We Have To Tolerate Dumb Beliefs
You know why? Because we all have them; the only problem is that we don’t realize which ones they are. But tolerance is not the same as respect, and being irrational in some aspects of one’s life is not the same as causing harm to others. For example, while I have no problem with people who read their horoscopes and believe those silly predictions (written by what I imagine to be unemployed journalists), I do have a problem with people who believe their seriously ill children can be healed by prayer or homeopathic remedies and, therefore, fail to seek necessary medical care. And while I have no desire to ruin the fun for those who enjoy astrology, I do have the desire to stop people who harm their children from committing further negligent and criminal acts.
Moreover, even the most intelligent people on this pale blue dot are often wrong. Sometimes they believe silly things. If anything, history certainly shows this to be true. But the one thing they know that others often miss is that being wrong can be a good thing. It can allow a person to learn from their mistakes and to grow. Also being able to admit error shows courage; and in the best sense, that’s what being open-minded means. Only the truly stupid (or emotionally deluded) fail to see their own stupidity.
Finally, I’d like to mention one last, if only tangentially related, concept. I am emphatically not anti-theist. I would much rather spend time with liberal Christians than with militant and angry atheist feminists. My atheism doesn’t make me angry, and it doesn’t make me hate the religious. Being a woman in the West doesn’t make me feel oppressed, and it doesn’t make me hate men. I can’t hate people for the foibles we all share, and it’s undeniable that all of us engage in emotional rather than rational thinking at some point. As long as people are kind to each other and appreciate human beings for the individuals they are, and as long as they don’t discriminate against or hurt others, they have my respect. Mistakes were meant to be forgiven. Maybe there was a time in mankind’s history when hate served a valid purpose, but I don’t see any benefit flowing from hatred and spite today. We have enough of a problem dealing with the politics of greed.