Skepticism

Another Skepchick

Yesterday, something wonderful happened: I learned that one of my best friends from college has become a skepchick. My friend– we’ll call her Emma– is intelligent (Dartmouth and Harvard student), beautiful (slender with long black hair), incredibly thoughtful (she brought me a cool birthday gift), and a ton of fun (we ate at a neat restaurant, signed up for bellydance lessons, and went to a trivia night at a local pub). Until this past year, she was also a devout Catholic. Her mother’s family is Catholic, and Emma used to go to mass once or twice a week. She used to talk about waiting for sex until marriage and then having many children because she, as a Catholic, didn’t believe in birth control.

Because Emma was my friend, I never gave her a hard time about her beliefs. I respected them, and she in turn respected my atheism. While I never challenged her own beliefs, I was very clear about mine. I would say things such as, “Ten children? No way. I only want one or two myself.” Or: “I just can’t believe in a supernatural being.” Mostly, I made offhand comments that were not overly aggressive.

At dinner last night, Emma and I caught up on what had been happening the last few months. Emma recently became engaged, and I asked if she and her fiance were planning on a Catholic wedding. I was delighted when Emma replied, “Well, I’m not actually Catholic anymore. My mom is having a difficult time with it, but she’s trying to understand. I am not sure if I still believe in God or not, but in practice I’m basically a Humanist.”

This prompted a long conversation about the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard, where Emma currently studies.

Eventually, I asked, “So, what about John [Emma’s fiance]? Does he want a Christian ceremony?”

Emma smiled and informed me, “Actually, John just came out as an atheist to his family. He also had a difficult time, but they’ve pretty much accepted it. I don’t think we’ll have a religious wedding.”

After Emma said this, I was so happy I leapt across the table, narrowly missing our dinners, and hugged her. One of my best friends, already wonderful in so many ways, is also now a skepchick. I couldn’t be happier for her. Hurray! Another skepchick!

Evelyn

Evelyn is a geologist, writer, traveler, and skeptic residing in Cape Town, South Africa with frequent trips back to the US for work. She has two adorable cats; enjoys hiking, rock climbing, and kayaking; and has a very large rock collection. You can follow her on twitter @GeoEvelyn. She also writes a geology blog called Georneys.

Related Articles

69 Comments

  1. So Evelyn, did your reactions to her woo/religious remarks in any way help her figure things out on her own?

    Or was it something else that prompted her to realize that maybe this whole god thing was rather silly and might as well not be a part of her life?

    If you haven't already, ask her what made the difference, because others would like to know ;)

  2. I can proudly add that my 2 daughters, now in their early 20s, are full-standing skepchicks, and they keep working on their many friends who believe in astrology, psychics, palm reading, and similar nonsense, in the same way you not-so-subtly let your friend know your views.

    Mrs. GreenNeck, however, is a devout polytheist, worshipping at the altar of Gods called Shoes, Handbags and Jewelry.

  3. You gotta watch out for the special ceremonies involved in Polytheist Consumerism though… particularly the following:

    The Sacrifice of Plastic Swiping

    The Festival of the Bouncing Cheque

    and

    The Winter Solstice Credit Bureau Reporting

    These are terrible events – much to be feared!

    ;)

  4. I am a Christian, and my belief in salvation through Christ is non-negotiable. My best friend believes in God, but is not a church goer. We used to have similar beliefs. Over time, I think my move to the church definately changed some dynamics in our friendship. We certainly don't share the same kind of hugging exchange moment that you described because we are in sync with each other's mores, however, it didn't change our love for one another.

    Irrespective of your belief system it is never good to surround yourself with people who agree with everything you believe. It's sort of akin to hiring a publicist or a staffer that only tells a politician what they want to hear. Not a good thing. If you have faith in something, challenge is a good process.

  5. What difference does it make compared to saying that your beleif is non-negotiable. Isn't not having another viewpoint presented to you (which is still being done even if a person doesnt "hang" with a jesus buddy) the same as not considering other arguments?

    I've heard, and studied the christain faith (even been a part of it when younger) and it is FULL of holes. When followed logicly it is moraly banckrupt and beyond illogical. There is no proof whatsoever to back it up.

    I absolutley agree that challenge is a good process, but not for faith, but reality. Faith will not be changed because it is faith. Skepticism on it's own is not beleif, not faith, it is the process of challenge. That's the point of it.

    I don't see anything stated above that we as skeptics are only surrounded by other skeptics becuase we arnt. There are too few of us for that. And even if we are, it's not ideological backing we would provide for one another but instead constant criticism of each others ideas.

  6. I think Evelyn was happy not because she no longer has a "challenge" with her friendship, but because someone she cares dearly for has seen the truth of things. I'm happy for "Emma" and for you, Evelyn!

    Now only a few hundred million more to go …

  7. Mikal, I know you're going to ignore this but I would like you to ponder something just for yourself.

    What evidence could be presented to you that would change your mind on any one of your beliefs that is not supported by science?

    I'm going to try this again (becuase this is the second time ive tried to restart with you so that we could discuss things rationaly). Though you are welcome to continue to be snide if you wish.

  8. Holy Crap! I'm new here. But I'm stunned by the arrogance and pungent smugness of some of these postings. Faith is, by definition, not a matter of evidence, and offering a "challenge" to it is a consummate act of condescension that I don't think anyone deserves. Opinions and matters of faith should be respected, if not agreed. It is possible to have faith in God (or an "ultimate cause" if you'd prefer) and still be skeptical. Skepticism is not a "religion" unto itself which demands uniformity and consistency of thought and position on every matter.

    I am disappointed that there seems to be as much demand for lockstep conformity here as on any political or "paranormal" message board I've browsed through.

  9. Mr. Ass said

    "What evidence could be presented to you that would change

    your mind on any one of your beliefs that is not supported by

    science?"

    Mikal says:The After Life..

    Mr.Ass said"this is the second time Ive tried to restart

    with you so that we could discuss things rationaly).

    Though you are welcome to continue to be snide if you

    wish."

    Mikal says

    my beliefs,are my beliefs,and none of your damn business..

    when we start talking about topics,rather trashing personal beliefs,

    I'll "decease"being snide..

    Devil's Advocate: M.Dmon

  10. jerseyred,

    You're entirely correct that you can believe in a god and be skeptical, the two are not mutually exclusive. Many deists are excellent skeptics.

    However, it's my faith that there's no demand for uniformity here on this forum (and becasue it's my faith I don't need any evidence) – so you've just challanged me, how condescending can you be! Did I deserve that?

    To be fair, there is a real discussion to be had on what can be questioned. I would argue that nothing is sacred, all can be questioned – if people take that as an attack then they perhaps need to rethink what free inquiry is all about.

  11. Slashnull,

    everyone is entitled to an opinion,and more so,everyone

    is entitled to their beleifs..Theirs nothing wrong which choosing

    one,or the other but,it's illogical and un-American(my opinion)

    to bash anyone for their chose..

    Because It's been MY POINT,that just because your skeptic,

    doesn't make you godless..You may quote me!

    Devils' Advocate M.Dmon

  12. JERSEYRED,

    I do not demand uniformity, you are welcome to believe what you wish, but when you present those beliefs, specificly those of a supernatural nature, we will demand evidence. And those like myself will ridicule. I have said this a few times, but if someone feels shamefull for their beliefs maybe it's because they are shamefull beliefs. It's always strange to me that someone feels "ridiculed" when asked for evidence… the staple point of skepticism.

    M-DIGGITY

    I'm not sure you understood my question (also I noticed that though you say you are willing to stop being snide and start over you still refer to me as "MR. ASS"…. your choice, but sad.)

    What I was asking is what is there that could be shown to you that would change your opinion on the paranormal. If there is nothing then you are blinded by faith. The "after life" is not an answer, thats the opposite, which would be evidence that would convince me that there is the paranormal. Which seems to be the difference between us. You are a faith driven being, while myself and other skeptics are driven by evidence and research.

    As far as your beliefs being your business, thats half true. They are, but the point of skepticism goes to the core of beliefs… This blog is ABOUT removing false beliefs. If you really believe that we are going to be politicly correct and tip toe around subjects that are not scientificly sound, such as religion- such as homeopathy- such as ghosts- such as telepathy- such as psychics- then you are fooling yourself. IF you respond I would like to see this responded to directly. It's the core reason that you are at such odds with the posters here.

  13. February 7, 2007 at 7:27 pm, jerseyred wrote:

    "Holy Crap! I’m new here. But I’m stunned by the arrogance and pungent smugness of some of these postings. Faith is, by definition, not a matter of evidence, and offering a “challenge” to it is a consummate act of condescension that I don’t think anyone deserves. Opinions and matters of faith should be respected, if not agreed. It is possible to have faith in God (or an “ultimate cause” if you’d prefer) and still be skeptical. Skepticism is not a “religion” unto itself which demands uniformity and consistency of thought and position on every matter."

    It's not condescending at all to challenge someone's beliefs. In fact, if a belief can't stand up to even a little bit of scrutiny, then clearly, you were wrong for believing it in the first place. If even a little bit of countering opinion can get you to doubt your beliefs, your beliefs weren't very profound, now were they?

    The best thing that can happen to any idea is having it challenged, because if it stands up to that, it comes out stronger.

    In short, I don't think religion should be respected. I think the religious person should be respected, but their beliefs are free to be discussed and challenged. I don't mean harassing someone about it every time you see them, just whenever it comes up in conversation.

  14. Mr.Ass said:"you are welcome to believe what

    you wish, but when you present those beliefs,

    specifically those of a supernatural nature, we

    will demand evidence,had you read my post,

    you'd find"

    Mikal says.agreed!I'll keep my beliefs to myself,you do them same..

    We "welcome people to believe what they wish",and focus on topics

    of skepticism,which coincidently Mr. Ass,(used wisely)core effects

    everything,not only a persons personal belief..

    As you would have us to believe.

    Mr.Ass said

    "but if someone feels shamefull for their beliefs maybe it’s

    because they are shamefull beliefs. It’s always strange to

    me that someone feels “ridiculed” when asked for evidence…

    the staple point of skepticism. "

    Mikal says:Actually Mr. Ass,I'm born with the ability to make

    up my own mind,and think(although I'm an "idiot")able

    TO DECIDE WHAT BELIEFS ARE BEST FOR ME..

    That's our Constitution Mr.Ass,you are NOT a skeptic,

    you are an Atheist in wolfs clothing that hates beliefs,

    which don't agree with your belief in nothing.

    by your rights,you're entitled to this decision,however,

    you troglodyte,

    Their are basements and chat groups for someone

    like yourself,to drink all the hater-aid you like..

    As long as this is an open community for skeptics,

    we are all responsible for a respectful conduct,

    toward each other,or not at all..

    Like it or not Mr.As,I'm a spiritual counselor,

    who should be paid for working out your issues…

    Please seek medical help..

    Devils' Advocate M.Dmon

  15. Yes Mikal, you are allowed to choose for yourself which beliefs you think are best for you.

    But that in no way implies they actually are the best beliefs for you.

    Also, it doesn't mean that we aren't allowed to ask you questions about it.

    And if you feel ashamed when you can't offer evidence for your belief, then you should examine that feeling, and figure out why it is that you feel embarrassed when not being able to come up with a good reason for WHY you believe what you believe.

    I can show you why I believe the things I believe, and I can show you the evidence that made me come to that conclusion.

    Can you?

  16. Atheists, like believers, come in different flavours. You can be a hardcore atheist – there is no deity, period. Or you can accept the fact we don't know for sure, since after all we haven't discovered everything yet.

    The same is true of believers. There is a world of difference between believing exists (and even a logical argument could be made in favor, as is done with the Cosmological Argument) and believing in total nonsense like psychics and the 6,000 year old universe.

    The whole point of promoting skepticism is that religious or paranormal belief can be dangerous. At best, it hinders our ability to think rationally. At worst, it actually ruins lives. I don't have to give examples, just think about Jonestown, the solar temple, scientology and so much more.

  17. This is exactly what we mean, we arn't forcing you to do anything. We're not forcing you to beleive anything. You have the right to beleive lies, we have the right to call them lies.

    We also happen to have evidence to back us up. But you are allowed to ignore the evidence. You're even allowed to be angry that your beleifs are wrong. And angry that we prove they are wrong- though that is a juvenile response.

    I would like to point something out.

    "As long as this is an open community for skeptics,

    we are all responsible for a respectful conduct,

    toward each other,or not at all.."

    I have tried twice now to restart our conversations as respectfull instead you have constantly acted like child. You see that right? You claim only to want respect and when we try to act as if your ideas may have credence, you through a hissy fit with you "pet names" that are even lazy as insults.

    Though you ignore him exarch makes a great point that you should feel silly for ignoring. I ask you to awnser it or I will take it as admission that you are unable to support your argument.

    "I can show you why I believe the things I believe, and I can show you the evidence that made me come to that conclusion.

    Can you?"

    I really don't think you understand what skepticism is. What he says above IS SKEPTICISM. That is our moto.

  18. Dear Exlax I will address your question for

    entrainment purposes than I'm off

    to bed,to give the mods a break..

    “I can show you why I believe the things I believe, and I can show you the evidence that made me come to that conclusion.

    Can you?”

    Exlax it's no challenge to open up your hand and say,

    I have nothing can you prove what's in your hands..

    Well exlax as difficult as the question my appear,

    it's rather obvious,when you consider the bounties we

    take for granted,built on the backs of people who believed..

    Our Country is living prof,beliefs are worth believing..

    Goodnight Rebecca,thanks for staying up for me..

    I owe you lunch..

    Devils' Advocate M.Dmon

  19. I'm sorry but that doesnt make alot of sense. Are you saying that there is no paranormal phenom? And because there isnt you can't prove it?

    Also, as far as your example of the united states, there is a HUGE difference in the abstract goal of liberty and freedom and that of jesus. One is a abstract the other is a specific claim. That is not a viable argument.

    I'm going to ask that you either stop asking for respect or stop using the degrading names. Are you willing to start fresh?

  20. Wait a minute. Mikal is American? Surely English isn't your first language? Yet you defend yourself with "our country" and "our constitution." I'm really not trying to attack your writing skills (you present many more important targets), I was honestly just surprised to learn you're American.

    I've never seen you directly answer any question put to you on this or any other thread. You either answer with an attack, or with gibberish, which I used to forgive as a bad translation program. Skeptics believe only what can be proven. If you unwaveringly believe in something that not only cannot be proven, but has, for all intents and purposes, been proven false, you cannot claim to be a skeptic. And yes this is merely one person's opinion.

    Answer the questions put to you clearly or don't answer at all. Argue your points intelligently or stop starting arguments.

    I also don't like how you sneer and snap at all of us, yet talk to Rebecca as if she was a lover. Of course I can't claim to know Rebecca's feelings for you, but I would be sorely disappointed to learn that she's not as annoyed as a lot of us are with your postings.

    If you care to answer me, might I suggest "Buttking" or "Liarking" or maybe even "Briarqueen."

  21. What I'm seen here is that the people posting epresent themselves as skeptics, and appear to convey a few overriding characteristics. First, there is a clear sense of intellectual superiority and a zealousness that reeks of the worst elements of religious intolerance. Second, even skeptics should be civil and respectful of others. Skeptics are not the owners of truth. They are, like everyone else, seekers of truth. You have not arrived at THE answer; you are exploring many answers. Yet, when it comes to faith–which, by definition, can not be subjected to scientific rigor–you act as if you you own the truth. You see yourselves as having an answer that makes you better (somehow) than those with faith. But why the snottiness and relentless spewing of the "tenets" of skepticism?

    Don't you see the irony of what's being posted here? You are attempting to browbeat others into accepting your viewpoint, defining the acceptable parameters of thought and disrespecting a lack of conformance. Sounds very much like the characteristics one finds amongst religious fundamentalists. Decent people respect others' opinions, even those related to faith. Perhaps a bit of internal "soul searching" is in order.

  22. Dear Mr. Ass,you take up more time than your actually worth.

    I'm forced to call you out of name,do the the fact(as you know)

    I find you utterly repulsive and vile,I swore I would never speak

    to you again..People of belief,mean what the say Mr.Ass,

    however I'm more than happy to trade up,to Captain Cave Man

    if you wish..Or maybe stop talking to me..

    Mr.Ass said:"I’m sorry but that doesn't make allot of sense.

    Are you saying that there is no paranormal phenom? And

    because there isn't you can’t prove it?"

    Mikal says:Actually Mr.Ass I answered this beyond perfect..

    People have faith,you will live and die with this choice.

    The evidence of their work is everywhere in our mode culture,

    from African Americans voting,to our very first potential female

    president..

    The afterlife(paranormal) will reveal to us prof

    of our god..As it's meant to,however God is

    intangible Mr.Ass,the work is not..

    Now let me ask you an important question

    for yourself to ponder??

    With all these great men and women who fight and

    die with these beliefs,who do you think they are most likely

    be happy to meet?

    a)Me

    b)you

    Mr.Ass says"I'll never respect a person

    with beliefs,but lets start over fresh"

    Mikal say:No Mr.Ass never is never ending,and therefore can

    not start over…

    These are actually conversations on events that never happened

    Devils' Advocate:Mikal Dmon

  23. First – Displaying intellectual superiority – do you mean when people here look at bad arguments and show why they are bad? Take statements made by others and show why they are false?

    Second – Should be civil? I think it's been mentioned on this very thread that respecting a person is one thing, but what the hell does that have to do with respecting a belief? No one here has claimed to have *the* answer. But to jump from that to saying that anything goes is a common mistake. To say that the earth is a sphere is incorrect, but it's a lot more close to the truth than saying the earth is a disc. All statements are not equal.

    Why can't faith be subject to scientific rigour? Statements based on faith *certainly* can, and it's not snotty to ask these important questions.

    And frankly, I *don't* respect other peoples opinions when those opinions are "I think we should be allowed to murder who we please" or "I think raping kids is fine" or "Racism is justified because those americans are an inferior race". Do you seriously expect "decent people" to respect those opinions?

    Do you respect the beliefs people who go to dead servicemen's funerals and picket them with "God Hates Fags" posters? Frankly, I don't respect the *people* with those beliefs, never mind the beliefs themselves, and if that makes me indecent, then so much the worse for decency.

    If you don't want a discussion about faith, if you think that it's off limits then that's fine, but don't expect others to accept that ridiculous and dangerous notion.

  24. Dear Slashnull

    "First – Displaying intellectual superiority – do you mean

    when people here look at bad arguments and show why

    they are bad? Take statements made by others and show

    why they are false?"

    Actually that's my job and I've been doing it well..

    Ask Mr.Ass..

    I also exploded (mistake2)a major loop holes,

    which philosophically condemns any "person of reason",

    to a bigoted,prejudice"tenant"that declares discriminating

    against those of us who intelligently,reach their personal decision..

    You also say "Why can’t faith be subject to scientific rigour?

    Statements based on faith *certainly* can, and it’s not snotty

    to ask these important questions."

    Mikal says Indeed they already have,

    "Before God we are all equally wise – and equally foolish"

    Albert Eintien..He also said"Do not worry about your difficulties

    in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater. "

    I think that says it all,by someone much smarter than you or I..

    "Do you respect the beliefs people who go to dead servicemen’s

    funerals and picket them with “God Hates Fags” posters? "

    I agree,and your missing the point(mistake3)

    If everyone practice what I preach,we wouldn't

    have this problem..l.ol

    Devils' Advocate:M.Dmon

  25. Slashnull wrote…

    "And frankly, I *don’t* respect other peoples opinions when those opinions are “I think we should be allowed to murder who we please” or “I think raping kids is fine” or “Racism is justified because those americans are an inferior race”. Do you seriously expect “decent people” to respect those opinions?

    Do you respect the beliefs people who go to dead servicemen’s funerals and picket them with “God Hates Fags” posters? Frankly, I don’t respect the *people* with those beliefs, never mind the beliefs themselves, and if that makes me indecent, then so much the worse for decency."

    The issue being addressed, of course, is one's belief in God. I have never suggested that every opinion of every person is entitled to respect, and your attempt to extrapolate that to morally repugnant actions is quite silly. And look again at what you've posted. It absolutely oozes demagoguery.

    Your attempt to relate your disrespect to the "belief" and not the person is quite the little effort to dodge. A person's belief is inextricably a part of who that person is. You can not condescend and demean a man's core values and beliefs and yet claim to respect the man.

    As to matters of faith, it is, of course, absurd to say that faith should be subjected to scientific rigor. I think it's fair to say that any reasonably educated person understands that faith will never withstand the rigors of a scientific review. The existence of God can neither be proven nor disproved, by science or philosophy. And therein lies precisely the leap required for people of faith. If one chooses to accept the existence of God, that is a perfectly reasonable, albeit unscientific, position to take. And one should be able to do so without being treated like a village idiot.

    Perhaps I misunderstood the point of Rebecca's blog. What I read was that she tolerated and respected her friend's belief. She didn't proselytize, lecture, browbeat or tut-tut the believing Emma. She felt she was incorrect, but respected both her and her position. I did not read her as challenging her friend to prove the soundness of her belief through a scientific analysis.

    For many people faith is a gift that speaks to community, tradition and appreciation. For many it serves as a moral compass, and offers solace and support. And my fundamental point is that people who express faith are entitled to respect and tolerance for that belief.

    Skepticism should not be disdainful or patronizing. Skeptics, of all people, should understand the universe of unanswered questions and the limitations of current knowledge, and explore them with humility. I am, mostly, put off by the very pronounced attitude of some posters here that they "own" a truth and that anyone who doesn't share it is subject to ridicule. This is not the form of skepticism which lends itself to open, honest and thoughtful dialogue.

  26. jerseyred said:

    "I have never suggested that every opinion of every person is entitled to respect"

    Agreed! Perhaps I was creating a straw man there with over extending the analogy. We oft have disagreements over precisely what 'belief' means. I reckon I can have a 'belief' that australia is in the southern hemisphere without it requiring the sort of faith the most people mean by that word.

    ", and your attempt to extrapolate that to morally repugnant actions is quite silly."

    Why is it silly? You said challanging matters of faith is condescending, but what if those matters of faith *are* morally repugnant? Are you saying we can challenge morally repugnant actions based on faith? Or not? Or only challenge the actions, not the beliefs that caused them?

    "A person’s belief is inextricably a part of who that person is. You can not condescend and demean a man’s core values and beliefs and yet claim to respect the man."

    That's a fair point. At what level do our beliefs make us "us". If I change my beliefs over the years (as we all do!) am I still myself? We are complex people, and as I have many friends I respect despite thinking some of their ideas are wacky I don't think it's impossible to hold multiple ideas of what a person is like.

    Also, all of us are wrong about something, what's wrong with discussion about these things? Especially when on a lot of things we tend to think we are right :)

    "I think it’s fair to say that any reasonably educated person understands that faith will never withstand the rigors of a scientific review."

    Many religious people would disagree with you! During the middle ages many philosphers used the new found discoveries of science in a very different way than the persecutors of Galileo, or creationists today. They took new discoveries and then read into them proofs for the existence of their god.

    Many philosphers and religious people still do this. C.S. Lewis is rather famous for saying this his version of christianity is entirely rational, and that our reason would lead us to god.

    "The existence of God can neither be proven nor disproved"

    It depends on how you define God. By ascribing god certain characteristics you can absolutely disprove him! If you say God lives on a particular mountain and that you can go and see him there, if you go and there's nothing there than that's not a bad disproof!

    Over the centuries the notion of gods has changed, ancient mythological gods were much closer to us than the gods of today. As science has broken back the boundaries we have shown what God isn't. Today many people think of God as living in "another dimension" or that heaven and hell are places that do not exist within the natural universe. Many years ago that wasn't the case, and people would think of their gods as living in actual physical locations.

    In this sense, to say you can't prove or disprove God simply means you have defined God as unprovable – nothing wrong with that, in fact I have a great deal of time for Deist theories, although that could be because they say so little!

    "Skepticism should not be disdainful or patronizing."

    I think skepticism should be what it is – requiring evidence for claims. If you mean that skeptics should not be disdainful or patronizing then I agree with you.

    The only times I've seen posters here subject to ridicule is when they've said ridiculous things. I don't know if that's a bad thing.

    This sort of thing should really be discussed on the forum, alas my account doesn't work, I need to prod a moderator…and moderator reading?!? Anyone?

  27. Briarking wrote…"If you unwaveringly believe in something that not only cannot be proven, but has, for all intents and purposes, been proven false, you cannot claim to be a skeptic."

    Yeow! What is that, the first commandment of the Holy Church of Skepticism? I must have missed that mandate in The Skeptics Handbook, that one's thinking must fall within predefined parameters or they may not refer to his/herself as a "skeptic", as if that term is the equivalent having achieved ordination. Why so doctrinaire and pedantic?

  28. February 7, 2007 at 10:06 pm, Mikal Dmon wrote:

    "exlax,I totally ignore you at will..

    What I decide is best for me,is whose chose?

    Hmmm??"

    So Mikal, do you think putting your fingers in your ears, closing your eyes and shouting "I can't hear you, neener, neener, neener" is a healthy, grown up way of dealing with things that are uncomfortable?

  29. February 8, 2007 at 7:09 am, jerseyred wrote:

    "Don’t you see the irony of what’s being posted here? You are attempting to browbeat others into accepting your viewpoint, defining the acceptable parameters of thought and disrespecting a lack of conformance. Sounds very much like the characteristics one finds amongst religious fundamentalists. Decent people respect others’ opinions, even those related to faith. Perhaps a bit of internal “soul searching” is in order."

    Nobody is forcing anyone to believe anything. People are merely trying to make others think about the things they say they believe in.

    If we sometimes feel intellectually superior to someone like Mikal, well, then I guess that's because we have overwhelming evidence of his constant childish behavior, his inability to have a reasonable argument, or his failure to even make a good case for ANY of his points.

    I would respect Mikal's opinions, if he managed to express exactly what they were, apart from calling people names and yelling at us for not agreeing with him, we've not heard much from him that's worth respecting. And the things he HAS admitted to believing in are mostly stuff that's just plain wrong, and has been shown to be so by scientific research.

    I have no respect for someone who ignores evidence that what they believe is wrong.

    Let's get one thing clear here though, we're not talking about religion in this instance.

  30. Jersey, what you're saying basicly is that scientific method is akin to religious doctrine.

    But yes I am proud to be a skeptic. I am happy that I have a method and a reasoning that keeps me from getting bilked by churches and dragged into time wasting efforts like seances.

    It is absolutley true that you cannot beleive in things like homeopathy wich are thuroughly shown to be false and call yourself a skeptic and have it mean anything.

  31. Umn, the definition of skeptic as most people here mean it is something like:

    1. a person who questions the validity or authenticity of something purporting to be factual.

    2. a person who maintains a doubting attitude, as toward values, plans, statements, or the character of others.

    So, to to unwaveringly believe in something, without doubt or question is diametrically opposed to skepticism about that thing. It's in the definition.

  32. Mikal, do you have any interests in actual argument? In dusscusion?

    If not I'm seriously considering asking you to be banned. You are not even attempting to add to the conversation or present a dissenting argument but instead seem to be trying to be a nuissence.

    So… are you interested in adding to these discussions? In being a dissenting voice and not a clown?

  33. N.R. Miller wrote…"Jersey, what you’re saying basicly is that scientific method is akin to religious doctrine."

    I don't believe I ever said any such thing. What I said was that the rigidity of thought and intolerance for other's beliefs being expressed here was akin to the worst of fundamentalism. I have discussed FAITH, careful not to involve myself in a defense of any particular religion. However, were I to so involve myself I would almost certainly find some of the language, attitudes and immodest certitude expressed in these posts as representing a very ugly and unpleasant form of religious thought.

    Skepticism needs to be a method of analysis and thought, not a secularized religion with all the same incivility and disrespect exhibited by many "true believers".

  34. Exarch wrote…"I have no respect for someone who ignores evidence that what they believe is wrong."

    As to matters of faith, Exarch, it is absolutely impossible for you to present any evidence that my belief in God is wrong. I will always have an answer for any "evidence" which you offer, whether scientific (and there is absolutely no scientific support against the existence of God) or philosophical. I do not require you to "prove" the non-existence of God, because I know that is an impossible and insincere request. Conversely, you can not honestly demand that I provide evidence for a personal conclusion of faith, because, by definition, that is not possible.

    If I am wrong, please do offer your "evidence" for the non-existence of God, and I will grudgingly consider it (although I suspect I have heard it all before, some from my very good friends). However, I do want to make it clear that I am less than interested in yet another circular dialogue on the existence of God. I was making a point about the tone and attitude expressed, that intolerance and disrespect are unfortunate reflections of an individual's character, whether exhibited by a preacher or a self-ordained skeptic.

  35. Mr.Ass says

    "Mikal, do you have any interests in actual

    argument? In dusscusion?"

    Mikal says:Actually Mr. Ass,for the last time,I have NO INTEREST

    discussing anything with you..I don't recall a prerequisite saying

    I must acknowledge you,however I do recall saying your

    suggestion belong in a box somewhere..

    If I'm banned for not respecting those that disrespect me,

    I can still sleep well at night.

    I also asked you to play with yourself,yet I keep finding you

    tugging on my coat tails.I will no longer acknowledge you,so

    please feel free,to start your petition..

    Devils' Advocate M.Dmon

    PS If you start banning me over this idiodicy(used right)

    are you going to continue with the other hundreds

    of people here,that aren't talking to you as well?

  36. I think the simplest answer here is that a big part of skepticism involves attempting to free oneself from 'matters of faith' as defined by jerseyred, being beliefs that are impossible to prove wrong or right. If there is nothing in the world that will convince you one way or another, yet you hold firmly to a positive belief, you're no longer being skeptical. The default position is to assume the negative and seek out evidence that would suggest the positive is more likely. If the evidence is inconclusive, then nothing has been proven and you are still left in the negative position.

    It is not the responsibility of the person making no positive claim to present 'evidence' for the non-existence of something. Not to get into the old debates all over again, but the fact is that someone who makes a positive claim (ie. god exists) is the one who should provide evidence. As an example: Someone claims to me that crunchy peanut butter exists. I have only ever encountered smooth peanut butter, so I ask them to demonstrate to me their evidence for making this positive claim. They return and show me jars of crunchy peanut butter in a shop. I can open a jar, sample the peanut butter, and recognize that it is, in fact, crunchy. I am now convinced and can accept the existence of crunchy peanut butter as somewhat decisively proven.

    My default negative position was the rational one to hold given my experience never seeing, reading about, or hearing of crunchy peanut butter. However, had I made the claim 'Crunchy Peanut Butter does not exist,' that claim could easily be falsified by someone giving me the same evidence as the previous example. I would also hesitate to MAKE that claim based on the flimsiness of my evidence (or rather, the lack thereof. As we always say, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence). Personal experience is generally the least reliable type of evidence. But, having the default position that crunchy peanut butter does not exist is still rational so long as you don't leap out and make that statement, and remain amenable to argument.

    Sometimes, however, our evidence is less clear. Assume we've been given peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and we are now trying to determine the nature of the peanut butter therein. If we're of the belief that these sandwiches consist of smooth peanut butter, the way we go about determining what's what is by assuming that they DO NOT consist of smooth peanut butter and developing what we'd expect to see if this were the case. In other words, we would expect that the sandwiches have a crunchy texture and mouthfeel, that examining the peanut butter would reveal a heterogeneous texture with some chunkier bits within, etc.

    If our evidence doesn't turn up these things, it does not PROVE that the peanut butter used therein is 100% certain to be smooth. It just shows that the likelihood that it is smooth is significantly greater than the likelihood that it is crunchy. We can never be absolutely sure. After all, the people who created the peanut butter might be more sensitive, say, and feel texture more keenly than we do. To them this may be crunchy. Or perhaps there's been an accident in the plant and a jar of crunchy peanut butter has been crushed too much. Or perhaps the jar was unevenly distributed and all of the chunkier bits have settled to the bottom, while that which lies within our sandwich came from the creamier and more homogeneous top. OR, perhaps someone PREFERS the chunky bits and has carefully spooned as many chunks out as possible, leaving something more closely resembling smooth peanut butter. Or perhaps the person making the sandwich has mixed BOTH together, but our sample has turned out to be more smooth than other further samples.

    We can go on like this forever. Some of these possible scenarios can be addressed. We can ask the person who made the sandwiches, we can get further sandwiches and come up with a rough estimate of average smoothness, we can (and should, in many cases) follow up as much as possible. Obviously, we can also invoke Occam's razor and dismiss some of the theories that require far more complicated explanations and more questionable assumptions on our part. But we should test and control for as much as we possibly can.

    Yet, on occasion, this is not possible. Imagine, then, that this sandwich exists in isolation. We have no way of tracing its contents, no knowledge of who or what made it, all we have is the sandwich. Based solely on that information and our experiences with this sandwich, what can we do? Well, in this case we again have to reduce things to their likelihood. We've determined that the sample we have has a relatively homogeneous texture, no chunky bits, no roughness or noise when we bite it. We can still THINK of those other possible answers, and indeed cannot effectively rule any one of them out. But with what evidence we have, we have again to side with the most likely choice, all else being equal, which is that what we have here is smooth peanut butter. It requires fewer assumptions on our part, in keeping with Occam's razor, and it makes the most sense given what evidence we do have, which is relatively inconsistent with our expectations for the crunchy variety.

    That's all well and good, you might say, for peanut butter, but what does this have to do with our discussion? Simply that, while it is in fact correct to state that we can never prove or disprove the existence of god, we can come to approximations of the likelihood of that particular claim given the evidence we do have and how it meets our expectations. It's obviously a lot more difficult to postulate these expectations here, but science has done a decent job of assuming the negative answer as a default position, and providing the details we'd expect to see if, in fact, there were no god. And as our evidence seems to more nearly match those situations than it seems to contradict them, it seems that in terms of the evidence we DO have, the more likely and less assumption-riddled answer is to REMAIN in the default negative position, the position that god is unlikely to exist.

    Does this mean it is necessarily absurd to believe in god? No, not quite. It does do some work towards whittling down the potential types of gods, however, as you work through expectations of what a world with each SHOULD look like (based on scriptures/texts) and how little that picture fits our actual world. But as long as a person can keep redefining god to fit with the evidence (which is bad science, to an extent, even if the conclusions derived from it are logically possible), it's not totally absurd to believe in this improbability. It merely requires many more assumptions than it would to stick with the default negative position.

    Are these assumptions impossible? No, no more than any of our peanut butter scenarios (uneven mixing, etc) are impossible. We could very well be wrong to remain in the default negative position. The world is, after all, quite full of mysteries and is often, as Haldane said, both queerer than we suppose and queerer than we CAN suppose. In that regard it is not 'incorrect' to believe. It's merely an unlikely solution to a problem that seems to dovetail more neatly with other, simpler answers. Sticking to these less assumption-ridden answers until evidence shifts the balance of likelihood is what skepticism is all about.

    And while anyone is welcome to consider and even support these less-likely positions, they should expect questions from people who are less willing to make assumptions. If you choose to continue believing that what we've got is crunchy peanut butter, why shouldn't other people ask you why you think that way? Why shouldn't it be a matter of discussion? Sure, you may have questioned it yourself, weighed the evidence, but still determined that you think crunchy is the more likely answer. Perhaps you are tired of defending this position. But either way, it should be a matter of principle that making the somewhat less likely claim makes one have a greater need to defend said claim than would taking the more likely position.

    It's not really legitimate to ask those supporting more likely positions to leave yours alone. While, in the end, you may 'agree to disagree' so to speak, it still leaves you on the wrong side of probability and open to questioning. Heck, even the most likely position should ALWAYS expect to face questions. That's the point. It's just that their defense will be better, as they support the least assumptive premise given the current state of evidence. The only real problem is refusing to shift when better evidence comes to light and reveals that something is vanishingly unlikely to be correct. But no one should be beyond questioning and nothing should be off-limits, in the mind of a skeptic.

    And if we sometimes get a little bit testy when people supporting less likely positions continue to state that their position is just as reasonable as ours, well, that seems to me to be somewhat understandable. As is our frustration when others cite the privileges of belief, faith, or respect as excuses for being unwilling to recognize the more likely solution, or at least admit that the two premises are not on equal footing. And, above all, as is our anger towards people coming to a web community dedicated to QUESTIONING and refusing to BE questioned.

    I've written a book here, so I'll say no more for now. I can't say if I speak for anyone else here, but I'll not take having my position misrepresented without speaking up. And I'll not give anyone leave to ask me to NOT be skeptical just because it makes them feel bad. These discussions can be had with respect and civility, but asking one side not to present their case because you think your position is untouchable is simply inexcusable in the context of a skeptical web forum. Good day.

  37. Barney wrote:

    "Wait a minute. Mikal is American? Surely English isn’t your first language? Yet you defend yourself with “our country” and “our constitution.” I’m really not trying to attack your writing skills (you present many more important targets), I was honestly just surprised to learn you’re American.

    Mikal says:I'm answering you now,not every question is a legitimate

    mostly garbage.If you never seen me answer anything,keep looking,

    or be patient..but if it comes form exlax,Mr.ass,don't expect anything

    I don't take them seriously

    Barney says"I’ve never seen you directly answer any question put to you on this or any other thread. You either answer with an attack, or with gibberish, which I used to forgive as a bad translation program. Skeptics believe only what can be proven. If you unwaveringly believe in something that not only cannot be proven, but has, for all intents and purposes, been proven false, you cannot claim to be a skeptic. And yes this is merely one person’s opinion."

    Homer Simpson says:"You take a long time,to say nothing"

    Barney says:I also don’t like how you sneer and snap at all of us, yet talk to Rebecca as if she was a lover. Of course I can’t claim to know Rebecca’s feelings for you, but I would be sorely disappointed to learn that she’s not as annoyed as a lot of us are with your postings."

    Mikal says:I've only went out of my way once,to be sweet

    to our rebecca..What are you jealous??Yes I did send her a valentine

    and of course I wished her well,however I would do the same for any

    of you who was will,but most importantly I'm not the enemy,

    just the Devils' Advocate:M.Dmon

    Ps I'm working toward a private belly dancing session

    I'm a guy you know..Surprised about that too?

  38. February 8, 2007 at 8:52 am, jerseyred wrote:

    "Your attempt to relate your disrespect to the “belief” and not the person is quite the little effort to dodge. A person’s belief is inextricably a part of who that person is. You can not condescend and demean a man’s core values and beliefs and yet claim to respect the man."

    In two paragraphs you manage to claim both that you can't disrespect a person's beliefs without disrespecting the person, yet at the same time claim that people picketing funerals, or flying airplanes into highrise buildings is a bad example of religion doing bad things to people.

    I'll tell you one thing, if it hadn't been for religion, those four planes would have landed safely at their destination Similarly, those people would have realized that perhaps it was in bad taste to disrespect a person's family by picketing a funeral service with nasty slogans about gay people.

    You can't expect us to respect religion when it's doing these awful things to people's heads. Yet at the same time you claim we can't respect the people who hold similar beliefs. Why not?

    This really is the same kind of special pleading that even a lot of atheist skeptics argue as well, and I really think they're wrong for doing so. Religion is not free from skepticism any more than any other belief is. Your actions, whether inspired by religion, or because you believe aliens are out to get you, are your responsibility. If a belief is putting people in danger, it should be dealt with accordingly. No special dispensations or exemptions because a certain belief just happens to be a "core" belief that a lot of nice people also happen to have built their lives around. Nothing is free from criticism, especially if there's a lot of criticism to be dealt around. Especially if it's a belief so intrinsic that people base a lot of their descisionmaking on it. If it's a belief that can make people so crazy to go out and fly planes into buildings, or assasinate doctors, if it can make people EVIL that easily …

  39. Hello Expatria

    "We can never be absolutely sure."

    That's a most reasonable conclusion..

    No one is saying you don't have a right to have beliefs,you do..

    No one says you don't have the right to state your position,you

    do,regardless if it feels bad

    I don't reach your conclusion.The Jury is still out,how

    can I reach a verdict

    I'm well aware of your arguments,

    you act as if I never heard them before,the problem is you can

    accept that people still believe despite your lack of prof..

    Science has never proven God doesn't exist,so why are you

    insisting I should agree to your analasys..What DATA?

    Why on a skeptic board the majority of post are

    slamming attacking peoples faith,is that all a skeptic can do

    or is this just the Duty of an Atheist

    There's a difference

    It's almost fair to say,you couldn't be here without someones

    religion making this country what it is,it's a shame to disgrace

    their names as well..

    What I mean is,I would lov to have access to your parents,

    where i show them your "feelings"on record and get their

    honest reaction.Compare the two and post results..

    I'm positive your not just attacking our beliefs,you're

    probably dishonoring the same people that gave you

    the right to speak..

    PS please respect my short attention span

    Devils' Advocate M.Dmon

  40. February 8, 2007 at 10:10 am, jerseyred wrote:

    "Briarking wrote…”If you unwaveringly believe in something that not only cannot be proven, but has, for all intents and purposes, been proven false, you cannot claim to be a skeptic.”

    Yeow! What is that, the first commandment of the Holy Church of Skepticism? I must have missed that mandate in The Skeptics Handbook, that one’s thinking must fall within predefined parameters or they may not refer to his/herself as a “skeptic”, as if that term is the equivalent having achieved ordination. Why so doctrinaire and pedantic?"

    If one insists on believing something that, by reliable evidence has already been proven false, then, yes, you cannot call yourself a skeptic. You can pretend to be a skeptic, and badger people about the evidence provided, but in the end, the only one you're deluding is yourself, and that's the one thing a skeptic should be able to do: rethink the way you see the world when evidence says part of your worldview is wrong.

    Believe me, that's not an easy thing to do. But it is the most basic requirement of being a skeptic. The ability to admit you were wrong about something.

  41. February 8, 2007 at 2:48 pm, jerseyred wrote:

    "Exarch wrote…”I have no respect for someone who ignores evidence that what they believe is wrong.”

    As to matters of faith, Exarch, it is absolutely impossible for you to present any evidence that my belief in God is wrong. I will always have an answer for any “evidence” which you offer, whether scientific (and there is absolutely no scientific support against the existence of God) or philosophical. I do not require you to “prove” the non-existence of God, because I know that is an impossible and insincere request. Conversely, you can not honestly demand that I provide evidence for a personal conclusion of faith, because, by definition, that is not possible."

    Did you actually read what I wrote?

    I have no way of knowing if god exists or not, so I cannot give you evidence to persuade you otherwise, and I have no real wish to either at this point.

    However, if your claim of belief is "homeopathy", I can pile tons of evidence on you to show you how wrong you really are.

    Read again what I wrote. Particularly, read the last sentence of that post. It'll tell you exactly why your post was useless: you tried to argue against a point I did not make.

  42. Hello exarch

    "If one insists on believing something that, by reliable evidence

    has already been proven false, then, yes, you cannot call yourself

    a skeptic."

    It' already be clarified that data doesn't prove or disprove

    the existence of a Supreme being,so I'm perplex you

    insist that "reliable evidence has already been proven false"

    What evidence?

    If you can agree with your peers(theirs none)why do you

    insist we are wrong and you are right,theirs no God?

    Also"You can pretend to be a skeptic, and badger people about

    the evidence provided, but in the end, the only one you’re deluding

    is yourself"

    Why do you and your cult,insist you can define skepticism and

    somehow every religious Normal Person,must be nuts and got

    it wrong?Although we can't see god,we can see a definition,

    which coincidently,doesn't say you have to hate faith..That's a

    job for the Atheist,not a skeptic..

    Do you wright the definitions for Webster?

    Only Yes or no please..

  43. Exarch wrote…"In two paragraphs you manage to claim both that you can’t disrespect a person’s beliefs without disrespecting the person, yet at the same time claim that people picketing funerals, or flying airplanes into highrise buildings is a bad example of religion doing bad things to people."

    I am completely stymied now. When have I ever made any even-tangential reference to funeral pickets or airplanes being flown into buildings, let alone in the context of religion? In fact, I have been, I thought, quite clear that I was discussing faith and not religion. It is easy to counter one's position when you create both the position and the counter.

    Now let me be clear…yet again. Notwithstanding your characterizations of my positions I have offered no defense of any religion, only of the need to respect the right of other's to embrace FAITH. Surely you can distinguish between faith and religion, just as one needs to distinguish a legitimate argument from a straw man.

    As to your second response, I have offered the suggestion that you present to me your EVIDENCE that there is no God and acknowledged that I will consider–if hesitatingly–such evidence. You contend I am deluded because I may have a belief in God, notwithstanding "reliable evidence" that such a belief is "false". I will be more than happy to admit the error of my ways when confronted with what you apparently believe to be incontrovertible evidence refuting the existence of God. You have presented conclusions and opinions in the guise of fact, but you have yet to offer me any evidence, let alone compelling evidence, to support your proposition that a belief in God flies in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. I have been down this road many times before over more than a handful of decades of my life. I have heard many arguments from many people, coming from a hundred perspectives, arguing against the existence of God. I have never heard nor seen one that offers the compelling evidence you appear to promise. And, so, I am–as someone sincerely interested in examining the world, truth and my fellow man–I am open to any evidence which challenges my currently-accepted beliefs, just as you, as a true skeptic, must be prepared to admit to being wrong about the existence of God. Since, as you've written, the "basic requirement of being a skeptic (is the) ability to admit you were wrong" I'm sure you continue your lifelong search for evidence which either supports OR denies the existence of God. So absent such compelling evidence driving you to one conclusion or another–and I can at least infer that you have concluded God does not exist–I can only assume that your conclusion is simply one of your articles of FAITH and unsupported by EVIDENCE.

  44. Expatria wrote…"I think the simplest answer here is that a big part of skepticism involves attempting to free oneself from ‘matters of faith’ as defined by jerseyred, being beliefs that are impossible to prove wrong or right. If there is nothing in the world that will convince you one way or another, yet you hold firmly to a positive belief, you’re no longer being skeptical."

    I agree. Therefore, you must acknowledge the possibility that God exists. And, unless and until there is compelling evidence supporting one position or the other that possibility remains. I am open to seeing the evidence upon which you and others have relied in forming your well-considered judgments that there is no God. So far, I have only seen statements of conclusion and the attribution to me of positions I have never taken as a means of advancing the "no God" position. And I see more leaps of faith from the self-proclaimed skeptics than in anything I have written.

    But, again, I welcome the evidence which at least some claim stands to disprove the existence of God.

  45. Dear Briarking,you said,"I’ve never seen you directly

    answer any question put to you on this or any other thread"

    February 8, 2007 at 5:08 am

    I would like to think there are question

    worthy on answering seriously but please take a look

    exarch said,February 6, 2007 at 3:13 pm

    whole god thing was rather silly and might as well

    not be a part of her life?

    You see these types of "snide remarks" in mostly

    every post addressed to me,so how could I take

    something like this other than being silly monkeys??

    If the jury is still out to lunch,what is silly about faith..

    Faith is very serious,is it not?

    One would argue..

    Devils' Advocate M.Dmon

  46. February 8, 2007 at 6:56 pm, jerseyred wrote:

    "I am completely stymied now. When have I ever made any even-tangential reference to funeral pickets or airplanes being flown into buildings, let alone in the context of religion?"

    You didn't reference them, others did, and you considered them "quite silly" in light of the discussion:

    "The issue being addressed, of course, is one’s belief in God. I have never suggested that every opinion of every person is entitled to respect, and your attempt to extrapolate that to morally repugnant actions is quite silly."

    On the other hand, I don't consider such things silly. And they are, unfortunately, inextricably linked to (rooted in, even) religion, or belief (faith in a god or gods), whether you like this fact or not.

    I'm by no means saying you're the type of person who'd go picketing funerals, but some people have let their faith take such a hold of their life that they can't see how morally reprehensible their actions have become because of it.

    February 8, 2007 at 6:56 pm, jerseyred wrote:

    "As to your second response, I have offered the suggestion that you present to me your EVIDENCE that there is no God and acknowledged that I will consider–if hesitatingly–such evidence."

    And again, I ask you, did you even READ the things I wrote?

    Clearly you have not, since you have now wasted yet another rather lengthy paragraph arguing against a point I DID NOT MAKE. You keep inferring that I have somehow claimed to have evidence that god doesn't exist, when I have never made such claims, and have even clarified that whenever I'm talking about evidence, I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT RELIGION.

    Now, keeping this in mind, (even when not keeping this in mind), how can you disagree with the premise that:

    If one insists on believing something that, by reliable evidence has already been proven false, you cannot call yourself a skeptic.

    Since there is no reliable evidence regarding the existence of god (and everyone here has already acknowledged this), the whole religion point you've been determined to argue here is moot. Stop feeling persecuted and READ what people are saying. Please!

  47. Dear exarch

    "It’s not condescending at all to challenge someone’s beliefs."

    Actually it's condescending and disrespectful,and in the right

    environment even deadly..Their is nothing wrong with skepticism

    however a fine line is draw between badgering and desiring interest

    when you declare it's no worth respect..

    "In fact, if a belief can’t stand up to even a little bit of scrutiny,"

    One problem,we reached a little three weeks ago

    clearly, you were wrong for believing it in the first place.

    There you go again making declarative,rather than use

    rational reasoning,you are not considering that are intelligent

    enough,and responsible AMERICAN enough, to draw

    our own conclusion..

    When you begin to enforce your view,to over-ride another

    logical solution,than you are in the wrong,not them..

    "If even a little bit of countering opinion can get

    you to doubt your beliefs, your beliefs weren't’t

    very profound,now were they? "

    In faith we call those temptations,thanks for the heads-up..

    "The best thing that can happen to any idea is having

    it challenged,because if it stands up to that, it comes

    out stronger."

    Very good point,However a faith isn't an Idea,it's a doctrine of

    Ideologies that help govern a persons will,commitment and strength..

    who ever said religion isn't critical of itself,and members don't

    question their faith?

    Who are you to deem, a group of doctrines is worthless

    to me? You would like to strong-arm you position,I heard

    you speak this many years ago,but considering theirs no

    sufficient evidence to draw a CONCLUSIVE conclusion,why

    do I need to listen to you?I watch TV too..

    That is the hardest thing for me to understand,

    being here..

    Like I don't subscribe to Science Magazines

    "In short, I don’t think religion should be respected. I think the religious person should be respected, but their beliefs are free to be discussed and challenged. I don’t mean harassing someone about it every time you see them, just whenever it comes up in conversation."

    Okay than,I would suggest two things

    1)lets stop bring them up

    2)Join a cult..

    Because you hold the minority view in America..

    I hope I wasn't too harsh my friend.I'm working on my P.R.

    please know,I didn't enjoy the I waste shooting down your

    theories..

    You have great ideas,but you or I will not prove or disprove

    anything here,so can we agree,to disagree and move on?

    However we can learn from my two choices we do

    have a method of stopping the madness..

    Devils' Advocate M.Dmon

  48. jerseyred,

    I always acknowledge the possibility of god's existence. In the same way that I acknowledge the possibility that the smooth peanut butter in my sandwich is really crunchy peanut butter that was subjected to a mysterious gravitational pulse, simultaneously causing all of the crunchy bits to collapse in on themselves. In other words, as a vague possibility at best. As there is no need to make such a claim to explain the condition of my peanut butter, I don't choose to take the route of faith and accept it until it is proven untrue. I choose to assume it untrue, based on its extreme unlikelihood, until facts and evidence demonstrate otherwise.

    You conveniently leave out my point that, in science, skepticism, and rational argument, you start from a position assuming the NEGATIVE, not from a positive assumption. Skeptics of religion do not need to prove ANYTHING as we make no claims. We just assume the negative and examine evidence until it validates the need for any positive assumptions. Otherwise those assumptions are treated as superfluous. As you note, it doesn't mean they're wrong and nothing on earth could ever say it does. It just means that, based on our understanding of the evidence (taken here to mean, the world), they are not NEEDED. The burden of proof is on the person making those otherwise unwarranted assumptions.

    Working things out in this method is the very antithesis of 'faith,' and particularly of the sort of faith you seem to be espousing by making a claim and expecting others to prove it wrong. As my previous inelegant post attempted to demonstrate, I can make any number of unproven and unproveable claims, but no one anywhere is under any responsibility to DISprove them, and they are not on equal footing with claims that have survived inquiry. It's Russell's Teapot all over again.

    Unless you treat this point, there's no reason for me to continue the argument. This thread's already seen quite enough of me as it is!! :-D

  49. Hello Jerseyred,

    "Holy Crap! I’m new here. But I’m stunned by the

    arrogance and pungent smugness of some of these

    postings."

    I agree,those who are skeptic and still hold beliefs,

    can't breath comfortably in this smog-like environment..

    Please know,you have a friend in M.Dmon regardless

    of beliefs,it's my duty to respect them all..

    Take care M.Dmon

  50. February 8, 2007 at 7:03 pm, jerseyred wrote:

    "I agree. Therefore, you must acknowledge the possibility that God exists. And, unless and until there is compelling evidence supporting one position or the other that possibility remains."

    Just like the possibility remains that there's an invisible pink unicorn in my back yard, or a dragon in my basement, or pixies in my garage, or a teapot in orbit around Saturn, etc…

    But, like god, I choose to lump those all into the same category of "possible, maybe, but in my opinion quite silly to believe in".

    I guess the difference between you and me is that I've come to the point where the entire notion of god makes me chuckle just as much as the idea of a pink unicorn in my back yard. While you on the other hand still put belief in god on a different level than belief in silly things like pixies, the easter bunny and santa claus.

    (I don't mean this in a derogatory way, I just want to illustrate the difference in the way we see things).

  51. Hello exarch

    "And the things he HAS admitted to believing in are

    mostly stuff that’s just plain wrong, and has been

    shown to be so by scientific research."

    Lets get this straight,before I ignore you completely

    I've said my beliefs,are my beliefs,and I don't owe you

    an explanation about anything..

    You're not my priest!

    Science doesn't disprove me,It linear to my beliefs.

    Since my field of profession is also in science,I would think,

    I'm somewhat knowledgeable..

    So i don't respect your misnomer,

    and would appreciate you keeping my name,

    out your mouth..

  52. Dear exarch

    "I guess the difference between you and me is that I’ve come to the point where the entire notion of god makes me chuckle just as much as the idea of a pink unicorn in my back yard. While you on the other hand still put belief in god on a different level than belief in silly things like pixies, the easter bunny and santa claus.(I don’t mean this in a derogatory way, I just want to illustrate the difference in the way we see things"

    I understand your feeling and your entitled to them,

    however to you these may hold true but what about the next guy,

    and the next..Don't they also have a right to make a decision,which may

    take these matters more seriously..

    No offense,How do we know you take anything seriously?

    You could be a prankster,you're certainly not an adult.

    You could be many things I hold silly,like Atheist.Yet my view

    doesn't make the world turn,so why spend the day drinking

    hater-aid

    To each their own I would say..Who are we to JUDGE

    Devils' Advocate M.Dmon

  53. Just a heads up before I duck out again: You may not have noticed, but there is a certain poster who is incapable of expressing himself clearly and without either insult or gross mischaracterization, and I have for at least a little while now refused to speak directly to him. This is, in part, because he is unable to finish reading even a single post or listen to the reasons contained therein and follow them to their conclusion.

    However, there is one thing that I have to mention directly to him before I go, and that's this: Who the HELL do you think you are to mention my family and my parents, hmm? Acting as if I'm some petulant child and you think that 'telling' them on me would hurt their feelings? You know nothing of me, nor of my life. I don't talk TO you, I don't discuss your personal life outside of this message board, and I make no assumptions about your family. So where do you get off doing so for me? You talk of respect as if you have the slightest clue what you mean when you speak the word, but clearly, sir, you do not.

    However, as unnecessary as it is to do so, I will indulge you. My father knows full well that I'm an atheist, and he and I have discussed the issue many times. He doesn't agree with views, fully, nor does he fully disagree. This despite his being raised a devout Roman Catholic. On the record, as you say, he frankly could care less and respects my feelings on the matter and would admit to as much.

    And, since you saw fit to bring it into this discussion, my mother is dead and has been for twenty-two years. Of what she might think on the matter of my atheism, I can say no more, because I never got the chance to find out more about her than any three year old can learn from someone dying slowly from skin cancer for the entire period of his acquaintance. However, I'd like to think that, in between hospital stays and through the ravages of chemo and interferon treatments, she'd be pleased that I use the brain I've got to think and find conclusions that make sense to me. But I suppose I'll never know, will I?

    So, how DARE you speak of dishonor, or of disgrace, you so-called devil's advocate? And how DARE you even presume to hazard guesses about how anyone in my family might feel about me, my life, my accomplishments, or my personal feelings on religion? If you were trying to turn things personal, you've succeeded, you bumbling twit. Except that I, unlike you, have a sense of common DECENCY and will not stoop to your level. I make no comment about your damned personal life as it is IRRELEVANT to my arguments and to the issues we are discussing here. All I know about you or will care to comment on about you comes from THIS BOARD and nowhere else. And, if I ever address you or anything else you may have to say again, which is, at this moment, extremely unlikely, you'll know that, whether I feel your views are worthy of respect or not, I'll keep your family out of it.

    Was this short enough for your attention span, you second-rate troll, or should I break it up and post one word at a time?

  54. Dear Jersey

    exarch said,

    "Now, keeping this in mind, (even when not keeping this in mind),

    how can you disagree with the premise that:If one insists on believing something that, by reliable evidence has already been proven false,

    you cannot call yourself a skeptic.

    Since there is no reliable evidence regarding the existence

    of god (and everyone here has already acknowledged this)"

    Since this TOPIC is about loosing faith,the

    comment in question:that"there is no reliable evidence

    regarding the existence of god" Sounds like something

    an Atheist would say,not a skeptic..

    A skeptic could suggest,theirs nothing to prove that

    so the decree,is a misnomer..

    A spiritualist would deduce,God is everywhere and everything.

    So how many lifetimes must we need to figure this out??

    Devils' Advocate M.Dmon

  55. You hurt my attention span,and I meant you no disrespect..

    My apologies

    I do speak with families all the time about their petulant

    children and the effect of their conduct.I only mean to speak with experience I sense a troubled rebellion in your statements,my

    intuition were correct however,I'm not proud it was..

    I have learned the word respect, the hard way.

    I've also been through allot of hell to be here,

    but I don't blame God for anything..

    I "believe"your father would like to be proud of you

    I'm only curious to know his answer

    Not to be mean my friend,but to be real..

    I'm sorry for bothering you

    Take care M.Dmon

  56. Mikal I'm not advocating you adressing me or even respecting anyone here, instead I am asking you to add to the discussions rather than exist here simply to be a nuissance.

    It has little to do with me and much more to do with acting like a human interested in learning. You deffiniatly do not have to agree with us, but I would prefer open debate and argument come from you rather than insults.

    I have made a consious effort to do the same over the last week and told you as much- yet you still act like a child who hasn't gotten his cookie.

    In an attempt to be a better person I wish to refrain from acting the way I have most of my life, though I do enjoy being the jerk I do think it's time for us to stop doing it here.

    So shape up or ship out… right now my vote is to have you leave unless you wish to be civil. (Granted I have no power to make this happen, but with the way you've acted I'm sure there are many others in agreement with me.)

    DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE THE SELF CONTROL TO BE CIVIL?

  57. JERSEY,

    "Skepticism needs to be a method of analysis and thought, not a secularized religion with all the same incivility and disrespect exhibited by many “true believers”."

    Can you point out where we have done this?

  58. MESSAGE TO ALL THE RELIGIOUS PEOPLE POSTING COMMENTS HERE:

    When we are talking about being skeptics and having evidence for the things we believe, we are not talking about religion.

    Let me repeat this for the umpteenth time so it gets through your thick skull in case you still haven't got it yet:

    You are not being persecuted for being religious, no matter how much you may like feeling indignation over being persecuted. The evidence we are talking about is real scientific evidence, not non-existent make-believe evidence for or against the existence of god(s) of any kind.

    Again:

    Scientific evidence unrelated to religion.

    (Unless you believe such things as litteral biblical young earth creationism, or any other ACTUAL claims made in the bible, then we do have some evidence for you to consider).

    In other words LEARN TO READ THE FUCKING POSTS INSTEAD OF WHAT YOU WANT THEM TO READ!

    I hope this at least helps a little bit in clearing up the rampant confusion that keeps some people posting shitloads of argument in response to claims nobody here has made.

    Thank you.

  59. Exarch, I'm 100% on your side, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to throw a little wrench in your last post. I actually HAVE been talking about religion, as well as pseudo-science. While I have to admit it is impossible to actually disprove the existence of a god, there are tons and reams and museums and laboratories full of hard evidence supporting a natural cosmic evolution. We could have arrived at today without any god. Yet there's not one iota of fact to support any sort of devine intervention. So it will take nothing short of Christ, or whatever God exists, meeting me face to face (and perhaps taking Randi's challenge :)) to make me believe otherwise. But I WOULD change my mind at that point! I can't actually disprove the existence of an invisible unicorn in someone's backyard, either, but until I am shown some evidence, I feel I can dismiss the claim as ludicrous and still comfortably call myself a skeptic. I will never judge or disrespect anyone based SOLELY on their religious beliefs (I'm married to a pagan, after all!). I only become defensive and, yes, a little smug, when someone tries to belittle MY beliefs (read: evidence). I'm not pointing any fingers here, I just want it to be known that when I say "beliefs" I am also including religion. It just seems to me that most of you skeptical defenders are trying to be politically correct or something. So let me say it: Faith has no place in skepticism. Unless you count having faith in the results of the multitudes of scientific experiments.

    As for Mikal, (Nice one on the "Barney" by the way. Why didn't I think of that?!) you keep calling yourself a devil's advocate. That's someone who argues just for the sake of argument. So I will NEVER respond to another thing you say.

  60. Briarking, I do count religion among the various "beliefs" people hold. But I do not include religion in the group of beliefs that people cling to despite evidence to the contrary. Not by default anyway. The reason being that there's no proof for the existence of god, only proof that certain versions of god are wrong.

Leave a Reply

You May Also Enjoy

Close
Close