Learning to Respect Religion

From an article in the NY Times, I think he makes some good points.
I do agree that non religious people may lack the community feeling that religious have.

I think the biggest task of non religious people should not be to attack religious people
but rather to improve there image in the community’s they live in, because I think most
religious people view negatavaly out of misunderstanding

I posted a talk about the author of that book a while ago, and there was a nice counter link of PZ Myers too, have a look at Atheism 2.0?

Ok yea I agree with the theme in that thread I don’t want to build more churches.
But I was drawn to this forum because it’s a sort of community, and skeptics in the
pub is a sort of community activity.

PS when is the next one on CT I would want to go.

I ddnt read your link - I’m a tad short on time today, I do however want to respond on your comments though.

I dont attack religious people, I do however, respond with vigour when they attack MY lack of belief, I generally live and let live, but the religious just cannot seem to return the favour. At this point of my life I can barely tolerate being in vicinity of a religious conversation to get me to pack my bags and kids and run back to my home (sanctuary).

And finally, I dont have any reason to want to respect a religion.

I agree with Faerie. I see no reason to “learn” to respect religion. Respect should be earned imho. And religion is sorely lacking in too many respects.

As for de Botton & co’s views, though there are some I cannot in good concience totally disagree with, the main points of argument still give me the impression that they are blinded so much by the “prettyness” of the examples they put forth as reasons to respect religion (especially organised religion it seems, which I find especially disconcerting) that they seem to fail to see it for what it really is: Taking credit where little is due.

The Notre Dame Cathedral, the Cistine Chaple, the works of Michaelangelo, da Vinci, Mozart, Bach… though all beautiful, and mostly paid for and owned a religious organisation, are still the works of individuals, and could have been conceived and executed by those individuals whether funded by the church or some other organisation. In that sense it is merely the fact that the catholic church happened to be the supreme power in Europe at the time that affords them any kind of recognition in the same way that most people become christian merely because their parents are.

Same goes for a sense of community. Religion merely makes use of (or exploits, if that’s how you prefer to see it) pre-existing human taits to further its own agenda. The same kind of social cohesion and moral directives can be observed in other sub-cultures without having to reference religious or spiritual beliefs. Religion is in that sense merely a place-holder for anything that a specific community might use as a rallying point.

What it boils down to is that they are advocating a sense of awe ,where an especially sceptical view might be more apropriate, purely out of a need to be nice.

Tollerance on the other hand is a totally different thing. So is admiration in an aestetic sense. Neither of which should be confused with respect.

(I apologise if my writing/resoning seems a bit slurred. Beer does that to me…)

Yup, the argument that religion has inspired great works (art, architecture, institutes of learning) is often put forward as if it was actually a good one in favour of religion. Well, it isn’t. Most of these great works were instigated and/or appropriated by the RCC chiefly for one purpose alone: ad maiorem Dei gloriam. The funding for them typically was extorted mostly from common people through assorted threats. Where a work was perceived to go against dogma, it was suppressed and condemned. Thus, the church directed such works and it had the wherewithal to sponsor and to censor according to its whims. And it should be obvious that religion is by no means the only source of inspiration.

All of which indicates that “inspiring great works” is hardly an argument for religion. What it does show is the insidious and exploitative tactics, suitably spin-doctored, that religion is unashamed of using to promote its own self-promotion. And the most insidious part of it is that people buy this sneaky argument.


Religion is based on faith. To believe in something just for the sake of “having faith” is cheap and easy and takes zero effort. I don’t see why this should be worthy of any respect. Besides, history is littered with cases where organized religion actively demands respect for itself, which, paradoxically, I find kind of despicable.


Religion can’t be respected - it must rather be despised. The hurt and chaos it creates are only increasing.
It must be wiped out - the sooner the better.

However, an aggressive approach in conversing with believers will only slam their ears closed - as is currently the case.

I believe that a firm, assertive standpoint against religion is needed to get people thinking.

If I may chime in here, I’ve often seen that for people whose religion defines some fundamental core of who they are, there is no difference between disrespecting or even questioning any aspect of religion (however mild and “nicely” done) and disrespecting them, their core inner being. That makes this an incredibly thorny issue because although I am most certainly not in favour of alienating and disrespecting anyone, just by being an atheist many people, people who are close to me, already feel insulted and disrespected, as if I’ve rejected them and not their beliefs. Perfect catch 22.

I do not respect religion. I see nothing in it to respect. Nothing at all. As stated earlier in this thread, respect is something that’s earned, not demanded and religion has gone above and beyond to invite disrespect and scorn.

I don’t agree with De Bottom’s “vision” (church for atheists? really?) and I think PZ’s takedown of the article was spot on, but I do have to confess that a greater sense of community would be nice. Maybe it’s just because I’m feeling pretty isolated, and I most certainly do not in any way even suggest something like church sermons and that crap, but some ZA conferences, maybe? Something we here in South Africa can attend, afford and participate in, instead of having reading about what the US and OZ are doing as our only option? That would be really AWESOME.

I agree with you Leia I think that we will have to start forming our own community and were not going to find it ready made for us.
The Skeptics in the pub look like a great start and this forum I think will help to.

One of the most liberating discoveries one can stumble upon is that “me” and “my ideas” are completely different things.


May 25 - I’ll post details later today.