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Discussion 4 to Meditation 299
Thought experiments do not disprove existence

by NaLalina

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The author claims that the point of IPU is to disprove deities’ existence. It is not. The point is to get people to realize that claims about the supernatural are equally absurd. "God is angry" is no better than "Zeus/IPU is angry." The analogies help people to see that they're taking the word "God" way too seriously. The author objects to addition of adjectives to "unicorn." However, the point is equally valid with just the word "unicorn," "fairy," "Vishnu," "Guanyin," or any other noun for supernaturally powerful beings.

The difference between "unicorn" and "God" lies in symbolic significance, but that can be remedied by attributing to "unicorn" the 4 attributes of god that the author has listed, while "unicorn" still refers to a magical horse-like creature with a horn. Imagine a unicorn doing all that is said to have been done by various deities. Imagine being told to have a personal relationship with a Jesus-like leprechaun. These thought experiments, again, do not disprove existence, but illuminate on the fact that it's logically incoherent to believe in a supernatural thing, unless you believe in all other possible supernatural things too, at which point you would be considered insane.

The only logical loophole is if one knows that a belief in the supernatural is illogical, yet still acts on that belief for some ulterior motive. So the question is: are the ulterior motives a sufficient justification for action based on illogical beliefs? I think it’s OK for individuals to use illusions to further their own happiness, but using those illusions to control other people is dishonest and dangerous if those other people don't see the illusion as an illusion but as a fact. The IPU and other analogies are meant to illuminate the silliness of treating illusions as fact. See "Understanding Delusions" for more of the same.