Thursday, August 8, 2013

I Want To Believe

I am sometimes so utterly bemused by many religious believers who are absolutely convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that they're a member of the one true religion. I think to myself how utterly delusional they are in the face of so much evidence against their beliefs and by the amount of faith it takes them to maintain composure.

But then I think to myself, "Who am I kidding? I used to be a believer just like them too." No seriously, I was. I was a believer. Not in god - you know that silly idea that there's an invisible man in the sky who cares about whether your penis is snipped. No. That's ridiculous. I mean, come on. Who could actually believe that

No, I was a believer in something else. Something I once thought was a lot more plausible and logical. I was a believer that extraterrestrial space aliens were abducting people and taking them aboard spaceships and conducting all kinds of experiments on them like human/alien hybrid cloning. You know, something rational

When I was a kid I really did believe this. In fact, I was terrified at night that I would get abducted. I remember sleeping in bed afraid to open my eyes because of the fear that if I opened them I'd be staring into the large black eyes of an alien being. This would especially happen right after I saw a TV program or movie about aliens. I remember hearing about the famous Travis Walton case, which seemed to me like a very plausible abduction story. And I thought to myself, if it could happen to him, it could happen to me.

Yup. I was a true believer. I watched every show and movie that I could about UFOs and alien abductions. I was addicted. Whenever they had a show on TV about alien abductions and government cover ups of the "truth" and they brought out a skeptic who tried to explain away the phenomena as mere hallucinations, lies or false memories triggered by emotional or physical abuse, I thought to myself, "No, there has to be something more to these encounters, they can't all just be made up." I was totally convinced that intelligent extraterrestrial aliens were real and that they were abducting us to be used as guinea pigs for their cruel experiments and that the government knew about this and was covering it up.

wanted to believe. I wanted it to be true, despite how terrifying the idea was. 

But then as I became more knowledgeable of science and realized that the laws of physics make it really hard for interstellar space travel to happen due to the fact that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light and that the distances to the nearest possible stars would take years, I gradually rescinded on my certainty that aliens were visiting and abducting us. And when I learned about the power of suggestion and how imaginative we naturally tend to be, I was further pushed into skepticism about alien abductions. 

I began to ask the obvious questions like, "Why would aliens focus on abducting rednecks in the middle of nowhere?" and "Why is there a stunning lack of physical evidence to support these claims?" and "Why has this phenomenon become more popular only recently and mostly in the US?" The ufologists had their explanations but they didn't quite impress me anymore. Once I got bitten by the bug of skepticism, there was no turning back.

Most people of religious faith never seem to get that bite. They want to believe what they believe is true and the power of suggestion reformats their world to favorably conform to their belief. They live in an inoculated environment where their faith is reinforced over and over again by their peers and any skepticism is immediately dismissed with the same casual ease with which I once dismissed the UFO skeptics.

So although I've never been a religious believer, I think I know a little bit about what it's like to be a person convinced of a "truth" who is utterly delusional about what they believe in. It's a condition that has a cure: we shouldn't "want to believe" we should "want to see evidence."


  1. My uncle claimed to have seen a UFO, my father maintains he was drunk! Funny how UFO stories work out like that.

    I think you summed it up perfectly, why would they abduct only red-necks living in the middle of nowhere.Not that they are not important but wouldn't the President or Stephen Hawkings be better to probe.

  2. I actually saw a UFO once. But that doesn't mean it was an alien ship.

    1. Actually, as soon as you identify a UFO as an alien ship, it's no longer a UFO. :-)



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