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Should We Respect Others Beliefs?

(34 Posts)
headinhands Sun 01-Sep-13 16:49:35

Should we respect others beliefs? I say no. I think while we should respect and uphold the persons ^right* to believe what ever they want, we should not necessarily respect their beliefs.

Labro Sun 01-Sep-13 17:07:21

Its all in the wording! I feel that I personally cannot 'respect other peoples beliefs' as I don't have concrete knowledge of what all the different strands of every single belief system actually are, so have no idea what I am supposed to be respecting. BUT like you say, I can, and actively raise my ds to realise, that all people have a 'right to believe' in the same way that we have freedom of speech and don't live in a dictatorship. Not understanding a belief system is however a poor excuse for abusing others due to their different beliefs (ie because of mode of dress etc) and should be taken as that persons 'right to believe'.

Shallishanti Sun 01-Sep-13 17:20:27

mm, was going to say yes of course, but in fact, I agree that often I don't respect people's actual beliefs (ie I think they are completely batty) but still respect the person and their right to believe what they choose. Sometimes it's hard though, if someone with the benefit of good education etc choses to believe something that just seems outrageous. Also, I think people should be careful to draw a line between their private beliefs and their behaviour- eg not discriminating against others.

Quaffle Sun 01-Sep-13 17:34:01

What the first poster said, mostly.

I respect someone's right to believe whatever they like (although I might well think less of them), but of course I can't respect their actual beliefs if those beliefs are plainly ludicrous.

Actually that's most beliefs :-)

GetStuffezd Sun 01-Sep-13 17:35:28

I think while we should respect and uphold the persons ^right to believe what ever they want, we should not necessarily respect their beliefs*
This is exactly my stance too, OP. What I don't find acceptable is any form of religious belief system impinging on my or other people's basic rights.

daftdame Mon 02-Sep-13 07:39:33

I can respect beliefs without agreeing with them.

This just means I recognise whatever is not proven has to be taken on faith and what another person has faith in may be different to what I have faith in.

Also as GetStuffezd said their beliefs should not impinge on other's basic rights, but this would involve me holding them to account for their actions or behaviour. As Shallishanti pointed out "Also, I think people should be careful to draw a line between their private beliefs and their behaviour- eg not discriminating against others."

mayihaveaboxofchoculaits Mon 02-Sep-13 08:12:54

I respect people, its how they express cultural beliefs, that give those beliefs value.
Wearing clothes that benignly link you to good kind, respectful memories is fine, wearing clothes that protect you from, and make you fear society is not.
Beleiving in a celestial teapot because it adds to your life and makes you a gentler person is fine, hysterically and aggressively fearing the implications of the teapot is not.
Beliefs are created by and belong to people. They don't exsist by themselves.

daftdame Mon 02-Sep-13 08:30:38

mayihaveaboxofchocolates Beliefs are created by and belong to people. They don't exsist by themselves.

Hmm... we can get quite metaphysical here, if a belief stems from something implicit, a 'hard wired' instinct for example, is it created by people?

Do these beliefs start taking on a life of their own once they are recorded or written down, as Structuralist Literary Theory references?

mayihaveaboxofchoculaits Mon 02-Sep-13 08:58:59

Hi daftdame, I wish I could I could answer that (don't know what slt is ).

Maybe if there is a need born from fear and hope to link to what humans can control in life, and if it is expressed through art,and story.
Is that belief .
As long as the belief isn't hurtful (according to my view at the time), I can see the belief as part of the person and how they relate not as a stronger entity that needs respect in itself, unless I share that value/cultural investment in believing.
If someones beliefs offend what I consider to be valuable, then I will have a problem.

Its interesting and I admit I don't know much .
I guess giving up on god, makes me examine the cultures attached.

It is easier now, to not cop out by saying "well, I don't like it ,but its their culture,isn't it"?

daftdame Mon 02-Sep-13 09:34:19


I do think beliefs can take on a life of their own beyond culture, when written down, as they are preserved outside the culture they were written in, for future generations to interact with.

When I talk about respecting but not agreeing with beliefs I think it is because it very difficult to isolate a single belief.

There may be aspects of the belief (system) that corresponds to your own understanding, thus you can respect a belief as having some truth in it and acknowledge that, but not respect in terms of holding it in esteem because there is an aspect you do not agree with it. So the definition of respect causes some clouding of the issue here.

Also if someone is living amongst a different belief system their interpretation of fact might be quite different to my own, I would respect that in terms of accepting my empathetic skills may be challenged. If there has not been much geographic movement in the society their actual brain physiology might show a pattern of strengths and weakness or tendencies that my own does not through genetic inheritance, they may be able perceive differently from me, posses a very refined sense of hearing for example. All possibilities...

daftdame Mon 02-Sep-13 09:37:46

I find Daniel Everett's study of the Pirahã people absolutely fascinating...

CoteDAzur Mon 02-Sep-13 09:41:32

I agree with you completely, OP.

I respect their right to believe in any old crackpot theory about how and why the universe works, but they cannot expect me to actually respect all of these theories.

CoteDAzur Mon 02-Sep-13 10:00:29

daftdame -

" Everett first met the Pirahã as a Christian missionary exploring the Amazon basin in the 1970’s. When he finally learnt enough Pirahã to tell them about Jesus, Everett was asked whether he’d ever seen Him. They fell about laughing when he said no. Having converted no one, Everett was soon much less interested in Jesus than the people and language with whom he was now living..."

Smart people grin

daftdame Mon 02-Sep-13 10:13:06

CoteSmart? Very tricky thing to judge IMO..

Acknowledging anything outside the present is 'Taboo' in their culture, to the extent there is no recursion in their language, no story and counting is a very challenging concept. So the most important question to them would be whether he'd seen Him.

Can you be smart without forethought? narrative? assumption? - not saying they don't posses great abilities, they do. Fascinating...mind boggling.

headinhands Mon 02-Sep-13 13:28:03

I wouldn't want to unnecessarily cause offence though. For example I would cover my head/take my shoes off if I was visiting a temple where this was required and so on. The problem with the respect label is that it makes it difficult for people to challenge beliefs when they feel it necessary or even in a discussion. From my point of view it would make me feel uncomfortable to think that my thoughts and opinions were being respected without them having been scrutinised. I don't wish to have my views respected just because they are my views. In fact I invite robust cross examination of them.

daftdame Mon 02-Sep-13 14:02:18

headinhands To some extent I agree, everything is open to cross examination. People learn through questioning, beliefs can be refined, developed. It would be a shame if a person's respect meant they just would not engage with me concerning my beliefs or visa versa.

However I do not always want to engage in a discussion, a line of questioning is not always productive. Some things are an enigma, circular arguments can become very tiring and achieve very little. Sometimes I need to be alone to collect my thoughts without bombardment or distraction because this helps me gain clarity also.

Sometimes if argument becomes too much, too heated, too circular I would refrain from it and just try to engage with a person by helping them on a practical level or enjoying mutual interests.

daftdame Mon 02-Sep-13 16:32:23

I think learning to respect the positive potential in a person's beliefs, that is what they could ultimately become after refinement and development, is a good starting point.

niminypiminy Mon 02-Sep-13 16:43:09

I wonder what we are meaning by 'respect' here?

Is it 'respect' meaning, as Cote so charmingly put it, 'I respect their right to believe any old crackpot theory about the origin of the universe', a formulation which implies she or he has no respect at all for the fact that someone's religious beliefs and experiences may be the most profound that they have? Simply, as it were, an acknowledgement that, all things being equal, everyone can think what they like in the privacy of their own head.

Or is it 'respect' meaning that you will listen, really listen, to what the other person says, and allow yourself to encounter their beliefs and experiences, and to treat them seriously even if we cannot agree with or share them?

I think the latter is what we would all wish other people to do for us. Therefore, of course, it is what we should do for other people.

headinhands Mon 02-Sep-13 17:01:44

Imagine someone believes the earth is flat. How would you actively treat it seriously? How long would you need to listen before you think 'this is absurd'?

daftdame Mon 02-Sep-13 17:06:59

headinhands They've made a start they believe in the earth.

I think you have to view beliefs long term. Respect what knowledge they have built their belief from. Disengage from discussions, yes by all means if they are going to nowhere for the present, but revisit them if some pertinent experiential evidence could potentially allow that person to revisit their beliefs.

headinhands Mon 02-Sep-13 17:08:51

I don't expect people to respect my thoughts. It makes no difference to me if someone finds them silly or ridiculous. I would want people to feel entirely free to tell me if they think there are flaws of inconsistencies in them.

So the person with the flat earth theory. You wouldn't at any point say 'so how do you explain people flying around the world?' You'd be fascinated and want to know right? I would!grin

headinhands Mon 02-Sep-13 17:10:21

There's people who don't believe in the earth? confused

daftdame Mon 02-Sep-13 17:11:35

....and of course a small amount of the earth can seem flat...where is my Spirit-Level?

headinhands Mon 02-Sep-13 17:11:52

If you're going to respect the potential for good shouldn't you also acknowledge the potential for harm?

daftdame Mon 02-Sep-13 17:11:58

headinhands Maybe...

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