To all you Muslims, all you Christians, all you Jews, Hindus, Wiccans, Pagans, or what have you… I DO NOT respect your beliefs.
- I DO respect your right to hold whatever beliefs you do have;
- I DO respect your right to express your beliefs in speech, writing, music or art;
- I DO respect your right to practice your religion in rites or other observances as long as those practices cause no harm, nor interfere with the rights of others…
BUT (and this is the important part)… I recognize you as having absolutely NO right to demand that I, or anyone else, to treat your beliefs with the same solemnity as do you…
This is primarily a food blog, so I apologize to all who were expecting a recipe or some such today… However, although I have generally avoided advancing any sort of political or philosophical opinions during the three years I have been posting, this latest round of stupid, senseless violence in the form of the ‘Charlie Hebdo’ murders has compelled me to speak out.
Reflect for a moment… Many people give lip service to the idea of ‘respecting’ the beliefs of others but what, if anything, does this really mean? Is it even really possible to respect a belief you do not yourself hold?
If someone presents a complex, but clearly developed argument in support of a particular position – perhaps in a written article, for instance – I may be impressed with and respect the work, research and effort that went into it, and I may respect the manner in which the argument is developed and articulated. However, if I see a flaw in the logic, or if I believe a fundamental premise is false, how can I be said to ‘respect’ the conclusion?
If a neighbor of mine insists on wearing a tinfoil hat, can I be said to disagree with his belief that aliens are planting thoughts in his brain and yet still ‘respect’ that belief? By the same token, if that same neighbor is convince it is raining when I can plainly see it is not, it is unreasonable to expect me to ‘respect’ his belief to the contrary. The trouble is, although we are not taken to task for disagreeing with another’s political views, even disparagingly, too many people, both religious or otherwise, seem to feel that religion is entitled to some sort of special consideration when it comes to disagreement or criticism.
I accept the validity of evolutionary theory… You may disagree and have the right to say so. You may think I am an idiot for holding that belief and you have the right to call me such, if you choose. You may even, should you feel it worthwhile, publish cartoons of me having sex with a dinosaur if you think that makes some sort of a point. I recognize your right to do any or all of those things but I expect to be accorded the same even with respect to beliefs that you claim to be deeply held or cherished.
Please, let me say, at this point, that I would never dream of entering a church, temple, or mosque to openly snigger at the proceedings. That would go beyond fee expression by being actively disruptive. It would also be just plain rude and that’s not my style. However, I do not accept the supernatural claims of any religion and the idea of just accepting something on faith is incomprehensible to me. Moreover, unlike many Christians, I have actually read the bible, verse by verse, cover to cover, and I think it to be such total ridiculous nonsense that it would be laughable were the content and effect so horrendous. I do not believe people rise from the dead; I do not believe prophets ascend to heaven on horses; and, I do not believe that there is an elephant-headed deity intervening in human affairs…
Did any of that offend anybody?
I rather suspect that some persons may take offence at my sentiment. It is not my intent to offend, I am merely stating what I honestly believe, but if you have taken offence then all I can really say is: Tough!! Deal with it…
Anyone has, I suppose, a right to be offended, but ultimately all we can properly do is to agree to disagree and that’s where it ends. To those who would commit violence against those who are perceived not to accord the ‘proper’ respect to a religion I say this:
- Is your religious conviction so weak it cannot withstand my disbelief?
- In what way can you possibly be harmed because I say something ‘disrespectful’ about your religious tenets?
- Is your god not powerful enough to take disbelievers or mockers to task? And, finally,
- Who the hell gives you the right to deal with such matters?
In closing, I say that, if your answer to last question is ‘God’, then perhaps it is time to consider that any deity who would ask for violence to be committed against those who express an idea is not worthy of anybody’s worship…