I have to agree with actor/comedian Ricky Gervais. He is an atheist who doesn’t believe in the afterlife. I am a rationalist who doesn’t believe in it either; I deduce it is a fact by studying the evidence for it. This is evidence which many scientists and rationalists will not even investigate as it would undermine their theories and drastically alter their paradigms. Many other scientists and rationalists, however, have investigated the evidence, and many who were skeptics at first became convinced. This is not belief, this is judgment based on empirical evidence, the true scientific method.
However I also find many beliefs utterly ridiculous, though respect the right of people to hold them. The idea that Islamic extremist suicide bombers will be greeted in Heaven with various numbers of virgins to have sex with for instance; the idea that we will rot in our graves (or our ashes will be spread all over the place) and yet we will be physically reconstituted when Gabriel blows the ‘Last Trump’. The idea that there is a God who is male and who created himself and everything out of nothing. The whole idea of the Holy Trinity, invented at the Council of Nicea. The idea that you can do whatever you like and receive absolution from your misdemeanors by the Last Rites performed by a priest, by confession, by taking Holy Communion due to JC’s apparent death on the Cross (or tree, if you follow the Jehovah’s Witnesses version). I also find it utterly ridiculous that rationalist scientists can believe that everything appeared out of nothing in a Big Bang, that complicated organs such as the eye in humans and animals came about by pure accident without any intelligent design, that millions of monkeys typing on millions of keyboards for millions of years would eventually produce the compete works of William Shakespeare.
The bottom line is not to believe anything until their is solid evidence to support it, and until then to keep an open mind about everything. I have revised my beliefs many times and continue to do so based on new research, new evidence and experimentation. The trouble is organized religion and orthodox mainstream science are both based on certain beliefs and theories, and it is regarded as heresy to challenge them even when the evidence strongly suggests these beliefs and theories are wrong.
Things, however, are rapidly changing. Many alternative theories to those put forward by mainstream orthodox science are emerging. The new buzzword for these theories, backed up by mathematics and hard evidence, is ‘post-materialism’. Quantum Physics could be included in this since it proves that the basic building blocks of matter, sub-atomic particles, are affected by being observed or measured. In fact more and more scientists are coming to the conclusion that Mind and Brain are separate, and that Consciousness is the ultimate reality; everything else (including all matter systems) being elaborate illusions or virtual realities.
I also know, by studying the evidence and hearing what people like ex-NASA scientist/astronaut Dr Ed Mitchell say, what Admiral Hillenkoeter (the CIA’s first ever Director), what Dr Allen J. Hynek (USAF’s UFO ‘Project Bluebook’ expert), USAF Major Donald E. Keyhoe, what a Lockheed engineer and a CIA operative said on their deathbeds recently, that UFOs are real and that there is on-going contact with aliens.
I also give credence to some conspiracy theories while rejecting others, again I base my views on the available evidence, motives, etc.
Some may well find these ideas ‘f***ing ridiculous’, that is their right. I will give them credence based on the available evidence, until it is proved otherwise.