"The biblical account of Noah's Ark and the Flood is perhaps the most implausible story for fundamentalists to defend. Where, for example, while loading his ark, did Noah find penguins and polar bears in Palestine?"Judith Hayes
It is deeply ingrained into our society's mind that we owe every religion and its adherents due respect merely because they exist. On a pragmatic level, this will probably save us from a lot of unpleasantness and possibly prevent the desolation of all of human civilisation in a mushroom cloud of "holy" wars - and more pertinently in Malaysia, a country which is predominantly Muslim, the reaction to criticism towards Islam all too easily degenerates into violence.
Do not for one moment, however, mistake my fear for respect.
In a previous post I penned on human evolution and the Neanderthal genome project, I displayed a complete irreverence for Bible literalists and Christian Young Earth Creationists; an irreverence I've hinted at in my previous posts on religion, but never actually demonstrated with all the bells and whistles. In the comments section, I engaged a holier-than-thou
"As for giving you and your religion respect... GO FUCK YOURSELF. Do you realise WHAT you're asking me to respect? You are asking me to respect a system of belief that calls for MY eternal torture just because I'm not one of its sheeple. You are asking me to respect an institution that has perpetrated some of the greatest injustices to humanity for centuries. You are asking me to respect a fairytale book filled with murder, intolerance, misogyny, homophobia and massacres. Come, let me hear you ask for my respect one more time now."
"Disturbing" was one of the adjectives he used to describe me. Now, the drama extended off-site a wee bit where another person also found my disrespect for other people's religion "disturbing". I wonder if at any point in time these people realise what EXACTLY it is they are asking me to respect? I have to respect their conviction that I deserve eternal torment at the hands of their god? I have to respect their psychopathic approval of the condemnation of so many of their innocent fellow human beings to hellfire?
What a fucking ridiculous proposition.
This is my point of contention; the automatic deference everyone is expected to offer up to religion and the religious, and how it is asked of us by people who do not even take a single minute to consider what that deference entails. Listen, I respect every human being's freedom to believe in whatever nonsense they want to. I have never, in my life, told anyone that they should abandon their faith and superstitions - but that is about as far as my respect would go. And why do these pious types have such a strong sense of entitlement when their entire worldview is built around the damnation of people like me? I have listened to enough church sermons to have no illusions about the "respect" they reserve for my ilk. Just because they don't drop the F-bomb in every other sentence doesn't mean that they actually respect me when they say they do.
What's even more bewildering and alarming to me is that they should find my disrespect "disturbing" but is totally cool with their all-loving and all-merciful god's policy of torturing untold numbers of basically decent people who happen to believe in something other than the Christian faith, and people who died without having any exposure to the Gospels - for ETERNITY without RESPITE. How can they approve such obscene atrocities and still be "disturbed" when all I did was deny them the respect they feel they oh-so-richly deserve?
Religion, I fear, have poisoned their sense of what's right and wrong. Insolence is evil. Sadistic everlasting torture is a-okay!
Mark Twain has something to say about that, and I quote him from Letters from the Earth (1962),
"... the world calls him the All-Just, the All-Righteous, the All-Good, the All-Merciful, the All-Forgiving, the All-Truthful, the All-Loving, the Source of All Morality. These sarcasms are uttered daily, all over the world."
When people use the same strong language in quarrels about political ideas, music genres or their favourite footie team or American Idol, we never hear these same shrill entreaties for respect. Considering that religion is also a matter of personal choice, why then must we toe the line in favour of the religious in these discussions?
As I've said in yet another post on religion,
"I do not believe in pussyfooting around the subject. Any idea - especially religious ideas - should be open to dispute. No one's ideas should ever be sacrosanct or protected from criticism merely because they are religious. The Spanish Inquisition was a religious idea. Hitler's Endlösung der Judenfrage and notions of a divinely-favoured master race (and an Aryan Jesus) were also religious ideas."
And let me also add that it is pure folly to allow any viral idea to stew and proliferate unchecked. That's where the darkest chapters of human civilisation have their gnarled and twisted roots. Remember September 11. Remember the witch hunts and the Holocaust. Remember the honour killings and the human sacrifices. Remember when burning "heretics" alive was a perfectly legit way to resolve theological disputes. For a more contemporary instance of the problem of giving religion too much respect; we have the latest Catholic scandal of child-fucking priests and the Holy See's hand in covering them up (I've been following the BBC News site obsessively on this). Any non-religious organisation involved in such extensive obstruction of the law and the legal process would be deemed a criminal body, and international outrage would be so much the fiercer. It is a token of this horribly misplaced respect for religion that that fuckhead of a Pope isn't arrested the moment he places his Prada-clad feet outside of the Vatican.
I was also frequently told that I should not blame modern followers of a religion for the atrocities that their predecessors have committed in the past - a position I firmly disagree with. I believe it is our moral duty to constantly remind the faithful of the lurid, bloodstained legacy that their organisations have scarred this world with. We should constantly tell them, "THIS is what happened back when you guys were absolutely certain that you were right. THIS is what you people did the last time you thought God was on your side." Besides, just because these groups of people have remained relatively peaceable for several decades, whitewashing their reputations with the sheer passage of time; it doesn't mean that we should so hurriedly forgive centuries of their crimes and ignore the still-evident bigotry lying just beneath the polish.
And speaking of polish; it says "God with us". The Nazi Wehrmacht or unified armed forces wore these on their belts. Just sayin'.
To every person of faith reading this:
You do not ask for respect - you earn it. You deserve respect for believing in a deity as much as someone deserve respect for believing in fairies, invisible pink unicorns or the goddamn Batman. Deal with it. One should not get automatic respectability simply for being religious. I will respect your race, your gender, your sexual orientation, your freedoms, your rights, your deeds... but I will not respect you for your beliefs and creeds.
And if you come into this blog demanding respect from me, I will quite reliably lose my temper and ask you to forcibly penetrate yourself from behind.
P.S. It is true that I afford far more respect to religious people who happen to also be my friends - but that's because I know them personally and have a good measure of their actions and morals. If you're a stranger commenting in this blog, you're nothing more than a mouthpiece for whichever religion you profess to. And the moment I feel that creepy missionary vibe emanating from you, the kiddie gloves come off.
P.P.S. I neither expect nor desire anyone's respect for my unbelief - and anyone is welcome to challenge (however rudely) everything I've said. However, I know it's far more likely that religious people would simply read this post superficially, declare "OMG, EVIL ATHEIST HAVE NO RESPECT FOR ME ME ME!" and completely ignore all the excellent points I made.
P.P.P.S. The opinions written in this post are mine and mine only. I do not presume to speak for other atheists.
Occasionally angry atheist,
k0k s3n w4i