Friday, September 25, 2009

Of Leprechauns, Flying Reindeer, UFOs, Invisible Dragons, and Such

My daughter came home totally convinced that leprechauns are real.

I mean, totally.

She came home bubbling over with excitement, telling us of how the leprechauns came and stole their cookies and ice cream while they were out to play. Apparently he came back in the room and ran around some. But nobody actually saw him do this.

My daughter explained that leprechauns move far to fast to see them.

But, the little green man did happen to leave his hat behind as he rushed away.

I found her excitement adorable on the surface. But deep down, I worried that my daughter being indoctrinated with credulity.

For what observable phenomena of nature proves the leprechaun to be real? How am I to distinguish the invisible dragon which leaves no trace from a non-existent dragon? What difference do UFOs and space aliens make if only a select few ever get to see them while the rest of our world moves along, unfazed?

We demand observable proof for many of the important things in our lives. We want to see the person at the cash register give us our change. If a utility bill appears to over charge us, many of us will investigate. Should we hear surprising news, we may double check the information by checking out more than one (reliable) source.

Why not do this for leprechauns, flying reindeer, UFOs, invisible dragons, and such?

Besides, credulity can be quite harmful. Confidence jobs thrive off of credulity as well as superstitions of a harmful nature (think: inquisitions and witch burnings). Vicious rumors can easily spread simply because people have a tendency to believe first and ask questions later (if at all).

But to challenge the validity of an idea is the heart of skepticism (and in a sense, freedom, too). Challenge the claimant of any idea for supporting, observable phenomena.

This is also the heart of science. Before accepting an idea, treat that idea as false until observable phenomena can distinguish it as true.

So again-- what is the difference between an invisible leprechaun that leaves no trace and a non-existent one? What is the difference between an invisible dragon and a non-existent one? What of flying reindeer and UFOs? What is the difference between their undetectable nature and their non-existent counterparts? (Can a sentence like that be proper? Non-existent counterparts??)

I'll dare say that an atheist has only gone one step further with this thinking. Rather than only applying this thinking to leprechauns and invisible (and non-detectable) dragons, this challenge is aimed at God and religion, too.
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