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It has long bothered me – the desire to belittle someone else’s belief system, to put it down and mock it because obviously ‘you know better’. I was watching an episode of QI the other night (it’s a great show, and Stephen Fry is fantastic) when Stephen Fry — someone whom I admire considerably and have defended before — behaved in a way that I would consider incredibly childish and it really bothered me. It was a conversation about mediums (as in people who speak to dead people) and after some mocking he takes to the camera to “call out” all mediums for being frauds. I am not offended; I am not a medium and I have no idea if we can speak to dead people, but I am disappointed. Stephen Fry is a someone I admire and respect and I was incredibly let down by the childish behavior.

Now, I don’t mean to call out Stephen Fry. He makes his views well known and is not ashamed to share them. I respect that. I am just mad that someone I respect is behaving like so many others who I have lost respect for: belittling and mocking those who believe differently. I have written a little bit about this in a discussion of what beliefs we do and don’t mock and why, but I want to take the discussion a little further.

Let’s start with a fact: no one knows the truth about god, about life, about death, or anything in between. We may all have theories, and beliefs, even hopes about what may be true. But no one can prove them. I don’t just mean religion in general; I am talking about science too. Scientists are constantly getting things wrong, and then later correcting themselves when new experiments prove the previous theory wrong. Science doesn’t prove something with a definite yes or no, it just doesn’t disprove it. Science is all about doing a lot of experiments to prove a theory. If the theory is not disproved then we can accept it.

Don’t get me wrong. I would call myself a scientist (whatever that means). I behave as though the assertions of the scientific community are generally correct, and I have no reason to doubt that. What I’m trying to say is that science doesn’t have all the answers either, and frankly I don’t see how it’s any more “right” than religion.

We can’t prove that god exists and we can’t prove that god doesn’t exist. We can’t prove that there is life after death and we can’t prove that there isn’t. We can’t prove that evolution happened and we can’t prove that it didn’t. Before you get mad about the evolution thing just think for a minute; we have evidence that supports our theory of evolution, just like we can find evidence for reincarnation. We don’t have any evidence to disprove evolution, just like we don’t have evidence to disprove reincarnation. I believe in evolution because that is the most plausible theory to me right now given the facts, but if a better theory comes along then I’m willing to look into that too.

Be open minded. Don’t close yourself off from other ideas just because you’re too pigheaded to change and desire the feeling of being right. Follow your belief system, please, but don’t automatically assume that everyone else is wrong.

What I’m trying to say is that you are all right and you are all wrong. You don’t know for certain. No one does. No one has the right to mock you beliefs and you don’t have the right to mock anyone else’s. If we spent less time fighting over who was right and more time living and exploring the world we might get closer to finding out the answer without even trying.

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