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Dav, while I am much closer to the skeptic/atheist side of the spectrum in the grand scheme of things, I just don't see religious people giving up what they believe in.

For better or for worse, religion is a part of humanity, (maybe it even helps to define what it is to be human) and I'm not sure we'd be better off as a race if we were all aetheist.

I just hope that within my lifetime we receive definitive proof of extra-terrestrial life. That would really shake things up ;)


Yes, I certainly do believe that religion can play a positive effect on many people's lives.

A good old friend of mine is probably the smartest person I've ever known. He earned three bachelor's degrees (physics, chemistry and mathematics) and then to my surprise became a devout fundamentalist christian. He nows believes every word in the bible. -Every- -word-. I can appreciate that as he delved further into the nature of the universe he began to see that while science cannot yet prove the existence of God it certainly can't disprove it either. But the reason I'm totally OK with him 'switching teams' is that he always had a bit of a devious streak, and he told me that if he could not believe in the christian mythology (well he didn't call it a mythology), with it's rewards and punishments for the devout and sinners, he would probably be a rather evil person and disrupt society in various negative ways. I believe him, and I believe it's better for him to believe in God.

Religion was discussed much in the book The Lucifer Principle which I blogged about a few entries back (read it, I doubt you would be disappointed). It has played a major part in shaping our global societies, for better and for worse, by acting as a transport mechanism of memes much as RNA transports genes around. Religion and War are tightly linked in that regard.

Most of my friends and family here in California, while I love them dearly (and one of them wholly), are total fruitcakes. They believe in all kinds of stuff from new age astrological psychic power nonsense, to chinese ghost stories, to homeopathic medicine. I don't spend a lot of time trying to make them apply some critical thinking to their beliefs (well, I've mostly given up).

As for extra-terrestrial life, I wouldn't be surprised if we find some simple forms of it right here in our own solar system.


I've been a fan of the Skeptical Inquirer for years but I wasn't aware of this Skeptic magazine. I'll have to check it out.

Uber-skeptic The Amazing Randi continues to kick granola-crunching new-age ass, and not just because he's based in my hometown of Ft. Lauderdale. And the meta-skeptical Fortean Times can be good for chuckles...

Here are two sites that are handy to link to for quick refutation of fruitcake friends' boneheaded e-mails about everything from astrology to zombies: The Skeptic's Dictionary and urbanlegends.com

-Sean (a Californian and a freak, but NOT a fruitcake.)


shit, why do you command the Baby Jesus to strip html from akuaku comments? well here are those URLS:



> People gravitate toward the "skeptical movement"
> when they are strong enough or open-minded
> enough to accept the responsibility, effort,
> and personal sacrifice (socially, and
> spiritually) that it requires.

And sometimes they gravitate to skepticism when they are obtuse enough to lack a significant spiritual sensibility to begin with, to have any feeling for what it is that draws thinking people to religion.

That said, atheists are usually as devout as they come.

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