It is not just about “belief” vs “non-belief”


Believing things that are not actually true motivates some to behave in an abhorrent manner, so much so that they can end up grinding some rather basic human rights under their belief-shaped boots. To illustrate, consider the manner in which people who happen to be gay are ostracized and condemned by many faith communities. Further afield we can also find strands of Islamic thought that will impose an intolerance of anything that is not exactly them, the promotion of misogyny as a virtue, and also murder those that quit the belief. All this and much more is driven by an irrational belief that it is not just moral to behave like this, but that it is also the will of a god.

First Point: Most humans, and that includes those that embrace beliefs to one degree or another, are decent and honourable humans that do not behave like this. They are like this, not because of their beliefs, but despite them.

Second Point: Not believing in a god does not in any way make humans immune to behaving in an abhorrent manner towards others.

Atheism is simply a one topic conclusion – Is there a god? Nope, no evidence and that is it, that is the entire scope, it says absolutely nothing about anything else at all.

Case in point – Ken, a non-believer in a Facebook group, has been recently stepping way over the line, so yesterday I criticized him in public for the hate speech that he has been promoting. He has been quite seriously advocating that all Muslims should be wiped out and murdered. That is not simply him deploying criticism of a bad idea that is not actually true, it is an incitement to murder and is not acceptable, so I posted this …

Ken Younos you have stepped way over the line from fact-based criticism into hate-speech.

I here in public vigorously oppose your stance, and disassociate myself from it.

We might agree on some things … neither of us actually believes in a god … but I completely reject your call to murder those who do.

Most humans, regardless of belief or non-belief, are decent honorable people who wish no harm to those around them and wish to live in harmony with all, and Most Muslims are no exception to this. Some may indeed embrace bad ideas, but most do not act on those ideas.

Criticism of bad ideas is fine, but invoking acts of violence against others is both morally and ethically wrong … period.

Yes, I’ve named him here in public, but given the rhetoric he was posting within a public forum, I felt it appropriate that he should be named and shamed, and perhaps motivated to pause and consider that the postings he was making such as this, or this, are neither ethical nor moral. What is encouraging is that nobody else is supporting him, and also some of the more offensive stuff has now been removed, in fact the posting that triggered my response – a picture of a Nazi extermination camp along with a suggestion that Muslims should face a Holocaust – has been purged.

So no, it is not just about “belief” vs “non-belief”, but rather is about criticizing all bad ideas regardless of the source. The fact that I do not believe and also that he does not believe, does not in any way entitle him to a free pass. I’ve gone head-to-head with believers who promote things that are not actually true at all, and have also criticized their attempts to support paedophilia, intolerance, pro-slavery stances, etc… and yes they can at times be like a breath of fresh air (in that they can be so obnoxious that they get right up your nose), but none of it justifies incitements to violence. That same standard should be applied to all, and that includes the non-believers.

Why is he like he is? I honestly have no idea, but clearly he carries a considerable degree of anger and hatred. I can indeed grasp how utterly abhorrent the fanatically religious can be, so much so, that I can see how a seed of deeply passionate hatred can take root as a response to some emotional trauma that has been inflicted. I’m simply speculating of course.

In the end what should be nurtured and carefully cultured is empathy and compassion above all else. Those that promote violence and intimidation are nothing but victims of bad ideas and delusions, and so it is the bad ideas and hate speech that needs to face criticism if there is ever to be a change. We are capable of so much evil and yet we all also have so much potential to  lead good lives as well.

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