Was listening to the admirable Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe (#194, for April 8) today; they had a Daniel Loxton as the guest, talking about a skeptical community and the What Do I Do Next booklet and related societal stuff.

They brought up the worrisome detail that there are, apparently, more global warming deniers among skeptics than one would expect by the scientific state of that affair.

They also mentioned the fact that skepticism and atheism are separate things and, indeed, there are plenty of skeptics who are religious.

For some reason both details click for me the same way: sure, even among skeptics there are people who just won’t face the facts!

“Anthrophagogenic globular warming is a hoax, dagnabbit!” and “There is a God, this God, amen!” are both conclusions while skepticism is an approach, and my opinion is that, by what has been found out so far, both conclusions are unsupported by science and facts, unreachable by a skeptical scientific approach. Given that the supposed alternate ways of knowing — “I call on the power of Conspiracy to make all facts support me!” and “Yea in a dream he the Creator spoketh to me” — are bunk, that should settle these two cases for now. (See endnote.) But then again, just because you agree with science on ninety-nine things doesn’t mean you won’t be a totally unreasonable nutter on the one-hundredth.

It wouldn’t surprise me — well, it wouldn’t kill me — to find there is a yeti-doubting, ufo-explaining, homeopathy-hating skeptic who’s also a Young Earth Cretinist.

The strange thing is that the What Do I Do Next booklet spells out that skepticism and atheism aren’t the same thing — sure, they aren’t, but anti-Bigfootism and a-toothfairyism aren’t the same thing as skepticism either! Tools and conclusions; different categories. I’m not a good judge of these things, but this mention feels like a PR move to me; and PR is something for which I have no talent or patience.

Well, I’m just grumbling because by my experience atheists and skeptics both are intelligent, lovable, nice people with exceedingly well honed senses of humor and absurd, people that I happily generally agree with and count myself among, and such coy separations, though justified, just make me sad.

The “too long, didn’t read” version: Skepticism isn’t the same as atheism, just like Loxton says, but I think the second follows from the first.

* * *

* “God as a scientific question” : Well, the existence of any God that does anything is a testable claim. If you got a God without any testables, that’s a God without any testicles — that being a colloquialism for an impotent and useless deity. That’s a theologian’s daydream, not something that either gets worship or is worthy of serious consideration. A God that always eludes us and vanishes without a trace is indistinguishable from no God at all, and one might as well take the simpler position on that.

Ghosts, Sagan’s dragon, God: just apply the same you do to the first two to the third one.

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