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Cross post (sort of)
beer, meetmeme, Backyard
I posted this in another's journal as a point/counterpoint to something a replier stated.

Bob believes in invisible pink unicorns. Now, all of us know that invisible pink unicorns do not exist. Yet Bob still gives his money to the group that believes in the invisible pink unicorns, and he goes on retreats where they try to find the invisible pink unicorns, but they never do. Yet Bob works just fine, and although Bob constantly blogs about the invisible pink unicorns, he never lets it get in the way of doing his job. Everyone pities Bob, and tries to tell him not to waste his money, but he doesn't bother anyone about the invisible pink unicorns, so we just let Bob have his little delusion.

Is Bob annoying? Is Bob hurting anyone? Is Bob dangerous? Should Bob be fired? Should Bob be burned at the stake for his heresy? Or should Bob be left alone so long as he does not bother anyone? What should be done about the group that takes his money and tries to find the objects of their belief? What is to be done with them?

Now, does the story changes when Bob brings up the invisible pink unicorns in every topic or allows his delusion to get in the way of work?

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(Deleted comment)
Good question. Sometimes I would like to ask some people something like that.

"What med is it that suspends your ability to reason?" Or "If you took your meds do you think you would still believe that?"

Is Bob annoying? Is Bob hurting anyone? Is Bob dangerous?

Yes, Bob is annoying. Bob gives charity money to organizations that seek to prove the existance of something both invisible and pink, instead of to organizations that could solve real, easily verifiable problems.

Yes, Bob is hurting himself most of all. By avoiding his responsibility to question outlandish claims, he is avoiding an important part of being part of a community. By virtue of his default willingness to avoid scrutiny if it conflicts with his own beliefs, Bob is more likely to believe authority figures who make outlandish claims. Politicians will have an easier time duping Bob because he is in the habit of believing something on faith alone.

Bob is dangerous. If he votes, if he raises children to believe on faith alone, or if he consumes material goods based on a desire to satiate the Invisible Pink Unicorns rather than on an understanding of the ecological and physical consequences of consumption.

All that is correct.

The bitch of the situation? What to do about Bob.

Because in society you are not allowed to act against Bob other then to ask him not to push his pink mutant goats on you. The sword of freedom of speech has two edges. One that allows you to speak you mind and one that means you have to let other speak their mind. And when it comes to a place of work, as long as his is not actively harraasing you or impeding your work, you cannot stop his unicorn fetish. Our society, especially here in Mn, values a lack of difficulty above all else. Conflicting opinions cause difficulty by being unpleasant and therefor are not 'allowed' in polite society. Therefor, nutjobs like Bob are allowed to fondle unicorns all they want as long as they don't cause open conflict.

Course, you know my opinion: polite society can got fuck itself.

I say that if Bob pushes his belief of invisible pink unicorns at work, then you should be allowed to tell him why he's full of shit.

Bob is, indeed, annoying.

Bob is hurting himself, which is fine, as long as no one depends on rationality from him with regards to his religion. I might be suspicious of his moral reasoning, or wonder what edicts the pink unicorns invisibly decree that would impact agreements with Bob, etc.

Bob may also be hurting his children. It's a rather difficult-to-measure hurt, and not something that can really be acted upon (not like physical abuse). The solution, of course, is freely available secular education. Give the wee bastards a fighting chance at rationality and a broader view of the world, and let Bob foot the bill for whatever unicornism he wants to indoctrinate them with.

Bob should not be fired unless his unicornism directly affects his performance. That could be wacky edicts that forbid him from doing critical job tasks, or badgering co-workers.

Heresy is meaningless in a secular society. The Order of Plaid Inaudible Hydra can rail against Bob's heretical views all they want.

Bob should be engaged by society, same as anyone else. In an open, rational, secular society, any topic should be fair game for discussion, including Bob's unicornism.

As far as organizations that take Bob's money for the furtherance of unicornism, they should be treated as any other business that performs a service or provides a product. At a minimum, taxed. Investigated for fraud when appropriate (faith healers, etc).

i guess I'm stupid

I can't quite figure out why you have the compulsion to make those of with a belief feel small and stupid. I guess I'm stupid then because I would like to believe that when I die there is an afterlife and there is a thoughtful purpose to life. So stupid me and my "unicorns" .

Re: i guess I'm stupid

It is not stupidity. You are not stupid. And you are intelligent and one of the most tolerant and patient people I know.

It is indoctrination. Indoctrination into the church is like a drug. It makes you feel good. Many of the people are even initially welcoming and nice. And that is why churches want to get their hands on the kids.

But, when you really look at it, and I mean really really read the Bible (and critically view church dogma), you will find that it is very inconsistent. And not just OT to NT, but there are contradictions within the same books. It is also mean. Downright hateful, vengeful mean. Eternal punishment for not believing the right thing? ETERNAL. FOREVER. NO RELEASE. That is not Just and Loving. That is petty and vindictive. Those are human emotions.

Why does one need a god? Does life everlasting after bodily death really make sense? Or is it more likely that since we as a species fear death and did not understand our world that we made up myths to explain and comfort? I could go on for days, but Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Bertrand Russel, David Mills, and Penn Gillete to name a few have written it much better then I am able.

As Yoda said, you need to unlearn what you have learned. Think about what you believe and why. Consider it logically. Why do you believe what you believe? Personal experience, growing up in a church, anecdotes from other people? How much of the Bible do you take literally and how much figuratively? Why is that? What do you look for in a passage to key off when you decide what is literal and what is parable? How do you reconcile the conflicting demands and promises attributed to Jesus in the gospels? I think if you do some serious reading and critical thinking (I am not saying it will not be painful), as strong a person as you are now, you will be even stronger.

I do not believe in a god because I do not see any evidence of a god. Common arguments about the bible being the root of morality and ethics do not convince me (and in fact are pretty easily disproved). I could be wrong, but I find it overwhelmingly unlikely that a god, especially a christian god, exists. If sufficient evidence or proof were provided, I might change my mind about a god. It is still unlikely I would worship it.

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