Your belief is a superstition

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Your belief is a superstition

Your belief is a superstition.

(I wrote this essay at the height of the 'gay adoption' dispute in the UK a weeks or so ago, during which theists said we cannot expect people to go against their religious beliefs, and that we must respect peoples religious beliefs without giving a shred of reason as to why we should. I wanted to show just how hypocritical this is)

Let’s call a spade a spade here. Christians believe that homosexuality is an abomination because the Bible says it is. A book which they believe was written by God. Let me just illustrate how preposterous this is. If I read H. G. Wells’ ‘War of the Worlds’ and become conceived that aliens were about to invade and destroy Earth I would probably be locked up in a mental facility. People would say I have lost my mind, and rightly so. I don’t think most people would disagree with that assessment. Yet if someone reads the Bible, stating it to be authored by the supernatural creator of the universe, and becomes equally convinced that Jesus will arrive on Earth sometime in the future to rapture all his followers, not only is this socially respected and held to be virtuous, the people that believe this then go on to ask for specials considerations, such as exemption from laws and critics. However these two propositions are equivalent, there equivalently unproven and equivalently stupid.

The argument that we shouldn’t expect people to act against their belief or ‘conscious’ is simply inadequate and let me illustrate why.

The backbone of the Christian’s argument to support homophobia is that this is Biblical ‘law’, thus they argue, it is wrong to force them to act against this law. Funny, since I don’t see Christian’s arguing with the same furore that Sabbath workers should be killed (Exodus 31:15). In fact, how many millions of Christians themselves work on Sundays and thus break Gods 'law'!? This is not a small issue. God after all felt this 'law' was so important he put it in his top ten, as the fourth commandment!

So Christians themselves have no problem is not following God commands or ‘laws’. This itself refutes their argument.

But we can further show how they refute their own argument…

We would not provide considerations to members of the BNP (British National Party) who believe that black or Asian people were inferior to white people. Or to an adoption agency that believed only white people should adopt. Or to the radical Muslim who held the deep conviction that infidels should die. Under these circumstances the argument that’s been happening with gay adoption would not even exist. We, including Christians, don’t have any qualms about impeding these people’s beliefs or conscious’ at all. So much for the notion that we should respect peoples beliefs and not force them to act against it. No Christian would argue in support for a person who was racist on the grounds is was there belief. Believing something is itself not at all a reason to expect others to accept or respect it. Belief in a claim does not validate the claim. Theists need to understand this.

A popular response to the argument that religious beliefs are unproven is that since it is unproven, you cannot say one way or the other. That’s true. So why then do theists not apply their own argument to their own beliefs? Reincarnation is a belief which also does not have evidence, does the Christian, Jewish or Muslim theist hold that proposition to be equally valid as their own belief. I don’t think so. It’s the theist who actually picks one way or the other, usually dogmatically. I on the other hand don’t actually say whether something is true or not, I merely request that those that do, to prove it. I also say we should refrain from belief until we actually have evidence or reason to believe. Thus, I don’t believe X isn’t true, I simply don’t hold any belief in it at all.

Finally, when I’m critical the respect society gives to religion I’m often criticised for arguing for intolerance (in a sense I am, a ‘conversational intolerance or criticism’), they argue that I’m being disrespectful and insulting to people. First, it’s important to acknowledge that we can respect a person and their right to believe as they do, without being required to respect their beliefs themselves. And not respecting their beliefs doesn’t mean that we launch a barrage of insults at person. People often erroneously think that tolerance = a lack of criticism, and that criticism = persecution. It isn’t. Criticism is not persecution or intolerance and it is importance to see this. There is a big difference.

So is it intolerant or rude or disrespectful to not respect someone’s beliefs. No, since we don’t actually respect beliefs. We don’t just accept everything presented to us. We don’t respect racist beliefs, or the belief that infidels should be killed. We require reasons to accept beliefs. If the government proposes a new bill, such as Identity Cards, we don’t just accept this. We demand evidence and reasons which prove the claim that it will help stop terrorism. When this is not provided, we criticise it. I’m merely provide the same demands and criticisms to religion that we all, including theists, provide in all other areas of our discourse.

It’s hypocritical for a theist to argue that we shouldn’t criticise their beliefs, or that something is unproven and therefore shouldn’t be rejected.

I have no sympathy for people who expect to have there beliefs protected from rational criticism.


"It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring" -- Carl Sagan