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All Beliefs are NOT Created Equal
I have to roll my eyes every time I hear someone suggest that all beliefs deserve respect. This is a concept that has obviously not been thought out properly by the individual suggesting it. Now, in the smaller scope of things, I know that this individual is referring to religious beliefs. That is really the only issue that would bring about such a ridiculous comment. And at an even smaller scale, I am pretty sure the individual means only any beliefs pertaining to the Christian religion, because even though it sounds nice that here in America, a "free country," the thought of equal respect for all beliefs can be entertained, there is really only tolerance for those who think like the majority. But let's talk about all beliefs, shall we?
Respect For All
If one is to make the assertion that all beliefs deserve respect, one is implying that any belief, no matter how absurd or ridiculous, deserves respect merely on the basis that someone believes it. Beliefs are such personal things, anyway, so disrespecting someone because of their beliefs is not very PC (politically correct), right? That is also to suggest that any means by which that personal belief has come by is also to be respected. So basically, anything goes.
Well, I have to pick on my buddy Bill O'Reilly (he's really not my buddy, I am totally being a cynic) because I need an example, and he is just right for this. Let's take a statement that he made on his show, The O'Reilly Factor, about the tides. Better yet, let's watch.
Guess What, Bill, We CAN Explain the Tides
So, according to Bill, no one can know why the tides come in and go out, and that is his belief and he feels it should be respected. Hmm...since when is ignorance respected? Can anyone actually look at this ignorant man with a straight face and offer him respect? Well, I assume if you are equally ignorant and don't understand the way the tides work, he may seem like a very respectable man. The problem is, willful ignorance is not an excuse. We know how the tides work. It can be explained. His belief that it is not an explainable event is founded on ignorance. And to drive that point home, here is the video of a very intelligent, and therefore, a very respectable man, Neil de Grasse Tyson, explaining the fallacy of Bill's argument.
Okay, Respect for Some
Wow! How stupid does Bill feel now? And how much respect do you think he deserves? Even if you agreed with him before because you did not understand how the tides work, clearly, there are those who understand them and can explain them, and with a little time and effort, you, too, can understand how they function. Once you know something, it hardly seems plausible to offer respect to someone else who remains willfully ignorant of the facts.
Now, there is a difference between respect and understanding. While I might not respect your ignorance, I can be sympathetic and understand why you might not have had a chance to learn the facts. However, if you are an old coot like Bill, and have had opportunities and access to the facts, but just choose to remain ignorant, or choose to cling to some ridiculous belief because it confirms some other beliefs you may have--I can offer you no respect. There is no respect for myself if I pretend that this position is in any way respectable.
So, no, not all beliefs deserve respect. And this is only one of example of many. I haven't even touched upon beliefs like those held by racists, rapists, misogynists, murderers, radical or fundamental Christians or Islamists, or any other religion for that matter, and any radical or fundamental beliefs that are hate and ignorance based. No, you do not get respect. You do not deserve respect. The burden of proof is on you to prove why such beliefs deserve respect. You cannot simply make a claim and get respect because you think you should, and you certainly shouldn't suggest that everyone is deserving of such an honor. It is an honor, by the way, and it has to be earned. Now, of course you are entitled to believe whatever you want, but when you demand respect for your beliefs, you had better be prepared to undergo the scrutiny of those beliefs to see how they hold up against proven thoughts, ideas and theories. And yes, thoughts, ideas and theories are always changing but reason, logic and rational thought has been pretty consistent for thousands of years. Like Tyson said, it's not so much the belief that bothers me, it's the satisfaction with such a belief that there is no longer any doubt to compel inquiry. That does not get respect in my book.
Books on Logic
Books by Neil deGrasse Tyson
More on Beliefs
- Why Personal Beliefs are Irrelevant
Personal beliefs are as numerous as there are people in the world. Using them as a standard, as opposed to facts and evidence, is unrealistic.