If you want respect...

I live in this world that includes some very sensitive Christians - you know the type - and Christians who complain a lot that the modern world is not respectful of them and/or their beliefs. And then this:

"Take away religion and we are truly reduced to the condition of talking animals…"

David Warren, “Sunday Spectator,” in Ottawa Citizen May 15, 2005

Well, now. Dudes.

I get that the quote is about mankind in general, and that it's something the author (a Catholic) thinks about himself. That if he didn't have religion, and/or that if religion did not exist, and/or if everyone on earth rejected religion, that there isn't much that would differentiate humans from other beasts. I'm pretty sure that's roughly what he meant, and what the people who quote his words mean. But if a non-religious person sees this and thinks, "Well hell's bells, are they calling me an animal now?" don't come complaining to me that the world fails to understand you yet again. The problem may be your message. Or it may be your messengers. I'm pretty sure the problem is not the world. 

I am not religious. I have no problem being called an animal because a) they're often less stupid than humans are and b) I think they are at least as worthy of respect as humans. We're all organic life forms trying to do our best with the time we have on this planet. I think the whole quote - and the sentiment behind it - is wrong. Sure, plenty of people find something they want or need in religion, and that's fine. There are plenty of good religious people around. I just don't believe it's religion that makes them good. And in many cases, humans are decent in spite of religion, not because of it.

But unlike some sensitive Christians I could name, I don't demand anybody respect my opinions on the matter. In fact, I really don't care what anyone thinks of them. I'm just trying to be the best biped I can be regardless.

Clean water, decent education - it's not too much to ask