This one might be a little long, sorry.
I often speak of my friend on this site. This is because we have very deep, insightful discussions dealing with religion. While having a discussion on Atheism and Skepticism he uttered the famous quote;
“A a skeptic you believe anything can happen”
very interesting considering this is the definition of a skeptic; http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/skeptic
Pretty clear huh?
I don’t believe anything can happen, not at all. Basically I just want evidence when any claim is made. If someone says that they were flying close to the sun with homemade wings, I would not automatically believe that it can happen. I would doubt it could happen and then demand evidence of the claim. If given evidence that can be demonstrated and independently verifiable then I will believe it.
This is my problem with the Church. They don’t encourage skepticism in any way. In fact, people growing up in the church are taught a strict set of beliefs and actively discouraged from investigating these claims outside of the church or the bible. Basically it teaches people to believe things without evidence. This presents a lifelong problem. If people are taught from a young age to accept claims without evidence and not do research then they grow up and tend to believe things without doing the proper research or questioning of claims.
How do I know this? Experience.
People here at my work are devout Christians. And to make matters worse, they pretty much only make decisions based on what their pastor says. Here is a list of things that people here have purported to be true, and this is just lately;
1: All the women at a particular restaurant are prostitutes.
–I asked how they knew this to be true and this was the response: “Because my friend told me so.” This person never ate at the restaurant in question, and doesn’t know anybody who works there.
2: Email forwards
-These are my favorite, they all start out along the same lines as this “This explains things better than all the baloney you hear on TV.” And go on to explain how men hide in the backseat of your car, cut your Achilles tendon while hiding under your car, how you need to check your hotel beds for HIV infected needles, and any number of insane warnings that are not validated with facts. When I ask them about how they know them to be true, I usually get an answer like this; “My friend got it from a friend who is a (insert profession here, cop, marine, lawyer, etc…)”. Right.
3. Resistance to Art
-It could be anything, music, movies, TV shows etc.. Example; I was speaking about how my son loves Spongebob Squarepants. The girl I was talking about the show with freaked out! “I cant believe you let him watch that! Its a bad show!” I asked her why it is a bad show and she said that “She heard it was”. She didn’t want to actually find out if it was a “bad show”, she just wanted to tell people it was. She was operating on a claim that was made without finding any evidence to prove or disprove it. I explained to her that she needs to watch the show before she makes a statement of fact like that. She said she didnt need to. OK.
See the pattern? When people are raised to accept claims without evidence, and are discouraged to find independent answers they are likely to grow up and believe other things without evidence.
So, how do skeptics still “… believe anything can happen”?
I wonder if he was serious when he said that.