Respect is earned, not given!
Respect is given, but can be lost!
Respect everything! Respect everyone! Respect! Respect! Respect!
Now, forgive me- but I do not subscribe to this idea that everyone and everything immediately deserves my respect. I respect many people. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, and allow them a chance to either retain or lose my respect, based on their words and actions. I don’t expect people to immediately respect me. I understand that my words and actions will be judged, and respect will be given or witheld based upon that. I’d like to think I’m not alone in expecting that this is a perfectly reasonable way to live life.
Something I’ve noticed a lot when speaking with theists is a completely different system for how respect is given or taken away. It seems to read more that everyone needs to respect them, their beliefs, and their actions, no matter what. Why? “Because they’re my BELIEFS! I BELIEVE them! I have a RIGHT to believe them!”
Well, sure you do. But this is where my philosophy, and that of many atheists I know, tends to veer off a bit.
I respect people, if they deserve it. I respect everyone having a right to believe whatever they want. However, I am under absolutely no obligation to respect what you believe. And typically, I do not. Hitler believed all of the Jews should be exterminated to allow the creation of a superior race. The Westboro Baptist Church believes that God Hates Fags, and wants soldiers to die, and that they should spew this hatred at various events and brainwash their children to do the same. Some people believe homosexuals are an abomination, and shouldn’t be allowed to get married, or worse, should be killed. Some people believe women are a class below men, and should be treated like property. Am I under some obligation to respect any of these things? What merits do these beliefs have that would ever lead to me owing them respect? Just that someone believes in them? Well, that’s simply not good enough for me.
Christians will whine that these comparisons are totally unfair. I’m not saying Christians are Nazis or KKK supporters. However, I think their beliefs that the world is 6000 years old, resulting in them fighting against the teaching of evolution in schools, is equally ridiculous and unworthy of my respect. I think belief in the devil, or Noah, that Jesus was magic, or that God is loving but allows millions to suffer and die, are equally ridiculous. Why in the ever loving fuck would you expect me to respect the belief that a 650 year old man built a massive boat and loaded 2 of every animal on earth aboard for a journey on the high seas? It’s complete and utter nonsense. Not only is it nonsense, but it is dangerous nonsense, because these things are being taught to a new generation of believers, who are too young to understand and evaluate these claims for what they really are. These beliefs we are meant to respect are leading to persecution of women, homosexuals, non-believers, and are teaching children that if they aren’t good, they will burn in hell for all of eternity. You honestly expect me to respect any of that?
Well, I’m terribly sorry, but I refuse. I refuse to respect your desire to indoctrinate children into your world of myth and fantasy. I refuse to respect your belief that the earth is 6000 years old when centuries of research tell us otherwise. I refuse to respect your belief that women or homosexuals are lesser than you are because an ancient book of fairy tales says so. What kind of person would I be if I did respect these things? Brainwashed, blind, ignorant, and frankly, rather ridiculous. Those are qualities I’d use to describe my time as a Christian. As an atheist, I know better.