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Is it ok to affirm someone's untrue beliefs?

As non-believers, we often encounter religious people who strongly believe in scientifically untrue things. For example, some believe that the Earth is young - created by a God in the last 6,000 years ago and was fully populated with all the animals we have today. Most people know, however, that there is scientific evidence that the Earth is much older and that the animals we see today have evolved over millions of years. What if you were talking with an acquaintance and they started telling you that the Earth is 6000 years old? Would you politely tell them that their belief is wrong - possibly bringing up evidence such as fossils and DNA?

What if they insisted that you affirm that their belief in a young Earth was true?

What would you do if they were your employer? What if they made such affirmation a requirement of you being employed there?

Have you ever felt that you had to affirm something you didn't believe in yourself? What was it? What did you do?

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19

It's always been there.
In elementary school they did a school prayer over the pa system while we stood with our eyes closed and our heads bowed, in public school.
I was pretty dubious about religion in the Navy and made the mistake of saying something, which prompted a series of uncomfortable conflicts where roving bands of Christians attempted to gang save me.
When my drill instructor in boot camp asked what religion I was I said atheist which let to a two hour lecture delivered with a kind of weird insanity about how one day I'd call on God and after ignoring him to long he'd ignore me. There were a lot of cuss words as well. I find it odd that we have officers aboard ship called Chaplains.
It's in so many inappropriate places.
It's ignorance porn.

"It's ignorance porn." What an absolutely splendid phrase!

It’s amazing how the religious feel they have the right to impose their shit on others.
If I encounter someone spewing false information, I go out of my way to correct them, so it doesn’t perpetuate. I’m also glad (sometimes begrudgingly) when I am corrected if what I say is wrong. But short of that, I never try to convert people unless it is a two way conversation.

Ignorance porn, great phrase 🙂

14

my brother in law is and My father in law was a young earther. My uncle was a klansman. I handled all three the same way. Avoid talking about those things that you know you don't agree with, and don't argue about their position, you can't change their mind.

glennlab Level 9 Nov 29, 2020
13

Mostly in the UK it is only the very old who cling to such beliefs, you get used to finding ways of evading such questions, because it is hard to burn an old persons walking stick. But generally they know you don't agree anyway, and avoid it themselves, evangelizing has never really been socially acceptable here.

Fernapple Level 8 Nov 29, 2020

Politicians with their brand of politics do it all the time.

Dubious corporations ( are any not dubious?) also do it all the time particularly the more inferior or untested their product.

@FrayedBear Yes but politicians are no very popular here, and even they have to tone down the evangelizing.
If a British politician came up with something like MAGA, they would be a laughing stock, even among their own party.

@Fernapple I not a news junkie but isn't Johnson and the one before full of brexit evangelism?

@FrayedBear Yes Johnson is, but that is what makes him a laughing stock.

@Fernapple I once told the Australian Senate that "only a fool discards something before knowing its full value". Similarly fools can laugh all day whilst Johnson gives away their future prosperity, it won't stop him. Look at how the Tories have been destroying the great British public health service since Thatcher's sedition.

I just love how you put it : " Its hard to burn an old mans walking stick " , that realy nails it.
I made the same experience like you , people don't try to convert me , not in Germany, and not here in Indianapolis, USA. Maybe its the way we say it. 🤣. I just say :" I don't believe in God, any God. "
I used to believe , but changed my mind, and since than nobody ever forced me to affirm anything religious.

13

Nope, it is not ok to affirm someone's untrue beliefs. I'll state facts, sometimes debate them, but never argue.

12

This is what eyebrows are for.

Gareth Level 7 Nov 29, 2020
12

When I was young I just nodded and kept my mouth shut. I looked for areas we could agree on without having to tell a bald faced lie.

No one has a right to require you to affirm their beliefs. So if it is presented as a requirement for employment, you have every moral justification for telling them whatever they need to hear. Conversely, you have every practical reason for seeking employment elsewhere.

In friendships or family relationships there may be a different dynamic. Some relationships may be more valuable than “being right.” If someone feels a strong need to have their beliefs validated, a loving response would not likely include kicking the crutches out from under a cripple. And whichever person has the greater need to have their beliefs affirmed is the one who is more crippled.

What I have usually done in the past is try to assess how important it really is to preserve the relationship, and then share only as much of my views as I think the situation can bear.

Relationships are not static. They can grow over time. The greater the relational investment, the more truth they can bear. It doesn’t all have to be concluded at Thanksgiving dinner.

There were times in my own life when I believed things that now seem absurd. I’m glad there were people in my life who stood by me while I grew at my own pace, and didn’t feel a need to “set me straight” at every turn.

skado Level 9 Nov 29, 2020

I agree and act much the same , sorta like finding oneself in a raging river - you could drown or wait for a quiet eddy to extract oneself.
Thanks

12

I'm not the confrontational sort, but unscientific beliefs are actively harming us. So, in this case, I would not tell a white lie to keep the peace. I wouldn't want to work for someone who insists I affirm their stupid belief either.

Did I ever feel like I had to affirm something I don't believe in? The existence of gawd, with my family, because they'd never speak to me again if they knew. (Although come to think of it that might be a plus.)

altschmerz Level 9 Nov 28, 2020
9

It is never okay to affirm someone else's false beliefs. You are doing he person and all others involved no favor in falsely affirming untrue beliefs.

wordywalt Level 8 Nov 28, 2020

So true. However, sometimes you hit an impasse, best to respectfully agree to disagree if possible. Of course, if you can’t, a stick upside the head may be necessary....

7

Look into the legality of employers actions! Call the ACLU or your area's hotline on employee rights. That is a far cry from simply being stupid!

AnneWimsey Level 9 Nov 29, 2020
7

I've only encountered it once when someone wanted me to join the Masons. I declined on being told that I had to state that I believed in a higher entity. It was suggested that I pretend. I still declined.

FrayedBear Level 9 Nov 29, 2020
7

No. Don't encourage them.

My hiking partner Karen is vegan. At first, she lectured me on the superiority of her diet.

"Hmm....interesting... uh, huh...." I murmured, hoping she would wear down.

"Karen, I want to enjoy the serenity of the mountains, to be here now," I said firmly when she ranted about horrific factory farming. "Please stop talking about that."

Eventually, Karen got the message. She praises me for my "generally healthy diet."

For Karen's dog, I bring meat on hikes. It amuses me. Yesterday Bonnie got roast turkey chunks for lunch. Karen appreciates it. Bonnie never gets meat from Karen.

However, Karen buys dog food with a high percentage of meat instead of filler.

I can understand someone being vegan. I think that many of us would lean that way if if we all had to go through all of the processes of procuring meat. But I'm not sure that a dog should be made to exist on a meatless diet.

@Paul_Clamberer nor man for that matter

6

I would affirm only their right to their opinion. I would not affirm something I feel is untrue.

UUNJ Level 8 Nov 29, 2020

For many their belief is that you should be dead because you do not believe what they believe.

6

My sister demanded that I not fact check her. She was posting political nonsense, and I didn't want people to be swayed by her falsehoods. So, I stopped fact checking her. In fact, I stopped talking to her at all (and not because she demanded I not fact check).

kiramea Level 7 Nov 29, 2020

,,,I can understand that TOTALLY~ as in walk away ; choose your battles, cause it is a long road ❕❗

6

Several good questions here that can each get a long response. I'll answer the main one about affirming someone's untrue beliefs.

In short, No. If its a causal acquaintance I'd politely tell them I disagree and they're wrong. Friends are a little different. For some friends I'd either walk around the topic and avoid it, for others I'd say "C'mon bro, you don't believe that dumb crap do you?"

6

I have nothing in common with people who believe that stuff. I can't imagine discussing religion with anybody, I'm not interested in that subject. I have no desire to change anyone's mind, they won't change mine. They don't want to hear what l have to say and I don't care about their beliefs. I'm not or less apathetic.

barjoe Level 9 Nov 29, 2020
5

#1, they cannot fire you for having a different belief than they do. If they attempt to, I suggest you call the ACLU immediately. I'd never support this. It sure would make me cut that person off in a hurry. I don't miss it or them.

Larimar Level 7 Nov 29, 2020
5

In One ear out the other!!!

5

I wouldn't do that for anyone.

KKGator Level 9 Nov 29, 2020
5

I have experienced proselytizing during moments I thought were inappropriate for a corrective response. In those instances I simply stated I had different views which I would be happy to discuss later. But when it happens in the right circumstances I don't hesitate to explain my Agnosticism.

kensmile4u Level 8 Nov 29, 2020
5

No. Facts are facts.

Mofo1953 Level 8 Nov 28, 2020
4

It's never okay to support ignorance. However, when it's your work... silence is sometimes the better option.

Whenever any kind of religion or woo has come up at work, whether it's a coworker or boss, I say, "My momma taught me I was not to discuss religion or politics at work. You wouldn't ask me to go against my momma, now would you?" And that would be the end of the discussion.

Leelu Level 7 Nov 29, 2020

We have a rule where I work. No religious or political discussion allowed. I love it!

@LisaLisa92806 That's great! I live in Oklahoma and talking about religion is their every day past time next to football.

@Leelu Ugh I'd lose my mind!

4

There's no point in arguing with them but affirmation can be avoided.

Lorajay Level 8 Nov 29, 2020
4

Explaining climate change and species extinctions to a theist.

"Okay so God told Noah to save all the animals. correct?"
"Yes...?"
"So whether or not you take the story literally or inspirationally. There is an implicate duty placed upon mankind to look after that which God has given us dominion over, correct?"
"Yes"
"Is there any later part in the bible where God has overridden this duty or said "It does not matter now","
"No"
"So we have a spiritual as well as a secular duty to stop killing the planet and destroying whole species at a genocidal level, correct?"

273kelvin Level 8 Nov 29, 2020
4

I don't tolerate ignorance because of religion. I just don't. Religion has been proven wrong so many times at this point its willful stupidity to believe what it says against science.

redhog Level 7 Nov 29, 2020
4

I'd seriously suggest not reinforcing delusional thinking. Also suggest politeness, but you don't do someone like that any favors by accepting their lunacy as anything other than what it is.

Sammy2005 Level 4 Nov 29, 2020
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