Friday, April 8, 2016

Religious Tolerance

A friend some time ago commented on the the Church of the flying Spaghetti Monster's display at the Florida state capital, that this demonstrated atheists intolerance of religion. I disagree.

There is a meme going around, that merely criticizing a religion is demonstrating "religious intolerance". As a secular humanist, I find this quite odd. The basis for religious tolerance is the idea of the marketplace of ideas, where any idea can be presented, and rationally debated, that the best ideas might win out.  It is not unlike the scientific process.

Obviously, for this to work, it must be acceptable to criticize ideas on their merits, with all views receiving criticism or acclaim.. This is handily summed up by Evelyn Hall's summary of Voltaire's view: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" . Every one shoud have access to the marketplace of ideas, even if they trade in inferior goods.

Somehow, this has been warped in the modern era into the idea that all religious viewpoints are equally valid and legitimate. Apparently, now criticizing a religious belief is "intolerance". Somehow, what was supposed to be a market place of ideas, where religious view should not be treated any different from any other belief, has morphed into the idea that religious viewpoints should be given special privilege.