuasive arguments in your dialog with Ashley…attempting to persuade him to turn from his current stance of radical religious intolerance and bigotry. Clearly, Ashley demonstrates his conviction that his beliefs are absolute truth. It is not only demonstrated in his words, but in thoughts and actions as well. Indeed, Ashley has declared that if he were rich and powerful, the whole purpose of his life would be to destroy theism from the face of the earth. And since he isn’t rich and powerful, the best he can do is to ridicule, embarrass and hurl insults at his fellow man at every opportunity in the hopes that this behaviour will cause those with opposing beliefs to refrain from sharing those beliefs with not just Ashley, but with anyone at all. In fact, I don’t see any difference between Ashley’s atheistic goals for mankind and the theist’s desires for mankind…except perhaps in the method used to silence the opposition; Ashley prefers to deliberately shame and embarass, while most religions prefer to appeal to a man’s spirit/mind to win converts. Both desire that the whole world think/believe as they do. One thing Thunder said rings true in this case – though you are theist, Ashley refrains from subjecting you to the same scorn and ridicule that he subjects other theists to, and you refrain from issuing to Ashley the same reprimands you freely give to others who demonstrate absolute confidence that their views are the only true views. Why this apparent contradiction?

        You went further to say that all beliefs are merely beliefs, and not known truths, and because they cannot be known to be true, each belief is no better (truer) and no worse (untrue) than any other belief; in other words, they are all to be viewed as equals. Yet, you clearly argue that Ashley should follow a better belief/view than the course he is currently following. You said that he would be a “better man” by refraining from scorn and ridicule of theists. If his views are just as good as yours and everyone else’s, why do you urge him to take a different view? Are you not then promoting your belief to be superior to his? Unless I missed it, he didn’t directly solicit your opinion of his view, he was just divulging his own behavior towards theists…yet you deliberately sought to encourage him to change his mind and adopt your philosphy, as though your view is better than his. Why this apparent contradiction between what you have said you do (don’t preach your views to others unsolicited) and what you are actually doing (soliciting)?

        • Hey Geddy,

          Okay, I want to begin by addressing the definition of respect. “Respect: a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.” This definition says nothing about agreeing with those abilities, qualities, or achievements. It is possible to appreciate someone’s stance on an issue, their determination to stick with their stance on that issue, without actually agreeing with that stance. So, to me, your example is faulty. By your example, I should be Catholic. My mother believes in Catholicism, raised me to be Catholic, and has told me time and again that Catholicism is right. I do not agree with her. I respect her right to believe what she wants, I respect the purpose of Catholicism and many of the things that is stands for. It simply is not a belief which I can honestly hold true in my own heart. But because, according to your example, I cannot respect the belief without agreeing with it, I must fake being Catholic and lie about my true feelings and beliefs in order to respect my mother. Your example also suggests that, in order to respect any and all person’s beliefs, I must agree with and follow them all. Since this is a completely contradictory and impossible task, your example suggests that it is therefore impossible to respect all religions and all beliefs at once. I disagree. I will grant you that I cannot, in good conscience, respect every aspect of every religion, but that is the whole point of this post. How can I continue to respect all beliefs while holding to my own belief and my own views? I conclude that the best way to be respectful of such situations is to, when that aspect of another person’s belief comes up in discussion that I cannot in good faith respect, I politely let it go and walk away. If I cannot respect the view, I have no business discussing it.

          Regarding my discussion with Ashley, I will concede that my part of the discussion was persuasive. However, the discussion was not about his views, but how he acts upon those views. I made that separation (I believed) very clear when discussing with him. I wanted to know the reason why he acts on his views the way he does, and what his purpose for acting on them in the way he does. In knowing that, I attempted to explain that I did not think the way he acts upon his views would get him to the result he hopes for. To me, this was not a discussion about beliefs, but about acting on belief. There can be a very thin line between these subjects, and a practically non-existent line between them when discussing with someone like Thunder. I believe Ashley and I have enough of an understanding of each other to know when that line is crossed, and so our discussion continued and ended civilly without concern of crossing the line into the realm of belief itself.

          If that is not how you viewed the discussion, I really don’t know what else to say to you. This is how I believed the conversation was presented, as a discussion on action, not on Ashley’s actual beliefs. I never told him not to scorn or ridicule theists, or abandon his views toward them. That’s all I have to say on that matter. If you find it contradictory, I’d ask you to explain how I could better separate the discussion of action versus the discussion of actual belief.

          • Rana – Aren’t all of a man’s actions the direct result of his beliefs? Is it not Ashley’s belief that theism must be irradicated via government laws/force as well as individual actions/persecution? And is it not Ashley’s religion that teaches him that he must behave in such a scornful manner towards the theists? After all, he is only obeying the dogma preached by his high priest, Richard Dawkins. How then did you hope to change Ashley’s behavior without attempting to change his beliefs or encourage him to stop practicing his religious dogma?

            Regarding respect, you have misunderstood what I said. I never suggested that disdaining a person’s beliefs implies that you do not respect the person. What I suggested was the complete opposite: that there IS a difference between respecting the individual and respecting the individual’s beliefs…and the example I gave illustrated that. Because I perceive a difference, that was the very reason I questioned you on whether or not you are confusing the two when you said that you ‘highly value’ (respect) every man’s beliefs.

            As far as respect being nothing more than a deep admiration for someone’s or something’s qualities, let us see if you truly agree that is all that respect entails, or if that definition is actually a bit shalllow or incomplete. This time I will use a different scenario to illustrate my point. Though it is hypothetical for you, it is reported to be a very common scenario in the world: Suppose your husband/fiance says he respects you because he has a deep feeling of admiration for your housekeeping skills, culinary skills, womanly charms, etc.. But the moment you ask him to, at all times, stop leaving the toilet seat up and to pick up after himself around the house, he turns to you and says, ‘Dear, that’s nice that you believe in keeping the house clean at all times, you are doing an excellent job of it and I really admire you for it, but I do not share the same passion that you do for being a ‘neat freak’, and so I must respectfully decline to honor your request at times when I do not feel like doing so, for I am compelled to be true to my own feelings/desires first and not simply do what others (i.e. you) desire for me to do.” In this situation, would you say that your husband is respecting you as a person…merely because he maintains a deep admiration for your qualities, or would you say he is not being respectful of you, regardless of his confessed admiration for your qualities? Bear in mind that in this scenario, you represent a person’s belief/view, and your husband represents you.

            Is not respect more than simply a deep admiration? Doesn’t respect also mean that we behave in a manner which demonstrates admiration for someone or something? If you agree, then I ask you again: How are you demonstrating a deep admiration for views which you fundamentally oppose? If you are demonstrating respect for those opposing views by simply avoiding (walking away from) discussing them, then would you also say that your husband/fiance is demonstrating his respect for your views when he walks away from (avoids) any discussion of them, whenever your views are in opposition to his views?

          • Not at all, Geddy. Firstly, just as I found out in my discussion with Ashley, his interest is not to eliminate religious belief through any kind of force. Those examples which I provided, making false assumption that eventually it would be required for his goal, he denied directly. His interest is assisting in the redevelopment of the mindset, allowing the mindset to basically wither and die because it has no further role in humanity. Ashley has no religion, no faith, and no belief. He has come to his mindset of his own volition, through his own experiences and deductions. I can do nothing more to make you understand there is a difference between a personal mindset and a religion. Nor can I do anymore to make you understand the difference between influencing a belief and the actions which come from that belief.

            Yes, there is a difference between respecting an individual and respecting their beliefs, but there is always an overlap as well. Still I have not misunderstood or confused these. Your words in your example specifically illustrate that the child cannot possibly respect his or her parents’ guidance without agreeing with that guidance. It suggests that the action of disregarding, not following and, therefore, not agreeing with the parents’ guidance is disrespectful.

            I’m not saying this to be rude, but honest. Your example made me laugh. I absolutely do not think that this is an example of disrespect. Once again, it’s just an example of dishonest agreement to avoid what you perceive as disrespect. Frankly, I’m having a harder time to explain how this is not an example of disrespect, not because I have no way to explain, but because I don’t see many aspects of respect or disrespect involved in this in the first place. Certainly the husband is being rude by not helping to clean up this one time that the woman asks. The question would then be is this a one-time thing, or is it every time that the man is asked? Is there a reason the man is being lazy and not offering his help? Does he draw personal strict lines between responsibilities within the house, that he mows the lawn, keeps up with repairs around the house, works, and the woman’s responsibility is to clean, and he will not cross that line unless it is completely physically impossible for her to clean for some reason? These situations are not black and white, and the idea of respect and disrespect are not one-time occurrences, especially discussing married couples. I suppose I am over-complicating your example, but I sincerely do not see how this is an example of disrespect or respect.

            You say that respect is not only admiration but acting on that admiration, however you make no explanation of what that action entails. I can agree that the best way to express one’s respect of another person’s belief is to act upon that respect. Again, however, I believe where your view will eventually come to is that this action must be in agreement with the thing being respected. For example, the only way for me to respect my mother and her faith would be to go to church with her, actively be part of her belief, despite the fact that this action would be a dishonest act to myself.

            I choose to act upon the respect I have for others’ beliefs by discussing those beliefs. I’m open to discuss beliefs, I’m open to hear others’ criticism of my views, and I will express the reasoning behind why I do not follow their views. I present these reasons as they are, and out of disrespect to the other person or the views they hold, for disagreeing is not the same as disrespect. If the other person interprets my disagreement as disrespectful, I will apologize and explain where I was coming from. If they still feel disrespected by my lack of agreement with their views, basically my refusal to submit and convert to their views, and take offense to the fact that I will not change my views, then there is no further reason for me to continue in that discussion. I will engage in discussion whenever that discussion is presented. However, if that discussion devolves into anger because, after hearing their views, I do not submit to such views, I will leave the discussion. In this way, for myself, I reserve my respect of that person to believe as they wish and reserve my personal respect of that belief itself, without compounding the other person’s perspective that I am being disrespectful by disagreeing with him or her. That is how I look at it.

            • Rana – Allow me to address each of your concerns:

              1. Regarding Ashley having no beliefs, did he not emphatically state that “there’s no imaginary daddy in the sky”? Taken in context, Ashley is making a affimation that a god does not exist. Clearly, this is a belief, and so how do you expect to convince me otherwise, when Ashley himself contradicts you? Furthermore, without beliefs, it is impossible for Ashley to argue either for or against a creator…yet he clearly argues against the possibility. Are you not paying attention to what is being said, or are you also trying to decieve?

              2. Regarding Ashley’s political fantasies and not intending to project his will on theistic thought by the use of force, isn’t that what politicians do? Don’t they garner support for their ideas so that they can establish laws which restrict the rights of the citizens who oppose them? And isn’t the power of the law derived from the threat of force that is to be directed against all who choose to violate those laws? If Ashley’s true aim is to change the mindset of the individual without the use of force, why then would he seek political office to facilitate his goal? Is it not because political office is synonomous with power/force? Of course it is! Ashley knows that his mental faculties and powers of reason are insufficient to pursuade the theist, and so he resorts to whatever other means are at his disposal, such as ridicule and/or political power, etc..

              3. We’ve discussed Ashley’s religion before, but I’ll recap anyway. By its most basic definition, religion is defined as a specific set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects. Many atheists, including Ashley, believe that there is no creator and that morals are not universal constants by which all men are to live. Many atheists, including Ashely, also practice the militant atheism preached by Richard Dawkins. Since Ashley’s beliefs and practices are common to the Dawkins militant sect of atheism, he can be classified as a disciple of that religious denomination.

              4. Regarding the husband and wife example not being an illustration of how respect works, allow to first answer each of your concerns:

              a. “The question would then be is this a one-time thing, or is it every time that the man is asked?”
              The scenario states that the wife (belief) is requesting compliance with her demands “all the time”. Logically, this is the way belief works…and the woman, as you will recall, represents belief. A person who constantly fluctuates between belief and disbelief is what we call unstable because he has no conviction. But belief is all about conviction, so it must be stable/consistent…meaning all the time. In other words, belief requires the believer to act in accordance with its demands, without exception.

              b. “Is there a reason the man is being lazy and not offering his help?”
              The scenario says that the husband does not share the same passion for always being attentive to things the wife is requiring him to be attentive to. He considers her to be a ‘neat freak’, meaning an extremist, to require consistency with her demands. He may appease his wife on occasion, but he has no desire to do it consistently (i.e. all the time) for his heart, and therefore conviction, is lacking.
              The scenario also says that the husband places greater value on his own desires than he does on the desires of his wife. In other words, there is a conflict between desires, and so the man is respecting his own desires, and not the desires of his wife. He cannot respect both desires simultaneously because they are opposites, and so the least-valued desire yields to the more highly-valued desire.
              In other words, the man does not value the desires of his wife.

              c. Besides the definition of respect which you provided, the dictionary also has this definition:
              “deference to a right, privilege, privileged position, or someone or something considered to have certain rights or privileges; proper acceptance or courtesy; acknowledgment: respect for a suspect’s right to counsel; to show respect for the flag; respect for the elderly.”
              It is to this definition that I appeal, because it more accurately illuminates the difference between true respect, and the mere politeness/courtesy which you attribute to respect. By this definition, we see that deference (submission), acceptance, courtesy and acknowledgement all describe the ingredients of what respect is. You say that you highly value beliefs which you oppose and, and as proof, say that you demonstrate respect FOR THE BELIEF by simply giving polite audience to it. However, if we are to judge respect as consisting of its prime ingredients (deference, acceptance and acknowledgment), it appears that you are still withholding the essence of what belief demands in terms of respect; deference and acceptance.

              5. Regarding the parent/child relationship not correctly illustrating respect, I was referring to the child as a child, not as an adult. In the case between you and your mother, I assume you are considered to be an adult, and are responsible for your own actions. In the case of a child who still depends upon his parents for nurture and survival, do you not agree that the parents are still responsible for the child and that the child should obey his parents in all things, and that a child who disobeys his parents is being disrespectful of both his parents and their views?

          • Geddy,

            “And is it not Ashley’s religion that teaches him that he must behave in such a scornful manner towards the theists?”
            Can you remind me what “religion” I subscribe to again? I seem to have forgotten. And if you could remind me where in that “religion” I am “taught” to behave in a scornful manner towards theists. It would appear that I am having a bad day in the memory department. I’m sure you’ll clear it all up for me by reminding me what I believe in. Oh but I do recall that you possess psychic mind-reading powers by dictacting to me what I do and do not believe in, in previous posts. That I do remember. Maybe my memory’s not as bad as I thought.

          • Hey Rana,

            I’ve read through the exchange between you and Geddy and I don’t recall seeing anything that blatantly jumped out at me as being misrepresentative of my views. You’ve got the main points down – that I don’t have any beliefs or faith, that I’m not trying to force people to give up their religion, nor am I trying to destroy those that continue to hold such beliefs. I am well aware that religious people have been killing and torturing and burning each other for centuries, to no good effect. You can’t MAKE someone an unbeliever any more than you can MAKE someone a believer. It has to come from within. You either accecpt the faculites of reason, doubt, skepticism, sommon sense, critical thinking and logic – in which case you have no choice but to be an atheist, OR you take all of those faculties and throw some or maybe all of them out the window, become adept and very competent at practicing cognitive dissonance and be a theist or a deist.
            As for Geddy, I’ve read through the comments and….well….what can I say? It must be an interesting ability to be able to read anything written on a page and have it confirm pre-conceived notions that already exist in your head, even if what it says on the page is the exact opposite of what that pre-conceived notion is. Ignorance truly is bliss I guess. I feel the following quote from the famous Bertrand Russell sums it up best:
            “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt”
            What can you honestly say to someone who actually believes they have the mystery of the entire universe all figured out? Nothing except perhaps to wish them well living life in a warm bath of semi-consciousness.

  5. I believe just as God is present everywhere, so He can be known everywhere, on any path,
    The problem is when people start saying that their path is the ONLY way. The ONLY path. Can God be limited to one path? One way of thinking? Two people make this claim, either one is wrong or both are.
    Many think they have all the bases covered, but that can only be from our own perspective. I cannot make that judgement, just live my life is response to the path I walk, while acknowledging the equally valid choices of others.

    • Are you suggesting that the Hindu who worships many gods and the Jew who worships just one god and rejects all the Hindu gods, are merely on different paths to the same god? I think that both the Hindu and the Jew would strongly disagree with you. How then can you say that all paths lead to the same god?

        • Haha, I’d be tempted to say that no matter what god exists, if any at all, our disagreements are irrelevant. I mean, whatever is after this life is in a way set in stone no matter what out individual perspectives on it are. Our own opinions on the subject only matter to us as individuals, and only matter so long as we are in the dark about what comes after. The only way our perspectives really matter are 1) if we end up being right in the end and our perspective is what really awaits us, or 2) if whatever is waiting for each of us conforms to what we expect it to be.

          • This logic would only apply if such a god has never communicated to man regarding a correct path to take. But there is another option. If he has communicated to man, then only those who reject that communication are left to wander aimlessly in the dark. The ones who believe that communication and live by it are no longer in the dark but are able to see where they are going. Do you not agree that this is also a possibility…that a god has in fact communicated in some way to man?

          • It is certainly an option, yes. The question then becomes how does one discern that communication our of all of the supposed communications of god? If this god has the intention of putting the human race on a path of understanding that god, then why would it not communicate directly, and to all the people of the world, so that there is no confusion as to its message (assuming that it has the power to do so)?

            It is possible that god is a selective, judgmental god which only has a collection of its creation in mind for supposed salvation, and so only communicates to those people. It is also possible that this god will not communicate with us until we communicate with it first, such as through prayer. It cannot be the fault of the person for ‘rejecting’ this communication when it is not made clear that it is the true communication in the first place. I will again use Christianity as an example, specifically due to the fact that you use the references of one god as opposed to multiple and refer to that god as a he. With all the religions of the world, for this god to communicate to us only through one of those religions (Christianity), which is not global on an individual basis (there are still people in the world who have never heard of the cross of Christ), and punish or dismiss all those who do not conform to that specific religion and message (despite never being given the chance to in the first place) seems to me to be unloving and inconsiderate of the situation we humans are put in. Not to mention the fact that there are so many denominations of Christianity which all claim they are the truth and all other denominations of Christianity are false religions. The god of Christianity makes no move to universally distinguish which of these denominations is the truth. It would be impossible for an individual to address and follow every one of those religions in order to discern which is the truth. This also does not address to possibility that any of the other non-Christian religions of the world could actually be the true communication of god, and Christianity is entirely false.

            You speak of people who find god’s true communication and are ‘no longer in the dark.’ However many people of every and all religions which exist in our time believe that they are guided by the light of their religion, that they are not in the dark. How do you explain to these people that, despite anything which they know in their hearts to be truth regarding god, they are wrong and going down the wrong path. You cannot objectively observe their feelings, their emotions, their spiritual contentment and understanding which they find through their own belief. Who is anyone to tell another that their feelings, their emotions, and their understanding of the spiritual is false?

            So yes, it is quite possible that a god has communicated with mankind, however if that god is an omnipotent, all-powerful being such as the Christian god, it has not utilized its power in order to fairly communicate with all of its creations. So I don’t feel this option is very viable, either that or this god is not interested in all of mankind but only in a select group, which disproves the idea that this god is all-loving, and so I would not consider worshiping such a god.

        • I’m not certain I understand what you mean when you say that disagreements are irrelevent. If there be a god, then it would seem to matter immensely what one believes about that god. For example, the Aztecs are known to have sacrificed human beings to their gods because they believed that their gods would be pleased by such actions. The Hebrew god, however, very clearly indicates that he abhors human sacrifice and abhors the worship of any god other than himself. If therefore, an individual seeks to honor the Aztec gods with human sacrifices, but the Hebrew god is in fact the true god and the Aztec gods are not real, how do you suppose that the one who worshipped the false gods will fare when the Hebrew god judges him for having sacrificed human beings to false gods? If there be a god, and that god is in fact the Hebrew god, how then can you say that seeking to honor/worship the Aztec gods will bear no consequences?

          • Aztec Gods, Hebrew God, False Gods, True Gods. These are just our concepts. Ideas and personifications, just as Rana says. We find one we like, and hang our hat on that.

          • Geddy, I have to disagree. With all of the options of gods and religions which man has, it is only relevant in one’s lifetime the religion which that individual chooses to follow. If a person chooses a faith and determines that faith to be their truth and the truth which awaits them after their life is over, that is the only faith which is relevant to that individual’s life, regardless of the consequences if they are wrong. Once they are dead and find out they were wrong, or were not, then yes, the relevance of their decision greatly escalates. But because there is no way of universally proving which religion is the proper one to follow, it is irrelevant in our lifetime which religion we choose to follow. We follow our hearts and our minds, depending on each individual, and since different religions relate to different people, every religion is truth to somebody.

            You reference the Aztecs. Let’s take it further back than that. What if the Egyptian gods were the real gods of creation? They no longer exist as a true religion, and so all people from the point of that religion’s demise have no idea what their afterlife is really in for, because they don’t use Egyptology as an option anymore. Does that make their religion in this lifetime irrelevant? No, because religion can be used as a moral compass for people; it can represent a philosophy of living, not just a worship of god(s). Does it make the argument of which religion in this time period is the truth and the real religion of god(s) irrelevant? Absolutely, because the actual truth is not given as an option. Since no one knows the real truth besides what they believe and have faith to be the truth, there is no basis, and therefore no relevance, in arguing which belief is truth.

      • I can’t speak to how Andy would respond, but for me, I also believe that all paths are leading to the same place. Some people personify ‘god’ as a singular entity, while others observe specific aspects of god and attribute them to individual entities, all working together in some way. Or perhaps it is the opposite and all the aspects of multiple gods are personified into one entity. No one can say for sure whether god is one entity, many, or no even a conscious entity at all. So whatever the origin of it all is, I believe aspects of it are personified in different ways by different cultures, each in a way which that culture can more readily understand and appreciate.

        Certainly those of different religions would not agree with this idea, but as I always say, this concept is just my perspective on things.

  6. Rana,

    I’ve often wondered what it’s like to be in the mindset that someone such as yourself currently occupies (having beliefs that are different than others). You’ve seemed to work it out fairly easily in recognizing that it’s a belief and nothing more – that it’s not possible to reconcile your beliefs with many other people’s beliefs but that it’s ok. If all religious people were like that, we’d have a whole lot less strife and struggle in the world. I notice you made a comment in your post about people disrespecting other’s beliefs. If only that we’re the full extent of it, there wouldn’t be that much to worry about. But as we know, it goes a lot further than that. Catholics and Protestants in Ireland have been killing each other and each other’s children for 400 years and counting for being the wrong kind of Christian. You can’t go more than a week without reading a news report about a Muslim suicide bomber blowing himself up along with a vast number of “infidels” because they’re the wrong kind of Muslim.
    As for respecting people’s beliefs, I’m sorry I just can’t. I can respect that they have beliefs but just can’t respect the belief itself. When someone tells me they believe in god, it’s tantamount to telling me they believe in Santa Claus but much, much worse. Santa Claus is a harmless fairy tale meant for the amusement of children. Belief in god is far from harmless as we’ve learned through many many years of oppression and tyranny and violence and hatred and intolerance. It is a belief borne out of nothing more than fear and ignorance. It’s childish, irrational, idiotic nonsense from beginning to end and and if everyone could just keep it to themselves, we’d all be better off.

    • Hey Ashley!

      Haha, it’s not an easy stance to take by any means. But if I really want to aspire to be the best person I can be, to better myself and the little part of the world I touch, I’ve got to stick with what I think will accomplish the most good.

      I have to say that sometimes it confuses me the issues you have with religion and then the way you treat belief. Think about it. You specifically say that if more religious folk respected each others’ beliefs, the world would be a far more peaceful place and you site a very good example of religious intolerance of belief with the Catholics and Protestants. Yet you have your own strong outward intolerace against al religions just as they do. You don’t believe as they do, and so you do not respect their belief. Just because you have no belief to support for yourself doesn’t mean your stance of disrespect is any better or worse than theirs.

      Respect for others’ personal opinions, be they religious, political, etc., is paramount to the minute possibility of peace among humans. This does not mean a tolerance of acts which go against socially accepted standards, but this also must be carried across all spectrums. Just as we must have respect toward others’ personal opinions and ideals, we must also respect the accepted standards of society, and that standard must be upheld above our personal opinions and ideals. This means that belief, as belief, comes second to the social standard. If an individual does not agree with that standard, then he or she must go to where they agree with the social standard and are willing to respect it. Each society, in turn, must uphold the ideals of their individual society.

      The point being that all this stems from respect, despite personal beliefs (or lack thereof).

      • Hey Rana,

        Let me perhaps clarify and hone my position with a few of the points you’ve brought up. Specifically the one that centers on the issues I have with religion and the way I treat belief. As you know through many of our conversations by now, I think that religion is the most wicked, hateful, evil, irrational nonsense that has ever been concocted by the might of man. Its power far outweighs any gun, any bomb, any attack chopper or any other weapon we’ve created to increase the quantity and/or efficiency at which we kill each other. I must correct this statement: “You don’t believe as they do, and so you do not respect their belief. Just because you have no belief to support for yourself doesn’t mean your stance of disrespect is any better or worse than theirs.” The reason that I don’t respect the beliefs of others has nothing to do with the fact that I have no beliefs of my own. I’ve delved into the details of the belief itself and it’s for THAT reason and THAT reason ALONE that I have no respect for people’s religious beliefs. I tend to use Christianity in my examples because I am most familiar with it. What is it REALLY to be a Christian? At a minimum you have to believe the following: That you’re born into sin – god specifically created you that way – with Adam and Eve’s original sin, wicked and evil, yet somehow made in perfect god’s image (???!???!?!) and that in order to be absolved of your sins, god sends his only son in human form so that he can be tortured to death in the most horrific and barbaric way in the most ignorant, fearful, superstitious part of the world. Then, you must constantly think of yourself as a worm and toad and sickly beast, not worthy of anything and if you commit any one of an INFINITE list of transgressions that you’ll spend an eternity of torture and torment in hell – but he loves you remember!!!!! There is no possible way I could concoct anything more irrational and idiotic than that if I had an eternity to write a story. There is no possible way I can respect a person’s belief in something as ridiculous as that. Now a great many religious people actually DON’T believe exactly what I’ve just written. They compartmentalize, discard, rationalize and practice cognitive dissonance until they get to a point where they can function in everyday life. Yet, they and many of their irreligious, secular counterparts feel that these beliefs must be respected because some people actually do believe in it, that it’s somehow sacred and off-limits from criticism. Well fuck that I say! This stuff is childish, it’s ridiculous and it’s lethally dangerous. It does not deserve a single solitary ounce of respect.
        So let’s go back to your coffee shop incident. Now I’d like you to think back throughout the course of your life. Have you, at any time, ever been accosted by an atheist and told that the book you are reading is nonsense and a fairy tale, that it will poison your mind, that it’s childish? I would wager that no such thing has happened. The reason religious people do such things is twofold. 1) they’re 100% convinced that they’re correct and that ONLY their viewpoint is the correct one and 2) Their holy books INSTRUCT them to interfere in the lives of others (at its mildest, they’re really doing them a favor. At its harshest, they’re an infidel and they just gotta go). Now you’ve used a fairly strong word – that I project “intolerance” against all religions. I have to take issue with that. While it is true that I have no respect for people’s religious beliefs, I am not intolerant of them. As I said earlier, they can have them all they like. There’s no possible way I could ever prevent that. I am also well aware that killing people will solve absolutely nothing either – as is evidenced by centuries of warfare between religious people that accomplished absolutely nothing except to reduce people to further misery, poverty, fear and ignorance. What I DO say however, is that if you are going to make those beliefs known, well you’d better prepare to have them ridiculed. Since people INSIST on making their views known and INSIST on making insist on making religious beliefs part of the public domain (i.e. teaching creationism in school) then that disrespect turns into hostility.
        I guess what I’m trying to say is that you’re really barking up the wrong tree with me. You’re presenting your case to and arguing with the wrong person. Atheists are NOT the ones who are going to burn down the Danish Embassy because an “insulting” cartoon has been published in a newspaper. A CARTOON for Christ’s sake!!!!!!! All of that for a CARTOON!!!!!!! Atheists are NOT the ones who are going to issue a fatwa against Salman Rushdie for writing an “insulting” novel. The suborning of MURDER for the horrendous crime of writing a fictional novel!!!!! Atheists are not the ones who are going to be parading around with signs that say “Behead those who insult Christopher Hitchens!” If you’re a Muslim, and want to leave the religion, the hadith says you should be killed for doing that. As long as people adhere to this kind of nonsense there will never ever be any respect of any kind. I can assure you sweetheart; people like me are the LEAST of your worries. You can write whatever you want about any subject or any person you want and I’m not going to go burn your house down. And I don’t want to be “respected” as though I won’t. To expect, nay DEMAND to be respected for behaving like a normal, sane, civilized human being instead of ACTUALLY adhering to one’s religious doctrines and dogmas which encourage – ORDER – you to be an intolerant, hateful, murderous lunatic…I can’t think of anything that could possibly be more humiliating, degrading and insulting than that. I should respect people who think and talk like that? Not a chance. They don’t even respect themselves.

        • Hey Ashley! I’m going to have to skip around your response to get out what I’m thinking, so bear with me. 🙂

          When I said you don’t ‘believe’ as they do, I wasn’t trying to imply that you actually have a belief. Sorry if that’s how it sounded.

          And I understand what you mean in your response. It’s hard to put into words (perhaps using the term ‘respect’ isn’t quite the right context for one), but in the end it’s not really about your personal respect of the belief, or of anything else; it is how you act upon that respect or disrespect, how tolerant you are outwardly regarding belief. That is what I meant by a tolerance of acts. Each individual can believe what they want as well as have opinions on others’ beliefs all they want. How you act upon that belief or opinion regarding it probably more of what I was trying to get at.

          If an extremist Muslim believes that all infidels are damned to hell, and believes that killing them in what their god wants, then okay. It’s a terrifying thing to believe, but so long as those people don’t act on it, they can just be sick people in their heads and we can all move on. If they suicide bomb a school, a line has been crossed. If a Christian believes that homosexuals are sinners and will go to hell because it is against God’s law to lay with another of the same sex, fine. Think it in your head and avoid those you think are gay. If that Christian starts trying to pass legislation to oppress homosexuals’ rights to live as they choose, a line has been crossed. If an atheist says that all belief is the same, like believing in Santa Claus, and if religion itself were abolished, the world would be a better place, okay. If they decide to

          • Rana,

            Now we’re down to the meat and potatoes of the argument. How you ACT in regards to the respect or disrespect of other’s beliefs. I think I’ve already made my point about who carries out the more extreme actions in the theist vs. atheist department.
            My feelings on the matter can be summed up thusly: People can have whatever beliefs they want. I will continue to find them completely ridiculous and will say so whenever I feel like it. I will satirize them whenever the urge strikes me. If their god isn’t strong enough to insulate them from that satire, that’s just too f’n bad. I won’t listen for 1 second to someone telling me that I should hold my tongue because I might hurt someone’s feelings or get them really angry, or that I “should have known that my words would be inflammatory”. What is this garbage? Why is everyone walking around on eggshells when it comes to this topic? I’ll tell you why. Because there are lunatics (a great deal of them) to whom this idiotic nonsense is precious, who believe that God-given instruction to destroy people who don’t believe as they do, is the most important thing in the whole world. Everyone knows that the threat of violence that backs this “respect” is believable. This is not respect. This is fear, pure and simple. “Tolerate us and our irrational beliefs or there’s going to be trouble. Lots of trouble.” THAT’S the kind of “respect” that these people want. They won’t be getting 1 ounce of it from me.
            I am afraid that I have to wholeheartedly disagree with this statement of yours: “Respect for others’ personal opinions, be they religious, political, etc., is paramount to the minute possibility of peace among humans”. There are some opinions that just don’t deserve respect. Not just religious ones but social, political, racial, etc. Am I going to grant “respect” to a member of the KKK who honestly thinks and believes that black and white people should be segregated? Get real. Do you think they grant respect to me for thinking the opposite? Ha!
            No I am afraid my dear sweet Rana there are some things that just won’t do. There’s only one way to have a civil society and that’s equality for ALL. People can feel free to write whatever they want about their imaginary friend and so can I. People can feel free to insult and criticize others opinions and have that insult and criticism returned in kind. People want to insult me for my views? Go right ahead. I have the utmost confidence in my ability to defend myself and I won’t resort to threats of violence to get my point across either. To use a cliché “Bring it on”.

  7. Hey again Ashley!

    I actually hadn’t finished that last comment (if you noticed the ending), but circumstances led to the fiance accidentally submitting it for me. XD But that’s alright, I think your last comment leaves me with a proper way to finish what my original intention was.

    The key I think to why we disagree in this situation is this line of yours: “…and will say so whenever I feel like it. I will satirize them whenever the urge strikes me.” You see, to me, this is action. You act upon knowing others’ beliefs. Mind you, they too have taken action by mentioning their beliefs in the first place. It depends on the individual situation to assess whether that sharing of belief was out of mere discussion or whether it had a reason behind the action (aka conversion, argument not dialogue, insult of your non-belief, etc.). The action is taken, the reason doesn’t matter. If the discussion’s purpose it not simply for a dialogue of ideas, the results are always the same. Someone says their belief. Sometimes this statement is, itself, an action, not simply a statement of dialogue. If that is the case, the series of actions starts here. If it is not the case, the retaliation against that statement is the beginning of the action. So yes, sometimes the action begins with the person you are talking to, but sometimes it starts with your response, which will always be a negative response.

    Please keep in mind that I’m not arguing against the content of your response. I’m not saying you shouldn’t feel the way you do, and frankly I’m also not trying to say you shouldn’t retaliate. What I am getting at is this: This collection of actions will not end if neither side walks away. It is far less likely that a believer of faith will back down, as that is against their faith itself. You, on the other hand, have no drive but your own contempt for belief to keep you in the argument, keep the action flowing. You have a far stronger placement to end that action cycle, ‘be the better man’ as it were, and bring an end to that minute moment of action. The more you refuse to be part of that action, be part of the cycle which drives argument, the less opportunity, the less power, that other side has to act in the first place.

    There are certainly situations where action must be stopped by another action, such as someone killing other people. The action of retaliation in a physical sense ends the action of the killer, thereby ending the action completely. In terms of discourse, however, non-action is what ends the argument, the action itself. Non-action does not have to be tolerance, either. If we do not act against the original action, the action no longer exists, and therefore it is not there to be tolerated in the first place.

    Now that person’s mentality will remain, but again, if the mentality cannot be acted upon, then there is no harm in the mentality itself.

    I completely realize that this is not necessarily a universal solution to the conflict religious mentality brings. However, I do believe that for those who don’t agree with those religious ideals, this is a way to, again, ‘be the better man.’ Committing discourse action against religious mentalities only spurs more argument, more action, and therefore eventually more conflict. Someone in the discourse must be able to say, “I don’t agree with you, and I don’t have to,” and just walk away, thereby ending the action of argument and removing the other person’s ability to act on their belief.

    • Hi Rana,

      I figured you must have hit the “post” button on your last reply as you seemed to drift off in mid sentence. LOL.
      The part of your last response that I wanted to rebut was this comment: “This collection of actions will not end if neither side walks away. It is far less likely that a believer of faith will back down, as that is against their faith itself. You, on the other hand, have no drive but your own contempt for belief to keep you in the argument, keep the action flowing. You have a far stronger placement to end that action cycle, ‘be the better man’ as it were, and bring an end to that minute moment of action”
      Yes it is true that the argument will not end until one side walks away. I agree that this is a good approach when dealing with individuals in non-specific and/or trivial conversation. Like the way I do my very best to deal with RT for example. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s gone completely off the deep end. As far as I’m concerned, he should be in a lunatic asylum. So in that regard, yes the best approach is to ignore. However, what if he were to form a group of like-minded individuals who INSIST that creationism be taught in public-funded schools – which actually does go on CONSTANTLY. Do we just get up and walk away – let them do what they want? Not an option. It is for this very reason that I do what I do and say what I say. People who think and talk like that WILL NOT REST until they’ve gotten their way. They will not be happy until everyone believes as they do. They have unshakeable faith in their position, that theirs is the one true god. (Remind you of anyone you know?!?!) How many court cases do we need to have before we finally decide that teaching pseudo-scientific creationism garbage to children is 1) stupid and debilitating and 2) ILLEGAL (against the constitution). Apparently, we need a fresh case every few months to iron this thing out. We have to be “respectful” of these crackpots.
      This is a fight that’s going to go on until we stop indulging stop being so respectful of this nonsense. The only real way to end it is to ridicule it, point out how ridiculous it is and make people start thinking for themselves so that they stumble out of the coma they’re in and realize the bill of goods they’ve been sold is completely worthless. Better yet, try to prevent the sale of it in the first place.
      So yes, I do partly agree with you that there are times when it’s better to just walk away, but for the most part, I choose not to, as is my right. I want religious people to know that there are a lot of us who aren’t just going to lay down and let them run rough shod over us, that they’re not always going to get their way, that just because a vast majority of them agree and think the same way, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re right. There are those amoung us who are about fed up with listening to pious, superstitious, illogical nonsense from pseudo intellectuals and we’re saying so. Get used to it because we’re here to stay and we won’t be silenced. I’m trying. I really am. I really do want to hope and believe that common sense and reason and logic will win the day. That someday the people who understand that we have to figure out this game called life for and by ourselves, will be in the majority and that there’s no imaginary daddy in the sky to call on to do it for us. In other words, that we’ll all grow the F up.

      • Hey Ashley,

        I realize that this doesn’t seem to translate well on a group or society-wide scale, but let me try to explain my thinking here. To walk away from the discussion and end that action of argument is not to literally walk away from the whole situation. It is to lead by example to end the action which your individual opinions are leading to. Doing this on an individual basis is reasonably easy, although it may take some self-discipline. (Also, I’m saying all of this in general terms, not specific to you XD.)

        So, when the discussion becomes a communal or group situation, and neither side can compromise their beliefs, one side can take the stance of accepting the difference and moving on, walking away. This again ends the action of argument. The momentum of group victory, however, can lead to a continuation of the remaining group arguing with no one, or assuming victory and therefore trying to impose their views on others. This is where social regulation of rights steps in. The action of argument is not regulated, due to the right of free speech. (I mean this on a universal level of human right, not an American governmental level of freedom of speech.) Therefore group discussion on such issues of belief are permissible. When that group takes further action after the action of argument ends, or an individual takes action in response to the ‘victory’ of his or her group in that argument, there are legal stipulations on how far that secondary action can go.

        What this means is that, on an individual basis, walking away from an argument removes the arguing individual’s power of influence by removing the action itself. In a group situation, there are two possibilities: 1) the individual example applies and the remaining group which did not walk away from the argument recognizes the example of walking away and the action ends, or 2) removing the action does not remove the momentum the action began in the group which does not walk away, and so there must be something else to end the action, aka social law.

        So those who will not rest and who continue the action of argument after the original argument was ended must be stopped by law. That is why law exists, to end action which impedes human rights.

        It is certainly your right to continue the action of argument as long as you like, but you have to remember that those you are arguing against, those you want to convince that your way of thinking is the right way of thinking (a thinking that has no room for belief or faith regarding god), they have the exact same mentality as you. If they are going to stand against you as strongly and readily as you are going to stand against them, then neither of you is going to budge. You will both be like stone walls and you will push against each other harder and harder until one of you decided to grab a mallet and start whacking away at the other, then the other will get a pick axe, and soon you will be attacking each other like its a war. There are times when you should just walk away, lead by example, declare the draw and move on.

        You are right, people like you are never going to go away, but the fact is neither are those who believe. Their mentality has been around since the dawn of man, just like yours. The only world where one side will exist and the other won’t is a world forcefully dominated by one side or the other. The religious have managed to do this many times, and all it resulted in was bloodshed. If those like you took over, it would end up the same way.

        • Rana,

          I was following along until I read the last line of your response and just had to comment. Its rather alarming to think that you would feel as if it doesn’t matter if ardent atheists (people such as myself) or theocratic fascists would be in charge, there’d be bloodshed either way. I mean to say! You can’t possibly believe that can you?!?!? Can you think of a single society on earth that has adopted the principals of humanism and secularism, discarded the nonsense of theology and religion and THEN fallen into a dark pit of despair and hopelessness and constant violence and conflict? Pick any country on earth you like right now. You’ll find that the more religious it is, the more religion that is enshrined and ingrained into the politics of that country, the more turmoil, violence, ignorance and desperation there will be. WITHOUT EXCEPTION.
          Now we’ve talked about this in the past and I feel I need to correct you on this again. This statement: “but you have to remember that those you are arguing against, those you want to convince that your way of thinking is the right way of thinking (a thinking that has no room for belief or faith regarding god), they have the exact same mentality as you” is hugely erroneous. I’m NOT trying to convince anyone “that my way of thinking is the right way”. What I AM trying to do is point out and ridicule THEIR way of thinking – saying that they claim to know things that they can’t possibly know. That they’re doing things for their precious god that they can’t possibly know exists. I’m saying that WE (us humans) have to figure out how to live with ourselves and build just and peaceful societies and that ANYONE who claims that they know that they’ve been endowed with a special god-given right to order us around in his name is out of the equation. Completely at odds with the concept of building that peaceful society. I DON’T have all the answers and I despise anyone that says that they know all the answers because god’s given it to them. I say we need to use the principles of secularism, humanism, comapsion and equlity to determine the best way to live with each other. Moral reflection. Why would this be called wrong? Why should this be right? Questions that may never be answered. THEY say “god told me to tell you that he wants this done – and you’d better damn well do it!!!!!! OR ELSE”. Providing answers that may never be questioned. These people don’t even have remotely the same mentality as me AT ALL. Its the exact opposite.
          Anyways, I’d like to leave you with a favorite Rubiyat of mine from Omar Khayyam. I feel it’s the perfect response to pious religious people.

          And do you think, that unto such as you;
          a maggot-mined, starved, fanatic crew;
          God gave the secret and denied it me?
          Well, well, what matters it! Believe that too.

          • Hey Ashley!

            “I’m saying that WE (us humans) have to figure out how to live with ourselves and build just and peaceful societies and that ANYONE who claims that they know that they’ve been endowed with a special god-given right to order us around in his name is out of the equation. Completely at odds with the concept of building that peaceful society.”

            Now this, I believe, is a statement that, when acted out, would become justification of my point that even a society run exclusively by atheists would still fuel bloodshed. Considering this with the rest of your comment (specifically the first paragraph), I can assume that you find a society run and controlled completely by atheists would be peaceful. But think about it. A society completely ruled by atheistic principles would suggest that religious expression would be frowned upon. To frown upon it in one aspect, such as using it for moral decisions, would snowball into a complete lack of tolerance for religious ideals in general. It would become a no-religion society. Sounds nice, right? Well, keep it going and see…
            In a no-religion society, how are you going to implement the rule of no religion among the people? You must establish a rule which does not permit religious expression in any way. You know very well that to allow any minute shred of the religious mindset to thrive, especially religious mindsets which are gnostic by default (demand they are the truth) would go against the social rule of eliminating religion itself. You would have to make religion illegal, all aspects and traces of it. You know also full well that many religious cannot be talked out of their belief. They have faith, and no amount of logical deduction is going to change that. Also remember that there are those religious who do keep their belief to themselves and find no offense to keeping it within their own minds and their own homes. There must be a strict line, however, of what religious reference is tolerated, and it seems to me this kind of society would have a zero-tolerance policy to make it work. So if you want to eliminate religion within a society, you must remove all believers, with no exceptions.
            How, then, do you remove them? If you cannot talk them out of their beliefs, then how do you remove them? Do you deport them? Do you make religious expression and belief a crime? How is it punishable? Deportation? Death? How can you be sure there are not people who can keep their belief to themselves and simply lie about it to you, those who are willing to ‘sin’ to retain their faith?
            Next, a zero-tolerance policy against religious people creates a ‘we’ versus ‘them’ mentality, which will drive those who are not religious and who thrive within your society to become patriotic against religious people. The people can certainly assist you in implementing the zero-tolerance policy regarding religion, turning in their religious neighbors, etc. But people can take the law into their own hands. It is inevitable. People will kill each other for the sake of country, with or without religious inspiration to back them. There is the first shed of blood.
            Then you must protect your borders. If your atheistic society is prosperous for the people, religious people will want to be part of it just like any other human being. Again, they may lie their way into your borders, and you will still be infiltrated with religious folk. There will be those who argue against you no-religion policy, denying them the ‘human right’ to believe what they want. And that may be true, but again, if you want to avoid all that comes with the mentality of some religious, you must refuse all religious.
            So say up until this point, other than some isolated incidences, your society thrives and there is no mass bloodshed. Do you stop with that one society? Or is your goal global? Remaining as one society among the world will certainly reinforce the mentality of ‘we’ versus ‘them’ on a global scale. Granted, your society will very likely not be the instigator in this situation, but it will inevitably end with the religious societies arguing with you about your policy against them, and eventually lead to war; this will likely depend on how you deal with religious within your borders, deporting them or arresting them and possibly executing them. If you don’t want to stop there and keep going, push all religious mindsets out of existence, you must expand your ’empire,’ and we know how well that’s gone for every empire ever. It just doesn’t work.

            You see, eventually, if you want to create a religion-free society, you must make a rule which basically states, “There is no god telling you what to do, and those childish notions will not be tolerated. So do what we say and stop believing this rubbish… or else.”

          • Rana,

            My goodness – what an extrapolation! Some rebuttal points
            1) There is no dogma and doctrine that ORDER atheists to behave as murderous lunatics. Theists unfortunately CANNOT say the same thing.
            2) Atheism is NOT about the complete EXTERMINATION of theistic belief and the eradication of those that subscribe to it. Atheism is about the rejection of belief and nothing more. Those who believe that they have a god-given right to impose god’s will on all of us are the ones trying to exert their will on all of us. Resisting that DOES NOT turn you into genocidal maniac.
            3) You of all people, living in the US, should know EXACTLY what it’s like to live in an atheistic society. It’s enshrined in your constitution. The complete separation of church and state. Has the government taken it upon itself to destroy all of those who are believers??!!? I think not!
            4) At no point did I ever say that I want to create a “religion-free society”. At the very least, such a thing would be absolutely impossible. There will ALWAYS be a fresh crop of deluded, gullible, credulous fools who can’t wait to be have the wool pulled over their eyes. You think Sylvia Browne’s ever going to run out of clients? Ha! Yeah right!!!!! I want to create a society where the laws and codes by which we govern ourselves are arrived at through secularism, humanism, logic and reason and NOT arrived at by crack-pot lunatics who claim to know what god wants us to do, what he wants us to eat and on what day of the week, who he wants us to sleep with and in what position, what sacrifices he wants us to make, what praise he wants us to give or any other such IDIOTIC NONSENSE.
            I don’t advocate for the “removal” of ALL religious people, by force if necessary AT ALL. That’s NOT what atheism is about. I advocate that we disregard individuals and groups when they tell us that they know what god wants. I really would have thought that through the course of our many discussions you would have gotten this by now. Atheism DOES NOT turn you in a raving, ranting killing machine.
            I don’t want to “remove” anyone, unless of course they directly threaten me. People who have joined Al Qaeda have announced that they are at war with peaceful society. They prefer violence and destruction and fear and death over logic and reason and tolerance and peace. Mine is not a difference of opinion with them. It is the recognition of the need to destroy an enemy in order to ensure my own survival. They have more than demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that peaceful co-existence with them is not an option. Now where did they get this idea from that they know what god wants and that they have divine warrant to carry his will?!?!? Ask yourself that.

  8. Going to start a new line for this one. I don’t think this response will be very long though.

    My question for you then, Ashley, is what is your point in suggesting that we need to create a society built on only secular, humanistic, logical, and reason-based thinking? That is America. You said it yourself. America is the land where logical deduction and debate rule, and religious opinion has no place in the making of that state. However, through America’s upholding of human rights to believe (the potential of religious ideals to influence how one reasons, how one views logical conclusion), upholding of the right to think this way, and allowing those who hold religious views to be part of the law-making system (which in the end devolves into a destruction of secularism, as we are seeing more and more these late years of American growth), it becomes clear: The only way for a truly secular, humanistic, logical, and reason-based society without religious influence is to remove the rights of the religious. Otherwise we must not only be tolerant of that religious influence but learn to live with that influence as well as the consequences which come from it.

    I know very well that your intent is to “advocate that we disregard individuals and groups when they tell us that they know what god wants.” I understand that about you, and most atheists. The issue is that this is not an end solution, this is not going to accomplish your end-game, “that common sense and reason and logic will win the day. That someday the people who understand that we have to figure out this game called life for and by ourselves, will be in the majority and that there’s no imaginary daddy in the sky to call on to do it for us.”

    This brings our discussion full-circle to me. Disregarding those who claim they know the will of god is not going to make their way of thinking go away. What it will do is, and this goes back to my initial point of being the better person and walking away, is take away their moment of action and, therefore, their moment of power. Disregarding their claims and arguing against their claims are two different things. You have to choose which you will do. You can disregard their claim, state your reasoning why you disregard it, and move on. End the action and take away their momentum, their moment of power. Or you can insist that they are wrong, argue against their claim, and continue the action, giving them momentum and thereby giving them power. You cannot disregard and argue at the same time.

    It is like disciplining a child or training a dog. There’s positive and negative reinforcement. You either ignore the bad behavior and reward all good behavior, or you can punish bad behavior and politely acknowledge good behavior, only occasionally giving reward for especially good behavior. Unlike with children and dogs, however, who usually learn better through negative reinforcement (depending on the temperament of the child or dog), this situation would call for positive reinforcement. Negative reinforcement in adults, especially on issues like religion, spur anger and resentment. Positive reinforcement either simply ends the situation or allows the situation to evolve into a polite discussion. By ignoring bad behavior, you open the door to leaving the conversation or leading by example.

    • Rana,

      That IS my point – that America (and Canada and great parts of Europe) have built societies based on secular humanism. I don’t know what you are referring to when you say that you have to “remove the rights of the religious” in order to make a truly secular humanistic society based on logic and reason. What rights are being removed from the religious? The right to impose their idiotic beliefs on us? The right to teach pseudo-scientific garbage to children? These aren’t rights! THEY believe that they are god-given instructions that EVERYONE HAS to follow. Name one thing a religious person is forbidden from doing that any other (say atheist) citizen can do. I have no idea what you are talking about I am afraid. We haven’t taken anything away from any one.
      I guess I haven’t really conveyed my point entirely. There is no walking away from this thing. The wall of separation between church and state is a wall that needs to be defended EVERY SINGLE DAY. I’ve already pointed out the fact that there have been dozens of cases of crack pots trying to get tax payer money to pay for the teaching of pseudo scientific garbage to children in school. If my approach is wrong – may I ask how you’d combat this assault on the very principals that your country was founded on? Just walk away and do nothing?

      • I’m not suggesting that we are taking anything away from the religious. I suppose my entire point in the last post was that, as you’ve said, America (and Canada and some other democratic nations) have established a society which allows for the beliefs to exist, but does not permit those beliefs to affect anyone but those who believe them. They have the right to believe it as well as profess it. Part of that belief is claiming their rule applies to all people. If that annoys you, you can refute their belief right back. You have that right as well. But the bottom line is they don’t have the power to do anything but talk. They can bitch and moan all they want, but they aren’t going to gain legitimate power in this country to make it a religious state. The democratic system forbids it. The system itself is built to withstand such ‘assaults.’

        Ashley, just as they don’t have the power to convert this country, you don’t have the power to prevent them from trying. The wall of separation does not need to be upheld by you and you alone. The system is the wall, the law is the wall. That is what democratic society is, and that is what makes it great. People are allowed to challenge the wall. Some of them manage to scale it, and that is because they have a good case. They find holes in the wall which allow them to scale it, and that provides we the people with the knowledge to patch those holes. Yes, some people are persistent little buggers and just won’t shut it when they can’t find the holes they need to scale the wall, but they can’t harm the wall by screaming at it!

        So to answer your hypothetical question, no, I would not walk away. I would explain why I personally don’t agree with their want to impose their beliefs on me and my children. If that accomplishes nothing, I explain the system and how it will not allow them to impose their beliefs on me and my children, just as I cannot impose my opinion (which I have already expressed) on them. If that does not accomplish anything, then I walk away. I let them go ahead and try to scale the wall, try to challenge the system. I watch from a distance, observe precisely how they go about trying to scale the wall. If they manage to do it, I now have a map from my observation, showing who they scaled it, and contribute that map to patch the holes and avoid another scaling. The way I see you approaching the same question is that, even after they have started to scale, you stand right under them and continue to tell them they can’t do that. They can’t scale the wall. The wall won’t allow it. And then when they get over the wall, you have no perspective to see how they did it, and so you can only be angry at them and at the wall for allowing them over in the first place.

        That’s how I see it, anyway.

        • Rana,

          I am in agreement with approximately the first 1/2 of your first paragraph, right up to the point where you start talking about them not having any power to do anything except talk. Surely you must be joking right? You don’t think there’s pseudo-scientific garbage being taught to school children under the absurd name of “intelligent design” anywhere in the US and Canada? Give me a break!!!!! It’s going on RIGHT NOW – as we speak. Enough pious, religious, ignorant bigots got together and managed to get onto the school boards of schools and voted to allow this non-sense into American and Canadian classrooms. Tax payer money is being used to teach impressionable young innocent children, who are too young to grasp the concept of critical thinking and skepticism, the most ridiculous garbage imaginable. I live in Ontario, Canada, where tax payer money funds a specific relligious scool system – ONLY catholic schools – and it’s part of our constitution!!!! This absurdity is protected by law!!!!!!!! There’s a completely separate school board system – everything. There are public secular schools and public catholic schools. My tax dollars go to fund a school system that states after attending these schools, you should be a “discerning believer” and many, many other ridiculous things! They can do nothing but talk?!?!?! Stop kidding yourself. My dear Rana, you have SEVERELY underestimated the power of stupid, ignorant people in large numbers.
          That wall of separation is what is keeping your country and my country from becoming a complete and total hell-hole like ANY country that you can name in the Middle East, where the parties of god are in control. And it SHOULDN’T be defened only by me – but by EVERYONE. Have we upheld the virtues that were used to build those walls? No we have not. Why? Because we’re too busy being “respectful” and indulgent of these crack-pots. I already know why they want to scale the wall and I already know how they’re doing it. Large numbers of ignorant, brainwashed idiots don’t want to learn about anything other than what their holy books say especially if it contradicts their precious faith. Science be damned, evolution be damned, physics be damned – it doesn’t jive with the bible so it’s wrong and it’s evil. As far as they’re concerned their faith is the ONLY thing that matters, and is the ONLY thing that should be taught. This is going to go on as long as we continue to “respect” and indulge morons who think and talk like that.
          So my perfect society is not one where we’ve “taken away” people’s right to believe. It’s one where people have learned to think for themselves so that they no longer can bring themselves to believe in the foolishness of religion.

          • Ashley, all I can say regarding Christian schools is that this is a flaw in your system in Canada. In America, all religious institutions are private, period. No public funding goes toward any religious institution whatsoever. Any organization with a religious affiliation must be treated as a private institution of business or education, or must be a non-profit. Now I find it a flaw in our system that these institutions are exempt from taxation, but at least I know that my tax dollars are not going to them. They have to pay their own way, and that’s that.

            I will admit, I misspoke in my statement that they can only talk. However, I believe the rest of my comment recants that statement to explain my real point, that they can act on their words and try to change the system for their own benefit and belief, but at that point it is up to the strength and integrity of the system to keep a proper order and deny them what they want. How they managed in Canada to allow religious institutions to be funded by the government and the taxpayer I do not know. But just as they had the right to make it happen, you have just as much right to rally people who, like you, find it unfair to fund such practices, and scale the wall yourself. You can fight back against it, and it’s not through arguing with a few individuals about how must you despise their way of thinking (or lack thereof). Just as you think I underestimate the power of a large group of ignorant people, you seem to be underestimating the power of a large group of intelligent people, which you could lead.

            I know this is going to be going back in circles, but I still don’t see how you can hope for a world where religion doesn’t exist without understanding that you will have to eliminate the mindset of the religious. Since the beginning of time people have believed in things, believed in gods. It is practically an aspect of human nature. How are you going to convince people of the foolishness of religion? You have said it many many times that these people cannot be reasoned with, they cannot be convinced away from their belief. You can either breed it out of them, or force it out of them. This is the reality of humanity.

            Additionally, religion is a stimulation of the creative side of the brain. The same parts of the brain which are stimulated by belief are also stimulated by art, writing, and music. If you want to end belief as a thought process of man, you’re basically going to have to diminish human imagination. I realize that will sound very stupid to you, and far too simplified, but getting down to the very roots of the matter in a scientific view, this is what needs to happen.

          • Rana,

            How am I going to convince people of the foolishness of religion? By doing exactly what I am doing now – pointing out how utterly ridiculous and absurd it is. I want people to eliminate these beliefs on their own, to stop believing in non-sense. I can’t make them stop believing in it, they have to do it on their own. Now I certainly do realize that this is a very lofty goal and almost certainly will never be achieved. So the best I can hope for is to get it to a point where people actually do keep it to themselves, that they feel too shy or perhaps even embarrassed to back the concept of teaching religious non-sense to school children and things of that nature. I’ve said this many times before. If everyone just kept this nonsense to themselves, we’d all be better off.
            So I don’t want to go on for too long, but let me just explain a little about the religious schools here in Canada. Ontario is one of the few provinces that still publicly funds religious schools. Many other provinces have done away with that. However, this is no small task as you can imagine! The resistance to this is ENORMOUS. The cost is prohibitive and it is essentially career suicide for any politician who ever hopes to get re-elected. If I was a wealthy philanthropist, I would make it my life’s work to undertake this task.
            And yes, I agree that religious notions come from and stimulate the creative side of the brain. But to say that we need them would be rather degrading in my view. They’re superfluous at best. We can be just as creative in music and art and culture and literature and we don’t need to resort to believing in superstitious and supernatural nonsense to do it. Do you think you need to believe in god to create wonderful stories? I dare say you’ve heard of Star Trek? Gene Roddenberry was an unbeliever. He managed to come up with something pretty damn creative!!!!! How about Woody Allen, James Cameron, Penn and Teller? Pretty interesting and creative people. All unbelievers.
            No I don’t think we have to diminish human imagination one bit by suggesting that we stop believing in childish, superstitious, supernatural, illogical fairy tales.

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