Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Atheist Experience: skepticism

This is an excerpt from the Atheist Experience TV show, episode #692, with hosts Matt Dillahunty and Don Baker.

This is my perspective, too. First and foremost, I'm a skeptic. I think that the truth matters, and that it's a good idea to have evidence backing up your beliefs (and no, that thought is not original with me, either).

I come by my atheism because of my skepticism, because no religion or religious belief seems to have real evidence backing it up. Well, religions are faith-based, not evidence-based, for good reason. It's not coincidence that Doubting Thomas wasn't presented as a role-model in the Bible. (If you haven't read your Bible, the lesson was "believe as you're told.")

Now, it's not that every religious person is going to burn witches alive or fly planes into buildings, but when you believe by faith, anything is possible. And although a lack of skepticism is damaging in many areas of our society, religion seems to pose the biggest danger to civilized society these days.

Moderate and liberal believers are a lot easier to get along with than the fanatics, but they still end up supporting faith-based thinking. After all, when you believe by faith, how can you really say that anyone else is wrong when he uses the same method to determine the truth that you do - faith?

Evidence-based thinkers tend to come to a consensus on what's true and what isn't. Science doesn't depend on where you were born or what your parents thought. And that consensus is what allows science to progress, continually building on previous discoveries.

Skepticism is all about being evidence-based. (No, it's not the same as disbelief or denial.) We skeptics apportion our belief to the evidence. Well, we care about the truth. Even if we'd prefer a fantasy, we want to deal honestly - maybe even courageously - with reality.

We think that's a good thing - and we have evidence to back that up. :)


Jeff said...

"Moderate and liberal believers are a lot easier to get along with than the fanatics..."

With that in mind, here's an article for your consideration:

It would appear that British Christians lean much further to the left than their American Christian counterparts (granted, they're still mired in faith-based thinking).

Looks like there was something to Robin Williams' joke about America being founded by the Puritans; a group of religious fanatics so anal-retentive that England KICKED THEM OUT!! :)

No, they weren't persecuted, England just said, "Get the f--k out. Take your pimp shoes and go." :D

But you know how American Christians are; they love playing the "victim" (pay no attention to all the money and political power they have).

WCG said...

Thanks for the link, Jeff. But I don't know what to think about it.

For one thing, I'm not sure who their 'non-religious' are (in that Demos report). Are these atheists, or just people who don't bother with church much? From what I hear, there's a lot of spiritualism and other woo in England, despite the widespread decline of Christian churches.

But it's also hard to compare Britain and America because we've got the separation of church and state. That makes Sharia Law a non-issue here - despite right-wing fantasies - but an actual concern there (so British atheists might be more sympathetic to Pat Condell, for example).

I don't know. I've heard that American evangelicals are turning to liberal political and economic views, but I've seen no sign of it myself. If it's true, are they acting on that?

I mean, officially, the Catholic Church is against capital punishment, but that doesn't keep them from supporting right-wingers every chance they get. There are beliefs, and then there are beliefs that you actually care about.

I'll gladly work with liberal believers on issues of mutual concern, but I guess I hope that American evangelicals stay fanatically right-wing and help drive young people away from religion entirely. :)