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.


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

3 thoughts on “Skeptics and Mystics

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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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