Monday, 5 February 2007

Scepticism, Enquiry and Reason

As regular readers of my blog will know, but perhaps not care greatly about, I am a sceptic who wishes he wasn't. I look for patterns and sense in the world, as well as for things to counter my limited view of reality - the strange, the unaccounted for, and so on. You might also remember that I've mentioned in the past my disappointment that these things have failed to turn up in my life. Technically I suppose it is unreasonable or irrational to want there to be other things than I can see, but there are three main elements (rather than reasons) behind my belief:
1. I cannot believe that the perception of such a limited creature as myself should bear any resemblance to the great truths of reality or existence;
2. I do not want our cultural arrogance to turn out in fact to be the case;
3. I would like there to be purpose to life, irrespective of whether we can or choose to give meaning to it.

These have not been arrived at through logical thought; rather through experience, disappointment and irrationally choosing one position over another on the sole basis that I find it more morally-aesthetically appealing. I am a sceptic but a reluctant one - a position which for me refutes the idea commonly advanced in favour of hating certain groups of people and being able to express it loudly in law, that they "choose" their worldview. I don't. I have it. If I do become an atheist at any point (I'd rather not) it would be because I felt I had no choice in view of how I saw the world. I could not simply change the way I understand life, it would change me. I would like to be shocked (as I often pretended to be as a teenager) into a radically different view of the world, but as it happens I have never been.

I mention all this because of a recent post over at James's place in which he used a photo I was sure I'd seen before. Right enough it was a photo of the 1950 Trent Farm UFO sighting, one which though it has been put through lots of analysis has yet to be proved definitively fake. This means nothing of course, except that it is evidence in favour of a kind of faith (at the moment), and is a minuscule reason to hold to the idea of other things. I am often asked whether ufology is compatible with religious belief - I've never seen the contradiction myself (a la God, in the great Radio 4 series Old Harry's Game: "Do you really think you're the best I could manage?"). The Trent Farm photo proves nothing, suggest very little. To me it just means that there might, still, be something else. All too often evidence for the existence of ufos has been thoroughly and incontrovertibly smashed into fragments. Perhaps this will be (I've seen it happen often enough to "good" pictures). But it's still out there.

Alas I'm struggling to publish it here but you can see the photo here

It doesn't look much, but I'm told it's been terribly good in tests.

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