Religion Doesn’t Get a Free Ride

Sorry, but it just doesn’t.

There are more comments in the post than any other on Breaking Spells (and I’m not ashamed to admit the Pharyngula Effect is fun while it lasts) and some of them revolve around the issue of “respecting” religious superstitions and not speaking out about nonsense and irrational ideas in favor of considering the sensibilities of the superstitious themselves.

Bullshit. I’m sorry, but that’s not how it works. You don’t get to hold or have a batshit idea that you’re willing to spread, indoctrinate, or otherwise compell others to agree with and still be protected from rational criticism or even ridicule.

Its no different than if someone held a belief that Elvis was still alive and abducting hillbillies from his UFO and not only expected others to believe it but wanted to enact laws that protected and promoted this ideology as fact. Anyone would be well within their rights to criticize this notion and ridicule would be expected.

A eucharist cracker is just flour and water. Anyone that truly believes that the mere act of consuming a cracker after a magical spell spoken over it becomes the flesh of Christ is not only ignorant and deluded, they’re batshit. Have these people ever stopped to consider that, if true, they would eventually be defecating Christ? Talk about “holy shit.”

Back to the comments.

At least one person here and several on Pharyngula and elsewhere commented that PZ shouldn’t disrespect the religious. And it’s a common response by believers, adherents, apologetics, and even sympathetic non-believers that atheists shouldn’t criticize the beliefs of others. There’s a taboo of even questioning religious doctrine in public. When critics and skeptics do question and criticize, they get accused of being “militant,” “shrill,” a part of an “anti-religious kabal,” etc.

Never is the superstitious person (a.k.a. the irrational believer/adherent) held accountable in such a fashion for criticizing atheism -the complete lack of a god belief. Indeed, religious nuts are completely free to ridicule atheism, protected by the comfort of their numbers. But the large quantity of believers doesn’t imply that religious belief is valid, sound, or cogent. At one time, most people in the world believed the sun revolved around the Earth. Their majority status most assuredly did not make them right.

Religious superstitions are just as open to question, criticism, and ridicule as any other human institution or ideal. Political beliefs, economic beliefs, social beliefs… even the belief in a favorite sports team are all open to debate, criticism, inquiry and ridicule. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have multiple political parties, a need for a prime interest rate, a reason to evaluate historical and anthropological data, or to wear a favorite jersey the day of the big game.

There mere fact that religion takes such a major and significant part in the lives of so many people makes it even more open to question, criticism, inquiry and, yes, even ridicule. If you aren’t willing to accept this, keep your religious superstitions to yourself; keep them private; and be embarassed for your lack of rational and critical thought. For, if you are publicly proud, you must be prepared to be publicly criticized.

About Ylooshi

An anthropologist who is an atheist. My blog at concerns itself with breaking the spells of superstition and religious belief through examining human superstitions and religions scientifically and rationally. Breaking Spells, the blog, also focuses on atheist and secular concerns such as the separation of church and state as well as the negative influences of Islamo-Judeo-Christian religious cults on society.
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