Freethinker Sunday Sermonette: waiting for Mr. Wobble

There seem to be two demographic groups that have more than their share of sensible attitudes to religion. The young and the old. To the young its irrelevant. To the old it's laughable (or as my Uncle Nate said as he was dying, "I still think it's a load of crap"). Here's another boatload of commonsense from my end of the age distribution:

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My take? Two reasons:

1) Anything widely enough believed is going to have influence, so people try to engage it on its own terms. e.g., free market economics.

2) A lot of people's lives really suck. I mean, really, really suck. Abuse, addiction, oppression, grinding poverty, painful and deadly disease, etc. Trying to talk people out of beliefs that have given them comfort can seem rather like trying to take a plushie from a toddler with a toothache. As long as they're doing no harm, why bother.

And in the end, I cannot define someone else's experience of the world for them. I try to (within reason) give respect to others' religious beliefs (i.e., leave them alone about them) out of the hope that they will respect my total lack of same. And amazingly, this often works.

It's when people start using their religions to try to run other peoples' lives, or reinforce internal oppression, that things get hairy.

Insisting on respect for other people's religious beliefs is a genuinely progressive step in any milieu where people are apt to get killed for their religion.

It's only after we've got to the point where our reactions to other people's loopy beliefs is a lot of eye-rolling and (at worst) telling them that their beliefs are (in the words of your Uncle Nate) a load of crap that we can safely stop respecting that boundary.

So it's a sign of advancing civilization that we (and the old gent in the video) can do this.

By Molly, NYC (not verified) on 10 May 2010 #permalink

"There seem to be two demographic groups that have more than their share of sensible attitudes to religion. The young and the old. To the young its irrelevant. To the old it's laughable (or as my Uncle Nate said as he was dying, "I still think it's a load of crap")."

>> Correction: We, the young, believe it is both irrelevant and laughable.