If you are a religious person, you might accept the fact that other people do not share your beliefs. And you can probably look passed your contrasting perspectives and get along with someone who does not agree with you. However, despite differences in opinion, you probably, at least, would demand respect – it seems a small and appropriate measure. But in the case of religion, is it?
I would argue, no. No respect is necessary for something which is founded upon the absolute absence of evidence. This view is bound to offend even non-believers, but consider this: do you feel the need to respect someone’s scientific theory if it has been proven wrong? No. It is discarded and done away with. If someone approached you insisting that the world is flat, you would likely label this person as crazy. If evidence does not support the belief, we disregard it in pursuit of the truth. And we certainly are not disinclined to speak out against such beliefs.
However, it has been tabooed to speak negatively about one’s religious beliefs on the grounds that respect and religious tolerance must be upheld. In all other areas of life, though, no such respect is demanded. The only reason religion garners this undeserved respect is because a massive amount of people adhere to some sort of religious practice. People hold religion near and dear to their hearts, in many cases depending on it for happiness and fulfillment. This emotional attachment makes it a very delicate issue. However, it is time that we come to terms with the reality of the situation: religion is a subject that offers no evidential validity; therefore, it warrants no respect and should be treated in discussion on the same level as those claims which are bound by an equally low level of credibility, such as the notion that the earth is flat.
You may be thinking that religious claims and scientific claims, such as the aforementioned one, cannot be compared in the same discourse. However, religion, whether intended or not, makes deeply scientific claims about how the universe functions, why it functions the way it does, and how humans should asses their conditions and live in it accordingly. The claim that God is the creator of the universe, is itself a scientific claim. It represents the notion that the universe was authored by a definitive entity, that there was a designer who put all of this in place. This demands scientific proof because it claims to know the origin of the universe – a universe that scientists are diligently studying, in search of its origins and further insight on how it functions. But religious people know how it started; and one day, if we do discover how the universe was actually initiated, religion will have to, once again, adapt to the knowledge of science that has repeatedly destroyed its claims about nature.
Furthermore, religion sets itself up for failure when contending that God actively intervenes in the world. All three monotheistic religions espouse this. Christians go so far as to claim that God walked the earth as a human and performed miracles that defied the laws of nature. And here is where religion crosses the line. To say you accept the magic that Jesus Christ allegedly performed is to say that you believe that the laws of nature can, and do, get broken. And since God created the universe, it makes sense that he could break his own rules every once in a while. But again, we need evidence. If there is no evidence, there is absolutely no reason to accept, or even remotely respect, such a belief. And there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that such deeds are plausible by any means.
When you accept God as an all-powerful ruler of the universe, you directly intertwine religion and science, whether you intend to or not. If God set the universe into action, established the laws of nature, and even intervenes on those laws as he pleases, then he is a figure that science must acknowledge, given that there were any evidence for him at all. These scientific attributes that God inevitably carries renders him eligible for criticism on scientific grounds. And unfortunately for the religious among us, there is not one bit of evidence for his existence. Therefore, in my eyes, he, and religion itself, deserve not one ounce of respect.