May 29, 2024

A Good Question

Let me start by saying you have the right to not believe in any God.  As I have the right to believe there is a God. Then we divide. I want you to peacefully be able to not believe and I want all others to have the same opportunity as well . My question to you is, Why does there seem to be a need to stop others from sharing their beliefs? Do the Atheists believe they are saving people from something?  Please take a moment and help me to understand your view.

Understand that I also allow that you have the right to believe in Santa Claus if you want to.  You literally do.  I can disagree with you, and I don’t have to share your belief, but you have it.  The fact that you still make-believe impossible fairy-tales even as an adult who (in my opinion) should know better, that is not the problem.  When my children see reindeer listed with bats, birds, and bugs on a chart of flying animals presented in science class, then there’s a problem.

You have the right to believe that Columbus discovered Ohio in 1942, but you do not have the right to teach that in history class.  Sorry, you just don’t.

Other people believe differently than you.  Some of them have the right to believe that Benjamin Franklin was the first king of America.  You and I might both know that is rubbish, based on the same reasons that I know your perspective is rubbish.  You’ll tell your kids what crap that is, and in that case, you’ll refer to the same documented evidence I do -which shows that America never had a king.  And you’ll make fun of the fact that all those kids wear powdered wigs, despite the fact that people will kill each over things like that.  But it is still their right to believe that -no matter how wrong it obviously is.

Fortunately we live in a secular society, so that alternate ideas that are equally evidently wrong will not be taught as fact in history class. However offensive you may find this to be, there is another historical perspective which people don’t kill each other over, and which is always supported by every new discovery, while your position has never been supported by anything, and is held in rigid defiance of everything we can show to be true. You can train your children to object to the lessons taught to them, and you can lobby against all those other people pushing for that other history, but your position is still one that is evidently wrong, and therefore cannot be taught as fact in a classroom.

You have the right to wish upon a star, and your children can do that too -even in school.  But please understand why it is not legal for the teacher to force the whole class to do this. You may wish on the North Star like most people do, but that doesn’t make the people who wish on other stars any more wrong than you are.  That’s one reason why the teacher is not permitted to tell the students which star to wish on, nor what to wish for.  We can’t make all the kids stand up and do that together.  Nor do we need to ostracize those kids who see that wishing on a star is foolish, and that it can even be dangerous if you use star-wishing in place of medicine.

You have the right to believe that the western desert was created by an act of deforestation brought about by a giant named Paul Bunyon.  The problem is that when everyone else in this area believes that too, then they’ll conceal all evidence indicating environmental dynamics, because they’re considered ‘forbidden’ beliefs.  Sometimes the data being concealed is an important matter of consequence, where the Paul Bunyon belief never will be.

My complaint is when I can’t catch a plane on December 24th because all the airlines are shut down in order to avoid colliding with a hypersonic flying sleigh.  That dozens of kids turn up dead in the news every year because the star didn’t answer their wish.  That teachers are prohibited, criticized, or fired just for explaining the simple and evident facts that Columbus was here centuries earlier, and that Franklin was never a president, much less a king.  Sometimes it can be problematic when everyone has a right to be wrong, and they’ll defend that right violently if they have to.

Me?  I’d just rather accept evident realities and not waste time on all that other weirdness.  You have a right to be wrong, but I also have a right to be right, and I’m going to exercise it.

13 thoughts on “A Good Question

  1. My complaint is when I can’t catch a plane on December 24th because all the airlines are shut down in order to avoid colliding with a hypersonic flying sleigh.


    Me? I’d just rather accept evident realities and not waste time on all that other weirdness.

    The claim I quoted above is pretty darn weird, and you have ostensibly accepted it.

    (Whether it’s an evident reality is dubious, to say the least)

  2. @John Morales (#2)

    The Santa thing is pretty clearly an analogy for inconveniences (or harm) inflicted on others because of belief in religious superstitions. Like blue laws or refusals to fill contraception prescriptions. The other examples in that paragraph are also analogies.

    1. Hm. So, those things are analogies* for the things he decries, but the things he decries (such as wishing upon a star) are not?

      * Not metaphors?

      1. Metaphors, then. Whatever. The star-wishing thing is prayer and faith healing (or alt med), and the Columbus/Franklin stuff is creationism and Barton-esque “Christian nation” historical revisionism and the like.

        I’m guessing Aron’s avoiding things people genuinely believe in because believers, like the one he’s ostensibly responding to, are often so invested in their beliefs that they can’t take a step back and look at them from an outsider’s perspective. Even the things they claim not to believe in, they might entertain as real in some fashion*. Also, many people are reluctant to scrutinize earnest beliefs held by others, even if they dismiss them as false. So Aron’s picking examples no one is likely to genuinely believe in, but that he can (later) show have real-world correspondents.


        *For example, I knew a Jehovah’s Witness who said she didn’t “believe in” psychics. What she meant was she thought they had actual powers, but the powers were derived from evil and thus must not be trusted or shown approval.

  3. Because the number of incorrect ideas one can have is infinite, and the number of correct ideas is vastly smaller (though still very large) it’s irritating when someone insists on trying to perpetuate wrong ideas; they are wasting everyone’s time. They still have the right to waste their own time, but it’s quite reasonable to ask them not to perpetuate time-wasting bad ideas.

    I like to ask the faithful who take that line of argument if they would mind a lot if i attended their worship services and constantly offered a fountain of wrong ideas as fast as I could invent them (“jesus was from mars”. “No wait jesus was time-travelling elvis!”) eventually they are going to get tired of me wasting their time and ask me to go away and stop trying to “help” them understand. That is how those of us who live in the reality-based world feel about the ideas of the faithful – they’re wasting everyone’s time and if they want to live in a consistent and interesting fantasy world they should try World Of Warcraft or something that’s at least well-crafted fiction.

  4. Great Post!!!!!

    And I did understand the metaphors he was using, but I think analogies is a better word.

    The “wish on a star” is an analogy for ‘praying’.

    And ‘he runs like a deer’ is an analogy.

    saying ‘he is a deer’ is a metaphor or ‘Obama is satan’ is a metaphor.

      1. A lot of people believe that the anti-Christ is alive today and it’s a major public figure. They just can’t seem to decide which of 400 different people it is, so when in doubt, assume it’s all of them working together.

  5. Let me translate from Christianese to straightforward English:

    I respect that you don’t believe ridiculous fairy tales for no good reason. However, I do believe in ridiculous fairy tales for no good reason, and I want to live in a world where I am surrounded by similarly ignorant believers and sycophants who never challenge my beliefs. I want to know if there is some way that you atheists could not be so outspoken about the truth, and instead keep it to yourself so that you don’t cause me discomfort by pointing out that my beliefs are ridiculous and unsubstantiated.

    Well sir or maam, we atheists are generally humanists. We want to improve the human condition, and otherwise be good and decent human beings. Generally, we feel that truth is preferable to fiction. We feel that truth is rewarding for its own sake, and we feel that people can only reliably make good decisions and can only reliably make good policy when they have true beliefs. Thus, whenever we hear something said which is flagrantly false, we act to counter that, in order to promote truth, in order to better the human condition.

    Sadly, we will not be accommodating in your request to let fiction-as-fact spread unabated. Letting ignorance spread breeds needless suffering, and that’s kind of completely against our entire moral and ethical system.

    However, we atheists invite you and strongly encourage you to challenge all of our beliefs – and non-beliefs – in a way similar to how we challenge your beliefs. If you can show through good reason and evidence that we are wrong, we atheists will change our mind, and we will thank you for showing that we were wrong. (At least, ideally that’s how rational people should behave. Your experiences may differ because atheists are human too, but that is the ideal which we atheists are generally striving for.)

  6. I don’t know. The guy’s got a point. I’m also mystified by the atheists and their nonstop evangelizing. And sending missionaries all over the world to entice, threaten, and cajole people out of their religious faith. And picketing movies they don’t like. And throwing fits when people aren’t sufficiently deferential to their lack of religious belief. And ignoring evidence and trying to enshrine superstition in the classroom. And demanding that religious people can’t be good citizens. And claiming that natural disasters are reasonable punishments for crimes against science. And turning their children into stealth agents for their unevidenced beliefs. And starting wars over their interpretations of experimental results.

    If only those pushy atheists would let believers be!

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