Michael Shermer on faith, science, his life, and the existence of God

There is much to talk about in this second part of a discussion with one of our time's foremost scientific skeptics. Photo: Photo used with permission of Michael Shermer; photographer's name not provided

FLORIDA, April 23, 2013 — Across the world, billions of people rely on faith to help get them through the day. Their faith might be in the divine, an ideology, another person, or in social institutions. Does the word “faith” mean the same thing in every case? What can be said about the concept of faith in general? 

The existence of God is an immensely controversial subject. Does modern science support the idea of an all-powerful creator? Speaking of science, what has been the greatest challenge of being a scientific writer? What about the most rewarding aspect of being a scientific skeptic?

In this second part of our discussion, Michael Shermer, one of our time’s foremost scientific skeptics and the founder of Skeptic Magazine, answers these questions. He also tells us a bit about his life and career.  

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Joseph F. Cotto: Across the world, untold billions rely on faith just to get them through the day. Said faith might be in the divine, another person, or a social construct. What are your opinions about the concept of faith in general?

Dr. Michael Shermer: Faith is the very antithesis of reason, rationality, logic, and empiricism. It should be rejected whenever possible.

Cotto: The existence of God is an immensely controversial subject. In your opinion, does modern science support the idea of an all-powerful creator?

Dr. Shermer: No. See my latest book, The Believing Brain

Cotto: What has been the greatest challenge of being a scientific writer?

Dr. Shermer: Getting on the Daily Show. I’ve been on The Colbert Report twice, so my goal is Jon Stewart! Seriously…if you want to change the world you have to be on TV, and it’s a very crowded field and most networks are scared to death of funding a skeptical show that teaches people how to think because TV execs hold the American public in contempt as ignorant rednecks who want nothing more than to watch celebrities doing stupid things. Unfortunately they have a lot of data in support of their conclusions on this.

Cotto: What has been the most rewarding aspect of being a scientific skeptic?

Dr. Shermer: The thousands of letters I receive in support from people whose lives were changed by my work.

Cotto: Now that our discussion is at its end, many readers are probably wondering how it was that you came to be such a prominent writer and scientific skeptic. Tell us a bit about your life and career.

Dr. Shermer: Read Chapter 3 in my book The Believing Brain. Here’s a teaser: I was once an evangelical Christian who attended Pepperdine University with an intent on being a theologian. Now I’m an atheist skeptic. I once believed in ESP and psychic power. I’m not a skeptic of those phenomena. I was once a global-warming denier. Now I accept the solid science. I was even against all forms of gun control. Now I debate gun nutters and demand some gun control.


Far-left? Far-right? Get realRead more from “The Conscience of a Realist” by Joseph F. Cotto 


 


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Joseph Cotto

Joseph F. Cotto is a social journalist by trade and student of history by lifestyle choice. He hails from central Florida, writing about political, economic, and social issues of the day. In the past, he was a contributor to Blogcritics Magazine, among other publications. He is currently at work on a book about American society.

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