April 3, 2009

Why is the Water Boiling? (A Parable)

Science and faith each claim to be pathways to discovery of ultimate truths. Yet the answers they come up with often seem so different, that one wonders how they can both be observing the same reality. How is it even remotely possible that science and faith could have equal validity as I seem to be claiming?

To address this paradox, Cambridge mathematical physicist and Anglican priest (how’s that for a set of credentials?) Rev. Dr. John Polkinghorne often cites the different types of answers that could be given to the question: “Why is the water boiling?” To further illustrate the point, I have embellished the illustration into the form of the following parable:

April 1, 2009

The View from the Skeptic Tank

Are you a skeptic? Before you answer that, let me tell you that, in my opinion, most people who call themselves skeptics are frauds.

You see, a skeptic is someone who doubts, probes and questions. Skeptics don’t accept commonly held beliefs just because they are popular, sound good, or tend to confirm a position they’ve already taken. A true skeptic continues to question and reexamine positions including, and I would say especially, their own.

On the other hand, most self-proclaimed skeptics I know of have long ago staked out their position, and exercise their “skepticism” only against those with whom they already disagree. In my mind, that makes them “cynics”, not “skeptics”.