Relativists Corruption of "Respect"


Introduction

In my article on truth or ethical relativism, I demonstrate that the basic and fatal flaw with relativim is that it causes self-defeating statements, thus proving it is false.  For example, "It is wrong for you to tell me that I am wrong".  That is the foundational moral or ethica statement of relativists, and it is self-defeating and thus false.

In another article, I deal with perhaps the most important doctrine of relativists, the doctrine of "tolerance", and I show how relativists define the concept in a way that is self-defeating, and how their definition of tolerance leads to gross hypocricy.

This article will describe another very popular fallacious doctrine used by relativists to pummel their opponents as 'bad people', while what they are actually doing is saying, 'you must believe what I believe or else I will berate you or worse'.  And that is the relativist doctrine that "we must respect all other people's beliefs".  In short, relativists have moved the concept of respect from people - we ought to respect people who have good character and thus are worhty of respect - to beliefs.

Relativists Popular Belief: 'We Must Respect Other People's Beliefs'

Here is the popular belief:

'Each person has their own beliefs and those beliefs must be respected and not sought to be changed by another person'.  Stated another way, 'since there are no absolute truths, it is intolerant and disrespectful to judge another person's beliefs as somehow deficient or wrong and thus needing changing or correction'.

Examining this popular belief:

The above statement contains essentially three premises:

Premise 1. Each person has their own beliefs;

Premise 2. There are no absolute beliefs, meaning there is no unchanging universal standard to judge beliefs as true or false, right or wrong;

Conclusion. Since 2 is true, it is disrespectful to judge another person's beliefs as somehow deficient or wrong and thus needing changing or correction.

Premise one is self evidently true.  (However, it is important to point out that two or more people can share the same beliefs and not have heard it from another person.  It is also possible for two or more people to consider the beliefs that they share as the most important beliefs to them.)

Premise two is not necessarily true.  We will examine this in the following paragraphs, and you can review another article that demonstrates the falsehood of premise 2 - Relativism: The Great Blindness

The Conclusion is not necessarily true.  It is the key belief referred to in the beginning of this article.

It is important that the reader understand that the assumptive statement 'since there are no absolute truths' needs to be true in order for the conclusion of the popular belief to be true - and without 2 being true, the conclusion is clearly false.  The 'no absolutes' belief is often not spelled out, stated or clearly identified in the popular belief, but is assumed since it serves as the foundation of the popular belief.

Examining The Conclusion

The conclusion of the popular belief statement includes this statement - 'it is disrespectful to judge another person's beliefs'.  So, not only is the conclusion not true if premise 2 is false, the conclusion itself includes a self-defeating statement even if permise 2 is true!  A self-defeating statement is one that contradicts itself.  For example, 'all red rocks are blue' (physical), or, 'kind people enjoy hurting others' (moral) are self-defeating statements since within the statement the single subject or point in the statement is contradicted within the statement.  In the previous two examples, the single subject or point is the color of all red rocks, and the contradiction to that single point is that red rocks are blue.  In the next example, the single subject or point is what kind people enjoy, and the contradiction to that single point is that kind people enjoy hurting others.

Defining "Respect"

The popular belief also relies heavily on the concept of 'respect', for the popular belief says all people must 'respect' other people's beliefs.  Thus, it is important that the term 'respect' be defined and properly understood.

The people who believe the popular belief define the term 'respect' as meaning, 'a person should not say anything negative about another person's beliefs nor state that the belief needs correction, nor that they believe it is false'.  The concept of 'respecting someone's rights' might seem akin to this, but is significantly different for the following reason.  A 'right' is a legal concept and to respect someone's right to 'free speech' for example, means to agree they are allowed to express themselves - it does not address the content of the speech, but rather a person's 'freedom' to speak at all.

The popular belief we are looking at has everything to do with the content or nature of a person's beliefs for we are told we must 'respect' other's beliefs.  In other words, the popular belief is not defending some innate human 'right', but rather is attempting to shut a certain kind of people's expression down, namely those people who reject relativism and believe there are objective, universal or absolute ethical, moral and existential truths.

Here are some definitions of 'respect' (in the context it is used in the popular belief) from widely accepted dictionary sources in the United States.

"Admiration felt or shown for someone or something that you believe has good ideas or qualities."

"Esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability: Example: 'I have great respect for her judgment'.

"Deference to a right, privilege, privileged position, or someone or something considered to have certain rights or privileges; proper acceptance or courtesy; acknowledgment: respect for a suspect's right to counsel; to show respect for the flag; respect for the elderly."

"The condition of being esteemed or honored: to be held in respect."

 

All these definitions say respect is something to be afforded to PEOPLE (not beliefs) and assume there is a basis for one person respecting another.  In other words, these definitions assume that the first person sees something worthy of respect in the other PERSON or a person's character or abilities.

For example, if you have never met someone and during your first encounter with the person, the person is doing something you believe is wrong, you are unlikely to 'respect' that person.  If during your first encounter with a person, that person is not doing anything but rather just sitting there, you also would be unlikely to say 'I respect that person'.  If you did want to make that statement in those circumstances, then this author would suggest what you are really saying is, 'All human's deserve respect', which statement has a very different meaning than a personal respecting of a person due to their characteristics or behavior.

The attitude of 'respect' or state of 'respecting' is based upon the judgment of the person doing the respecting.  Thus, to 'respect' someone means that the basis of that 'respect' is valued and thus sought to be emulated, adopted or mimicked by the person doing the respecting.  This would hold true for behavior, traits or beliefs.  Thus, if I 'respect' someone for their character trait of 'honesty', then I would like to be honest myself.  Or, if I 'respect' someone for exercising each day and thus staying physically fit, I myself would like to have the discipline to be physically fit.  Finally, if I 'respect' someone's belief that people with dark skin are humans just like people with light skin, then I too will share or adopt that belief.

In the popular statement above, 'respect' is re-defined to mean 'having no concern for truth or rightness'; or, 'not seeking to change another person's beliefs'.  (A person's beliefs should be 'respected' e.g. not sought to be changed.)  As we have just seen by the most common held definitions of respect, the popular belief re-defines (or uses a minority or uncommon definition) the term 'respect' to mean 'it is wrong to judge another person's beliefs as wrong'.  This author believes the purpose of the re-definition is to bully the reader into adopting the popular belief since most people want to exhibit respect - or be respectful (an act of humility) - as properly defined above.

Furthermore, the proper understanding of the concept of 'respect' is in contrast to a philosophy which states that 'a person is free to believe whatever they like, for whatever they believe is right or true to them'.  This philosophy is what the popular belief is actually advocating, and this philosophy seeks to remove all judgment of good and bad, right and wrong, true and false from the human experience, and thus it is both unreasonable and undeniably false.  In other words, reason is removed as a guide to human thought or behavior in order to hold to this belief.  It seems to have good intentions - to remove improper judgment of other people not guided by humility or compassion - but unfortunately it has a false basis.  What the belief would do - if it is to be received at face value - is remove all ethical or moral judgment from the human experience as well as force people to reject certain undisputable facts about human nature and historical events.  As we shall see, a person using reason and concerned about right and wrong ought to reject such a belief as VERY harmful to human relationships.

Testing the Popular Belief

Let us first test the popular statement's basic premise using some example statements.  Here is a re-statement of the popular belief that we are going to test:

'Each person has their own beliefs and those beliefs must be respected and not sought to be changed by another person'.  Stated another way, 'since there are no absolute truths, it is intolerant and disrespectful to judge another person's beliefs as somehow deficient or wrong and thus needing changing or correction'.

Examples:

'I believe that all people with a dark skin color are not as highly evolved as people with lighter skin, and thus they are less human and ought to be relegated to some type of servant status only, for this belief is true and right to me.'

'I believe that people who have different religious beliefs than I do are inferior to me, for this belief is true for me.'

'I believe that it is good for adult men to sexualize young girls, for this belief (and desired subsequent behavior) is true for me.'

'I believe that christians are all untrustworthy aggressive people who ought to be defeated and subjugated to non-christian people, for this belief (and desired consequence) is true for me'.

'I believe that people who say they believe God exists ought to have their foolish God beliefs removed from their minds in order to be enlightened by those who have had true reality revealed to them, for this belief is true for me'.

'I believe that it is good and right to protect myself (which protection includes harming them) from other people who frighten me due to their differences from me, for this belief is true for me.'

'I believe that it is good and right to distrust people who are different from me, and to allow that distrust to become fear and hatred, for this belief is true for me'.

'I believe that those who have less material things should forcibly take material resources from those who have more and who will not willingly share, for this belief and behavior is true for me.'

'I believe that 'non-normal people' (handicapped, retarded, disabled, etc.) are a drain on society and thus ought to be 'eliminated', for this belief is true to me and ought to be true for everyone'.

Given the statements above, how does the 'each person has their own beliefs and those beliefs must be respected and not sought to be changed by another person' philosophy hold up to your reasoning?  The philosophy sounds good at first glance, but it does not lead to human freedom and a true respecting of one another.  Rather, it can be (and is) used to justify 'evil' (the unjust harming of people) and opens the door wide for the strong or aggressive to take advantage of those who are weak or vulnerable.  For if I believe I can take from others without their consent, and I am stronger than my targets, what will happen?

What in fact does happen millions of times each day?

Some would seek to qualify the philosophy of 'a person is free to believe in whatever way they like, for whatever they believe is right or true to them' with the premise 'as long as what a person believes does not cause harm to others'.  The 'harm clause' does not fix the fundamental flaw with the belief which flaw is that it begs the question regarding what standard of human behavior is used in the first place.  The harm clause cannot overcome the same problem - what standard is used to determine 'harm to others'?  In other words, who or what is the standard a person turns to in order to know what causes harm to others?

Let us look at some examples to illustrate the fatal flaw in the 'harm clause' proposition.

 

Is it harmful for people to serve or sell food or consumptive items that are known to be harmful to people?

'I believe that it is good that I can profit off of selling food or drink (or tobacco) that is proved to contain harmful elements to other people, for this belief is true for me'.

 

Is it harmful for a woman who 'willingly' performs sexual acts in front of a camera in order to make money 'harmful' to anyone?  What standard do you use to make that judgment?

'I believe that it is good for women to believe and be trained that they are primarily an object to be used for sexual pleasure by men, and to earn income for such a belief and associated activities, for this belief is true for me'.

 

Is it harmful for children to be allowed or led by their parents to play act or enjoy violence?

'I believe that it is fine for parents to allow their children to play video games that involve explicit, unjustified, personal and gratuitous violence, for this belief is true for me'.

Or, 'I believe that it is good for children to learn to enjoy perpetrating violence by partaking in virtual violence and thus training their minds as such, for this belief is true for me'.

 

Is it harmful for people to believe and thus practice that using a powerful narcotic is a good way to worship god?

'I believe that it is good for me to use LSD (or whatever the latest drug is) in order to connect with my god, for this belief is true for me'.

 

Is it harmful for one group of people to raid a neighboring group, and to take their women and children for slaves for their own group?

'I believe that un-contacted tribes in the Amazon basin  have a right to be free of all outside influence due to evolutionary principles and relativism which lead me to believe that all their behavior is right for them (which tribes do in fact forcibly take women and children from neighboring tribes to be used as slaves), for this belief is right for me.'

 

Is it harmful for one person to see another person being harmed, and yet do nothing about it?

'I believe that I should have done nothing today when I saw the old man in the trench coat reveal himself to the little girl in the park, because this belief is right for me.'; or, 'I am free to believe that I did not have to do anything to help the person lying on the street bleeding today - I don't owe them anything - because this belief is right for me'.

 

The above examples demonstrate the erroneous nature of the 'as long as it causes no harm to others' clause.  If each person determines what is 'true and right' for them, and their definition of 'harm to others' is different than another persons (which is a reasonable assumption), then some people will be viewed by others as harming other people.  What then?  What happens when one person is viewed by others as harming another person?  Which side will the referee take?  What is the referee's standard to make such judgements for that matter? 

What is the right action to take?  Without any standard of right and wrong beliefs and behavior, who is to say what is right and wrong?  Truly, if you follow this philosophy consistently, it has and will lead to destructive chaos and human conflict within any given human group (or among groups).  This philosophy will lead to the physically stronger dominating and using the weaker persons as their slaves - in other words, human history.  And sadly and tragically, the people of the U.S. are heading that way FAST.

Here are some additional cases to show the erroneous nature of the popular 'must respect others beliefs' doctrine.

Case A:

An adult person believes that it is good to have sexual relations with a child.  The adult's belief is, 'It is good and right for me to have sexual relations with children'.

According to the popular beliefs in review, it would be disrespectful to attempt to change or correct that adult's belief.

Case B:

A person believes that the earth's core is made up of water.

That person's belief ought to be 'respected' and thus to try to convince them otherwise would be disrespectful.

Case C:

A person believes that dumping a small amount of toxic waste into the large river will not harm anything since the river is so large.  Should a person 'respect' that belief?

Case D:

Adult person A believes that God exists and has given mankind a moral standard both by which to live:

  • Which standard would allow them to flourish and be happy;
  • Which standard they will be held accountable to;
  • Which standard includes that the only acceptable expressions of human sexuality are between and husband and his wife or two people committed to love each other for life.

Is the case D belief just above 'respected' by the majority of people who currently live in the US?

For example, person B, a person who proclaims the 'respect' doctrine, yells at person A (as person A states his Case D belief publicly in a calm and appropriate manner) and accuses person A of 'proclaiming hate speech'.

Does the reader get the point?  Will the reader use reason to conclude what is evidently true?  What is evident is that reason or truth do not play a part in Person B's reaction to Person A, and it is also evident that Person B is contradicting his own stated 'respect other's beliefs' and thus is acting hypocritically.  As such, Person B's statements on that topic should be ignored and dismissed until such time as he/she can refrain from personally attacking others and instead use reason to prove his/her point.

What happens in reality?  Person B's words get published and the 'objective press' which publishes them puts Person B's words in a favorable light and context while subtly supporting Person B's contention that Person A is 'full of hate'.

Conclusion

The popular beliefs of 'respecting others beliefs', while sounding good, is built on the faulty foundation of moral or truth or existential relativism.  This article has demonstrated the errors of that popular belief by showing people who utter them contradict themselves and pronounce self defeating statements.  When people say things that are false - self-defeating or contradictory - those statements ought to be rejected, and reason should be appealed to in order to find the truth of the matter.

Ironically, relativism in regard to moral and existential beliefs is probably the most widely held belief among the 'educated' people of the earth at this time.  The opposing belief has traditionally been called 'moral objectivism'.  This belief states that there are objective, universal or absolute truths that don't change due to a person's perception or human culture or time - and those truths exist not only in the physical realm, but in the realm of human beliefs (metaphysical) as well.

Relativism is most popular amongst the educated elite in materially wealthy nations.  Thus, the U.S. educational system and the teachers that make it up essentially teach only from the perspective of a relativistic paradigm.  This is very unfortunate and is the leading cause of 'blindness' and 'madness' (believing and proclaiming things that are contradictory and false) in indivdiuals in the U.S. at his junction in history.

Moral objectivism has far fewer problems with logic, represents reality better, and thus should be adopted by people who want to understand and sort out their lives and experiences using reason.

'All things are relative.'  Is that statement absolutely true?

Take the next step.  Seek past the materialist life you have been trained to accept.  Reject false things and love that which is true.  Reject moral and existential relativism for it is false, and begin the journey to find that which is ultimately true.

If you are a person who can see the destruction taking place and who want to help in trying to stop it, please, find the One who says, "I am the truth", place your faith in him and enter into his Life and come, join the Peaceful Revolution!

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