Skeptics and Mystics

I spend too much time on MetaFil­ter, but I find it quite intel­lec­tu­al­ly stim­u­lat­ing when I don’t find it quite sil­ly. Sub­lime and ridicu­lous. Any­way, I’m some­what of a minor­i­ty there since I’m Catholic and it seems at least the most vocal peo­ple are quite sec­u­lar. This is good for me.

This is good for me because it chal­lenges me to rec­on­cile unrea­son with rea­son and belief with fact. I’m not going to men­tion truth [except for these cou­ple of sen­tences] because truth and fact are two dif­fer­ent things to me. Facts are true, but not all truths are fact. So I should change the instances of fact in this post to truth. Maybe I’ll go into more detail on that some­time. Con­tin­u­ing:

The peo­ple that chal­lenge my beliefs most often are empiri­cists. They take fact, log­ic and rea­son as their tools for liv­ing life. I am not much of an empiri­cist. Yes, I have some of that Ger­man­ic love of see­ing every­thing set out order­ly, well-dia­grammed and in its place, but that is use­ful to me only as a place from which to leap into the unknown. I like cal­cu­la­tions but I’m not cal­cu­lat­ing. I have no real use for the sci­en­tif­ic method.

My unrea­son isn’t the most use­ful of things, but to me it is a sight more inter­est­ing than log­ic alone. I’ve run across skep­tics who believe noth­ing unless they can see empir­i­cal evi­dence and I’ve met mys­tics who will believe the cra­zi­est tripe despite empir­i­cal evi­dence to the con­trary. I try to keep my own path right in the mid­dle. Things that can­not be proven nor dis­proven empir­i­cal­ly [onto­log­i­cal here we go!] are what intrigue me and give me the most exer­cise.

So when I am chal­lenged in my unrea­son­able­ness at believ­ing that a high­er pow­er is respon­si­ble for this that is, it seems like the peo­ple who do this are the ones who are pure skep­tics. Hm, I don’t think I’m explain­ing this too well. It isn’t sup­posed to sound like a fight.

Start­ing again but not from the begin­ning: I am quite open to engag­ing in ideas and the­o­ries that can be nei­ther proven nor dis­proven, as futile as it might seem. I’m unrea­son­able in that sense. But I had to fig­ure out what sep­a­rat­ed me from the mys­tics who believe in the Hol­low Earth or that flu­o­ride in the water is a communist/government plot to killus/dispose of tox­ic waste. The hard­core empiri­cists [not the empiri­cists who just want proof], the ones who get livid at the fact that unrea­son exists are the folks who have helped me shuf­fle out and solid­i­fy my own curi­ous unrea­son and mys­ti­cism. I’ll give a well-thought-out but unprove­able asser­tion a good lis­ten­ing and if I find it to be valu­able will believe in it as far as I find it to be use­ful. But while I believe that some­thing as seem­ing­ly far-out as telepa­thy has dis­tinct pos­si­bil­i­ties, I refuse to call it super­nat­ur­al, some­thing I think is impos­si­ble.

Hm.

Just because some­thing is unproven, doesn’t mean it should be dis­missed as idio­cy.

3 Replies

  • In defense of my own (non-beliefs, I guess 😉 — though I know this is not an argeu­ment — not every­one who doesn’t believe in a high­er pow­er does so out of the need for proof or log­ic. On a per­son­al lev­el, I just don’t feel the need to do so. I was raised Roman Catholic, so I had that option avail­able to me and, yes, I went through my bit­ter con­fronta­tion­al peri­od when I was younger, but as I got old­er, I became..and I don’t real­ly like this word, so I don’t know how accu­rate it is..but “indif­fer­ent”. Yea, maybe there is a God out there, who knows, I don’t claim to. But, if so, I doubt he/she/it real­ly needs me to believe in he/she/it in order to val­i­date it’s own exis­tance (and if so, that’s an awful­ly inse­cure god and I’m not into hold­ing oth­er­word­ly beings hands and telling them “it’s all­right”). So, I live my life as I will, just try­ing not to hurt any­one. I don’t care if oth­er peo­ple want to believe in God, unless the idea is used as an excuse to sup­port their nat­ur­al ignorance/hatred/prejudice or if they get in my face about not.

  • I think a lot of peo­ple out there that want some­thing to val­i­date a cer­tain belief.They only believe things that are fact or proven with a sci­en­tif­ic method. Now while I under­stand that log­ic I don’t agree with it. Sci­ence can only get you so far. Sci­ence can­not give you hope when there is none, sci­ence can­not make you feel like you are not so alone in this world. A belief in some­thing (in my opin­ion) can’t be proved (like try­ing to PROVE you love someone),it doesn’t NEED to be proved. If you believe it in your heart to be true,that what oth­er proof do you need? I grew up the very same as Pat, but we both took dif­fer­ent paths. While he does not believe in God, I accept that as his beliefs and leave it at that. I think the peo­ple who ATTACK oth­ers for what they believe are sim­ply inse­cure. Truth I think, over­rules fact any day of the week.

  • I’ll start by say­ing that Patrick and I have basi­cal­ly the same beliefs — but then, that’s one of those things you square away in a rela­tion­ship when you decide to get mar­ried — like talk­ing about if you want kids or not.

    Any­way — I took all these the­o­ret­i­cal class­es in art school where we would have meta­phys­i­cal con­ver­sa­tions with our pro­fes­sor, who start­ed out study­ing sci­ence in col­lege, and then became an artist. He is very philosph­i­cal. And Ger­man.

    One of the main things we came back to is that sci­ence is not fact. You can state things like the mass of a gram of iron or the line dis­tin­guish­ing where one piece of mat­ter ends and the oth­er begins, but these are all based on human con­jec­tures.

    All sci­en­tif­ic “facts”, or all facts in gen­er­al, are human con­structs. We con­duct exper­i­ments and pro­pose the­o­rems but all the mea­sure­ments and what­not all come back to some­thing arbi­trary and sub­jec­tive. Such as — deter­min­ing that a pound is six­teen ounces.

    So — I call myself an athe­ist because I don’t believe in a supreme being that over­sees the uni­verse. I do not claim that all the answers are in so called ratio­nal­iza­tion and fact because I don’t think there are any absolutes that can be known.

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