This I believe and this I do not believe

George - Brooklyn, Michigan
Entered on May 6, 2009
Age Group: 65+

The word believe is schizophrenic. When used by scientists, skeptics, and people with well-developed critical thinking

skills, it is usually based upon some rational foundation or upon empirical evidence. In the world of science there are no

absolute truths. All knowledge is tentative, and only accepted if supported by credible, reproducible, testable, and

falsifiable empirical evidence.

In the supernatural worlds of religion and pseudo science, on the other hand, the word believe holds a different meaning.

In these disciplines, supernatural explanations reign supremely. All knowledge follows from absolute truths that are

rooted in faith, and must be accepted in spite of empirical evidence to the contrary.

As a skeptical person with a scientific background I tend to use the word accept, leaving believe to the folks in the

supernatural world. I refuse to accept the supernatural explanations that are based upon blind faith or ancient holy books

that are rife with contradictory information, demonstrably false information, and highly questionable myths and fairy tales.

One of the primary reasons that the scientific method has been so successful in improving the lot of humankind since the

scientific enlightenment is the rejection of supernatural explanations in all things scientific.

In a similar vein, I reject the unfounded supposition that a person must hold or be indoctrinated with religious beliefs in

order to be moral, spiritual, compassionate, charitable, or patriotic. These admirable characteristics are shared equally

by good people of all faiths as well as by people with no faith at all. Parents can instill these qualities into their offspring

without brainwashing them into a supernatural, dogmatic system of religious beliefs. As young children mature, we allow

them to cast off make believe entities like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny while forcing them to believe in equally

specious concepts like God, the Holy Ghost, a myriad of incredulous miracles, and heaven and hell, just to mention a few.

I do not need some vindictive deity to threaten and scare me into becoming a decent, moral person.

Nonbelievers also enjoy a very rich and wide ranging spirituality by marveling at, studying, and understanding the

wonders of nature from the majesty of the largest structures in the universe to the quantum strangeness of the smallest

subatomic world. I also become spiritually moved by the transcendental beauty of the aural and visual arts. What

could be more spiritually uplifting than the awe inspiring symphonies of Mozart, Beethoven or Mahler, the operas of

Rossini, Verdi, or Puccini, or the paintings of Leonardo, Monet, or Raphael.

I also reject other forms of junk science, religion and other supernatural disciplines like homeopathy, UFOlogy,

creationism (also known as intelligent design), astrology, phrenology, palm reading, faith healing, witch doctoring,

ouija boarding, tarot carding, numerology, iridology, reflexology, psychic surgery, etc. If any such disciplines can

pass rigorous scientific validation, then I will gladly accept their validity. Until then, they are not worthy of consideration

as legitimate.