Respecting the beliefs of others is a hot topic these days. The Muslim world seems to think that we must all respect their prophet and be careful what we say about him. They are going so far as to propose new rules in the United Nations that would limit free speech rights when it comes to religion. Should blasphemy be a crime?
Is this right? Should we be required to respect the beliefs of others or should we only be required to respect their right to have those beliefs? In my opinion people should be able to believe anything that they wish, however a belief is nothing more than an opinion and an opinion is something that is subject to questioning.
As an example. If you were to talk to an aboriginal person about their beliefs and they told you that they believe that the earth is a flat disc balanced on the back of a giant turtle, am I required to respect this opinion? This view of the world was widely held among native peoples. If I show them a picture of the earth from space am I engaging in hate speech?
What if they insist that the "Giant Turtle Theory" be taught in our public schools? If over half of the people in the country believe in the giant turtle, and they did at one point, are we all required to learn and respect the giant turtle theory?
How is this different from the "Biblical Creation Theory", the theory that the universe was created 6500 years ago in 6 days? Are we required to respect this theory and allow it to be taught in our public schools? How about the ancient alien theory, you see this theory being described on TV every week?
What level of proof or evidence should be required before an idea is accepted as something that should be respected? Are we required to respect all mythologies? Do the number of believers of a particular mythology determine the validity of a belief or is evidence required?
How do you bring about a change of "belief". When the Roman Empire switched from paganism to Christianity it was ushered in by force. The emperor declared that Christianity was the only true state religion and if you didn't like it well then off with your head! Religious/mythological beliefs have traditionally been spread by force. Look at Latin America. All good Catholics. But not until they were conquered by Spain and Portugal. Look at the Muslim world. All of North Africa conquered by the Muslims and forcefully converted to Islam.
Today we change peoples beliefs not by force but by logic. And not being able to examine beliefs and discuss them is a way of slowing down progress.
Blasphemy is a victimless crime!