Saturday, November 27, 2010

The advent of my skepticism?

Sometime prior to 1976, I must have developed my skeptic's backbone - at least regarding religion.

I remember getting a phone call one evening at work (I worked the night shift) from an ex-girlfriend who wanted to witness to me about Christianity. The conversation went something like this:

She: Do you believe that another person's beliefs have validity?
Me: I believe your beliefs are valid for you, but aren't a reason for me to believe the same thing.

This may sound like a mundane verbal exchange, but I had been previously born again; had previously felt that a certain book in the Bible was addressed specifically to me, and had been proselytized on my parent's front lawn by Jehovah's witnesses. Being able to say "that's nice for you, but isn't relevant to me" was a watershed moment. [BTW, it was clear that this woman was trying to create an opening to discuss religion - but her indirect approach allowed me to anticipate and shut down the conversation effectively - much to my satisfaction.]

Am I equally skeptical about UFO's? I hope so ... I HOPE SO. I admit that I'm a big science fiction fan - loved Star Trek, love Asimov, Clarke, Herbert, Heinlein, William Gibson, Richard K. Morgan, Orson Scott Card. I loved the U.S. space program - the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs really had my rapt attention. I'm predisposed to dreaming about what's possible, so it's not a revelation to say that I laid in the front yard at night and looked up in the sky and wondered if I'd see a flying saucer. Once, with friends, I thought I saw a tiny orange dot traversing the sky in a geometric pattern - although it was not something that I thought was alien. Even as a child, I could say to myself, that's probably just a flaw in my vision. I liked books about UFO's - loved Chariots of the Gods? and Communion ... but I never thought "this stuff is REAL". I always thought more along the lines of "this is fun to daydream about".

Homeopathy? Honestly - my 80-something Mom has been into homeopathy - but I haven't. Can't say it's worth anything - can you? Show me the evidence.

For me, life is complex, beautiful, wonderful, and is not spoiled at all by the lack of magical things.

I think most good skeptics can explain their world view by repeating Neil DeGrasse Tyson's humorous adage about proving the existence of flying saucers: "show me an ashtray".

No comments:

Post a Comment