Sunday, September 30, 2012

Blasphemy Day: Freedom of Belief

Today is blasphemy day. In honor of that, here's some blasphemy: If God exists, he is monstrously evil. People do not get reincarnated when they die. Bad actions are not always punished, and good actions are not always rewarded. The writings of bronze age goat herders are scientifically inaccurate. Human sacrifice is not necessary for the sun to rise. Bunnies don't lay eggs.

Doubtlessly, you believe at least one of these things. Which is why I support Blasphemy Day. Because something you believe is blasphemy to someone. The price you pay for being able to express it is that others can express something that you may disagree with or find personally offensive. To oppose that is to oppose the very concept of free speech.

And so here's another piece of blasphemy: Religious belief should not be treated any differently than any other belief.

I don't believe in freedom of religion. I believe in a more general freedom of belief. Everyone should be allowed to believe whatever they want, including but not limited to religious beliefs. I prefer this formulation because as above, religious belief should not be treated any differently than any other belief.

There are lots of times when beliefs are treated differently because they're religious beliefs. The most obvious examples are blasphemy laws, which is what Blasphemy Day is in protest of. For some groups, simply disagreeing with their religion amounts to disrespecting it, which is a totally different standard to non-religious beliefs.

The reason religious beliefs should be treated just like any other is that they are just like any other. They can be right or wrong just like other beliefs and wrong beliefs should be discarded for right ones. Bad beliefs cannot be improved if they are specially protected as religious beliefs tend to be.

Another reason to treat religious beliefs the same as others is who gets to decide what is a valid religious belief and what isn't?

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