Judge not. Period.

Found this story on Reddit, posted by user dk0, and felt moved to share it here, mildly edited for clarity.

A man who worked as an archaeologist was leading a tour group through a museum as part of his summer job. He had a large and prominent tattoo in a visible place, not anything obscene or even particularly challenging.

A person in the tour group, a middle aged woman, was persistently very snippy and dismissive of his lecture and when he finally confronted her about it in front of the group, she said she couldn’t take him seriously because he was tattooed.

He replied “this isn’t an ordinary tattoo, you see.” while slightly tilting the tattooed extremity, almost as if he expected it to beam a glint of light back at the viewer if cambered just right, “this tattoo is magic.” he said with a twinge of mysticism in his voice.

“If i hold it just right, it exposes the prejudice and ugliness of small and petty people.”

It puts me in mind of the little vignette by St. Ex found in The Little Prince:

I have serious reason to believe that the planet from which the little prince came is the asteroid known as B-612.

This asteroid has only once been seen through the telescope. That was by a Turkish astronomer, in 1909.

On making his discovery, the astronomer had presented it to the International Astronomical Congress, in a great demonstration. But he was in Turkish costume, and so nobody would believe what he said.


Grown-ups are like that…

Fortunately, however, for the reputation of Asteroid B-612, a Turkish dictator made a law that his subjects, under pain of death, should change to European costume. So in 1920 the astronomer gave his demonstration all over again, dressed with impressive style and elegance. And this time everybody accepted his report.


One would think that certain subsets of society would get the concept of judgment; a man named Jesus is reputed to have said, around 2 millennia ago,

“Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.”

Certainly those who follow the teachings of that individual understand this, right?

These are “Christians”:


The Westboro Baptist Church condemns just about everyone to Hell, without knowing a thing about who they are.

These are Christians too:

Street Morons

Evangelical Christians sending Latter-day Saints to Hell, because they happen to understand God differently than they do.

Of course, debates of this nature always seem laughable to humanists, sort of like fighting over this:


So of course, humanists have a firm grip on the destructive nature of judgment, right?

Humanism is a worldview which says that reason and science are the best ways to understand the world around us. Dignity and compassion should be the basis for how we act toward others.
-American Humanist Association

And yet we see statements like the following from Ernest Hemingway: “All thinking men are atheists,” which banishes 4/5 of the world’s population from the ranks of thinking humanity.

To people on both sides of the fence, I say this:

world view

Atheism has taken a prominent place in social dialog since – it seems to me – Madalyn Murray O’Hair entered the scene. It’s hip to be atheist, and in most academic circles it’s de rigeur. People of faith are ostracized, belittled, humiliated, and sidelined. The only acceptable topic of discussion when it comes to religion is its excesses and abuses. By the same token, in other communities, standing up for documented scientific realities such as evolution or global climate change are enough to get you excommunicated, or at the very least subject to the same ostracism and denigration.

That’s no way to run a railroad; it’s no way to run a planet.

I have massive respect for the likes of these gentlemen [1]:


Each one has been, in his own time, a crusader for reason and fact. Some have been combative, others encouraging. Some take the position that religion is an evil to be purged from the face of the earth, others put more energy into encouraging free thought and curiosity. Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s quote is one of my favorites:

“I don’t have an issue with what you do in the church, but I’m going to be up in your face if you’re going to knock on my science classroom and tell me they’ve got to teach what you’re teaching in your Sunday school. Because that’s when we’re going to fight.”
The Amazing Meeting, Keynote Speech, 2008

But I have to say this: I’ve read their writings, and at least two of them sound more than a little hopeful that this empirically-observable universe is not all there is. To their credit, all of them have subjugated any personal hopes or beliefs to the rigors of empirical observation.

There must be room at the table for everyone. No faith is going to convert the world with persuasion or the scimitar, and the passage of time will not still the yearning in the breasts of billions for something higher than themselves, something more personal than the thought of hydrogen atoms evolved to consciousness.

Judge not. Just stop it. Promote what you love, but don’t put down those who don’t fit your mold.

Of the faithful, I beseech: Believe what you will, but don’t deny empirical evidence. Of the humanists, I implore: Promote scientific truth and awareness, but stop relegating believers to second-class intellectual citizenship. Neither of these positions are worthy of a world that works for everyone, with no one left out.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

[1] Asimov, Sagan, Dawkins, Nye, Tyson. It does not escape my attention that there are no ladies in this lineup; I have no doubt that I could find an equal number, but in this case the reality is that the spokespeople for the triumph of reason via science happen to be overwhelmingly male at the moment.

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