Religion and respect

Let us gather round AC Grayling and anoint his feet with fragrant ointments.

It is time to refuse to tip-toe around people who claim respect, consideration, special treatment, or any other kind of immunity, on the grounds that they have a religious faith, as if having faith were a privilege-endowing virtue, as if it were noble to believe in unsupported claims and ancient superstitions. It is neither. Faith is a commitment to belief contrary to evidence and reason, as between them Kierkegaard and the tale of Doubting Thomas are at pains to show; their example should lay to rest the endeavours of some (from the Pope to the Southern Baptists) who try to argue that faith is other than at least non-rational, given that for Kierkegaard its virtue precisely lies in its irrationality.

On the contrary: to believe something in the face of evidence and against reason – to believe something by faith – is ignoble, irresponsible and ignorant, and merits the opposite of respect. It is time to say so.

And three reasons why MWW exists:

Those who claim to be “hurt” or “offended” by the criticisms or ridicule of people who do not share their views, yet who seek to silence others by law or by threats of violence, are trebly in the wrong: they undermine the central and fundamental value of free speech, without which no other civil liberties are possible; they claim, on no justifiable ground, a right to special status and special treatment on the sole ground that they have chosen to believe a set of propositions; and they demand that people who do not accept their beliefs and practices should treat these latter in ways that implicitly accept their holder’s evaluation of them.

Read it all, learn it by heart, and declaim it from the pulpits and the minarets.


4 Responses to “Religion and respect”

  1. Marc Draco says:

    A Grayling. The thinking man’s answer to Richard Dawkins. ;-)

    No really, I love Dawkins, but a dose of A.C. every once in while gets it into perspective. Why can’t this man be running the country?

  2. Hector says:

    Excellent stuff. The comments a worth a read too (especially ‘Humanzee’)

  3. Andy Gilmour says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed the article, but do, indeed, have a good trawl through the comments – it doesn’t take long before the supernaturalists and “everything is relative – science can’t prove anything” crowd come out to moan…

  4. Marc Draco says:

    Oddly enough Andy, I felt that their self-indulgent wailing amply demonstrates Professor Grayling’s point.