My name is Matt and I’m a skeptic living in the southern United States. I come from an evangelical Christian family and I’m the first in my family to completely reject religion.
I have a lovely wife who is also my best friend and a one-year-old son who is the light of my life. I work from home early in the morning and during the day while my son naps. I’m also a stay-at-home dad. (In fact, many of the posts on this blog will probably be written at the kitchen table while my son eats lunch.) Because of these things and the fact that we had to move to a new area, I’ve been feeling a bit isolated. I’m hoping this blog will be a way to connect with others about the many issues that interest me. (Plus I think my wife is getting tired of me talking her ears off.)
After high school I went through an extremely religious phase. I would spend at least an hour a day in prayer, another hour reading the Bible, and perhaps another hour in worship (during the drive to and from work). The rest of my spare time was for reading Christian books or attending church (Sunday school, worship services, bible study, prayer meetings, outreach, and so forth). I’ll write more about this phase in future posts.
The first crack in my shell of faith appeared when I read Atlas Shrugged. It took me about two years to go from enthusiastic believer to disillusioned non-believer. I’ll explain this process in future posts, as well. When I first told my family I was no longer a Christian, I identified as an agnostic. Later I embraced the term atheist (specifically, agnostic atheist).
I also think of myself as a humanist, but that mainly refers to my morality and philosophy of life, and there are many other topics I would like to blog about (conspiracies, economics, politics, science, etc.) so I decided the best way to refer to myself on this blog is as a “skeptic.” That’s because whatever the idea is, I’m not going to buy into it until I see a reasonable amount of evidence. (What constitutes a “reasonable amount of evidence” is a topic for another post.) I’ve made the mistake of not doing that way too many times. Here are just a few things I used to believe so passionately that I wanted to tell everyone I knew:
- 9/11 was an inside job.
- Chemtrails are poisoning us all.
- Climate change is a hoax.
- Eating GMO’s can lead to cancer.
- Evolution is “just a theory.”
- The “New World Order” controls everything.
- Vaccines cause autism.
- Y2K will be the end of the world as we know it.
There are many others, but these are the main ones. I fell for most of these even after I quit believing in god because I didn’t understand that I was putting faith in these conspiracy theories the same way I had been putting faith in religion.
But last year something changed. I gained a son and lost a father within 7 months of each other. These events got me thinking about the big picture–things like the origin of the universe, the meaning of life, and the key to happiness. I reexamined my reasons for abandoning religion and realized my biggest problem is that it requires faith, and faith requires you to believe extraordinary claims with little to no evidence. I couldn’t make myself believe in god again even if I wanted to. It would be like trying to convince myself that Santa Claus is real.
My interest in these things led to the discovery of skepticism. This concept appealed to me because I had already figured out how to reason this way when it came to religion. But then I noticed something: Most skeptics don’t believe 9/11 was an inside job, or that climate change is a hoax, or that the New World Order exists and wants to enslave humanity. This really blew my mind because I was absolutely certain of these things. How could skeptics be so right about religion and so wrong about these conspiracies? Slowly but surely I began to realize that many of my non-religious beliefs also had very little evidence to back them up.
Then one day I had an idea: Why not search YouTube for “9/11 conspiracies debunked”? In the past I had avoided articles and videos like that because I already “knew” they were wrong. But this time I thought, “What do I have to be afraid of?” I watched one, then another, then another. An hour later, I no longer believed 9/11 was an inside job. This was very disorienting. If I was wrong about something I had been so certain of, what else was I wrong about? I eagerly started examining the other sides of all my beliefs.
At this point I’ve figured out where I stand on all the most common ideas and conspiracies and I look forward to writing about them. I should point out that I may change my mind if I learn new information (although in the case of self-contradictory fairy tales and scientific theories that have mountains of data to back them up, that is extremely unlikely). For many issues, my stance is simply, “I don’t know.” And I’m okay with that. No one can be an expert on everything, so the honest thing is to admit what you don’t know rather than have an uninformed opinion about it. I want to preach the gospel of “I don’t know” (as Bill Maher puts it), and I hope this blog inspires you to do the same.