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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What Is This "Respect" Thing?

I made a post entitled Atheists Disrespecting Respectful Theists where I discussed the misconception of atheists being disrespectful, profane people -- a baseless charge usually made by Christians. I addressed, in what I thought was a respectful manner, this sort of hasty generalization and confirmation bias as well as the fact that others who share your beliefs (or disbeliefs) are going to get along better with you.

A commenter recently made a comment to the blog post. [While he doesn't identify further, reading his post Conversations in the Clubhouse of Truly Smart People (the smart people club is apparently how he viewed the "imaginary elite society" of atheism when he was younger and an atheist), it seems he may be some sort of Christian.] He writes, regarding my post:
Hmm. Your list of comment instructions is disrespectful, actually; but it's your blog, and it doesn't really hurt anyone, just shows the contempt you feel for those with religious beliefs. Doesn't it?
What exactly are my comment rules? You may be familiar with them, minus the recent revision to them of the FSM for The Skeptical Sorcerer. I've posted a brief run-through of them as a comment to this post, as it isn't exactly relevant (except for responding to the above).


So, what is this "respect" thing we keep hearing about? I would like to have the theists of this blog give me a clear definition of what they think does and does not constitute respect and what does and does not constitute disrespect. Further, how it applies to only, or even just more so, to atheists than theists, specifically Christians (since Christianity is what this blog is mostly dedicated to). And finally, just what is being disrespected and why that should be respected.
respect (n):
3. esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability: I have great respect for her judgment.
4. 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.
5. the condition of being esteemed or honored: to be held in respect.

disrespect (n): lack of respect; discourtesy; rudeness.
If we are to have a discussion, surely it should be towards the person and not the concept. If someone comes on here and tells me why atheism or why I am wrong, I would not count that as disrespectful. If they are insulting me or being rude, I would count that as disrespectful (though, I wouldn't even make a mention of it as the person's respect or disrespect is completely immaterial to the discussion). If they come on here, as Christian commenters have, calling me a "fiend," a "fool," or throwing around threats of Hell, I would count that as disrespectful -- just as if an atheist did it. If someone makes a joke out of it, though, I would not count that as disrespectful.

I respect your right to have an opinion. I respect your right to your religion. I respect that you have chosen Christianity as that religion. I most certainly, though, do not respect Christianity, nor do I respect the Bible. I disbelieve and abhor most of what is written in the Bible and detest that which Christianity teaches.

There is a difference between showing respect for a person or respect in a conversation and showing respect for and for showing respect for a concept. I offer this as only a closing remark due to the nature of this post: I may think Christianity is foolish and that the person who believes and accepts it is a fool, and that is my right to do so. It's also my right to tell Christians that I believe them to be fools; however, it would be disrespectful to call them fools, as that is needlessly rude and insulting. It is not, however, disrespectful for me to express my feelings and also articulate why I think Christianity is foolish.

3 comments:

DisComforting Ignorance said...

To pick through these, #1 is aimed at everyone. I'd rather not read comments constructed with circular reasoning, ad hominem fallacies, hasty generalizations, etc. #2 is aimed at spam. I don't except the whole "hate the sin, love the sinner" thing; I hate spam and spammers. I show them great disrespect whenever I have the chance. But again, it is aimed at both theists and atheists.

#3 may be one to which he is referring. This was a parody of Ray's rules which state that you have to give proper deference to what he holds dear by capitalizing. As a member of The Church of Google and having been a fan of Google for many years, I hold the company quite dear. I have much respect for Google. If Ray's rules are to capitalize what he respects and holds dear, I decided to do the same on my blog.

The concluding statement is just to get people to think, if you are trying to preach or proselytize with something your holy book states as true, I can just as easily pull out some other holy book to find something to the contrary. For example, if you're going to quote the passage from the Bible which says that I'm going to go to Hell for not being a Christian, I can just as easily quote the passages from the Qur'an which say that you will go to Hell for being a Christian.

Brittany said...

Hi DI,

"I respect your right to have an opinion. I respect your right to your religion. I respect that you have chosen Christianity as that religion. I most certainly, though, do not respect Christianity, nor do I respect the Bible. I disbelieve and abhor most of what is written in the Bible and detest that which Christianity teaches.

I agree to the fact that everyone should be respectful towards one another, no matter what one believes. I only have a problem when people deliberately belittle, and curse at Christians just because of their beliefs.
That, to me, is disrespectful.
There is a way to be polite, without seeming rude, if one does not like anothers point of view.

Hope you and your family are doing well!

In Christian Love,
Brittany

Copache said...

I'm a profane person and disrespectful person by nature. I was when I was religious and remain so while irreligious.

It's people like me who become people like Christopher Hitchens later on, and I love that.