James Randi on religion and why he doesn’t practice it.

Got five minutes left to come up with an entry. Browsing hurriedly through some of my favorite sites. Oh look, this is rare event. James Randi is probably the man most directly responsible for me taking an interest in developing my critical thinking skills and a healthy sense of skepticism. He normally doesn’t get into the issue of religion as he’s already pretty busy debunking psychics, ghost stories, astrologers, homeopathy and other forms of pseudo-science and nonsense. This week’s commentary from him, however, is all about his views on religion.

James Randi—Why I Deny Religion, How Silly and Fantastic It Is, and Why I’m a Dedicated and Vociferous Bright.

This week’s page will be devoted entirely to religion. I’ve reached the point where I just have to unload on this subject that until now I’ve felt was just outside of the matters that the JREF handles. Since religion shows up as a part of so many arguments in support of other fantastic claims, I want to show you that its embrace is of the same nature as acceptance of astrology, ESP, prophecy, dowsing, and the other myriad of strange beliefs we handle here every day. Previously, I’ve excused myself from involved discussions of this pervasive notion, on grounds that it offers no examinable evidence, as the other supernatural beliefs actually do though those examinations have always shown negative results. Religious people can’t be argued with logically, because they claim that their beliefs are of such a nature that they cannot be examined, but just “are.”

Rather than argue or try to reason by their standards, I’ll settle for pointing out, briefly, how unlikely, unreasonable, bizarre, and fantastic their basic claims are, dealing for the most part with those I’m more familiar with, from personal experience.

Randi is always a good read and this time is no exception. Check it out.

74 thoughts on “James Randi on religion and why he doesn’t practice it.

  1. Homeopathy is nonsense?  C’mon, Les.  Really?  I, personally, have taken care of, and continue to take care of, many ailments with homeopathy.  You don’t believe that herbs and the like can have any therapeutic use?

  2. I didn’t say herbs don’t have any therapeutic use. It’s entirely possible that they do, but there haven’t been a lot of studies done yet on what useful benefits they may or may not provide and at least one study of St. John’s Wort has shown it to be dangerous because it interacts and interferes with other drugs. That said, there are a number of herbs undergoing further study that seem to hold promise for use as treatments.

    Homeopathy, however, has been studied quite a bit and has yet to hold up under testing. It’s basis requires water to have some previously unknown properties that don’t make a lot of sense given what we know about physics and quantum mechanics, but even that wouldn’t be a problem if there were any valid scientific studies that indicated homeopathic remedies provided any benefit at all beyond the placebo effect.

  3. See, I didn’t forget. wink

    I agree that there is evidence that St. John’s Wart is not necessarily a good thing.  It’s also true that a lot of man-made drugs are not necessarily a good thing, either.  Most drugs and medications have side-effects, or can cause damage to the human body if misused, but the mainstreaming of those medications seems to make it “okay” that taking them can actually hurt you; whereas people throw up their hands and say “see! that’s bad and you shouldn’t take it!” when something like St. John’s Wart is shown to have certain problems interacting with other meds and/or misused.  It’s like throwing the baby out with the bath water.  My theory is that most of the people doing the complaining and nixing of such things as St. John’s Wart are those behind the pharmaceutical companies.  They certainly don’t want something they don’t manufacture to actually work!  God forbid! 

    I just think the use of holistic and/or homepathic medicine is worth the time it takes to investigate, and shouldn’t be written off as nonsense before all evidence is in. 

    On a personal note, let’s just say that I am immensely thankful for Flaxseed and Evening Primrose Oils, as well as B-complex vitamins, magnesium and zinc.  Without them, I would be a raging, hair-on-fire, insane bitch; with them, I am the sweet, lovely, calm woman you “see” here.  *snicker*  And I’d much rather be taking something natural than pumping my body full of synthetic hormones!

  4. If homeopathy were true we could bottle the water coming out of the east river as a cure for every allergy know to man.  I don’t even think any dilution would be neccesary.  Think about it and I’m sure you’ll get it.

  5. Les, the thing about herbs is that they are much less invasive than synthetic replacements. It takes much longer to do damage to oneself with herbal remedies and ill effects are usually recognized and are able to be averted.

    It’s great to be a fan of science and progress but tens of thousands of years of knowledge of how to use herbs to heal are all but lost and that’s a shame.

    Their healing properties haven’t changed but we have. Herbs were free – now we have to pay for their substitutes, and in greed’s name we’ve allowed wise men and sage advice to be replaced with doctors who mainly prop up the drug industry.

  6. Brock, there have been some studies done on some herbs that do seem to indicate they may have medicinal properties, but then I admitted as much in my previous reply to Leigh.

    What I was poo-pooing is homeopathy which is the practice of diluting substances that cause symptoms similar to what a person is experiencing in water repeatedly under the premise that the water will somehow “remember” the properties of the substance and will then work as a treatment against whatever ails you. The whole idea behind homeopathy is just ridiculous and not a single double-blind study to date has shown that it has any of the positive effects folks claim it does.

    More studies of herbs is certainly encouraged, but homeopathy is just bunk.

  7. On science and the paranormal: Science recognizes as factual only that which can be perceived by the five senses and/or scientific intruments (scientific intruments could be classified as extensions of the five senses; a microscope, for instance, could be seen as an aid to visual perception, like a pair of eyeglasses)
    Now, let’s take the field of extra-sensory perception. Can you see where this is leading? If it’s extra-sensory how the fuck could science ever hope to even approach it with their emphasis on the five senses?

  8. Chuckiepoo, you don’t need to directly measure something to prove it exists.  Take gravity for instance, all we can do is measure the affect is has on objects with mass, not the force itself.

    For example, say telekenisis was true, all you have to do is get someone to USE the power to move a glass, and you can prove it.  No one has even come close, James Randi will give you $1,000,000 if you can show “evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event.”.

    I’ll give you another example, say you believe you have prescience, and can see the future.  Certainly this may be extra-sensory, but it’s certainly testable.  Tell me the lotto numbers!  There is a very good reason that NOTHING supernatural has ever been proven.  Can you see where this is leading?

  9. Good job on the summary there Shanness. Couldn’t have said it better myself. In fact, it would’ve probably taken me several more paragraphs to say the same thing. grin

  10. Yeah, ever wondered why the ONLY way for psychics to use their “talent” to make a living is to tell OTHER people what’s in store for them—and charge for it?

  11. Which wouldn’t be so bad if it was something significant they were telling us other than “you will be getting new rugs in the near future.”

    Oh. Joy. I’ll look forward to that with bated breath.

  12. Oh, come on, it must have been something more significant than THAT (unless it was a veiled reference to your current sleek scalp-style) …

    Like: “You will benefit from new social connections … Someone in your past will return to you … Stay away from runaway vehicles on the 22nd (why just then?) … I’m getting something with an ‘h,’ something that was very important last year … Be open to new ideas next week.”

    There, how’d I do?  Five cents, please.

  13. Excellent comments on the evils of religion iv been wondering when Randi was finally going to address the subject directly.

    But it was the incredible stories I was told, that really made me rear back in disbelief. For examples, they told me, some 2,000 years ago a mid-East virgin was impregnated by a ghost of some sort, and as a result produced a son who could walk on water, raise the dead, turn water into wine, and multiply loaves of bread and fishes. All that was in addition to tossing out demons. He expected and accepted a brutal, sadistic, death

  14. OK, Nunyabiz, you say you’re a proponent of science. You believe in only what can be proved to you (witnesses don

  15. how can you claim to know where the earth came from?

    Since when have i claimed to “know” where the Earth came from? Only humans suffering from religious psychosis have that “knowledge” and they are 100% certain of it.

    I like most sane individuals dont claim anything of the sort, i acknowledge the fact that currently there are some things that can only be theorized and speculated on using falsifiable evidence obtained through observation.
    Currently “The Big-Bang” theory sounds just as plausible as any.
    BUT, i do know what is NOT plausible, what is so utterly unlikely as to make it laughable and that is “The Earth being magically created by a few chosen words by an invisible omnipotent being”

    how do you account for the existence of the universe?

    well nobody can account for the existence of the universe, well anyone thats sane at least.
    Of course that brings us back to the insanity of religious conviction again since they are 100% certain of who what how and why of everything all of which to them is clearly outlined in a 2000 year old book.

    I certainly dont claim any such absurdity.
    I can state some theoretical hypothesis but thats about the extent of logical reasoning on something where there is no falsifiable evidence of.
    Such as:
    If it is physically possible, actual or necessary that some states of bodies or particles are instantaneously caused to begin to exist by other such states, then this is both metaphysically possible and logically possible. Suppose we have a first state of the universe that consists of the initial temporal part (initial state) of three particulars (e.g., elementary particles). Let us call the three initial states or temporal parts of the three particles the states a, b and c. (For simplicity

  16. Sorry, Stefanie, I don’t find your arguments convincing at all.

    First off, rodents are classic disease vectors, so it’s no surprise at all that someone would figure out that the hantavirus was being carried by mice.  So the Navajo medicine man had it in their oral traditions.  That doesn’t show any evidence of psychic ability.

    Same thing with your incident with the pickup truck.  MOST people who sit in the open bed of a pickup worry about falling out; you’d be stupid NOT to.  You just happened to take note of the time your fear was actually realized.  Again, that’s no proof of premonition.

    And your claim that ALL the “real psychics” out there hold their ability as “too sacred to be tested,” well, that’s just convenient, isn’t it?  Do you mean to tell me that NOBODY could use a million bucks?  I sure could.  Think of what it could do for a poverty-stricken reservation, for example.

    It is a classic mistake to take note of all the times a vague idea of something came somehow true and to subconsciously dismiss all the times it DIDN’T.  We tend to try to make things fit even when they don’t, quite. 

    Now, if you can produce concrete proof such that the most objective, knowledgeable observer who DOESN’T want to believe it finally has to admit that it’s there, then you’d have something.  But people have been trying that for thousands of years and NOBODY has done it. 

    I find it terribly suspicious that nobody with this purported talent has been able to use it reliably, consistently and significantly enough even to make their own lives better.  Just issuing vague warnings from bad dreams isn’t a sufficient demonstration of a reproducible phenomenon.  Whenever you try to pin down reports like this, you always get evasive, slippery explanations like “the conditions weren’t right,” “it comes and goes,” “I don’t know what it means so I can’t give you any concrete information,” and even “you ruined it by not believing in it.”

    No thanks.  If it were real, it would be inescapable, not elusive.

  17. sorry there Stef but but science would like nothing better than to prove Paranormal/sixth sense/psychic, abilities.

    Just imagine the possibilities of what could be done, 1000s upon 1000s of scientist for many many years have studied the paranormal & there has never been any solid conclusive evidence ever gathered.
    100s of psychics have made outrageous claims throughout the years and none have backed any of it up.

    So IF all these psychics are covering up their so called abilities for whatever selfish reason you may want to try and contribute it to then it seems to me a bit odd to see so many out flaunting their so called abilities nation wide.

    So what about the ones that obviously dont mind that everyone knows they claim to be a psychic?

    Uri Geller is one of the more famous ones that Randi has debunked.

    I find it completely unbelievable that not one single psychic or anyone claiming ANY kind of paranormal activity of any kind whatsoever, be it stigmata or proof of ghost, etc etc has ever given a shred of solid evidence in order to claim that Million $$ UNLESS it is what it is which is BS.
    These are psychics btw that WANT this attention badly they have made a career of it, they are saying look at me look at me im a psychic looky what i can do.
    They are’nt trying to hide anything about their so called alleged abilities but when put through any controlled testing show ZERO psychic ability to back up their claims and stroll out with a million $$ and more importantly, advertising and recognition on a global scale that they are a true psychic and proved James Randi wrong!
    which would make them millions more through endorsements.

    Your telling me there are’nt ANY psychics or anyone claiming any kind of paranormal activity that would’nt just love to prove Randi wrong?
    Seems to me all these “True” psychics would be lining up at the door.

    So i must completely agree with Geekmom as ALL the falsifiable/verifiable evidence is clearly on her side of the arguement.

    Its exactly the same as the Creation vs Evolution debacle, one side has ALL the empirical evidence clearly on their side while the other has nothing but hearsay & chicanery.

  18. Stefanie,

    by and large, you present an elaborate rationalization that supports why something you believe in can’t be demonstrated to the world at large.

    Call me stupid, but I loved it and never feared it before. My feeling was there because of the sensation I was being pulled out, therefore couldn

  19. NunyaBiz,
    Great laugh, thanks. OK, so If I begin with the presumption there is no God, I end up believing there is no God. Wow, amazing logic. Try your logic out, but start with the presumption that God created the very laws that you describe. Couldn

  20. Geekmom, let me back this up a little here and make clear that I do not believe any part of this is supernatural. What I know is that the human brain is not completely understood. And scientists do admit that.

    What I know is that over time science has evolved to understand or explain concepts that seemed completely far-fetched and irrational to predecessors.

    And that always begins with some newly discovered detail which sparks evolutionary change in the way a theory is perceived and sometimes tested. I am not implying modern scientists are stupid, only that it is possible they do not have the measuring stick they need yet to properly guage it.

    Both you and Nunya have said there is not one shred of evidence, but there is. It has yet to be regarded as proof and rightly so. But we send people to the electric chair with less evidence.

    It is not a sensational claim that scientist who do take so called “paranormal” studies seriously are regarded as “flakes.” That says something about the prejudice.

    Nunya, where you say that it is amazing not one psychic has collected on Randi’s offer, I would be amazed if one did. Discount any regard to their personal beliefs, that’s fine. But I challenge, again, to give that some thought. I would think a true psychic would know better.

    Forget for a minute that it may or may not prove the existance of psychics and really think about that. I have had my life threatened and I have been harrassed on the rumor that I was Pagan. I can imagine what my family and I would go through if I could prove I was… for instance, telepathic. Where you might think a person with this skill would be highly celebrated as the long sought proof, I think you would be mistaken. I promise you, as much as I would love to see the doors on this subject blown open, you could not pay me $10 million to be the proof that does it.

    Nunya and GeekMom, I am not saying that any and all of the so-called “paranormal” subjects are beyond the grasp of modern scientists. All I am saying is that it is possible there is more to it than we currently realize, and I think there is enough evidence to support that idea.

    I do believe eventually more will be understood about it, and I do believe eventually science will prove there is something to the sixth sense, namely that it is a normal function of a brain that over time, we might have starting using less of.

  21. I’m a little late to the conversation, as per usual, so let’s catch up a bit. Fair warning, this will be lengthy.

    I think there is probably nothing supernatural about extrasensory perception. I think every human brain is capable of it, but it seems those who hold some perceived spiritual connection to it are those who have genuine skill with it. Personally, I think it is their faith and dedication which carry them along.

    Not sure what your point is with the first sentence, unless you don’t understand the definition of “supernatural.” ESP is considered “supernatural” simply because it appears to violate the natural laws that dictate how reality works. If it can be proven to be a real phenomena and if the process of how it does what it does can be explained then it would no longer be considered supernatural. As it currently stands, however, it’s neither been proven to be real nor have any reasonable theories been proposed on how it does what it does, thus it’s designation as supernatural.

    Now that we’ve gotten the semantics lesson out of the way, I have a couple of questions on the rest of your paragraph:

    1. Why should people who have a ‘perceived spiritual connection’ be any better at using ESP than anyone else if we’re all capable of it?
    2. Why should faith and dedication play a role in using this ‘extra sense?’ Do you have to have faith and dedication to use any of the other five normal sense you posses? If you stopped believing in your eyes would you no longer be able to see? Can you disbelieve away your sense of touch?
    3. How do you explain all the self-professed psychics who don’t seem to make any spirituality claims with regards to their abilities?

    I also think that no one has taken Randi

  22. Naturally, I get this finished up and posted only to notice that there are already new replies including a new one from Stef. Oh well, I’ll catch up on the rest later.

  23. …as I lay in a coma in some hospital after a horrible Cheez-Whiz(tm) accident.

    And then there was the setback with the Cheez-Whiz.
    But he’s feeling MUCH better now!

  24. There are so many presumptions as to what “might have” and “could have” taken place before that truck wreck. The idea of any kind of premonition is just so quickly dismissed. Let me recount. Pick away.

    Why is it so hard to believe I was not afraid of riding in that truck? Anyway, it was in July, perfect weather. The truck was still when I got in it: We were in an empty parking lot next to a phone. My sister, who would be the driver, was using the phone. I walked to the edge of the side of the truck, closer to her. That was when I had this sensation of being pulled out (over the edge of the side). I immediately had the thought “I am going to fall out of this truck.” I looked over at my friend, said those words to her, and we agreed we should just sit in the middle behind the cab. We drove, stopped at a couple of places… we were on the highway, next thing I remember my sisters were panicking over the top of me.

    elwedriddsche: Maybe you had misgivings before but ignored them, maybe the combination of the driver

  25. I’ve had that sense of vertigo, that feeling of being “pulled” over the edge of an elevation, plenty of times.  I worked as a light technician in a little theater despite having a fear of heights.  I never actually fell, though.  So is it only a premonition if it happens to come true?  Should I have let go of the ladder sometime so that I could be a real psychic?

  26. How sweet. Insult my intelligence. That’s common enough practice here. At least we didn’t get to the snobbery of pointing to spelling and grammatical errors.

    But with all the words being put into my mouth, I find little room for my own. Aside from those who hold their beliefs sacred, I said I would be surprised if a true psychic offered themselves up for the labs. I never said “no true psychic would.” You think they would be celebrated. That’s fine. I think that is a bit naive, but then I have been the target of the fear this kind of subject strikes in the heart of people on every social and economic level. So I see it from a different view. Perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps I also misjudged those shotgun pellets. But I think I will just opt to respectably disagree, and point out that “no

  27. When you stand near the edge of something you’re afraid to fall off of, notice how your body tenses.  I think you get the feeling of falling b/c your body is tense due to the fear of falling, but you’re looking DOWN at the same time.  Looking down requires, at minimum, for you to lean your head forward.  You end up “pushing” forward, which can scare you b/c your body is tense already and trying to pull back from the edge. 

    That’s why you always look forward at where you’re going when on a balance beam, high wire, or cornering a motorcycle.  Look down, you go down.

    Personally, I can lean over a high drop if there’s a railing and look down w/o any problem.  Take away the railing, and I won’t stand near the edge for fear of falling.

  28. There can even be more to it than that, Ragman. In an outdoor environment on a partly cloudy day the movement of shadows from the clouds can act as an optical illusion that momentarily confuses the brain. There’s also the fact that tall buildings or other platforms tend to sway in the wind by design and the movement can be significant enough to be felt and cause vertigo in some people. Another similar confusion can occur sitting in your car at a stoplight when you notice out of the corner of your eye that the car next to you is moving slightly and you’re uncertain for a moment whether it’s the other car or your own that is moving.

    Note: I’m not suggesting any of these things played a role in Stef’s experience. Just that it’s not all that hard to confuse your brain about sensations of movement.

  29. Not only that, but if you’re up on a high vantage point without anything close by in your field of view with which to orient yourself in space, it contributes to the feeling of vertigo.  We use our eyes as well as our inner ear to maintain our balance.  (I learned that on “Popular Mechanics for Kids.” grin )

    All of which is to say that there are ALWAYS plenty of mundane, already known and tested explanations for any ESP-like phenomena that we happen to come across.  If someone’s able to come up with hard evidence (not anecdotal), and we thoroughly exhaust all the alternative explanations for it, then I’ll be ready to take a look at it.  (And yes, I think it’d be cool too, if some other extrasensory ability could be truly proven.)  But it hasn’t happened yet, despite the concerted efforts of a LOT of people over the ages.  So I’m not holding my breath.  In my experience, if something is real, you don’t have to work THAT hard to prove it.

  30. All of which is to say that there are ALWAYS plenty of mundane, already known and tested explanations for any ESP-like phenomena that we happen to come across.

    Fraud being one of them.

  31. Another similar confusion can occur sitting in your car at a stoplight when you notice out of the corner of your eye that the car next to you is moving slightly and you

  32. Great laugh, thanks. OK, so If I begin with the presumption there is no God, I end up believing there is no God. Wow, amazing logic. Try your logic out, but start with the presumption that God created the very laws that you describe. Couldn

  33. I may not agree with all of Nunya’s methods, but at least he’s keeping David busy. 😀

    Nunya, in the past I invited David to start in on his proof and he made it to the second argument before I told him to not bother because he had already fallen back on the Argument from Design and tried to misquote Einstein to support his assertions. You may want to read that entry before inviting David to launch into his “proof” again. If it takes as long as he claimed it does then I’d have to upgrade my hosting account to deal with the additional text.

  34. nunyabiz,

    You keep using “Falsifiable”, but I am hoping you mean “UNfalsifiable”. Falsifiable evidence is that which can be faked.

  35. Les, Worry not about your bandwidth or space limitations. I do not intend to enter into a battle of intelligence with clearly unarmed opponent. I value your opinion, but after having read

    Ramblings of a stressed mind to say the least.
    maybe a chemical imballance

    and that really dont cut it either, because without seeing and to the best of my ability and resources reasearching and verifying what some

  36. Not only that, but it’s interesting who nitpicks on spelling and grammar and gets it WRONG.

    b) doesn

  37. Greetings…I am a Christian and a very “sane” and capable human being.  I am a straight A student, wife, and tech.  I made my decision to become a Christian based upon intellectual facts and personal experience, which in turn, led me to faith.  I feel it is inapproiate to label Christians as ignorant and “delusional” people.  I refuse to insult individuals based on their beliefs and ideas, it just appears petty.  I will not categorize athiests based on thier choices, I do not need to insult others to feel superior.  My very good friend Matt is an athiest and I respect and value his opinions and views, as a matter of fact I enjoy communicating with people even more when they have an opposing point of view.  When people communicate and listen to other’s point of view they can learn new things, and learning is very important to me.  It is important to note that if one desires respect and tolerance they must be willing to show the same level of respect and tolerance.  I would ask some of the people on this website to be a little less judgemental and a little more open-minded, if you expect any level of credibility and respect. 
        I would like to quote an exert from Josh McDowell’s short book, “More Than A Carpenter,” this book was helpful in my search for evidence of the Bible being a reliable document.

          Ater personally trying to shatter
          the historicity and validity of the
          Scriptures, I have come to the
          conclusion that they are
          historically trustworthy.  If a
          person discards the Bible as
          unreliable in this sense, then he or
          she must discard almost all of the
          literature of antiquity.  One
          problem that I constantly face is
          the desire on the part of many to
          apply one standard or test to
          secular literature and another to
          the Bible.  We need to apply the
          same test, whether the literature
          under investigation is secular or
          religious.  Having done this, I
          believe we can say, “The Bible is
          trustworthy and historically
          reliable in its witness about
          Dr. Clark H. Pinnock, professor of
          systematic theology at Regent
          College, states: “There exists no
          document from the ancient world
          witnessed by so excellent a set of
          textual and historical testimonies,
          and offering so superb an array of
          historical data on which an
          intelligent decision can be made.
          An honest [person] cannot dismiss a
          source of this kind.  Skepticism
          regarding the historical credentials
          of Christianity is based upon an
          irrational [i.e., antisupernatural]
          bias”24 (57).
        In this book McDowell explains the tests that “all historical documents are tested by.”  The “three basic principles of historiography” are the “bibliographical test,” the “internal evidence test,” and the “external evidence test” (47).
        If anyone would care to read it, it is a very short read of about 128 pages.  It was one book that helped to inform me about how much I could trust the validity of the Bible, in case anyone is interested. 
        Thank you all for your time, I have enjoyed reading your comments on science and the more intellectual disputes on Christianity.  I am always happy to read about other people’s ideas.  Oh, and David I would love to hear more from you!

  38. A plant! That’s what I was trying to think of. Anybody seen any good plants lately?

  39. Waitaminute, Mildred. “If a
    person discards the Bible as
    unreliable in this sense, then he or
    she must discard almost all of the
    literature of antiquity” ?? Am I missing something here?  Since when has the ‘literature of antiquity’ been considered ‘historically reliable’?  I don’t think anyone’s reading The Odyssey
    or Greek tragedy or Egyptian hieroglyphs or Inuit origins stories and pronouncing them ‘historically reliable’.  Sure, they all have something to say about the cultures that produced them, but they’re no more ‘history’ than the bible is.
    May the author of the book you’re quoting makes a stronger argument elsewhere, but judging by this excerpt, he sounds kind of… well, dunderheaded.
    But what do I know, I’m no A student.

  40. I made my decision to become a Christian based upon intellectual facts and personal experience, which in turn, led me to faith.

    An interesting way to put it. The decision to embrace a certain religious belief preceeded the actual faith.

  41. In other words, she decided ahead of time that she was going to believe in it, and then she talked herself into it.  Nothing new there.

    I could write a book that was based on fact—actual persons, actual verifiable places, and reliably witnessed events—and still make it a work of fiction.  Then I could write a sequel, and because the two agreed with each other so much, people would have to believe the second one too, wouldn’t they?

    If someone wants to play make-believe, that’s fine.  I won’t spend any time getting my knickers in a twist about it as long as they don’t try to force me to play along too.  But if they want me to take their pretense seriously, I’m sorry, I just can’t do that.  I don’t consider it to be as valid as my own take on things.  If you want to call that lack of respect, I’m cool with that.  It’s true that when my daughter pretends to be a Space Princess, I don’t actually kneel down before her.  She’ll just have to live with that.

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