Sunday, March 13, 2011

Thoughts about materialist-based skepticism

I enjoy listening to scientists--and other thinkers who believe that reality is material-based--discuss paranormal phenomena... even when they do not "believe" that such phenomena are what they are purported to be. In fact, I am more inclined to listen to a materialist skeptic than I am to a uncritical believer.

My reasoning is simple: Either paranormal phenomena are what they purport to be, or they aren't. Either Aunt Sally visited you after she died, or she didn't; either you had a real encounter with a presence from another world, or you confabulated it. The materialists' refusal to believe such phenomena will not change the reality of it, nor does their disbelief threaten me. I think that if such phenomena are "real" (i.e., that they are what they seem to be, genuine encounters from outside our reality), then proof will inevitably follow, someday.

On the other hand, an uncritical belief in a phenomenon that does not exist can lead to distortions, errors, and dead-ends. Witness the problems in much of the "alien abduction" literature.

So we should always welcome what science has to say, even if we don't initially think that it will help the "cause." At the very least, we can learn what we can safely disbelieve.

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