It’s something many of us do on an almost daily basis while using social networking sites, such as Twitter or Facebook, and sadly we don’t always conduct ourselves in the best way possible.
Occasionally we will encounter theists who are simply trying to insult or offend us because we are atheists or agnostics, but that’s not the case with the vast majority of theists. Most of the time if we are respectful in our interactions then they will show us the same level of respect. I think this is something that is forgotten far too often.
We need to remember that when we question a person’s beliefs about a god or their religion, we may be forcing them, in many cases for the first time, to truly consider that some of their core beliefs. That’s not an easy thing for anyone to do, especially not for those that have believed something for as long as they can remember.
I understand the desire to mock and ridicule the religious,I really do. And, honestly, when it comes to charlatans like Ray Comfort or Ken Ham I say go for the jugular. People like them are detestable, they are actively working to brainwash people and indoctrinate children, and that’s something we need to stop from happening. But when it comes to your “run of the mill believer”, the hard working parent or your average student who attends some kind of religious service each week, we should show more respect.
Beliefs are important to many, and while belief itself is not safe from ridicule, we need to remember that often belief is a core part of a person’s life. We need to show people the respect that they deserve, treat them as we would like to be treated or at least treat them with the same degree of respect they show us. After all, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
Remember, it’s unlikely that someone will walk away from your conversation having changed their mind about what they believe, but you may have planted the seeds of doubt. And people are much more likely to nurture those seeds if the person who planted them did so while being respectful.
Many often joke that the bible should be one page, that simply says “try not to be a cunt”. This is an idea we should embrace. To those who are kind and respectful, be kind and respectful. To those you’ve never spoken to before, be kind and respectful. Even to those who are bigoted, try be kind and respectful(though I understand, from experience, that’s not always possible). You’re much more likely to change a person’s mind by having a respectful conversation than by attacking them.
If we want to see a change in this world, we first must embody that change.