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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.

daftdame Tue 03-Sep-13 14:18:08


As a Christian, my belief encourages me not to be offended, to pull my weight and not to expect (as a matter of course), to have everyone I meet, take what I believe, seriously.

I also don't believe in enforcing beliefs on children. That would be counter-productive. Added to which Faith (as in believing in things that cannot be proven) involves a conscious choice, otherwise it would just be ignorance.

So the provisos you outlined are not just the restricted to atheists or agnostics...(if that is what you were alluding to in your first sentence), thankfully. smile

specialsubject Tue 03-Sep-13 09:02:45

right to believe, yes. Believe away, pray if it makes you happy, wear whatever you want, spend hours at services if you want.

but there is no right to be 'offended', to be exempted from pulling your weight due to your beliefs, or to have anyone else take beliefs seriously. Not in this country, anyway.

there should also be no right to enforce beliefs on children.

ShadeofViolet Tue 03-Sep-13 08:24:14

I respect other peoples beliefs because it is part of their identity in the same way how they dress or wear their hair is.

I agree with Salbertina, but I would also add that the most aggressive people I have met (in RL and on MN) who want to share their beliefs are atheists. While I respect their right not to believe, I also expect them to accept my right to believe.

daftdame Tue 03-Sep-13 08:20:46

Not wrong to question headinhands. As I said before, 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.

I enjoy having discussions and engaging with people, such as yourself. Sometimes I will disengage to collect my thoughts though, and I think as long as you can accept that (tbh on other threads you have been very good in this regard) I am fine. smile

Some beliefs are so tied up with a world view people need time to collect themselves together and reflect on what has been said. Emotions can run high because beliefs affect actions, past beliefs will have informed previous actions and so forth. Some beliefs are precious to people because they have helped them through some very tough times.

Salbertina Tue 03-Sep-13 08:16:40

I respect someone's right to have their own beliefs however much they may contradict mine (unless v extreme, fascism or the like). I only object if someone tries to inflict theirs on me, is overly evangelical or is dismissive of agnostic/atheistic view points.

headinhands Tue 03-Sep-13 07:41:45

I might be wrong but the time the respect word is used on these boards is usually when a belief is questioned and how the 'believee' arrived at that belief. Is that right? Is it disrespectful to ask questions? Why?

Clearly there are times and places for such debate and I don't often get to have such discussion in RL because it's not appropriate or whatever.

DolomitesDonkey Mon 02-Sep-13 17:33:15

OP - I'm pretty much with you in your first post if you mean that "respect" equates to simply "acknowledge".

An analogy we might draw is that within the 10 commandments with the first 5 relating to G-d and all that is "bigger" and the latter 5 relating to "how to behave", number 5 relates to our parents.

"Honour they mother and father".

However, should your parents be abusive pieces of shit (not limited to any faith!) then does that mean you must suck up every piece of drivel uttered and kiss their collective arse? Sing their praises and never utter a word of disagreement or challenge?

Of course not! But you are duty bound to acknowledge their existence and honour the fact that you are because of them.

daftdame Mon 02-Sep-13 17:27:03

hgeadinhands But if the potential for harm on a singular belief is great and would almost definitely result in harmful behaviour I would rebuke that belief and do my best to prevent any harmful action taken.

Later on I might talk to that person and see how their thought processes lead to that belief in the first place to try and prevent the same mistakes. Alternatively, I might let someone else, who I feel is better qualified do that, if I feel out of my depth.

daftdame Mon 02-Sep-13 17:15:03

headinhands Off course you acknowledge the potential for harm. But hopefully you would pursue the potential for good, at least initially, otherwise you would have to give up on some people entirely...How many chances do you give?

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

headinhands Maybe...

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 17:11:35

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

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

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

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

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 17:01:44

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'?

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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

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.

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

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

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...

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