respect for atheists

I have a discussion with a friend about respecting believers and non-believers.
He says that non-believers have to respect the believers, for their choices. He says that we don’t respect non-believers for their choices, because we condemn the things they do which we see as ‘wrong’, that they don’t. I don’t see it either, how we are respecting the non-believers by condemning the actions we see as wrong, because for their moral perspectives what WE see as wrong isn’t wrong. From an atheist perspective what makes our believe in God more inportant to respect than the believe of an atheist who doesn’t believe in it. I don’t know the answer.

If people believe abortion, suicide and euthanasia are not evil we cannot possibly respect their beliefs.

Unless we wish to claim that basic freedoms are un-Christian, we must respect all sincerely held beliefs.

*"Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people …]

Article 1. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2. Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status."

They don’t.
Atheists think that believing in God is the same as having a lucky rabbit’s foot or believing in the tooth fairy, so basically they think believers are stupid. They often don’t mind ridiculing believers in a public way, like at school or the work place. Where do you think bullies come from? It is Christians who are taught to love their neighbor, show mercy. This point is important: just because we will disagree with someone does not mean we hate them. Christians are always accused of hating when it’s the finger pointer. When an atheist says they are not respected because they think abortion is a woman’s right, they are totally blind to the fact that babies are human beings taken to be slaughtered. What can you possibly say to pierce that dark heart, that cannot see the human person in the womb? Only God can. Lord have mercy on us.

“Love the sinner, hate the sin.”

May God bless you! :slight_smile:

No, but we can respect the person holding those beliefs - which is what the thread title is about. You know, the old “love the sinner, hate the sin” thing.

I agree with the opinions placed here. I absolutely agree with the fact that abortion is evil, but he thinks that because of the Dutch not being against abortion, it probably isn’t evil.

I tried to explain to him that when people make their own rules and laws it doesn’t mean it is automatically true. He says that people are subject to change, and that morality is based on the general opinion on good and evil. He is still under the conviction that people learn after making mistakes, for example when wars are conducted. I tried to explain him that people don’t learn from mistakes in the past, that’s exactly the reason that today we still make wars, and haven’t learned anything from wars in the past. These wars come into the world, because everyone has their own vision on what is right and wrong, and what is ‘good’ for other people. I explained to him that these wars are caused by lack of faith in ONE and TRUE morality, and because of that, atheism can be seen as a cause of wars. It’s not that atheism is the main cause, but it IS the cause that people make decisions on good and evil on the perspective. That simply doesn’t work, witnesses are the many wars.

Let’s hope he now has something to think about

I’m afraid I’m not sure if that’s gonna work. People think that what they do is what defines them. By condemning their actions is also comdemning the person (that is at least what they think). It’s really hard to explain someone that we can still love a person, while not agreeing with their mistakes. I think that is the hardest thing to achieve as a Christian.

I’ve had neighbors who were atheists and neighbors who were Catholic, and I can tell you the Catholic neighbors were generous when it came to helping when stuff happened, the atheists were no where to be seen. Not just neighbors but family members too. I know who I prefer to have for a neighbor and I hope my current neighbors appreciate that they have me next door.

My God continue to help you as you have these conversations.

The distinction has to be made between loving atheists and respecting them.

Since Catholics believe that atheism is a mortal sin, we can love atheists without respecting what they believe in. Atheists should not be persecuted for their beliefs, but neither should they be admired, just as we would not admire and respect any Christian for chronically committing any mortal sin.

My friend/cousin would say that believing in God doesn’t have more right to exist than believing in the tooth fairy. Because neither for God or the toothfairty is proof of their existence. So basically we say that believing in the tooth fairy is ‘stupid’. Why is believing in God less stupid than believing in God? According to him, proof doesn’t exist for both of them, so when we as Christians say that believing in tooth fairy is stupid, it is just as stupid as believing in God, because there is no proof that one believing in God has more right to exist compared to the existence of the tooth fairy.

That’s the last thing I want to say about this, this place isn’t created to discuss the existence of God. Just as it is said: For the believer, no proof is necessary, but for the non-believer no proof will suffice.

In the meantime the only thing we as Christians can do, is to make people see how evil it is to kill children, that it is not our choice to make the decision for new life to be born, not even the mother of the child.

It’s not right to paint whole groups of people with a broad brush based on a few personal experiences.:frowning:

The human person is worthy of profound respect. :smiley:

For clarity’s sake I’ll state that here by “respect” I think you are referring to treating something or someone without ridicule and not invoking the definitions I find in my dictionary about “a feeling of deep admiration for something or someone”

There’s no obligation for any one to respect anything :frowning: It’s nice when they do, and it helps people get along much better (in general). But you’ll find people that don’t, both religious and non-religious. As far as I can tell it’s one of the many variations in human behaviour.

Note there is a difference in respecting a belief and respecting a person. There are many things among which I might find disagreement. There are things that other people say and do that I might find to be silly. But from consideration for that person’s feelings, not wishing to unnecessarily provoke that person, I may choose not to communicate my thoughts or I might try to communicate them in a manner that I hope the person can accept without interpreting them as a direct or indirect attack. At times this type of communication works better (my thoughts are communicated without any bridges being burned and feelings being spared).

That’s not to say that it’s never appropriate to give a passionate expression of what is thought about something. Both styles of communication can be effective in different situations with different people.

Some do, some don’t. Generalizations like this can be the cause of misunderstandings.

The question of importance may be an individual position and not independent of a person assessing importance; what is important to one person may not be as important to another. Or what is important to accomplish one goal may not be as important for accomplishing a different goal.

I had a friend that left his wife for another woman. When everyone else was treating him like garbage I went to him and said, “What your doing is wrong, but I’m still your friend and I want to help you.” A year later he was back with his wife and our friendship became much stronger, while his relations with the other people that treated him poorly are still very strained.

Why did I say all that? This is an example of love the person and hate their sin. It means treating people with the dignity of a human person made in the image and likeness of God. I guess from an atheistic view though, there really is no need to treat other people with dignity unless it somehow effects them personally. There is no moral reason why anyone should or should not be treated with respect. From a Christian perspective, the beggar on the street deserves as much dignity and respect as a multibillionaire, due to him being a child of God and not for any personal achievement or office.

Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner! :slight_smile:

I also think that ThinkingSapien’s definition of respect is what we owe to all. That doesn’t mean we have undying admiration for them. But, basically, we treat them as we would like to be treated. Do we want people pointing at us and calling us “idiots”? No? Then we don’t do that to other people.

We ought to respect all people, regardless of their beliefs, and we are called to treat all people with kindness and charity. I have many friends who believe all sorts of things that are wrong, yet I still love these people and treat them with respect.

Morality isn’t relative. There is no such thing as something being right from one person’s perspective and wrong from another person’s perspective. It is either right or wrong. Morality is absolute not relative.

In order to respect a person you do not need to agree with their views. We respect the person as a child of God. Often these people are our friends and family members. Many (probably most) of my closest friends hold views, and live lifestyles, that the Church is vehemently opposed to.

But respecting a person does not mean respecting views that they hold. However, before we wade in chastising someone for their views we ought to ask, “Would reacting in this way so do any good?” It should not be about us wanting to put our point across, it should be about responding in a manner that will be most effective in leading that person towards the right path. Look for common ground and build from there. Don’t hide what you are or be afraid to say what you believe, but ramming it down the throats of others and criticising them is not going to lead them closer to the right path. Do it with tact, charity and love, and choose your moment carefully. Before challenging someone on their beliefs, ask yourself, “Will this do any good, or will it push the person away from me?” Often the best example is by how you live your life rather than directly challenging the views of others.

I agree with the sentiment. Though there’s a nuance that comes to mind. In some cases if I were to treat people the same way I would want to be treated I might raise offense, and a lot of it. There’s a variation of the golden rule that I her referred to as “The Platinum Rule” centered on treating people the way they want to be treated. The challenge with applying this rule is that it requires an understanding of the other person’s potential responses and feelings to certain treatments. This is possibly more critical for interactions with people with different cultural backgrounds.

I heard the rule as, “Do unto others as if they were writing your biography.” :smiley:

I’d say part of the problem is that you’re lumping “atheists” into some monolithic belief system that you’ve made assumptions about…“things they do” for example.
Atheists don’t all do the same things. (And I might add that alot of religious people “do” some of the “things” you seem to be attributing to atheists.

Likewise others here have made the ASSumption that all atheists believe in abortion, suicide and all manner of other “sins”.

I reckon that there are many atheists who are charitable, kind, ethical and moral people who don’t ascribe to those things.

Bottom line: your confusion is caused by a flawed starting assumption.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.