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June 30, 2009

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I must admit, I really do have no axe to grind vis-a-vis religion, but there are times when it can make me hot under the collar - such as religion being the ultimate get-out-of-jail-free card for any objectionable behaviour that would get anyone else arrested, e.g. anti-semitic ranting in public.

Don't get me wrong - if I had to go into a synagogue, I'd cover my head, and if I went into a mosque I'd remove my footwear. When I've been to friends' and family's church weddings, funerals, baptisms, I've sung the psalms and said the words.

But I don't see why I should have to tiptoe gingerly around religion in a way that I wouldn't be expected to have to do for any other facet of personal belief.

Big Al: What sorts of comments do you think would be appropriate to make about OTHER facets of personal belief that you believe you have to tiptoe gingerly around because it's religion?

AvalonXQ:

Since you're back, and before anyone else has to answer any questions from you, could you please answer my question of two weeks ago:

Can I have Evidence, please, that those who attack religion are relying on a faith based belief system?

AvalonXQ:

Someone can promote as vigorously as they like any legal and morally unexceptionable viewpoint at all, as far as I'm concerned. And I don't regard religion as a special case.

If I had a debate with someone concerning, say, whether we should scrap summer time, or drive on the right (I'm British), or pull out of the European Union, or allow voting at 16, or tax people for having more than 2 kids, or reintroduce National Service, it might get heated.

Many people hold pretty strong views on some of these subjects. A few ad homs and straw men might be tossed around, and the language might get a little colourful.

But that's OK. I'm a reasonably intelligent and mature adult, and even very spirited debate doesn't bother me.

Have you ever heard someone tearfully protesting that you're a monster because you were trying to destroy their faith in the Copenhagen interpretaion of quantum mechanics?

Have you ever seen one scientist have to comfort another scientist just because you expressed doubts in superstring theory?

If someone stated that scientists were the source of all evil in the world, and that good people should kill scientists, you could handle this under standard incitement laws.

There aren't any laws banning incitement to atheistic or scientific hatred, and nor do I wish there to be. But then again, I don't see why religion should be a special case either.

Yes, it's wrong to incite people to kill or torment other people for their religion. But making a special law for it says that inciting people to kill or torment others for other secular beliefs is somehow less unacceptable.

"Yes, it's wrong to incite people to kill or torment other people for their religion. But making a special law for it says that inciting people to kill or torment others for other secular beliefs is somehow less unacceptable."

I entirely agree. I'm against any sort of "hate crime" legislation for the same reason.
But in terms of legal equivalency, isn't it in fact that case in the U.S. (where I'm from) that we DON'T have any laws that specifically restrict speech against religious groups? Isn't that a European thing?
And, in terms of culture, I've always found that the same rules of politeness follow whether you're questioning religion or other lifestyle-choice beliefs (sexuality, political affiliation, occupation, marriage and child-rearing, etc).

Skeptico: Tim Foss provided a good explanation as to why there may be no clear connection between atheists' attack on religious folks, and those atheists' own religious beliefs.

AvalonXQ:

Agreed. So do I take it you're withdrawing your claim that:

"Evangelizing atheists, active members of atheists communities, those who attack other religions -- they, themselves, do form a religion. They have created a faith-based belief system ("non-belief" system?)..."

- you now accept this is not true?

Right. Tim provided enough valid reasons why non-religious atheists might still attack religious people. It no longer makes sense to me to assume that even nasty atheists are necessarily religious zealots. Many of them may just be nasty.
The explanation was most welcome.

Specifically this...

And this brings me, I think, to the crux: how enthusiastic an atheist is about communicating his or her atheism, and how angry or "nasty" an atheist is in general says absolutely nothing about how weak or strong their atheism is.

...along with the reasons he provides, I found to be convincing.

(Yay! Now I know the blockquote tag!)

AvalonXQ - thanks for the clafification. I appreciate your being able to change your opinion based on new information.

AvalonXQ, you are a reasonable chap! It's so refreshing to have a civilised debate. Believe me, I prefer being a nice atheist to being a nasty one.

I didn't know that there wasn't a dedicated religious hatred law in the States - although I know there are other "special status" hate-crime laws - but I do know there is the prevalent attitude that expressing doubts about someone's chosen religion is some kind of act of assault or cruelty.

You do see legislators twisting and turning ridiculously in their attempts not to offend someone's religious beliefs. Ah, the agony of having to ponder teaching the truth of natural selection versus the comforting pabulum of Creationism. Schools being ordered to give equal time to evolution and the fatuous and fictitious doctrine of Intelligent Design - so as not to offend the students' religious faiths.

Why should teaching a simple and proven truth be considered in any way offensive?

And, in terms of culture, I've always found that the same rules of politeness follow whether you're questioning religion or other lifestyle-choice beliefs (sexuality, political affiliation, occupation, marriage and child-rearing, etc).

Absolutely. No argument there. However, my beef is when a reasonable argument, however politely couched, is, per se, interpreted as some kind of insult or assault.

I've never, ever, insulted someone for being religious - but I have often been insulted for being an atheist, and the insulter usually seems confident of backup for expressing this view.

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