Some Comments on Religion and Mutual Respect
Two important religious holidays, Easter and Passover, are beginning. They affect millions of Christians, Catholics, and Jews worldwide. Two differing views are between Atheists and Believers involved in organized religions. It is a time to come together in ways that help one another respect differing views.
(At Passover and Easter, the Egg Is the Symbol of Rebirth)
On Easter Sunday, 2012, the New York Times writer and commentator Nicholas D. Kristof wrote an interesting article, “Learning to Respect Religion.” He says everyone needs to understand that organized religion has played and continues to play an important role in society. To support his argument, Kristof turns to three writers who are both atheists in their beliefs and critics of organized religion in their thinking. These three are Alain de Botton, writer of “Religion for Atheists,” Edward O. Wilson, Harvard biologist and writer of “The Social Conquest of Earth, and Jonathan Haidt, Professor of Psychology and author of The Righteous Mind.”
Kristof points out that all three writers discuss and admit religion’s important role in society. To summarize, religion is viewed as a force that organizes people into cooperative communities. These people can live in harmony with each other. Religion provides rites of passage for everyone from birth to death and at every stage of life. In addition, it provides great comfort to believers while inhibiting drug and alcohol abuse.
These writers focus on the negative side of organized religion. However, they are showing the ability to respect those who are believers.
There are too many times when nonbelievers scoff at religious people. One does not have to be an atheist to do this. Some describe themselves as spiritual but anti-institutional religion as found in a church, synagogue, or mosque. Some are religious and believe psychologists, biologists, and other scientists are anti-religion. In fact, among these groups, many are religious. Others can reconcile biblical teachings with scientific findings. I have known many psychiatrists and psychologists who attend church and synagogue regularly.
When there is so much disagreement, people must learn to accept one another in ways that show tolerance for differing beliefs, practices, and values.
One defining aspect of mental health is accepting diversity in the world. Some will point out all those anti-diversity, such as the radical Muslims and Christian and Jewish Fundamentalists in the United States and worldwide. Remember that those people do not represent most of us who want peace and harmony. Some find no role in religion, which is their right. Some gain great comfort from their beliefs and practices, and that is right. We all need to accept both points of view and be valuable to them, even though we do not agree.
Let’s not scoff at each other just because we may be on the other side of the fence. After all, what is wrong with faith if the result is emotional resilience and stress reduction? Prayer accomplishes this for untold numbers of people.
Your comments and questions are encouraged.