Believe what you want

I cannot stress more the fact that I strive for a secular society, which means I believe in freedom of religion, as well as freedom from religion.

In recent debates I have again been accused of hypocrisy in that I am “trying to force atheism down people’s throats”.  It couldn’t be further from the truth.  If I wanted to force atheism down your throat I’d visit you at your door at 7 in the morning calling you a deluded religionist who never grew out of your imaginary friend.  I’d opt for a law which says “you can’t go to church”.  I’d preach on the streets threatening you with an eternity of nothingness (scary, isn’t it?).  I’d go to church and protest in the middle of sermon saying that you can’t teach creationism in Sunday School.  You don’t see me doing any of that because your accusation is wrong.  I don’t even believe that it is possible to force atheism down anyone’s throat.  Atheism is not a religion.  It is a conclusion in response to the faithful, not a faith itself.  It has no tenets which need to be preached, so I would have very little things to force down your throat except maybe for the fact that there is probably no God — in any case, I’d want you to think for yourself, not have it spoonfed to you.

That being said, I believe that I have the right to disagree with you.  If a book critic writes about a book, we don’t accuse the critic of “trying to force his opinions on others”.  People have rights to their opinions, and if a writer decides to publish a book, then he must be prepared to be criticised.  Likewise, if you bring your religion out and try to force it on society, then surely you can expect some kind of criticism.

Yes, you have the right to your opinions as well, but so do I.  And if your opinions are stupid, and you want them enforced in education or politics, etc, then don’t accuse me of hypocrisy when I choose to criticise you.

The stupidest accusation I’ve ever heard is this: “Tim, you’re trying to force secularism into society!”  In a secular society you are free to believe whatever the fuck you want, given that you have to respect other people’s rights to their beliefs as well.  As I have written before:

Quite the contrary, secularism is the guarantor of freedom.  It is the sole necessity in any religiously diverse society, endowing upon citizens the right to be free from doctrinal authorities.  To go against secularism is to infringe, selfishly, upon individual freedom — a childish longing for a civilisation governed by religious fundamentalism, to one’s own interest.

It would seem that whoever accuses secularism of “forcing non-religion into society” forgets that the world doesn’t just revolve around him.  There are almost 7,000,000,000 people on this planet.  Your religious opinions are not the only ones out there, and secularism gives everyone the right to his beliefs — Thor to Jesus to Pink Unicorn alike.

So, here it is:

  1. Believe whatever you want.
  2. Don’t impose your beliefs on other people’s rights in society.
  3. Learn to be offended by criticism, as you have learnt to offend others with your stupidity.
  4. If you think my blog is “forcing atheism down your throat,” don’t read it.
  5. Enjoy life.

Simple, isn’t it?