Do Not Deny Others the Opportunity to Learn From Their Mistakes

A temple
A temple (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

"If you don't agree with someone's religion," they say, "you should still respect it and just keep your critical thoughts to yourself." That doesn't seem terribly fair to me. Why should they get to talk about their religion in my presence when I cannot? If it is okay for them to share their thoughts about it with me, it should be okay for me to do the same. Isn't a conversation supposed to involve more than one person speaking?

If someone says something stupid - I mean really stupid - and you don't deliver a gentle mocking or at least express disagreement with what the person said, you are depriving the individual of the opportunity to learn from his or her mistake. Why would you withhold such an opportunity just because the stupid statement appears to be based on religion? Do you despise religious people so much that you would deny them the chance to learn from their mistakes? I certainly don't. Many religious believers are great people, and I'm not interested in seeing them suffer or inflict suffering on others. I don't think I could reconcile that with humanism or any of my other values.

Not only do I not despise religious people enough to deprive them of the opportunity to learn from their mistakes, but I value the rest of us too much to do so either. Like it or not, the majority of the population continues to cling to religious beliefs. At least they do here in the U.S. where they are running the show and have far too much power over the rest of us. Is it not in our interest that they learn from their mistakes? After all, some people do manage to change their minds. Haven't many of us done so? I'd like to keep learning, and I'd like my religious neighbors to continue to do so as well.