Pharyngula

I’m normally a fan of the United Nations — I think more international cooperation is important — but they’ve just made a bad decision, voting in favor of a measure to condemn “defamation of religions”. It’s another example of the way religion tries to preserve its inanities by restricting criticism since, after all, it cannot survive any kind of critical thinking. And then there’s this comment:

And don’t forget that no less an authority than Canada’s own Louise Arbour, former UN high comissioner of human rights, wrote in response to a complaint about the publication of those famous Danish cartoons “I find alarming any behaviours that disregard the beliefs of others. This kind of thing is unacceptable.”

We have to respect the beliefs of others? Well, I think my belief that Canada needs to send me one million dollars is far more deserving of respect than the idea that torturing and killing incarnations of a god somehow exempts me from punishment for something my many times great grandmother did while frolicking naked in a garden. SO WHERE’S MY CASH, LOUISE?

Comments

  1. #1 NoAstronomer
    November 25, 2008

    Personal opinion : Organized religion is going to regret this – since every religion effectively disrespects every other religion. For example didn’t Ratzenberger state recently that the catholic church was the true church? Sounds disrespectful to me.

    PS: The black helicopters have been following you for years.

  2. #2 Azdak
    November 25, 2008

    We’re sending you a cheque for a million Canadian dollars, which, currently, will get you a nice breakfast at Denny’s.

  3. #3 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 25, 2008

    PZ NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

    The seed Hive overlords have placed a talking iPhone add in the margin.

    YOU MUST HAVE IT STOPPED.

  4. #4 Steve_C
    November 25, 2008

    I think this move is more to try to stave religious and sectarian violence among the rabidly devout and the governments that they elect or are ruled by…

    No wait never mind… it’s cowtowing to the violent maniacs who don’t want to be called out on their insaninty.

  5. #5 The Science Pundit
    November 25, 2008

    With a title like Uh-oh. Will mysterious helicopters start following me around?, I thought this was going to be about Natalie Angier’s article today about robots and the accompanying video of a robot helicopter.

  6. #6 ChR
    November 25, 2008

    More bigotry and clumsy thinking from PZ. Nothing new.

  7. #7 Steve_C
    November 25, 2008

    YAY!!!! Apple has come to SEED. Maybe they’ll send PZ a new MacBook soon.

  8. #8 Sastra
    November 25, 2008

    This is depressing. It represents, of course, the opposite of ‘religious freedom.’ Secular Humanists involved with the UN — like Matt Cherry and Austin Dacey of IHEU — have been bitching about this for a while, and doing what they could to prevent it. Clearly didn’t work.

    There are people who claim to be afraid of Big Brother — but they welcome Big Mommy. Big Mommy treats the political world of discourse like a great big birthday party where nobody should get their feelings hurt. It’s all about being polite and civil and respectful of others, particularly if they’re weak, helpless, and too little to handle the Big Boy tuff stuff. Like religious babies, who require Big Mommy protection.

    Puss ‘n Boots strategy again. All bravado and bully, till cornered. Then come the big, sad, cute kitty eyes. Awwww… someone is trying to bother the Faith Kitty. These are deeply held beliefs, akin to the identity of skin color. They’re not rational arguments to be picked apart. They’re helpless kittens.

    Very annoying.

  9. #9 mambochicken23
    November 25, 2008

    ChR, care to explain your comment? Or are you just being pissy for the sake of being pissy?

  10. #10 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 25, 2008

    More bigotry and clumsy thinking from PZ. Nothing new.

    What a ridiculous comment. How is it bigotry? So I guess you are against free speech?

  11. #11 CrypticLife
    November 25, 2008

    “Defamation carries a particular legal meaning and application in domestic systems that makes the term wholly unsuitable in the context of religions,” says the U.S. government in a response

    This is a somewhat mild response to something that would essentially upend the entire idea of human rights. Muslims don’t seem to realize that though they complain that Islam is allegedly unfairly associated with human rights violations, their drive to give rights to a religion over individuals itself is a human rights violation.

  12. #12 Azdak
    November 25, 2008
    More bigotry and clumsy thinking from PZ. Nothing new.

    What a ridiculous comment. How is it bigotry? So I guess you are against free speech?

    …but ironically pro-clumsy-thinking.

  13. #13 ChR
    November 25, 2008

    “We have to respect the believes of others?”

    -PZ, not yet realizing that this is the 21st century

  14. #14 Shamar
    November 25, 2008

    “Bigotry and clumsy thinking from PZ”

    WTF????
    How?

  15. #15 Sastra
    November 25, 2008

    ChR:
    What is your definition of “respecting the beliefs of others?”

  16. #16 Run-DMS
    November 25, 2008

    That word “disregard” is weird in this context. Is Ms. Arbour (who has quite a distinguished reputation as a jurist, BTW) saying we shouldn’t IGNORE religious beliefs? Cuz I think it’s often kind to simply ignore.

  17. #17 Alex
    November 25, 2008

    That troll is begging to be fed.

    I think PZ nailed it. There’s no way their ideas can compete in the the arena of criticism. Critical thinking is the enemy of faith. It always has been, and there are many passages in the corroded bible saying so. What bothers me, is why no one speaks out about these protectionist rules where they occur. There are so many disturbing and evil accounts in that book, respected by its followers, that all sane individuals should just tell those who might be offended, to just keep their religious opinions out of the discussion. If not, prepare to be intellectually skewered for a lack of reasoning skills. Amazing.

  18. #18 Shamar
    November 25, 2008

    You can respect the beliefs of others, while still arguing against it if you think it is wrong.

  19. #19 Gilles
    November 25, 2008

    @ChR

    Why must we RESPECT the belief of others? I agree that tolerance of belief is required for civil society but respecting ridiculous and often harmful claims is absurd.
    PZ is right once again.

  20. #20 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 25, 2008

    “We have to respect the believes of others?”

    -PZ, not yet realizing that this is the 21st century

    So do you respect the belief of these guys? How about these?

  21. #21 Saint Pudalia
    November 25, 2008

    Does this mean those friendly monks in Jerusalem won’t get to fist-fight anymore?

  22. #22 Alex
    November 25, 2008

    “We have to respect the believes of others?”
    -PZ, not yet realizing that this is the 21st century

    Oh bullshit ChR. That’s the kind of idiocy that comes from morons who espouse ideas that are indefensible with reason. I disrespect all ideas that are crazy, not supported by evidence, and require special treatment to survive. Go grow a brain and some constitution. All ideas deserve to be examined. The good ones should be kept, the bad ones should be discarded. That’s how reality works.

    “There is something feeble and a little contemptable about a man who cannot face the perils of life without the help of comfortable myths. Almost inevitably some part of him is aware that they are myths and that he believes them only because they are comforting. But he dare not face this thought! Moreover, since he is aware, however dimly, that his opinions are not real, he becomes furious when they are disputed.” [Bertrand Russell, "Human Society in Ethics and Politics"]

    And if this post seems a bit terse, it’s because you feebly tried to play the bigotry card.

    Projeckshun: ur doin it rite.

  23. #23 Capital Dan
    November 25, 2008

    Brazilian Atheist | November 25, 2008 1:15 PM

    #1

    Actually, you are #6 in my killfile.

    Man… I hate these freakin’ retards that have to run around proclaiming they’re Number One. A good temporary plonking would probably put an end to this nonsense.

    Please, PZ. Just toss these “First Post” idiots into the Dungeon for a little while to give them a taste. I’m begging you.

    Begging, man! On my blown-out knees and everything.

  24. #24 ChR
    November 25, 2008

    Sastra,

    The idea behind respecting the beliefs of others has to do with mutual toleration: harm none, and let people do/believe what they want so long as they are likewise willing to harm none. We may deeply disagree with a person’s beliefs, but if her beliefs are not obviously harming anybody, then she should have the freedom to hold her beliefs without being harassed and demonized by madmen and bigots (like pz).

    I believe in total freedom to criticize the beliefs of others; but criticism is not the same thing as attacking people based on prejudices.

  25. #25 SirUtka
    November 25, 2008

    ChR, you’re telling us that it’s noble and just to respect beliefs that dehumanize women who are raped? That we must silently endure the aquisations that our lifestyles are sinful wrong and the product of satan? That differing groups must hold hands and sing together when both sides are convinced that the other side must be destroyed?

    This also ignores the problem that it is specifically religious beliefs that must be sacrosanct, political beliefs are, I suppose, still free game, however what happens when politics and religion get themselves tangled up together, can we not criticizes genocide committed by a dictator because it’s part of his religion?
    To hell with that kind of attitude. Freedom of speech, of discourse, means that feelings will get hurt. And if an idea is so weak, so malformed that it cannot withstand the slightest criticism then that idea should be tossed aside in the dung heap of poorly conceived concepts, next to slavery, Lamarckism and new coke.

  26. #26 Tualha
    November 25, 2008

    Guess we’d better get ours in while we can, then:

    Fuck the Catholics.

    Fuck the Muslims. Especially Mohammad.

    Fuck the Orthodox Jews.

    Fuck the evangelicals anally.

    Fuck fundies of all kinds.

  27. #27 Run-DMS
    November 25, 2008

    Let’s state this as plainly as possible: You should respect someone’s *right* to hold beliefs, but feel no obligation to respect every belief.

  28. #28 Brownian, OM
    November 25, 2008

    ChR is sniping fuckwit. Ignore it like you would any other gnat.

    I’ll tolerate and respect the beliefs of the religious when they start tolerating and respecting the beliefs of others. As the bread and butter of every widespread religion involves criticising others’ behaviour, thoughts, or actions, this would be tantamount to near-global agnosticism or atheism. I’d be ecstatic with that.

    In short, Hey, religions: I’ll shut the fuck up when you do, okay?

  29. #29 Tualha
    November 25, 2008

    Oh, I forgot: FUCK THE MORMONS TWICE!

  30. #30 Gilles
    November 25, 2008

    @ChR

    Don’t confuse Tolerance with Respect. I’m willing to tolerate religion.. I don’t want laws banning religion and I don’t want anyone killed… but don’t ask me to respect religion when ideas are poor and have no evidence to back up their claims.

    Making fun of religion is fine. Banning it is not.
    Respect is not the same as tolerance.

  31. #31 Alex
    November 25, 2008

    The religious have every right to cherish their world view. However, when they try and explain reality with it, they must allow their ideas to fail on their merits. No one has the right to not be offended when that happens. Bigotry has nothing to do with it.

  32. #32 FastLane
    November 25, 2008

    ChR the (stupid) troll:

    The idea behind respecting the beliefs of others has to do with mutual toleration: harm none, and let people do/believe what they want so long as they are likewise willing to harm none. We may deeply disagree with a person’s beliefs, but if her beliefs are not obviously harming anybody, then she should have the freedom to hold her beliefs without being harassed and demonized by madmen and bigots (like pz).

    And yet, you demonstrate here that you are incapable of that which you claim is so valuable. Why can’t you tolerate PZ’s (and other’s) criticism without calling them madmen and bigots?

    Hypocrisy, yer doin it rite!

  33. #33 ChR
    November 25, 2008

    Rev Big Dumb,

    There is a big logical difference between the claim that

    (1) For every person, we should respect that person’s beliefs

    and

    (2) We should respect the beliefs of other persons

    as there is no universal quantifier in (2), whereas (1) plausibly does. These should not be conflated. I would not argue for (1), but for reasons of mutual toleration and progress (2) is adopted by most sane and rational people in the 21st century (which apparently leaves pz out).

  34. #34 Cliff Hendroval
    November 25, 2008

    I’ll bet there’s a lot of Scientologists who are jumping on couches with delight over this decision.

  35. #35 Kobra
    November 25, 2008

    That’s the most ridiculous law I’ve heard this week.

    Fuck Islam. Fuck Christianity. Fuck Judaism. Fuck Janism. Fuck Buddhism. Fuck Hinduism. Fuck Agnosticism. Fuck Atheism. Fuck Scientology.

    I’ll draw their fire!

  36. #36 ChR
    November 25, 2008

    SirUtka,

    No, I didn’t say that. (If you read my comment carefully you’ll notice the ‘harm’ condition, which your rape scenario would clearly satisfy.)

  37. #37 Brownian, OM
    November 25, 2008

    So ChR decided to actually defend his or her comments.

    I retract my criticism of his or her sniping.

  38. #38 Run-DMS
    November 25, 2008

    Jeezus Christ and Fucking Mohammed, ChR, try to make sense. Try.

  39. #39 epsilon
    November 25, 2008

    ChR@34-

    Hey fuckwit. You’re still getting tolerance and respect mixed up. I don’t (and won’t) respect the belief that honor killings are good, or anything else similarly detached from reality.

  40. #40 DuckPhup
    November 25, 2008

    OK… it has suddenly become urgent that my diabolical plan get implemented right away… before it is too late. This conundrum can be resolved… quickly… easily… economically… once and for all.

    My simple solution only requires that for one whole month, every newspaper in the free world devote one-half its front page… and every prime time TV news show devote the first 2 minutes of every broadcast… to offensive cartoons, ridiculing Allah (peace on him) and Mohammed (peace on him, too). By the end of that time, most of Islam will have self-destructed… in a paroxysm of snits, hissy-fits and terminal apoplexy.

    WARNING: This will not be pretty… but the world will be a much better place for it.

    My only regret in this is that I can’ think of a similarly uncomplicated, cost-effective and efficient stratagem for dismantling Christianity… but, oh well… one thing at a time. One only does what one can.

  41. #41 Alex
    November 25, 2008

    #34

    That’s a piss-poor analysis. It’s a complete fallacy. The premise is incorrect. If a person has a belief that all red-headed persons should be exterminated, that person’s belief does not deserve respect. If you think it does, you are a block head. Your arguments are vapid. Again, go grow a brain.

  42. #42 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 25, 2008

    I believe in total freedom to criticize the beliefs of others; but criticism is not the same thing as attacking people based on prejudices.

    Meaningless comment in this discussion. We’re talking about not having to respect someone’s beliefs just because their are someone’s beliefs. It has nothing to do with prejudice. It has to do with requiring someone to back up their position with some support beyond “I believe it so you can’t tell me it’s dumb”.

  43. #43 WRMartin
    November 25, 2008

    Shamar @ #19, ChR @ several

    You can respect the beliefs of others, while still arguing against it if you think it is wrong.

    But what if I want to be honest with myself? How can I respect something I am arguing against?

    I respect your idiotic beliefs and I respect your idiocy for believing them.

    How’s that for a start?

    And to jump on Tualha’s bandwagon @ #27 before it fills up:
    Fuck GOD.
    Fuck Jesus.
    Fuck all imaginary beings that are taken seriously.
    Seriously.

    I patiently await smoting from your all powerful pansy if they aren’t too busy tossing their dolls and toys out of the pram.

  44. #44 theinquisitor
    November 25, 2008

    ChR, the bible and the quran both say some pretty disrespectful things about atheists. Do you think this means these books should be banned because they disrespect our beliefs? Can’t you see the paradox in this?

  45. #45 Ty
    November 25, 2008

    You keep missing the point, Chr.

    Respecting a person’s right to have beliefs is not the same as respecting those beliefs.

    I respect your right to believe whatever you like. I also reserve the right to mock you mercilessly for holding beliefs I find idiotic.

  46. #46 CJO
    November 25, 2008

    if her beliefs are not obviously harming anybody, then she should have the freedom to hold her beliefs without being harassed and demonized by madmen and bigots (like pz).

    Harrassment has a precise, legal definition, lackwit. Let me help you out: posting critical blog posts, writing and publishing critical articles, books, etc. doesn’t even come close. That’s called “exercising freedom of speech.” Libelous content against an individual has to be demonstrably false in order to sustain the charge, and, again, this is entirely separate from harrassment. (Also a good argument against statutory protection of a belief system from any form of speech, siince the demonstration of falsehood is very unlikely to be forthcoming.)

    “Demonizing,” while (no doubt intentionally) imprecise, is probably close in meaning to “defaming,” which is the very issue under discussion. That you simply assert your opinion on the matter at hand without supporting argument is telling. Your unargued opinion is worth less that the electrons it rode in on. That you freely lob about terms like “madman” and “bigot” shows, additionally, that you could use a rudimentary lesson in irony.

  47. #47 Capital Dan
    November 25, 2008

    Sure. I’ll respect religion just as soon as religion starts respecting humanity.

  48. #48 Nerd of Redhead
    November 25, 2008

    ChR, would you respect the beliefs of someone who feels his religion says (s)he can have sex with children?

    Personally, I would find that person and their religion sick morons.

  49. #49 ChR
    November 25, 2008

    Alex,

    Again please note that there is a sharp logical distinction between the claim that

    (1) For every person, we should respect that person’s beliefs

    and

    (2) We should respect the beliefs of other persons,

    as (1) quantifies universally, and (2) would logically allow for sensible moderation. I have not argued for (1); rather I included important considerations about ‘harm’ (which would apply to your case of “exterminating red headed people”). Thus your criticism is off-target.

  50. #50 Sastra
    November 25, 2008

    ChR #25 wrote:

    We may deeply disagree with a person’s beliefs, but if her beliefs are not obviously harming anybody, then she should have the freedom to hold her beliefs without being harassed and demonized by madmen and bigots (like pz).

    Are you talking about private lives, or the public square?

    In other words, people, on a personal level, have the right to not have to engage in discussion or debate concerning their beliefs. If they are trying to keep to themselves, but are literally being followed around and their entire character unfairly demonized, then the problem is clearly the harassment and slander themselves. If it is so extensive that the person feels physically threatened as a person, and their life is interfered with, then that’s wrong whether the topic is religion, politics, or sports teams. I’ll agree.

    But respecting the privacy of persons is, I think, very different than the idea of “respecting the privacy” of an idea. Once they are out into the public square, then they’re no longer identified with people and their feelings. They’re on their own. Essays and letters to the editor against a position is not an intrusion into private space, no matter how personally upset someone may be upon reading it. Nobody has the right to protect their beliefs from mockery, criticism, or sincere abuse. That includes religion.

    That includes atheism too, of course. We don’t want people to stop criticizing atheism. We want people to start engaging with our defenses, and answering our rebuttals. You can’t shut down unfair stereotypes and misunderstandings through force of law. You do it by putting the debate out into the public square, and having a better argument.

  51. #51 The Petey
    November 25, 2008

    Does this mean I can’t hate the catholic church for being a bunch of child raping, fag bashing civil rights opposed assholes anymore?

  52. #52 Brownian, OM
    November 25, 2008

    I would not argue for (1), but for reasons of mutual toleration and progress (2) is adopted by most sane and rational people in the 21st century (which apparently leaves pz out).

    In short, the argument ChR makes here (not explicitly, but the condemnation of PZ as a ‘bigot’ is the giveaway), is the same one the ‘framers’ make: why not just let those kindly religious folk do what they do, we’ll do what we do, and we’ll all just be one big happy?

    Of course, as always, the ones making these arguments forget that sane and rational people in the 21st century only got that way because gadflies, rabble-rousers, and troublemakers like PZ stood up and pointed out the problems with slavery, with the disenfranchisement of women, with the abuses of children, and with homophobia.

    Slavery doesn’t end because of 21st century mutual toleration.

  53. #53 ChR
    November 25, 2008

    CJO,

    That’s a category mistake. This is not an argument about legal definitions; I’m making an ethical point. (The two do not always overlap. E.g., racial segregation was at one point consistent with various legalities, but it was never ethical.)

  54. #54 Alex
    November 25, 2008

    #50

    No ChR. As has been said repeatedly, there is a difference between respecting one’s right to have beliefs, and respecting beliefs. You don’t seem to understand or appreciate the distinction. And by the way, the bible for one, is filled with many atrocious commandments and actions.

    Faith deserves no respect. I however, respect your right to respect faith. Just don’t approach me with it, or I will mock you and your ridiculous ideas of faith.

  55. #55 DuckPhup
    November 25, 2008

    There is no reason to “… respect people’s faith and beliefs.” In fact, it is quite silly. Most ‘faith and beliefs’ are plainly stupid and ridiculous… so what are we saying about ourselves, if we go around claiming to ‘respect’ the stupid and ridiculous?

    That is the epitome of hypocrisy, and yet… somehow… oddly… we have been conditioned to think that that’s what we are supposed to do. How did that ever happen, do you suppose?

    OK… I acknowledge that we all must try to get along in the world, as best we can… and we wouldn’t be able to do that very well if we went around proclaiming everybody’s ‘faith and beliefs’ to be stupid and ridiculous… even though they ARE, mostly. There is a way around that, though, requiring only a minor mental adjustment… and that is to realize that what we must respect is everyone’s right to HAVE their own ‘faith and beliefs’.

    So… in other words… everybody has the right to bamboozle and delude themselves in whatever manner they deem fit… in the privacy of their own minds… in their own homes… in their churches… and in their ‘faith-based’ (delusion-based, actually) schools. And they also have the right… no matter how much it might annoy sane people… to make fools out of themselves, by babbling about the ‘truth’ of their delusions in the public sphere. But when they seek to inject their delusions into our schools… our science classes… or to make law and set government policy on the basis of their delusions… then they must be confronted, and all pretext of ‘respect’ must cease.

    Oh, yeah… they also have the right to be offended, when sane people ridicule them.

    “Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

    “People who don’t like their beliefs being laughed at shouldn’t have such funny beliefs.” ~ Unknown

  56. #56 Mark
    November 25, 2008

    Apparently, according to the troll, we don’t have the right to disrespect people.

  57. #57 Kobra
    November 25, 2008

    ChR: http://www.kobrascorner.com/opine/nothing-is-sacred.php

    Criticism is our ONLY mechanism for separating good ideas from bad. You don’t like the criticism because you’re afraid that your beliefs will fall into the latter category.

  58. #58 Gregory Kusnick
    November 25, 2008

    “I find alarming any behaviours that disregard the beliefs of others. This kind of thing is unacceptable.”

    So, for instance, the Earth-orbiting behavior of astronauts in flagrant disregard of the beliefs of flat-Earthers would be deemed alarming and unacceptable under this measure?

  59. #59 Azdak
    November 25, 2008

    ChR, of what possible value is it to me that I insist that others respect my beliefs? Beliefs should be evaluated, questioned, and challenged if they’re to be worth holding. If you “respect” my beliefs (i.e.: refuse to evaluate them or comment on them or question them), you’re actually doing me a disservice.

    If I believe that investing in a pyramid scheme is a sound business decision, or that consuming a half a bottle of scotch makes me a better driver, it’s really not in my best interests (or the interests of others, frankly) that I be allowed to hold those beliefs unchallenged. “Respecting” these beliefs is indefensible and absurd. Why, then, are people’s beliefs in the supernatural suddenly afforded this special protected status?

  60. #60 SirUtka
    November 25, 2008

    Chr,
    Unfortunately I wrote my comment in response to your first 2 post (I take too long to type I suppose), the problem with your premises is that beliefs cause people to act out on those beliefs. Sure life would be wonderful if everyone had a level of empathy that would prevent them form infringing on other people’s rights and privileges. And if men were angles there’d be no need for government.
    There are so many dangerous and destructive aspects to the regions of the world (both to the people who subscribe to them, and to their neighbors) that we cannot sit idly by and say “well there are decent religious folk, so we best not offend any religious folk”. Any attempt at stifling debate, even if it’s perceived as mean spirited remarks, leads to a failure to exchange and improve upon ideas. PZ might be crass and brazen in his disrespect of religion, but he also brings to light a lot of negative aspects of religion that need to be examined, and if proven to be faulty and dangerous, gotten rid of.
    What I see this measure as is a feel good way of saying “look at how civilized we are, we’re protecting people’s cherished beliefs” but failing to recognize that a hallmark of civilization is being able to deal with things you don’t like. A thick skin is a better sign of a civil society then laws making it taboo to oppose religion. And let’s be honest, there are many religions in the world that view any form of dissent to be blasphemous.

  61. #61 Sastra
    November 25, 2008

    “The meaning of religious freedom, I fear, is sometimes greatly misapprehended. It is taken to be a sort of immunity, not merely from governmental control but also from public opinion. A dunderhead gets himself a long-tailed coat, rises behind the sacred desk, and emits such bilge as would gag a Hottentot. Is it to pass unchallenged? If so, then what we have is not religious freedom at all, but the most intolerable and outrageous variety of religious despotism. Any fool, once he is admitted to holy orders, becomes infallible. Any half-wit, by the simple device of ascribing his delusions to revelation, takes on an authority that is denied to all the rest of us.” — H.L. Mencken

  62. #62 hermit
    November 25, 2008

    It has been said many times before, but what organized religions really want is neither “respect” or “tolerance”, they’re seeking “deference”. That is… “humble submission.”

  63. #63 ChR
    November 25, 2008

    Brownian,

    You write:

    because gadflies, rabble-rousers, and troublemakers like PZ stood up and pointed out the problems with slavery, with the disenfranchisement of women, with the abuses of children, and with homophobia.

    This strikes me as historically naive. As we now know, it was actually many deeply religious activists who condemned slavery, chief among them Frederick Douglass, as one can observe from his autobiographical accounts and public speeches. Douglass made more trouble than any of your reputed anti-religious or atheist organizations in the 19th century. (I’m not even sure the latter were widespread in those times. In fact, Jefferson himself (who was by no means friendly to Christian theism) was a decided racist and slave owner. But I am open to any evidence you have to the contrary.)

  64. #64 Michael
    November 25, 2008

    Christians worship a zombie, Islam idolizes a pedophile, Buddhists are lazy and Jews are haughty.

    Fuck you, Louise, and fuck you, UN. Ugh.

  65. #65 Kobra
    November 25, 2008

    Religions don’t want respect, they want impunity.

  66. #66 Run-DMS
    November 25, 2008

    That Mencken quote is awesome, Sastra.

  67. #67 SteveM
    November 25, 2008

    That’s a category mistake. This is not an argument about legal definitions; I’m making an ethical point.

    If you are saying that people should not be harassed or thrown in jail just for holding a certain belief, then you actually agree with PZ. If you are saying that a belief cannot be criticised just because someone will be offended, then you are in disagreement with PZ. PZ is responding to a proposed that that basically makes it illegal to disagree with anyone.

    This is the difference between respecting a belief and respecting a right to a belief. I respect your right to believe PZ is a bigot, but I do not respect that belief itself, and I should not forbidden from being able to express my own belief that you are wrong.

  68. #68 Stark
    November 25, 2008

    ChR shows a common problem in the general populace – a lack of understanding the difference between tolerance and respect. So, I shall endeavour to explain it.

    Tolerance means I will not try to repress others beliefs or persecute them for them. In short, I will put up with them and not bother them about their beliefs… so long as they provide the same courtesy. It is a 2 way street.

    Respect would mean I have to lend some weight to religious beliefs and show deference to them. I’m not likely to skip a nice pork chop just because it would offend the sensibilities of a particular religion or 2 but if I were showing respect for these religions that is exactly what I’d have to do. I also would have to observe their holy days and other customs, in order to be respectful, but that’s not gonna happen either.

    Notably, religions (religious people actually) in general show very little tolerance or respect towards my non-beliefs while I show a great deal of tolerance for religion in my day to day life. I mean, it’s been years since I turned the hose on a jehovah’s witless at my door at 7AM on a Saturday. Very tolerant of me I think – they’re not so tolerant or respectful of me when they bother me, uninvited, in my home though.

    I liken this problem to the issue with people understanding the meaning of the word “theory” – which most people seem to have decided means “wild guess”. Tolerance!=Respect

    Tolerance I will give freely until I have reason not to (like, for example, when a religion advocates stoning young girls to death for the “crime” of being raped). Respect must be earned and once earned it must be continually re-earned. Religion in general has done very little to earn any sort of respect.

  69. #69 The Petey
    November 25, 2008

    LOL Buddhists are lazy
    That’s funny
    and I’m a buddhist

    wait,
    I mean
    ummmm

    DON’T DEFAME MY RELIG….

    Wait, it’s not a religion
    its a philosophy and a meditation practice
    ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

    DEFAME AWAY

  70. #70 CJO
    November 25, 2008

    This is not an argument about legal definitions

    Then don’t make bombastic accusations about others’ behavior that contain legal terms with precise definitions. If you want to talk about ethics, then use terms current in modern ethical philosophy. “Criticizing” does not equal “harrassing.” And a belief, an idea, cannot be “harrassed” or “demonized,” where “demonized” means something close to “defamed,” the definition of which contains the condition that the defaming statements be demonstrably false.

    Islam is a backwards, tribal cult that encourages fanatical violence and the oppression of women and nonbelievers. Also, Mohammed was a madman and a child molester, and Allah is a childish fantasy.

    Please demonstrate the falsehood of any of these assertions.

  71. #71 Conor H.
    November 25, 2008

    I don’t respect any beliefs or ideas. I reflect on them, I consider the weight of their evidence and I decide whether they are valid or not.

    I respect people. If I don’t completely eviscerate and denigrate someone’s religious beliefs it’s only because I respect them enough not to.

  72. #72 Karl Withakay
    November 25, 2008

    Where did the idea that you have to respect the beliefs of others start? You have a right to believe what you want, and should expect to have that right respected, but not the belief itself- only the right to have the belief.

    I don’t have to respect the beliefs of ANYONE, and nobody has to respect my beliefs. I have the right to believe what I want, but I don’t have the right to not be criticized for that belief and I don’t have the right to not have that belief itself criticized.

    The concept that everyone has to respect everyone’s beliefs is a total non sequitur, since many beliefs are mutually exclusive of respect (as in most religions). It is possible for me to believe your belief does not deserve respect, and for you to believe my belief does not deserve respect; please reconcile that before demanding I respect your belief.

  73. #73 Laila
    November 25, 2008

    ChR, I think you may have misinterpreted Brownian’s argument. Brownian was by no means saying that atheists were the ones who pointed out the problems of society. Only that there were people who did (like Frederick Douglass, as you point out) and that because he was allowed to point out those problems (rather than stifled with misguided laws requiring “respect”), our society is much better.

    If you would care to address that point, please do.

    (Apologies to Brownian if I, in turn, misinterpreted your argument.)

  74. #74 ChR
    November 25, 2008

    I cannot keep up with every comment so apologies in advance if it seems I am being a bit selective with those to whom I respond . (For example, I will not respond to things like “according to the troll…” or various other non-substantive remarks, mischaracterizations, assertions without argument, soundbites, fallacies, etc.)

  75. #75 Glen Davidson
    November 25, 2008

    Well, it’s pretty clear that the major sponsors, the Islamic states, are typically quite unconcerned about freedom of speech and most other “liberal” freedoms as well.

    Anyhow, I don’t plan to “disregard the beliefs of others,” I mean to criticize them (actually, I’ll usually do it with some respect, until that has been forfeited by the religionist).

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  76. #76 Janus
    November 25, 2008

    It’s not “religion”, PZ, it’s Islam.

    This measure exists because Muslim countries have pushed for it, and its main purpose is to keep non-Muslims from stating facts about Islam that Muslims don’t want to become common knowledge. The only reason that the measure pretends to protect religion as a whole is that the Muslims who are responsible for it know that an Islam-centric measure is less likely to pass.

  77. #77 Azdak
    November 25, 2008

    As we now know, it was actually many deeply religious activists who condemned slavery, chief among them Frederick Douglass, as one can observe from his autobiographical accounts and public speeches. Douglass made more trouble than any of your reputed anti-religious or atheist organizations in the 19th century.

    Given that the Bible contains specific instructions on the practice of slavery, and was therefore used as justification of the practice, I think it’s fairly safe to say that while many Christians did oppose slavery, they did so in spite of their religion, not because of it.

  78. #78 Kobra
    November 25, 2008

    fallacies, etc.)

    Then allow me to point to this and preemptively respond to any possible “Is he talking to himself?” with “No, as clearly evidenced here.”

  79. #79 SteveM
    November 25, 2008

    As we now know, it was actually many deeply religious activists who condemned slavery, chief among them Frederick Douglass …

    Therefore there were no religious leaders protecting the institution of slavery. wrong!

    And so you miss the point entirely. The issue is not whether atheists did more to end slavery. The point is that it was criticism and dissent that ended slavery.

  80. #80 raven
    November 25, 2008

    Well I skipped the troll feeding.

    In the USA, we have religious freedom. Anyone can believe anything they want, UFOs, Moonies, Wiccans, Druids, Scientologists, and on and on.

    Respect is given and it is earned. I don’t have to respect anyone else’s nonsense and they don’t have to respect mine either.

    And if the fundie Death Cults weren’t trying to force their beliefs on others while simultaneously wrecking the country, no one would give a rat’s ass.

  81. #81 ChR
    November 25, 2008

    CJO,

    Hmmm… Last I checked, ethicists typically use any language they want when contextually appropriate, and terms like ‘harm’ and ‘mutual toleration’ inter alia have certainly been used by many ethical philosophers. Not sure where precisely your disagreement lies at this point.

  82. #82 Evolving Squid
    November 25, 2008

    The issue is more basic than ChR is making it out.

    Respect is earned, not owed.

    A belief worthy of respect, will earn it.

    A belief that is loathsome will not earn respect… nor should it be granted respect simply by declaring it a sacrosanct belief.

    Respect isn’t a matter of tolerance or bigotry, but the UN resolution sure is. It’s the bigotry of people who *KNOW* their beliefs are unworthy of respect and thus want to abuse law to FORCE people to at least pretend to respect them. That’s truly loathsome, hypocritical, and very, very bigoted.

  83. #83 CJO
    November 25, 2008

    terms like ‘harm’

    Please demonstrate ‘harm’ to a belief sytem arising from the behavior of any individual.

  84. #84 SteveM
    November 25, 2008

    In the USA, we have religious freedom. Anyone can believe anything they want, UFOs, Moonies, Wiccans, Druids, Scientologists, and on and on.

    Exactly, and in the very same amendment is also the right to criticise those beliefs. The two go hand in hand in a healthy society. And as was pointed out earlier, criticism of ideas is very different than harassment of individuals. Criticism is verbal expression of an idea, not a physical (or even psychological) attack.

  85. #85 CJO
    November 25, 2008

    arg. “sytem” –> “system”

  86. #86 H.H.
    November 25, 2008

    I cannot keep up with every comment so apologies in advance if it seems I am being a bit selective with those to whom I respond . (For example, I will not respond to things like “according to the troll…” or various other non-substantive remarks, mischaracterizations, assertions without argument, soundbites, fallacies, etc.)

    Then just answer Sastra’s comment at #51 (which is as polite as cherry pie). That post alone completely destroys whatever point you think you’re making. Avoid it and we’ll all know that you’re not here to engage in substantial dialogue.

  87. #87 Holbach
    November 25, 2008

    United Against Religions Of All Nations. I’ll start the charter membership, with the headquarters building in Morris, Minnesota. And while I’m at it, get the hell out of Manhattan and move to Ankara, Turkey where you will be well ensconced and welcomed.

  88. #88 Sastra
    November 25, 2008

    Quick question:

    ChR, are you in favor of this United Nation resolution condemning “defamation of religion?”

    I won’t assume you are unless you explicitly endorse it. One could think PZ Myers a disrespectful bigot, and still be against it.

  89. #89 Glen Davidson
    November 25, 2008

    Note also the typical lack of reciprocity from bigots like these.

    They’re not proposing any protections for atheists and secularists. Why do that when you mean only to protect the persecutors?

    Sorry if this is a repeat, but I didn’t think I had the time to scan the posts first.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  90. #90 sng
    November 25, 2008

    The Petey,

    Buddhism is very much a religion. Used for all the things major organized religions are used for in the West. Go live in a majority Buddhist country for a while and get back to me.

  91. #91 Alex
    November 25, 2008

    #82

    I think that’s 3 deflections by ChR. ChR, that’s what dishonest debaters do when they know they are beaten. Your arguments are poorly formed, and it’s been adequately pointed out to you both aggressively and thoughtfully. It would be nice if you could demonstrate some character and address some of the counters rather than changing the subject or moving the goalposts.

    Beliefs do not necessarily deserve respect. Period. You have yet to acquiesce on your assertion that they do.

  92. #92 Benjamin Franklin
    November 25, 2008

    Nice!

    Muslims want to condemn defamation of religion. Translated from god-smacked arabic, that means Muslims want to condemn defamation of Islam.

    No? Then perhaps Muslims will oblige by taking out some of the tastier, not-so-tolerant, not-so-respectfull passages from the Quaran, such as

    O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people. 5:51

    No? Thought so.

  93. #93 The Petey
    November 25, 2008

    SNG:

    you are absolutely right, I mis-spoke.

    I meant to say for ME……

  94. #94 ChR
    November 25, 2008

    Laila,

    The principle of respect I informally outlined above included ‘harm’ as an important factor. You and others here seem to ignore that for some reason. Douglass was a champion of mutual toleration and respect for beliefs, religious or otherwise, but not harmful ones — as one can readily glimpse from his autobiographical notes. Forced slavery, rape, etc., would satisfy the criterion for a “harm” factor on any plausible construal of that term.

    It’s consistent with principles of mutual toleration and respect to disrespect various beliefs if they are clearly harmful (and many religious beliefs would fit this category). However, a blanket statement that “we should not respect the beliefs of others” is common bigotry of the sort PZ Myers, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Richard Dawkins et al. have become famous for in the outside world (=the world outside of their respective cult gatherings).

  95. #95 Ryan F Stello
    November 25, 2008

    I second Holbach at #88. All ChR has to do is answer Satra at 51, and that’d be all I’d require to avoid plonkation.

    Unless his/her answer involves conflating ideas with persons….

  96. #96 sng
    November 25, 2008

    The Petey,

    Fair enough. I’ve spent a long time in Asia and have several close friends over there. Bit of a sore point for me. Glad to see we agree. Sorry if I cam off a bit aggro there.

  97. #97 Feynmaniac
    November 25, 2008

    As we now know, it was actually many deeply religious activists who condemned slavery, chief among them Frederick Douglass, as one can observe from his autobiographical accounts and public speeches.

    Apologists always point to the Christians in the Abolitionist movement, but conveniently ignore the Christians in the “let’s keep slaves” movement. They ignore the fact that the slave owners were Christians. They ignore the fact they used the “curse of Ham” from the bible to justify slavery. They ignore Leviticus 25:44:

    As for your male and your female slaves, whom you may have; of the nations that are around you, from them you may buy male and female slaves

    They also ignore the New Testament, specifically 1 Peter 2:18

    Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.

  98. #98 ChR
    November 25, 2008

    Alex,

    Please highlight the specific criticisms you feel I “deflected” or treated “dishonestly” and I will be glad to reply to them.

    Also, please note that I nowhere argued that beliefs should necessarily be respected.

  99. #99 Kobra
    November 25, 2008

    @95:

    WRONG!

    It isn’t “We shouldn’t respect the beliefs of others.” It is “We shouldn’t unquestionably respect the beliefs of others or abstain from criticizing ideas that make no sense.”

    http://www.kobrascorner.com/opine/nothing-is-sacred.php

    Read it, ChR.

  100. #100 tsg
    November 25, 2008

    The principle of respect I informally outlined above included ‘harm’ as an important factor. You and others here seem to ignore that for some reason.

    As has been pointed out to you several times, that you consistently and conveniently ignore, restricting the freedom of others to criticize a religion is harmful.

  101. #101 Alex
    November 25, 2008

    #95

    “However, a blanket statement that “we should not respect the beliefs of others” is common bigotry…”

    And where’s the reference to that statement? I searched this page and I did not find it. I hope it’s somewhere and not a paraphrase, because if it’s fabricated, now you’re just using deception to hide behind.

  102. #102 ChR
    November 25, 2008

    In regards to #51, I agree nearly entirely with its content, and do not see anything I’d be compelled to argue against. Do note, however, that nothing in #51 implies the claim that “we should not respect the beliefs of others” — which is what I’ve taken issue with.

  103. #103 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 25, 2008

    Also, please note that I nowhere argued that beliefs should necessarily be respected.

    No? You surely are implying it here..

    “We have to respect the believes of others?”

    -PZ, not yet realizing that this is the 21st century

    dodge in 3..2..1

  104. #104 The Petey
    November 25, 2008

    SNG,

    I’m fine, I do have a habit of not being quite as specific as I need to to express myself. Even as a “westerner buddhist” I’m not a very good one. The meditation does help me a lot, though.

  105. #105 ChR
    November 25, 2008

    TSG,

    I defend the freedom to criticize the beliefs of others, and agree it would be harmful if that freedom were taken away. I think you may have missed some of my comments above (understandable).

  106. #106 Laila
    November 25, 2008

    ChR,

    I was not trying to ignore the “harm” factor, mostly because I was just trying to clarify Brownian’s point (and SteveM at #80 did a much better job of it). I’m sorry if it came across that way.

    And I will join the chorus of voices saying, yes, please address #51.

  107. #107 Stark
    November 25, 2008

    OK Chr, Try this example on for size:

    I believe that you are a raving lunatic and demonstrably detrimental to the moral fiber of our youth – because my religion tells me so. Therefore, since these are my beliefs and should be respected, your actions should be limited so as to reduce the detrimental effects you have on society. Let’s start with limiting who you can talk to and what you can talk about.

    No harm is being done here. You are not injured by my beliefs but because they should be respected you could possibly be restrained form doing things you think are just fine (and indeed most of society would agree with you). So, is this OK? Is it OK to abridge your freedom of speech because i happen to believe that what you say is “bad for the children”. Or should we perhaps support your beliefs that what you are saying is just fine and poses no danger to anyone?

    Which beliefs should we respect here? Or perhaps, we should not respect any of the beliefs at all and simply go on the idea that unless actual harm can be proven then we should tolerate what you have to say, even if it should upset my delicate sensibilities gleaned from my magic book.

  108. #108 tsg
    November 25, 2008

    I defend the freedom to criticize the beliefs of others, and agree it would be harmful if that freedom were taken away. I think you may have missed some of my comments above (understandable).

    Then you are arguing against a strawman because that is precisely what the UN Directive PZ was talking about is trying to do.

  109. #109 ChR
    November 25, 2008

    Rev,

    That is not the “implication” unless you conflate

    (1) For every person, we should respect that person’s beliefs

    and

    (2) We should respect the beliefs of others,

    which, as I demonstrated already above, are sharply logically distinct (due to the universal quantifier in one but not the other). Moreover, and needless to say, the normative term ‘should’ is not the same as a full-blooded ‘necessity’ operator. So you are wrong about that implication twice over.

    It does not mean one is “dodging” you when one points out your elementary mistakes in reasoning.

  110. #110 AJ Milne
    November 25, 2008

    …a measure to condemn “defamation of religions”…

    Really, were this to rise to the level of actual legisltation, it seems to me it effectively would outlaw all religions.

    Seriously. Seein’ as generally, it’s their practitioners that most effectively defame them.

    So sorry, but Catholic clergy would have to shut up about new reproductive technologies entirely, then. Insofar as there is little that more effectively defames Catholicism than being objectively pro-unwanted pregnancy, and pro-cervical cancer. Same for every mullah who ever defended stoning. That just doesn’t look good for Islam. Defaming. Clearly…

    And really, the AOG and the SBC would probably be best off saying as little as possible. Seein’ as pretty much every word that’s ever come out of their mouths brings shame unto their own houses…

    Y’know… Such a motion, it could have some advantages…

    But then, regrettably, most of the god-besotted trolls on this blog would also have to find new hobbies, I guess. And I’m not sure I’m for that, really. It’s cheap entertainment in tight economic times, after all.

  111. #111 Holbach
    November 25, 2008

    ChR at several comments.
    That is the point with religious beliefs. People that hold these insane beliefs are not content with keeping their unsound ideas to themselves and eventually insinuate these rabid opinions into theirs and others daily lives, either with verbal or weird behavior that are obnoxious at least and irritating at best. They should keep their insanities to themselves or commit themselves to an asylum and play at being their imaginary god. Reason has no time nor inclination for ideas of irrational crap.

  112. #112 Laila
    November 25, 2008

    Um, oops, looks like I’m a little behind. Sorry about that.

    However, it now looks like this argument is becoming primarily a question of semantics (i.e., does the word of “respect” imply that criticism is not allowed?). Based on the context of PZ’s post and the U.N. deal, I’d say that’s how most on this board are using it. In that respect (perhaps a bad choice of words?), no, ideas do not necessarily deserve “respect,” even if they don’t directly espouse harm.

  113. #113 H.H.
    November 25, 2008

    In regards to #51, I agree nearly entirely with its content, and do not see anything I’d be compelled to argue against. Do note, however, that nothing in #51 implies the claim that “we should not respect the beliefs of others” — which is what I’ve taken issue with.

    ChR, then you didn’t understand the comment, since the entire point is that it doesn’t even make sense to talk about “respecting beliefs.” People deserve privacy. But beliefs are fair game. Beliefs are open to public criticism. You are still failing to acknowledge that distinction.

    And you keep talking about “harm” being the deciding factor. Well, most of us here feel that it is harmful to allow people to believe absurd propositions on little to no evidence, since that sort of credulity is open to exploit. We also find irrational “faith” to be quite harmful to society at large. So any belief that relies on magical thinking more than meets your “harm” requirement, and thus should be fair game to criticize.

    So what’s your problem exactly? It doesn’t seem you have one, except that you somehow concluded that PZ is “hateful” and so need to keep asserting that despite the fact that you can’t explain why his criticisms cross the line. Constantly misrepresenting people is a form of dishonesty. You really should reevaluate your conclusions.

  114. #114 Gilles
    November 25, 2008

    @ChR (#95)

    It’s obvious to use examples in religion that cause harm but fair enough let’s look at this excemption.

    Take the famous catholic cracker belief. It causes no harm so this should be a good example.

    The problem with respecting this belief is simple. It’s ridiculous and false. Evidence shows it to be false (simple DNA tests do the trick) and catholics claim it to be true with no evidence.

    When religions make claims about reality we must show them to be true or false. If people continue to claim them as true we should ridicule them as the only means to fight the lack of reason.

    Remember, the earth was thought to be flat. Flatearthers (there still are a few) need to be laughed…

    connect the dots and it becomes obvious why PZ is right on this one.

  115. #115 Will Von Wizzlepig
    November 25, 2008

    I guess then Louise also dislikes prisons, as I am sure the beliefs of the people in prisons is that they should be let out.

    And the beliefs of the insane, in that she would let the insane be locked away as opposed to allowing them all to rule the world, be Napoleon, etc.

    As long as she is defending beliefs, what about those of us who tend more to believe in things that can actually be proven? Don’t our beliefs count just the same as those of us who believe in mythical nonsense? And I must say, the myth-believers treat us far worse than we treat them… how does it go again? Death to the infidels?

  116. #116 SteveM
    November 25, 2008

    “However, a blanket statement that “we should not be forced to respect the beliefs of others” is common bigotry…”

    You omitted the highlighted phrase, and that is what makes all the difference and is what makes it not common bigotry.

    You seem to think that “disrespecting a belief” is equivalent to violence and attacks upon the believers. That is not how PZ and Dawkins et al are using it. Criticism is not harassment. Being a Lutheran is by definition not respecting the beliefs of Catholicism. You are confusing respecting individuals with respecting beliefs. Everyone has a right to their beliefs, they do not have a right to stop others from criticising those beliefs.

  117. #117 Sastra
    November 25, 2008

    ChR #103 wrote:

    Do note, however, that nothing in #51 implies the claim that “we should not respect the beliefs of others” — which is what I’ve taken issue with.

    In my post #51, I basically made a distinction between attacking a person for their beliefs, and attacking a person’s beliefs. I agreed that the first was wrong, but felt that the second was morally allowable. You apparently agree.

    So I don’t quite understand. Are you claiming that PZ Myers is physically harassing, attacking, and abusing people on a personal level — even though they want to be left alone, and are keeping to themselves? If so, can you give an example?

    If not, then where — specifically — do you think PZ Myers has stepped over what should be tolerated? The phrase “respect the beliefs of others” could be interpreted in many ways. There are interpretations PZ would endorse. And I’m still not sure if you disagree with him on the basic thrust of his post, re the UN resolution.

  118. #118 Azdak
    November 25, 2008

    I defend the freedom to criticize the beliefs of others, and agree it would be harmful if that freedom were taken away.

    Okay. So what’s your problem with PZ, Dawkins, et al.? And how are you okay with the U.N. measure?

  119. #119 Ryan F Stello
    November 25, 2008

    ChR gazed out the window forlornly and muttered (#103),

    …the claim that “we should not respect the beliefs of others” — which is what I’ve taken issue with.

    Now that makes sense.
    The problem is that you misread both PZ and Sastra’s points.
    Neither of them made a claim that one “should not” respect beliefs of others but that one should not have to.

    As in having to.
    As in forced.
    As in not being able to dissent.
    As in cannot.
    As in unable to do anything but.

    As in “We have to respect the beliefs of others?”

    ..so you have no claim to argue against.

    Whew, I’m glad you didn’t push this sucker up to 100 comments by being so obtuse and condesceningly telling others to quibble over your language when you didn’t quibble enough in the first place.

    *plonk*

  120. #120 Chr
    November 25, 2008

    Laila,

    Please see my response to #51 above. I do not disagree with it. What I disagree with is the view that “we should not respect the beliefs of others”. I say there is no problem with respecting the beliefs of others when the beliefs don’t harm anybody — and although I haven’t yet done so, I do think I could build a strong case that my view has allowed for greater human progress and relative global peace, whereas PZ’s has created more bigotry if anything.

    Nothing in #51, so far as I can tell, implies that we should not respect the beliefs of others. I don’t see much that I’d disagree with.

  121. #121 Boomer
    November 25, 2008

    Hi ChR,

    Perhaps I can make this more clear for everybody by using an analogy (which also happens to be a statement of truth).

    I certainly don’t agree with your viewpoint on this particular topic, so i wouldn’t force (let alone ask) anyone to RESPECT your arguments. However, I would fight tooth and nail anyone who took it upon themselves to take away your right to express your opinion (TOLERANCE).

  122. #122 Chris
    November 25, 2008

    I really can’t help but wonder if one of the Scientology frontgroups managed to snare a UN official.

  123. #123 ChR
    November 25, 2008

    More later.

  124. #124 Jon
    November 25, 2008

    ChR said;

    “Also, please note that I nowhere argued that beliefs should necessarily be respected.”

    Your very first comment strongly implied that the freedom to disrespect others’ beliefs is undesirable.

    You also argued at comment #34 that the principle

    2) We should respect the beliefs of other persons

    is adopted by “most sane and rational people”.

    Now, I know you later qualified your claims with some provisions for ‘harm’, and for being open to criticism, but these would seem to contradict your original claims. If we should respect the beliefs of other persons, what if their beliefs happen to encompass the notion that their beliefs aren’t doing harm? Who is going to provide an objective viewpoint about what constitutes harm? If we decide to hash out a mutually acceptable definition of what beliefs are ‘harmful’, isn’t that going to involve beliefs being challenged and criticized, ie. not being respected simply because they are beliefs held by others?

  125. #125 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 25, 2008

    which, as I demonstrated already above

    yes I missed that comment above.

    And I still think you are confusing tolerate with respect, and no, my reasoning is fine because of this point.

  126. #126 CalGeorge
    November 25, 2008

    No fair!

    If we can’t trash religion, how are we ever going to get rid of it?

  127. #127 Paris
    November 25, 2008

    Can’t comment intelligently until you ban TALKING ads from your site.

  128. #128 Jon
    November 25, 2008

    Also, I don’t know if this has been pointed out yet, but;

    Chr wrote:

    What I disagree with is the view that “we should not respect the beliefs of others”.

    Well fine. Who exactly is advocating this? We’re saying that beliefs should not be automatically accorded respect just because they’re, like, beliefs, and they’re held by others, and stuff. Beliefs have to earn respect, they don’t deserve it just for existing.

  129. #129 H.H.
    November 25, 2008

    Can’t comment intelligently until you ban TALKING ads from your site.

    Yeah, it’s pretty obnoxious, but I think Seed deals with the advertising side of things. I doubt PZ has any control over that.

  130. #130 Azdak
    November 25, 2008

    Can’t comment intelligently until you ban TALKING ads from your site.

    This is one of the reasons I really like NoScript.

  131. #131 Rob
    November 25, 2008

    One of the common arguments I see is “atheism is a religion”.

    Let’s now concede that point. Now the church has to shut up.

  132. #132 Kel
    November 25, 2008

    What stupidity!!! It’s this pandering to dogma that’s going to be the end of western civilisation as we know it. The whole point of a democracy is to question, this goes against the fundamentals because a few idiots think their own belief system should be above criticism.

  133. #133 Diagoras
    November 25, 2008

    Apart from the budget, resolutions by the General Assembly of the UN are non-binding on its members. So this version of the resolution, like the one back in 2005, which also passed – has no effect at all in the countries who voted with the hell-no on it. UNGA has a one state, one vote policy – which, if the measures were binding – would allow a tiny percentage of the world’s population to dictate how the world operated if they voted in a block ala G77-style.

    And, like the resolution in 2005, most of the Western world voted no on this. http://unbisnet.un.org:8080/ipac20/ipac.jsp?session=1B2764357A72Y.73141&profile=voting&uri=full=3100023~!849577~!0&ri=1&aspect=power&menu=search&source=~!horizon#focus

    In reality, this resolution merely provides cover to those countries who, using the undefined – and thusly overly broad – definition of defamation in the resolution to “own” their religion and prosecute (persecute) even their own citizens who challenge any aspect of this “ownership.” Moreover, it grants cover for protection of religious sensibilities at the cost of freedom of press, political speech, and academic freedom – which is already the norm – but now they can point to the resolution and do a little happy dance.

    In other words – you’ll be fine, unless you travel to one of the countries that voted yes – and you’ll have the same issues there you’ve always had – except now they have a thin veneer of legitimacy, courtesy of UNGA.

  134. #134 Alex
    November 25, 2008

    Rationality demands that bad ideas be criticized, and that protected bad ideas deserve public ridicule.

    Blind faith is a bad idea.
    Dogma is a bad idea.
    Religion is basically the intersection of the 2, dressed up with ornate robes and fancy ceremony.

  135. #135 Scott from Oregon
    November 25, 2008

    The problem I have with the UN is that its output does not closely equal its input.

    Too much money goes into the organization and is spent on those inside its walls, while its effects on bad global situations are poor.

    When we were in the UN back in the 60’s, Pops used to fly all of the “indignitaries” (his word) around the ME while they “resolved” the Israel/Arab conflict.

    See how well that turned out…

    Rather than an organization that sucks up US capital, a simple building, a meeting house would be just as effective. The only real positive the UN does is in getting folks to talk to each other. This can be done much cheaper with a large building in Switzerland, for example.

    Who does the UN think it is, creating laws? It is not an elected sovereign government representing anyone.

  136. #136 H.H.
    November 25, 2008

    ChR said:

    I say there is no problem with respecting the beliefs of others when the beliefs don’t harm anybody…

    It looks like what you are really trying to argue is that personal religious beliefs are benign and don’t harm anybody. But that’s an assertion that you have yet to support. I strongly disagree with that view, in fact. I believe giving irrational beliefs a free pass is dangerously naive and wrong. So what you are basically arguing is that you know better than me what is good for society. But you should not be the sole decider of what constitutes a dangerous belief.

    Because that’s really what you argument comes down to: “Criticism of beliefs ChR things are bad is fine. Criticism of beliefs ChR things are good or neutral shouldn’t be allowed.” Who the hell are you to decide that for everyone? What gives you that right?

    And if you think you aren’t arguing for total totalitarian control, then obviously criticism of beliefs you think are good should be allowed, since you must admit you aren’t omniscient and your judgment could be mistaken. ChR, you really have no coherent, defensible point here. Yours is an emotional argument, not a particularly well thought-out one. I strongly suggest a thorough reevaluation of your position.

  137. #137 Cuttlefish, OM
    November 25, 2008

    You must not defame the Christians–that is disrespectful, brother!
    But Protestants and Catholics, well, they get to kill each other.
    You must not defame the muslims–it’s quite wrong to call one looney!
    But the Sunni kill the Shi’a, and the Shi’a kill the Sunni.

    Take the UN Resolution, place it back upon their shelves;
    Defamation of religion is a job best done themselves.

  138. #138 Kevin Anthoney
    November 25, 2008

    Remember: It’s not defamation if it’s true.

  139. #139 Mike Hussein Haubrich
    November 25, 2008

    However, a blanket statement that “we should not respect the beliefs of others” is common bigotry of the sort PZ Myers, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Richard Dawkins et al. have become famous for in the outside world (=the world outside of their respective cult gatherings).

    Since I say you are a bigot for not respecting PZ’s approach to atheism, I think you should be forthwith reported to the UN for violating their resolution. Respect towards religion also extends to any position with regards to a religion. Including atheism. And you must respect anything anybody says no matter what.

    Apologies to all atheists for conflating them to such as the late Falwell and the backward-thinking Robertson will be accepted if you want to change your tune, mister.

  140. #140 Diagoras
    November 25, 2008

    @Scott –

    Recall, won’t you, that the US arrears to the UN currently total over $1.3 billion. So it’s not like they’re funnelling your taxpayer dollars into it. Not really, anyway.

  141. #141 Chiroptera
    November 25, 2008

    From The Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

    Article 18: Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

    If this new resolution were just to promote this idea, it is already redundant.

    Article 19: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

    On the other hand, if the intent of the resolution is to go further than this, then it contradicts what has already been established as basic human rights.

  142. #142 Alex
    November 25, 2008

    I think following every link in here and understanding all the information will dispel any notion of not being critical of beliefs.

  143. #143 Pierce R. Butler
    November 25, 2008

    Uh, I can’t be the first person to declare that raucous mockery is sacred, can I?

    If so, then I claim the title of Prophet, and several other privileges to be described later as conditions warrant. Whee!

  144. #144 bsk
    November 25, 2008

    To everyone still arguing with ChR:

    Anyone who confuses the words “beliefs” and “believes” and calls tolerance “toleration” IS NOT WORTH YOUR TIME.

  145. #145 Kobra
    November 25, 2008

    Is the ChRisttroll gone now?

  146. #146 Hairhead
    November 25, 2008

    Chr, I’ll keep this polite, specific, and new. I’ll ask the question that has not been asked of you, and therefore has not been answered:

    What exactly do you MEAN by “respecting the beliefs of others?”

    That is, what, in your mind, constitutes the action of “respecting the beliefs of others?”

    You say that criticism is okay. Fine. So, what, *exactly* (to ask again) in your mind, is this “respect?”

    If I knew what you were talking about I could debate you, or at least understand your position, but since you haven’t defined your position, I can’t really address it.

  147. #147 Gary
    November 25, 2008

    There is nothing in organized religion that can be respected, it is nothing more than a tool of control. It is unfortunately a tool highly effective and one every person but the lowest can use and abuse.

    The worst part is that many have been convinced to submit willingly, blindly and without thought. Teach the flock faith is better at something, anything, than mere reality and you can get them to do anything, including blowing themselves up.

    I’m certainly not going to respect the stick someone is beating me with nor am I about to respect the wielder. I doubt that I could or should respect myself for not fighting back. That however, is exactly what the backers of this resolution are asking for, for others not under their particular stick to respect their use of it. Sorry, but that is bullshit. The more freedom in use of the stick, the bigger the stick grows, and we all know this is all about survival of the biggest stick.

    The wielders of the stick need to be castrated, repeatedly and forcefully. The best way of doing that is to humiliate them in front of their flock often enough to wake at least a few of the sleeping followers.

    Those that absolutely need the carrot and the stick, well, they’ll never wake up. But it is time to teach their kids how to recognize and react to the stick above their heads.

    BTW, I have no intention of respecting anyone’s right to piss on my shoe, whether the piss was aimed at me or aimed at my neighbour. I may respect their right to believe pissing on my shoe is a good thing, but any actions will have consequences.

  148. #148 bsk
    November 25, 2008

    Cuttlefish > *

  149. #149 Brownian, OM
    November 25, 2008

    This strikes me as historically naive. As we now know, it was actually many deeply religious activists who condemned slavery, chief among them Frederick Douglass, as one can observe from his autobiographical accounts and public speeches. Douglass made more trouble than any of your reputed anti-religious or atheist organizations in the 19th century. (I’m not even sure the latter were widespread in those times. In fact, Jefferson himself (who was by no means friendly to Christian theism) was a decided racist and slave owner. But I am open to any evidence you have to the contrary.)

    I agree ChR; of course there were many religious groups that fought against slavery (but not all, even though they were mostly drawing on the same source material for their arguments, both in support and against.)

    My point was that none of those behaviours we now look at as abhorrent were changed through respectful tolerance via lack of criticism.

    Sorry if this has been covered already, but damn meetings keep getting in the way of my comment reading and posting.

  150. #150 mothra
    November 25, 2008

    @120- Well stated!! “plonk” indeed.

    @121 ChR Your ‘no harm’ principle fails in simple practice because it is not always possible to discern at any given moment the inherent harm (or latent good) in a belief. Therefore, beliefs must be critically evaluated, subjected to the fire in the crucible of reason. There undoubtedly were times when religious beliefs were beneficial to either individuals or societies. Religious beliefs still succor individuals, but at present, overwhelming evidence is that religious beliefs are detrimental to modern society. Criticism is a necessary tool. And, as an earlier poster pointed out, when religious beliefs become intertwined with other aspects of society, i.e. politics, how soon to tyranny. I am surprised any theist would support the U.N edict, intolerance of others (hatred to not put too fine a point on it) is a basic recruitment tool.

  151. #151 Gary
    November 25, 2008

    Azdak @#3 – Since Denny’s doesn’t accept third party cheques, that’s a hell of a lot of loonies to carry while waiting a couple of hours in line.

  152. #152 Shamar
    November 25, 2008

    To ChR,

    I guess that what I was trying to say is something like this……Although I respect your opinion, by not trying to get you banned or anything by posting and I am readind and considering what you say, I still do not have to agree and I can still say how stupin or wrong I think your point or opinion is……..The same way, I respect peoples beliefs by not trying to stop them from believing or prevent them from existing with that belief, however, I have every right to state my own opinion as well about how stupid I think that belief is and try to show others how stupid it is through logic and reasonable arguments.

    I may disagree with a person or their beliefs. I may tell that person or others that those beliefs are stupid and try to show evidence to support that. BUT, I would fight alongside you or whoever against anyone who said that you have no right to believe what you want or tell others what you believe.

    I believe in freedom of speech, yours AS WELL AS MINE! And that should be all the respect anyone deserves!!!

  153. #153 Holbach
    November 25, 2008

    ChR @ 124
    More later, my foot. You know you will be ripped apart by the forces of reason, like the lions ripping apart the christians in the colisseum who are yelling out for their god to make the lions toothless. “Oh god, where are you?” Chomp! Think of us as lions with very good dentures.

  154. #154 Sili
    November 25, 2008

    de?fame
    to attack the good name or reputation of, as by uttering or publishing maliciously or falsely anything injurious; slander or libel; calumniate: The newspaper editorial defamed the politician.

    I’d say we’re safe.

  155. #155 druidbros
    November 25, 2008

    Well, someone got their nickers in a bunch didnt they?…. I like what George Carlin said..’I have as much authority as the Pope, I just dont have as many people who believe that I do’.

    And in ancient Greece it used to be against the law to talk bad about / deny the gods. This lasted until the ridicule got to be too much. Thats why they think they have to have the laws which cannot be enforced.

  156. #156 Iago
    November 25, 2008

    I can think of a simple way yo defuse the problem. Make the countries supporting the measure invite Ray Comfort, Kent Hovind,and Ken Ham in for a week of discussion with their religous leaders. And make them understand that this measue will mean that they must respect the views of that lot. I do think that will cause the swift retraction of the proposal , or perhaps precipitate WW III. One of the two.

  157. #157 KRiS
    November 25, 2008

    The problem with “respect” is that it is such a broad term. For some people, simply asking questions about a religion is disrespectful, meaning that questioning a religion becomes an actionable offense. Every religion (even atheism) has a broad range of adherents, from the calm sensible majority, to the loud angry minority. Unfortunately, too often it’s the loud minority that gets heard. Once disrespecting a religion becomes actionable, that loud minority will attempt to bludgeon all dissenters down with the blunt force of law.

  158. #158 Jeanette
    November 25, 2008

    ChR: I hope I’m not to late here, but I have some questions about your basic premise:

    The idea behind respecting the beliefs of others has to do with mutual toleration: harm none, and let people do/believe what they want so long as they are likewise willing to harm none. We may deeply disagree with a person’s beliefs, but if her beliefs are not obviously harming anybody, then she should have the freedom to hold her beliefs without being harassed and demonized by madmen and bigots (like pz).

    Okay, how come we have to respect the beliefs of religionists, but they don’t have to respect our beliefs? Why do they have a “right” to their beliefs, but we don’t have an equal “right” to ours? And where is PZ’s right to hold his reality-based “beliefs” (i.e. facts) without being harassed and demonized by madmen and bigots like you?

    Since it IS, after all, the 21st Century, why are the ignorant still the only ones entitled to speak out? This should be the century when we move beyond Bronze Age myths.

  159. #159 Brownian, OM
    November 25, 2008

    The point is that it was criticism and dissent that ended slavery.

    Exactly. Thanks, SteveM and others.

    Further, if saw the kind of condemnation and criticism of modern religious bullshit from religious leaders that we did during the era of abolition, we militant atheists wouldn’t have that much to complain about.

    ‘Course, without militant atheists, many of the religious would have to face the fact that it is each other that they hate the most.

    I know I’m being redundant since I don’t have time at work to do much more than skim the comments. Stupid cancer; why can’t it surveille itself?

  160. #160 Sean
    November 25, 2008

    Damn it! There goes all my material on Osiris and Seth. How am I ever going to put together a 10 minute stand-up routine at this rate!

    It’s hard to respect religion when it continually enacts the ‘Daddy! So-and-so Hurt My Feelings’ clause. Suck it up!

  161. #161 Broseph
    November 25, 2008

    Not all beliefs were created equal. If they were then we wouldn’t have insane asylums.

  162. #162 Bill McElree
    November 25, 2008

    There is a difference between respect and tolerance. I can tolerate the kid that gets off the short bus but I don’t have to respect his opinion.

  163. #163 Azdak
    November 25, 2008

    Azdak @#3 – Since Denny’s doesn’t accept third party cheques, that’s a hell of a lot of loonies to carry while waiting a couple of hours in line.

    And given how Canadian change is reviled south of the border, I guess it will have to stay here. Sorry, PZ.

  164. #164 Azdak
    November 25, 2008

    Oh, hey! That statement works on multiple levels!

  165. #165 Bronze Dog
    November 25, 2008

    My quick thing to say: Doggerel #7.

  166. #166 LeeLeeOne
    November 25, 2008

    I have written letters to the President-Elect, Barak Obama, regarding this decision, and to others (local government officials).

    I find the US participation in the UN organization to be increasingly nefarious and bordering on criminal. We have the Bill of Rights as our foundation, do we not?!

    Freedom of speech – if we cannot speak, we become mute. We are destined to become a nation of mutes without any voice! With no voice, we cannot be heard! Without being heard, we become meaningless, nothingness, thoughtlessness. Empty. We die.

  167. #167 Jeanette
    November 25, 2008

    WOW!!! The comments by the bunch of you are absolutely INGENIOUS on this thread. Idiot trolls really bring out the best in you all!

    Thanks, idiot troll!

  168. #168 ndt
    November 25, 2008

    ChR, going by what you stated in this thread, then I don’t understand why you have a problem with PZ. PZ only criticizes religious beliefs that cause harm. He never harasses believers. It seems you are in agreement, so I don’t see why you call him a bigot.

  169. #169 Diagoras
    November 25, 2008

    @LeeLeeOne –

    Again, non-binding. As are all resolutions by the UNGA except those regarding the budget. And, moreover, the US voted against it, as it did in 2005. The non-binding nature of these resolutions grounded, as previously stated, in the one state, one vote principal. So G77, and similar blocks of small countries, don’t get to decide how the rest of the world is allowed to live. This is a resolution – not a treaty. This has absolutely no effect on your ability to grumble about religion in the US. And, in the countries that did vote for it – it represents only a marginal shift in the way things were already run.

  170. #170 J Dub
    November 25, 2008

    Congratulations. You’ve been selected to receive a free Apple iPhone.

  171. #171 Scott B
    November 25, 2008

    ChR@34

    That’s just poor logic. Your statement 2 (“We should respect the beliefs of other persons”) is meaningless, in your terms. “Other persons” – the category – do not have beliefs, individuals do. Statement 2 cannot make any sense unless interpreted to mean the same as statement 1.

    What we sane and rational 21st century people adopt is tolerance. We accept that others may believe differently than we do, and we don’t prohibit them from doing so. That doesn’t mean we can’t laugh at them for being idiots.

    You get tolerated for free. Respect is earned, and religious belief has not earned it.

  172. #172 Jim
    November 25, 2008

    “I find alarming any behaviours that disregard the beliefs of others. This kind of thing is unacceptable.”

    Dear Ms. Arbour

    It is my belief that respect should never be tacit. It must be earned. Why should I respect beliefs not worthy of respect. It is my belief that any belief, including my own, can be criticized, mutilated, chastised even laughed at. It is my belief that people who demand tacit respect for their beliefs have very thin skin and are unable to criticize their own beliefs rationally.

    It is obvious to me that your simple statement disregards my beliefs. It’s your Catch-22 what will you do about it?

  173. #173 CrypticLife
    November 25, 2008

    We may deeply disagree with a person’s beliefs, but if her beliefs are not obviously harming anybody, then she should have the freedom to hold her beliefs without being harassed and demonized by madmen and bigots (like pz).

    Everyone does have that freedom; they don’t need to put their religious beliefs in the public square. Frankly, making fun of beliefs (harassed and demonized? you mean, by a blog posting?) seems like a far more valid criticism than some other very legal criticisms.

    Could I write a posting stating people with small noses are intellectually inferior? Yes, I certainly could.

    Could I claim all fat people are just lazy undisciplined slobs? Yes, I could.

    Could I make public racist statements? Yes, I could. In fact, I could protect those statements from “harassment” and “demonization” of blog postings criticizing them under the UN resolution.

    It still bothers me that you’re arguing against a quote you made up, “we should not respect the beliefs of others”, as Alex pointed out in #102. You really need to justify why that reading is in any way defensible and that you couldn’t have misinterpreted something an ACTUAL quote said.

    That is, if you come back to this thread at all…

  174. #174 GuLi
    November 25, 2008

    This strikes me as historically naive. As we now know, it was actually many deeply religious activists who condemned slavery, chief among them Frederick Douglass, as one can observe from his autobiographical accounts and public speeches.

    Stated like this, it’s just ridiculous. Victor Schoelcher was
    an atheist, look him up. “Historically na´ve”, eh?

    Ah sorry, I just disrespected your belief there.

  175. #175 Glen Davidson
    November 25, 2008

    Everyone must respect the religious belief that evolutionists are Satan-inspired atheists or their fellow-travellers, and that all atheists and their fellow-travellers are close-minded bigots who push evolution into schools merely because they hate god.

    Anything less is intolerance.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  176. #176 Stark
    November 25, 2008

    @ Diagoras #170 –

    While the current resolution is non-binding it is the stated goal of the group behind this resolution (the OIC – Organization of the Islamic Conference) and the several other similar resolutions before it to get enough of these resolutions into place to push a binding resolution through within the next 10 years.

    Here is the text of the resolution in question : http://tinyurl.com/5kdp9j

    Notice how it only references religion itself instead of individual rights to practice religion. This resolution is NOT about protecting the beliefs of individuals from ridicule – it is about placing the belief system itself above criticism. It is about abridging the rights of people to speak out against religious practices they find abhorrent. In short, it’s about quashing criticism of Islam and making “blasphemy” an international crime.

  177. #177 ChR
    November 25, 2008

    A few more replies.

    Some are puzzled as to how I support the freedom to criticize and simultaneously believe we ought to qualifiedly respect the beliefs of others. This is not a contradiction. It is possible (indeed practical in terms of progress and mutual understanding) to criticize a belief and also respect it. The respect locution does not mean ‘agree with’ or ‘endorse’ in ordinary language. The ordinary sense in which I use ‘respect beliefs’ connotes a regard for, or consideration for.

    I would surely not argue that we ought to agree with or endorse the beliefs of every other person as that is much stronger than mere respect.

    To those offering examples where we are asked to respect the beliefs of racists and so on, as if these are valid criticisms, I simply refer them to my first few comments where I explicitly included harm as a qualification. When I talk about respecting beliefs this reasonable qualification should be taken into account.

    To those who think I’ve misunderstood pz, this doesn’t seem to be the case. Given the wording in his entry, pz doesn’t think we’re obliged to respect the beliefs of others (“we have to respect the beliefs of others?”). I think, along with the “populace”, that we do have such an obligation insofar as we wish to promote mutual toleration and decrease bigotry — this is indeed the popular view and for good reason. The fact that this popular and more intuitive view is met with hostility, misunderstandings, and non-arguments by many of you (certainly not all) goes to show why, to the outside world, groups such as yours are viewed as relatively tiny circles of grumpy, pseudo-rational, pseudo-skeptical “militants”.

    It has been clear for some time now that recent debates in this arena are not merely between theists v. atheists. Rather they are between intelligent, respectful atheists and theists vs. bigoted extremists and fundies (of either stripe). PZ has aligned himself with the latter. The latter typically believe that ridicule and intolerance are the best ways to go about making their opinions known. They prefer sophistry and soundbites over rigorous logical analysis and intellectual heavy lifting. They prefer to simply invoke the name of reason rather than conform to it in word and deed. It is why they are shocked by things that most rational and sane people take for granted (e.g., “we have to respect the beliefs of others?”).

  178. #178 H.H.
    November 25, 2008

    Still conflating a respect for ideas with a respect for people. ChR, you are hopeless.

  179. #179 Alex
    November 25, 2008

    178

    This is not a contradiction.

    Hmmm. I guess it all depends on what the definition of “is”, is.

    Quit parsing and stop being such a pedant. You really sound like your ducking. It shouldn’t take over 400 words to accurately state your position. Geesh.

    respect
    1: a relation or reference to a particular thing or situation
    2: an act of giving particular attention : consideration
    3 a: high or special regard : esteem b: the quality or state of being esteemed c plural : expressions of respect or deference

    Dumb ideas, religion being one of them, deserve no respect.

  180. #180 Chris Davis
    November 25, 2008

    Nobody has trumped HL Menken on this subject:

    We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.

  181. #181 John Morales
    November 25, 2008

    ChR, all that to say “[PZ has aligned himself with] bigoted extremists”. Then you rant about these bigoted extremists.

    That’s pretty weaselly.

    I note that the imputed claim is contrary to evidence.

  182. #182 Nerd of Redhead
    November 25, 2008

    ChR, please give us a concrete example where you feel PZ went too far and why.

  183. #183 Neil B
    November 25, 2008

    If they really want to be consistent, they should ban “defamation” of any kind of belief at all. Then we can really go after right-wing talk radio, not to mention religious defamers of secular notions and policies. (To anyone confused due to my previous arguments about “God”: I use philosophical techniques in argument about first causes, necessary and contingent existence, etc. – In this tradition “God” is just a convenient place-holder for whatever fundamental reality could be responsible for why things are here/like this, etc. It has nothing to do with any “revelations” or required degree of “personalization.”)

  184. #184 Wowbagger
    November 25, 2008

    ChR,

    I think you’re confusing ‘respect’ with ‘tolerate’. We are obliged to tolerate views with which we do not agree – if, as they say, they cause no harm* – we are not obliged to respect them.

    As numerous posters upthread have written, respect is earned. Religion does not attempt to earn respect, it simply demands it as its right – leading to ridiculous actions like the one prompting PZ’s original post.

    *I suspect you’ll find numerous commenters willing to point out that religion causes great harm to many, but I’m not going there right now.

  185. #185 Wicked Lad
    November 25, 2008

    Will mysterious helicopters start following you around? You can always hope so!

    (It’s kind of an inside finance joke.)

  186. #186 Diagoras
    November 25, 2008

    I understand what the objective of the resolution is- and have read it in its entirety, as well as several law review articles regarding it. Not binding, now, or in the foreseeable future.

    Sorry OIC – it doesn’t arise under Chapter VII of the UN charter. Note the body deciding this measure; is it the Security Council? No, it’s the UNGA. Articles 10 and 14 of the UN Charter refer to General Assembly resolutions as “recommendations” and, moreover, the recommendatory nature of General Assembly resolutions has repeatedly been stressed by the International Court of Justice (not that the US has submitted itself to the jurisdiction of the ICJ.)

    It doesn’t arise under Ch. VII – as such – it will never be binding. And even if it’s “binding” under international law, it has no enforcement mechanism regarding US citizens. Your blasphemy is safe – here in the US, at least.

  187. #187 Alex
    November 25, 2008

    Blasphemy is a victimless action.

  188. #188 BobC
    November 25, 2008

    I like these comments from #2:

    Organized religion is going to regret this – since every religion effectively disrespects every other religion. For example didn’t Ratzenberger state recently that the catholic church was the true church? Sounds disrespectful to me.

    Every religion claims to be the one true religion. The result is constant violence, genocide, and wars. This idea that only Catholics are right, only Muslims are right, only Baptists are right, is drilled into children relentlessly. I heard it thousands of times in Catholic grammar school.

    So what’s wrong with an atheist saying it’s all bullshit. Every religion is wrong about everything. Every single religious belief, including the belief in the magic fairy, is childish nonsense.

    The world needs more defamation of religions, not less. I plan to do my part.

  189. #189 Brownian, OM
    November 25, 2008

    ChR, I’m pretty sure I understand your point, and I suspect one of the fundamental issues in this discussion revolves around the gap between what you consider ‘harmless’ and what PZ (and I, likely being more aligned with him than with you) considers ‘harmless’.

    Further, you’ll need to do a lot more to provide evidence that PZ has aligned himself with ‘soundbite sophists’ (a term that applies to many of the religious if I ever heard one) if you don’t want to be roasted for your last paragraph.

    Take, for example, Crackergate. The whole fiasco came about because Webster Cook was physically assaulted from having a differing view of what was acceptable during a Catholic service than others (and, as a former Catholic altarboy, I can guarantee you that nowhere does the liturgy state you should physically attempt to restrain a parishioner who doesn’t swallow the blue pill in front of the priest). But now it’s PZ and the militant atheists who became public enemy number 1; the lay Gestapo who roughed up Webster Cook have been conveniently ‘tolerated’ and ‘respected’, apparently only because they’re religious. PZ’s a bigot because he flushed out the would-be murderers and internet-threatening cowards otherwise lurking in the pews among the reasonable, well-intentioned and rational individuals moderates are always telling us make up 99% of religious people but seem to be nowhere to be found?

    And as for rationalism, ‘rigorous logical analysis and intellectual heavy lifting’, please, please, for the love of all that’s good, tell me you’re not suggesting we start taking theology as anything other than half-assed (or, more disturbingly, overly serious) stoner philosophy minus (some of) the drugs?

  190. #190 Jeanette
    November 25, 2008

    How do we “respect” the beliefs of the guys who did this, and not “respect” or at least understand the viewpoint of the woman who wants vengeance over this attack?

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081125/ap_on_re_as/as_afghanistan

    We don’t need less criticism of religion, we need more, when such a thing can happen in the world in which we live. Or even when we have such an appalling display of ignorant religiosity as we saw in the last U.S. election.

  191. #191 Holbach
    November 25, 2008

    ChR @ 178
    Only part of your statement is correct, as when you state that debates are between intelligent and respectful atheists, and like theists, which makes the latter part null and void, as no respect should be offered to people who spout irrational ideas contrary to reason and therefore deserve the ridicule and intolerance they endure from sound minds who abhor such insane ideas. You constantly endeavor to convince us of your imaginary god which was born in unstable minds and persists there as long as the brain is alive. When your brain is dead, so also is your god which only only is perpetuated by like minds of derangement. Why is this such a mental block of irrational proportion when it is obvious that people of sound minds harbor no such nonsense? You have as much chance in proving your imaginary god exists as I have in proving that I am god. If I told you and tried to convince you that I am god you would consider me to be unstable, yet when you believe in such nonsense and claim that you communicate with such non-existent crap, you expect me to accept that bullshit and consider you to be enlightened with the aura of such insane nonsense. You will never get such acknowledgement from me, but only abject ridicule to which you so ardently deserve. Let’s see your god.

  192. #192 Sastra
    November 25, 2008

    ChR #178 wrote:

    Given the wording in his entry, pz doesn’t think we’re obliged to respect the beliefs of others (“we have to respect the beliefs of others?”). I think, along with the “populace”, that we do have such an obligation insofar as we wish to promote mutual toleration and decrease bigotry — this is indeed the popular view and for good reason.

    Do we have the same obligation to respect the beliefs of others in religion, as we do in politics, science, pseudoscience, social theory, and economics? Or is religion different — and if so, why?

    If not, then would you like to see more mutual respect in the other areas, or are things fine as they are?

    I’ll echo those who have said that, without specific examples, it’s still hard to know what your terms mean, and what sort of actions or behaviors they translate to. Is this mainly about words — learning to say “I believe you might possibly be mistaken” instead of “naw, you’re full of shit?” Or even “your view is ludicrous, you clearly don’t know what you’re talking about.”

    For some people, yes, this is what it really comes down to.

    For others — including the Muslims who helped the resolution pass — respecting the beliefs of others precludes even that first statement.

  193. #193 Neil B
    November 25, 2008

    ” … learning to say “I believe you might possibly be mistaken” instead of “naw, you’re full of shit?”

    I think this is of the essence, of “respect.”

  194. #194 Kel
    November 25, 2008

    There’s a difference between tolerate and respect. We tolerate the beliefs of others provided they don’t push them on us, but there’s nothing that says we have to respect the belief that God came down to earth to impregnate a woman to give birth to himself only to piss off the establishment and die a horrible death because a snake tricked a woman into eating fruit from the wrong tree. Nor do we have to respect those who believe that all suffering is due to alien souls using humans as hosts thanks to a 75 million year intergallactic battle. How can we respect someone who believes the world is 6000 years old, or that the world is flat and sitting on the backs of turtles?

    There’s a difference between respect and toleration. We tolerate these ideas because tolerance is the foundation of liberal democracy. But to silence valid criticism under the guise of respect is going too far. Ideas need to be challenged, they need to be questioned, because if religion or other dogmatic ideas get free reign without any opposition then the results are dire.

  195. #195 Danny
    November 25, 2008

    It’s funny, because all the religious people I know say that they welcome criticism, because it “strengthens their faith”, whatever that means, so somebody must not be getting the correct messages.

    This is just ridiculous, bold statements from someone who is going to embrace tolerance until it strangles them.

  196. #196 'Tis Himself
    November 25, 2008

    This resolution allows theocracies like Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen to get away with declaring blasphemy and apostasy as crimes. It means that Christians cannot criticize Islam, but Muslims can criticize Jews by calling them Zionists. And anyone can criticize or do whatever they want to atheists, since atheists have no religion.

  197. #197 Benjamin Franklin
    November 25, 2008

    Islam is never having to say “I’m wrong”.

    Come to think of it, the same holds true for any evangelical believer.

  198. #198 CrypticLife
    November 25, 2008

    The ordinary sense in which I use ‘respect beliefs’ connotes a regard for, or consideration for.

    regard: regard means respect or esteem. Or “look at”.

    The definition of “consideration” kindest to your point of view is “the process of giving careful thought to something”.

    You’ve backtracked considerably — how is PZ a bigot, how is it wrong to question the obligation to respect beliefs if you yourself agree we don’t need to respect beliefs that are harmful? When you invented your quote that implied that one must disrespect all beliefs, what did you think you were arguing against?

    What do you mean by “respect” anyway? If it’s really just “give thought to” — do you think those here haven’t given careful thought to the belief in a deity? Do you think we’re obligated to give careful thought to truly outlandish beliefs such as flat-earth theories?

    Your response to the racism comment means it now falls on you to prove that racist comments are per se harmful. This is a more difficult argument than you might want to make. Some will include statements like, “Blacks can jump higher and dance better than whites” as racism. Harmful? A mere matter of opinion, surely?

    I believe your stated opinion is an incoherent mash of wet sand.

  199. #199 SC
    November 25, 2008

    Dear Catholic Church,

    I believe you might be mistaken in your campaign against contraception which has caused enormous numbers of deaths in Africa and around the world, your campaigns against my control of my own body, your support for brutal dictatorships, your clergy’s complicity with genocide, and your participation in organized child-rape. I think you also might be mistaken about the existence of your god, your claim that you represent said deity, your sacraments, and your miracles. To show that you are not mistaken, please provide a substantive evidentiary basis for any and all of these beliefs and actions. I thank you very much and eagerly await your reply. In the meantime, I will fight against your interventions in the public realm, which I believe to be based on mistaken notions, with everything I have.

    Most respectfully,

    SC

  200. #200 craig
    November 25, 2008

    I hate it when people are so thick that they don’t get the difference between respecting others’ rights to their beliefs and respecting the beliefs themselves.

    We must respect your right to believe whatever you want. We have no right to grab you and send you into deprogramming or imprison you for having beliefs with which we disagree.

    That doesn’t mean we have to respect the beliefs themselves, that’s fucking idiotic, and only an idiot would think so.

  201. #201 CrypticLife
    November 25, 2008

    ” … learning to say “I believe you might possibly be mistaken” instead of “naw, you’re full of shit?”

    I think this is of the essence, of “respect.”

    However, being impolite (which is what this distinction actually is) is very, very different from being a bigot.

  202. #202 ffrancis
    November 25, 2008

    Uhh, PZ, I don’t think you should expect the cash from Louise. She went out for a drive this afternoon with her friend Thelma, and, well, I’m sorry to have to break the news…

  203. #203 Quiet_Desperation
    November 25, 2008

    I hate it when people are so thick that they don’t get the difference between respecting others’ rights to their beliefs and respecting the beliefs themselves.

    Well, I, for one, get the difference. However, I’m reaching the point where I no longer respect either. Why should I be respectful of people’s right to believe superstitious bullshit that makes them vote based on what they think makes baby Jesus cry? Or what makes Allah get a boner?

    I’m really losing my grasp on that concept as I get older. I suppose it could be very early onset senility, but I suspect it’s my tolerance supply tanks being filled with nothing but the gnat’s fart worth of of vapors. I’m all tapped out, humanity. Sorry. To quote the Covenant leader in Halo, you are, all of you, vermin.

  204. #204 woody
    November 25, 2008

    I am not an historian (though I’ve played one on Tv, and have also stayed at an Holiday Inn Express) but it seems to me that the most reliable, most copious froth of hostile speech demeaning any particular religion is the “person”– pens, mouths, and/or keyboards–of those proclaiming fealty to some OTHER religions other than the ones being imprecated against at that particular moment.

  205. #205 'Tis Himself
    November 25, 2008

    We have no right to grab you and send you into deprogramming or imprison you for having beliefs with which we disagree.

    I believe that the aim of the resolution is to do just that. Being an apostate from Islam is a capital offense in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Iranians want to be able to say “he was disrespecting Islam by becoming a Baha’i/Christian/atheist and so we punished him as authorized by the UN resolution.”

  206. #206 woody
    November 25, 2008

    Posted by: Neil B | November 25, 2008 6:22 PM

    ” … learning to say “I believe you might possibly be mistaken” instead of “naw, you’re full of shit?”

    I think this is of the essence, of “respect.”

    Nahhhh. Yer fullashit!

  207. #207 dean
    November 25, 2008

    chr:
    Your comment
    ” (2) would logically allow for sensible moderation”
    makes no sense in your attempt to wrap your comments in logic: “sensible moderation” is not a logical construct.
    still, as you try to wrap your comments in logic, think about this: you say that there is no universal quantifier in (2) (the basis for your off-base statement I began with). That would mean that, if I apply your statement, I don’t have to “tolerate” the same ideas you do: even with your comments, that leaves me (and others) to think that beliefs about ID/Creationism, young earth/universe, and other things, are incredibly stupid, without violating your “argument”.
    I’m guessing this is not the only issue on which you are internally contradictory and/or clueless.

  208. #208 breadmaker
    November 25, 2008

    this UN comment seems a step beyond creationist assertions, like Arbour is trying to out perform them.

    i spent an entire year trying to convince someone that absolutely having no absolutes is an absolute… eventually i gave up

  209. #209 John C. Randolph
    November 25, 2008

    Oh, for crying out loud! When did scienceblogs acquire the affliction of those stupid “you’ve won an iPhone” ads?

    -jcr

  210. #210 SC
    November 25, 2008

    Oh, for crying out loud! When did scienceblogs acquire the affliction of those stupid “you’ve won an iPhone” ads?

    You’re the Applevangelist, Randolph. You tell us! :)

  211. #211 ggab
    November 25, 2008

    If I promise to buy an iPhone, will they take their voices out of my head?
    They’re making the other voices angry.

  212. #212 Ian
    November 25, 2008

    I think the idea is to prevent Christians from physically hurting or threatening violence against Muslims, or vice versa. Having zany religious beliefs is not good reason for death threats, any more than having perfectly correct scientific beliefs justifies threats. “Defamation” means (or ought to mean) the kind of talk that gets a lynch mob warmed up.

    Eliminationist rhetoric starts small. (“Those dirty Zoroastrians” –> “let’s take out the trash”)

    But yeah, the UN’s writing it way too vague. A legitimate need for the protection of the weakest will turn into demands by the strongest for “protection,” and then disrespecters of crackers will need to head for the hills.

    Following the links, yup, that’s the problem alright:

    “While this year’s draft is less Islam-centric that resolutions of earlier years, analysts note it is more emphatic in linking religion defamation and incitement to violence.” Good. However, it “risks limiting a broad range of peaceful speech and expression.” BAD.

  213. #213 Nerd of Redhead
    November 25, 2008

    I turned my speakers to very low. The ad then doesn’t bother me.

  214. #214 Scott from Oregon
    November 25, 2008

    What’s missing from this argument is the simple question WHO are you going to grant the power to enforce this declaration? Who decides what is intolerant?

    It’s the same question levied at big government afficionados- WHO are you going to entrust with the power you are giving them?

    This UN impulse to correct seeming injustice just adds to the injustice as a whole.

    The nation-states pushing for these new “laws” are the biggest culprits when it comes to abusing rights and liberties and human dignity.

  215. #215 Nerd of Redhead
    November 25, 2008

    Scott, there is no enforcement mechanism. The declaration is hot air.

  216. #216 Off base
    November 25, 2008

    Is this about evolution, development, or a random biological ejaculation?

    I didn’t think so.

    Nitwit

  217. #217 Jeanette
    November 25, 2008

    More geniuses, who are not me. Anyway, here’s some good news, amongst the bad: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081125/ap_on_re_us/gay_adoptions

    Thank you everybody (smart) today, especially PZ and Alex.

  218. #218 Notorious P.A.T.
    November 25, 2008

    I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this, but happy birthday Ben Stein!

  219. #219 JoshS
    November 25, 2008

    #217 – “The One?” What the hell is wrong with people who parrot these trumped up, offensive, histrionic insults cooked up by the right wing?

  220. #220 charley
    November 25, 2008

    Reminds me of this cartoon:

    http://i36.tinypic.com/bzpyx.jpg

  221. #221 Scott from Oregon
    November 25, 2008

    “””Scott, there is no enforcement mechanism. The declaration is hot air.”””

    Ahhh, but in developing nations there is always the UN “peacekeeping” force.

    Under whose guidelines and laws do they operate?

    Why fund an organization that makes laws and rules that are hot air?

    Why not just pay for a building considered “nuetral” in country like Switzerland?

    The stories Pops tells of what went on in the UN way back in the 60’s and the UN’s oil for food scandel a few years back just makes me leery of the UN’s reason for existing…

  222. #222 Steve_C
    November 25, 2008

    How did I know that Scott would chime in on the UN?

    Join a militia yet Scott?

  223. #223 Holbach
    November 25, 2008

    Notorious P.A.T. @ 220
    Let me be the first to wish Ben Stein a last birthday. You have been Expelled, so turn in your head. Moron.

  224. #224 raven
    November 25, 2008

    ChR, all that to say “[PZ has aligned himself with] bigoted extremists”. Then you rant about these bigoted extremists.

    ChR is the bigoted extremist. Probably a xian Dominionist who thinks the USA is doomed unless christofascists get to destroy it first.

    As a few have pointed out, this resolution was sponsored by Moslems so they can let their theocratic and theocrat influenced dysfunctional societies stay stuck in the medieval ages.

    And the difference between Islamic extremists and Xian extremists is??? One starts with an I and the other with an X or a C.

    In ChRs ideal world, blashemy, heresy, and “disrespecting religion” would be capital crimes punishable by some sort of torture death, stoning, hanging, waterboarding, burning at the stake. We’ve been there before, just read your bible for numerous examples and Leviticus for the list of death penalty crimes, mixed fibers, eating shellfish, and so on.

    PS And ChR, by the way. I don’t respect brain dead religious fanatics who think god is on their side and that gives them a license to lie, hate, and kill. People like you. Deal with it.

  225. #225 LeeLeeOne
    November 25, 2008

    “In short, it’s about quashing criticism of Islam and making “blasphemy” an international crime.”

    This is what I am fearful of: International intolerable blasphemy.

    The rights afforded me under the US Bill of Rights is being upsurped by the United Nations.

    What by any an all definition is blasphemy?

  226. #226 LeeLeeOne
    November 25, 2008

    Answer to #216
    “LeeLeeOne
    Sending a message to the one is totally ridikkulus.
    Barack Obama is the UN’s bitch.”

    #216: You are immature at best. Your spelling of rediculous into something that mimics J. K. Rowlings’ spells for her book series is sincerely juvenile.

    When you have read, comprehended, and critiqued more than pop culture, you may address me.

    Otherwise, STFU!

  227. #227 Robert Byers
    November 25, 2008

    From Canada
    MYERS. Who started the present great campaign of speech control. Not us conservative Christians and creationists.
    Yes this dumb ,( there’s more then a few,) Canadian ,( I presume she is a real one and not just a citizen of a foreign identity,) is wrong to assert and build a climate of censorship and speech control. Yet it is the liberal ethnic, sex, sexual identity, and so on philosophy that is the author here.
    Its your side saying Thou shalt not speak or else.
    Of coarse it now affects religous stuff. For these ethnic peoples their religion is a part of their ethnic identity. Like Jews. Its not about religion as doctrines.
    In Canada muslims are a protected group like blacks, Jews, gays, in America. lots of them here since the ’80’s.
    There is no freedom of speech but only a prohibition of the state enforcing speech laws.
    We do not have freedom of speech in our fathers homes.
    We are free men in both countries but others are free to shut us up. Free all around.
    I had a post banned here once about homosexuality. Without cause.

    it is not settled in north America about relationship between men and what they can say in public or private. The left has been causing the trouble and the change and probably the beast with come to bite its master.

  228. #228 Scott from Oregon
    November 25, 2008

    “”How did I know that Scott would chime in on the UN?

    Join a militia yet Scott?”””

    Ummm, we were actually IN the UN. We served as a family in Jerusalem until 67 when war broke out. So I have a reasonable excuse to have an opinion…

    The UN is now a tool of dictators, paid for by Western idealists.

  229. #229 Sven DiMilo
    November 25, 2008

    That is some of the most creative punctuation I have ever seen. It’s marred, though, by the incoherent gibberish that follows. Are you taking your medication?

  230. #230 Holbach
    November 25, 2008

    Robert Byers @ 228
    You state that their religion is a part of their ethnic identity, and it is not about religion as it is doctrines. Come on, get real, as you cannot divorce one from the other. All religions are insane make believe bullshit made for people who do not wish to think as it is easier for an unsound mind to embrace religious nonsense. Religion and doctrine are in the same sinking boat, and both will go down together, either unable to save the other.

  231. #231 Stefan
    November 25, 2008

    As a Canadian I wish to express regret for the comment made by Louise Arbour. Your check is in the mail.

  232. #232 andyo
    November 25, 2008

    NoAstronomer, #1

    For example didn’t Ratzenberger state recently that the catholic church was the true church? Sounds disrespectful to me.

    That Cliff Clavin will say anything! Full of fun facts that no one asked about.

  233. #233 Katkinkate
    November 25, 2008

    Posted by: ChR @ 106 “I defend the freedom to criticize the beliefs of others, and agree it would be harmful if that freedom were taken away.”

    Which is exactly what PZ and the ilk have been saying all along! So now we all agree? Yes?

    … What was all the argument about again?

  234. #234 Cujo359
    November 25, 2008

    craig @ 200: That doesn’t mean we have to respect the beliefs themselves, that’s fucking idiotic, and only an idiot would think so.

    No kidding. There seems to be a belief, which I term intellectual relativism, that all ideas are somehow equally valid. I have no idea why that is, and yet it seems to be at the root of this idea that we have to treat religious ideas seriously.

    There are ideas that are supported by the facts, and others that are not. The ideas that are supported by the facts are better than the ones that aren’t. This seems so obvious to me that it’s not even worth repeating, and yet here we are arguing about this.

  235. #235 Malcolm
    November 25, 2008

    Why is it that godbots refuse to respect my firmly held belief that their stupid beliefs should be mercilessly ridiculed at every available opportunity?
    Hypocrites!

  236. #236 Katkinkate
    November 25, 2008

    Posted by: Cujo359 “There seems to be a belief, which I term intellectual relativism, that all ideas are somehow equally valid. I have no idea why that is, and yet it seems to be at the root of this idea that we have to treat religious ideas seriously.”

    Sounds like people have forgotten there is a real universe outside their heads.

  237. #237 PZ Myers
    November 25, 2008

    Hang on. This bozo is citing Frederick Douglass as if he were someone who “respected all beliefs”? Here are a few quotes from Frederick Douglass.

    “I can see no reason, but the most decietful one, for calling the religion of this land Chritianity. I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the boldest of all frauds, the grossest of all libels.”

    “I assert most unhesitatingly, that the religion of the South is a mere covering for the most horrid crimes– a justifier of the most appalling barbarity, a sanctifier of the most hateful frauds, and a dark shelter under which the darkest, foulest, grossest, and most infernal deeds of slaveholders find the strongest protection. Where I to be again reduced to the chains of slavery, next to that enslavement, I should regard being the slave of a religious master the greatest calamity that could befall me…I…hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land.”

    “The church of this country is not only indifferent to the wrongs of the slave, it actually takes sides with the oppressors. … For my part, I would say, welcome infidelity! Welcome atheism! Welcome anything! in preference to the gospel, as preached by these Divines! They convert the very name of religion into an engine of tyranny and barbarous cruelty, and serve to confirm more infidels, in this age, than all the infidel writings of Thomas Paine, Voltaire, and Bolingbroke put together have done!”

    “We have men sold to build churches, women sold to support the gospel, and babes sold to purchase Bibles for the poor heathen, all for the glory of God and the good of souls. The slave auctioneer’s bell and the church-going bell chime in with each other, and the bitter cries of the heart-broken slave are drowned in the relgious shouts of his pious master. Revivals of religion and revivals in the slave trade go hand in hand.”

  238. #238 SoMG
    November 25, 2008

    What about defecation of religion? Is that allowed?

  239. #239 andyo
    November 26, 2008

    Posted by: Off base | November 25, 2008 7:38 PM

    Is this about evolution, development, or a random biological ejaculation?

    I didn’t think so.

    Nitwit

    It does seem something a godless liberal would post about in, you know, his blog?

    P.S. “Nitwit”… were you insulting or were you signing?

  240. #240 GBM
    November 26, 2008

    ChR A point on your logic

    I think you need to be more clear with your quantifiers, what you said was

    “(1) For every person, we should respect that person’s beliefs

    and

    (2) We should respect the beliefs of other persons”

    Granted it has been awhile since I’ve taken logic, but I would read (2) as substantially the same as (1) with the universal quantifier being implicit. (All things that are the beliefs of other persons are things we should respect) Just by way of clarification did you mean:

    “(1) All things that are beliefs are things that should be respected
    (2) Some things that are beliefs are things that should be respected.”

    or did you mean

    “(1) All things that are beliefs held by persons are things that should be respected
    (2) All things that are persons holding beliefs are things that should be respected”

    or possibly

    “(1) All things that are persons holding beliefs are things that should be respected
    (2) Some things that are persons holding beliefs are things that should be respected.”

    Sorry to use aristotle, but i think that that system is clearer than modal logic, also sorry if this has been addressed somewhere before (I am writing from inside china so my internets get fucked up/redacted sometimes)anyway i’d like to know the answer to that so i can evaluate your position.

  241. #241 SoMG
    November 26, 2008

    Aristotle, Aristotle
    Was a bugger for the bottle.

  242. #242 GCUGreyArea
    November 26, 2008

    I suppose one way to get this thing un-done is to complain to the UN constantly about religion disrespecting the beliefs of atheists. If you hear a preacher telling people the usual claptrap ‘you can only be a good person of you do what I say…’ then write in and complain, if they say anything about non-believers being bad or god-deniers and atheists being sinners (or homosexuality other religions etc…) then just drop the UN a line and start demanding that they put their words into practice.

  243. #243 Kel
    November 26, 2008

    Aristotle, Aristotle
    Was a bugger for the bottle.

    Hobbes was fond of his dram

  244. #244 Peter
    November 26, 2008

    PZ and the Mysterious Helicopters.

    Sounds like a strange kids’ book.

  245. #245 Wowbagger
    November 26, 2008

    Hobbes was fond of his dram

    RenÚ Descartes was a drunken fart

  246. #246 Robin Brown
    November 26, 2008

    I drink therefore I am.

  247. #247 Robin Brown
    November 26, 2008

    It is ironic that ChR is now saying he is only advocating respect in the sense of being polite and considerate in the public space, and whose differences with PZ turn out to be a different interpretation of what it means to respect, is the same ChR who started the whole conversation by calling PZ a bigot.

    What the proponents of the resolution mean by respect is that others should not say anything which a religious person would find offensive and that we should treat as sacred whatever they decide is sacred.

    That CANNOT be allowed to stand. ANd the implications of it if carried through consistently would be as unpalatable to religious types as thye would be to atheists.

  248. #248 Feynmaniac
    November 26, 2008

    RenÚ Descartes was a drunken fart

    I drink, therefore I am

  249. #249 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 26, 2008

    From Canada
    MYERS. Who started the present great campaign of speech control. Not us conservative Christians and creationists.
    Yes this dumb ,( there’s more then a few,) Canadian ,( I presume she is a real one and not just a citizen of a foreign identity,) is wrong to assert and build a climate of censorship and speech control. Yet it is the liberal ethnic, sex, sexual identity, and so on philosophy that is the author here.

    AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHRGRGRGR damn it. WHO LEFT THIS COMMA HERE?

    Its your side saying Thou shalt not speak or else.

    I wonder what you’re referring to?

    Of coarse it now affects religous stuff. For these ethnic peoples their religion is a part of their ethnic identity. Like Jews. Its not about religion as doctrines.

    Says the person who thinks blacks have been given every opportunity in the US in its history.

    In Canada muslims are a protected group like blacks, Jews, gays, in America. lots of them here since the ’80’s.

    Because of people like you

    I had a post banned here once about homosexuality.

    Which has what to do with your right to free speech?

    Without cause.

    Judging from your other comments about race and sexual orientation I doubt it very much.

    it is not settled in north America about relationship between men and what they can say in public or private. The left has been causing the trouble and the change and probably the beast with come to bite its master.

    parse that anyone?

  250. #250 CrypticLife
    November 26, 2008

    Its your side saying Thou shalt not speak or else.

    Ironic that you phrased that in scriptural language. It makes it sound a lot like a blasphemy verse.

    Who were you saying “started it” again? Though I agree it’s “Not [us] conservative Christians and creationists”, that’s only because there were prior religions.

  251. #251 nietzschesbulldog
    November 26, 2008

    SoMG

    Wittgenstein was a drunken swine

  252. #252 mothra
    November 26, 2008

    ChR #177 wrote” To those offering examples where we are asked to respect the beliefs of racists and so on, as if these are valid criticisms, I simply refer them to my first few comments where I explicitly included harm as a qualification. When I talk about respecting beliefs this reasonable qualification should be taken into account.”

    WRONG My post #150 directly skewered this deader philosophy, ChR, beliefs such as yours lie vanquished in their intellectual infancy, much like snakes around the crib of Hercules.

  253. #253 Qwerty
    November 26, 2008

    I read the article and must compliment the authors of the first five REPLIES who take this idiot to task for his overblown assumption that only theists could and can appreciate thanksgiving.

  254. #254 'Tis Himself
    November 26, 2008

    Wittgenstein was a drunken swine

    who was just as sloshed as Schlegel.

  255. #255 'Tis Himself
    November 26, 2008

    Wittgenstein was a drunken swine

    who was just as sloshed as Schlegel.

  256. #256 Kel
    November 26, 2008

    There’s nothing Nietzsche couldn’t teach ya ’bout the raising of the wrist.
    Socrates himself was permanently pissed…

  257. #257 'Tis Himself
    November 26, 2008

    I have absolutely no idea how I double posted. I just clicked on post once.

  258. #258 Nerd of Redhead
    November 26, 2008

    It looks like ChR isn’t coming back, so I think we should toss out everything (s)he said into our mental trash cans. My feeling is that the logic was heading toward PZ being a bigot for the cracker desecration, but by ChR playing coy hoped we might go that way on our own (fat chance). ChR left abruptly when pushed hard for an example, which if given, might give the argument away.

  259. #259 Shamar
    November 27, 2008

    To GBM @#240,

    I want to hear ChR answer this one. I’ve recently taken logic, and I want to hear which of those options he goes for…cuz he talked about logic, and I don’t think he understands anything about logic.

    Bring it on ChR!!!!

  260. #260 Snark7
    November 27, 2008

    The only thing which deserves respect is the freedom of every person to believe whatever he wants.
    That does NOT mean “respect” for these beliefs.
    As an analogy to religion:

    I have to respect if someone wants to smear dogshit all over his face.
    But I don’t have to respect the shit.

    And I don’t have to ne quit about the stink either.

  261. #261 Walton
    November 27, 2008

    I sometimes come to the sad conclusion that if Christ returned to earth today, He would be condemned as a heretic and a woolly liberal by many of His ostensible followers. Imagine Ann Coulter: “What’s all this crap about love and peace? Damn commie!!” :-)

    (Indeed, I’m starting to see a lot of resemblance between some of today’s conservative Christians and the biblical scribes and Pharisees.)

    G.K. Chesterton: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.” Indeed, at times I’ve seen far more Christian love and compassion from atheists in the public sphere than from Christians. (Not to say that there aren’t many, many Christians who are decent people. But they’re not well represented by some of their leaders.)

  262. #262 clinteas
    November 27, 2008

    Walton,

    //Indeed, at times I’ve seen far more Christian love and compassion from atheists in the public sphere than from Christians//

    have you been drinking man??
    LOL

  263. #263 Kel
    November 27, 2008

    Indeed, at times I’ve seen far more Christian love and compassion from atheists in the public sphere than from Christians.

    When I saw Dr. Paul Lennox debate Michael Shermer, he said something similar. It really surprised me.

  264. #264 John Morales
    November 27, 2008

    Walton, I point out that atheists show Christian human love and compassion, when they show it. Christians do just the same when they do it, but they credit Jesus often as not.

  265. #265 Nick Gotts
    November 27, 2008

    I will not respond to things like “according to the troll…” or various other non-substantive remarks, mischaracterizations, assertions without argument, soundbites, fallacies, etc.) – ChR@74

    Here’s ChR’s first comment on this thread, in all its substantive glory:

    More bigotry and clumsy thinking from PZ. Nothing new.

    Here’s a hint, ChR: if you don’t want to be taken for a troll, don’t act like one. I see from your later points that you are prepared to put forward an argument; why not start by doing so in future?

    Unearned respect for irrational belief systems (not by any means just religious ones) is perhaps the greatest problem we face over the next century, because it obstructs rational, democratic problem-solving. As Karl Popper says somewhere, in both science and democratic politics, we let our ideas die in our stead. That only works to the extent people are prepared to expose their belief systems to the danger of criticism, including mockery and abuse; and to aim appropriately trenchant criticism at absurd beliefs.

  266. #266 Nick Gotts
    November 27, 2008

    Is this mainly about words — learning to say “I believe you might possibly be mistaken” instead of “naw, you’re full of shit?” Or even “your view is ludicrous, you clearly don’t know what you’re talking about.” Sastra

    Which of these is appropriate depends on context. In an everyday conversation with someone you don’t know well, the first would be appropriate unless the belief presented was repulsive as well as ludicrous (e.g. that slavery should be reintroduced, heretics should be burned…). In an academic discussion, “your view is ludicrous…”) would be strong and even impolite, but not grossly offensive. I’d also happily use it to religious, pseudo-scientific or political proselytisers – if someone deliberately engages me in argument in order to “convert” me, I have no obligation to show even the shadow of respect to their beliefs. In a lightly moderated and combative blog, like Pharyngula, it’s routine, and even “naw, you’re full of shit” is quite acceptable (if you don’t like it, you don’t need to read Pharyngula – no-one is pressuring you to). But these are all social conventions, which do not and should not have any legal force.

  267. #267 peter
    December 7, 2008

    Of course, many of the people round this blog bear their responsibility for things going this way: you are all in favour of a lex specialis, the “hate crime” legislation, for your own pet lobby, thereby breaching the principle that human rights and definitions of criminal behaviour are absolute and independent of motivation. Many pointed out that “hate crime” legislation was a dangerous innovation, and a threat to free speech. As was predicted, the wedge is now being driven home.

  268. #268 Owlmirror
    December 7, 2008

    you are all in favour of a lex specialis, the “hate crime” legislation

    *Phweet!*

    Fallacy foul; assumes fact not in evidence.

  269. #269 philipthegreat
    December 7, 2008

    @ChR

    “There is a big logical difference between the claim that

    (1) For every person, we should respect that person’s beliefs

    and

    (2) We should respect the beliefs of other persons”

    Actually those are logically equivalent, unless you specify a particular quantifier, (i.e. “We should respect SOME of the beliefs of other persons”)the second statement is a universal. Try symbolizing it in predicate logic and you’ll see. Both statements could be symbolized(?x)(Bx > Wx) = for all x, if x is the belief of another person then x is worthy of respect.

  270. #270 David
    December 7, 2008

    We must respect the other fellows religion…to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful.

  271. #271 MadScientist
    January 7, 2009

    My own opinion on the matter:

    http://www.apenotmonkey.com/2008/12/23/a-right-to-listen/#comments

    Other people’s creative opinion (and I think it’s awesome stuff):

    http://www.zipperfish.com/yaafm/yaafm-12-muslims/

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