Don’t Force Your Beliefs on Others
by Luke Nix
An interesting meme came across my Facebook feed the other day. It states, “It is okay for you to believe what you believe. It is not okay for you to insist that everyone else believe the same as you.” I shared it with a short explanation of the fact that the claim self-destructs. This meme self-destructs because it violates its own claim. It insists that the readers believe what is included in the meme (the idea that we should not insist others believe what we believe). It was not long before my comments were challenged. The conversation included a few different challenges that I addressed. I have included those challenges and my responses below (with a few edits for clarity).
Challenge #1: This is a religion thing!
Response: This is actually a belief that someone is affirming is right and affirming that its opposite is wrong. “Right” and “wrong” are terms of morality. It is logically impossible to not affirm someone’s morality with the statement in the meme because it is affirming a moral belief. If someone affirms that the belief (that you should not force your beliefs on others) is right, then they affirm that its opposite (that you should force your beliefs on others) is wrong. If they insist that others hold to that same belief, then they have violated their own belief. That is why it is self-defeating. This has nothing to do with religion; rather it has everything to do with logic.
Challenge #2: There is no morality in this meme.
Response: morality is found in the meme in the implied “should” or “ought” in the affirmative phrase “is not okay.” These are terms of obligation that are independent of a person (this is called “objective”). The moral claim is that someone should not force their beliefs on someone else. However, for something like morality to exist, it must have an ontological/metaphysical grounding. If your worldview does not contain such an object (such as God), then objective morality does not exist in your worldview, and nothing can be said to be truly “right” or “wrong;” it is all just a matter of opinion…
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