Respect and coddlingMarch 9, 2009 — Deacon Duncan
Rather a change of pace from the themes we’ve been dealing with lately, but I was just catching up on some of the Daylight Atheism posts I’ve been missing, and I spotted this one, on the topic of how atheists should show respect to believers. Lo and behold, he’s stolen one of my posts. Well, that is to say, I was going to write it. He just wrote it first, and said pretty much everything I was going to say. It’s not “respectful” to treat people like spoiled children who can’t be trusted to acknowledge differing ideas without throwing a tantrum. Nor is it respectful to assume that believers are constitutionally incapable of handling the truth.
It is disrespectful to make unsupported accusations against people, e.g. by suggesting that their views are caused by an intrinsically corrupt and immoral nature. I have to say, though, that in my experience atheists like Dawkins are far less likely to make such accusations than to be the target of them. And while it may be tempting at times to think that “the other guy” is arguing out of some personal character flaw rather than a sincere desire to acknowledge the truth, I still think it’s better to debate respectfully, which (as Daylight Atheism points out) means presenting your case honestly, openly, and with a view to the facts.