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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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).
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?"
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.
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.
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.
Explaining climate change and species extinctions to a theist.
"Okay so God told Noah to save all the animals. correct?"
"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?"
"Is there any later part in the bible where God has overridden this duty or said "It does not matter now","
"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?"