Here’s an amusing commencement speech from Michael Shermer, the founder of the Skeptic’s Society.
The Meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything
Of course, I agree with the man on most points and find his speech highly interesting and entertaining. However, there is one point on which I would like to disagree. Dr. Shermer quotes a bumper sticker, that reads, “MILITANT AGNOSTIC: I DON’T KNOW AND YOU DON’T EITHER”.
Presumably, he believes this to be the skeptic’s default stance. However, in this case, I think he has failed to exhibit true skepticism. It is my opinion that a true skeptic would require credible information in order to give credence to an hypothesis. For example, I do not believe a skeptic would truly consider the possibility that there are elusive fire-breathing dragons somewhere on earth.
It is my strong opinion that a skeptic would require a shred of evidence in order to give any credence to such a possibility. Skeptics doubt. That is the defining characteristic. I think that when presented with a claim, a skeptic’s first response would be doubt. This might be expressed as “why should I believe that?”
Such is the case for god.
When I hear claims of the existence of god, my response is “why should I believe that?” It may be expressed as “show me the evidence.” Either way, there is no evidence. There is not even reason to postulate the existence of god.
So, enjoy reading the speech. I hope you find it informative, educational, and entertaining. However, when you get to this one small subsection which is definitively not the main point of the article, read it with the skepticism that Shermer himself would advocate. Ask for yourself whether you feel there is enough reason to even consider the hypothesis of god. Ask for yourself what is the skeptical position on the subject of god.