Sunday, October 11, 2009

Tolerance of Religions

No, I don't refer to religious tolerance as commonly understood, i.e. tolerance among religions. I refer to tolerating the existence of religion, and I suppose of the religious, provided they don't foist their beliefs on others.

It seems a significant topic, given the focus on those being called (I'm not sure why) the "new atheists" and what is being called (I'm not sure why) the "new atheism." There seems to be little new about them, or it, beyond the fact that they, and it, are here now. Perhaps they proclaim more loudly, more vehemently, than their predecessors and are more antireligious than areligious.

There is nothing necessarily wrong about religion, or the religious. Some religious beliefs may seem far-fetched, silly or simply weird. But, if those beliefs and their believers cause no harm to others, then what reason is there to attack them, to publicly ridicule them?

Tit for tat, of course. When, for example, the religious demand that their beliefs be given the force of law, or be imposed on others, protest is entirely appropriate. The same may be said about certain political or social beliefs, however. Religious beliefs are not objectionable because they are religious, but if their consequences or adherents are adverse to the rights of others.

That is the sort of thing, though, to be determined on a case-by-case basis. Outright and general condemnation is more an expression of prejudice than intelligence.

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