Aye, Skeptic

Detail of The School of Athens by Raffaello Sa...

Detail of The School of Athens by Raffaello Sanzio, 1509, showing Plato (left) and Aristotle (right) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As one who values critical thinking, however spotty I sometimes am about it, there is a time for discussing it, and a time not for that as well. As both an atheist and a skeptic, most of the time I don’t care about any given position on the god-question, or my current positions on some questionable claims of alleged scientific fact.


Most of these claims don’t directly impact me, nor do their implications, those depending on the nature and consequences of the claim, and I don’t waste much thought on how much I do or don’t believe them, especially the claims of religion and of pseudoscience.

I just don’t care unless specifically looking up arguments online or in a book, to analyze or deconstruct. I rarely think of certain topics unless someone thinks to mention it or it’s part of a research project, like reading up on Indian religious philosophies and mythologies.

I can see how theists and paranormalists often suppose that we nonbelievers are just as concerned about the same topics as they. It’s easy and common to project one’s own attitude onto others, to think that other believers and nonbelievers are just as concerned about it as yourself.

When I once believed in a god, and in the paranormal, the seeming reality of the both made a big impression on my daily consciousness, so much that scarcely an hour went by without my thoughts turning to them.

But as a nonbeliever, that’s no longer the case, and atheism aside, I rarely wear my skeptic hat either unless posting on this blog, or the occasional scientific claim is brought up in a live discussion with others.

By scientific, here I mean any testable claim about reality with a knowable answer, not just the claims investigated by lab-coated academics looking very wise and thoughtful while tweaking their instruments carefully. It does one little good to obsess about how much one doubts certain claims, so I don’t do it much.

Here’s an example:

After much pondering and thoughtful consideration, I’ve decided that I’m an aUnicronist — I lack belief in planet-sized, world-eating monstrosities that transform into gigantic robotic humanoids….just as I lack belief in leprechauns, pixies, unicorns, and untold trillions of other things I can’t believe to be or not be because I’ve never even heard of them.

Being an aUnicronist has absolutely no impact on my life, and I tend not to give it much thought, though the subject matter does make for cool toys and passable 1980s animated feature films. I don’t have to believe it’s real to enjoy it.

Skeptic (U.S. magazine)

Skeptic (U.S. magazine) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fantasy and fiction have real value even to nonbelievers.

Science is not the only part of my reality-equation, of course — All areas of human endeavor are — Science just happens to be the most rigorous and effective way of thinking we have of reliably gaining knowledge of things natural and human.

Science can say nothing of anything not part of nature, not part of the knowable, though its general methods of inquiry can very nicely apply to normative as well as descriptive human claims.

I’ll change my position on the existence or lack thereof of gods and paranormal forces when presented with credible evidence to soundly support my accepting them as real, and no sooner. Right now, I’ve simply no reason to, but someday some such reason may perhaps make itself apparent. I don’t know yet.

When it does, then it does. And only then. The burden of proof lies as always with the one making the claims, and only through meeting that burden will the reasons be not proven, not proven absolutely, but justified enough to make me to change my mind. Absolute proof is too tall an order for me.

Either way, things should be interesting.

One thought on “Aye, Skeptic

  1. I like your writing. Human logic does indeed require absolute proof, but I ask “Does the macrocosm have use for formulae invented by humans”? Human mind can extrapolate sense out of E=MC2 and use that knowledge. However the universe has no pre-requisite to understand that formular in order to fuse mass into light or suck light into the dark. The universe needs no proof to do stuff. E=MC2 is only known to Earthians and we are nothing compared to the vastness of the deep.


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