Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Why the Live and let live approach doesn't work

It's hard to see all the religious people of the world giving up their push to have the rules of their religion legislated if all the vocal atheists of the world were to suddenly fall silent. 

This is the naivety of the 'Live and let live' approach when it's aimed at atheists. 

From my experience the vast (if not total) majority of vocal atheists are motivated through their desire to stop having religion impose its rules onto those who don't share those beliefs (including the children they indoctrinate). 

The most common example of this imposition, I suspect, is marriage equality. Australia does not allow marriage between people who are the same gender. The opposition to this is, from my observation, 100% religiously motivated. Our current Prime Minister is opposed to due his catholic beliefs. Our previous Prime Minister was once opposed, but declared that he'd changed his mind. He concluded through his 'informed Christian conscience' that allowing marriage equality was the right thing to do. His reasoning can be seen in full here. In what could be considered a strange situation, our Prime Minister previous to that had an anti-equality position on marriage, despite being an atheist. Her reasoning, however, was "...what comes from the Bible has formed such an important part of our culture."

If not for vocal atheists and secularly minded theists, this push for equality would not exist and there'd be no chance ever of marriage equality becoming a reality, and same sex couples would be forever told that their love isn't worth joining in matrimony. How can one consider this a live and let live approach? 

If all theists of the world were advocates of the live and let live approach marriage equality would have been a reality shortly after it was identified as an anomaly. But no, when it comes to progressive morality, secular humanism leads the charge and religion is dragged kicking, screaming, and protesting behind. 

The 'live and let live' approach is essentially what the vocal atheists I respect are aiming for but we can't do it first because it's not the approach taken by theists. As I've said before, the vocal atheist position is reactionary. It has seen a rise in recent times because of religion and what religion has done and continues to do to society. If we, the atheists and secularists, were to adopt live and let live, theism would march on unimpeded and unquestioned. Rules that have no place outside of ancient scripture would be pushed through as legislation, and advances in morality would be a thing of the past. 

Atheists and secularists will continue to speak up as long as theists continue imposing their agenda onto the rest of society - whether it's their anti-equality position regarding marriage, their intimidating protests outside Planned Parenthood and other such places where abortions are available, their insistence that their version of the creation myth be taught as fact in school, the practice of praying rather than seeking medical attention while children die, their burning alive of people they think to be witches, their criminalising of homosexuality, their intimidation of students wanting to form atheist clubs in school - the list is practically endless. Because if we don't speak up we'll be forced to live under theistic rules with which we want absolutely nothing to do. 

So the live and let live approach may work one day, but it has to be theists first. 

To put it simply - if atheists shut up, we'll still hear from theists. If theists shut up, they'll stop hearing from atheists. 


  1. It's not whether the 'Live and let live' approach is working or not. The problem is infinitely less complicated than most people think. Much could be achieved through mutual understanding and dialogue, after all, we all share the same problems, they're not exclusive to any one group of people, they affect all of us in the human family.

    Creating a basis of respect towards each of our differences rather than having a mentality of 'us and them' would be a more effective way to progress towards an understanding and an all inclusion of acceptance that each one of us is unique in ourselves but also part of the great human family that is humanity.

    1. I agree, however, as this entire post explains, it has to be theists first.

    2. In the push and shove between atheists and Christianity, in respect to morality, the atheists have had their way. Atheist morals have been dominating society for several decades now. Look around you. How is that working our for us? This happened because theists gave in too much, which, is our nature, since atheists impose their way of life on everyone else without thinking of the consequences and we just want to love them.

    3. The healthiest and happiest societies on earth correlate to the least religious. The worst performing societies (on the human development index) are the the most religious. This is demonstrably true. Countries such as Australia, New Zealand, UK, Norway, all rank at the top of the HDI, and the bottom of religiosity. So how are 'atheist morals' working out for us? Really, really well, actually. Your entire comment is really just back to front.

  2. I think part of the common thread behind this issue is that "live and let live" is the behavior in neutral ground. People see the atheist activists behavior as being on the extreme opposite of religion (as if telling people you can't kill someone based on sexuality were an extreme concept); they don't see atheism as the neutral position where all can play. It's only as long as people use fiat to excuse harmful actions that we need to pull society back to the "no-man's-land" of secularism. Whether it's evolution denial in schools or homeopathy, we're only fighting for the most neutrally acceptable world for all people. That shouldn't be controversial.
    God, I wish we could shut up.

  3. "If we, the atheists and secularists, were to adopt live and let live, theism would march on unimpeded and unquestioned. Rules that have no place outside of ancient scripture would be pushed through as legislation, and advances in morality would be a thing of the past."

    This. All day long.

  4. I always interpreted "live and let live" as a way to true freedom, no more interfering with each other on any level. So long as what you choose to do with your life does not infringe on the lives of others.

    I think what people mean when they say: "I wish would learn to live and let live", is because they've encountered a zealot. You can be cool as can be, not a burden to anyone, and along comes a zealot forceful and rude with the same mentality of a jock in high school picking on the "different" people.

    There's nothing wrong with Atheism, just some of it's "followers", as with any group of people.

    In the end we're all human, we all have to share this planet with each other, until we either obliterate ourselves through war, get obliterated by an asteroid, or escape the confines of our galaxy.

    I apologize in advance for my grammar or punctuation, a brain injury in Afghanistan did not help my quality of life or my ability to learn/focus/etc., and prior to that I was in public school systems where teachers actively assist students in cheating on end of year exams to avoid the "No child left behind" policy from rearing it's head.

    PS: If I've offended, I do apologize, and hope that I didn't affect anyone in a negative way.

    1. edit: I think what people mean when they say: "I wish (insert group of people here) would learn to live and let live",