December 23, 2008

Skeptics and True Believers

These descriptions of (1) Skeptics and (2) True Believers in Chet Raymo's book "Skeptics and True Believers: The Exhilarating Connection between Science and Religion" sound good to me, but it should be noted that Raymo is, himself, a skeptic -- as am I.

  • Skeptics are children of the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment. They are always a little lost in the vastness of the cosmos, but they trust the ability of the human mind to make sense of the world. They accept the evolving nature of truth, and are willing to live with a measure of uncertainty. Their world is colored in shades of gray. They tend to be socially optimistic, creative and confident of progress. Since they hold their truths tentatively, Skeptics are tolerant of cultural and religious diversity. They are more interested in refining their own views than in proselytizing others. If they are theists, they wrestle with their God in a continuing struggle of faith. They are often plagued by personal doubts and prone to depression.

  • True Believers are less confident that humans can sort things out for themselves. They look for help from outside -- from God, spirits or extraterrestrials. Their world is black and white. They seek simple and certain truths, provided by a source that is more reliable than the human mind. True Believers prefer a universe proportioned to the human scale. They are repulsed by diversity, comforted by dogma and respectful of authority. True Believers go out of their way to offer (sometimes forcibly administer) their truths to others, convinced of the righteousness of their cause. They are likely to be "born again," redeemed by faith, apocalyptic. Although generally pessimistic about the state of this world, they are confident that something better lies beyond the grave.


anonyrod said...

Back to the original sin, getting sucked into duality; the true nature of ignorance (although it does have its uses, particularly cause and effect).

Human beings are incapable of knowing the whole picture, and the parts that they can know are beyond words.

Trying to make sense of the world is limited, but at least it is not as foolish as looking beyond our own being for the answers.

We are like the patrons of the night club where the band have just set the whole place on fire; making sense of it all is not really an issue, the issue at hand is to get out.

While we can argue over what is true or not, the real issue is not being here in the first place (it sucketh).

Thus, one can say that the people who have got it right work on this main issue at their own particular pace.

Tom said...

People [including me, alas] are going to categorize, rank and discriminate. Not to do so would be a flatland view, and that's not right.

Can we not see the forest for the trees and the trees in the forest? Mustn't we try to do it all? And in this welter of information cannot we find the grail, circuminsessional interpenetration?

Buddha said...

Beliefs are like collored eye glasses.
The world looks like the glasses we wear!

Mumon said...

I just hope things get better for you; if it weren't for you I'd have not found other blogs & blogisattva awards & the like.

Tom said...


I think that you are right. I think that I am attracted to Buddhism because here the ideal -- at least -- is to see things unfiltered by tinted glasses.

Tom said...

Kind Mumon,

Things are pretty tough, but the fellows in the homeless community of Sacramento are pretty damned amazing and amazingly nice.

I do need to escape where I am: A member of the underclass with a felony charge hanging over him. But I do not regret having gone through this experience. I am changed for the better by it. I recommend that everyone be subjected to homelessness.

I hope you are well, O Mumon.