Sunday. The day of rest throughout the Christianized world. Throughout the West.
A day for rumination.
Some of our fellow atheists say that we ought to respect people’s religious beliefs.
But what religious belief deserves respect?
It is obviously wise to treat other people with respect, whatever their beliefs (unless they prove themselves unworthy of it). Politeness is the oil of social relations. And enlightened self-interest tells us that it is intelligent policy.
But beliefs are a different matter. All ideas need to be critically examined. And none so thoroughly as a dogma.
Are there aspects of the three so-called moral religions that can be respected?
Judaism holds justice (or “righteousness”) to be its highest value. That can be respected. (The most sacred thing of Judaism, secluded in the innermost sanctum of the Temple,”the Holy of Holies” where only the High Priest could enter, was nothing but the written law.) But what the old Jewish scriptures declare to be just does not always – or often – seem just to us now. And Jehovah commanded an awful lot of mass murder, even the merciless slaying of little children.
Christianity’s revolution against Judaism lay in new moral commandments: to love everybody, which is not in itself evil, of course, but by ignoring the emotional range of human nature can only promote hypocrisy; and unstinting forgiveness, which is the opposite of justice.
And Islam? Islam forbids and punishes critical examination of its doctrine. That alone makes it entirely unacceptable. It is right and just to abhor and reject it.
Here’s Christopher Hitchens on religion as the source of immorality: