The Alabaster Sock

We Will Fight the Threat with Fighting

Posted by Matt on February 11, 2010

Not that long ago, I considered myself an agnostic. I had entered my rage-against-the-machine age (with the added benefit of the Internet telling me what machines to rage against), and had decided that religion was bad and stuff, but still maintained some level of confidence in the possibility of the supernatural. I didn’t know what exactly it was, or what it did, or how that makes any sort of sense at all, I just could not completely disbelieve in…something.

I did not come from a religious background in the slightest. My parents never went to church or even talked about religious beliefs at all. Even my grandmother, who regularly volunteers at church functions, never appeared to be openly religious around me aside from the aforementioned volunteer work. So, unlike some, I did not have some previous religious belief to justify that lingering belief.

No, the reason I refused to stop believing in some unnamed supernatural thingamajig was because I had come from a childhood obsession with unsolved mysteries. Stuff like cryptozoology, UFOs, ghosts, psychic powers, that kind of thing. My consumption of musty books and TV documentaries about these subjects had trained me to ‘look beyond’, or more specifically, to be skeptical of skeptics. When I was the kid, the guy from The Skeptic who was always asked to appear on the documentaries was the enemy, coming on to rain on our parade. In my teenage decision to go agnostic, I was still in the grip of this type of thing, although I can’t say I believed in that stuff as strongly as I had previously. I created a sort of scientific way of approaching the completely unscientific, just so I wouldn’t look like a sucker buying into every tall tale I heard. For example, I thought that the Yeti was more likely to exist than Bigfoot, because there was more ‘evidence’ for it (evidence that, strangely, was never really tested by anyone with credibility, and seemed to disappear quite frequently), and due to some kind of logic, the Ogopogo was more likely to exist than the Loch Ness Monster. Stuff like that. I even remember writing an article on Lit.org, explaining my approach, with the example being that even if there are people out there who have never heard of a squirrel, and thus don’t believe in the existence of squirrels, doesn’t mean squirrels’ don’t exist; and somehow this also applies to supernatural things. Not the most accurate comparison, I know. But this was the kind of belief system I was working under at the time.

My decision to maintain that mindset that the supernatural could still possibly exist, even if most of the supernatural beliefs professed by others were wrong, was because I just couldn’t shake that part of me that wanted desperately to continue believing in the stuff I had been reading about for years. I continued to use the Bigfoot researcher criticism of ‘mainstream’ science, that it couldn’t possibly know everything, and often they ignore things that don’t fit into the status quo (I now know that is entirely against the nature of science). I honestly thought it was the more logical route, between pure religious belief and pure scientific thought; for people with want of information, the middle ground always seems to be the best road, although I now understand that most of the time it really isn’t.

Of course, I’ve grown out of that stuff now, and I fully recognize it for what it is: a field of cranks and weirdos. I think it was the later exposure to science and sociological theory, coupled with my studies in the evolution ‘controversy’, that showed me the more logical path to take. I now call myself a rationalist, although I really can’t say that what I label myself is going to be the most accurate description. I still kind of find those unsolved mystery-related things from my childhood to be somewhat enjoyable, although far less than I used to, and I don’t take them seriously at all. To me, Bigfoot is just another folktale, and unlike many things I liked when I was a kid, I am actually still interested in folklore and mythology. I think I have my priorities straight at this point.

And that was my longer personal post for the year. Expect long-winded speeches about Street Fighter‘s character roster to be twice the length of this.

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