What makes up tolerance for other beliefs?

March 26, 2007 11:24am CST
There is a very interesting discussion here on atheism: http://www.mylot.com/w/discussions/922270.aspx Based on comments left by tommy408, I wanted to start this discussion seperately. What determines how much tolerance someone has for other viewpoints, especially religious? My contention has been that most of it is a function of one's perception regarding the possibility they may be wrong in their own beliefs. For example, if I am 98% certain there is no god, the 2% comprises my level of tolerance for other viewpoints. If I am 100% certain there is no god, I have no tolerance. It isn't a scale that is truly scientific or quantitative in nature, just a general rule of thumb. What do you think? All comments welcome regardless of your own personal beliefs. Draven the Respectful Atheist http://dravenwriter.blogspot.com
2 people like this
6 responses
@EvanHunter (4028)
• United States
27 Mar 07
Tolerance by the dictionary is a sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own. So I would say if you are 100% certain there is no god but still respect others views or rights to their views than it would be ocnsidered tolerance. Now if you were 100% sure and you told them they are ignorant cavemen following a outdated superstitious nonsense you would probly be more of the intolerant side. So to me tolerance isnt of your own beliefs but how you handle other peoples beliefs be it right or wrong.
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@tommy408 (361)
• Malaysia
27 Mar 07
I agree with you. Tolerance does not mean compromising your own belief. It is about apreciating ideas and opinions that are different from you.
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27 Mar 07
Great comments. So what makes someone tolerant? Is it just a function of how they were raised, and/or the tolerance level of the family, friends, and community around them? Is it respect for diversity, and where does that come from? Just looking for everyone to throw some ideas out on the table. Draven the Respectful Atheist http://dravenwriter.blogspot.com
1 person likes this
• United States
27 Mar 07
Yes I think if they were raised to be tolerant than they would probly be more likely to be respectful to other views. But this isnt always the case. Even education isnt always the key to tolerance. Someone who is secure in their beliefs may still decide everyone needs to be the way they are so security in your beliefs still doesnt seem to be the cure for intolerance. All of these things do help but I think respect makes a difference. If you respect others than you are more tolerant. Respect to total stranger is a hard thing but I would say we need to respect each other as human beings to be tolerant.
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@DeaXyza (577)
• United States
27 Mar 07
I agree with sumofalltears! I have faith in my belief system a 100% but I have absolute tolerance for someone who does not believe in God or practices another religion. I have no issues with people who do not belive in God/religion 'cos it is their belief. How can I feel for something that is not mine to feel for. It is like I have a Camry but lets say my friend has a Honda. Both are cars, both of us have our own preferences, why should I get upset over my friend having a Honda. It is just as insensible. If we break down to basics it all boils over to our tolerance levels only and I believe I have 100% tolerance to whatever people choose to believe. But if someone tries to convert me or talk me out of being a believer I will debate on the issue and make them see why I believe in what I believe and also why I am so secure in my belief!
1 person likes this
27 Mar 07
Great comments DeaXyza. Anything further on the root causes behind your level of tolerance, and things that might cause intolerance? Draven the Respectful Atheist http://dravenwriter.blogspot.com
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@DeaXyza (577)
• United States
27 Mar 07
I grew up in a multi-cultural, multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-religion secular society , I think that is what makes up for my tolerance rather I would say my endless respect for another person's belief or religion. Tolerance is when you actually program yourself, Respect is when it comes from appreciation!
@pangeacat (619)
• United States
26 Mar 07
That's a really difficult question to answer (nice picture, by the way). Your mathematical equation is interesting, but I'm not sure I can agree with it's logic. I have known people who were 100% certain in their own beliefs, yet still had immeasurable tolerance for the beliefs of others. As for myself, I would say that how much tolerance one person has for the beliefs of another can generally be found in their speech. If it is obvious that they are unwilling to respect that another person has their own way, their own path ~ they obviously have little to no tolerance for paths that differ from their own. If, on the other hand they are willing to say "This is what I believe. This is what I know in my heart to be the truth. BUT, I have no intention of making you believe it, and I think it's beautiful that you have your own truth that you can know in your heart." Well, that person obviously has a great deal of tolerance for the belief systems of others. Human beings are complex creatures (brain to body weight ratio tends to dictate that with us. lol) ~ so, I'm not sure that I can come up with a more scientific statistic type answer without engaging in years of study (if then, lol). Very interesting question!!
27 Mar 07
Great points, pangeacat! You touched on some of the symptoms resulting from tolerance or a lack thereof. Anything further to comment regarding the root causes leading to levels of tolerance? Draven the Respectful Atheist http://dravenwriter.blogspot.com
1 person likes this
• United States
27 Mar 07
You, sir, are a philosopher! Wow, you sure are pushing to make me think to the absolute best of my ability! Don't worry ~ I count that as a good thing. ;) Personally, I would say that the root causes of tolerance or intolerance would differ from person to person. Two people can handle the same (or simliar) situation in two completely different ways. This touches on nature vs. nurture. In my opinion, both contribute to the way a person grows and thrives. I would say that many people are raised a certain way (i.e. to be tolerant, or to be intolerant of another person's beliefs, lifestyle, choices, etc.). Some people rebel against those beliefs, choosing to seek a path that is different from those teachings. Others choose to continue the cycle (one way or another), adhereing to the teachings of their youth. A definitive answer is difficult (at best) to arrive at on this question. Everyone has some kind of prejudice, and (thankfully) most of us try to rid ourselves of these prejudices by seeking some sort of enlightenment (whether that be through science, religion, or a mix of the two). But, where does the prejudice come from in the first place? Does it stem from our upbringing (whether we rebel against or accept that upbringing ~ that would still be a contributing factor)? Does it stem from what we perceive as good and/or bad adult experiences? Does it stem from some innate brain pattern? From our astrological chart? In my personal opinion ~ I would say all of thee above, dependent on the specific person.
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@tommy408 (361)
• Malaysia
27 Mar 07
Belief or faith and opinion has nothing to do with tolerance. They are mutually exclusive. I am 100% certain that God does not exist. However I cannot prove his non-existance to the world since the entity God does not have any quantifiable characteristic. You cannot measure His coordination, weight, you cannot see Him, you cannot hear him, you cannot test his presence or absence. The notion God Exist is purely based on Faith, which I myself would never entertain. But I can tolerate a Theist 100% if he still wants to believe that God exist. No problem with me. I do not agree with him an aunce, but hey, whatever floats his boat.
27 Mar 07
Good comments tommy408, please see my response to sumofalltears, I'm sure you would have some great insights to share as to the possible causes of tolerance and intolerance. Draven the Respectful Atheist http://dravenwriter.blogspot.com
1 person likes this
@tommy408 (361)
• Malaysia
27 Mar 07
I always believe that we can liberate ourselves and our society only through education. We are all born and grew up among people who are biased one way or another. We are acustomed with a fixed and rigid set of social strata, belief in super powers, moral standards and what not. Since different community have different set of rules and culture, people begin to compare theirself with another. Then they feel they are smarter, ther faith is the ultimate truth, their God is bigger, their race is the coosen on and ofcourse, God sent them to either lead other lesser beings or use them to their whims and cries. This is probably how intolerance came to be. The feeling of exclusiveness. But through educations, over time we can and actually are seeing that intolerance towards others are not only becoming unpopular, but deeply frowned upon. We learn to cherished our homosexual friends. We let people choose whatever God they want to worship. We don't judge people by skin color or geographical coordination anymore. I agree some still are prejudiced against others. Some still are very intollerant. But with constant education, we might become the race without prejudices. I wish so, atleast
1 person likes this
• United States
26 Mar 07
I think you have the equation wrong. The 2% in your example should represent your level of intolerance. Since I would postulate that the higher the degree of your certainty in your beliefs increases your tolerance of others. Since you are secure in your beliefs you have no need to justify or prove anything to anybody else. Rather others will attempt to shake your certainty. When you know you have the answer you can raise your hand and if the teacher doesn't call on you you still have the answer. I think security in your own beliefs creates higher tolerance for other people's beliefs.
27 Mar 07
Very good points. I can certainly see and understand what you are talking about. Your reversal of my equation helps point out that it can probably not be applied to everyone. I know many people who are 100% certain their beliefs are correct and have absolutely no tolerance for other views. I think these are the ones I had in mind when I suggested the rule of thumb. I also know people who are probably 100% certain their beliefs are correct and yet display massive amounts of tolerance towards other views. I think it brings to light a point others have discussed on this topic. That is, tolerance and the level of certainty in your beliefs are not correlated factors. I am perfectly willing to go along with this line of thinking. So, what ARE some background factors that lead to an abundance or lack of tolerance? Draven the Respectful Atheist http://dravenwriter.blogspot.com
1 person likes this
• United States
27 Mar 07
I think the foundation for tolerance would be intelligence and the ability understand why you or the other person believes the way they do. Be intelligent enough to understand that trying to shake a persons beliefs can make the person feel threatened, essentially like you are rocking the boat and they don't know how to swim. Some one who does not have the courage of their convictions will tend to argue his beliefs in a circular manner getting more and more vituperative as you present yourself calmly and logically.
• United States
27 Mar 07
Another thought on this subject just occured to me. Tolerance would be affected by how you were brought up. We all learn a great deal by example. That which you hear and see on a daily basis, unless it in someway hurts you, will give you your basic guidelines. The more I think about it the more I believe that both prejudices and religious beliefs are patterned for you this way. Sometimes something happens to shake your ideas and you look for a different path, but still you had to have the original input to make a judgement.